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Barnard Announces Global Symposium Faculty Fellows

In March, Barnard's sixth annual global symposium, “Women Changing China,” will take place in Shanghai, China. In conjunction with this event, three faculty members have been selected as Global Faculty Fellows, and will travel to Shanghai to attend the symposium, engage with panelists and audience members, participate in research related to their fields, and create and solidify collaborations and connections with colleagues in the region. This year's faculty Fellows are:

Hilary Callahan, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences
Yvette Christiansë, Professor of English and Africana Studies
Colleen Thomas-Young, Associate Professor of Professional Practice in Dance

The Fellows were chosen by Barnard’s grants committee based on applications outlining current work or ideas for projects related to China, describing how they would connect the symposium experience to their teaching or research and ways that they would like to bring the experience back to Barnard to share with the broader campus community.

Hilary Callahan, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences
What motivated you to apply to be a Global Faculty Fellow this year? How does China (or Asia more generally) pertain to your scholarly interests?
I’m Barnard’s go-to person for anything involving plants. My research focuses on plant-genome-environment interactions and my teaching covers topics like urban ecology, agriculture, and food. For me, the timing was perfect because I had already been granted a Senior Faculty Research Leave for Spring 2014.

I’m not a China expert, but I knew that Shanghai’s 2010 World Expo had spurred the creation of many new parks and that the city had experienced a boom in green roofs. This made it easy for me to connect to designers and other professionals who are promoting and implementing new urban green infrastructure projects. Also, there appear to be many locavores in Shanghai, just as there are in New York.

What initiatives are you working on in relation to the symposium and Barnard's internationalization efforts, and/or your own research related to China?
For some time, a team of colleagues at Barnard and throughout the city have expressed interest in writing articles about integrating campus green roofs into science curricula and student-centered research projects. This trip is a great motivator for that project, as well as a chance to add a more global perspective.

My teaching and my outreach to K-12 schools in NYC  have often focused on how campus greening can be integrated into hands-on science lessons. Many schools in Shanghai are doing the same thing. I also see my trip as a chance to initiate some “sister projects” to potentially connect schools in New York and Shanghai.

Have you traveled to China before? What are you most looking forward to about the symposium and the overall experience?
My research doesn’t involve a lot of travel because I focus on species and forests of temperate regions. I’ve never even traveled across the Pacific. Shanghai will be brand-new. I’m impressed by how many people, including many biology students, have been there before me. They’ve mentioned its awesome size, history, diversity, and innovation, and I’m sure I’ll hear more at the symposium. So, I’m ready to swallow my New York pride, and to eat some great local foods. I’m also excited to join the Global Symposium project before it comes back to our own city in 2015.
 

Yvette Christiansë, Professor of English and Africana Studies
What motivated you to apply to be a Global Faculty Fellow this year? How does China (or Asia more generally) pertain to your scholarly interests?
This will be my third attendance at a Barnard Global Symposium. Through involvement with the events in Johannesburg and Mumbai, I worked with Barnard colleagues and scholars in both countries to create new curricula taught by myself and colleagues at Barnard and also in South Africa (Cape Town) and India (Mumbai). Working closely with Catherine Sameh, who leads BCRW's Transnational Feminisms Initiative and now chairs the sub-committee on Global and International Curriculum and Programs, I am taking advantage of this year’s Symposium as an opportunity to meet with scholars in Shanghai and foster stronger curricula and research collaborations. I also simply love seeing our Barnard Global Symposium Student Fellows in action in spaces into which their own future careers may take them—they are so poised and impressive.

What initiatives are you working on in relation to the symposium and Barnard's internationalization efforts, and/or your own research related to China?
Catherine Sameh and I will do what we did in Mumbai, which is visiting different organizations and institutions to discuss possible future collaborations around gender and sexuality. For my own teaching, 'ships and shipping' feature heavily in my courses on Indian Ocean Africa and Indian Ocean diasporas. For my own research, I am interested in the Shanghai's role in Maritime networks that reached into the Indian Ocean, as well as the role this littoral city may have played in the transportation of indentured Chinese laborers to the early gold mines around Johannesburg, South Africa. I will also be visiting the University of Shanghai's Archives program to learn about Shanghai in this and the transportation of others to Cuba and the Americas, as part of a larger project about the predicament of the so-called Liberated Africans in the Indian and Atlantic Ocean.

Have you traveled to China before? What are you most looking forward to about the symposium and the overall experience?
I have not traveled to China before so this is an exciting trip, made more so by the fact that I will be with colleagues and students. As for the symposium itself, I am keen to hear the range of speakers and learn about the pressing issues affecting their lives. In the past, the symposia have taught us about the emerging different priorities for different generations of feminists and activists and these have been instructive. This was particularly so at the symposium in South Africa, which was quite possibly one of the most important gatherings of leading figures from the anti-apartheid struggle—both from the women who benefitted most immediately from their efforts and from the next, upcoming generation. I am curious to see what the women who participate in this next symposium will prioritize, and also to see what it will mean to them to know that this is Barnard's second such symposium in China, making the Beijing symposium more than a 'one-off' event. It will be interesting to see how this may point us toward ways of integrating the differing symposia.

Colleen Thomas-Young, Associate Professor of Professional Practice in Dance
What motivated you to apply to be a Global Faculty Fellow this year? How does China (or Asia more generally) pertain to your scholarly interests?
I was a Global Faculty Fellow last year when we went to Brazil and became very focused on the gradation of experience that woman have with inequality in different cultures. Gender inequality is a seed for a short dance film that I am currently finishing, and I have decided to make a larger work for the stage that is inspired by my research with women in America and in these different cultures.

I travel extensively with my dance company and have been to many places, Brazil and China included. But, women and their experiences with inequality have never been at the forefront of my practice.  

What initiatives are you working on in relation to the symposium and Barnard's internationalization efforts, and/or your own research related to China?
I am now working on a dance piece that questions how we as women behave, interact, and react in our prospective situations. I am interested in how our body absorbs a compliment versus an insult. How do women versus men express themselves in a new situation? How big is our kinesphere in different situations?  Why is there such a big difference between a man’s and woman’s sense of space?  What are the differences and interests in little girls, women, and older women’s movement? What happens when a man is present in the same situation? The answers to these questions can be intellectualized easily, but the manifestation of these questions in the body, are extremely interesting. I am using improvisation to answer these questions and letting the movement quality inform the flow of emotional connection in my new work.

In Shanghai, I will be teaching an improvisation workshop at the Shanghai Theater Academy of Dance. I am looking forward to bringing up these questions in the workshop and learning what is familiar and uncomfortable within the Chinese culture. 

I am bringing Abby Chan, a choreographer and dancer from Hong Kong who is dancing in my new work. We are having an open improvisation jam after the class with the community. My hope is to bring Ms. Chan to Barnard in the spring of 2015 so that she can share her experience with my class, “Composition: Collaboration and the Creative Process.”

Have you traveled to China before? What are you most looking forward to about the symposium and the overall experience?
Although I have traveled to China, I have never been to Shanghai. I am excited and so grateful for this experience. I am looking forward to learning more about the culture.