Diamond Wilson, fifth grade, Ed Smith Elementary Schoolzzz

SU Partners with City Schools in Collaborative Art Program

On A sunny Tuesday morning, art teacher Mary Lynn Mahan is excited to introduce a group of artists-in-residence to her fifth-grade class at Syracuse’s Ed Smith Elementary School. The six artists are Syracuse University students who will work with the fifth-graders for several weeks on a photography project as part of the course Literacy Through Photography (LTP). Graduate student Phaedra Gauci enthusiastically explains the project to a small circle of students, promising to teach them how to use cameras and telling them their work will be exhibited at SU in the spring. She shares her own photography journal and invites the children to explore ideas for their creations. One girl responds immediately with a grand and joyful vision of the journal she’ll make. “I’m going to take a picture of my house,” she says, arms extended, hands waving. “My house is huge! You can get lost in there.”

Mahan attributes such enthusiasm to the transformative power of art and sees collaborating with SU on the LTP project as a way to encourage that energy and enhance learning across the curriculum. “On a personal level, the LTP project allows students time and tools for self-exploration and gives adults around them a new avenue to know them better,” she says. “As a teacher who has used this curriculum for several years, I know it allows me to discover new things about the kids that I find meaningful.”          

At Syracuse University, the LTP project is a yearlong collaboration, bringing together Light Work, the Soling Program, the College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA), and the Syracuse Symposium. Based on the innovative arts education program developed by documentary photographer Wendy Ewald, who kicked off the project with a lecture at Light Work in September, LTP encourages children to explore their worlds by photographing and writing about scenes from their lives. Additional aspects of the collaboration include a Light Work workshop for Syracuse city schoolteachers and SU students, and a documentary photography and social activism course offered to SU students through the Soling Program and taught by fine arts professor Mary Lou Marien.

The project is part of the Partnership for Better Education, a recently established initiative that seeks to further a mutually beneficial, long-term collaboration between Syracuse University and the Syracuse City School District by providing city schoolteachers and students access to SU’s intellectual and financial resources in the arts, literacy, technology, and inclusion. VPA is a leading college in the partnership, offering city schools such resources as teacher workshops, artist-in-residence programs, and fund-raising support. Benefits for SU faculty and students include workshops in arts integration and courses in the history and studio practices of community-based art. “We can change our thinking of the arts as marginalized and under-funded by making art part of education at every level, in every subject,” says art professor Judith Meighan, who co-teaches the LTP course with photography professor Doug DuBois.

Mahan says her students experience benefits on a variety of levels through the University’s involvement, including the opportunity to develop black-and-white prints in a campus darkroom. “The partnership provides elementary students with exposure to college students who are excited and engaged in education and the arts,” she says. “It is wonderful for the Ed Smith kids to witness and participate in this process.”

—Amy Shires

Research Team Advocates Great Lakes Climate-Change Policy

During the past 50 years, data collected in the Great Lakes region indicate change. The growing season is a week longer due to an earlier spring thaw. Severe storms and heavy precipitation occur more frequently. The evaporation rate of one of the planet’s largest freshwater sources exceeds the rate of replenishment. Many scientists link these trends to significant climatic changes, which, in turn, may have a dramatic effect on human interaction with the watershed. “A one-inch drop in water level can expose a hundred feet of new shore,” says environmental studies professor Jack Manno G’03, director of the Great Lakes Research Consortium at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and part of an interdisciplinary team of researchers on the Hill that is investigating the impact of climate change on the Great Lakes region. Another significant problem: With increasing populations, communities that rely on the watershed will need more water diverted to support their public systems. “How will we manage the watershed and decide who can take water, how much they can take, what rules  govern these decisions, and is future climate change being taken into account?” Manno asks.

Because the Great Lakes serve as borders between U.S. states and Canadian provinces, these questions of governance are complicated by the various agencies and jurisdictions involved. In January, after years of discussion, a group of 1,200 people from Great Lakes constituencies and agencies produced a report designed to guide management and maintenance of the region. A team of researchers from ESF and SU, including Manno, public administration professor Harry Lambright, economics professor Peter Wilcoxen, and Earth sciences professor Hank Mullins, discovered the report didn’t consider the effects of climate change. “We hope to establish a template for the use of hard science in environmental policymaking decisions, both nationally and internationally,” Mullins says. “It’s a social science issue that involves natural science data, information, and projections. We intentionally developed an interdisciplinary team of experts to tackle this very difficult, but important problem.” The team hopes to collaborate with climatologists to generate a model of the effects of climate change on the region and develop a strategy to help policymakers identify the most vulnerable areas to prioritize restoration and conservation projects.

The policies enacted and the infrastructure built today will likely have long-term impacts, making it all the more important to take into account the predicted climate changes during the next 50 years, the researchers say. “We’re already facing a major ecological crisis in the world,” Manno says. “Unless we prepare for the impact of climate change, we’re going to intensify that crisis.”            

—Margaret Costello

Thom Weyand
National AIDS Memorial, San Francisco

Newhouse Students Elevate Awareness for AIDS Memorial

Most Americans are familiar whittle Veterans Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, and Mount Rushmore National Memorial, but many don’t know that the National AIDS Memorial exists. Thom Weyand ’73 wants that to change. The Newhouse School alumnus and member of the National AIDS Memorial board of directors contacted his alma mater for help in developing a public relations campaign to raise awareness of the living memorial dedicated to all those who are touched by HIV/AIDS. “In the past several years, I have seen an attitude of complacency about AIDS spread across the nation,” Weyand says. “But people, especially young adults, continue to be infected by HIV. We hope the National AIDS Memorial [] will be a tool that reactivates awareness of this disease and that the recommendations we receive from the students at Newhouse will assist us in doing that.”

In fall 2005, public relations students in Professor Susan Alessandri’s Research Methods course gathered information about people’s perceptions and knowledge of AIDS and the memorial—a seven-acre grove in the de Laveaga Dell area of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park that Congress designated as a national landmark in 1996. Their findings indicated that people didn’t know about the memorial and expressed indifference about AIDS in general. The research also pointed out the need to narrow the public awareness campaign from a national scope to focus on smaller, targeted populations. “It was a little depressing because their research confirmed what I had seen anecdotally,” Weyand says. “We needed to reignite the fire in people’s bellies about AIDS.”

That’s where a section of Professor Robert Kucharavy’s Campaigns course took over this spring. The students in this public relations class broke into three teams—each creating a campaign to increase awareness of, and attendance at, the park, as well as to improve overall attitudes toward AIDS and people living with HIV/AIDS. The teams focused their campaigns on a few target populations: people living with HIV/AIDS and those connected to them; San Francisco Bay area residents and visitors; and gardeners, landscape architects, and civic improvement organizations—as the memorial is an award-winning example of a private-public partnership that beautified a neglected parcel of land. “This class allowed us to showcase the tactical skills we learned in previous public relations courses,” says Lindsey Yeaton ’06, a public relations major. “Having a real client with real goals and objectives made our assignments each week that much more important to all of us. We feel connected to this campaign and hope it is successful, not only because we received a grade for our efforts, but also because we want to see the memorial succeed in reaching its goals.”

In April, Weyand and fellow National AIDS Memorial board members attended Kucharavy’s class to hear students’ final presentations and to receive binders with three complete campaigns, including research, budgets, and guidelines for implementing them. Weyand says he is grateful for the students’ work and hopes his organization will be able to launch one of the campaigns in the near future. For some students, the project has left a lasting impression. “It’s very moving to be linked with such a profound cause and to know that we can help this organization spread its message of rebirth and hope from 3,000 miles away,” says Jill Stirling ’06. Classmate Rachel L. Della Serra ’07 says: “Before this class, I had never heard of the National AIDS Memorial, but now I am very interested in the project. I hope the organization can use some of our ideas to raise awareness so that more people can enjoy this living memorial the way its founders intended.”

—Margaret Costello

Role of Humanities in Law and Culture Explored

Was Elvis Presley’s intellectual property stolen, and if so, was the crime a misdemeanor or felony? What are the rules of evidence in a witchcraft trial? Can a root or berry be patented? Which offers a more realistic picture of the legal system, CSI or Law and Order? These and other modern questions were asked and answered in the context of a long tradition last March as members of the Association for the Study of Law, Culture, and the Humanities (ASLCH) gathered at the College of Law for the organization’s ninth annual conference. An international interdisciplinary organization, ASLCH gives focus to the enduring power of the humanities as the primary model for legal thought and research. “In law, as in literary criticism and other areas of practice in the humanities, we examine texts and put forward our readings,” says political science professor Keith Bybee, director of the Maxwell School’s Michael O. Sawyer Law and Politics Program, a co-sponsor of the event. “We consider interpretation a form of scholarship.”

Steve Sartori
photoA member of the Association for the Study of Law, Culture, and the humanities gives a presentation at the organization’s annual conference.

Law professor and associate dean Robin Malloy, director of the Program in Law and Market Economy, believes that ASLCH performs an important function by maintaining a context for the many new science-based questions that confront the legal community. “The history of legal thinking is based in the humanities,” he says. “We are reaffirming how scientific thinking fits with and complements that longstanding relationship.” Malloy cites a hypothetical—though by no means far-fetched—case of a tribal society whose members exhibit immunity to a disease. “A pharmaceutical company might want to take genetic samples to attempt to isolate and synthesize the immune agent,” he says. “If they are successful, who has claim to rights? We have to think about ethics, logic, and law, fundamental areas of humanistic concern.” More than royalties are at stake, Malloy says. Such a case may determine an answer to this question looming on the horizon: Do I own my own genome?

Papers and talks were delivered by ASLCH members at more than 80 sessions during the two-day conference. Themes were eclectic and encyclopedic, ranging from The Law and Harry Potter to Islamic Feminisms. “Law is not just in the courthouse,” Bybee says. “It’s everywhere. When we look at things with a legal lens, we see them—and the law—in new ways.”

—David Marc



Residents Examine Local Government

At a session of the Syracuse Citizens Academy last fall, Kim Rohadfox-Ceaser struck up a conversation about community issues with another participant. Rohadfox-Ceaser, who enrolled in the 10-week course to learn about local government, later discovered her new acquaintance was Fifth District Administrative Judge and New York State Supreme Court Justice James C. Tormey, a presenter that evening. “I would never have had the opportunity to meet him had it not been for the class,” she says.

The Syracuse Citizens Academy brings together civic-minded individuals in forums with community leaders and public officials, who discuss how local government operates and how services are funded and delivered. Sponsored by University College (UC), the City of Syracuse, and F.O.C.U.S. Greater Syracuse, an organization working to enhance the area’s quality of life, the first academy drew a diverse group of 32 residents from neighborhoods across the city. They met with public officials to hear about such topics as economic development, family services, and law enforcement. The idea for the academy first caught the interest of UC interim dean Bea Gonzalez G’04 and F.O.C.U.S. executive director Charlotte Holstein, who both heard about similar programs in other cities. “They wanted to help residents understand how local government works, with the idea that they could then be more active citizens,” says Sandra Barrett, UC’s director of community programs.

Representatives from UC and F.O.C.U.S. developed the free series, which brought in such panelists as the City of Syracuse fire chief, the county health commissioner, and the director of SU’s Community Folk Art Center. Participants, who applied to take part in the sessions, heard from the presenters and then had opportunities to ask questions. The academy also organized tours of facilities, including the county’s sewage treatment plant and justice center. Before each class, UC hosted a dinner, giving students and presenters a chance to interact. With a successful inaugural run, organizers are planning the next academy for the fall.

Rohadfox-Ceaser found benefits in meeting classmates and panelists and learning about different programs, especially those offered by the Department of Aging and Youth. “I work for my local church and I’ve steered people toward the programs because I know what’s available,” Rohadfox-Ceaser says. She also finds her new knowledge useful as a member of the city school board. After her election to the board in November, she asked Judge Tormey to swear her in. “We’ve talked about how to get family court involved in helping with our truancy problems,” she says. “That kind of connection made at the academy is priceless.” 

—Kathleen Haley


Maxwell Researchers Study E-Governance in South Korea

A progressive mayor of an affluent district in Seoul, South Korea, and his administration have created an e-government system rivaled by few and envied by many. Gangnam district residents can go online to pay taxes or parking tickets, cast a vote on a policy, and inspect government documents, among other services. While under consideration by government officials worldwide for possible implementation in their own countries, the system of online services went under intensive review by three Maxwell School public administration faculty members and three doctoral students. Gangnam started the system after democratic reforms increased local government autonomy. “This district has moved very quickly to use technology to promote e-participation and e-democracy,” says Stuart Bretschneider, a Laura J. and L. Douglas Meredith Professor for Teaching Excellence and director of the Maxwell School’s Center for Technology and Information Policy. “The belief is that services can be provided in more efficient and cost effective ways through electronic means.”

The research began in 2003 when graduate student Yun Joong Ju asked Professor Jon Gant, who holds a joint appointment with Maxwell and the School of Information Studies, to present his previous work on e-government to officials in Gangnam, where Ju was a government employee. Gant and Bretschneider agreed the trip would provide a good opportunity to study Gangnam’s system and included Professor Soonhee Kim and three research assistants on the team. “Yun Joong Ju’s boss and Mayor Moon-Yong Kwon were very supportive and opened up their operation to our team,” Gant says.

Funded by Gangnam officials, the researchers surveyed employees, businesses, and citizens about their satisfaction with services and the technology’s impact on democratic institutions and local government operations. “E-government involves large information technology applications that include multiple parts of an organization,” Gant says. “The theory is that organizations with successful e-government services have developed better capabilities for sharing knowledge among employees, making it easier for the organization to fit all of the information technology pieces of the service system together.” Researchers recognized the importance of employees who act as liaisons. They play an important role in relaying information about issues with application design between information technology professionals and department managers. The faculty members also noted the strong leadership of Mayor Kwon, who encourages risk-taking with technology and advocates citizen involvement in government. “The extent to which you get big payoffs from technological change is extremely dependent on institutional arrangements and individuals’ abilities to lead,” Bretschneider says.

Although they continue to study the data, the researchers have presented their findings at UN conferences, and the project has generated three dissertations and three papers. “We wanted to contribute to e-government research and also share knowledge with other governments,” Kim says. Other governments may not have the leadership or resources to create an elaborate e-government system, but an idea such as e-polling citizens on important local issues may not be that expensive, Kim says. Communities can also learn from Gangnam the importance of understanding citizens’ needs and recognizing the crucial role of government workers. “Employees’ commitment to this kind of innovation is critical,” Kim says. “They can change the culture of an organization.”                          

—Kathleen Haley


Going Wireless

As wireless technology becomes faster, more affordable, and more secure, its popularity has soared. Professor Dave Molta, assistant dean of technology at the School of Information Studies and senior technology editor of Network Computing magazine, has witnessed the progression of wireless technology (Wi-Fi) from its early stages to its latest generation. Molta recruited SU students to help evaluate the newest and hottest wireless products that mid- to large-size organizations are purchasing. “Because so many people are using Wi-Fi products in their homes, they’re coming to expect it at their workplaces or on college campuses,” Molta says. “But with so many product choices, information technology professionals are struggling to decide what to buy and how to implement it. We’re hoping to help them cut through the hype in the market and distinguish among the offerings.”

Molta and the students evaluated wireless technology products through the Center of Emerging Network Technology (CENT), an SU research organization that partners with CMP Media, publisher of Network Computing. The project assessed the technology of Cisco, a network company with more than 50 percent market share in the enterprise Wi-Fi market, and the technology of the overall market based on research and responses from wireless manufacturers. The results of the evaluation appeared in the April issue of Network Computing.

Planning for the project began in summer 2005. Last fall, Molta and his team conducted preliminary research, surveyed readers of Network Computing to determine their understanding of wireless technology, and completed a five-week test period of Wi-Fi products submitted to CENT by Cisco. The researchers tested the overall functionality of Cisco’s gear, including security, monitoring, performances for voice calls, management, and scalability—the system’s ability to maintain high performance even when the number of users increases. “It’s very important research, because it serves as the foundation for many enterprises’ wireless initiatives,” says Dan Renfroe G’06, a graduate of the School of Information Studies who worked on the project. “It’s a much bigger technology market than those I’ve researched in the past, so it’s been a steep learning curve to get up to speed. I have had the opportunity to be engaged in meaningful work that is relevant to my field. That’s a step above the typical college job.” 

Jameson Blandford ’06, a systems and information science graduate of the L.C. Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science, says working at CENT significantly increased his understanding of wireless technology. “The project has allowed me to gain more knowledge of the industry, and to make connections with leading companies,” Blandford says.                                                                

—Alia Dastagir


Steve Sartori

Dedicated to the Life Sciences

Actress Sigourney Weaver emphasizes a point about scientific research during a conversation with Steve Kroft ’71, an SU Trustee and editor and co-anchor of 60 Minutes. Kroft conducted an informal question-and-answer session with Weaver in Hendricks Chapel as part of the Day of Discovery: A Life Sciences Celebration and Site Dedication Ceremony on April 26. The day featured a series of events dedicated to the life sciences at SU, including the groundbreaking for the new Life Sciences Complex. “When it opens in 2008, the complex will provide advanced laboratories and classrooms that are essential to scientific research, and for educating a new generation of health professionals, scientists, and citizens,” says Weaver, a supporter of the American Heart Association’s “Go Red for Women” Campaign, which promotes heart disease awareness and health education. “The work that will be done there, such as cell signaling research, will be vital to finding cures for cancer, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and for heart disease—the number-one killer of women.”



Endowed Professorship Focuses on Biomedical Field

Baby Boomers will not “go gentle into that good night.” Looking forward to years of active retirement, they are driving the demand for new synthetic products and inventive techniques that slow the physical effects of aging. As active players in the burgeoning biomedical field, faculty in the Department of Biomedical and Chemical Engineering at the L.C. Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science (ECS) are focusing their research on combining materials and biological species—synthetic and natural materials with biological molecules, cells, matrices, tissues, and organs—to develop innovative medical devices and therapies that will improve people’s lives. “The rigorous analytical methodology of chemical engineering and the sophisticated techniques used in bioengineering have created a new dynamic that will lead to pioneering treatments for damaged nerves, joints, and organs,” says Professor Gustav Engbretson, chair of the Department of Biomedical and Chemical Engineering. “I expect new collaborations with SU faculty in the life sciences and our colleagues at the SUNY Upstate Medical University will result in remarkable advances in the biomedical field.”

In support of those who do research and teach in this groundbreaking field, SU Trustee Milton F. Stevenson III ’53 and his wife, Ann McOmber Stevenson ’52, have established the Milton and Ann Stevenson Professor of Biomedical and Chemical Engineering. The income generated from the endowment will enable the department to recruit and retain a distinguished senior faculty member who will prepare the next generation of engineers and conduct interdisciplinary research at the promising junction of biomedical and chemical engineering. “This prestigious faculty position ensures the college’s ability to maintain a high-quality, externally funded research program that takes full advantage of the tremendous progress being made in microbiology and molecular techniques today,” says Eric F. Spina, interim provost and vice chancellor. “Our interdisciplinary approach is in keeping with the University’s vision of ‘scholarship in action’ that makes the most of its intellectual capital by blurring the lines between academic disciplines.”

The Stevensons’ gift is a true reflection of their combined interests. “Milt graduated from SU with a degree in chemical engineering, and I received a degree in nursing,” Ann Stevenson says. “We wanted to support something that would advance areas of study that are important to both of us. The professorship is a perfect match.”                                                    

—Christine Yackel



Counseling Program Guides Middle School Students to Success

Social work graduate students in the College of Human Services and Health Professions (HSHP) are helping the Syracuse City School District (SCSD) improve academic success, one classroom at a time. During the 2005-06 school year, four students worked with seventh-graders at Blodgett Middle School as part of the Responsive Advocacy for Life and Learning in Youth (RALLY) program. Developed by a Harvard psychologist, RALLY combines prevention and intervention mental health services with educational support to enable students to build better relationships with teachers, peers, and family members, boosting their resiliency and improving their work. The social work interns, or “prevention practitioners,” spent two to three days a week in the classroom with a team of seventh-grade teachers to provide counseling and tutoring. “The aim of the program is to have students be successful academically, emotionally, and socially,” says Diane Ogno ’85 of CONTACT Community Services, the program’s clinical supervisor.

District administrators launched the pilot program last fall after they saw the program in action at Boston schools, says Steve Gramet, SCSD director of pupil services. Whether it’s a daily friendly greeting, a small group intervention, or individualized attention, students need support at a variety of levels, Gramet says. “We saw its value in Boston,” he says, “and put together a partnership with the school system, CONTACT, the Onondaga County mental health department, and SU.”

Courtesy of CoNTACT Community Services
Social work graduate student Elizabeth Baynes G’07, left, assists a Blodgett Middle School student in the school’s computer lab.

The SU interns worked closely with school staff members to assess students on a three-tier system. The first focuses on high-needs students in need of individual counseling; the second involves students likely to benefit from group counseling in such areas as anger management and stress reduction; and the third encompasses all students. “Meeting the children’s needs right in the classroom is a real asset to their overall learning,” says Peggy Miller G’87, HSHP’s assistant director of social work and director of field instruction. “There’s growing evidence that this practice is effective, and the best practice is what we want our interns involved in.” Intern Elizabeth Baynes G’07 discovered a lot about the children and how best to help them. “I enjoyed working with the supportive team and supervisor and the kids just being themselves and letting me into their worlds,” she says. Intern Brooke Cross G’06 valued the program’s strength-based approach. “Rather than focusing on a child’s negative aspects, we looked to focus on their strengths, so they can utilize them,” Cross says.

The program has made a difference. “Teachers are very positive about the outcomes for particular students,” Ogno says, noting that students are completing their work more often. Officials recognize the program’s benefit of strengthening relationships. “Students are learning to work more effectively with teachers, and there are fewer referrals to outside the classroom,” Gramet says. “Our students connected with the interns. It’s a great experience for all involved.” Next year, the program is expected to expand into eighth grade, which, along with seventh grade, constitutes a crucial period of development. “We know through data and research that reaching students in those grades is critical for achieving future academic success,” Gramet says.

—Kathleen Haley


Steve Sartori







Showcasing Discovery

A student performs during a chemistry “magic” show that was part of MayFest, a celebration of student creativity, discovery, research, and innovation. The event, held on April 25, involved disciplines from across campus with dozens of student demonstrations and performances, including African drumming, film screenings, and poster presentations.   



Whitman Students State their Case in Competition

As a finance professor and associate dean of M.B.A. and M.S. programs at the Martin J. Whitman School of Management, Ravi Shukla encourages students to put their skills to use in competitions that challenge them to analyze real-life business cases and develop business plans. “When students present case analyses in front of their classmates and professors, it’s too comfortable of an environment,” Shukla says. “In outside competitions, they get to make a case to a group that is open to their ideas, but not completely on their side.”

In the fall semester, students Daria D’Amore G’06, Saul Feliz G’06, Clay Cox G’07, and Ben Thompson G’07 represented the Whitman School in the second annual KeyBank/Fisher College of Business MBA Minority Case Competition in Cleveland. Among their competitors were teams from the Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt and the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern. Each team was required to present a business plan strategy for integrating KeyBank into four new city markets. D’Amore says the competition honed her presentation skills, and she appreciated receiving constructive criticism from the judges. “The biggest thing I learned was to not overlook acute details and to be as thorough as possible,” she says. “That’s what set the winners apart—their attention to small things.”

Although the Whitman team lost in round one to Kellogg, the eventual runnerup, the students were motivated to work harder for future competitions. “There are areas where we can improve,” Feliz says. “We met with Professor Shukla to discuss what future teams should do in the next competition.”

Shukla plans to continue involving students in case competitions, including next year’s KeyBank event. “It was a morale builder for the students,” Shukla says. “It’s important for them to do well in classes, but also to go out and take part in such case competitions. It matures them and helps prepare them for their professional careers.”                                                                 

—Crystal Heller



Students Investigate Healthy Living in Writing Course

After spending two years in Rwanda with the Peace Corps, professional writing instructor Nicole Moss G’00 came to a realization. “Living in a different culture and having access to different levels of health care affected my perspective of what is really valuable in life,” she says. “When I left the Peace Corps, the most valuable things to me were my health and my relationships.”

This past semester, Moss used this knowledge to create a new topic for her two sections of Critical Research and Writing, a required 200-level writing course in the College of Arts and Sciences. Students in the course read and analyzed books about the fast food industry and watched related movies to develop an in-depth knowledge about the subject for use in writing assignments. Moss divided the class into groups to research, write, and edit four health-related articles. She stressed to the students that learning to work effectively on a team and dealing with conflict are skills useful in academic and business relationships. “It’s important to understand how different personality types work together,” she says.

Courtesy of Nicole Moss
Writing instructor Nicole Moss G’00, with one of The Apprentice-style student teams in her class that competed to get their health-related articles published.

The collaborative effort also served as a way to test the students’ teamwork skills as if they were contestants on the TV reality show The Apprentice. To fuel The Apprentice-style competition, students vied for the opportunity to have their work appear in print. Wagner Dotto, executive editor and publisher of In Good Health, a Central New York health care newspaper, agreed to publish at least one of the articles in a future issue. After reviewing the class’s submissions, Dotto did more than that. He published an article about childhood obesity by Nicholas Dolan ’08 and one about losing weight without dieting by Theresa Franzese ’08 in the newspaper’s April issue and planned to use several more in upcoming issues. “As a freshman, I didn’t expect I’d even have the chance to be published,” says Nick Devico ’09, a communication and rhetorical studies major.

Nutrition major Laura Lanigan ’08 was enthusiastic about the class’s focus on the food industry. The class also helped students who didn’t know much about food politics learn more about what they actually consume. “The course got my classmates, who were not nutrition majors, interested in health,” Lanigan says. “It’s important because a lot of people don’t take care of themselves, especially on a college campus.”

In addition to the writing, research, and teamwork skills the students acquired, Moss hopes the course will have a deeper impact. “She wants us to better ourselves in life, health, and knowledge,” Lanigan says. 

—Crystal Heller



Envisioning Upstate New York Through History

Asked to design and teach the School of Architecture’s introductory graduate program course in digital representation, Professor Phu T. Duong had several goals in mind for his students: immerse class members in the fully dimensional space of upstate New York; make them aware of the possibilities that digital media tools offer for exploring and representing space; and challenge them to envision cities by imagining Syracuse and other cities in the region. “In the past, the digital representation course was limited to making 3-D models,” Duong says. “I wanted to show students that they need not stop there. We can discover and reveal the character of cities through media—video, animation, text, voiceover, and still photographs—to situate the 3-D models we build. We can introduce time—a dimension embedded with elements of political, social, and economic influences—in the description of space.” Duong harmonized these aims in the curriculum of Re-surfacing Upstate, a course whose central project is student production of a CD-ROM funded by a 2005 Vision Fund grant awarded by the Center for Support of Teaching and Learning.

Phu T. Duong

Re-surfacing Upstate, also the title of the CD-ROM produced by the class, offers multimedia probes into the times and places occupied by five New York State cities: Albany, Utica, Rome, Syracuse, and Buffalo. The disc lets the viewer construct a path of interest. Buildings, wilderness trails, rail lines, main streets, and shopping malls assemble and disassemble on the screen, transporting the viewer from the balanced domain of the Haudenosaunee to the overcrowded parking lot of a Mohawk Valley Wal-Mart.

“The key advantage of the CD-ROM format is simultaneity,” Duong says. “One can craft a way to look at many things at one time. You can introduce the time dimension as you move through space, which static drawings cannot do.” The viewer watches time at work on space. Upstate’s striking geo-economic feature—its location along the only sustained flat passage route connecting the Eastern seaboard to the American West—stimulates development of the Erie Canal and the New York Central Railroad. A century of prosperity waxes and wanes, and the great corridor of westward expansion retreats to a geological curiosity in the age of the airport and closed-access highway.

Brian Goehle of Palmyra, New York, was one of the few students in the course who grew up in the region. He appreciated reconnecting with the area’s past as he learned valuable architectural skills. “This course gave us the tools to change how we think of the design process and to question the traditional forms of architectural representation,” says Goehle, who served as the disc’s co-editor with classmate Bruce Davison. “We live in a culture in which people are comfortable with visual media, and this form of communication is likely to generate productive dialogue with clients.”

Duong is quick to point out that while he taught students necessary skills and introduced them to various software applications, Re-surfacing Upstate is a student production containing dozens of works: films, audio pieces, prose and photo essays, and even a poem on Buffalo (“clinging to little more than a fading legacy and the dying prospect of a winning football season,” writes Iain Gulin). “These individually authored contributions are the primary elements of the collaborative project,” Duong says. The Utica material, for example, contains a sequence in which characters, created by students, emerge to tell their stories: an old man who enjoyed the city’s economic heyday; a middle-aged man left homeless by industrial decline; and a young man trying to make a future in 21st-century Utica. “The class was such a diverse group of people from around the country and the world that the final product is a multicultural interpretation of upstate New York,” Goehle says.                                         

—David Marc

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