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CAMPUS COMMUNITY PROFILE: JEAN-JACQUES SENE, PH.D.

Sene-1024x683

Associate Professor of History & Cultural Studies;
Program Coordinator, Global Focus

How do you say his name? “Zhahn Zhahk Senn”

With Chatham since: 2007

Hometown: Dakar, Senegal

Pittsburgh home: Squirrel Hill

Languages spoken: “Let’s just say five [laughs]: French, English, Spanish, Wolof, and Creole Portuguese. Everybody, literally, is multilingual where I come from.” Continue reading

CAMPUS COMMUNITY PROFILE: CHRIS MUSICK, M.S.

Musick-1024x683Title: Assistant Vice President for International Affairs
Hometown: Yorktown, Indiana
Pittsburgh neighborhood: I’m currently deciding between Squirrel Hill and Shadyside. I like being able to walk places, and I don’t have a car in town. I signed up for the Bike to Work program, and I have the bicycle that I bought off my brother when I was in 8th grade for $40 and a large pizza. The bike has been refurbished throughout the years that I’ve been riding, but it’s a cherished piece of my childhood.

What are your goals for International Affairs?
For one, I’m looking forward to helping to implement the Chatham semester, which is like a reverse study abroad program. We want it to be a destination for students around the world who want to study in America for a semester or a year. To encourage this, we’re becoming more flexible with our ESL programs – they’ll now be 7-week sessions and start at different points during the years, to help accommodate other countries’ academic calendars. Another way that we’ll internationalize our community is through activities, speakers, presenters, and curriculum development. And, of course, we’ll be pursuing strategic relationships around the globe.

How do you decide which relationships to pursue?
We’re very interested in developing relationships that enhance our understanding of what we’re able to do here and take advantage of opportunities to learn even more. For example, Chatham has a robust sustainability program, and we’re also global in outlook. There’s a lot we can learn from studying sustainability in different biomes, like the arctic, the desert, and the tropics. What are the challenges of creating sustainable practices in different environmental zones? How do you grow crops in Norway? We’re looking to partner with institutions where we can learn from them, and they from us.

We’re also interested in partnering with institutions where there are layers of academic overlap that can help us create deeper relationships with the community and within our academic programs. For example, we might have a student group of healthcare workers visit a community to investigate what might be behind the learning disorders that affect a large number of local children. Say they link it to cooking stoves inside the house leaking carbon dioxide. Then we could have interior design students going down and designing a new stove that uses local resources and can be built efficiently and at low cost that doesn’t emit carbon dioxide. And of course, we want to develop relationships with universities that mirror what we’re doing to a certain extent, so that if students study abroad, they’re still able to graduate on time.

Chatham has so many points of pride, and this time of transition fosters a real outward-lookingness. There’s a lot of potential to moving into the international arena in a way that we haven’t been able to do before.

UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH IN TAIWAN

Chloe Bell ’16 remembers an afternoon in Taiwan. “We pulled over on the highway one afternoon to eat hot peppers that an elderly couple had made and were selling.  The husband cut peppers into a marinating bucket as the wife offered us all of their other specialties. We found people like this everywhere in Taiwan: small time entrepreneurs who were using their skill set to make people happy, to co-exist in a symbiotic way.”

Bell was part of a research team of six undergraduate students (Diana Cabrera ’17, Ashley Henry ’14, Kristina Hruska ’16, Sook Yee Leung ’14, Rachel McNorton ’14) and two Chatham professors (Dr. Karen S. Kingsbury and Dr. Charlotte E. Lott) who spent four weeks in Taiwan over the summer, studying female entrepreneurs in small-scale, regionally-based restaurants and lodging businesses, with a focus on the following questions:

• What gender issues occur in women-owned businesses?
• How do women use relationship networks to start and maintain a business?
• How does family responsibility interplay with business responsibility?
• Do these women business owners consider themselves to be feminists?

The research team interviewed 14 women entrepreneurs in four areas across Taiwan. They also distributed around 30 surveys to other female entrepreneurs.The research is expected to produce a series of analytical profiles of the women entrepreneurs telling their stories and articles in the four areas of interest—gender issues for women business owners, relationship networks, family dynamics, and perception of feminism.

Preliminary findings include:

1) While for the most part, the women were either unfamiliar with or startled by the term “feminism,” associating it with a radical, extremist set of views that they did not share, when asked how they felt about gender equality, the women were very supportive.

2) In Taiwan, written contracts are secondary to verbal agreements and handshakes.

3) “The female entrepreneurs and the academics we talked to were not focused on making the most money or being the most successful in the Western sense,” says Bell.

4) “I formulated a theory in my own mind that Taiwan would be more like mainland China and less like a Westernized Society. I was greatly mistaken, “ said another student. (Dr. Kingsbury notes this as one reason why Taiwan is an excellent entry-point for US students and researchers interested in engaging with East Asian culture).

5.) “I discovered that while much of my thinking around female entrepreneurs centered on the concept of depending on relationship networks, the women showed a lot of agency in building community among their customers and/or employees,” says another.

Of course, there’s learning, and then there’s learning: “The students developed an excellent interview technique, “ noted Professor Lott. The undergraduate team also gained experience through applying for the grant, operating equipment, gathering data, analyzing findings, problem-solving, and adapting to new situations. “Being able to venture out on my own gave me a great deal of confidence and independence that I could not have earned any other way,” adds Kristina Hruska.

The project in Taiwan has benefited not just the participants, but the greater Chatham community. “The project has been a very effective way to boost the development of a fledgling Asian studies program at Chatham University,” says Dr. Kingsbury, noting that it has also spurred enthusiasm for Taiwan-based projects now in preparation, including a short-term faculty-led field experience focusing on green/sustainable architecture and eco-tourism, food studies, and travel writing currently being planned for 2016. The research team is now compiling a set of essays and photos that David Burke’s fall term course on Print Design will use as the basis for a class project.

Two weeks ago, at the ASIANetwork conference in St. Louis, the research was presented by Bell, Sook Yee Leong ’14, and Professor Lott. Learn more on the project blog, and check out the  2014 Chatham Student-Faculty Fellows report.

The study, Creative Entrepreneurialism, Relationship Networks, and Family Dynamics: A Study of Women-Led Hospitality Businesses in Regional Hubs of Taiwan, was funded was funded by the 2014 ASIANetwork Freeman Foundation Student-Faculty Fellows Program for Collaborative Research in Asia and by a Chatham University Grant.