2020 - 2021 Engaged Faculty Fellows (Postponed)


Catalina Quesada-Gómez, Department of Modern Languages and Literatures

Catalina Quesada-Gómez holds a Ph.D. in Latin American Studies from the University of Sevilla (Spain). Before coming to UM, she was an Assistant Professor at the University of Bern (Switzerland). Her research examines a wide range of topics related to the cultural dynamics of globalization and its impact on the Hispanic world. She applied to the Engaged Fellows Program to develop the course Immigration and Exile (Multifocal Perspectives): Latinxin South Florida. In this course, students will focus on concepts such as transnational migration and exile, paying attention to the specificities of Hispanic and/or Latinx populations in the USA. As a Service-Learning Course, besides the academic component, students will work on how to address and relate with different kinds of immigrant or exile communities. Special attention will be given to economic, legal, and cultural issues that underprivileged immigrant and exile communities face in South Florida, and specifically in Miami.

Amin Sarafraz, Department of Civil, Agricultural, and Environmental Engineering 

With the support of the Office of Civic and Community Engagement, Amin Sarafraz plans to add a civic engagement module to his course "Introduction to Engineering II." Students in this course will develop skills to apply new and existing technologies to collect and analyze spatial data. The new civic engagement module will provide a unique opportunity for students to learn from real-world problems. Students will work with community partners to better understand their spatial data collection needs and apply their classroom knowledge to help our immediate community to address their needs.

Rechna Varma, Department of Cinematic Arts and Interactive Media 

As an Engaged Faculty Fellow, Rechna Varma plans to formally integrate a collaboration between her students and the community they feel connected to into her Transmedia & Interactive Media Business Essentials classes. She will to update her courses with the help of the Office of Civic and Community Engagement, teaching students how to use innovation tools to help narrow down a problem to tackle so they can design a solution for their chosen partner. Rechna believes the more students can learn and grow with their communities the better their future contributions will be.

Xavier Cortada, Department of Art and Art History 

Xavier Cortada is a Professor of Practice at the University of Miami Department of Art and Art History. Cortada’s work is intended to generate awareness and action towards issues of global climate change. Using the power and elasticity of participatory art to engage, Cortada and his students will educate and inspire community members to work together and learn together to solve our community’s problems. Through Plan(T), one of his many engaged art projects, Cortada, and his students have helped the Miami-Dade Community plan and plant for a future impacted by sea-level rise and saltwater intrusion. Cortada, who was born in Albany, New York and grew up in Miami from the age of three. He holds three degrees from the University of Miami: Bachelor of Arts, College of Arts and Sciences (1986), Master of Public Administration, Miami Business School (1991), and Juris Doctor, School of Law (1991).

Berit Brogaard, Department of Philosophy, and Aleksandra Hernandez, Department of English 

As Engaged Faculty Fellows, Brogaard and Hernandez will develop a course in which students will collaborate with teachers and students at middle and high schools in Miami address the challenges of violence, drug abuse, and sexual assault. The aim of the collaboration is to encourage class discussions on these issues through engagement with age-appropriate literature that is structured around empathy. During the first half of the semester, students will be introduced to the core concepts of literature and empathy in order to frame their interactions with middle and high school students during the second half of the semester. Students will develop projects that address topics discussed during the semester and will propose problem-solving strategies that incorporate methods, outcomes, and values associated with collaborative civic engagement.  

Leslie McCutchen, Department of English

Leslie McCutchen joins the Engaged Faculty Fellow program to receive training necessary to help her students become agents of change in her first-year writing course, ENG106 Humans & Nature: A Troubled Alliance. The Engaged Faculty Fellow program will provide guidance in building more civic and social awareness so students can stimulate their creativity to find viable solutions to environmental issues. Part of the awareness she aspires to cultivate is in how human nature, and our core values and beliefs, influence our reactions and place-based behaviors in our interactions with nature. Leslie wants her students to research and deliberate on why humans make the decisions to respond (or not) to critical environmental issues that affect all life on Earth and then to write persuasive proposals for solutions. A socially engaged student can use this knowledge base to create plausible solutions where human nature is considered and interwoven thoughtfully. As their skills and ideas develop, students can learn to present real-life proposals with confidence and make a commitment to communities where their solutions will solve environmental problems.