Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 8
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Faculty seeks Foundation funding for Global Studies Initiative

Whitman may soon be embarking on the most instrumental and academically oriented stride towards diversity yet to occur on campus. Twenty-seven Whitman professors recently submitted a grant proposal to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, entitled “The Global Studies Initiative” in anticipation of implementing a faculty development program.

The Initiative details, “We aim to create a global campus… to do so, we must infuse global awareness and understanding broadly in the college curriculum and co-curriculum.”

The Global Studies Initiative is one facet of a larger ideological shift happening on campus, a movement towards global awareness that permeates all disciplines. “To think about the world we live in now, it is almost necessary to have an awareness [of the world],” said Professor Shampa Biswas, who is one of twenty-seven professors that comprise the Global Studies Initiative Faculty.

The grant requests $348,200 from the Mellon Foundation, to be allocated over a three-year time frame. The money would go towards five distinct components of the Global Studies Initiative.

Faculty development seminars: Each fall for the three years allocated eight faculty members would collaborate in a faculty development seminar that enables professors to study globalization through their area of expertise. This seminar program would require that participating professors develop working papers and help to lead discussion during the Global Studies Symposium.

“In a way they are really modeling for students,” said Provost Lori Bettison-Varga, who worked with the professors during the proposal development process. “They as teachers and scholars have an intellectual interest that they want to share with each other and learn from and develop.”

Global Studies Symposium: Every fall a symposium would be held in which the eight faculty development seminar participants lead discussions on contemporary issues in globalization. The Symposium would feature a prominent visiting scholar as a keynote speaker, and additional activities like art displays and film series will be coordinated.

Summer Faculty Development: Four members from the fall faculty development seminars would lead summer faculty development for one week the summer following their fall training session. This week would be devoted to working with professors in incorporating relevant global topics and analyses into current course offerings.

Collaborative Curricular Innovations: The remaining four professors from the original fall development seminar would collaborate to create two new team taught classes with a focus on global themes and interdisciplinary studies.

If this grant is approved what follows are examples of courses that may be created: Globalization and Health, Global Pandemics in Science and Culture, Literature and Politics of Empire, Justice and Climate Change, The Global City and Globalization, Food, and the Environment (assuming that the courses pass Whitman College’s procedure for course approval).

“I think students maybe aren’t as well versed in the nuances per-say of how curriculum gets proposed at the college,” said Bettison-Varga, speaking to the possibility of new courses offerings in the recent future. “But there is a process that faculty go through to get courses added, to have new majors proposed. The key to this is that it isn’t really about that yet, it is just about the faculty development piece, knowing that an outcome will be potentially new courses, or changes to existing courses.”

Global Studies Director: The Dean of Faculty would appoint this part-time position. The Global Studies Director would be responsible for overseeing the administration of the grant if approved, would organize faculty for seminars and workshops, plan and coordinate the Global Studies Symposium, and manage the Global Studies Web site. The director would also serve as a liaison for students interested in pursuing global studies.
Though there is talk of a global studies major, at this time the global studies Initiative is centered around faculty development, which is anticipated to lead to student involvement in the future (by means of taking the newly developed courses as well as those altered as a product of the faculty summer sessions.)

Ideas for this grant proposal started in November 2004, when the Global Studies Working Group at Whitman participated in a global studies workshop by Dr. Ahmed Samatar, Dean of the Institute for Global Citizenship at Macalester College. The Working Group utilized models established by other similar small liberal arts institutions countrywide, like Dickinson, Colgate and Pitzer. Whitman was inspired by the focus of interdisciplinary studies, and has thus sought to make that a central facet in their goal of establishing a global studies initiative on campus.
“It’s not a mandate,” said Bettison-Varga. “It is just a really cool opportunity.”

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