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New Resident Directors Weigh In

The Dickinson Programs in Bologna, Norwich (Science), and Toulouse all welcomed new resident directors this month.  Doug Stuart, Marcus Key, and Andy MacDonald all responded to a series of questions, offering the following initial impressions of the RD experience.

Doug Stuart

Professor of Political Science and International Studies

Resident Director of Dickinson in Bologna, 2008-2010

What are you most looking forward to as Director of the Bologna Program?

Carol and I are very nostalgic about being back in Bologna after 23 years.  We were last here (aside from brief visits) when I was on the Johns Hopkins faculty (from '83 to '86).  We made some good friends at that time, adn we have enjoyed reconnecting with them since our return to Bologna.  We are also looking forward to visiting some places that we know, and don't know, while we are in Europe.

What do you foresee as being the biggest challenge?

It will be difficult for me to maintaini my research on reform of the U.S. national security bureaucracy.  On the other hand, I will be able to get back into research on U.S.-European security cooperation.

The other big challenge, of course, is improving my Italian.  I still notice the expressions of physical pain on the faces of shopkeepers when I make some horrific grammatical error...

How do you think teaching abroad will be different than teaching in Carlisle?

I have modified my U.S. foreign policy course so that it emphasizes transatlantic relations.  This will make it very easy to get the students interested in contemporary issues.  It will also encourage them to read European newspapers and the Economist.

What do you think is the most valuable thing that students on the program learn?

Self reliance.  Dickinson-Carlisle is a very comfortable place for students.  It can become too comfortable.  Over here, they are forced to take on more responsibilities - in an unfamiliar and demanding (albeit rewarding and exciting) environment.  It will be a transformative experience for many of these students.

Do you miss anything from Carlisle or the U.S.?

Carol and I miss our friends and family.  I miss golf.  Carol misses all of the sports that she follows very closely (football and basketball in particular).  She is able to get information from the web, but it is not the same as watching the games on TV.

Is there anything you wish to add, or say to your colleagues?

Bologna has changed a great deal.  It is dirtier, rougher, poorer.  It is really sad to see graffiti on beautiful 500 year old buildings.  But I also realize that I have changed over the years, and that many of my opinions are typical "grumpy old guy" observations.

The other thing that has changed is the political environment. People seem much more cynical about politics in general, and about Berlusconi and the EU in particular.

 

Marcus Key

Professor of Geology

Resident Director of the Norwich Science Program, 2008-2010

What are you most looking forward to as Director of the Norwich Science Program?

Living abroad and getting to know a new culture and landscape.

 

What do you foresee as being the biggest challenge?

Teaching two new classes outside my area of expertise as well as team teaching at the University of East Anglia in my area of expertise.

 

How do you think teaching abroad will be different than teaching in Carlisle?

The Dickinson courses will be much more hands on and field based than in Dickinson.

 

What do you think is the most valuable thing that students on the program learn?

How wise and knowledgable I am about everything!  No, but seriously, I hate to admit it, but in the long term it will not be the content of my courses or their UEA courses but learning how to live in another culture with a different climate, different foods, drinks, music, everything.  I think immersing yourself in another culture is a valuable experience for everyone.  That is why I volunteered to run the program so I could bring my family over here so they could live in another culture.

 

Do you miss anything from Carlisle or the U.S.?

Yes, driving on the right side of the road and cheaper prices!

 

Andy MacDonald

Assistant Professor of French

Resident Director of Dickinson in Toulouse, Fall 2008

What are you most looking forward to as Director of the Toulouse Program?

 I grew up in Canada where the idea of language learning through “total immersion” was considered to be the best and fastest way to learn a new language. During my teaching career that belief in linguistic and cultural immersion has been reaffirmed time and time again. Now, as director I’m looking forward to encouraging the students here to jump into the culture and the language as completely as possible. It’s really exciting for me to see the kinds of learning and growth that can happen for students in a study abroad context. They are really learning and growing as whole people, seeing that the world is much larger, more complex and more fascinating than they might have initially assumed. On a more personal note directing the Toulouse program is also a wonderful opportunity for me to get to know another city in France, and to live in France again, which definitely stimulates me linguistically and culturally.

 

What do you foresee as being the biggest challenge?

I’m shifting into a position that is profoundly different from my position as assistant professor in Carlisle. Here I’ll only have a few hours of classroom time with the students and I’ll be doing more administrative and academic advising tasks, so the change in daily work is very significant. The biggest challenge for me here is interfacing with the complexities of French university administration. I need to learn how the various divisions of the universities here work so I can help our students navigate the ins and outs of the universities here. Also, this job is more of a 9 to 5 in the office kind of job than being a professor in Carlisle is, and that demands a different kind of concentration and organization. I’m really thankful to have a great team of colleagues to work with here in Toulouse, and the Global Education staff is a big help.

 

How do you think teaching abroad will be different than teaching in Carlisle?

What I love about teaching here is that every single thing that surrounds the students here directly connects to my teaching and their learning. We are together in the cultural context with no buffers. The contact with the language, the food, the people, the art and architecture is sensual, present and immediate. That immediacy really makes everything I can teach and work on in the classroom instantly relevant to the students’ lives here in the context of life in France. For what I teach it’s the ideal situation, with learning in the classroom and experience outside the classroom directly reinforcing each other in a way that is simply not possible on campus in Carlisle. Students can taste and smell France, and there is so much less I need to explain because the living, breathing examples of French life and culture are all around us here.

 

What do you think is the most valuable thing that students on the program learn?

I think the students learn that the United States is not the only game in town, and that there are many other ways to think and live than what the students may have experienced up to this point in their lives. I think students also learn very quickly that learning in a classroom is just the beginning and that learning is a life-long pursuit that can happen anywhere, any time.

 

Do you miss anything from Carlisle or the U.S.?

I really miss my cat, Jesse, and I miss friends, family and colleagues.

 

Is there anything you wish to add, or say to your colleagues?

As a researcher on contemporary French theatre and performance, I’m really looking forward to seeing new works here in Toulouse. I’m hoping to meet actors, directors, playwrights, choreographers and dancers here so I can get a first-hand sense of the state of the performing arts in France today. This is a really rich opportunity so I hope to make the most of it.

 

To my colleagues in Carlisle, I would say that encouraging our students to go abroad and to learn other languages is an essential part of a liberal arts education. I really feel like ignorance and rigid, narrow thinking cannot hold in the face of a study abroad experience. It expands students' horizons and their understanding of themselves and the world. In this day and age we need more business people, scholars, artists, teachers, scientists, political leaders, workers and citizens with deep, first-hand experience of other languages and cultures, and our students are on the paths to becoming those people, so send them abroad!
 
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