Tomy Ward Education
Education for Critical Times
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Sunday, 05 May 2013 13:49

The Wiepking Report

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In August 2009, I accepted a one-year appointment as the 2009-10 Wiepking Distinguished Visiting Professor, at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio,  The Wiepking is a contested position – available to all University Departments - and is offered once every three years. My appointment was promoted jointly by the Departments of Architecture, Psychology and Educational Leadership, and during the 2009-10 academic year I worked equally in each Department – teaching, leading research projects, offering university-wide public lectures and helping to develop the University’s stated intention be be recognised as an “Engaged University”. This involved me in a number of key projects:

In Psychology: 

Working with the local Native American Myaamia tribe, assisting them in promoting the story of their oppression and colonisation by:

  •           Increasing the cultural sensitivity of Clinical Psychology students
  •        Conducting a participatory research project into Myaamia history with graduating Psychology students
  •        Designing and constructing a university-wide interactive Installation around Myaamia History in the University’s Tunnel of Oppression.
  •        Conducting follow-up surveys of the Miami University community.
  •        Developing future plans and strategies for a new Joint Residential Center for Community Engagement, between the Psychology Department and the Myaamia Project and located in the Oklahoma.

In Architecture

  •         Contesting policies of urban gentrification, dislocation and dispossession in the Cincinnati ghetto community of Over-the-Rhine by: Creating undergraduate Agitprop events in Downtown Cincinnati to contest the increasing criminalisation of homelessness. 
  •        Conducting community opinion surveys and participatory research surveys in Over-the-Rhine’s predominantly African American community.
  •           Coordinating community literacy programmes and events to highlight issues of urban politics of gentrification, displacement and civic harrassment
  •           Producing a sustainable development plan for Over-the-Rhine to include issues of social sustainability – that is, sustaining the resident community – as well as environmental and economic sustainability
  •           Developed new models of home ownership (Shared Equity, housing Associations, Sweat Equity etc) for the poor and homeless community in Over-the-Rhine.

In Educational Leadership:

·      Improving the academic performance of disadvantaged African American elementary schoolchildren at the Rothenberg Academy (K-8) in Over the Rhine by: 

      •         Creating and directing a multi-disciplinary action research team comprising graduate studernts and staff of six separate Departments to:
      •         Set up weekly “chicken chats” with parents, students and teachers to establish consensus priorities, and to monitor progress on issues
      •  Create and build a school library
      •  Initiate a system of GED (High School Diploma) tutoring for parents
      •  Conduct Community Psychology surveys of teachers, parents and children to establish levels of need for increased State and Federal funding
      •  Develop locally-appropriate curriculum initiatives
      •  Initiate a community garden/laboratory/classroom to teach urban farming to help feed the community
      •  Build parent-teacher relationships and encourage parent-teacher cooperation with shared programmes for community literacy, digital literacy and shared story-telling
      • Establish future proposals for a new playground to be designed and built by Miami University architecture students.
      • Develop an ongoing relationship between Miami University and Rothenberg Academy.

Engaged Learning Symposium

      •       Assisting in the organisation of a university-wide Engaged Learning Symposium, hosted by the Faculty of Fine Arts and Architecture. The purpose of the Symposium was to: 
      • Explore different definitions and forms of possible “engagement”
      •  Bring a critical persopective to bear on normative definitions of “Engagement”
      •  Assess the extent to which different Departments were already trying different models
      •  Extend the “official” University conception of “Engagement” beyond issues of “self-authorship”, to embrace more fully the practice of community-engagement, using forms of Critical Pedagogy.
      •  Develop improved ways of engaging with communities of interest and concernInitiate professional development programs promoting methodologies for Critical Pedagogy and Community Engagement across the university campus.


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