On Friday, the Trump administration signed an executive order on immigration that (among other things) suspended the entry of citizens from seven countries—Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen—to the United States for at least the next 90 days. Over the weekend, the effects of this order were immediately felt with individuals and families being prevented from boarding flights, denied entry at airports, and stranded abroad.
While the order has already been challenged in court, we remain acutely aware of its potential impact on members of our community, and I have directed our Office of International Affairs (OIA) to reach out to affected students and faculty in order to provide assistance. I also encourage anyone planning to travel outside of the US from one of the affected countries to contact OIA before making any travel plans.
Our country was founded as a nation of immigrants, and embracing global education and “respect for diversity of culture” is a core part of Chatham’s mission. I join with the many other leaders of higher education, business and technology companies, and religious denominations who have questioned this decision and signal our support for the value that international students, faculty, and visitors have brought to our communities. We share the desire for our country to develop an immigration policy that balances protecting national security while avoiding discrimination against individuals and harming our nation’s industries, including higher education. In fact, Canada, this year’s Global Focus country, has embraced such a policy, and I hope that our students and faculty are able to delve into this as part of the North American Higher Education Forum we will be hosting in April of this year.
As we look for positive ways forward, I encourage our students, faculty and staff to embrace another core part of Chatham’s mission: to be “informed and engaged citizen in one’s communities.” There are so many issues where we can and already are having a positive impact. Whether by learning more on the issues, volunteering, building community partnerships, or working together to advocate for policy changes, we can make a difference working together. Whatever your opinion or however you choose to get involved, let us all do so in the spirit of the shared values that drive our University.
We will continue to monitor closely this rapidly evolving situation and do all we can to keep people informed and to support all members of the Chatham community.
“Beer writing, well crafted” goes the tagline for Hop Culture, an online daily lifestyle magazine for the newest generation of craft beer drinkers. The magazine’sfounder and editor-in-chief is Chatham MFA in Creative Writing student Kenny Gould, ’17.
Hop Culture—which boasts a masthead that includes several Chatham Masters of Arts in Food Studies graduates as well as current Chatham graduate and undergraduate students—features new content daily. Beer-focused travel guides outline realistic itineraries (see Pittsburgh, Denver, and Boston). In addition to travel, sections dedicated to people, gear, beer, and culture feature interviews, definitions (what is a gueuze?), book reviews, and a “Cheers to Science” series, in which the magazine recognizes an extraordinary scientist by pairing him or her with an extraordinary beer—a refreshing diversity of content for what might seem like a narrow focus.
“A professor once told me that when you’re writing about food or drink, you’re never writing only about food or drink,” says Gould. “You’re writing about history, culture, traditions, people. There’s only so much you can say about a beverage with only four ingredients.”
After graduating from Duke University with a degree in English, Gould moved to New York City, where he wrote for a men’s lifestyle website called Gear Patrol. Then he moved out west for a fellowship with an urban farm in Berkeley, CA. Soon he found himself ready for a new chapter, and began looking into graduate programs.
“I found Chatham’s program, and I really think it’s the foremost program for writing about the environment and place, which was something that really interested me,” he says. “It was the only school I applied to.”
Gould says that the idea for Hop Culture began on a class trip to Peru with MFA Program Director and Professor Sheryl St. Germain, PhD. “I was reading a guidebook Sheryl lent me, and wondered why there wasn’t such a thing for beer,” says Gould, who had been interested in craft beers for years, even developing a beer-of-the-week program as an undergraduate. “I thought I could do a big road trip and write about the best breweries in the US. Then I realized that there are 5000 breweries in the US, and I couldn’t possibly pick and choose. Then I thought I’d write nine books, one for each of the districts the census bureau splits the US into, but then I thought that no one reads books anymore. This current project has really brought together everything I’m interested in—writing, beer, sense of place, and the online component.”
Chatham University’s groundbreaking MFA focusing on nature, travel writing, and social outreach is the premier graduate program for nurturing students interested in place-based writing and innovative community programs.
Food Access (FST509), taught by Mim Seidel, MS, RD, LDN, has two components: a general exploration of the contexts in which hunger and food insecurity develop, and a directed exploration of food access in Pittsburgh. This course is enriched through interactions with many Pittsburgh-based anti-hunger organizations.
Community building is a core component, with emphasis on volunteering and developing skills related to task negotiation, network development, social interaction, and cultural acumen. Topics covered through reading and discussion include health consequences of poverty; poverty and policy; food deserts; the Farm Bill and Child Nutrition Re-Authorization; school meals; and global nutrition and food access.
If food is a basic human right, how do societies create universal access to food? What is the moral ethical basis for making citizens food secure in an age of global inequality? To what extent does providing food access need to consider culturally appropriateness, nutrition, and sustainability, and justice? – syllabus for FST509
Students work in groups to create menus and shop (go to the grocery store and price the food) for six fictitious families according to the guidelines given by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
At the end of the fall semester, I received a letter signed by 76 members of our Chatham faculty & staff community, in support of an earlier student march, asking Chatham’s Board of Trustees to explore and consider designating Chatham a Sanctuary Campus. Since these requests were received, the President’s Cabinet has been researching and discussing this issue with the intention to present our findings for consideration by the Board of Trustees at its February Board meeting.
In the meantime, I have directed the administration and staff to reach out to any undocumented or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) students in the Chatham campus community to ensure that are appraised of their rights and obligations under current federal and state laws; to reiterate the many ways in which Chatham supports them within the framework that those laws and campus policies currently provide; and to provide such support and counseling as they may need in light of the uncertain nature of their situation.
I also would like you to know that Chatham has joined close to 600 college and universities that have signed a letter, originated by Pomona College, signaling our support for continuing to educate students (i.e., “Dreamers”) covered under the DACA policy. I have also joined other Pennsylvania college and university presidents in urging US Senators Toomey and Casey to support the BRIDGE act, bipartisan legislation (introduced by Senators Lindsey Graham (R), Dick Durbin (D), Lisa Murkowski (R), and Dianne Feinstein (D)) that would allow for “provisional protected status” and a reprieve from deportation proceedings for many children brought to the United States by their parents.
I will be back in touch after the Board meeting with a response on this important issue. Until then, I wish each of you the very best for a new year and a new academic semester.
The Falk School of Sustainability Master of Arts in Food Studies’s course Wines, Ciders, and Mead (FST512) has some things in common with your canonical graduate seminar. The instructor—Sally Frey, MFA, Ph.D.—is eminently qualified, having worked as a master sommelier (Frey is also a chef who trained at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris). Five students are seated around a conference table on a brisk early winter morning, with another student at the podium, in front of, there it is—a PowerPoint presentation.
Her name is Danielle San Filippo, MAFS ’18, and she is showing photographs and reporting on a pear cider that she made. Listen:
“I wanted to let them ripen a little bit more so they’d press more juice. In retrospect it may not have been the best idea to let them get really sweet and sugary when you’re looking to get a dry cider (laughs). I took them home, and I decided to use the process Mike (Sturges, proprietor of a local cider collective, who was a guest speaker) shared with us – which is where you essentially juice the pears, right, we all had our different styles, mine was to use my juicer–and then mix the pulp back into the juice and press it again, and that way you’ll get this really concentrated flavor. That was a really bad idea, (class laughs) because I am not strong enough to press all that juice back out again. Essentially what happened was that I ended up with a really thick situation there. You guys can see all of this here, (gestures at screen) is the extra pulp that I was trying to mix back in together and press through. So in retrospect what I would do is just use the juice and sacrifice a little bit of the pear flavor. I also used a champagne yeast, but mine was a wine yeast as opposed to a beer one, because I had planned to use the champagne beer yeast that Mike gave us and luckily tried it first to get it activated and it was dead. So since I was already in the middle of this, I just grabbed what I had bought for one of my meads. That got me wondering – does that make this a pear wine now?”
“Technically no, because the alcohol content’s too low,” says Frey.
Danielle continues. “By November fifth, there was still a good bit of sediment, so I decided to go ahead and let it settle and then rack it, and it only produced those two bottles right there.”
“So there was that much sediment?” asks Frey.
“There was that much sediment. In fact, it was like pear sauce! I think overall in terms of making the cider I wanted to make, it didn’t get quite as dry as I like, but the flavor of pears definitely stands out. I think using the Eden Hall pears was a good choice, and I’m glad I tried this the way Mike said to, that we can all know not to do that (class laughs) moving forward.”
“We just don’t have the equipment to do that,” points out Frey.
“Right, right, if my juicer would have made the juice that I needed, it would have been fine. Anyway, I’m excited for you guys to try the perry (,” says Danielle.
What’s impressive is the consistent reflection: in retrospect, she says, and that got me wondering. Because as hands-on as this class is, Frey equips her students with the theoretical knowledge and collaborative spirit that effectively makes them artisans—even if just for the semester.
According to the syllabus, FST512 “provides a detailed study of the world of wines, grape varieties, ciders and mead,” and the word world seems carefully chosen indeed. Not only does it deal with global (and local) events, trends, and implications, but for every question you might expect in a course like this—what is so special about Chateau d’Yquem?—it goes snooping into other subjects, like history (What are some of the ways that Prohibition changed the way Americans ate?), technology (What type of bottle closure is the most sustainable?), psychology (What influence would a high score in a magazine like Wine Spectator have on how you choose a wine?), and biology (According to Giovanni Ruffa, it would be ironic if the world’s vineyards managed to survive the phylloxera epidemic only to be decimated by this trend toward what he calls “homologation.” What might be the consequences for bio-diversity?)
Students discuss wine journalism; marketing; and laws related to alcohol consumption, production, and distribution. They read texts and watch documentaries. They’ve visited Apoidea Apiary and Soergel Orchards, and guest speakers included Michael Sturges, proprietor of a local cider collective; Holly Harker from Subarashii Kudamono, an Asian pear orchard; and alumnus Michael Foglia MAFS ’16, who presented research that he did for local distillery Wigle Whiskey (which has teamed up with Chatham before).
After the presentations, the class moves downstairs to the spacious lodge kitchen. One by one, students pry caps off the bottles they’ve brought in, and pour samples for Frey and their classmates.
Students report on their ingredients (“The honey comes from Maple Valley Farms near Ross Park Mall. I called to find out more about their practices. They are not using certified naturally grown methods but they use organic practices for beekeeping.”), tasting (“I think you taste ginger in the end. I can feel that kind of burning sensation, which is a bad way to put it, but it’s good.”), their processes (“I ran into a few issues with temperature because I’m in the dorms. I wasn’t able to regulate the temperature. I wrapped my little blanket around it.”) and plans (“I’m gonna bring it home for Thanksgiving and have my family try it. They’ve never had mead!”).
Assignment: Write a 3-5-page proposal for a “Sustainable Beverage (multiple categories may be included) Tasting Fundraiser.” You will have an imaginary $400 budget to get you started and the event is to take place from 7:00 – 9:00 PM on a Saturday evening. The only requirement is that it should be “fun and educational.” Be specific with any items that you would purchase for the event and think through all the details from a sustainability lens. You will present your concept to the group and we will debate the best concept.
The course capstone is the final, semester-long project. Students pick a research topic related to local or global cider, mead, wine, sake, or honey to be presented to the group along with an essay and photo documentation of the fermentation/production process, if applicable. The goal is for the final project to be used as a portfolio piece.
For her final project, Danielle is making four different types of mead. “Modern mead-making uses chemical-based accelerants,” she says, “but I wanted to figure out how to make dry, semi-sweet, and sweet mead just by altering the amount and type of honey and yeast.”
“Lots of classes in the Falk School focus on group work,” says Danielle, “so this class is unique in that it’s focused on individual work, but then we all come together for three hours each week and work as a group to solve problems. The structure gave me time to think through my preconceptions and then come to class and be challenged.”
Chatham’s Master of Arts in Food Studies in the Falk School of Sustainability & Environment emphasizes a holistic approach to food systems, from agriculture and food production to cuisines and consumption, providing intellectual and practical experience from field to table.
This story, by Bethany Lye, originally appeared in the Fall 2016 edition of The Recorder.
LaVaughn Wesley grew up the eldest child of a single mother of five. His family frequently relocated to start fresh, with young Wesley weathering at least 12 moves across three states.
Amid this shifting backdrop, one ritual took anchor in Wesley’s childhood: his mother would get him a new pair of shoes each fall. “They had to last me the entire school year—just that one pair of shoes,” he recalls. “It was a big deal.”
Wesley, now the father of a 4-year-old girl, had this memory in mind while student teaching in the gray and gritty neighborhood of McKeesport, Pa., last year. A young boy entered his classroom one morning wearing shoes so well-worn, they were losing their soles. “Things like that matter a lot to middle schoolers,” says Wesley, 31. “I thought about my mother and all of our struggles. And I knew what being that boy was like.”
Wesley went home, grabbed a pair of Jordan’s from his own closet, and handed ownership over to the student the next day.
“The love that I got back from him was incredible,” recalls Wesley, who is now leading his own classroom at the same school—Propel McKeesport.
As a member of the Pittsburgh Urban Teaching Corps inaugural class, Wesley earned his Pennsylvania teaching certification and a master’s degree from Chatham in just 15 months.
The program, which requires participants to take night classes while teaching in a Propel classroom with a mentor for much of the workweek, isn’t for the faint of heart. “It was as hard as I have ever worked both on an academic and a personal level,” says Wesley.
As part of the program, Chatham reduces tuition fees by 65 percent, and students receive a scholarship that covers the remainder of their tuition bill plus a monthly stipend until they earn their degree. In return, the participants must commit to teaching in the Propel School system for the next three years.
Chatham’s Program Director of Education Kristin Harty runs the University’s half of the Pittsburgh Urban Teaching Corps, and she believes the program is the only one of its kind in the region.
Her counterpart at Propel Schools, Randy Bartlett, says that the partnership grew out of a clear need to fill classrooms with teachers who were passionate about equity in education—and who could bring stability to urban schools, which have long struggled with a high turnover rate among staff.
“As an organization, Propel recognized a teacher shortage and decided to not only create a new pathway for teachers but find individuals who were social justice minded,” says Bartlett, who serves as the director of teacher residency and research for Propel Schools. “We made a decision that we needed to turn the model on its head.”
Today, the program is marked by a multiyear commitment to developing teachers and comprehensive wraparound support along the way to ensure that they succeed. “This is not your typical training program,” says Bartlett. “We are not preparing students who might go teach somewhere else. We know for a fact that these teachers will be teaching in our classrooms the following year. They are a part of the Propel family from day one—and that makes a big difference.”
Harty notes that another defining feature of the program is its dedication to training teachers who grew up in urban communities similar to those of their students. “These teachers understand the culture, needs and strengths of the neighborhoods they are serving, and there is a strong trust that grows from that common connection.”
Wesley, who spent some of his boyhood in McKeesport, fits this requirement to a tee. And his most obvious connection is an important one: he looks the part.
At Propel McKeesport, which spans kindergarten through eighth grade, 71 percent of its 400-student body is black. Wesley is also black, and a rarity in his profession, where roughly 2 percent of public school teachers match both his gender and race. Add in the tattoos covered by his perfectly pressed dress shirt, his nose piercing and the diamond stud in his ear, and Wesley doesn’t just fall outside the mold. He obliterates it. This seemingly artificial factor matters. When Wesley initiated a discussion with his social studies class about racial profiling earlier this year, he spoke from experience—and his students knew it.
Even more than looking the part, Wesley has lived the part. He considers his backstory critical to his success in the classroom where, every single day, he is watching life repeat itself. And he knows firsthand that some of his students are navigating obstacles that are less perceptible than well-worn shoes.
“Some of these kids don’t have food at home. Some come from mentally and physically abusive homes—or homes where education isn’t valued and is just a day-to-day thing,” he says. “I see myself in all of these kids. I grew up in the neighborhoods that they lived in. And I have roamed the streets where they live,” he says.
This perspective has helped Wesley set some realistic expectations walking into his teaching career. For one, he’s not out to fix anyone. “As an educator, I know that you cannot have the cape on your back and think that every child seeds to be saved.” He also has a clear sense of what success looks like in his classroom: “I want to get through lessons on a day-to-day basis. And I want to keep things organized and create a culture that is warm, inviting and where students feel comfortable enough to open up and engage.”
Michon Gallaway, 13, is an eighth-grader at Propel McKeesport. From her vantage point in the third row of Wesley’s social studies class, he’s already hitting those marks.
“He understands us. He knows us,” says Gallaway, who recently invited her teacher to watch her perform for her church (he accepted—and kept his promise). “He’s also very caring and a really great teacher.”
Gallaway is equally complimentary of her Propel education. “I was struggling a lot before I came here,” she says, noting that her mother initiated the move from the nearby public school. “Now, I have all A’s in my classes, and it will help me get into an excellent high school and a really good college.”
The latest public statistics on Propel McKeesport support Gallaway’s optimism. When it comes to standardized test scores, sixth graders at Propel McKeesport are outperforming their peers at the nearby middle school at every turn. GreatSchools, a nonprofit that uses a 10-point scale to evaluate the quality of K-12 schools across the country, echoes this assessment, scoring Propel McKeesport decisively higher overall (6) than its local counterpart (3).
Bartlett and Harty are confident that the Pittsburgh Urban Teaching Corps program will continue to advance the quality of a Propel School education. And with more teachers like Wesley filling classrooms—and staying put—it’s easy to see why.
As for Wesley, he says he hopes to one day serve as a principal of a Propel school. But for now, he’s focused on making the most of where he stands today—and that’s at the head of the classroom, leading by example. In this role, Wesley is keenly aware that he’s teaching his students a lesson that will never check the box of any state-mandated education requirement. And he’s ok with that.
“They know my story. And, together, we’re building theirs,” he says. “I always tell them, ‘You can succeed, no matter where you come from.’ And, as long as they keep showing up, listening and working hard, I’m going to help them get there.”
Producing fresh, healthy food in a way that doesn’t deplete natural and man-made resources is a 21st century challenge that Scott Marshall has been unknowingly preparing for almost all of his life. Today, as President of Marshall’s Heritage Farm and member of the first graduating class of the Chatham University Falk School of Sustainability & Environment’s Bachelor of Sustainability program, Marshall is positioned to leverage his extensive experience in the food industry and deep love for the land to embrace the dramatically changing–and crucial–movement toward sustainable agriculture.
Marshall had begun thinking about how he could use his grandparents’ farm as a family asset in 2013, and after a job change, he decided a return to school was in order. When he saw a magazine ad featuring Eden Hall, Marshall decided to visit Chatham University’s Eden Hall Campus to explore a degree program that would help him in his family endeavor.
“I decided the best path was to focus on sustainable or regenerative agriculture,” says Marshall. “Eden Hall had all of the opportunities I was looking for. I was happy that I had the opportunity to finish my education in a cutting-edge program.”
Prior to attending Chatham, Marshall had spent 25 years in the food service industry. In early 2014, following the death of his grandfather, Marshall began working on a plan to purchase the family farm in Indiana County. The following year Marshall, his wife Lynne and Scott’s parents were able to finalize the purchase, setting the stage for the development of Marshall’s Heritage Farm.
The independent farm is committed to producing sustainably grown, healthy agricultural products for restaurants, food businesses, and consumers in Western Pennsylvania. In alignment with its mission to support the health of family and community with quality foods while restoring biological diversity and vitality to the land, Marshall’s Heritage Farm plans to develop community workshops, educational programs at local schools, and it is anticipated that all of the farm’s products will be naturally grown by 2026. “My passion is providing clean, healthy food to the community,” explains Marshall.
Marshall’s education at Chatham enabled him to effectively launch the Marshall’s Heritage Farm enterprise. He explained, “It helped me focus on writing a business plan and building my brand. I also formed an operating entity and purchased the farm.”
He also acknowledges that the ability to achieve his goals was influenced by the support he received from faculty, staff, and friends that he encountered while at Chatham.
“I couldn’t list just one, because there were several people that influenced my time in a positive way,” he says. “All of them had an individual role in supporting my goals and success at Chatham. Never underestimate the power of listening to people who have a passion and interest in your success.”
Marshall’s commitment to agricultural sustainability is further evidenced by his work as Field Manager at 412 Food Rescue in Pittsburgh, a community organization that works to end hunger and reduce food waste.
Based on his experience, Marshall advises: “Be open to new ideas and be excited to be part of something new.” His decision to take an active role in the essential movement toward sustainable agriculture, his decision to attend Chatham University’s innovative Eden Hall Campus, and the launch of his family business all demonstrate that Marshall walks his talk.
Located approximately 20 miles north of Pittsburgh and comprised of 388-acres of farmable land, field labs, classrooms, dining halls, and residence halls, Eden Hall is one of the world’s first university campuses dedicated to sustainability education; students at this campus are immersed in hands-on education within fields such as sustainable design and built environments, community development and planning, sustainable agricultural systems, and ecological wellbeing.
This article previously appeared in Chatham’s Recorder alumni magazine.
As part of the first cohort of Chatham’s Masters of Sustainability program, James Snow loved “embracing the ‘newness’”. “It was a great opportunity to not only help craft the program, but also to be able to gain opportunities from something so new.” Snow said the faculty and curriculum ensured that the students were out in the field, having hands on, real life experiences. He said, “That is a critical element to being placed in a job after graduation.”
Snow is currently a project manager for the environmental nonprofit GTECH: Growth Through Energy + Community Health. With more than 40,000 vacant lots in Allegheny County, many of which attract crime, decrease property values and reduce community cohesion, GTECH’s work to transform these spaces cultivates the unrealized potential of people and places to improve the health of our communities is vital. Through this process, GTECH offers an opportunity for residents to take pride in their community and land. Play spaces, parks, community gardens, and storm water installations are some of the types of projects imagined by residents, meaning what once was a blighted liability, is transformed into a useful asset. “We focus of the intersection of community development and the economy while identifying community health issues and working on solutions,” Snow says proudly. He was an intern at GTECH while at Chatham, prior to transitioning to a full time employee following graduation.
As Snow reflects upon his time at Chatham, one of his early classes stands out. “In one of our first sustainability classes we were assigned a watershed project that included three different hydrologic systems in Allegheny County. One was urban, one suburban, one rural. We were looking at how when you look at a macro problem, like water run off or storm water, you have to be able to work up and down the scale to find a solution. We had to study everything from what kind of community this was, to who lives here, to what’s the geography and terrain like.
It was so helpful to look at these large, complex problems and then break down the context, then put it back together to craft the solution. It’s not only about different groups, people and backgrounds, but it’s also about taking all those pieces and putting it back together for a final product,” he notes.
Chatham provided Snow with the opportunity to get out in the field and experience real world situations and environments. His experience working directly with people and all different social and economic backgrounds was critical in developing a holistic view of sustainability and community development. “Chatham is a big enough program to obtain resources, but it’s small enough to build really close relationships,” Snow says. This allowed Snow to truly understand the world he’d be working and making a difference in.
Chatham’s Master of Sustainability (MSUS) program prepares enterprising students with the tools necessary to be the agents of change that corporations, governments, and other organizations need to lead their sustainability initiatives. The program and its focus on real-world impact is inspired by environmental icon and Chatham alumna Rachel Carson ’29, whose own work over 50 years ago continues to impact the world.