February 8, 2017
Tagged: College of Arts and Sciences, Adelphi University, Department of Political Science, Environmental Studies, Office of Public Affairs

NYC Scholars Program Makes the City its Classroom



Students at Adelphi University’s Garden City campus already have New York City and its many opportunities and experiences in their backyard. But for students who will be taking part in the NYC Scholars program, those experiences are about to get much closer. 

The NYC Scholars program gives students an opportunity to “live, learn and intern” in New York City for one semester of their Adelphi experience. In a study abroad model, students will live in Brooklyn Heights at St. George Towers, a staffed residence with scenic views of the city and 24-hour security. They’ll take immersive classes with Adelphi faculty that will lead them out of the classroom and into the city, and they’ll work with the Center for Career and Professional Development to find an internship that fits their career aspirations and interests. A required one-credit internship preparation seminar the semester prior will help stu­dents get the most out of it.

“I think for me, the key to our mission is to offer students experiential activities, ones that are unique to them and help students find their mission and purpose, and grow into the individuals they’re meant to be,” says Jennifer Ganley, director of the program. “This program has such growth potential for the students who are in it: to live on their own in the city, not on a closed campus, and to make contacts in the places they intern. It’s all at their fingertips. I’m hoping the students who join the program find their purpose and their passion.”

The classes students will take all fit into general education requirements, but faculty has gone over and above to plan excursions, influential speakers and other engaging activities for students to enhance their learning experience. 

For example, in Associate Professor Maggie Gray’s “Food Justice & Policy” course, students will learn about policy by looking at food policy at all levels, including school lunch programs and street vendor regulation. She’ll talk with students about how urban farming influences the local food supply while visiting a rooftop farm. She hopes to take her class both to the Union Square farmer’s market and bodegas to talk about the Healthy Bodegas initiative and access to healthy, fresh food. 

“As a political scientist, some of what I’m interested in is having students discuss different elements of the policy process: What’s the problem they’re identifying in the food system, who are the targets? Is it the government or an agency or organization? Who are the stakeholders in this change?” says Dr. Gray. “In some of these cases, there will already be some sort of campaign underway, and sometimes these campaigns are targeting political policy change. We’ll be able to look at the tools they use to target these groups and how they get the public to support them.” 

Beyond that, she hopes her class offers not only a look into the policy process, but also introduces students to possible future career paths that they previously may not have been exposed to.

“I want to expose students to a variety of nonprofit and government actors who are using research and organizing techniques to try to create change,” she says. “In part, I’m also hoping students then get exposed to a professionalizing of policy advocacy.” 

The city can serve as a science lab, as well. Another class to be offered in Fall 2017, “Introduction to the Oceans,” aims to introduce majors and non-majors alike to the oceans, their effect on us, and our effect on them.

“We live on an island, so it’s important to understand how currents work, how the oceans are changing in response to climate change, and how it changes seasonally,” says Associate Professor Beth Christensen, Ph.D., director of the environmental studies program. “What the NYC Scholars program offers is a chance to teach this while standing at the water’s edge.”

The hands-on nature of the classes will allow students to learn concepts in the classroom and then go see them in action. Students will learn about currents and how waves break, and then they will go to Governor’s Island and watch the waves breaking in shallow water. They can go to the fish market to learn not only about how the fish swim but also about what seafood is coming from where, opening a dialogue about climate change and environmental responsibility.

“Our courses can often change world views,” Christensen says, adding that she hopes students come away from the experience with the realization that the oceans need our protection. 

“Everything we put in the ocean has an impact on everything that lives in the ocean, and on everything that depends on the ocean. And the ocean itself has a strong impact on our lives,” she says. “It is something to safeguard; it’s not an infinitely forgiving body of water that will let us do whatever we want.” 

Fall 2017 will be the first semester of the NYC Scholars program, and each semester will offer different courses and opportunities to take advantage of the city’s many “classrooms.” The program is open to all Adelphi students with at least one semester on the Garden City campus under their belts.

“We’re definitely interested in students who want to take initiative, who want to explore and be adventurous and be out of their traditional higher ed box,” says Ganley. “It is open to anyone, and that’s part of it—we want students to have an interdisciplinary perspective, so we welcome students who come from different majors and walks of life, who are open-minded and open to whatever the experience is for them.”

Tagged: College of Arts and Sciences, Adelphi University, Department of Political Science, Environmental Studies, Office of Public Affairs
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