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Category Archive for 'Intellectual Life'

My post on study abroad generated some good discussion about the liberal arts, and its importance to a Middlebury education.  In order to gain some historical perspective on the College’s commitment to the liberal arts, let’s take a quick tour through the history of the Middlebury curriculum.   Anyone interested in learning more about these factoids can review the College’s course catalogs and David Stameshkin’s two-volume history of Middlebury College (as I did).

  • In 1818, freshmen studied the first books of Livy; Blair’s Lectures Abridged; English Grammar; Sallust; Cicero de Officiis, deSenectute, de Amicitia; Priestley’s Lectures; Collectanea Graeca Majora.  Sophomores, juniors, and seniors likewise took a set curriculum focused on classical subjects.
  • In 1883, the trustees voted to admit women, leading to the following language in the 1883-84 course catalog: “By recent action of the Trustees the College offers the same privileges to young ladies as to young gentlemen.”
  • In 1900, freshmen were still required to take a “classical course” (as were sophomores), but juniors and seniors could now supplement required classes with electives.
  • By 1940, the elective system was firmly entrenched, and Middlebury students were majoring in particular subject areas or disciplines.  Freshmen had the option of electing introductory courses in several subject areas, including Home Economics.
  • In 1955, Home Economics was still in the course catalog, and first-year students were required to take Physical Education.  First-year men also took basic R.O.T.C.   In 1975, R.O.T.C was an elective, and the program included a class in Military Science.
  • In the 1970s, the College expanded its schools abroad program to include undergrads (it had previously served graduate students alone), and by the mid 1980s roughly 40% of the junior class chose to study abroad, making Middlebury a leader in this area.
  • Also during the 1970s and 80s, the College expanded the number of interdisciplinary programs to include classical studies, Jewish studies, the international major, and Northern studies (which no longer exists), a trend that continued through the 1990s and remains a distinguishing feature in our curriculum to this day.

How to describe this brief and incomplete history of curricular change?  What does it tell us about the evolution of the liberal arts at Middlebury?    Few would argue that military science, home economics, or a required classical course—the mainstay of nineteenth-century college education—should return to Middlebury’s curriculum.   But at certain points in the College’s history, these classes were indeed a part of our educational tradition.

In Cultivating Humanity (1997), University of Chicago professor Martha Nussbaum defines liberal education as the “cultivation of the whole human being for the functions of citizenship and life generally.”  As Nussbaum and other scholars have shown, the idea of liberal learning, or the “examined life,” can be traced back to Greek and Roman philosophy.   However, the history suggests that how colleges and universities have gone about realizing this ideal has varied according the educational needs of the moment—and the future.

So, philosophically (which is to say pragmatically) speaking, how should the College evolve to meet the needs of the future?  Given the possibility of a stingier economy, what aspects of a Middlebury education should be preserved at all costs?  Where should we pull back?  How might we build on our historic strengths to prepare students to meet the realities of this century—globalization, environmental challenges, etc?

Every other year or so, the Board of Trustees holds a retreat to discuss issues of broad importance to the College.  This year—last week, in fact—the Board met to consider the “new normal,” which is the phrase now being used to describe the conditions brought about by the economic downturn.  The idea is that because economic resources will be scarcer in the future than they have been in the last decade, academic institutions must think creatively about what they want to maintain and how they might operate differently.

To prompt discussion, several individuals or groups gave brief presentations on what the new normal might look like.  I was part of the lineup, and proposed that the College push forward on its ambition to be the “global liberal arts college” by boosting enrollment and requiring all students to study abroad.  This initiative, I argued, would allow Middlebury to build upon its curricular strengths and generate additional revenue.

An outline of this plan appears below.  Keep in mind that there is nothing official about this scheme, and that its chief purpose is to spark discussion about future possibilities.  That said, I am interested in what people think of it.

Enrollment

  • All juniors would study away for the entire year, and the College would simultaneously boost enrollment to 3200 students, or four classes of 800.
  • This arrangement would hold the current number of students on campus to 2400, with only three classes living in Vermont.
  • Currently—and this is on a prorated basis since many students go abroad for just a semester—175 students study abroad in Middlebury programs for the entire year.
  • The economic goal of this plan would be to gradually push this number up to 625 so that all students study in Middlebury programs.  This last point is important since students who go outside the Middlebury system take their tuition dollars with them.
  • To accommodate an additional 625 in its study abroad programs, the College would need to establish between 15 to 20 additional schools abroad (we currently operate 34 sites in 12 countries).
  • Our schools abroad include little overhead or infrastructure since we partner with local universities and residents/institutions for instruction and housing.  Our model allows for flexible and nimble growth, with few sunk costs.
  • To maintain flexibility and choice, we should consider adding English-speaking programs in Africa, South Asia, UK, and elsewhere.  We should also consider a study away program in Monterey.
  • We should involve Middlebury faculty in the development of these programs, and we should provide opportunities for our faculty to teach in them.
  • According to back-of the-envelope calculations, this plan could net $3.12 to 6.25 million in additional revenue.
  • Assuming we include non-Middlebury undergrads and grad students in these 20 new sites abroad, the annual net revenue could be as much as $8.25 million.

So that’s a general economic or logistical overview of the scheme.  Given the increased importance of international education and the excellence of our study abroad programs, I believe this plan also makes good educational sense.

But as I considered the merits of studying abroad, I got to wondering if there are other ways of mounting our program.  That thinking brought me to this question: suppose sophomores, instead of juniors, went abroad?   Here is a quick sketch of what that might look like:

Sophomores Abroad

  • We would reinvent the first-year curriculum to emphasize intensive liberal arts learning as well as writing skills.  Language study would be required, as would an interdisciplinary course on cultural difference and global citizenship.  There would be room for a limited number of electives.
  • Students would develop linguistic competence through a combination of language-study during the academic year, immersion programs (the Language Schools), and online education.  Students could pursue these supplemental programs before and/or after their first year at Middlebury.
  • Sophomore year abroad would be a time of personal discovery, of expanding intellectual and persons horizons before settling down to the second half of a Middlebury education.
  • Junior and senior years would devoted to the major.
  • The chief goal of this plan would be to frontload the transformation that comes from studying abroad.  Students would be able to build on their experiences abroad instead of readjusting to campus life their senior year and then preparing to graduate.  Their perspectives could truly internationalize the classroom and our campus.

Of course, there are good reasons not to require students to study abroad—for instance, athletes would have to take a year off from intercollegiate competition—but there are corresponding advantages as well.  And, as I suggest in the sophomore scheme, these advantages are educational as well as economic.

Thoughts?

One effect of this economic downturn is that commentators have turned their view to the future of higher education, sometimes with startling effect.   There has been no shortage of such writing in the past, but with endowments down and resources scarce this seems like a particularly opportune moment to imagine what college education will be like in the not too distant future.   In fact, we devoted the Bread Loaf Faculty meeting—held just before classes started—to a discussion of questions focused on the relevance of liberal arts education, and how our current “business model” (a term usually off limits in faculty discussions) may now be under threat.

Here are five articles aimed to spur thinking about where we may be headed.  Reactions?  How do you think colleges like Middlebury will change in the next decade?

I am intrigued by the fact that Middlebury, like many colleges and universities, has several “centers” that serve as the headquarters for various academic, artistic, and extracurricular programs. We have the Mahaney Center for the Arts, the Rohatyn Center for International Affairs, the Donald Everett Axinn Center for Literary and Cultural Studies, the McCullough Student Center, the Franklin Environmental Center, Freeman International Center, the newly created Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity, and—a personal favorite—the Fitness Center.  And I probably missed a couple.

Several years ago, in an effort to locate the geographical center of campus, the College did a survey and discovered that the center is located in the middle of College Street, in front of Forest Hall.  Consequently, whenever someone asked, “Where is the center of campus?,” we could gesture in the right direction.

Of course, that’s not what the question is really asking.  The inquiry is figurative in nature.  When we wonder where the center is, we want to know where the action is, where members of the community are most likely to see and be seen, where the heart of Middlebury may be found.

But the proliferation of named “centers” at Middlebury seems to imply that there is no single, true heart of the campus.  Rather, there are several hearts, each one representing a set of particular interests.  This is the postmodern view of academic life, a culture that lacks a common core and is tilted toward the relative nature of things.   In this world, everyone has their own center.

Now the conversation on this point could go in any number of directions, and get real abstract real fast.   And I suspect that many people would reject the decentered view of campus life, and point to the library, one of the dining halls, or some other favorite site where the true heart of Middlebury beats and bleeds blue.  To be sure, I am interested in hearing from people about whether they think Middlebury does have a genuine center, be it physical, metaphysical, or both.  But my own thoughts have drifted along other, more mundane tangents as we have worked to clarify budgets during these tough economic times.

One thing that has become clear is that we need to develop a process so that the various centers on campus—Rohatyn, Franklin, etc—can more effectively coordinate their activities.   A fair amount of collaboration (sometimes called “co-sponsorship”) already takes place, but formalizing those arrangements could pay additional benefits.  For instance, a coordinating committee that meets regularly to share information (and perhaps resources) could minimize calendar conflicts and reduce costs (fewer events!?).   Over time, this sort of coordination might also strengthen linkages between centers.  Add the Commons and MCAB to the mix, and those possibilities multiply, even if the planning becomes more complicated.

During the past decade, the amount of lectures, symposia, and performances has increased significantly and, as a result, Middlebury is a more interesting place.   With resources contracting, we should work to sustain these interests, but not lose sight of the golden mean that lies somewhere in the middle of campus.

I am known as one of the more technologically engaged/addicted faculty members at Middlebury. Luckily, it ties directly into what I teach: media studies, focused on contemporary popular culture, television, and digital media. So the hours I spend on my MacBook Pro are mostly part of my broader “field research,” whether it’s Facebook social networking, writing on my blog, or reading articles from dozens of sources I regularly monitor.

Everyone has different technological preferences and tendencies—while I’m always on my laptop, I never carry a cell phone except for travelling out of town, and I have no interest in having a Blackberry or other mobile device (except as a way to play audio and video on the fly). So when Tim asked me to offer some tips for his readers for some essential technology tools, it should be noted that these are potentially more appropriate for laptop or desktop computers than for mobile browsing.

My two core tools are the Firefox browser and Google suite of applications. Firefox is my browser of choice both because of its open-source core and its suite of extensions. My personal favorite Firefox add-ons are AdBlockPlus to eliminate flashing banners and annoying pop-ups, Download Helper to save YouTubevideos to my computer, Interclue to preview links, and Tab Mix Plus to manage tabs (and I usually have at least 6 tabs open in my browser).

I’m a convert to the Google platform of tools—I use Gmail as an interface for all my email, have iGoogle as my homepage, plan my days through Google Calendar, and obviously search via Google. One tool I’ve found a lot of Google users don’t know about is Google Reader, an RSS reader. In brief, RSS is a way to subscribe to websites that frequently update, such as blogs and periodicals; an RSS reader allows you to manage feeds from as many sites as you want, sort them by date, tag, topic, etc. Google Reader is the slickest RSS reader I’ve found, with the excellent feature to share items with friends, and even publish your shared items to your own blog or your Facebook profile. (My own shared feed is here.)

Another key tool I use is delicious, a “social bookmarking” site. When I find a website that I want to bookmark, I save it to my delicious profile (via a Firefox extension, of course), where I can tag it with relevant categories and notes. I can also share my bookmarks with friends, follow other people’s bookmarks, browse similar links via tags, and publish my links to my blog or Facebook profile. Essentially, delicious turns the private act of collecting links into a public shared resource of collective web-surfing wisdom—not to mention helps avoid the trauma of a crashed hard drive erasing your bookmarks!

Sometimes a bookmark isn’t enough—if I find a site that I want to use for my research, whether it’s an article from an online newspaper, a PDF of a scholarly journal, or a particularly interesting blog entry, Zotero helps me catalog it. Zotero is an open source bibliographic tool that runs as a Firefox add-on. When you find a site you want to cite, Zotero saves the content and stores the bibliographic information; you can then use Zotero to output bibliographies or citations directly into a word processor. It’s essentially a browser-based version of EndNote or RefWorks, but free and more useful for online research.

When it comes time to write with all that “research,” I’m still searching for the right application. I’ve used MS Office for years, but have grown frustrated with it, as it really is ill-suited for Macs. I’ve tried GoogleDocs, which is great for collaborative writing and sharing, but lacks the formatting flexibility I need (such as footnotes and handling longer documents). I love Keynote, Apple’s far superior-to-PowerPoint slideshow application that’s part of iWork, but was disappointed with some of the limitations of Pages and Numbers. I’m currently using OpenOffice, which is powerful but I’m still getting used to its quirks and bugs. I will use Scrivener to help organize my next book, but it’s not the right tool for everyday writing. If anyone has anyone has tips for the best Mac-friendly alternative to MS Office, I’d love to hear it!

The Commons system was founded in 1992 for several reasons, but probably the most important reason was the desire to create stronger intellectual communities outside the classroom.  Behind the emergence of the Commons was the complicated history of the fraternities, and the belief—held by administrators, trustees, and some faculty—that social life at Middlebury lacked options.  This perspective was fleshed out in at least two major committee reports that examined the nature of student life in the late 1980s.

As the system took shape under the encouragement of President John McCardell, faculty members—known first as Commons Associates—invigorated the campus with a range of academic and cultural activities.  Not all the Associates came from the faculty, but their work brought an intellectual edge to campus activities that mainstream (read alcohol oriented) social events did not.   Student critics believed the Commons was a plot to eradicate the social houses and change the character of the student body, while some faculty members worried about the flow of resources away from departments and traditional academic programs.

Almost twenty years later, the Commons has gone mainstream (as an organizing structure of the College), boosted the intellectual tone on campus, and enabled faculty—serving now as Commons Heads—to play a meaningful role in student life.

Yet I fear we are in danger of taking this success for granted.  There is still plenty to debate about the “true” value of the Commons, especially during these challenging economic times.  And I recognize that students may feel that the Commons system is not as effective as it could be in promoting student social life (more on that in a subsequent post).  But to assume that the kind of co-curricular activity that now takes place through the Commons could have happened without the efforts of faculty Heads is to ignore history.  Here is a partial list of what the job of Commons Head currently entails.

Mentoring: at the most basic level, the ongoing presence of Heads in residential life (especially in first-year residence halls) gives students a visible and personal connection to faculty and staff.  It lets students know that faculty are approachable and interested in their lives beyond the classroom.  This sort of connecting with students is fundamental to the work of the Commons Heads.

Program Coordination: the Heads provide the venue—their homes are supplied by the College—the framework, and the tone for discussions that extend what transpires in classes and seminars, in visits from outside scholars, journalists, musicians, artists, diplomats, business people, educators and writers and others.  This work has been vital to the first-year seminar program (remember that all fall first-year seminars are Commons based), and Commons Heads also provide social spaces for departments and various faculty, by sponsoring regular late-afternoon get-togethers that might include department colloquia, reading groups, and other academic events.  In planning events, Heads also engage students’ intellectual and social interests, and help them turn an idea or observation into a discussion or event.

Residential Life: Heads work closely with the First Year Counselors, helping them in their efforts to support and mentor other students in the residence halls.  Heads also provide a faculty perspective in meetings with the Commons Dean, not so much in the routine stuff, as the Dean handles this work very well on his/her own, but in the difficult cases, when the Dean needs support, a sounding board, and an institutional perspective.

All this strikes me as critical work, though taken together, it may be invisible to much of the campus.  What do you think?   Comments welcome.

Deconstructing Jocks

There was an interesting piece in Insider Higher Ed last month describing research on why athletes at liberal arts colleges sometimes underperform in the classroom.  Since the publication of William G. Bowen and James L. Shulman’s 2001 influential study, The Game of Life: College Sports and Educational Values, educators have debated the proper role of intercollegiate athletics at colleges like Middlebury.  This debate was hotter six or seven years ago than it is now, but there is no doubt that Bowen and Shulman’s book and their follow-up study, Reclaiming the Game, which focuses on NESCAC schools, had a profound impact on higher ed.  The Division III section of the NCAA formally took up the question of “integration”—based on the concern that sports programs were drifting away from the general academic mission of liberal arts education—colleges recalibrated admissions standards for recruited athletes, and additional research initiatives followed in the wake of The Game of Life.  The most important of these initiatives, the Mellon-sponsored College Sports Project, is involved in assessing a vast database of scores and grades in an effort to understand how athletes’ academic performances relate to their non-athletic peers’.  In fact, our own John Emerson, Professor of Mathematics and former Secretary of the College, is a principal investigator on this project.

But the research highlighted in the Inside Higher Ed article is worth noting for its difference from the thinking that has marked this debate in the past.  Whereas Bowen, Shulman, and others have suggested that athletes tend to underperform because their academic credentials are weaker coming in (they get an edge in admissions) or because they are rooted in an “athletic culture” and don’t care as much as they should about their academic work, Thomas S. Dee, an economist at Swarthmore, is now arguing that college athletes are vulnerable to “stereotype threat.” As Dee explains, stereotype threat “refers to the perceived risk of confirming, through one’s behavior or outcomes, negative stereotypes that are held about one’s social identity.  More specifically, its key conjecture is that the threat of being viewed through the lens of a negative stereotype can create an anxiety that disrupts cognitive performance and influences outcomes and behaviors.”   In other words, student athletes who are anxious about being perceived as “dumb jocks” may unwittingly confirm that image when they are under pressure to perform well on tests or other academic assignments.  But tell them that the exam they are about to take is just as often aced by athletes as by non-athletes—blunt the threat of stereotype—and they do fine.

The glib response to this study is hard to resist: if we all banished the image of the dumb jock from our minds and stopped examining the phenomenon of athletes’ underperformance, then maybe the problem would just go away.  Of course, this simple solution is far more complex than it might seem.  Changing attitudes is no easy thing, and in this case, the athletes themselves internalize the stereotype; it is a matter of culture.  Then, too, there are other compelling explanations for the so-called underperformance of athletes at elite liberal arts colleges (and here I should note that some researchers have argued that the problem of underperformance is not as pronounced as some have argued it is), beginning with the relatively weaker academic credentials that athletic recruits may bring to college.

But the idea that stereotypes can negatively influence the attitudes of individuals who are targets of stereotypical thinking is a powerful concept.  In fact, the scholar most responsible for pioneering this concept, Claude Steele, was on campus in September talking about how stereotype threats can hamper the intellectual performance of minorities and women.  To think of athletes in this way, as having to overcome some of the same obstacles that these groups confront, is provocative to say the least.

Middlebury College is hot. It is one of the most selective schools in the country. The line at Emma Willard is long, and the competition for admission is keen.

A key reason for the college’s enviable position is the quality of its teachers. In fact, the Princeton Review recently ranked Middlebury’s faculty as the best in the country.

When I encounter prospective students and their parents, I regularly hear approving statements along these lines: “At Middlebury, professors, and not TAs, teach their students” and “Undergraduates are the focus of Middlebury professors and not graduate students.”

I inevitably nod in agreement, while remembering that I was once a teaching assistant and never felt like a bumbler in the classroom. But I also try to clear away a misconception: that the energies of Middlebury faculty are exclusively directed to their charges.

By this, I don’t mean that they spend countless hours running departments and serving on committees (which they do); but rather, that they are devoted to their scholarship. That this is so is, in my opinion, a very good thing.

I say this not because I believe that Middlebury faculty must be in the forefront of the creation of knowledge, which is the essence of research and scholarship. Remarkably, many of my colleagues are, even though a residential college is not as congenial to that aspiration as a research university. My colleagues and I don’t have TAs and abundant release time from teaching as buffers to the heavy demands of the classroom.

What I’m getting at is the relationship of scholarship to teaching and thus to the fundamental mission of the college, “to engage students’ capacities for rigorous analysis and independent thought within a range of disciplines and endeavors.”

I must admit that I don’t possess empirical evidence that conclusively demonstrates that active scholarship leads to better teaching. But after nearly twenty years as a professor I am convinced that it does.

Increasingly, Middlebury faculty are asking their students to become researchers themselves. (Last spring, the faculty voted in a mandatory senior work requirement calling upon all students to take on independent projects as capstones to their Middlebury education.) To guide students in this work, it is important that faculty are active in their scholarly fields. They can then recognize the challenges and obstacles facing student researchers and readily suggest creative and innovative approaches.

Active research agendas even enrich introductory courses. Over time, these courses can become stale if their pilots lose touch with current trends in their fields of study. Introductory courses benefit from regular updating and rethinking.

At an even more basic level, the research-oriented professor serves as an example to their students of the value of the quest for knowledge and the thirst for insight. As Ernest Boyer, a seasoned observer (and friendly critic) of the academy, once wrote, “all faculty, throughout their careers, should, themselves, remain students. As scholars, they must continue to learn and be seriously and continuously engaged in the expanding intellectual world.”

In short, while it is important that Middlebury faculty conduct stimulating classes, return papers and exams in a timely fashion, and are available to field questions and to offer advice outside of the classroom, it is also vital that they find the time and space to read the latest scholarship, carry out their own experiments and field work, and write notable articles and books.

The following went out as an email today from the Office of the Provost:

To the College Community:

We write to update you on the initiative to establish a Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity at Carr Hall. As you may know, Shirley Ramirez convened a faculty working group in the Fall of 2007 to examine key recommendations stemming from the 2006 Human Relations Committee report. The working group considered: 1) faculty diversity and development; 2) diversity and the curriculum; and 3) the development of a new academic center at Carr Hall. The group focused especially on this last project because of the center’s potential to highlight diversity goals for the entire community. By the end of the 2007-2008 academic year, the group succeeded in articulating a focus and mission for the new center.

The new center will be connected to the Office for Institutional Planning and Diversity, and will provide a forum for the community to address issues of difference in a broadly interdisciplinary manner. For instance, one goal of the center is to provide a global context for the study of race and ethnicity. To that end, the center will be home to colleagues from a variety of fields, with domestic and international teaching/research interests in race and ethnicity. We are excited by the possibilities that this venture holds, and are pleased that the Mellon Foundation has awarded the College a $1.2 million grant, which will support programming at the Center and the hiring of new faculty.

We have recently begun a search for a faculty member in American Studies to direct the Center. We expect this search to be completed this spring, and a new director to be in place by the fall of 2009. Beginning this semester, the faculty working group that worked so hard last year to develop a mission and focus for the Center gave way to a smaller steering committee that includes Michael Newbury (American Studies), Rachael Joo (American Studies), Laurie Essig (SOAN/WAGS), and Hector Vila (CTLR). The committee will work closely with the new Vice President for Institutional Planning and Diversity and the Provost’s office to ensure the successful development of the Center; it will also be involved in the search for the director.

Several faculty members have already moved into Carr Hall in this first phase of the Center’s development: Larry Hamberlin (Music), Laurie Essig, Hector Vila, and Linda White (East Asian Studies/WAGS). Gloria Gonzalez (Spanish) and Sujata Moorti (WAGS) will join them next year. The office of International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS), now located in Carr Hall, will enhance the global dimensions of the Center’s work.

Shirley will continue to play an active role in this project until she leaves the College in December, and the Provost’s office will provide administrative support for the initiative until Shirley’s successor is on board.

In the spring of 2006, the Human Relations Committee recommended that the College establish an intercultural center to promote the study of diversity issues and complement the residential program of PALANA, the academic interest house now located on Adirondack View. More than two years later, we are close to realizing this goal and to enhancing the attention we give to a subject of undeniable national and international significance.

If you would like to be involved in the planning for the Center at Carr Hall, please feel free to contact the steering committee, or one of us.

Sincerely,

Tim Spears and Shirley Ramirez

Recently, I had a great conversation with Dave Reidel and Torri Ross, Midd alums from the Class of 1998. They will soon leave for Ghana for a two-year stint with the HIV/AIDS programs funded by PEPFAR (President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief). After graduation, Dave went to medical school at Penn State, completed a residency in internal medicine at Johns Hopkins, and then completed a fellowship in infectious diseases at University of Maryland. An HIV/AIDS expert, Dave has pursued several research projects in India, Singapore, Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania, and Rwanda. Not to be upstaged, Torri earned an MPH at Tulane and then spent two years in the Peace Corps as a community health volunteer in Nepal. She returned to the US and settled at Johns Hopkins for the next five years and did research in women’s health with one study based in Ghana. Torri then completed an RN in nursing, and for the past year has worked as a nurse at the University of Maryland. Oh yeah, at some point in their peripatetic lives they managed to get married.

Torri and Dave’s passionate interest in global health is shared by many other Midd alums. UCLA Assistant Professor Annie Rimoin is investigating the emergence of monkeypox as a human disease in Africa. Rick Hodes has dedicated much of his professional life to caring for patients in Ethiopia, and has formed an international network of surgeons that perform corrective surgery on Ethiopian children. As the president of Save the Children, Charlie MacCormack leads an organization that is respected around the world.

I would like to hear from others in the Middlebury community who are working in global health. Write back with your stories and we will begin to build an alumni network as a resource for current students. Why would such a resource be useful? Well, so far this year, four students are busy designing majors in global health and development though our independent scholar program. A fifth proposal is already in committee review. These students are mining our curriculum for courses in global health and development and have created a solid foundation. Summer internships in global health would enhance the meaning and significance of this academic work, and so I am eager to know of off-campus opportunities that I can share with interested students.

I would also like to know whether there is interest out there in formalizing these curricular interests in global health. By assembling the right combination of courses in sociology and anthropology, political science, economics, foreign languages, and the sciences, along with unique opportunities to pursue internships in global health, perhaps through study abroad, we could create a minor in global health. Is this a good idea? Post a comment and let us know.

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