2012-2013 Courses + Projects

Mapping Baybrook: Arts, History and Culture — Nicole King and Stephen Bradley will connect American Studies 422 (Preserving Places, Making Spaces in Baltimore) and Visual Arts 390 (Imaging Research Fellows), engaging South Baltimore community members in an innovative civic project, co-producing original historical research and arts projects. The course will culminate with the community debut of Mapping Baybrook—a digital mapping project that documents Baybrook, a low-income industrial community in South Baltimore.

Impacting Baltimore through EngineeringPanos Charalambides will teach Mechanical Engineering 220 (Mechanics of Materials), with an honors component focused on social problem-solving. Honors section student projects will identify critical structural, architectural and functional issues in the greater Baltimore Region, with all students in ENME 220 seeking specific engineering solutions. Implementation pathways and related challenges will be identified in conversations and interactions with community leaders visiting the project presentations.

West Side Stories: Public History and Urban RevitalizationDenise D. Meringolo, Public History Graduate Program, will teach this community-based public history graduate-level practicum course in collaboration with Baltimore Heritage, a nonprofit historic preservation organization. The project explores the potential of historic preservation and urban public history to promote positive social change in the economically depressed and unevenly developed West side of downtown Baltimore.

Learning from Older AmericansCarolyn Forestiere, Political Science, prepares political science majors to conduct scholarly research in the social sciences in POLI 301. Students will work directly with a target population—older Americans—as a means of generating data to analyze based on real-world research issues and encouraging empathy. Students will go on a series of field trips to assisted living communities in the Catonsville area to directly interview residents and collect unique data. They will return after their papers are complete to debrief their interviewees and the staff of the facilities that care for them.

Charlotte KenistonFood for Thought (Charlotte Keniston and  Romy Jones (Square Photo)Romy Hübler, Graduate Student Association): Pigtown Food for Thought seeks to educate Pigtown/Washington Village youth about healthy food choices in order to empower them to become advocates in their families and among their neighbors. UMBC graduate students will offer cooking classes for 6-8 Pigtown youth, and will also work with them to make container gardens in their own backyard, harvest produce, and learn how to shop for healthy foods in a neighborhood facing challenges in its supply of nutritious food options. These activities will culminate in a community event where participating youth will share with their community what they have learned.

Throughout this process, the graduate students will begin to understand in a very direct way what a food desert is; why one exists in Pigtown; how food deserts impact health; what can be done to address the situation; and what role the community, businesses and the government play in finding and implementing solutions. Graduate students who work in this area will have opportunities to collaborate with one another and with community partners in organizing seminars and workshops to reflect on their experiences and share their expertise.

Update: Read “Civic Science: Food Justice and an End to Heartbreak” by participants in this program and see an advertisement for the February 2013 Food Sustainability Panel.

Shaun KaneAccessibility Hack Day (Shaun Kane, UMBC Information Systems): This weekend-long event held at UMBC will support UMBC students in developing and testing new ideas for making video games that are accessible to people with various disabilities. Students will be recruited to propose ideas for video games that are accessible to people with disabilities. They will then form project groups and will spend the weekend building prototypes of their projects. Faculty and student mentors will be on-hand to provide guidance. Participants will demonstrate their projects, which will be judged by a panel of experts, including representatives from the National Federation of the Blind and the Maryland Technology Assistance Program. The top projects will be awarded prizes.

The broader goal of this project is to jump-start interest among UMBC students, and in the broader community, for developing innovative technical solutions for people with disabilities. We will encourage students to continue the projects begun at this event as research projects (supervised by our group), class projects or independently. We will also encourage students to release their projects publicly.

Environmental PoliticsRoy Meyers will teach a new course, Political Science 309 (Environmental Politics), helping students understand how political beliefs and political behaviors about environmental policy are formed and influenced and how political institutions affect decisions on environmental policies. All students will engage in political activities on environmental policy, such as writing letters to officials and agencies; working with electoral campaigns and interest groups on environmental issues; and attending hearings, decision meetings and demonstrations, giving students a range of hands-on experiences in political life and reflection on what they have learned.

Technological Solutions for AccessibilityAmy Hurst will teach a graduate level course in Information Systems on the fields of assistive technology and accessibility to serve older adults and individuals with disabilities. Students will learn about assistive technologies focusing on the needs of individuals who experience cognitive, motor and sensory impairments. Through readings, a service learning assignment, and interacting with guest speakers active in the local assistive technology and accessibility community, students will either solve accessibility problems for individuals in the community or contribute to assistive technology research.

Social Action in BaltimoreJessica Guzman-Rea will focus Social Work 200 on civic engagement in the Baltimore area in relation to the practice of social work, including issues of poverty, hunger, health care or homelessness. Readings, speakers and civic engagement in the community will encourage students to develop their own ideas on social issues and to connect their ideas with successful social action-orientated projects and presentations.

Researching Civic EngagementLanguage Literacy and Culture doctoral students will assess these courses and civic engagement activities as a part of their research training and coursework with professors Bev Bickel, Craig Saper and Rita Turner.

Theater of Lived Experience—Alan Kreizenbeck will teach Theater 390 inviting a mix of students with and without intellectual disabilities to devise a series of scenes and monologues based on memorable events in their lives, to be presented publicly as the culmination of several weeks of rehearsal. The instructor will stage the various scenes/monologues and will arrange them into a performance that is both entertaining and meaningful. Theatre’s primary function is to tell stories—stories with resonance for both the audience and the performers. Performing personal stories can enlighten and educate an audience and enlarge their appreciation of the many components and variations of the human experience. Enacting a personal story—their own or someone else’s—lets the performers reveal themselves in a safe manner and allows them to experience artistic creation as something that is both personal and public.

Katie CanoRICA-Baltimore (Catherine Cano, Shriver Living Learning Center): This project will take place at the Regional Institute for Children and Adolescents-Baltimore (RICA-Baltimore), where kids with emotional disturbance disorders are state-sanctioned to live for treatment and schooling. UMBC students from the Shriver Living Learning floor will provide fun and informative workshops on basic life skills, such as how to do laundry, make simple meals or go grocery shopping. Through interactions with the youth at RICA-Baltimore, UMBC students will also act as positive role models and promote a sense of community in the residence. UMBC students will work collaboratively with the RICA-Baltimore youth to help them gain the necessary skills to succeed in their lives outside the facility and to advocate for themselves.

Student Success Ambassadors Program—Jackie Wilson, Cassie Bichy and Ericka Thompson, from the Learning Resources Center and Residential Life, will partner with the Shriver Center on a service learning program to complement the LRC 101A curriculum: Academic Success for Lifelong Learning. Current LRC 101A students will showcase their academic skills for success to students in K-12 at-risk school systems and at the community college level, tackling real-world problems such as retention and performance in educational systems where students are not yet prepared for college-level success.

Kate Drabinski, UMBC (square)Studies in Feminist Activism—Kate Drabinski’s GWST 200 focuses on the history and present of feminist activist movements. Students will produce digital stories about local activist movements as well as their own activist projects at UMBC and in the surrounding community, creating an archive of what it means to do activism here at UMBC and beyond.


barbara bourneCommunity Arts Project (Barbara Bourne, Education): This project will provide UMBC education students and faculty with opportunities to work with schools in diverse communities and showcase art as a platform for learning both in and out of the classroom. It will also enable parents, community members, teachers and children to collaborate on a project designed to enhance school facilities/grounds, deepen family and community involvement in schools, and increase avenues of communication between school faculties and families. Teachers, students and parents will join department faculty and students to create public art that might be as simple as decorating bricks to trim a school community garden or as grand as creating a mosaic to beautify a school lobby. The most import product of this work will be the culture of collaboration it fosters.

This project is one in a series of ongoing efforts of the Department of Education’s Professional Development Schools and continues the Elementary Education program’s emphasis on integrating the arts into teaching and learning.The Community Arts Project will increase UMBC teacher candidates’ awareness of, and experience in, working with racially, ethnically, economically and linguistically diverse populations and promote sense of shared purpose among teachers, students and parents, as well as local and UMBC communities. This initiative will also create an increased awareness of the role of the arts in teaching, learning and community building.

Dawn Biehler square Environmental Justice—Dawn Biehler’s GES 424/624 teaches students to think critically about the ways race, class, gender and geography have shaped communities’ experiences of the physical environment in the U.S. This semester, students will learn directly from Baltimore residents about diverse perceptions of the environment and will develop GIS mapping skills through assisting in the identification and geolocation of amenities and hazards in the community. This project is linked with a four-year National Science Foundation grant to study pest hazards and related environmental issues in Baltimore. Results of interviews with residents and mapping activities will be shared with the community through events and displays at local libraries and community centers.

Bill Shewbridge Michelle StefanoDocumenting Cultural Heritage in Partnership with Communities: Sparrows Point, Baltimore—Using audio-visual technologies to research, document and disseminate culture has become increasingly commonplace and is powerful way to preserve and share cultural memories, especially from the perspectives of those who embody and own them. Bill Shewbridge (New Media Studio) and Michelle Stefano (American Studies) are collaborating to bring UMBC students to the Sparrows Point Steel Mill community where they will partner with active and former steelworkers to document local cultural heritage by producing oral testimonies and audio-visual digital stories. This project will move beyond traditional cultural documentation from an outsider perspective to instead focus on the value of supporting communities’ own efforts to share their experiences.

Theo GonzalvesPower, Place and Identity—AMST 420/630, taught by Theodore S. Gonzalves, will introduce students to ongoing conversations in American Studies, with emphasis on current controversies and scholarship surrounding the study of race, ethnicity, gender and sexuality. This semester, students will focus on local spaces and personal experiences involved in the civil disobedience and trial of the Catonsville Nine, developing content for an app conveying those stories. This course is central to a larger project generating a community dialogue that commemorates the 45th anniversary of the Catonsville Nine actions. Students and community activists will explore the historical significance of those actions as well as how we think about social protest, civic duty and citizenship today.


  1. […] Spring 2013 Courses […]

  2. […] former steel mill workers a year after the closing of Sparrows Point, video documentaries from the BreakingGround-funded course, Documenting Cultural Heritage in Partnership with Communities, give readers a glimpse into the […]

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