2014 Kaplan Family Distinguished Faculty Fellows

Debra Castillo, Professor of Comparative Literature and Hispanic Studies

The goal of this project is to share Latin American and U.S. Latino/a culture with community members of all ages through educational artistic activities. Debra is building on past successful collaborations reaching back to the mid 1990s, as she adds new programs to meet community member needs and student interests. These programs include collaboration with CULTURA! on our popular cuentacuentos (storyteller), antojitos (food), and buen vivir (living well) series; along with new programming initiatives like the year-long filmmaking workshop, "Bridging Stories" involving communities in Ithaca and Chile, which Debra is doing in collaboration with La Poderosa Media Project. She is also organizing events for poetry month in April, and (along with the Tellez family restaurant and other community partners) the annual 5 de mayo (Battle of Puebla) celebration. Debra is also participating in the important needs assessment project, El pueblo, commissioned by the Latino Civic Association, and spearheaded by Carolina Osorio Gil.


Angela Gonzales, Associate Professor, Department of Development Sociology

With support from Engaged Learning + Research, Angela partnered with a community-based organization on the Hopi Reservation to develop four service-learning projects as part of DSOC 4700, a new senior capstone course for students majoring in Development Sociology. In addition to wanting to provide students an opportunity to synthesize—and bring to bear—the theoretical knowledge, research skills, and intellectual interests they have acquired as students in major, Angela wanted students to consider issues of social justice, not as academic abstractions but as ongoing struggles that daily touch the lives of community partners and the lives of every citizen. Unlike most traditional service-learning courses where students work on projects in the local community, Angela used WebEx, Cornell's free web conferencing program, to enable students to engage in real-time, virtual "face-to-face" collaboration with partner organizations on the Hopi Reservation.

The projects were developed in collaboration with three partner organizations, the Natwani Coalition (http://www.hopifoundation.org/programs/natwani), an affiliation of Hopi organizations and individuals dedicated to preserving Hopi farming traditions, strengthening the local Hopi food system and developing innovative sustainable strategies to promote wellness, the Hopi Special Diabetes Program, a local diabetes prevention program funded by the Indian Health Services Division of Diabetes Treatment and Prevention Programs, and the Hopi Education Endowment fund (http://www.hopieducationfund.org/), a non-profit organization supporting the educational goals and aspirations of tribal members. Working in teams of 3-5, students developed survey instruments and methodologies to assess Hopi opinions about educational priorities, created nutritional policies for Hopi schools, and developed outreach materials to help educate the Hopi community about GMO seeds.