A Global Encounter
After two-weeks of experiencing Ghana firsthand, students in Associate Professor Pearl Robinson's Ghana Gold Colloquium have come to class with a whole new perspective.
It is 10:45 a.m. Class has been over for half an hour, yet several students still remain, eager to continue the day's discussion with Associate Professor of Economics Edward Kutsoati on economic reform. This is a typical Thursday for students in the Ghana Gold Colloquium.
The class, led by Associate Professor of Political Science Pearl Robinson, is a continuation of "Ghana Gold: A Corporate Social Responsibility," a study tour that takes a small group of Tufts students to Ghana during winter break. The trip, along with the 14-week discussion afterward, examines the notion of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and how it is being "constructed, deconstructed, contested and reconstituted in the context of Ghana's gold mining industry," according to the program's description.
Becoming much more than a name on a map, the students' two-week Ghana encounter has played a major role in how the class has unfolded. With topics ranging from the benefits of mining to its relationship to structural adjustment and economic reforms, the class work is viewed in a whole new perspective since having a personal experience in the country.
"It is like people who go to business school and are told they should go out and work first," says Marissa Maren (A'08), an engineering major. "It is a very similar idea. When you go to the country and you learn about the issues there and speak to the people, and then you come back and learn about it in the classroom, it becomes that much more relatable.
"I feel I can make a personal connection. It is an awesome opportunity, being able to go to the country and see everything firsthand."
Political science major Margaret O'Connor (A'10) says that a lot of what they have been learning in class triggers the memory of a conversation or something that they personally experienced while in Ghana.
"What we are learning is all stuff we heard about while in Ghana, but the class brings clarity to what was happening then and what the trends were," O'Connor says. "Some of the information is new, but some is just coherence of observations we had made or of things people had told us while we were there."
Tied into their class work is the creation of a personalized electronic portfolio for students to reflect on their experiences, as well as a group video assignment that will allow the students to present a digital retelling of their encounter to the entire Tufts community. A campus showing is slated for the end of April.
"I am from Kenya, so as an African I have gained a different perspective as to how some of the African countries have been able to get themselves together," says JohnPaul Makilya (A'10), also a political science major. "I think this class has made me look at the different facets that need to be in place for development in the global south."
"I feel like it puts another whole perspective on it," economics major Paula Dormon (A'09) says of the trip. "When you are learning from books, it's all just a bunch of figures, but when you actually go to the country, you get the emotional and physical aspect of everything. It puts everything in order and you feel more passionate to do something about it rather than just picking up your books and heading to the next class."
Profile written by Kaitlin Melanson, Web Communications
Slideshow photography by Kelsey Bell (A'10) and Marissa Maren (A'08)
Homepage photo by Marissa Maren (A'08)
This story originally ran on Mar. 24, 2008.