One sign of the success of Duke's Haiti Lab is that students at Duke will soon be able to study Tibetan. What do an island in the French Caribbean and a language spoken in central Asia have to do with each other? Starting in Fall 2013, Duke students will be able to study the Tibetan language with faculty and students at the University of Virginia, and UVA students will be able to study Haitian Creole with faculty and students at Duke. At Duke, Creole language courses have gained a foothold due to the success of the Haiti Lab. At UVA, the Tibetan Center was founded in 2008 to examine that language and culture.
Dean Laurie Patton of Trinity College of Arts & Sciences explained that "we're protecting languages that are very much a part of our global culture but aren't necessarily the first you would take in a Western academic curriculum" and that "in this economic climate, might not otherwise be sustained."
"Less commonly taught languages are no less important for being infrequently taught," said Meredith Jung-En Woo, UVA's Buckner W. Clay Dean of Arts & Sciences. "This is an example of the type of intellectual leadership universities can offer that is cost effective and therefore isn't driven only by the single criteria of enrollment."
Duke officials hope to expand the program to include other languages and other interested universities.
Read the entire story in DukeToday.
Professor Laurent Dubois, one of the co-directors of the Haiti Lab, was interviewed for Faith & Leadership, an offering of Leadership Education at Duke Divinity School. He described how the Haiti Lab came to be and the importance of having freedom to experiment, paired with resources to support that experimentation.
One of the foci of the Haiti Lab was to consider, as he explained, "what are we training undergraduates to do, exactly? Since most undergraduates are not going to go into academia, we want to impart to them skills that could be used and applied to lots of different areas. A collaborative research context really helps in identifying the problem, figuring out what resources you need to resolve it and connecting it to other things out there."
Read the entire article here.
...in virtual reality. Speculat1on, an alternate reality game developed last year in the GreaterThanGames Lab, is being taught in undergraduate courses at Vassar and the University of Chicago. From the Franklin Humanities Institute blog:
"Speculation combines game play with narratives of a near-future world, codes and ciphers with deep information about the origins of money, credit, and finance. Led by Kate Hayles, Patrick Jagoda, and Patrick Lemieux, a collective of GTG faculty/students/friends worked tirelessly last year to design and implement the game - often re-designing and re-implementing on the fly as they matched wits with the crytographically savvy game players."
A Humanities Lab should be built around a theme or broadly defined idea as articulated by two to three Lab co-directors and a core team of two to three additional faculty members from the humanities, interpretive social sciences, and other Duke schools and research units. Each Lab should also encompass an expanded, "vertically integrated" group of faculty members, graduate assistants, and undergraduate students working on shared research projects. Undergraduates will be able to align their participation in the Labs to their independent study projects or in relation to individual or group honors projects. In each year of each Lab, participating faculty members are requested to teach at least one course related to the Lab project.
Click here for the full CFP.
Adeline Koh, a Humanities Writ Large Visiting Faculty Fellow, is currently designing Trading Races with GreaterThanGames lab. Trading Races is an elaborate historical role-playing game designed to teach race consciousness in an undergraduate course. The game is set at the University of Michigan’s Ann Arbor campus in April 2003, two months before the Supreme Court landmark decisions on affirmative action. Players take on the roles of multi-ethnic and multi-national members of an imaginary Michigan Student Assembly, and present speeches on race related issues based upon their characters’ social and political orientation in gameplay. By asking players to assume the ideological worldview of people different from themselves, the game encourages players to “trade races” intellectually and emotionally. An electronic simulation of this paper-based game is also being planned. Koh is currently looking for volunteers to help playtest the game starting October 2012. To find out more, visit the website: http://tradingraces.adelinekoh.org/
Cathy Davidson, Duke's John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies, recently singled out the Haiti Lab as an "inspiring example of what higher education aspires to beyond the walls of the Ivory Tower." Since late April, she has written a "series of posts... on changing higher education to change the world" for Co.EXIST, an offshoot of Fast Company magazine. Her second post — "Why Flip The Classroom When We Can Make It Do Cartwheels?" — is largely about the Haiti Lab.
In a "flipped" classroom, digital technology allows students to "do the homework before class, typically reading course materials or watching videos of lectures online." Then, "[c]lass time is spent on individual or small group tutoring" instead of listening to a lecture. Flipping is fine as far as Davidson is concerned, but it "doesn't come close to preparing students for the challenges of today's world and workforce." If, as one study suggests, "65% of today's teens will end up in careers that haven't even been invented yet," it's not enough to teach circumscribed bodies of knowledge. Students need to leave college with "the mental habits, practice, and confidence to know that, in a crisis, [they] can count on [themselves] to learn something new." Thus the "cartwheeled classroom."
According to Davidson, the Haiti Lab stands out first of all as an interdisciplinary structure that leverages courses already offered by the participating professors. "Students still learn content in class but they bring their specialized learning to the Haiti Lab where they work on collaborative, real-world problems as well as on supplementary skills (ranging from Haitian Creole to data visualization and online tool development for public documentation of their work)."
"But the world-spinning really happens in the Haiti Lab's partnerships beyond Duke, such as with a Family Health Ministries' clinic in Leogane, Haiti, that links Duke students with local community health workers. Using Movi for tele-seminars and Blackboard and GoogleDocs for document sharing, the collaboration has also built close ties with Haitian universities trying to maintain their education and research in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake.
"The Lab's public WordPress site for a trilingual Haiti digital library is purposely low on graphics and design to enable quicker access by Haitian partners. These international teams collaborated with faculty and students at Sherbrooke University (Quebec) and kids at Baltimore Friends School on archival work as part of the digital Marronnage archive in Saint-Domingue that brings together the scattered documents of the French transatlantic slave trade. One spectacular archival contribution brought joy to Haiti's bleakest moment when Duke doctoral student Julia Gaffield, working in the British Museum, found and identified the only known, extant copy of the 1804 Haitian Declaration of Independence.
That's not all. In 2010, when a cholera outbreak was reported in Haiti, many Haitians insisted the disease had to have been carried to the island by aid workers, because the country had never experienced cholera before. Epidemics are contained by locating their source, rarely a simple matter. It didn't seem possible that this was an original incidence of cholera. The Haiti Lab got busy: medical researchers and historians, teachers and students, Americans and Haitians worked around the clock, scouring newspapers, journals, and ship records all the way back to 1833, documenting it all in a public Cholera Time Map. They discovered several cholera outbreaks throughout the Caribbean, but none in Haiti. With help from the map, global health officials (including from the UN) were able to act swiftly to isolate the source and curtail the impact of the disease on an already devastated country. Jenson and her fellow Haiti Lab professor Victoria Szabo published the findings in the scientific journal Emerging Infectious Diseases."
All of this adds up to an "[e]nergized, connected, engaged, global, informed, dedicated, activist" kind of learning that "not only connects text books and classrooms to the real world, but... also inspires, uplifts, and offers the joy of accomplishment."
Lauren Zalla, a senior who has collaborated with the Haiti Lab on several projects, has recently won the Davis Projects for Peace Award, which provides $10,000 to a recipient to design and carry out a grassroots project for the summer of 2012. Lauren will undertake a project that addresses an immediate and life-changing need for Haitian women: the lack of access to sanitary materials. Lauren is writing a thesis on the history and culture of breastfeeding in Haiti. Read more on the FHI website.