UMBC TESOL Associate Director Wins 2015 TESOL International Association Research Grant

The TESOL International Association has announced the recipients of its 2015 research mini-grants, and UMBC’s Heidi Faust is the winner of a grant to research English teacher professional development through professional learning communities (PLCs).

Heidi FaustThe project, titled “Sustaining Professional Development through Professional Learning Communities: A Case Study of the Impact on Teacher Identity and Practice at a Peruvian Binational Center,” will investigate the impact of professional learning communities on English language teachers as the global demand for access to English increases and more teachers are transitioning from teaching English to adults to younger learners.

“Without knowledge to manage the developmental, behavioral, and cognitive demands of young learners, such teachers may experience high levels of frustration and likewise work very hard with limited results. They may not identify as English teachers of young learners and may lack the stamina to stay in the classroom with young learners,” a press release announcing the award stated.

As part of the project, Faust, an instructor in the education department, LLC doctoral student, and associate director of TESOL professional training programs at UMBC, will use archival course data, surveys, and analysis of teacher reflective journals to examine the sustainability of PLCs in enhancing the professional development and identity of teachers.

In addition to her work at UMBC, Faust currently coordinates online professional development for English teachers and learners from more than 100 countries. She is an English language specialist for the U.S. Department of State and the 2015–2016 Chair of the Intercultural Communication Interest Section. Read more on the TESOL International Association website.

Social Sciences Forum: Educating for Insurgency: Youth Organizing and the Baltimore Algebra Project (10/28)

educating-for-insurgencySocial Sciences Forum
Jay Gillen, teacher, Baltimore City Public Schools
Wednesday, October 28 | 4:30 p.m.
Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery 

Jay Gillen and young people of The Baltimore Algebra Project will lead a discussion on ways students and adults in schools of poverty can see themselves as actors on the national stage, building towards insurgency from the “crawl space” of their classrooms.

Co-sponsored by The Honors College and the Language, Literacy & Culture Program.

Social Sciences Forum: We are Subjects of History: Indigenous Communities’ Fight for Autonomy and Human Rights in Chiapas and Beyond (9/24)

We are subjects of historySocial Sciences Forum
Guadalupe Moshan Álvarez, principal attorney, Fray Bartolomé Human Rights Center, San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico
Bárbara Suárez Galeano, Interpreter, Autonomous University of Social Movements, Centro Autónomo de Albany Park, Chicago

Thursday, September 24 | 4:30 p.m.
Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery  

Mexico is at a critical moment: the forced disappearance of 43 Ayotzinapa rural teachers and college students set off a tidal wave of indignation and massive protests. In the context of a war on drugs that has left more than 25,000 disappeared, Guadalupe Moshan Álvarez will speak on the human rights situation in Chiapas, Mexico, FrayBa’s work, and the role of international solidarity.

Co-sponsored by the Department of Modern Languages, Linguistics, and Intercultural Communication; the Department Sociology and Anthropology; the Language, Literacy & Culture Program; the Global Studies Program and the Department of Political Science.

UMBC Faculty Discuss Baltimore City Civic Engagement Work in Diverse

In the wake of the unrest in Baltimore earlier this year, several UMBC faculty were interviewed by Diverse to share the projects they are doing with students and colleagues to work with the city as it recovers from its first uprising in nearly 50 years.

Bev BickelBeverly Bickel, a clinical associate professor in the language, literacy and culture program, discussed the Imagining America conference, which is sponsored by UMBC in partnership with MICA and Morgan State University. Many conference sessions will focus specifically on Baltimore and address topics such as race, inequality and community-based approaches to spur collective action.

“Part of our commitment in doing that was about how we could use this conference to develop the work in Baltimore,” said Bickel. “We want to use it as an organizing process to strengthen the arts community [in] Baltimore.”

Lee BootLee Boot, associate director of the IRC, said that he and some of his colleagues are cautious about not appearing as to have all the answers: “These issues are real[ly] complicated. The whole idea that [the] university alone is [the] purveyor of knowledge is insane,” he said.

“And we’re trying to level that. Another thing that came up is that Baltimore has to take its stories back. … An opportunity that comes out of what happened in April is that now [there is] a wider understanding that those events were results of things that had happened before. We’re trying to say [that] this is not a bunch of bad players, but results of decisions we have made. That’s a line of thought most people are not interested in listening to most of the time.”

Denise MeringoloDenise Meringolo, an associate professor of history, is working with community partners to create a website that includes original content and documents history in the days surrounding Freddie Gray’s death. The goal is to provide a historical record of diverse perspectives from the people whose lives were directly impacted by the events.

“The thing that’s most important for me [is] that it’s broadly collaborative and puts [the] needs and interests of community first,” Meringolo said. “At this point this is a collection project. … Healing at this time feels like skipping over their pain. I think we’ve got to stop skipping over the pain, so people don’t go from trauma to forgiveness and skip over the hard work. I feel like this [is] the beginning of the hard work.”

Read “Baltimore Higher Ed Institutions Fight to Restore the City” in Diverse.

Craig Saper, LLC, Co-Edits New Publication on Critical Studies in the Humanities

ElectracyLanguage, Literacy, and Culture (LLC) Professor and Director Craig Saper, with contributions to the manuscript preparation and index from LLC doctoral students Felix Burgos and Kevin Wisniewski, has co-edited and introduced a new book Electracy: Gregory L. Ulmer’s Textshop Experiments (2015).

According to a description on the book’s website, “‘Textshop’ in the title refers to a pedagogy for teaching rhetorical invention, with application to any form of production of texts or works in Arts and Letters fields, or for teaching creative thinking in general. More specifically this book provides background and context for the published work of Ulmer, filling in gaps between his books, and showing the genealogy of Ulmer’s innovative approach to media education.”

Growing out of the book, Burgos and Wisniewski have started a peer-review scholarly journal on Textshop Experiments. To learn more about the project, click here.

Digital Quilt: A Conversation with Dr. Michelle Ferrier (5/14)

On Wednesday, May 14 at 11:30 a.m., Dr. Michelle Ferrier, Associate Dean for Innovation, Research/Creative Activity, and Graduate Studies for the Scripps College of Communication at Ohio University, will take part in an informal conversation about the future of media and journalism.

Michelle Ferrier

In this conversation, the audience will brainstorm with Dr. Ferrier: What is the future of publishing? of journalism? of writing? What is the future of scholarship that has a journalistic component and a public history and heritage component? What is the
digital quilt? Who should publish this work or works like it? What does it mean to make journalism that matters? What is a media desert? How does that relate to her digital quilt? And, in all these questions, how can we help?

Ferrier is the founder and publisher of, a hyperlocal, niche online community for local food advocates. She is the chief instigator behind “Create or Die” media entrepreneurship startup events. Ferrier is active in research around the changing media ecosystem and curriculum change including media entrepreneurship, hyperlocal online news and the media deserts project that examines places where fresh news and information are lacking. She is the vice president for Journalism That Matters, an organization focused on bringing together diverse communities to re-imagine the news and information landscape.

The Digital Humanities Working Group event will be held at the Dresher Center for the Humanities conference room. The event and working group are sponsored by the Dresher Center.

For more information, contact Dr. Craig Saper, or Félix Burgos

Rethinking Intellectual Activism Recap

13823811124_d2968e1829_zOn April 12, 2014 over one hundred graduate students, faculty, staff, and community partners gathered in UMBC’s Performing Arts and Humanities Building for the Rethinking Intellectual Activism graduate student conference. Presenters represented UMBC’s Language, Literacy and Culture (LLC) Doctoral Program and the departments of Geography and Environmental Systems, Public Policy, Psychology, and Sociology, as well as universities across the country, such as UCLA, MICA, George Mason, and the University of Louisville, and the world, such as University of Oxford, England, Sabancı University, Turkey and North South University, Bangladesh.

Presenters and attendees discussed a variety of topics connected to the notion of Intellectual Activism. They included: Social Justice Through Critical Participatory Action Research; Politics of Race, Ethnicity, Religion, and Gender; New Critical Perspectives on Service Learning and Community Engagement; Researching Political Action, Discourse, and Organizations; and Politics of Art and Art as Activism.

Dr. Kaye Whitehead, Assistant Professor of Communication at Loyola University and a graduate of the Language, Literacy and Culture Doctoral Program at UMBC, delivered the keynote speech, titled In Search of Your Magis: Taking a Moment to ReThink, ReEvaluate, and ReDiscover Intellectual Activism. In her speech grounded on the central question, “What kind of a scholar do you want to be?” and interwoven with episodes from her own inspiring life story, Dr. Whitehead talked about the importance of scholars finding their own paths to be/come intellectual activists or activist intellectuals who fight for social justice and make a difference in both others’ and their own lives through their knowledge practices.

Thanks to all the co-sponsoring academic departments, programs, and offices across the campus, whose support made this conference possible: LLC Doctoral Program; Office of the Vice President for Research; Department of Gender and Women’s Studies; LLC Graduate Student Organization; Department of Modern Languages, Linguistics, and Intercultural Communication; Department of American Studies; Department of Sociology and Anthropology; Department of English, and B’PAR Graduate Student Organization. Thanks also to the campus community of students, faculty members, and staff members, without whom this conference would remain as a dream. Next year’s LLC Graduate Student Conference is expected to add to the critical dialogues stimulated in this year’s conference.