Much to my delight, in my first few months as chancellor I have discovered two common threads at this great university: Learning never rests and helping others is a way of life.
During winter break many of our students and faculty members pursued fascinating educational and service-oriented opportunities in the United States and across the planet. Ports of call included New Orleans, Silicon Valley, India, Australia, China, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Peru. Here are just a few of the dispatches submitted to me recently:
With some financial help from the Student Organization Resource Fund, Student Legal Relief sent 32 students to New Orleans this winter break to perform pro bono legal work benefiting those most in need within the community. The goal of this organization is to assist the New Orleans area in its recovery from Hurricane Katrina.
Professors Amita Sinha and D. Fairchild Ruggles of the department of landscape architecture in the College of Fine and Applied Arts organized an interdisciplinary study tour to India to study medieval Mughal and Rajput art, architecture and cultural landscapes. Objectives of the study tour were to learn about history and culture, to observe stewardship practices for historic sites, and finally to participate in an on-site workshop with local constituents.
In the College of Business an international immersion experience designed and taught by professor Madhu Viswanathan took students to India to conduct field research among subsistence consumers as part of an award-winning new product development course in the college.
The Global Leaders in Construction Management (a program within the department of civil and environmental engineering) are currently visiting Australia. This program prepares them to work in the increasingly global industry of construction management.
Also in the College of Engineering, students took part in the Technology Entrepreneur Center’s Silicon Valley Workshop. This was a five-day technology entrepreneurship workshop that included visits with startups and leading technology companies.
In the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences there were eight faculty-led Global Studies 298 seminars abroad that focused on international issues and their local manifestations.
Here are three such seminars:
• Students in the Global Studies 298 course led by Laura Hastings, an adjunct faculty member in political science, studied the role of non-governmental organizations in a nation’s development. The class visited San Francisco Libre, Nicaragua, where they demonstrated and delivered solar ovens they had worked on. The group stayed in Sabana Grande, Nicaragua.
• Another group, led by anthropology professor Helaine Silverman, traveled to Peru to examine how World Heritage Site status affects local communities, economies and histories, using Cuzco and Macchu Picchu as their case studies.
• In another Global Studies 298 course, students explored the economic rise of China and India when they traveled to Asia for a two-week immersion trip to five Indian and Chinese cities. The class, taught by College of Business assistant dean and clinical professor of business administration John Clarke, engaged senior government officials, entrepreneurs and senior executives; toured companies; and more.
Finally, in the College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences, students in the Horticulture 199 class traveled to Guatemala to learn about horticulture in Central America. The trip is unique because of its emphasis on the diversity of export crops.
ACES associate professor John Masiunas, who led a similar trip to Central America in 2011, summed up the winter break experience this way: “International travel in developing countries is often a leap of faith. One experience like this isn’t going to make you leave and go work there, but it will help you gain perspective and ultimately an edge.
You walk away with greater teamwork skills and understanding because your knowledge was gained through experiential learning, not a textbook.”
Crop sciences student Josh Wollin from St. Peter, Ill., said: “Being able to see Guatemala firsthand, explore the farms, perform volunteer work, and take in the scenery was awesome. It made me see the world from a different point of view and appreciate my life more.”
I could not have said it any better.
Thank you for entrusting the education of your children with us.