Other Program Announcements
Myra Sadker Foundation
The Myra Sadker Foundation now offers financial support to teachers, doctoral students and undergraduates committed to promoting gender equity. To learn more about these possibilities, or to find some useful links and articles, you can visit our new website at www.sadker.org.
Suburban Studies Project, Bergen Community College
Suburban Studies Group Focuses on Communities, On and Off Campus
By Phil Dolce
The mission of the Suburban Studies Group is to create an institutional focus that allows faculty, staff, students, administrators and community leaders to join forces in order to understand the suburban sense of place that defines where we live and work.
Bridging the various college departments and personnel categories allows the Group to create an interdisciplinary project that involves teaching, civic engagement and professional development. A number of factors give our work much wider significance. A majority of Americans live in the “middle landscape” and the United States is now a suburban nation. New Jersey is the most suburbanized state in the union and Bergen County is the largest suburban county in the state.
The goals of the Suburban Studies Group are to develop a college-wide fellowship, expertise and sense of community among staff, administrators, faculty and students by a collective focus on suburbia. We utilize the college’s stewardship of time, talent, and resources to engage and assist the communities we serve because the community is our campus. Beyond this, we incorporate the talents of community leaders in our programs. The Suburban Studies Group utilizes a five-fold, expanding methodology in its work including teaching and learning. Students are given assignments in a multitude of college courses that relate to the middle landscape. In
this manner, we are creating interdisciplinary exchanges among students and faculty that can be carried from class to class.
Next, faculty, students and staff attend roundtable discussions and seminars. This allows the discussion of suburban topics to emerge from the classroom to a wider venue with a different dynamic for learning and discourse.
The Group sponsors major college conferences which are attended by a multitude of people from the college and the community. Panels consisting of college personnel and community experts address important questions confronting the middle landscape. Audience members are fully engaged in the process by use of collective “clicker questions” followed by individual questions.
In order to ensure that civic engagement is a major part of the project, we have begun to organize conferences in the community. This fulfills our belief that our mission extends beyond the college’s walls. In addition, we are encouraging BCC students to use and expand their knowledge of suburbia by volunteering to intern in suburban government and other organizations. Faculty and staff members are encouraged individually to give talks or lead discussions on the middle landscape - in the community.
Lastly, professional development is an important part of our mission and methodology because suburbia has critical ramifications both nationally and internationally. College personnel have given papers and been part of panel discussions at regional and national conferences, as well as writing articles for books and journals.
Their professional work on “the middle landscape” has received national recognition including a national Bellwether Award, the Blackburn Award from the American Association of University Administrators and the NEA national award for teaching. BCC material on suburbia is now part of the permanent collections of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the Museum of Television and Radio, the FBI Academy and a number of other institutions.
While this is a significant record of accomplishment, we are only getting started. The project is growing as more people join and give us new energy and knowledge. Our motto says it all:
“We Are The People, We Have Been Waiting For”
The author is a professor of history in the School of Arts, Humanities and Wellness and chair of the Suburban Studies Group. For more information contact Philip Dolce at firstname.lastname@example.org or 201-447-9227.