“I love and live off of the ‘aha’ moments students have in class when they suddenly understand or build a new understanding of a concept. That has always been what excites me about teaching, whether it’s in a math class or a seminar course.”
In addition to the value she places on new ideas that come into being for individual students, Dr. Grace Pai sees “a career in education as a means of alleviating poverty and bringing about social mobility and equality.“ She does not mince words about “a lack of equity that too often leads to social stratification” and the scope of this crisis: “I’ve always found it astonishing that in a ‘developed’ knowledge economy like the United States’ that stresses the importance of obtaining a college degree, we still have about 15% of students who don’t even graduate from high school.” Experienced as a counselor and math teacher in NYC public schools and holding a Ph.D. in international education and development with a specialization in applied statistics for program and impact evaluation, Dr. Pai is a powerful emerging voice in the critical areas of global learning, culturally relevant pedagogy (CRP), as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) as they relate to race in America. During just the last turbulent year, beset by the global pandemic, the Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies has presented or spoken at over a dozen events on CRP, Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL), and racial justice.
Guttman Community College Partners with LaGuardia Community College on Program to Virtually Connect Young People Around the World—Funded by Stevens Initiative
Grantees will bring together thousands of young people from the United States and the Middle East and North Africa for an exciting opportunity to engage with global peers through virtual exchange.
“We can disagree and still be friends… Most of the time, a literature classroom is a philosophical space. It’s about how we live, how we react to each other, how we deal with love, and who we are constantly becoming. So, disagreement and argument… help us really understand what we think and why.”
Associate Professor of English Dr. Ria Banerjee specializes in literary modernism, primarily Anglophone British, European, and Indian writing of the 1910s-1930s – “partly because I love that ‘modernist mood’ and partly because so much of what people lived through at the beginning of the 20th century bears eerie parallels to what we are going through now.” Presently, she is at work on the manuscript of her book, tentatively titled Drafty Houses, where she posits that the way “modernist [English] authors wrote about changing, renovating, and restructuring houses and personal spaces in fiction actually speaks to how they thought the UK ought to change politically.” Avoiding direct confrontation with the authorities, “established authors like T. S. Eliot and Virginia Woolf wrote about rooms, buildings, and houses as a kind of substitute for… the nation as a shelter for citizens.” These writers became what Dr. Banerjee calls “tepid activists,” who were “outraged at the many political atrocities carried out by the UK at home and abroad, especially in the British colonies, [but] tried to find ways to be critical without being arrested,“ or having their writing banned.
Guttman Lecturer of Biology Derek Tesser’s project was accepted by the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), a federally funded research and development center managed by the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, CA. Prof. Tesser describes his innovation: “I proposed to utilize Ecostress, an experimental NASA sensor recently placed on the International Space Station, for an integrative method to mapping Earth’s ecosystems from space. The approach will merge the thermal data acquired by Ecostress with information from Earth science radar satellites in orbit to characterize components of the carbon, water, and energy cycle in priority ‘hotspot’ ecosystems around the world.”
Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies Dr. Grace Pai and former Guttman colleague Katie Wilson co-authored an article titled, “Developing a Culturally Responsive Assessment Model for Short-Term Study Abroad at an Urban Community College,” published in the Journal on Excellence in College Teaching.
Students Librada (Nicole) Montero, Brandon Saavedra, and Assistant Professor of English and Liberal Arts & Sciences Program Coordinator Dr. Ria Banerjee traveled to London this month as part of the Poetry Abroad experience. From July 6th to the 14th, the Guttman cohort studied at the T.S. Eliot International Summer School, participating in seminars and workshops, attending poetry readings, field trips, and diving deep into the works and life of the famous English poet.
On June 4, the 12 students who traveled to Shanghai April 16-28 as part of the Global Guttman China trip recounted their activities and observations during the Journey to the East panel presentation and discussion.
Ayanna Dickinson, a Guttman Urban Studies major, was selected to join the 2019 cohort of the Pulitzer Center student fellows. Ayanna will travel to Ecuador in July with Global Guttman and will report on the conservation efforts in the Chocoan Rainforest.
Jacqueline Charles, a Pulitzer Prize finalist and Emmy Award-winning Caribbean correspondent at the Miami Herald, visited Guttman on March 28 to discuss her journalism career and current reporting project in Haiti, as part of Guttman’s continued partnership with the Pulitzer Center. The long-standing partnership aims to increase access to global learning opportunities on campus as part of the Global Guttman program.
On February 14, Guttman Community College hosted Diversidad del Chocó: Music, Culture and Biodiversity from the Colombian Pacific Coast, a campus event bringing together musicians, scientists and students to raise awareness of the Itapoa Project’s conservation efforts in the wonderfully biodiverse Chocó Region of Colombia and Ecuador.