Community 101 Themes

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Buffalo Campus
18 Agassiz Circle
Buffalo, NY 14214
(716) 880-2000
(800) 292-1582

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1880 S. Winton Rd.
Rochester, NY 14618
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Each year, every first-year student at Medaille joins a learning community. These teams carry our student-managed, community-based research projects that examine social, economic, historical, and environmental issues in Western New York.

Past research projects include:

The Relationship Between Humans and Animals in Our Community

As veterinary technician students, our class is concerned with the story of Buffalo’s furry residents. Through research, fieldtrips, and interviews, our class has compiled a story about the rescue and rehabilitation of neglected and mistreated pets in Western New York. Visits to the Buffalo Animal Shelter, the SPCA, an adoption event for Black Dog, Second Chance, and information about Paws and Claws provided our class with evidence about the issue of animal abuse and what is being done about it. Finally, our class considered the human-animal bond in order to contemplate ways in which communities are enhanced by the promotion of human and animal relationships. Instructors: Dr. Bridgette Slavin and Shana Williams

Sexology: Using Psychological Research to Study Human Sexual Behavior

In our learning community, we examined human sexual behavior from the perspective of Psychological science. We partnered with AIDS Community Services of Western New York and learned about the connection between sexual behavior and the transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. While touring the agency, we learned about the Stages of Change behavior change model, and methods of harm reduction, such as using condoms, that help people stay healthy. We also reviewed research studies in peer-reviewed journals to deepen our understanding of such topics as sexual betrayal (cheating); influence of pornography on sexual attitudes; evidence of monogamous relationships in non-human animals; and whether having sex makes people happier. Instructors: Dr. Anne Pfohl, Dr. Todd Riniolo, and Pamela B. Smith

Past, Present, and Future: The Story of Buffalo

Students focused on the city of Buffalo and other Western New York locales in an effort to appreciate and understand the impact that the past has on the present and to understand what our role is in creating narrative of our community’s future. Students in this section have focused on topics related to crime and the justice system, and have explored topics such as (1) changing crime rates in Buffalo’s history, (2) the influence of the media on criminal behavior, and (3) the steps we can take – both as individuals and a community – to help prevent crime in the future. These topics have served as our foundation as we’ve explored our role in the on-going narrative of our local community. Instructors: Doug Anderson, Dr. Patrick Fazioli, Erika Hamann, Jen Foster, and George Deacon


The Refugee Experience in Western New York

Through assignments, class activities, and a fieldtrip to Jericho Road Ministries Hope Refugee Drop-In Center, our learning community considered how non-profit organizations are structured to help refugees settle in Buffalo. Students researched common problems refugees face, such as language barriers, financial struggles, finding suitable living conditions, assimilating into mainstream society, and locating adequate health care. In light of these problems, students proposed how the Medaille community could aid Jericho Road Ministries achieve their mission. Student suggestions include setting up a campus donation drive to collect warm clothes, working with SIFE (Students in Free Enterprise) to create a student tutoring program, and developing an intramural sports program. Through these suggestions, students hope the lives of refugees in Buffalo will be forever enhanced through future partnerships between Medaille and Jericho Road Ministries.
Instructors: Dr. Bridgette Slavin and Dr. Alice Villaseñor

A Service-Focused Analysis of Medaille College Neighborhoods

Students explored the theme of “Community Service Learning” by pursuing an outside-to-inside research methodology that took them closer and closer into the workings of community-based organizations serving the neighborhoods of Medaille College. The stages of research featured website analyses and neighborhood visits, on-site observations and document analyses, personal interviews and email questionnaires, and the creation of a final portfolio of research findings. Neighborhood organizations included the Buffalo Zoo, Canisius College, and Sisters of Charity Hospital. Instructors: Timothy Bryant, Constance Hanel, Aaron Lefkovitz, Emily Ryan-Radder, Lisa Black, Timothy Bryant, and Meghan Harrington

From the Classroom to the Boardroom to the Neighborhood: The Links Between Higher Education, Professional Opportunities, and Local Concerns

As students have learned about various topics in Western New York, from crime to health care to child development, projects have materialized involving students' understanding of these issues, how they relate to their college education, potential careers, and communal lives. Students have taken an initiative in locating local organizations and programs, with a particular emphasis on the Buffalo Zoo and how its services impact the neighborhood and broader area. Instructors: Tiffany Hamilton, Aaron Lefkovitz, and Shana Williams

Services for Families of Sick Children

This learning community delved into the repercussions of a child’s illness on their family and community, and researched the resources available for support during this trying time.  The group made an in-kind gift of grab-and-go bags for families staying at the Ronald McDonald House and did a site visit to see firsthand the types of support that the locally-funded operation offered. Instructors: Sarah Frank, Matthew Kreib, and Jason Perri

Evaluating and Collecting Resources to Enhance Mentoring

This learning community's theme was focused on mentoring, specifically, the notion that mentoring children would be a much easier task if mentors had better access to resources. Thus, the learning community organized a book drive. Book drop-offs are located in the Medaille College Library and the Sullivan Center. The class is setting up a donation table at the McKinley Mall in front of Barnes and Noble. Books donated will be passed along to local schools and libraries. Books will also be donated to Medaille's Rochester campus in order to facilitate the development of an education program at that location. Instructors: Michelle Bogdan, Debra McLoughlin, and Amy Wrobel

Journey Through Western New York: Visiting the Underground Railroad

Students examined aspects of the Underground Railroad including the abolitionist figures of Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman, as well as local Underground Railroad sites, to expose as an unending reminder the social injustice of the slavery period.  The project serves the Learning Community concept by incorporating vital local history with literary and historical texts. Instructors: Frederick Bacher, Lindy Feider, and Mark Lavatelli

College Leaders: Writers, Thinkers, and Readers

First-year students in Medaille’s True Blue and Gold Leadership Program participated in a special learning community that highlighted the role of writing and critical thinking in leadership development. As part of their final Community 101 project, students applied these vital lessons while investigating the problem of abandoned and derelict building stock in the city of Buffalo. Instructors: Dr. Gerald J. Erion, Samantha Purpora,and Melisa Williams

Media Ecology: Thinking Critically About Our Media Environment

Medaille’s first-year honors students have been applying key speaking, writing, reading, and critical thinking lessons to better understand our contemporary media environment. Students will present key findings from their semester’s work that can help to improve the quality of our community’s public and academic discourse. Instructors: Dr. Gerald J. Erion and Will Waterrose

Returning Veterans - Issue and Concerns

Students explored four significant areas that impact veterans when they return to civilian life. These included: employment and finding jobs and issues with government assistance; disabilities and the effects on the lives of veterans when they return home; Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and its effects on parenting; and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and its effects on men versus women who serve in a war time. Instructors: Deborah M. Ceppaglia and Matthew Kreib

Journey Through Western New York: Visiting the Underground Railroad

Students examined aspects of the Underground Railroad including the abolitionist figures of Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman, as well as local Underground Railroad sites, to expose as an unending reminder the social injustice of the slavery period.  The project serves the Learning Community concept by incorporating vital local history with literary and historical texts. Instructors: Mark Lavatelli and Dr. Ted Pelton

Medievalism and Going Goth

Students worked with Vive, Inc., a refugee center in Buffalo, to throw a Halloween party for families staying at the shelter.  Students created activities based on their study of the Medieval Celtic origins of many of today’s United States Halloween customs.  They also drew from their research papers about contemporary “Gothic” and “Fall Festival” celebrations around the globe, including Día de los Muertos (Mexico’s Day of the Dead), La Toussaint (France’s All Saint’s Day), and Yu Lan (China’s Hungry Ghost Festival). Instructors: Dr. Bridgette Slavin and Dr. Alice Villaseñor

Building Confidence in Buffalo through Media

Students challenged negative depictions of Buffalo, New York, portrayed in local and national media.  They observed that the lack of confidence a community is perpetuated by negative stereotypes depicted in any form of media. Utilizing critical thinking skills, the students experienced and observed the local community through research of media and a tour hosted by PUSH Buffalo, a local organization striving for positive change in Buffalo’s West Side. The culmination of research, observations, and personal experiences led the community in creating written proposals for positive change, and news broadcasts to counter the negative depictions of the Buffalo community. Instructors: Lisa Black, Michelle Bogdan, and Andrew McGirr

Buffalo Through International Eyes

After visiting the PUSH Buffalo’s Green Development Zone, the Parkside community, and the Darwin Martin House, the students explored corresponding projects in their homeland.  Topics include comparisons of Buffalo’s history with Chinese cities, as well as differences between Asian and American residential architecture, the Martin House Complex and Qiao’s Mansion in Shanxi province, China, and green living projects in China and Korea. Through these projects, students seek to understand the points at which our cultures meet, as well as where differences manifest, and the reasons for those differences. Instructors: Dr. Mary Louise Hill and Marvyn Mahle

Intercultural Communication

The students in this course provided at least 20 hours of service to the following nonprofit organizations in Buffalo: African American Cultural Center, The Belle Center, Jericho Road Ministries HOPE Refugee Drop-in Center, and Journey’s End Refugee Services, Inc.. As part of their community-based learning experience, the students wrote reflective journal entries and a final paper connecting their service to themes explored in the course. Instructor: Dr. Patrick Fazioli

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