On Friday, April 25, 2014, the College will celebrate Dr. Rose-Marie Chierici, a dynamic Professor and Department Chair who has brought her field work in Haiti (Haiti Outreach-Pwoje Espwa, H.O.P.E.) to the Geneseo classroom. Dr. Chierici began her career at SUNY Geneseo in 1994, and was promoted (belatedly, in this librarian’s opinion) to Full Professor in August 2013. We now say goodbye to this inspirational teacher, researcher, and applied anthropologist . . . but not before she teaches one more course in Fall 2014.
Dr. Chierici first worked with Librarian Kim Davies-Hoffman in 2002 which sparked a long journey of efforts to infuse scholarly research skills into her students’ coursework. Between the two instructors, they experimented with many combinations of and approaches to teaching – from a one-time classroom visit from the librarian to a more collaborative and semester-long schedule of mini librarian visits, to the latest and most successful mixing of anthropological and development theory, practical on-the-ground skills, and research and technology training.
It is this last model of collaborative teaching that will keep Dr. Chierici on campus, in the classroom, for one more semester.
In March 2014, several students from Dr. Chierici’s course, ANTH 307: Third World Development, joined Kim Davies-Hoffman in a 3Ts Conference presentation that spotlighted the high-impact class experience that transformed typical college students into NGO development workers, if only for a semester. With a unique classroom structure, students learned anthropological and development theory on Tuesdays and became members of a simulated nongovernmental organization on Thursdays. The first few Thursdays were spent in class with Davies-Hoffman learning different research strategies and technological tools, but after that, two student-ran NGOs (M.A.R.K., Mothers Advocating for Reproductive Knowledge and The Epula Project) created their own destiny. With two team leaders guiding their respective NGO, students were responsible for researching and making crucial decisions for their project.
– In what region of the world would they focus their work?
– On what issue(s) would they focus their work?
– How would they discover enough detailed information to truly “know” the region and its people?
– What programs would they put into place to address their chosen development issue?
The culminating fruits of the NGOs’ labor was a 75-minute presentation to classmates, as well as respected professors and administrators on campus, supported by a project website that detailed all their research, ideas, and reflections. A follow-up conference presentation was icing on the cake as students had the opportunity to share their transformational learning experience with professionals (teachers, instructional designers, librarians, etc.) around New York State. A potential idea of pairing up with students at the Naples Central School District on similar NGO projects was discussed following the Geneseo students’ presentation.
Since Fall 2013, many students of ANTH 307 have expressed their continued enthusiasm for the NGO experience, stating that it was the best class they have taken at SUNY Geneseo. As many of those students look to graduating in May and contemplate future career plans, development work has become a much more real possibility. Jordan Laux (pictured on the far right), a member of and webmaster for M.A.R.K., graduated in December 2013 and has reported back on the immediate connections she has made from her lessons learned in Third World Development and her current daily work in Syracuse, NY. Take a listen to what ANTH 307 and her experience working with Dr. Rose-Marie Chierici and Kim Davies-Hoffman has meant to Jordan.