A sample of experiential learning at an urban community farm, a hands-on demonstration of an assessment exercise, and a workshop on team-building during student orientation were among the highlights of the ACM Program Directors and Visiting Faculty Conference on June 8-10 in Chicago.
“Our agenda was a combination of what I call the bread-and-butter topics of off-campus study, like cultural awareness or health and safety, and a variety of areas that our faculty asked us to address, such as mentoring student research projects,” said Joan Gillespie, ACM Vice President and Director of Off-Campus Study Programs.
On the site visit to Growing Power.
Along with staff from the consortial office, participants in the annual professional development conference included faculty and staff from ACM off-campus study program sites in Chicago, Costa Rica, Italy, and India, as well as nine visiting faculty members from six different colleges who will be teaching on programs in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the U.S. during the 2015-16 academic year.
“The overall goal of the conference was for everyone to get to know each other and to see each other as resources,” Gillespie noted. “We have a group of faculty and staff who, collectively, have a tremendous amount of expertise in teaching and in taking advantage of what our program sites have to offer. They were clearly eager to share and learn from each other.”
For a session titled Food, Culture, and Community, the group took a site visit to Growing Power’s Iron Street Farm in the Bridgeport neighborhood. “One of the requests from our visiting faculty was that we demonstrate using a local site as a case study for experiential, place-based pedagogy,” Gillespie said, “and Growing Power is an organization that our Chicago Program has visited.”
On the tour of Growing Power. (Photo by Emily Gaul)
Following a guided tour of the facility, discussion focused on interconnections between food and place. Costa Rica Program Director Bonnie Furman and Monmouth College professor Amy Caldwell de Farias talked about disciplinary perspectives on food in courses they teach on Biodiversity, Sustainability, and Food Security and World History of Food, respectively.
In another excursion, faculty explored nearby areas of the city in a neighborhood walk exercise patterned after the Learning from Study Away assessment that ACM has piloted to gain insights into students’ engagement with their off-campus study sites.
Kevin Dostal Dauer, ACM Associate Director of Off-Campus Study Programs, was involved in leading sessions during the conference on Program Orientation and Planning, Fostering Cultural Awareness, and ACM Best Practices in Health, Safety, and Insurance.
“Those three sessions were closely related to each other,” he said, “and were primarily about providing tools and resources for our visiting faculty members to implement quality on-site orientations that will give students what they need to know when they arrive in country.”
“Our on-site program directors, particularly Robyne Hart from the Chicago Program and Jodie Mariotti from the Florence Program, provided some best practices for orientations, based on what they do at their program locations,” said Dostal Dauer. “How do we talk with students about culture on our programs? How do we talk about safety? Some things aren’t going to apply everywhere, such as international program sites versus domestic sites, and the orientation materials need to be site-specific. Overall, we’re working toward consistent, quality orientations across all the programs.”
Other conference sessions included:
On the tour of Growing Power. (Photo by Emily Gaul)
Best Practices in Student Research, including an overview of the ACM ethics review process and small group meetings for faculty to share research methodologies and tips on working with students with different levels of research experience;
- A case study on response to an emergency at a program site;
- Updates from each of the program sites;
- Review of ACM off-campus study policies and federal regulations; and
- Individual meetings of visiting faculty with ACM staff.
Conference participants from off-campus program sites and colleges
Victoria Beagle, Internship Coordinator
Dorothy Burge, Faculty
Robyne Hart, Program Director
Costa Rica Programs
Bonnie Furman, Program Director
Florence Program and London & Florence Program
Rosita Cirri, Program Coordinator in Florence
Andrea Kann (Coe College, Art History), Affiliated Scholar in Florence, Fall 2015
Jodie Mariotti, Program Director in Florence
Constance Walker (Carleton College, English), Visiting Faculty Director in London, Spring 2016
Bonnie Furman (left), Amy Caldwell de Farias, and Sucheta Paranjpe in Millenium Park during the neighborhood walk. (Photo by Bill Moseley)
Patsy Francis, Office Administrator
Bill Moseley (Macalester College, Geography), Faculty Coordinator, Fall 2015
Sucheta Paranjpe, Program Director
Vanessa Dickerson (DePauw University, English), Resident Director, 2015-16
Amy Caldwell de Farias (Monmouth College, History), Visiting Faculty, Fall 2015
Ian MacInnes (Albion College, English), Faculty Fellow, Fall 2015
Marcy Sacks (Albion College, History), Faculty Fellow, Fall 2015
Liang Ding (Macalester College, Economics), Visiting Faculty Director, Fall 2015
Paul Overvoorde (Macalester College, Biology), Faculty Program Director, Fall 2015