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.
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.