Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Two Professors, One Class, Two Continents

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Two Professors, One Class, Two Continents

Article excerpt

Using live stream video, Dr. Yvette Christianse at New York's Barnard College and Dr. Isabel Hofmeyr of University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, co-teach students about the diasporas of the Indian Ocean.

Dr. Christianse, a professor of English and Africana studies at Barnard College in New York, is passionate when speaking about what she considers an often neglected part of post-colonial studies, the long tradition of globalization in the Indian Ocean. Since joining the faculty at Barnard in 2010, Christianse has been inspired by the college's commitment to developing international programs.

To that end, this semester she is co-teaching the course, "Africana Issues: Diasporas of the Indian Ocean" with Hofmeyr. Students in both parts of the world will be interacting with each other and blogging about their experiences.

"We're looking at the labor movements, the history of slavery in the Indian Ocean," says Christianse, who grew up in South Africa during apartheid. Her family moved to Australia when she was 18, although she returns to South Africa frequently. "After 1807, when the slave trade was abolished [by an Act of Parliament in the United Kingdom], it actually expanded in the Indian Ocean. The older trade networks in the Indian Ocean accommodated the ongoing demand for slaves."

"There is a necessity to remember the Indian Ocean in all discussions of colonialism and post-colonialism," she adds. "If we're going to talk about constructions of race, we must not forget the complexities of discussions of race in the Indian Ocean."

The interdisciplinary course, which focuses on four sites--Durban (South Africa), Mumbai (India), Zanzibar (Tanzania) and Port Louis (Mauritius)--will include literature, film, visual arts, music and dance. There also will be live-streamed guest speakers from chosen sites around the Indian Ocean.

"We've been saying to each other in two to three years time this is going to be so old hat," says Christianse "We were both a bit nervous about how we would speak to each other. In the end, it's the same as doing a co-taught course with someone in the room."

"The whole experience has been exhilarating," says Hofmeyr. "The students who have selected the module are intellectually adventurous and have a strong international orientation."

In addition to time zones--there is a seven-hour time difference--an intriguing and significant element to navigate is international copyright issues. …

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