Educating Trinity Students for Global Leadership
Dr. Susan Farnsworth
‘Every one!’ says Dr. Susan Farnsworth when asked which classes she teaches are of specific importance in giving students a global perspective. Having taught at Trinity since 1979, Farnsworth has taught ‘Senior Seminar in International Affairs’ since 1985, and has ‘not taught the same class twice.’ She also has taught ‘Age of Dictators: Europe 1914-1945,’ ‘Vietnam,’ ‘Introduction to World History,’ ‘The Modern Middle East,’ and ‘Modern Africa,’ among others.
‘One of the delights of a small liberal arts college is that you can respond when the world changes,’ remarks Farnsworth, happy to have her new course offerings supported by our students and her colleagues.
She stresses one important lesson for all of her students: openness to the world around them. To empower, excite and have students leave her class with a ‘critical perspective and an ability to read beneath the lines and understand how we got where we are today’ is what she hopes to instill in her students.
Growing up in a small town in western New York, she recalls that her love for travel and history started at a young age, and she always wanted to be an exchange student. When the opportunity arose for her to study in Thailand for four months in high school, she jumped at the chance, ‘though my parents must have been crazy to let me get on that plane alone,’ she recollects. Her travels heightened her interest and created an intellectual framework for her to analyze the past in order to understand the future.
She credits her continued enjoyment of teaching to the many extraordinary pupils she has taught. She enjoys the ‘living, growing relationships’ and looks forward to Reunion weekend, where she renews connections with people in different stages of their lives.
When asked about future courses she will teach, she expects ‘Sub-Saharan Africa’ to become more popular. She also wonders about teaching ‘Empires in Modern History.’ ‘Is the United States imperial?’
Dr. Bob Maguire
Bob Maguire first came to Trinity as an adjunct professor in 1991. By October 2000, after completing his career in the U.S. Government, he began working full-time at Trinity as the director of the international affairs program. He holds a doctorate in geography, and relays the saying in his field, ‘Without geography, you’re no where.’
All of the international affairs classes he teaches help to give Trinity students a global perspective, and he cites a new series of courses entitled ‘Contemporary Topics in International Affairs’ as becoming popular. That series has thus far included the courses ‘Poverty and Humanitarianism,’ and ‘Oil and International Affairs.’
Maguire says that all of his courses teach students ‘about the roots and manifestations of current international affairs issues, with an emphasis on how these issues affect us. I infuse geographic knowledge, thought and analysis into all classes ‘ even those that are not clearly geography classes ‘ as I believe it is important for students to be able to know not just where places are located, but also how knowledge of the physical and human geography of a place assists us to understand how the place ‘works’ ‘ or doesn’t work, as the case may be.
‘The single most important element of my classes is to encourage students to understand that we all live in a ‘world house’ and are all inter-related in one way or another,’ reflects Maguire, citing that what happens in the U.S. and elsewhere has ripple effects throughout the world.
As for the future of teaching international affairs, Maguire believes that global climate change will become a more dominant focus. ‘There will be increasing urgency to assist students to understand these issues, and to become actively involved in addressing them as a practical matter of adaptation and survival. Hopefully, from their exposure ‘ our students will be on the cutting edge of providing leadership to effectively manage global resources and ensure that the earth survives as a safe habitat for all of God’s creatures ‘ including us.’
Dr. Mary Langan
Mary Langan, who has taught at Trinity since 2002, teaches several courses in school counseling. When asked about their relevance to giving Trinity students a global view, she says, ‘All the school counseling courses focus on working with culturally and linguistically diverse students.’
In November 2006, Langan was invited to participate in the international conference, ‘Modern Pedagogical Techniques: Experience of Russia and U.S.A.’ in St. Petersburg, Russia. There, she joined approximately 200 educators representing the U.S. from early education, elementary education, secondary education, school counseling and college professors.
‘The purpose of the conference was to have direct dialogue with our Russian counterparts in education, to share information and discuss common problems’. St. Petersburg is the cultural center of Russia and the Department of Education significantly influences pedagogy in the whole country,’ said Langan.
She credits the St. Petersburg school system with being highly organized and well administered, as it is the policy maker for all of Russian education. Still, obstacles include the quality, availability and effectiveness of the Russian education. ‘They prepare children to take college exams but donï¿½t prepare them for the challenges of the future and life in a changing world. Russian children are not taught to think critically; doctoral students do a lot of writing but very little thinking.’
Before entering the first grade, every Russian student is tested so that problems can be targeted early on. Teams, made up of trained volunteers and peer counselors led by a Ph.D. psychologist, provide psychological and academic support.
Langan hopes, ‘every student remembers that they are the future of the profession of school counseling and it is up to them to take a leadership role in reforming the profession. They must advocate for themselves, their students and the profession.’
Dr. Kathleen McGinnis
Kathleen McGinnis began teaching at Trinity in 1975, and has seen significant changes in the teaching of classes such as ‘Introduction to International Relations.’ ‘The study of international relations used to focus primarily on the nation-states and the interactions among them. In the post Cold War world, non-state groups, and sometimes individuals, have become key players.’ She cites many nongovernmental international organizations, such as the Sisters of Notre Dame, Doctors Without Borders, and Amnesty International, as playing important roles in influencing international policies, along with other human rights organizations, ethnic and religious groups, and corporations. ‘And, of course, our major preoccupation in the United States is terrorist groups, which are largely non-state actors.’
McGinnis currently teaches ‘Introduction to Comparative Politics,’ ‘U.S. Foreign Policy,’ ‘International Terrorism’ (with Susan Farnsworth), and others. She teaches ‘Introduction to International Relations’ not only because it is her area of greatest expertise, but because, ‘it is also the area that I think is most important to the future, as both the opportunities and the dangers of the global world continue to play increasingly important roles in all aspects of our lives.’
The most important lesson McGinnis hopes to impart on her students in her international relations class is ‘that the vast inequalities among different peoples is growing and has severe consequences for everyone.’
She feels that there are few, if any, careers or issues that do not have a global component. ‘The job market itself and the careers available within it are contingent upon what is happening in all parts of the world.
‘In the next five to ten years the course will focus even more on the consequences of the physical environmental changes occurring on the planet and the need for humans to devise ways to successfully cooperate in order to address them. It will also focus more heavily on the consequences and challenges of continued nuclear proliferation.’