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This might be Chatham’s most life-changing course.

“The class is rewarding enough that you don’t want to skip it. I got my wisdom teeth out and two days later, I was there, with ice packed onto my face,” says first-year student Elena Boyle.

It’s called Intergroup Dialogues (IGD), and this was the first year it was offered at Chatham. There’s a fall term component and a spring term component, and they’re different but complementary. Students—both undergraduate and graduate—can sign up for either, or, perhaps, both.

The goal is to allow students to examine an aspect of their own identity (such as race, gender, ability, etc), how they’ve been socialized around it, and how to have productive dialogues about it. Sound easy? It’s not. Sound worthwhile? Read on.

Fall course
In the fall course–co-taught by Associate Professor of Counseling Psychology Jennifer Morse  and Director of Multicultural Affairs Randi Congleton, PhD.–students discussed theories of social identities and social identity construction in the United States, as well as their own experiences of their own social identities. They also learned how to facilitate a dialogue among their peers. Not a discussion, not a debate—a dialogue. Here’s how Congleton explains the difference: “A debate is about making a point. In a discussion, we might say ‘Let’s agree to disagree’. A dialogue is something else. It’s about listening with a sincere desire to learn more.”

By the end of the term, students had developed not only a deeper understanding of social identities in America and advanced dialogue skills, they were also prepared to facilitate the spring course, and to provide custom-designed 1.5-3-hour workshops around dialogue and social identity to classes, student groups, and other organizations on campus. (And off-campus, too: course participants Diarra Clarke ’18 and Patricia Donohue, MSCP ’18 had a proposal accepted and presented at Pittsburgh’s  20th Annual Summit Against Racism.)

Spring course
“Spring is really when the magic happens,” says Congleton. “Because students commit to spending 14 weeks parsing out one aspect of their identity.” This spring, the focus was on race/ethnicity, facilitated by Hali Santiago, MAP ’18 and Johnnie Tonsor, MSCP ’18, and overseen by Congleton. The spring course fulfills a general education requirement.

IGD facilitators Johnnie Tonsor, MSCP ’18 and Hali Santiago, MAP ’18

“You know a lot less than you think you do,” says Boyle. “Coming into this class, I think that everybody, especially—I guess I can’t speak for all the people of color, but I think in general the people of color were thinking ‘oh, we know this, we understand this.’ And that’s not how it is. With any topic that has a lot of intersectionality or that’s multi-faceted, you know so much less than you think you do. There’s so much you can learn, and you need to be open.”

Students completed readings that included social and political constructions of race in the United States as well as first-person accounts. In class, they engaged in dialogue and in activities that furthered their understanding, though not always in the most comfortable way. That’s because IGD is based on a model that sets forth three zones of learning, says Tonsor.

“When you’re in your comfort zone, things are familiar, so you’re not really that engaged. The next zone is what’s called the learning edge—that’s when there’s some conflict and some discomfort, and you’re attuned to your environment and to others. Then there’s the danger zone, which is too stressful, so you’re out of the space of being able to learn and process.”

“As facilitators, our job is to encourage and challenge them to stay on their learning edge, stay with discomfort, be self-critical, which is difficult,” Tonsor continues. “It involves asking people to do things where their gut reaction is ‘no, I don’t want to do that; that doesn’t feel good.’”

But the class came up with agreements to help them feel more safe. “We had a rule that instead of calling out you call in,” says Maria Positanka ’19. “You say ‘Hey, I heard you say this; I interpreted it this way; is this what you meant?’ And you ask them about their personal experience, and how they came to that opinion.”

“It’s called ‘listening to understand,’” says Boyle. “A lot of times, somebody will be telling you something, and from the first five words of what they say, you already have your response ready to go. That’s one I took to a lot of my relationships – like I would tell my friends, ‘You’re listening to respond!’”

“’Never assume negative intentions’ is another one,” adds Positanka. “At first, there was a lot of jumping to conclusions, or people responding in ways that did not represent what had actually been said. Or automatically assuming that someone is speaking from a position of being willing to be ignorant, or wanting to offend you. But it might just be confusion or miscommunication.”

Boyle cites the “Privilege Walk” as an activity that many of them found meaningful. “Everybody lines up horizontally, and then a number of statements were read out loud,” she says. “Like: ‘If your parents have college degrees, take a step forward. If you cannot easily find hair products for your hair type in a store, take a step backward.’ It was a bunch of statements like that and the statements spread everybody out. At the end, they said ‘Take a look at where you are,’ and it was very polarizing. You had all the white people at the front and all the black people in the back, and most of the multi-racial people in the middle. To see it laid out like that was kind of difficult for everybody and very eye-opening. I cried.”

“I would tell anyone to take the class,” says Justine Barry ’19. “It is one of the most rewarding feelings to go through so much with people –I feel like the people in this class are more than just my classmates. I feel like if I ever needed anything, or I needed someone to go with me to a function, we talk about standing in solidarity with one another, and I know that if that were ever asked of me, or if I ever asked that of anyone else in the class, we would do it. And not just like “oh, I’ll do this to be a good person.” – they’d do it because we’ve been through an experience with one another.”

“This class, even though sometimes you might leave really annoyed, you want to come back,” says Boyle, “because  of the change that you see in yourself and in people and in the interactions you have in class. It’s one of those things that you forget that it’s a curriculum. You’re just here to learn.”

Intergroup Dialogues is based on a model developed by the University of Michigan in the late 1980s. At Chatham, it’s run as a joint partnership between Academic Affairs and Student Affairs. Future versions of the course may focus on gender, religion, sexual orientation, citizenship, ability, or other aspects of identity.

Alumna Carol Mason ’67 elected to National Academy of Sciences

Alumna Carol Mason, PhD, ’67 was elected to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) on May 1, in recognition of her distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. She was one of 84 new members and 21 foreign associates to receive the honor.

The NAS acts as an advisory body to the federal government and other organizations. Membership is considered among the highest honors in science.

Dr. Mason, who majored in biology at Chatham,  is one of the world’s leading authorities on the development of the visual system and cerebellum in mammals. She is Professor of the Departments of Pathology and Cell Biology, Neuroscience, and Ophthalmology at Columbia University. Her research has helped to reveal the processes that guide the growth and trajectory of the visual system’s neurons—opening up the possibility of repairing damage to the visual system caused by injury or disease.

Dr. Mason, second from right, received the Distinguished Alumna Award at Reunion 2017.

Dr. Mason has served as a co-director of the Doctoral Program in Neurobiology and Behavior, and the Vision Sciences Training Program. She was president of the Society for Neuroscience from 2013 to 2014 and is currently a member of the NIH National Eye Institute’s Advisory Council and the NIH BRAIN Initiative’s Multi-Council Working Group. She is also currently a principal investigator and chair of Interschool Planning in Columbia’s Zuckerman Institute.

Dr. Mason is a member of the National Academy of Medicine, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a Simons Foundation Senior Fellow. She has received numerous awards during her career, including the Mika Salpeter Lifetime Achievement Award (2017) from the Society for Neuroscience; the Champalimaud Vision Award (2016) from the António Champalimaud Foundation; and the Stevens Triennial Prize (2013) from the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Awards for eden hall campus and a chat with the architects

The LEED Platinum-designated Field Lab

April was a big month for Eden Hall Campus in terms of external recognition: The Anne Mallinson ’61 Café and field lab were granted official LEED Platinum ratings, and the campus was recognized nationwide with a 2018 Education Facility Design Award of Excellence from the American Institute of Architects. We spoke with president David Goldberg and principal Sandy Mendler of Mithūn, the architecture firm behind Eden Hall’s transformation.

The Anne Mallinson ’61 Café and Field Lab have the official LEED Platinum rating. What’s the significance of that?

“The Platinum rating is meant to recognize the highest level of achievement in terms of addressing sustainability in the real world,” says Mendler. “The LEED rating system is meant to evolve as the industry evolves, so over the years, it has become increasingly challenging for a building to be certified Platinum. Chatham should feel great about this third party validation.”

“This undertaking would have been a stretch for much larger institutions,” adds Goldberg. “For Chatham to do this at such a high level of quality really speaks to the leadership team as well as to the commitment from the whole Chatham community. The results are huge, and really have an impact not just within our community, but nationally.”

What are some cool things that only the architects might know, or that someone taking a tour of the campus might not realize?

1) “EHC operates with five ‘flavors’ of water,” says Mendler, ticking them off:

  • Potable water from the city
  • Rainwater captured from the roofs of the buildings
  • Stormwater that flows across parking lots, plazas and landscaped areas
  • TSE (treated sewage effluent) is water from showers, toilets, kitchens etc. that has gone through the waste treatment system and come out clean – it is used for flushing toilets and irrigation
  • Water from the aquaculture system that includes fish waste – which can be a useful nutrient in agriculture! (“fish poop water”)

“The system balances and integrates these five streams, and it’s a great opportunity to explore interactions between them,” Mendler says.

2) “There’s a space used for storage in the basement of the Esther Barazzone Center,” says Goldberg. “It’s not heated or cooled, and the floor is right there in the dirt. It’s a gesture at the history of the farm, and it also teaches some of those old, common-sense farm practices of storing dry goods in an unconditioned space.”

“It’s fun to think of the future being nature-based. It’s not all about computing and mechanization… what we usually think about when we think about technology,” says Mendler. “And that’s an optimistic vision. What does the future look like? It might look kind of like Eden Hall Campus.”

3) “The wood you see inside the Anne Mallinson ’61 Café is from the dairy barn that it once was. If you look at down, you‘ll see the shadows of cows etched onto the floors. That’s where the cows used to stand, looking towards the south, toward the gorgeous view. That’s our way of acknowledging and honoring the prior use of the building,” says Mendler.

The LEED Platinum-designated Anne Mallinson ’61 Café

4) “I think it’s the only campus anywhere where the first thing you do as you enter is cross the wastewater treatment system,” says Goldberg. “As soon as you enter, the first thing you do is walk across a constructed wetland that treats wastewater through a biological process. It’s an innovative statement, to have wastewater treatment be the first thing visitors interact with, and it’s actually beautiful.”

constructed wetlands

5) Windows over two toilets in the Field Lab buildings look out over the constructed wetland, so you can literally see the waste treatment system. “In so many built environments, the underlying systems are intentionally hidden from view,” says Goldberg. “But this being an educational campus, making them visible was one of our goals.”

The Hilda M. Willis Amphitheater

6) “The amphitheater space hosts music and other events, but it’s also an intentional design that controls rainwater through what’s known as a raingarden design,” says Goldberg. “Rainwater pools at the base of the amphitheater, where the stage floats on it—you can see this on a rainy day. The water slowly percolates and drains, undergoing a natural filtering process.”

Eden Hall Campus Wins Best of Green Schools Award

PITTSBURGH: Chatham University’s Eden Hall Campus and K-12 Program received a 2018 Best of Green Schools Award from the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), in collaboration with the Green Schools National Network (GSNN).

Chatham was honored in the Higher Education category, which  recognizes higher education institutions or faculty members who have made a significant contribution to the K–12 green schools movement through partnership, research and/or scholarship. This year, the Best of Green Schools Awards recognized 11 individuals, institutions and projects that represent the best environmental efforts in schools across the country and highlight the national leaders and innovators in school sustainability.

About the Eden Hall Campus K-12 Program
Through K-12 programming and events at Eden Hall Campus, students can explore and participate in a variety of activities that broaden their awareness of food, energy, nature, science, mathematics, and more. Educators can discover how they can take those same principles of sustainability into their classrooms to create fun and educational lessons that have meaning and applicability.  More information at: www.chatham.edu/edenhall/k12.

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2018 Eden Hall Campus Summer Series Scheduled Announced

PITTSBURGH :  Chatham University’s Eden Hall Campus Summer Series in Richland, PA will kick off its fifth annual run on Sunday, June 17th with events running through August.

Presenting live musical performances against nature’s backdrop in the Hilda M. Willis Amphitheater, a Father’s Day Brunch followed by a Kids Can children’s festival, and a series of food-focused workshops, the Summer Series offers an unforgettable opportunity to experience music, fun and learning surrounded by the beauty of nature.

All events are free (unless otherwise noted) and open to the public.

Father’s Day Brunch and Kids Can Children’s Festival: Sunday, June 17, 11:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.  Join us for brunch and stick around for the Kids Can Festival. All parents and guardians with kids are welcome! The Kids Can Festival will include a variety of performances, workshops, demonstrations and more.  There is a fee for the brunch; the festival is free of charge.  More information.

Classical Night, featuring Pittsburgh Festival Opera:  Saturday, June 23, 7:00 p.m.

Jazz Night, featuring Funky Fly Project and The Poogie Bell Band:  Saturday, July 14, 7:00 p.m.

Bluegrass Night, featuring Shameless Hex, The Turpentiners, and, returning by popular demand for an encore performance, Lonesome, Lost & Foggy:  Saturday, August 4, 6:00 p.m.

Workshops Focused on Food
CRAFT is an outgrowth of Chatham University’s longstanding engagement with sustainable practices and ideas. From the Falk School of Sustainability and Environment to the Food Studies program, CRAFT builds on education, outreach, and training to support products and knowledge building in our region.   From bread baking to curing meats, public workshops are continually being created and added to the schedule.  More information and schedule.

For more information on the series, please visit chatham.edu/summerseries/.

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Campus Community Profile: Kate Sheridan

Kate Sheridan is Associate Director of Career Development for the Falk School of Sustainability & Environment.

How long have you been at Chatham, and what brought you here?
I have been at Chatham for almost two years, having come from Carnegie Mellon University, where I provided leadership and organizational development for staff members. I really enjoyed it, but working with students is a much better fit and more vibrant space for me.

What services do you offer Falk School students?
My job is to provide a full-service professional development experience, from traditional services (e.g., resume and cover letter writing, interviewing strategies, job search resources) to opportunities such as workshops, student employment, and internships. I also work with our Employer Relations Manager to develop partnerships and host networking and other events.

Perhaps my favorite part of our approach is helping students explore and define their professional identities and the ways in which our careers can be an extension of ourselves and the values we hold.

What’s most exciting about your job?
There are many things I love about my job, and all of them relate in some way to its evolving nature. The position is new to the Falk School, so I get to help create and define it.  But in addition to that, the professional landscape is changing rapidly–our alums will have a direct impact on what jobs in sustainability and food studies will look like, and how they will create lasting change for our local and global communities.

I take so much pride in each job or internship students embark on, not because of any involvement I may have had– our students truly do the work of landing these opportunities – but because the potential for impact in these positions is so significant, and to know that I am even the smallest blip in the unfolding professional journeys of this population of students is easily the most gratifying and inspiring part of my job.

Is job-hunting for sustainability professionals in any way unique?
The biggest challenge is that it is still evolving, and jobs fit such a wide range of skills and experience. Sustainability professionals need to demonstrate not only technical knowledge but also what are sometimes referred to as “21st century skills”: interdisciplinary problem solving, the ability to integrate a range of perspectives, engage systems thinking, and work in truly collaborative spaces.

Students need to have an entrepreneurial spirit, be assertive and able to manage ambiguity in positions that might not be clearly defined, and develop large networks to advance professional opportunities. There is a lot of groundwork involved in job searching within these fields–I encourage students to attend as many industry events as possible, volunteer for every opportunity they can, and conduct as many informational interviews as possible to get insight into jobs and organizations, and also grow their networks. 

What is a misconception that people tend to have about landing a job or an internship?
That they will find them in traditional ways–seeing a position on a job board, blindly submitting an application, and getting a call. Certainly this does happen, but tapping into our networks, reaching out to organizations and individuals whose work inspires you, and attending events to meet professionals in your field are all important practices in finding that next opportunity, especially when it comes to internships, and particularly within fields related to food studies and sustainability.

Academic programs in the Falk School of Sustainability & Environment  produce sustainability leaders through the Master of Arts in Food Studies (MAFS), Master of Sustainability (MSUS), Bachelor of Sustainability (BSUS), the dual-degree Master of Sustainability-Master of Business Administration (MSUS-MBA), and the dual-degree Master of Food Studies – Master of Business Administration (MAFS-MBA). 

 

 

Chatham University is Designated "Tree Campus USA" for the 6th Year in a Row

PITTSBURGH:  For the sixth consecutive year, Chatham University was honored with 2017 Tree Campus USA® recognition by the Arbor Day Foundation for its commitment to effective urban forest management.

To obtain this distinction, Chatham University met the five core standards for an effective campus forest management, including establishment of a tree advisory committee, evidence of a campus tree-care plan, dedicated annual expenditures for the campus tree program, an Arbor Day observance, and the sponsorship of student service-learning projects.
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Chatham University 2018 Commencement Details & Speaker

PITTSBURGH: Chatham University’s Spring 2018 Commencement Ceremony will be held on Sunday, April 29, at 1:00 p.m. at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in downtown Pittsburgh. The ceremony will be held on the Third Floor in the Spirit of Pittsburgh Ballroom.  This is a ticketed event and tickets are required for admission. Please visit the Convention Center website for  directions and parking details.

View photos from Chatham’s Spring 2018 Commencement Ceremony here »

The speaker and honorary degree recipient will be William Strickland, President and CEO of Manchester Bidwell Corporation and its subsidiaries, Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild (MCG) and Bidwell Training Center (BTC), and National Center for Arts and Technology. Mr. Strickland has created an educational model designed to create empowering educational environments for adults-in-transition, as well as urban and at-risk youth, enriching Southwestern Pennsylvania and the world.

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