Seminar: International Scholarly Conversation
One of the academic high points in the honors program of fall 2011 was the inaugural appearance of a new kind of seminar -- the International Scholarly Conversation. Professor Rachel Wagner and her students engaged in a semester-long investigation of what it means to be a global scholar and citizen. Over the course of the semester a number of international scholars, representing a great variety of disciplines, visited the seminar. Before they came, they shared with the seminar a set or core readings or media that allowed an informed colloquy. When they came to campus they led the seminar. Professor Wagner acted as convener and coordinator of the seminar and led discussions around the careers and interests of the visiting scholars. A particular focus of the seminar was the examination of the dialectical relationship between cosmopolitanism and parochialism in the lives of international scholars. Students spent the term investigating the degree to which their own cultures were shaped by a variety of parochial and cosmopolitan influences. Their term projects were all aimed at the construction of materials -- everything from course syllabi and curricula to word clouds and blogs that represented the concept of the global citizen.
Some of the scholars who participated in the International Scholarly Conversation were Ithaca College faculty with extensive experience in international scholarship, having taught or conducted research outside of the United States, including Shauna Morgan Kirlew, Jennifer Jolly, Shaianne Osterreich, and Bhavani Arabandi. The seminar was also fortunate to work with visiting scholar Yun Suh, the director of the 2011 film City of Borders.
Perhaps the most unique feature of the seminar was the invitation of several foreign Fulbright fellows currently serving in the United States to share their research and their experiences as international scholars. Salomao Farias (Brazil) studies the sustainability discourse of multinational companies. Willibroad Dze-Ngwa (Cameroon) is the executive director of the Africa Network Against Illiteracy, Conflicts, and Human Rights Abuse (ANICHRA) and an advocate of peace and tolerance education. Harinda Vidanage (Sri Lanka) is an expert on the politics of cyberspace, diaspora political engagements, and political activism using new media and cyber terrorism. Osita Ezenwanebe (Nigeria) has written and produced six plays, the latest being Treading Subtly on Hazardous Ground, which deals with the dramatization of the Niger Delta crisis in Nigeria. Lili Zhang’s (China) research interests include the career experiences and job-related stress of female academics and gender-related issues surrounding teaching secondary education. Emmanuel Odozi (Nigeria) has published seven books on media and communication in Africa.
In creating this seminar, honors partnered with the Fulbright Commission’s Scholar-in-Residence (SIR) Program, just as it did when Indian novelist Kiran Nagarkar was placed as Scholar-in-Residence in honors for the 2010-11 academic year. Honors has created a strong relationship with the Fulbright Commission, and particularly the SIR program. The Fulbright Commission tells us that they consider our relationship a model for successfully globalizing college curricula. We’re pretty sure that there is nothing like the International Scholarly Conversation being taught anywhere else in the United States. It is intended to be a unique, important, and ongoing feature of the intellectual life of the honors program. It will next be offered in the spring of 2013 and we hope that after that a section will be taught every semester.