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Engaging community college faculty

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Gary Mukai, Tania Beliz, Michele Titus, and Jonas Edman at the EPIC Fellows Symposium.
Photo credit: 
Molly Aufdermauer

For four decades since 1976, the SPICE staff has worked with many centers of Stanford Global Studies (SGS)—including the Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies, Center for East Asian Studies, Center for Latin American Studies, and Center for African Studies—on innovative educational outreach efforts. The 2015–16 academic year was no exception.

During 2015–16, SGS’s Education Partnership for Internationalizing Curriculum (EPIC) Fellowship Program supported nine community college faculty from Foothill College and the College of San Mateo. The inaugural cohort of EPIC Fellows collaborated with SGS, Lacuna, and SPICE on projects aimed at internationalizing course curricula and producing innovative curricular materials for use in community college classrooms.

SPICE's Jonas Edman worked with two EPIC Fellows, Michele Titus and Tania Beliz from the College of San Mateo. As EPIC Fellows, Titus and Beliz received stipends and access to Stanford Library resources. In addition to producing the projects, they participated in monthly meetings, served as liaisons to their college, presented their work at their college, and shared their projects at the EPIC Fellows Symposium, which was held on May 14, 2016. In addition, the EPIC Fellows were invited to attend half-day seminars that featured talks by Francis Fukuyama (governance), Walter Falcon (food security), and Gordon Chang (U.S.–China relations) and curriculum demonstrations on all three topics by Edman.

The EPIC Fellows Symposium, which featured presentations by the nine EPIC Fellows, was attended by over 50 California community college instructors from as far north as Shasta College in Redding to Santa Ana College and Santa Monica College in southern California. The presentations by Beliz and Titus during the Symposium stimulated a robust discussion.

Beliz focused her EPIC project on integrating the latest research on biodiversity and food production into her biology classes. Her work in utilizing technology to infuse international perspectives on this research into her classes inspired community college instructors to take a close look at the syllabus of one of her courses. In reviewing her syllabus, she explained that since the College of San Mateo enrolls significant numbers of students of Filipino descent, she was prompted to integrate a lecture on research on biodiversity from a scholar from the Philippines in her curriculum. Reflecting upon her experience as an EPIC Fellow, Beliz noted, “There are different and varied ways, and different depths of internationalizing curriculum. It depends on our course objectives, our vision of the message we want to impart to our students, and our own experiences in the international community… EPIC made the internationalizing of my biology classes possible in providing a platform for the project to take shape and be implemented.”

Titus’ participation in the EPIC Fellowship Program provided her with the opportunity to internationalize and revitalize the curriculum for her cultural and physical anthropology courses. Specifically, “ethnicity of diet” was investigated cross-culturally and internationally, with a special emphasis on the Tongan and Tongan-American student population at College of San Mateo. Her work with a very diverse student body prompted questions from community college instructors on topics such as culturally sensitive curriculum and culturally relevant pedagogy. Titus noted, “The EPIC Symposium was a showcase of faculty presentations that reflected the evolution of courses to broader, more global perspectives. It was a great opportunity to share my own project and to enjoy feedback from others.”

Titus, Beliz, and other EPIC Fellows appreciated the importance placed upon active and collective participation in the EPIC Fellowship Program. This may have contributed to the steady growth since fall 2015 of a community of learners comprised of the EPIC Fellows and SGS, Lacuna, and SPICE. Beliz commented, “I found our exchange of ideas thought-provoking, and after every conversation I was able to come up with more ideas about possible paths to follow. It helped that I was teaching a summer class, so after our conversations I could implement one or two of our ideas.” Titus noted, “I worked most closely with Tania Beliz… but also interacted regularly at seminars with the other faculty from the colleges and university. The Stanford group was supportive and inspiring, helping me shape my ideas into something meaningful for students.”

Most of SPICE’s work with SGS over the past 40 years has focused on elementary and secondary schools. The 2015–16 collaboration with SGS on the EPIC Fellows Program and the 2011–14 focus on the promotion of human rights education at community colleges (Stanford Human Rights Education Initiative or SHREI) have helped SPICE to expand its reach to community colleges throughout California. The EPIC Fellowship Program and SHREI could serve as models for other research universities in the United States that are recipients of U.S. Department of Education Title VI grants. To receive news about the EPIC Fellows Program, please visit SGS’s “Community Engagement” webpage. 

 

 

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