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Emerson faculty move forward, share ideas

Anthony Pinder, assistant vice president of International and Global Engagement, speaks about his group's work globalizing curriculum at Innovation@Emerson on February 3.

A group of Emerson College faculty who shook up how or what they taught students in the past year shared with colleagues the challenges and benefits of innovation at a reception this week.

Innovation@Emerson featured faculty who took part in one of two initiatives: the PFCI Curriculum Internationalization Studio, which helped faculty globalize existing courses or start new internationally focused ones; and PLANS for Information Literacy, which was aimed at beefing up first-year foundational courses through better research and sharing.

The event was held on February 3 in the Bordy Theater and Auditorium, and was sponsored by the Office of Internationalization and Global Engagement, the Iwasaki Library, and the Office of the President.

Jane Pierce Saulnier, senior lecturer in the Department of Communication Studies, worked with colleagues Heather May and Keri Thompson on Digging Deeper: Building Credibility Through Better Research, as part of the Information Literacy project. She participated in a faculty panel discussion about their work. 

“We’re already collaborative,” Saulnier said of her fellow first-year instructors, “but it got us outside of our box. So, yes, it really helped to work with faculty across departments.”

Miranda Banks, associate professor of Visual and Media Arts and a participant in the Internationalization Studio, said that often students don’t get the full benefit of internationalization because it’s relegated to elective courses.

“You need to think about where internationalization fits into the curriculum,” Banks said. “So often it falls into electives, so we have to think strategically about how to move diversity and inclusion and internationalization into required courses at the College, not just in optional course electives.”

The faculty knew what students needed and where the courses needed to go, but the Curriculum Internationalization Studio gave them the “institutional support” to start the conversation and make their ideas a reality, Banks said.

“I cannot overstate the importance of the institutional support we received from the College,” said VMA assistant professor Vinicius Navarro, another Internationalization Studio alumnus. “You know, you can say, ‘We've got this great idea,’ and people say, ‘Yeah, that sounds wonderful,’ but how do we make it happen? It was so great to have the support of the institution at all levels to help push it into reality, even though we ran into some barriers along the way.”

Banks and Navarro team taught a Global Media course. Other initiatives that came out of the Studio include Barcelona Art, Theatre, and Culture; Enhancing Africana Studies; Global Strategic Communication; Growing the Body and Soul of Emerson ELL; Hyperlocal/International: Mapping Ethnic Media Organizations Across Boston; and Reimagining Cuba.

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