Family Social Science (FSOS) has launched a new master’s degree program in prevention science that will help prepare family science practitioners to prevent or moderate major human dysfunctions before they occur.
The Master of Arts (M.A.) in Prevention Science will equip students to confront many of the daunting challenges facing today’s families and communities, including trauma and drug addiction. The M.A. in Prevention Science will also help students develop strategies to promote the health and well-being of families.
Core coursework for the M.A. in Prevention Science gives students a solid foundation in statistics and research methodology, family conceptual frameworks, and ethics. Students can choose the Plan A which includes a thesis, or the Plan B which includes a project and a paper.
The M.A. in Prevention Science is intended for individuals who would like to build a career that supports families and works to redirect maladaptive behaviors.
The program is currently accepting applications for Fall 2017. The application deadline is March 1, 2017.
FSOS Ph.D. student Renada Goldberg was recently awarded a grant from the Minneapolis Foundation. Renada will work with the Center on Women, Gender, and Public Policy to conduct a community-based participatory research project in partnership with African American parents, caregivers, and leaders of nonprofits to study and ultimately help shape state and municipal public policies such as the new paid leave policy in Minneapolis.
Anne Crampton, a fourth-year Ph.D. student in Literacy Education received the Women’s Philanthropic Leadership Circle (WPLC) award for graduate students. The award is for women graduate students to recognize their achievements and successes in their field of interest. The criteria for the award includes academic achievements, community involvement, leadership, and passion for the academic and professional career of choice.
Crampton’s research focus is in secondary critical literacy where she is currently looking at the student experience in both a large, urban high school and a small, urban charter school. “I think it is significant that we have such different experiences in schools, within and certainly across districts. I’m not comparing them, just trying to notice some of the plurality of schooling. Also, there can be negative stereotypes assigned to large, urban schools because people often don’t see the strengths of the students,” Crampton says.
After 15 years as a classroom teacher, Crampton pursued her Ph.D. in Literacy Education to have a better understanding of what shapes the education system and the root of inequity in the classroom. “Certain things kept me awake at night about what I didn’t think was fair or right. I wanted to understand it and be a part of the conversation in order to change it,” she noted.
Crampton’s Ph.D. studies have helped her make more sense of some of the arguments in public education and the urgency around them. She feels there are very positive and effective education techniques that offer the chance for a transformative learning experience. “I’d like other people to know that effective education does happen and it’s possible. People want to hear about successful education techniques in three words, but it’s complicated. Implementing new techniques takes support, an excellent teacher, flexibility, and the support of the school district.“
Crampton is particularly focused on the value of “aesthetic experiences” in the classroom, referring to big projects that students have a creative stake in that allow an aspect of performance, be it a podcast or a play. Citing the need for opportunities to engage emotionally and critically with ideas: “I think you can do all those things in many different disciplines,” Crampton believes these types of experiences in the classroom support the growth of the students as humans and honors their abilities.
Crampton plans to use her award to disseminate ideas and learn from her peers through conference travel and potentially support the purchase of additional Garage Band apps for classrooms in her research.
After years of living in the United States illegally, Daniel Perez, a former FSoS undergraduate student and current graduate student, has a green card after qualifying for a federal program that offers deportation reprieve for immigrants who entered the country as children.
Perez, who crossed the Mexican border when he was 15, qualified for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), passed by the Obama administration in 2012.
According to an article in the Star Tribune, for those who qualify, DACA offers a temporary reprieve from deportation and a work permit. For some immigrants married to U.S. citizens, the program also allows government-approved travel abroad to nullify their initial illegal entry into the country and permit them to apply for a green card.
Perez’s wife, Kendra, a Canadian who is now a U.S. citizen, sponsored him.
Through DACA, Perez has been granted “advanced parole,” according to the Star Tribune. This means that a person with a pending immigration application has permission to re-enter the country, as long as they had an educational, professional, or humanitarian reason to leave the country. Perez, who now works as a social worker in Minneapolis, was granted advance prole for a professional conference in Canada.
Now Perez and his wife are planning his first trip to Mexico since he and his family left in 2002. They will visit his grandparents and other family.
Perez will be eligible to apply for citizenship in 2018.
The Department of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning hosted a Graduate Student Showcase featuring the scholarship of soon-to-be graduates and alumni of the Multicultural College Teaching and Learning program. Following are highlights from the presentations.
Multicultural Career Development: Identifying Values to Foster Major/Career Planning of Exploratory Students
Amy Barton’s research area is the career development of underrepresented students in higher education. Her research project examined a values-based approach for supporting students in their exploration of majors and careers, along with the utilization of a constructivist framework. Her research identified the strengths and limitations of a narrative approach while recognizing its applicability with other student populations. Barton’s experiences throughout her graduate career have informed her research. She has worked as a Graduate Research Assistant for three faculty members and completed a practicum with the Medical School Office of Admissions. This year, Barton is a Career Counselor Graduate Intern for CEHD Career Services and a Graduate Teaching Assistant for CLA President’s Emerging Scholars. Barton enjoys engaging with college students during the unique transition period of academic and career development and is energized by the complexity and challenge of this exciting work.
Somali National University: Reviving Public Higher Education in a Post-Conflict Society
Saida Hassan is passionate about the landscape of higher education and how to better serve students, specifically in relation to International Education from a learning and teaching perspective. In the summer of 2014, she did her three-credit internship with the Heritage Institute for Policy Studies in Mogadishu, Somalia, collecting the stories of former students of Somali National University (SNU), the only university in Somalia prior to the civil war. Her research focused on the students’ undergraduate experiences using interviews and oral histories to identify the value placed on education by Somalis as well as the organized, authoritarian system of study during that time. After two decades of civil war, Somali National University has reopened. Hassan traveled back to Somalia to assist SNU’s College of Education with preparation of the college, providing recommendations based on her research and education to help the university establish collaborative learning environments. “In the landscape of higher education, it is critical to implement inclusive learning environments that integrate engaging pedagogy,” says Hassan.
Revised Course Design of Online Chinese Language Class for Better Peer Cross-cultural Communication
Wuyi Zhang is from Hunan Province, China. His undergraduate study was in Teaching Chinese as a Second Language from Beijing Normal University Zhuhai Campus, China. After graduation, he was a Chinese teacher in a language training school and mostly taught small classes or individual students. “I taught students from all over the world, and they also taught me a lot about their own cultures and traditions,” say Zhang. Two years later, he came to America to better prepare himself as a teacher and experience different cultures in America. The purpose of his project was to build awareness and consciousness of the importance of cross-cultural communication, and create the possibilities of cross-cultural conversations by supporting them in his course redesign. Zhang added culturally emphasized activities and content to aid students in connecting more deeply with the course and one another. He promoted the students’ sense of participation and value through culturally distinguishable assignments. In one assignment he asked students to record the phrase, “When Greenwich meantime is 12:00, the time in my hometown is ________.” Then he digitally altered the audio and asked students to identify which student was speaking based on the recorded information. Zhang also included images with more cultural diversity in the courseware and encouraged students to use culturally recognized pictures to create their own flash cards. He sees his work benefiting other online course instructors who face similar challenges as well as designers and programmers of online education platforms.
Does Space Matter?
Anne Loyle-Langholz started her educational journey at a small community college in New Jersey. She later attended Rutgers University where she completed an MA in Organic Chemistry in 2007. As a graduate student at the University of Minnesota, she has worked on several curriculum projects in science education including the implementation of culturally relevant lessons for Native students and process-oriented guided inquiry (POGIL) activities for introductory anatomy and physiology courses. During the showcase, Loyle-Langholz presented research that addressed student attitudes towards chemistry and perceptions of the learning environment in a traditional lecture hall (LH) and an active learning classroom (ALC). For her study, she complied extensive video and audio documentation of a chemistry course at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and administered two surveys. The first, an 8-item semantic differential, measured students’ attitudes toward the subject of chemistry and measured the constructs of emotional satisfaction and intellectual accessibility. The results showed students’ attitudes remained unchanged. The second, a 32-item instrument developed at the UMN, was designed to measure student perceptions of the learning environment. Results reflected positive, significant gains in the constructs of engagement, confidence, and enrichment, along with use of the room and course fit in the ALC. In 2012, Loyle-Langholz received a Certificate in Multicultural College Teaching and Learning. She is currently working for a local publishing company as a Database Librarian to catalogue and develop curricula in several science disciplines.
Facilitating Conversations of Equity and Diversity
Shane Lueck’s Capstone project involved writing and designing a booklet on how to facilitate conversations of equity and diversity, specifically for facilitators who have no formal training in diversity and equity topics. Lueck’s goal was to provide support for people wishing to address equity and diversity as it comes up in the workplace or at family gatherings. Instead of a booklet full of activities and sample conversations, the content focused on interventions to be had before these conversations take place. Lueck’s booklet encourages facilitators to reflect on why they want to have these conversations, the identities and biases they are bringing into the room, the identities and biases of the other participants, and how to encourage willingness on the part of the participants in having these conversations. These reflections guide the facilitator through understanding how all of these components impact the conversation and how to have the most productive conversation possible. Lueck’s reflective process is supplemented with resource lists of activities and additional materials to further support facilitators.
After more than forty years in higher education, Jeanne Higbee, Ph.D., retired from teaching in the Department of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning at the University of Minnesota, College of Education and Human Development. In tribute to her service, PsTL asked Higbee to share career moments in this Q&A, and invited thoughts and recollections from those who know her as a colleague, mentor and partner.
As you reflect on your career. What surprised you most about the journey and what did you find most rewarding?
JH: If I look over my entire career, what surprised me most is that I entered this career planning to be an administrator, and the higher I moved up in administration the less I wanted to do that because it meant I wasn’t with students anymore. I would see an occasional student at committee meetings or in some other formal settings, but I didn’t have that regular contact with students and that’s why I moved to a faculty position. For me, definitely the most rewarding piece of this has always been the direct work students, whether it’s been in the classroom, as a counselor and advisor working closely with students in those kinds of settings or co-presenting with graduate students and mentoring them. By far, the most fulfilling aspect of my career is the direct contact with students.
If I think about other things, what’s been surprising is that many faculty, especially at research universities, would not put teaching first-year students high on their priority list. For most of my career, once I moved into the faculty ranks, I was teaching almost exclusively first-year students with an occasional grad class here and there or an occasional other course that might involve students across the undergraduate years.
I loved teaching first-year students. I wish more faculty would open themselves up to the joy of the kinds of developing minds you encounter when teaching first-year students.
Tell me about the light bulb moment with students: When all the sudden someone’s life changes because of his or her educational experience.
JH: There have been so many I’ve witnessed because I’ve worked in programs that serve students from historically underserved populations and students who might not have anticipated years before that they would even attend college. One of my favorite kinds of light bulb moments is when a student will realize just how smart he or she really is. When all of a sudden a student realizes, “I can do this. I am very capable. I understand this. Now I look at myself in a different light and I think differently about my career goals.” That’s one of the things that always excited me. That moment when students become invested in learning; highly motivated. Sometimes a student won’t necessarily enter the institution that way. Sometimes they know they want to go to college, but they aren’t sure what they want to do, or they start college with a major that, in essence, somebody else selected for them. But, when they find that one thing they love and want to delve into it, all of a sudden they are inspired to do so much more. When it is no longer about a career where I can make money or a career my parents would approve of, and all of sudden it is: “This is what I’m interested in. This is what I want to learn more about and want to spend my life doing.” That to me is really the most powerful experience that I can have as a faculty member. Having the joy of seeing a student reach that point.
How can other educators make this same sort of difference to awaken students?
JH: It all comes from within a student. A lot of it is really taking the time to get to know students as individuals. I’ve been fortunate because I’ve taught courses that enable me to do that. I’ve taught courses that had enrollment limits of 20 students, like freshman seminars. I encourage any faculty member at the University of Minnesota to take advantage of teaching a freshman seminar where they can delve into a topic of deep interest and have the opportunity to share that interest with students and get to know the students well. Another part of it is that I’ve taught a lot of writing intensive classes and that deepens my relationship with the student because they’re sharing so much with me, not just in the classroom, but, through their writing. I think that’s a big part of it. I just finished reviewing the final galleys of a book chapter and it reminded me about what I had written in that chapter, it’s not just about the small classes where you can do that. You can have a large lecture hall with a hundred students and you can still make the effort to get to know those students as individuals. Because if you don’t, you’re never going to see those moments.
Many colleagues and students credit you with making them better writers. What’s your secret and why the green pen?
JH: (Laughs) You heard about the green ink. I sometimes use purple. Growing up when teachers still graded everything with red pencil, before anything was electronic, you just learned that the red pencil meant that something was wrong: That you were then wrong. So I have never used red for presenting any kind of feedback.
I’m continuing to edit an international open access journal while I’m retired, and at the same time while I was reviewing the galleys of my own work yesterday, I was also going through an article that was submitted by someone from another country. Trying to give reasons for all the feedback. Trying to point journal authors or students to the resources they need to build upon those skills. To always make the process of reading someone’s writing a mentoring process, rather than a grading process. That’s always been important to me.
Your publications are extensive. Which one(s) are you most proud of and why?
JH: That’s hard to answer. The work I’ve done has kept building on previous work. I have to point to my whole body of work where my closest co-author and co-editor was always Emily Goff. But there were a number of people, another former graduate student, Jennifer Schultz, Irene Duranczyk, and others who also shared in this work quite a bit. Definitely my work related to Universal Design is an area in which I know, I’m not saying I made a difference, but I know that work makes a difference and that the impact of the work is broader than what was initially assumed about UD. We now know Universal Instructional Design can improve learning for all students, not just a specific target audience of students with disabilities. In fact, one of my most recent publications was a conference proceedings paper I presented in January, co-authored by Emily Goff, about our work on integrated multicultural instructional design (IMID). We intentionally presented at an international conference and published it in an international open access conference proceedings, so anybody anywhere in the world could get their hands on it at no cost. That publication has only been on the web for maybe two months now so it’s not had time to have an impact, and other things that we’ve written related to integrated multicultural instructional design build on our work with Universal Instructional Design, but the new paper takes IMID many steps farther in terms of considering the multiple facets of students’ individual social identities.
Your colleagues describe your character as a blend of highly intellectual and scholarly passion combined with human compassion and kindness. Where did your empathy come from?
JH: That’s very kind. When I was at the University of Georgia, I was respected by faculty outside my department but not necessarily by faculty within. My work related to multiculturalism, some of my work with disabilities, was not valued there, but it has always been my focus because of how my mother raised me. I started doing this work before the term social justice was used to describe the work. It’s always been important to me because of the values my Mom instilled in me at a period of time when having those values was not popular. Having these values from an early age forward and knowing that I then had to have the courage to walk the talk, and not just be an empty shell, this had a long-term impact on my wanting to be inclusive of everyone.
How do you believe empathy impacts students?
JH: Some graduate students come into our program very confident, but for some, they’re not just the first in their family to do graduate work, they are the first to attend college, graduate from college and it’s still important that they come to that realization of just how smart and capable they are and that more doors will continue to open to them. I love the fact that half of the students who enter our MA program have every intention of pursuing their doctorate. At the same time, I understand the students who don’t say that when they enter because certainly when I entered my Masters program I never would have dreamed that I would pursue a doctorate at some point. I was somebody who, as a masters-level graduate student, was literally told by my advisor that I was not doctoral material. I’d love to hold my publication work against his.
Retired, but not slowing down, correct?
JH: One of the things I was looking for in retirement was no deadlines; being able to do things according to my own timeframe, at my own pace, on my own schedule. I can’t do that with The Journal of College Teaching and Learning that I edit for The Clute Institute because they are very respectful of authors. They ask that the turnaround from point of submission to initial point of decision is eight weeks. That’s a challenge if I’m traveling or if I have other commitments or something else sparks my interest and I want to follow that flow. I have to interrupt it and get back to the journal work. Balancing that is the opportunity to work with authors from all over the world and the US. I’ve worked with teams of authors from Tuskegee and really enjoy having the opportunity to read work that isn’t related to any academic discipline. One of the papers I learned the most from was a paper related to teaching astronomy and some work that’s been done internationally to make astronomy and the study of the stars more accessible to students who aren’t at institutions with big budgets and fancy telescopes. Another piece I recently edited on college students’ involvement in aquatic sports tourism in Taiwan used the same theoretical framework about intended behaviors that the University of Georgia’s Karen Kalivoda, now the Director of the Disability Resource Center, introduced me to when she was a graduate student. I was on her doctoral committee as the outside member, but was the one who worked with her most closely on her dissertation. Her dissertation from the early 90s used the same theoretical framework I was reading yesterday only applied to a completely different area of expertise.
I’m drawn into reading and editing these pieces from all around the world that have nothing to do with my academic disciplinary areas of expertise, but at the same time are just truly interesting to me. I can tell you in depth about many of the articles I’ve edited. And, because The Clute Institute has numerous conferences in different parts of the world, including the US, I get to go to conferences and meet some of these authors and that’s a truly wonderful experience. I really enjoy doing it.
One last question: Have the late night student phone calls ended?
JH: (Laughs) Of course the phone calls have ended, but the emails still tend to roll in. My husband will be long asleep and I’ll do a quick check of the umn.edu account at about 2 a.m. before I go to sleep. It’s fun to see the messages that came in during the wee hours.
Thank you to Jeanne Higbee for her far-reaching impact and tireless dedication to inclusive, education development through teaching, writing, editing and mentorship. In celebration, we toast you with the following words of praise and gratitude.
“Jeanne’s energy and connections put the University into the forefront of Education Development.” — Cathy Wambach, PsTL colleague
“No one else at the University has shown me as much compassion, kindness and generosity. She brings the idea of making a difference into reality. I can only aspire to make that kind of impact.” — Jill Trites, PsTL colleague
“She lets you see the real person. She is compassionate, willing to be vulnerable and expresses genuine concern for others and that is very rare. She helped make the department a place of stability.” — Bob Poch, PsTL colleague
“Best instructor I’ve had in my entire life. You never feel like you’re taking up her time. She’s a fierce advocate for students who is always willing to mentor and help provide direction.” — Amber Eule-Nashoba, former student
“She was my advisor. I learned so much from her, more than in some of my classes. She’s a natural teacher. She pushed me to get stuff finished and think in different way. I’m excited she’s retiring so she’ll have more time to work with me. I don’t just like her; I love her.” — Anise McDowell, former advisee
“She is a life-effusing force who knows when to hire others. With her green ink pen, Jeanne made me a much better and more confident writer.” — David Arendale, PsTL colleague
“I owe every professional thing I’ve accomplished to Jeanne. I’ve been supported by everything I’ve learned from her personally and professionally. She’s also fearless about publication.” — Emily Goff, co-author and former student
“In 2008, she helped me navigate the path to becoming a faculty member. She was my main advisor at the time, and served in a number of edits that influenced my work and made me a better writer.” — Mike Stebleton, PsTL colleague
“I admire her commitment and passion and fearlessness. She taught me to see the best in students, what they’re strengths and abilities are; to understand who they are, what they have to offer and how we can impact them.” — Gary Peter, PsTL colleague
“Jeanne introduced me to Universal Instructional Design and from that point on all the courses, papers and workshops unfolded. She made a big difference in precisely how I’ve designed courses and provided materials.” — Jay Hatch, PsTL colleague
“She’s the most brilliant person I’ve ever met. We’ve been married 35 years and that is the thing that continues to attract me to her. She’s always been passionate about teaching and was always student-oriented. She would take calls from students day or night.” — Tom Couillard, husband
Recent scholarship recipients, Amy Barton and Nue Lor share the journeys that led them to pursue master’s degrees in Multicultural College Teaching and Learning within the Department of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning.
Using values to define identity and purpose.
As an undergraduate in Family Social Science, Amy Barton knew she wanted a career that involved helping others. After graduating in 2007, she worked in a couple of direct-service positions. These positions were rewarding but Barton thought something was missing. Therefore, she shifted focus and accepted a position with an advertising agency. “I viewed this as a good opportunity to gain some new skills, especially in regard to strategic thinking,” says Barton. “But, my heart wasn’t in it. I really missed being in a helping role.”
While serving on the CEHD Alumni Society Board, Barton started to see higher education as an environment that matched closely with her values and strengths. She connected with a faculty member in the Department of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning: associate professor Dr. Tabitha Grier-Reed. Through interactions with Grier-Reed, Barton realized how much their interests aligned and was introduced to the Multicultural College Teaching and Learning graduate program.
For Barton, values play a significant role in her life choices and the approach she uses to support students as a career counselor graduate intern in CEHD Career Services. Her work and research focus on how values shape identity and how understanding one’s values can assist students in career planning. This values-based approach will be central to Barton’s Capstone final project: a professional development workshop for advisors.
She finds working with students rewarding. “I appreciate getting to know who they are, and helping students discover their identities,” says Barton. “It’s also validating to have them come in multiple times and seeing the changes they’ve made between visits,” she says. “I know how much it takes to show up for the first appointment, and when students come back, it shows they feel supported.” Amy Barton plans to graduate with a Master’s in Multicultural College Teaching and Learning in May 2015.
Reframing frustration for positive change.
Nue Lor describes her academic path as long and difficult, beginning with high ambitions but hindered by roadblocks surrounding a misdiagnosis of her bipolar disorder. Prior to graduating summa cum laude with a Bachelor’s in Family Social Science from the University of Minnesota, Lor struggled at three different universities. “I felt like a failure,” she recalls. “One advisor even told me, ‘Maybe education isn’t for you. Maybe you should just go get a job.’ I realize it was the institutions that failed me.”
“Now that I have the right treatment, I view having bipolar as a companion I’ve learned to walk with,” says Lor who believes being open about her diagnosis is the best way to help others in need of resources and support.
Although Lor is a first-generation college student, education is highly valued by her parents, Hmong refugees who came to the U.S. before she was born. In Laos, her father endured extreme conditions, walking nearly thirty miles and living in a makeshift home during the week, to pursue a high school education. Of her six siblings, four have bachelor’s degrees and two are currently enrolled in college.
As a first-year Multicultural College Teaching and Learning master’s candidate, Lor’s early frustrations and her father’s influence drive her desire for a career within higher education administration. “I feel it’s important to have the administration accurately reflect the student population,” says Lor. “Currently only 13% of college presidents are people of color.”
“When I saw the phrase ‘You belong here’ on the PsTL website, it strongly resonated with me,” says Lor. “I could tell it was a program that valued multicultural perspectives, access and equity.” Lor plans to use her experience and education to shape the future of higher education. Her big dream is to be the president of a college or university some day. “I want to contribute my knowledge to society,” she says. “I hope to positively impact families, communities and the larger world.”
Each program’s curriculum specifically integrates experiential and innovative teaching and learning practices, allowing students to expand and redefine their perspectives through international education, interdisciplinary thinking and cross-cultural engagement.
Stories of Social Change: A South African Perspective
EDHD 3100/5100 – 3 Credits
December 27, 2014 – January 17, 2015
During this winter break program, Ezra Hyland guides students as they investigate the ways literature illuminates individual struggles and the relationships of these struggles to larger, global social forces. Students can expect to build their capacity for literary analysis and gain a deeper understanding of diverse philosophies and cultures within and across societies.
Hyland, who travels frequently to South Africa and has brought several South African scholars to the University, sees South Africa as a mirror for America: one that gives students a metaphorical window into American society. His desired outcome of the program is to help students see the world with new eyes. “Once they’ve read the literature, interacted with the people, and seen the places, I don’t think they’ll ever be the same again,” says Hyland. Course description and enrollment.
Global Change, Environment, and Families in Thailand
EDHD 3100/5100 – 3 Credits
May 16 – June 6, 2015
During this May term study abroad, led by Linda Buturian (PsTL) and Dr. Catherine Solheim (FSoS), students will gain insight into social justice issues from interactions with community leaders and hill tribe villagers in northern Thailand. Students will examine the complexity of globalization, specifically its impact on environmental sustainability, economic and family well-being, and community development as it relates to changes along the Mekong River. Through brief home stays and service learning projects, students will experience community life and contribute to the social change work. “The program provides students with a deeper vision of community, and demonstrates the power of community-based approaches to effecting positive social change,” says Buturian.
After they return, students will use digital storytelling to reflect on and communicate their learning. A writer and digital storyteller herself, Buturian knows the value of the assignment: “A digital narrative is a respectful, inclusive medium that helps students shape, understand and communicate the layers of their experiences with greater ownership and engagement.” Course description and enrollment.
Examining the Good Life in Denmark and Sweden
EDHD 3100 – 3 Credits May 20 – June 13, 2015
How do education, urban design, employment and environmentalism contribute to a happy and healthy population? Using positive psychology and happiness research as conceptual frameworks, students will critically examine quality of life issues, current events and policies of Denmark and Sweden, whose residents are reported to be some of the happiest individuals in the world. With Copenhagen as their living laboratory, students will employ a multidisciplinary approach to investigate factors that contribute to urban livability and positive well-being. A visit to Malmo, Sweden allows students to compare findings of the good life between neighboring countries.
“The curriculum encourages students to think and act like social scientists using their own disciplinary lens,” says Mike Stebleton, program leader. “Like the local residents, we will explore the city by bike and foot through car-free streets, but we’ll also analyze issues related to immigration, diversity and social justice.” At the end of the course, students will prepare a digital storytelling narrative based on their analysis of a current event in Danish society. Course description and enrollment.
Growing up in a suburb of Washington, D.C., Bob Poch was surrounded by monuments, museums and sites of historical significance. Each Saturday his father eagerly guided Poch and his older brother on tours of these nearby treasures. Poch remembers being enthralled at Ford’s Theater when he was eight years old. “I was looking at Lincoln’s clothing and hearing my father’s emphatic affirmations, ‘This is real. This is where it happened. This isn’t fake,'” Poch recalls. While that moment triggered his passion for history, it would be years before Poch, a Senior Fellow and Director of Graduate Studies in the department of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning, considered history as a career path.
From aspiring drummer to award-winning teacher
“I wanted to be a professional drummer,” Poch admits from his tidy office tastefully decorated in early American Beatlemania and scholarly tomes. “I was a good student and even geeked-out reading history books in the library during lunch, but my plan didn’t include college,” says the 2014 Morse Award recipient. Fortunately for past, current and future students, his father persuaded him to try college for two years.
At the end of Poch’s first semester, his history professor, Charles Poland, pulled him aside with a prophecy. “I think you can do what I do,” Poland predicted. Encouragement from this well-regarded civil war historian and educator radically altered Poch’s plans. His two-year trial turned into nine straight years of study.
Following his M.A., Poch was intent on earning a Ph.D. in History at the University of Virginia but a lack of job prospects forced him to improvise. He shifted focus slightly to pursue a doctorate in Higher Ed. at UVA. During an internship in the provost’s office, Poch grew passionate about educational access and realized he could apply his understanding of history, specifically issues of privilege, to educational policy issues.
An outsider seeking access for others
Poch’s desire to shape educational policy and reverse historical trends regarding educational access landed him a position with the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education right out of graduate school. “I was an outsider: a young, white guy looking for ways to reverse the effects of Jim Crow and increase the college-going rate of South Carolinians,” he says. “Luckily, I had great mentors who taught me how to understand diverse perspectives and contexts, and effectively engage people. It was a crash course in multiculturalism and respect.” With these interpersonal lessons and Poch’s natural warmth and exuberance, his outsider status was a non-issue from the start. “They embraced me,” says Poch, “and many are now lifelong friends.” After eight years of policy development and advocacy, his Commissioner approached him with familiar advice: “I think you can do what I do.”
Running a state agency was not part of Poch’s plan, but when Minnesota’s Higher Education Services Office (now the Office of Higher Education) offered him the directorship, Poch accepted, making him the youngest state higher ed. executive officer in the United States. He candidly recounts his thoughts at the time, “I was scared to death. I had 50 people reporting to me, an agency budget of $250 million, and again, I was an outsider.” However, the agency’s mission to remove barriers to postsecondary attendance aligned completely with his previous experience and professional values, and he quickly integrated into the new environment. “I had an amazing set of colleagues and we were able to work with the legislature to do great things,” Poch reflects. “Watching thousands of students going into colleges and universities who, without the commitment of the state behind them, would not have gone, was absolutely thrilling.”
Rekindling a dormant passion
While still working for the state, Poch began guest lecturing at the University of Minnesota where his love of teaching was reignited. He eventually joined the University as Assistant Dean of General College. At the University, Poch is able to harmonize pedagogy, history and access. “Here I can take my research directly into the classroom,” he explains. His investigation of Howard University School of Law’s consistent development of pioneering civil rights attorneys is his foundation for scenario-based history problems shown to increase subject knowledge and cognition of undergraduates.
Respecting the different ways people learn is a cornerstone of the nascent Master of Arts in Multicultural College Teaching and Learning. As the new Director of Graduate Studies, Poch is energized to collaborate with colleagues and students to expand the program’s influence. “Our program prepares future and current professionals to skillfully and productively engage diverse audiences within colleges and universities,” says Poch. “We believe you can harness all forms of diversity to maximize educational experiences and outcomes.”
Poch still plays the drums, but the decades-old advice he received from Poland fuels his contagious enthusiasm. “I love what I do,” he says unapologetically. “This is a joyful thing for me.”
By bridging pedagogical best practices within a multicultural context and integrating them within a distance-learning platform, Schoen’s Capstone project examines ways to apply equity pedagogy across various content disciplines while maximizing technology as an effective teaching tool.
Leveraging former experiences as a high school teacher, corporate learning and development consultant and University training coordinator – a position she held while obtaining her Master’s – Schoen’s Capstone project utilized past experiences while setting the stage for her career following graduation.
The result of her Capstone project helped Schoen secure a position with the University’s Academic Technology Support Services as an instructional designer. “I’ve already used elements of my Capstone project to support faculty with development of online courses,” Schoen says. Her new role includes serving as a consultant and information resource for instructors seeking to effectively transfer course content to online and hybrid learning platforms.
This year Schoen returned to the conference to present her Capstone project in the same environment where it was first formulated. “Last year, I remember thinking ‘there are so many things I need to learn,'” Schoen reflects. “This year I realized I’d come a long way, thanks to the education and support I received from the PsTL program.”