New Year, New Initiatives

The new year is bringing several new initiatives to the Harward Center, thanks to the generous support of the Corella and Bertram F. Bonner Foundation. 

First out of the gates in 2022 is the Bonner Racial Justice Fellowship, led by Hamza Abdi, Assistant Director for Volunteer Programs and Community Partnerships at the Harward Center, and Mana Abdi (no relation), Program Coordinator for the college’s Office of Intercultural Education. Hamza and Mana are joined by four students: Bryce Ansah ’24 of Accra, Ghana; Nimo Jama ’25 of Hargiesa, Somalia; Emily Gonzalez ’25 of Miami, Florida; and Aaliyah Moore ’24 of Phoenix, Arizona. Together, this team is working to develop community engagement relationships and opportunities that foreground the vision and leadership of Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color (BIPOC) and that strengthen connections between Bates and local community organizations that prioritize racial equity, justice, and healing. Informed by deep listening to

Lewiston/Auburn community members like Amina Hassan of AK Health and Social Services and Her Safety Net, the Bates team will implement a small pilot project to encourage Bates students of color to show and grow their community knowledge and skills while contributing to community-identified needs such as health and education equity among local communities of color. They will also develop recommendations for how BIPOC-centered community engagement might be better integrated into the culture and programming of the OIE and the Harward Center going forward. 

Dr. Lori Banks, Assistant Professor of Biology

In other news, we are delighted to welcome Dr. Lori Banks, Assistant Professor of Biology, to the Harward Center staff as Bonner Faculty Fellow. Professor Banks is a protein biochemist whose research focuses on host-pathogen interactions and novel antimicrobial development. She teaches courses in Microbiology and Biochemistry. Only in her third year at Bates, professor Banks has already distinguished herself as a creative and energetic adopter of community-engaged teaching. Last semester, for example, she and her students undertook a fun and ambitious project with a slew of Lewiston Middle Schoolers. As a Bonner Faculty Fellow, professor Banks will work with other Harward Center staff to elevate community-engaged learning within the STEM fields at Bates. She will also pilot a “students as colleagues” program in one of her upcoming courses. 

Dr. Joe Hall, Associate Professor of History

Finally, Bonner Foundation support is allowing two other faculty members to spend time creating and teaching new community-engaged learning courses. Dr. Joe Hall, Associate Professor of History, will develop a new First Year Seminar that invites students to consider, in partnership with local Native groups, what it means to have access to public lands in Maine. Maine is renowned for its many public lands, whether National Parks like Acadia or smaller parcels owned and managed by local non-profit land trusts, but what does it mean that they are also Indigenous land? Professor Hall’s students will take up this question, including learning about and from Wabanakis—the collective name for the Native peoples of northern New England and the Canadian Maritimes.

Dr. Mark Tizzoni, Assistant Professor of Classical and Medieval Studies

Meanwhile, Dr. Mark Tizzoni, Assistant Professor of Classical and Medieval Studies, will integrate community-engaged learning into his course, “Saints, Ships, & Sultans: The Horn of Africa in the Middle Ages.” To deepen and demonstrate their learning about the religion, commerce, and political organization of the Horn of Africa in the medieval period, including Ethiopia and Somalia, students will learn from local community members and will eventually produce a range of educational materials on the Horn of Africa for local K-12 students.

Needless to say, we are excited about these initiatives, and we are grateful to our Bonner Foundation colleagues for their support. Stay tuned for updates!