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Honors and Awards

The Center for Synergy in the College of Arts and Humanities (ARHU) has received a $100,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to fund “Home Stories,” a digital storytelling project that empowers migrant youth to create and share their stories with the wider public.

The award is part of NEH’s inaugural Humanities Access grants, which provide cultural programming to underserved groups and were awarded to 34 organizations. The grant is designed to encourage fundraising and sustainability of ongoing programming.

The project co-directors are Ana Patricia Rodríguez, associate professor of Spanish and Portuguese in the School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures and Sheri Parks, associate dean of research, interdisciplinary scholarship and programming and associate professor of American studies.

The project responds to the growing number of often-unaccompanied migrant youth who travel to the U.S.-Mexico border and eventually seek to reunite with families, relatives or friends who live in the long-standing Central American communities near the University of Maryland. These newcomers navigate multiple identities but rarely have the opportunity to reflect on or share these experiences. Despite the scale of youth migration to this area, there is little research or ethnographic work generated about or by these youth.

“We are living in a historical moment where there is an explosion in migration,” says Rodríguez.  “Digital storytelling is a way of uncovering these stories and making them accessible to a wider public, and it is something that anyone can learn.”

“Home Stories” extends the Center for Synergy’s ongoing Social Innovation Scholars Program into the public humanities. Through the project, undergraduate students at the University of Maryland will enroll in a multi-semester course with Rodríguez to learn about the migrant experience while collaborating with migrant youth from local middle and high schools to explore digital storytelling.  Digital stories are multimedia movies that combine voiceovers, video, sound and text to create a narrative. Both in and out of the classroom, they are a tool for not only developing technical skills, but also promoting self-reflection and critical thinking.

“The project is a way of connecting students who have the technological skills with migrant youth in communities who have important stories to tell,” says Rodríguez.  “Digital storytelling is a democratizing tool that allows these stories to be created and shared across communities.”

The project will work with youth in local schools that enroll large numbers of recently arrived migrant youth from Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean and culminates in a community screening of the filmed stories these youth produce, which will then be available on a public website.

“The humanities help us study our past, understand our present, and prepare for our future,” says NEH Chairman William D. Adams. “The National Endowment for the Humanities is proud to support projects that will benefit all Americans and remind us of our shared human experience.”

 

Image Credit:
Close up of Child Migrant Quilt Project (September 2014)
© Ana Rosa Ventura-Molina 2014

Congratulations to ARHU professors La Mar Jurelle Bruce, Julius B. Fleming Jr. and Christopher J. Bonner, who received fellowships for their research projects related to African-American literature, history and culture.

Bruce, Fleming and Bonner were part of an African-Americanist cluster hire, joining a community of scholars at the University of Maryland (UMD) that are at the forefront of the discussion on race and produce scholarship at the intersections of history, literature, gender studies and artistic expression. 

La Mar Jurelle Bruce, Assistant Professor in the Department of American Studies

La Marr Jurelle Bruce was awarded the 2016 Ford Foundation  Postdoctoral Fellowship, which is sponsored by the Ford Foundation and administered by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. He is one of only 21 scholars to receive the postdoctoral fellowship in this year’s rigorous nationwide competition.

Bruce’s scholarship focuses on “blackness and feeling—that is, the phenomenological, affective, and erotic textures of black life across the diaspora,” Bruce said. “I am especially interested in how feeling informs, inspires, infuses, and sometimes inhibits black expressive cultures,” he added. At UMD, he teaches courses in Africana and American performance, literature, visual art and popular culture.

The fellowship will fund Bruce for the 2016-17 academic year while he completes his first book, “How to Go Mad without Losing Your Mind: Madness, Blackness, and Radical Creativity.” The book is a study of black artists who mobilize “madness” within radical performance and literature. Proposing a theory of madness that addresses its floating signification—and traverses its phenomenological, clinical, sociocultural, and political dimensions—Bruce confronts “the mad” in the work of Charles Mingus, Nina Simone, Amiri Baraka, Ntozake Shange, Patricia J. Williams, Lauryn Hill and Dave Chappelle, among others.

“African American artists have deployed ‘madness’ as content, methodology, metaphor, form, aesthetic and existential posture in an enduring black radical tradition,” Bruce said. “By ‘going mad,’ these artists also expose and convey the violence, chaos, strangeness, wonder, paradox, and danger—in short, the phenomenological madness—that infuses modernity’s racial drama.”

Bruce will be hosted by the Center for Africana Studies and the Department of Music at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. During his time there, he will be mentored by Guthrie Ramsey, Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Term Professor of Music at the University of Pennsylvania.

The Ford Foundation Fellowship Program awards pre-doctoral, dissertation, and postdoctoral scholarships to scholars who promote diversity in the academy.

Julius Fleming Jr., Assistant Professor in the Department of English

Julius Fleming Jr. was awarded a post-doctoral residential research and teaching fellowship at the Carter G. Woodson Institute at the University of Virginia, where he will be completing his first book manuscript, “Technologies of Liberation: Performance and the Art of Black Political Thought.” In addition, he will begin his second book project, which examines the intersections of race, medicine and capital in black performance and literature—19th century to the present.

Fleming specializes in twentieth and twenty-first century African diasporic literatures and cultures, with particular interests in performance, visual culture, sound studies, philosophy and medicine, particularly how they intersect with race, gender and sexuality. He was inspired to pursue his field of research when he was an undergraduate student at Tougaloo College, a private, historically black college in Central Mississippi that served as a bastion for civil rights activism. 

The Carter G. Woodson Institute at the University of Virginia funds residencies for scholars who specialize in the study of Africa and the African diaspora. Fleming will be part of the post-doctoral program that offers a two-year research and teaching fellowship.

 Christopher Bonner, Assistant Professor in the Department of History

Christopher Bonner was a 2015-16 recipient of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the Library Company of Philadelphia. The fellowship has enabled him to work on his current book project, “The Price of Citizenship: Black Protest, American Law, and the Shaping of Society, 1827-1868,” which examines the lives of free Africans who were working to define citizenship and secure rights in the decades before the Civil War.

Bonner chose to pursue the NEH fellowship in Philadelphia, a city that is considered a center for African American politics before the American Civil War broke out in 1789.

In his book project, Bonner poses questions about how people can change their government and about what black freedom means in a slaveholding society. His ultimate goal, Bonner says, is to shed light on the contributions of black activists before the end of slavery and their role in the creation of the Fourteenth Amendment, which is considered the foundation for citizenship and rights for the modern United States.

“I've been drawn to this work as a way of exploring the long history of struggles for civil rights in the United States,” Bonner said. “I'm also interested in understanding how black Americans have related to and worked to transform the structures of American law and government.”

The NEH Post-Doctoral Fellowship supports scholarship related to United States history and the Atlantic world from the 17th through the 19th centuries. It provides a monthly stipend and access to conduct research in residence at the Library Company of Philadelphia.

About the College of Arts and Humanities

The College of Arts and Humanities has made serious investments in African American culture and history, hiring faculty clusters in African American literature and history, adding to the strong community of African Americanist scholars already spread across the campus’s many colleges. The university is also home to important research centers such as the Consortium on Race, Gender, and Ethnicity and the David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora.

 Through interdisciplinary collaborations led by the College of Arts and Humanities, UMD is also expanding the breadth of research possibilities in the fields of African American history, literature and culture, and the digital humanities. A new project co-directed by the Arts and Humanities Center for Synergy and the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH)—“Synergies among Digital Humanities and African American History and Culture”—will utilize digital humanities to develop tools, methods and archives to address African American themed research questions.

COLLEGE PARK, MD -- A two-year, $517,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will fund a project called “Documenting the Now: Supporting Scholarly Use and Preservation of Social Media Content.” Washington University in St. Louis, the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH) at the University of Maryland and the University of California, Riverside, are collaborators on the project.

The project responds to the public’s use of social media for chronicling historically significant events as well as demand from scholars and archivists seeking a user-friendly means of collecting and preserving digital content.

As part of the project, the three institutions are developing DocNow, a cloud-ready, open-source application that will be used for collecting tweets and their associated metadata and Web content.

Twitter emerged as one of the most important channels of communication during the 2014 protests in Ferguson, Mo., when it served as a primary conduit for disseminating information. DocNow will be developed using tweets and Web content related to the events in Ferguson, resulting in a data set that can be used in research.

“The DocNow application will provide scholars with new ways of gathering and analyzing data from Twitter, which is a tremendous source of documentation on contemporary events,” said Chris Freeland, project co-principal investigator and associate university librarian at Washington University in St. Louis.

DocNow is among a growing number of applications that make social media datasets available for noncommercial, scholarly research. The app will be specifically designed to help authenticated users tap into Twitter streams to identify Web content that is of value for current and future research.

“We at MITH are honored to be partnering with Mellon, Washington University and the University of California to ensure that the documentary record around events such as the protests in Ferguson can be studied in an ethical, timely and cost-effective manner,” said Ed Summers co-principal investigator and technical lead on the project “I am specifically interested in the challenges of not only collecting and analyzing the data, but also packaging and archiving it for future use.”

Scholars on the project also seek to produce a white paper on ethical, copyright and access issues related to the collection of social media content.

Bergis Jules, co-principal investigator and community lead at the University of California, Riverside, hopes the DocNow project will be a catalyst for community building around the scholarly use and preservation of social media archives.

“Community building will be vitally important as we continue to develop standards and effective practices around the collection and access to this rich content, said Jules. “I’m excited The Mellon Foundation is supporting this project as it will be an important contribution to scholarship on social media archiving.”

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About the University of Maryland College Park

The University of Maryland is the state's flagship university and one of the nation's preeminent public research universities. A global leader in research, entrepreneurship and innovation, the university is home to more than 37,000 students, 9,000 faculty and staff, and 250 academic programs. Its faculty includes three Nobel laureates, two Pulitzer Prize winners, 49 members of the national academies and scores of Fulbright scholars. The institution has a $1.8 billion operating budget, secures $500 million annually in external research funding and recently completed a $1 billion fundraising campaign. For more information, visit www.umd.edu

About Washington University in St. Louis

Washington University in St. Louis was founded in 1853 as a non-denominational community of scholars and now ranks among the nation’s leaders in higher education. The university’s undergraduate, graduate and professional programs are highly regarded. Its libraries’ hold distinguished collections of rare books, manuscripts and that draw scholars from around the world. For more information about the university and its libraries, visit wustl.edu and libraries.wustl.edu.

About the University of California, Riverside

The University of California, Riverside is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion. A broadcast studio with fiber cable to the AT&T Hollywood hub is available for live or taped interviews. UCR also has ISDN for radio interviews. To learn more, call (951) UCR-NEWS.

Photos by Jamelle Bouie

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – A $225,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities awarded to the College of Arts and Humanities at University of Maryland (UMD) and the Maryland Humanities Council will fund a series of public programs that are designed to explore the way citizens of Baltimore are thinking about the narratives that influence the life and identity of the city. Major partners will include the University of Maryland, Baltimore County’s Dresher Center for the Humanities, the Enoch Pratt Free Library and the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance

The initiative, Baltimore Stories: Narratives and the Life of an American City (Baltimore Stories), seeks to establish a model that utilizes humanities scholarship— literature, history, philosophy, communication, art and cultural studies—to produce print and digital materials that help frame and contextualize narratives of race in American cities. The project will also shine a spotlight on the ongoing, collaborative work being done in Baltimore neighborhoods by universities and non-profit organizations. 

“During the uprising, Baltimore residents had lively conversations about the stories that shape our perceptions of each other,” said Sheri Parks, co-project director of the initiative and associate dean for research and interdisciplinary programming in the College of Arts and Humanities at the University of Maryland. “We are elated to use this grant as a platform to continue these conversations.”

 The NEH announced yesterday $21.8 million in grants, including $3.6 million devoted to new “Humanities in the Public Square” grants that support community discussions on the relevance of the humanities to civic life.  

“We are honored to answer the call that NEH Chairman Adams issued earlier this year to use the humanities to ‘take up the grand challenges of our time,’” said Phoebe Stein, co-project director of the initiative and executive director of the Maryland Humanities Council. “The equity that needs to be created here in Baltimore, and across much of the nation, can begin with the humanities as they give us contexts for understanding and addressing this inequity and the narratives that undergird it. The humanities facilitate the conversations that can ultimately contribute to solutions.”

The idea for Baltimore Stories was born from UMD’s third annual Baltimore ThinkAThon, which was held April 30, 2015 in the midst of the Baltimore protests. Over 100 participants from the state’s major cultural institutions gathered to demonstrate the efficacy of humanities-based ideas and methods in the real world.  Many proposed projects centered on the way stories shaped the understanding of the protests, and narrative emerged as a central concern.

“Narrative or the collectives of stories we tell ourselves and each other is also a major focus of the humanities, so we hope to help citizens investigate and contextualize the past, present and future to uncover truths and move communities toward reconciliation,” said Parks.

ABOUT THE UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND
The University of Maryland is the state's flagship university and one of the nation's preeminent public research universities. A global leader in research, entrepreneurship and innovation, the university is home to more than 37,000 students, 9,000 faculty and staff, and 250 academic programs. Its faculty includes three Nobel laureates, two Pulitzer Prize winners, 49 members of the national academies and scores of Fulbright scholars. The institution has a $1.8 billion operating budget, secures $500 million annually in external research funding and recently completed a $1 billion fundraising campaign. For more information, visit www.umd.edu.

ABOUT THE MARYLAND HUMANITIES COUNCIL
The Maryland Humanities Council is a statewide, educational nonprofit organization that creates and supports educational experiences in the humanities that inspire all Marylanders to embrace lifelong learning, exchange ideas openly, and enrich their communities. For more information, visit www.mdhc.org. The Maryland Humanities Council is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the State of Maryland, and the William G. Baker, Jr. Memorial Fund, creator of the Baker Artist Awards.

ABOUT THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE HUMANITIES  
Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at: www.neh.gov.

The following faculty have been selected as 2015-16 Foxworth Faculty. The grant will allow faculty to create and implement courses that utilize the arts and humanities to help contextualize and present pressing societal issues.

This initiative is made possible by the generosity of two college alumni, Domonique and Ashley Foxworth. Domonique, Class of 2004, is a graduate of American Studies and Ashley, ’06, is an English alumna. The Foxworth Initiative is intended to support learning that brings students in contact with their surrounding communities as partners and allies in practices that help transform and bring about social justice. Courses supported by the initiative provide students with skills and critical thinking that support continued community engagement beyond their college career. For more information, visit www.arhu.umd.edu/foxworth.

FOXWORTH FACULTY COHORT:

Faculty Lead: Karen Bradley, School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies

Course: Essence, Identity, and Empowerment through the Arts: A Project for High Point High School

Social Issues: Adolescent identity, at risk youth

Approach: This course will focus on arts practices that develop habits of mind, heart and body/spirit in 14-25-year-olds. The primary purpose of this course is to train future arts educators for challenged students. These educators will learn to help students at risk of violence and anomie find voice and identity, and develop community through arts practices. UMD students will develop these skills in themselves and apply them to high school students at High Point High School. UMD students will design and lead arts experiences through methods, such as free drawing, acting exercises and slam poetry, while becoming advocates for arts integration in the school community.

Community Benefit: Students at High Point High School face issues of poverty, loss of community and identity, and oftentimes, trauma issues. UMD students will guide them toward access to focus, adaptability, a sense of self, self-efficacy and regulation skills, as well as organization, observation, analysis,, choice-making, predicting and communication skills via performance. In no way will every high school student achieve all of these, but they will be introduced to these concepts and experience practices that can lead to understanding and skill development. 

 

Faculty Lead: Audra Buck-Coleman, Department of Art

Courses: Advanced Graphic Design Principles: Design in Society and Three Dimensional Graphic Design

Social Issues: Adolescent identity, at-risk youth, social protest, structural racism and inequality

Approach: Over the course of two semesters, UMD senior graphic design students will collaborate with students from Augusta Fells Savage Institute of Visual Arts, a public high school in West Baltimore. Together they will leverage their creative skills to respond to the media’s negative and one-dimensional portrayal of the Baltimore students and their community during last year’s uprising. They will produce a series of creative works that promote positive, well-rounded notions of the students’ identities and the Baltimore community and that address the timeless and timely issues of structural racism, identity, unrest and self-agency as they relate to the Baltimore uprising. Their works will be exhibited at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum in Baltimore from April through August 2016, coinciding with the first anniversary of Freddie Gray’s death. The exhibition will include participatory elements to engage audiences and add their insights to these important conversations.

Community Benefit: Through their interactions, the high school students’ personal narratives and opinions will reshape UMD students’ understandings about identity, privilege and representation. The Baltimore students will be empowered on various levels: they will be given an opportunity and a means with which to re-write narratives about themselves and their community; they will understand how to use creative means as productive expression; they will also gain knowledge regarding artistic practices and contemporary technology with hopes that these exposures may positively affect the way in which they imagine their education or professional endeavors beyond high school.

 

Faculty Lead: Roberta Z. Lavine, School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

Course: Spanish for Health Professions

Social Issues: Cultural competence shortages in health professions

Approach: This course will allow students to explore the need for Spanish-English cultural and linguistic competency in health-related contexts. Students will partner with the Health Center to focus on outreach for Spanish-speaking dining services workers on campus. In class and in the outreach experience, students will examine and develop their own cultural competency by exploring identities, critically analyzing and solving problems, learning collaboratively and meaningfully interacting with members of other cultures. They will learn with and from the targeted campus community to develop strategies to advance culturally and linguistically appropriate health services on campus.

Community Benefit: The two tangible types of benefits to the clients are gaining health literacy and understanding how to maintain wellness, in culturally appropriate interactions that value and involve the workers themselves. In a respectful and participatory environment, the chances of client follow-through on health interventions are increased. UMD students will be able to explore and analyze their multiple identities and have real-world experiences working with Latino communities.

 

Faculty Lead: Jason Kuo, Department of Art History and Archaeology

Course: Aging and Creativity: Older Artists in Our Community

Social Issues: Ageism

Approach: This highly experiential and interdisciplinary course will engage students in the experience of the maturing artist through studying literature, attending guest lectures and conducting interviews and site-visits with older artists in the community. Interviews with selected artists will allow students to assist in documenting the artists’ life and art. These tasks will incorporate the disciplines of art history, gerontology and museum studies for students to ultimately shape an exhibition at the Brentwood Arts Exchange devoted to arts created by people over the age of 65. This will involve applying the research and experience from throughout the course to select the works, design the space, organize public programs and publish the exhibition catalog, brochures and wall labels.

Community Benefit: The contemporary art world focuses its attention on young emerging artists, creating difficulty for maturing artists to enter or re-enter public view. The goal of this course is to help their art become better recognized, documented, publicly exhibited and appreciated by our community. Research has demonstrated that community-based cultural programs for older adults are effective in health promotion, disease prevention and reduction in the need for long-term care. UMD students will benefit from the intergenerational interaction by gaining perspective of the ageist practices in the art world and the creative vitality that can be found in the maturing artist community.

A total $34,000 awarded by the university to Jorge Bravo, assistant professor of classics in the College of Arts and Humanities (ARHU), will help fund efforts to continue archeological exploration of the ancient Greek port of Kenchreai.

Bravo will travel to Greece in the summer to conduct preliminary investigations in new areas of Kenchreai, the eastern port of ancient Corinth. The work is the first part of Bravo’s larger plan to seek permits from the Greek government for further excavation and to secure future grants.

Funding, which is being provided by the Division of Research, ARHU and the Department of Classics, will help to pay for soil coring and GIS modeling of the harbor. The university’s support will also help sustain a field school for undergraduate and graduate students to continue to explore ancient Greek culture, a program he helped develop with an earlier $5,000 seed grant from ARHU.

Bravo said that the coring work will help researchers define what the environment was like for the area’s settlers and how they interacted with it as it changed over time. A geophysical survey using ground-penetrating radar and other methods will also help give researchers an idea of what lies beneath the earth’s surface. Corinth was a thriving commercial area from as early as about 700 B.C. through the Roman Empire to around 500 A.D., but as Bravo explained, the port was forced to move during that time as the environment changed.

“The general suspicion is that it was a process of silting up of the harbor over time,” Bravo said.

Bravo co-directs the Kenchreai Excavations along with Joseph L. Rife, associate professor of classics and anthropology at Vanderbilt University.  The Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, D.C. also supports the project.

Kenchreai was first explored by American archeologists in the 1960s.  Bravo said that he became interested in the site after collaborating with others who had also worked in the area. Funding will help build collaborations between the university’s departments of geography, anthropology, history, classics and others.

“It’s really building collaborations between the humanities and the other schools,” Bravo said.

In addition to the new seaside excavation work, he said, students attending the four-week field school will also have the opportunity to explore remains believed to have served as an ancient residence and warehouse, nearby Roman tombs and other sites and museums in the region.

For more information about the field school in Greece and how to apply, visit:  http://globalmaryland.umd.edu/offices/education-abroad/program/11005. 

 

The University of Maryland’s College of Arts and Humanities is pleased to announce the second round of Foxworth Creative Enterprise Initiative recipients. This latest round includes Leslie Felbain, associate professor in the School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies; Merle Collins professor in the Department of English and Scott Wible, associate professor in the Department of English along with Ph.D. candidates Heather Lindenman and Justin Lohr.

The 2015 recipients will lead several arts and humanities courses in the spring semester whose themes support community needs and whose products enhance student learning and engagement. The development of those courses is sponsored by the Foxworth Initiative.

One course will use interactive theater to explore self-esteem and personal boundaries with at-risk high school students. Another course will work with a local non-profit to introduce Caribbean literature and culture to traditionally underrepresented youth. A final course teams ninth graders at a local high school with “college buddies” to encourage social activism and effective change by exploring a social issue through use of rhetoric, theatre, dance or poetry.

“Funding from the Foxworths provides students an opportunity to become deeply engaged in the experiences of people of diverse heritages and economic backgrounds,” Bonnie Thornton Dill, dean for the College of Arts and Humanities, said. “They participate in meaningful cultural and civic exchanges that promote greater awareness of the value and importance of the arts and humanities.”

This initiative is made possible by the generosity of two college alumni, Domonique and Ashley Foxworth. Domonique, Class of 2004, is a graduate of American Studies and Ashley, ’06, is an English alumna. The Foxworth Initiative is intended to support learning that brings students in contact with their surrounding communities as partners and allies in practices that help transform and bring about social justice. Courses supported by the initiative provide students with skills and critical thinking that support continued community engagement beyond their college career. For more information, visit www.arhu.umd.edu/foxworth.

2015 FACULTY COHORT

Faculty Lead: Leslie Felbain, associate professor, School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies

Course: Theatre of the Oppressed, TDPS458T

Social Issues: Violence, abuse, addiction, crime, bullying and inequity.

Approach: Students will learn about “Theatre of the Oppressed,” a form of community-based education that uses theater as a tool for social and political activism and transformation. In this case, the course will address self-esteem and boundaries as they relate to a wide range of violations that result in trauma and violence and how those experiences become normalized because of social and institutional values.

Weekly to bi-weekly workshops will be scheduled and personal exchanges between the student groups will help build trust as well as inform the scenarios and situations to be explored by both groups of students.  The course will be documented through journaling, visual arts, video and audio recordings.  UMD students will also be required to write a paper documenting their research in applied theatre.

This course will address at-risk high school students. Among the specific communities is the Maya Angelou Academy, an in-house school for incarcerated juveniles in Laurel, Md.

Community benefit:  By interacting in a safe environment a new, expanded community will develop, one in which all participants will be valued equally and learn from each other. The participants will brainstorm working solutions and strategies for topics explored. An important goal of the project is to inspire all of the participating students to expand their horizons, learn the techniques presented and share these techniques with other communities. Students will be encouraged to continue their education and become spokespeople for causes that are important to them and impact their communities.

 

Faculty Lead:  Merle Collins, professor of comparative literature and English

Course: “Caribbean Stop:  Poetry and Short Stories from the Region," ENGL368C

Social Issue:  Access to education

Approach:  This project-based course is designed to provide UMD students the chance to work with the non-profit Cultural Academy for Excellence (CAFÉ), which serves elementary school children in Prince George’s County, Md. The course will introduce UMD students to selected works of Caribbean literature. Subsequently, the students will introduce these works to students at CAFÉ. UMD students will work with young people, helping with basic homework and contributing to the development of the confidence needed to accomplish academic goals. They will also be required to submit weekly reports and keep a journal throughout the semester that outlines their activities and methodologies.

The course will also produce a musical production on the steelpan of a short story entitled “Pan,” written by a celebrated Caribbean writer.  The steelpan production will be directed by a musician who works with CAFE students.  It will give UMD students a deeper understanding of oral traditions in Caribbean literature and will benefit the CAFÉ children, who will experience working collectively on a cultural and literary production with university students.

Community benefit:  In additional to improving academic performance, UMD students will help expand CAFÉ participants’ cultural and literary abilities by teaching them about Caribbean literature. By acting as teachers and role models, UMD students—already an example of success among young adults—will show elementary students that university education is an attainable goal.

 

Faculty Lead: Scott Wible, associate professor, Department of English.

Student Lead: Heather Lindenman, Ph.D. candidate and Justin Lohr, professional track faculty member, Department of English

Course Title: Writing for Change ENGL292 and ENGL388C

Social Issues: Educational inequity, literacy, civic education, intercultural communication

Approach: “Writing for Change” connects ninth grade students from Northwestern High School in Hyattsville, Md. with UMD “college buddies.” Over the course of the semester, the students and their college buddies will be co-tasked with improving their community by raising awareness of and proposing solutions to a pressing issue. Students might choose to tackle their issue through any number of genres including dance, dramatic monologues or spoken word poems. The college students will teach their buddies about writing concepts, such as audience awareness and literary strategies, while also mentoring them on time management and empathetic reasoning.  The course will be documented through letters between the high schoolers and their buddies, essays and websites created and curated by both parties but maintained by the college students.

Community benefit: In the process of composing, revising and performing their projects, the teams of students learn how to exercise their rhetorical savvy to affect their communities. For example, the issue students and their buddies choose might relate to intercultural conflicts, drug use in their community or discrimination by the police—anything that the high school students collectively decide needs to be addressed.  At the heart of the course is the notion that the arts and writing can be used to bring about demonstrable change in two ways:  by bringing together community members in a performance event and public forum and by compelling each individual composer to reconsider his or her subject position, creative capacity and civic responsibility. The high school students will not only give the UMD students an opportunity to transform words into action, but they will introduce the college students to their local communities.

On April 29th, the second place of the Do Good Challenge’s Venture Track category was awarded to Community Pipeline, a new initiative from the College of Arts & Humanities’ Center for Synergy and the ARHU Social Innovation Scholars. Guided by mentors and faculty members, University of Maryland students designed and implemented their own after-school programs in local elementary and middle schools. This organization was the brainchild of a few young, dedicated students, among them Nick Henninger ’15: history & economics major, Social Innovation Scholar and project mentor for the organization’s 2014 cohort.

Nick remembers sitting in a club meeting for AshokaU Terp Changemakers in April 2013 and listening to members express an earnest but unsubstantiated desire to teach entrepreneurship to a local school. What they needed, Nick thought, was a pipeline from the university to local schools such as Paint Branch Elementary and College Park Academy.

At the time, Nick was part of the 2013 cohort of the Social Innovation Scholars. Over the course of a year, the fourteen undergraduate scholars participated in classes, internships, fundraisers and meetings to nurture ideas and develop entrepreneurial projects. With support from ARHU Assistant Dean Sheri Parks and mentors from local schools, Nick and another scholar, Chinese and international business major Clara Huang ’14, came up with a plan to help interested college students turn their enthusiasm into action.

Community Pipeline launched on March 31st of this year. Students ran four different after-school programs three days a week. 98 volunteers hosted a “diverse array” of activities, including singing, engineering, geography and more. Community Pipeline provided Maryland students with the logistical services they need, such as free door-to-door transportation, an on-campus background check, lesson plan assistance, communication with school officials and any miscellaneous costs. In the near future, Community Pipeline may create its own website, and perhaps even spread its ideas to other universities. These are big tasks, but the students aren’t backing down.

“It’s meant to be enormous,” Nick says. “It’s meant to change the way this university looks and feels to the local community.”

3/17/14

By John Kelly, The Washington Post.

About 30 years ago, an Italian friend of ours visited. After a few days doing the tourist thing, he exclaimed: “I love Washington! It’s like a Rome where everything works.”

I don’t know what Adriano would think of D.C. today, when Metro breaks down routinely and Congress seems proud of its dysfunction. But I understood his point: With its classically inspired public architecture, Washington is reminiscent of the Eternal City.

Many Americans might not make the connection. The classics department at the University of Maryland hopes to rectify that. Last month, it beat out two dozen U.S. and Italian universities and landed a $500,000 grant from the National Italian American Foundation to study the Roman influence on American identity.

“If we can call people’s attention to the way in which, particularly during the founding era, the nation, particularly Washington, looked to Rome as a model, I think that would be valuable,” said Greg Staley, professor of classics and director of honors humanities at Maryland.

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