2020-2021 Engaged Faculty Fellows

Berit Brogaard, Professor, Department of Philosophy, College of Arts and Sciences & Aleksandra Hernadez, Asst. Professor, Department of English, College of Arts and Sciences

As Engaged Faculty Fellows, Brogaard and Hernandez will develop a course with a focus on civic engagement. During the course, students will work on group projects that involve collaboration with teachers and students at middle and high schools in Miami that currently face the greatest problems with violence, drug abuse, and sexual assault. The collaboration aims to encourage class discussions of how to address violence, drug abuse, and sexual violence 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 to frame their interactions with middle and high school students during the second half of the semester. Students must write up an individual or group report on their project, which will include a description of the problems, strategies for solving the problem, methods, outcomes, and the value of civic engagement. Finally, they must prepare a poster for a poster presentation at the University of Miami. This event will be advertised and be open to the public. 

Xavier Cortada, Professor of Practice, Department of Art and Art History, College of Arts and Sciences

Xavier Cortada is a Professor of Practice at the University of Miami Department of Art and Art History. The crux of Cortada’s work finds itself rooted in a deep conceptual engagement of his participants. Particularly environmentally focused, the work Cortada develops is intended to generate awareness and action towards global climate change issues. Using the power and elasticity of participatory art to engage, Cortada and his students 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 helped our community plan and plant for a future impacted by sea-level rise and saltwater intrusion.

Catalina Quesada-Gómez, Senior Lecturer, Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, College of Arts and Sciences 

Catalina Quesada-Gómez holds a PhD 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): Latinxs in 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, specifically in Miami.

Amin Sarafraz, Research Assistant Professor, Department of Civic, Architectural & Environmental Engineering, College of 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 address their needs.

Rechna Varma, Assistant Professor of Practice, Department of Cinematic Arts and Interactive Media, School of Communication 

As an Engaged Faculty Fellow, Rechna Varma plans to integrate a collaboration between her students and the community formally they feel connected to into her Transmedia & Interactive Media Business Essentials classes. She will update her courses with the help of the Office of Civic and Community Engagement. She will teach 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.