Work in Jamaica began in 1998. The service partnerships that have developed are an independent project of Adam Renner and Gina Stiens, who seek to connect teachers, social workers, physical therapists and students in the Global North with similar professionals and students in the Global South. More than a dozen trips have been made, introducing nearly 100 folks from the US to our Jamaican partners. In 2002, the service experience was offered as a philosophy course through Thomas More College. In 2004, the service experience was offered as a study abroad option through the Center for Cooperative Study Abroad, introducing the first Bellarmine students to the experience. In 2008, a portion of the service intervention was offered as a service elective in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at Bellarmine. In 2009, the service experience is being offered as an IDC 301 option with a course entitled, Education for Liberation or Domination?
Education for Liberation or Domination: A critical encounter in Jamaica
This course will build upon an already existing partnership with Jamaican schools and social service organizations. Through problem posing, students and instructors will explore historical, social, economic, and global factors that determine whether education is a practice of domination or liberation. We will also explore the complexities of power relationships, such as between teacher/student and global north/south. Using a critical lens, students will examine the concept/construct of education in order to compare their ideas & theories of education in Kentucky schools with education in Jamaican schools. Questions that may be explored are: What is education? Why do we need it? Who benefits from education? What would a truly solidaristic and liberatory relationship look like? This course has a required field experience that will take place in Montego Bay, Jamaica from May 31 through June 10, 2009. There is a course fee for travel expenses of approximately $1300 , due mid-semester with some fundraising possible. For questions please contact Sonya Burton or Gina Stiens.
In the past, this service work has connected us with two schools and two children's homes. Today, we primarily partner with one school, Wee Care Basic School, and one children's home, West Haven. We bring needed supplies, provide respite for the workers/teachers, and partner on ongoing projects for the children. Since many of the children at West Haven are physically disabled, the addition of physical therapists has been noteworthy. As well, given the expertise of some of our colleagues here at Bellarmine, our educational focus is turning to critical literacy, which will significantly extend our partnership with Wee Care, but will also spill over into the local teacher's college, Sam Sharpe, and into other community agencies. (See the articles below for more details.)