Noliwe Rooks, Bryan Duff named Kaplan Faculty Fellows

By: Maja Anderson,  Cornell Chronicle
April 25, 2016

Noliwe Rooks, associate professor of Africana studies and feminist, gender and sexuality studies, and director of graduate studies at theAfricana Studies and Research Center, and Bryan Duff, senior lecturer in education, received the 2016 Kaplan Family Faculty Fellowship in Service-Learning award at the 15th annual award dinner, April 21.

The event also celebrated two service-learning curriculum projects local partners, DeWitt Middle School and McGraw Housesenior center in downtown Ithaca, who are working with Rooks and Duff.

Rooks’ award will help to support a fall 2016 course, Race and Social Entrepreneurship: Food Justice and Urban Reform, that will examine food justice in Ithaca and surrounding areas. It will explore innovative approaches to bring about social equity and justice in relation to food availability, access and sustainability for those with low or fixed income.

Working in concert with McGraw House residents and other community stakeholders, and drawing on theoretical and historical scholarship, students will work with farmers, nonprofits and community activists to learn about local food justice strategies. Students will also collaborate and propose approaches to solving inaccessibility to fresh organic food and conduct research.

Duff, who coordinates the undergraduate minor in education, redesigned the service-learning course, Engaging Students in Learning. The course engages community partners in the development and refinement of a service-learning course and gives Cornell students responsibility to plan and implement an after-school program for middle school students. While the goal of the course had always been to help students improve their ability to engage learners and gain useful in-class skills, Duff felt it did not always provide the same level of interaction for every student. With support from the Engaged Faculty Fellowship Program, Duff shifted students from assisting in the classroom to running an after-school program at DeWitt Middle School.

Now Cornell students work directly with English as a second language learners through hands-on storytelling and filmmaking projects. The Kaplan fellowship will enable Duff to update video equipment and expand the program. Susan Murphy ’73, Ph.D. ’94, retired vice president for student and campus life, thanked the Kaplans for recognizing and fostering faculty efforts and innovations in community-engaged service-learning. “This has become like a family,” Murphy said, indicating the many Kaplan faculty fellows from previous years in attendance. “Welcome to the family Bryan and Noliwe.”

The Kaplan Family Faculty Fellowship in Service-Learning is a program of the Cornell Public Service Center. It was created by Barbara Kaplan ’59, her husband, Leslie Kaplan, son Douglas Kaplan ’88 and daughter Emily Kaplan ’91, and recognizes faculty members who have had a significant impact on undergraduate, professional or graduate education by involving students in service-learning programs. Fellows receive $5,000 to develop a community-based learning or research project, to initiate a new effort or to make service-learning courses a regular part of the curriculum.

Maja Anderson is assistant director of communications and community relations for the Cornell Public Service Center and Engaged Learning and Research. 

This article originally appeared in the Cornell Chronicle.

Noliwe Rooks