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by: Sarah Fichera

sarah-fichera-hss-travel-grantI was awarded the School of Humanities and Social Sciences’ travel award to attend the 9th annual Public Education Partners Conference in Columbia, South Carolina, on Friday, October 14th. I am a second year graduate student in the Master of Public Administration program with a specialization in education policy. Looking ahead to the spring semester, I will need to complete a Capstone project as well as network to find a job upon graduation in May, 2017. This conference presented an opportunity to plant the seeds for success next semester.

At the conference, I was able to network with education stakeholders from across the state. I met a woman who works for a nonprofit organization designed specifically to fundraise on behalf of her local school district. This interaction sparked an idea for an upcoming project: I plan to compare different funding models from across the state to offer recommendations on behalf of Charleston County School District (CCSD). I am excited to capture this state-wide information with the hopes of benefiting our our local community in tangible ways.


under: Publications

ballots-promo-blogpostAre you a political junkie or simply interested in the outcome of the 2016 presidential election? Co-hosted with the Bully Pulpit Series, the event will feature keynote speaker Joe Klein, award-winning political columnist for TIME magazine and author of seven books including the best-selling Primary Colors, as well as distinguished panelists in media and politics for a morning of insider insight, expert commentary and engaging discussion.  Tickets are available on the Fall Alumni Weekend website and prices go up on Oct 25, 2016.

  • Saturday, November 19, 2016
  • 9:00am-12:00pm
  • Stern Center Ballroom, 71 George Street, College of Charleston

Questions? Call 843-953-0766 or email Christine Ragusa (ragusaca@cofc.edu).

Ballots and Brunch Participants:

Program Moderators

Elizabeth Colbert-Busch (’79) – Director of Business Development, Clemson University Restoration Institute and College of Charleston Alumni

Jordan Ragusa, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor of Political Science, College of Charleston

South Carolina and the Presidential Election Panelists

Jaime Harrison – Chairman, South Carolina Democratic Party

Jonathan Hoffman – Principal, Summit Strategies and Former State Director, Americans for Peace, Prosperity and Security

Media and Presidential Politics Panelists

Jamie Self (’02) – Politics Reporter, The State Newspaper and College of Charleston Alumni

Caroline Kenny (’15) – Digital Producer, CNN Politics and College of Charleston Alumni

Bubba Atkinson (’09) – Former Editor, Independent Journal Review, Editorial and Social Media Director, “The Next Great Media Company”, and College of Charleston Alumni

Schuyler Kropf – Reporter, Post and Courier

Keynote Speaker

Joe Klein – Political Columnist, TIME Magazine and Best-Selling Author of books Primary Colors, Charlie Mike, The Natural, The Running Mate, Politics Lost, Payback and more.

under: Publications

Sustainability Literacy: Preparing Our Students for Emerging Future Career Opportunities

Posted by: Christine Ragusa | September 29, 2016 Comments Off on Sustainability Literacy: Preparing Our Students for Emerging Future Career Opportunities |

by: Todd LeVasseur


Todd LeVasseur

Do you want to change the world and make it a better place?  If the answer is yes, then you are not alone.  This is because so do I.  And so do all of the professors and staff in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS).  This is why we are committed to a deep exploration of human cultural values and how they are created and disseminated, both past and present.

A core question that motivates classes and research undertaken in the humanities and social sciences is, “How do humans think about themselves and their role in society?” With the coming implementation of our new Quality Enhancement Plan on “Sustainability Literacy as a Bridge to Addressing 21st Century Problems,” this question takes on even more vital importance.  This is because in many ways, how humans conceive of the world, which includes both social worlds and the natural world, influences their behaviors in that world: how they vote, spend their money, the jobs they want to get, and how they conceive of their habits of consumption.  The various classes that are offered in HSS help us better understand the human animal and how humans at both individual and aggregate levels conceive of themselves as actors in the unfolding journey of society.

Let’s put the above into the immediate context of September, 2016: police shootings of unarmed African American males in Tulsa and Charlotte; an election cycle where voices of white supremacy, xenophobia, misogyny, and denial of basic science are gaining stronger and more public voice; the hottest months ever recorded in the history of our species, first July 2016, and then eclipsed by August 2016. These are all issues directly related to the importance of sustainability literacy.  Sustainability literacy is about acquiring the skills and knowledge to make resilient communities at the interface of social equity, environmental protection, and economic fairness.  Sustainability invites us to think about our impacts on the communities within which we reside and how we can make them more just, resilient, and sustainable for all community members.

15865219373_ee84340a95_oPaul Ehrlich developed a shorthand formula for thinking about the impact of an individual or community on the natural environment: I = PAT.  So the impact of an action is a function of the population of that community, multiplied by the affluence of that community, multiplied by the level of technology of that community.  As someone who studies sustainability and human-nature interactions from the perspective of the humanities, I find this formula sufficient but lacking a necessary variable: V, for cultural values.  This variable brings us back to HSS and changing the world: the more a College of Charleston graduate can understand the values that motivate human ideas and behaviors, and can generate insights into how these ideas and behaviors can be shifted towards fairness in society and protection of our environment, then the better situated they will be to compete for and earn jobs that allow them to make a difference.  We do not need more studies to tell us that there are issues of racism, sexism, xenophobia, and discrimination in society.  We do not need more science to tell us that the world is warming as a direct result of human behaviors.  Rather, we need to generate solutions that change these realities by targeting the behaviors behind them.  A BA or BS in one of the myriad majors offered in HSS provides graduates the needed skills to address these issues, help shift societal behaviors, and therefore make the world a better place.  As a faculty member in HSS, I look forward to helping students on this path!

The College of Charleston’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) is “Sustainability Literacy as a Bridge to Addressing 21st-Century Problems”. Todd LeVasseur is an assistant professor in the religious studies department and director of the QEP . To learn more about the plan, visit sustain.cofc.edu. 

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Meet Our Newest Faculty

Posted by: Christine Ragusa | September 23, 2016 Comments Off on Meet Our Newest Faculty |

Please join the School of Humanities and Social Sciences in welcoming our newest faculty in the departments of communication and English.

jacob-craigJacob Craig, assistant professor in the Department of English, received his PhD in English from Florida State University. He teaches courses in first-year writing, digital rhetoric and composition and interdisciplinary composition. His research interests include composition theory and pedagogy, digital rhetoric, mobility/mobile writing technologies, locations of writing and multimodality.

cui-xiXi Cui, assistant professor in the Department of Communication, received his PhD from Texas A&M University. Dr. Cui is a firm supporter of student research, as he received Promising Professor Award of the Mass Communication and Society Division of AEJMC in 2016 . He teaches courses on media studies and research methods, and his research interests include media rituals, media and social identity and social network analysis.

lindsey-dragerLindsey Drager, assistant professor in the Department of English, is the author of the novel The Sorrow Proper (Dzanc, 2015), winner of the 2016 Binghamton University John Gardner Fiction Prize and recipient of Silver in the 2015 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award in Literary Fiction. Dr. Drager received her PhD in creative writing from the University of Denver. Her research interests include contemporary American literature, literary publishing and disability studies.

under: Publications

Remembering the Unforgettable: Conseula Francis

Posted by: Christine Ragusa | September 23, 2016 Comments Off on Remembering the Unforgettable: Conseula Francis |

Conseula Francis

Original article: “The College Remembers Beloved Professor Conseula Francis

Conseula Francis, associate provost and professor of English and African American Studies at the College of Charleston, passed away on May 9, 2016, following a brief illness.

Francis earned a Ph.D from the University of Washington and began teaching in the Department of English at the College in 2002. In 2007, she was appointed director of the African American Studies Program. In July 2015, she joined the Office of Academic Affairs as associate provost for curriculum and institutional resources.

She is survived by her husband, Brian McCann, and two daughters, Frances and Catherine (Cate) McCann.

In an announcement to the campus community, Provost Brian McGee remembered Francis’ many talents.

“She was a formidable intellect who could make a hard day shorter and a difficult meeting easier. There was no burden she could not lighten, no path she could not straighten, by applying her unique combination of good humor and keen insight.”

Patricia Williams Lessane, executive director of the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture, was very close to Francis as a friend and faculty colleague.

“Conseula epitomizes Black girl magic, said Lessane.She was a lover of the magic we as Black women wield with our pens and the sacred whispers, secrets, and incantations that our foremothers have used throughout the ages to keep our families safe, to lift up one another, and strengthen the ties that bind us together. She was sweet, humble, kind, and brilliant. She was and is my sister and my friend.”

Francis’ scholarly work focused on American and African American literature, but she explored many genres, including science fiction, graphic novels and romance. She was also a passionate fan of all things Star Wars, an intense interest that she once described as an “irrational love.”

In fact, it was her interest in Star Wars that turned her on to the science fiction writing of Octavia Butler. Francis was the author of The Critical Reception of James Baldwin and the editor of Conversations with Octavia Butler.

“There are few words to express the significance of the loss of Conseula Francis to our College of Charleston family,” said College of Charleston President Glenn F. McConnell ’69. “Professor Francis was a remarkable human being – a passionate educator, a professor’s professor, and a true student advocate. She devoted her life to the pursuit of knowledge and had a tremendous impact on the many lives she touched, mine included. Conseula leaves a wonderful legacy behind at the College, and she will be greatly missed.”

Friends and colleagues on Monday took to the College’s internal social network to express their sorrow and to share fond memories of Francis.

Scott Peeples, professor and chair of the Department of English, said he was awed by Francis’ innate ability to connect with her students.

“Conseula’s humor, her candor, and her dedication to students inspired us all in the English Department and across campus.  I don’t think I’ve ever worked with a teacher whose classroom instincts were as strong or who had the kind of impact she had on students.  I can’t tell you how many times I heard or read the words `changed my life’ in reference to Conseula’s teaching,” said Peeples. “The word `passion’ is a little over-used these days, but Conseula had more of it than anyone I’ve ever known, for her students, her family, her friends, and for life itself.”

Claire Curtis, professor of political science, and Larry Krasnoff, professor of philosophy, said the College and the community have lost an extraordinary human being.

“Her extraordinary combination of intellect, wit, kindness, and fierce moral integrity will never be forgotten by those fortunate enough to have worked and studied with her,” said Curtis and Krasnoff. “Her loss leaves holes in the fabric of our institution and in the hearts of those who knew her that will be virtually impossible to fill.”

Francis, who was honored with the College’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 2011, was instrumental in the development and launch of the College’s African American Studies major in 2014. She explained the importance of starting such a program in a 2012 interview with College of Charleston Magazine.

“Charleston is too important in the history and culture of the African diaspora for us to ignore. We should be educating our students about that history and training them to document, preserve and tell that history themselves,” she said. “A major in African American studies will also help prepare students to live and work in diverse communities, whether it is the community right around us here at the College, or other communities anywhere in the world.”

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