May 9, 2018

#FacultyFriday: Associate Professor Dr. Rhianna Rogers

Virtual Residencies for Students, Faculty to Be Offered Fall 2018


Associate Professor Rhianna Rogers has been with the college since 2010. Her academic appointments span International Programs, the Division of Social and Behavioral Science and the School for Graduate Studies. She is also the college’s first-ever coordinator of Interdisciplinary and Multidisciplinary Studies.

In addition to teaching courses from her home base in Buffalo, N.Y. and from overseas in Lebanon and the Dominican Republic, Rogers is spearheading the introduction of virtual residencies for SUNY Empire students and faculty, building upon existing residency offerings while also providing students with unique applied learning opportunities through virtual lectures and interactive student practical projects. The new model will bring together students studying at all levels, beginning in fall 2018.

“What’s really neat about this new virtual residency model is that this will be the first time where we have undergrad, grad and international education students represented in a single residency experience,” said Rogers. “Students are going to be able to see each other, engage with each other, ask each other questions, develop cross-cultural and global competencies from their joint experience and, at the same time, examine course content on top of it.”

The first virtual residency will be offered in fall 2018 as part of SUNY Empire’s “Year of Indigenous Peoples of the Americas” initiative. This initial residency will feature five courses: First Peoples of North America (undergrad), Native American Art and History (undergrad), Colonization and Resistance (grad/undergrad), and a three-week collaborative module between Native American Art and Culture (undergrad/international education) and Introduction to Critical Pedagogy (grad).

Its creation stems from Rogers’ experience in the Lebanon Residency Program, where this model was introduced, and from developing and implementing Open Education Resources (OER) – the latter an expertise she shares with SUNY colleges and universities across the state through a complementary appointment as an Open SUNY Fellow in Innovation and Research for the university system.

While new modalities and practices have advanced Rogers’ work in recent years, she has remained true to her passion, consistently discovering new ways to enhance the college curriculum with cross-cultural knowledge, collaborations with colleagues and student feedback. The effectiveness of her teaching approach was recognized recently by SUNY with the bestowal of a 2017-2018 Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Additionally, as a former tribal political advocate who has studied and published many works on the Aztec, Maya, Seminole, Seneca and Taino cultures, Rogers is playing a leading role in SUNY Empire’s “Year of Indigenous Peoples of the Americas” initiative, for which the college will overlay the cultural theme across its course offerings and student events and activities during the 2018-19 academic year.

“Educational curriculum tends to give voice to the mainstream, Western perspectives of culture,” she said. “The ‘Year of’ initiative is a way to show how the college recognizes that general limitation and how we, as a college community, are changing that narrative. For the Year of Indigenous Peoples of the Americas, we will highlight the role that native people play in our society. We will also bring to attention the limited role that native peoples have had in higher education, in hopes of creating new pathways for partnership and collaboration with tribes and nations across the Americas.”

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