In 2015, University of Redlands trustee Ken Hall ’60 and his wife, Lynn Hall, launched the Hall Network for Innovation in Public Policy with the goal of expanding students’ range of understanding in public policy, regardless of their major. The Network stimulates interest and engagement in public policy with a trifecta of programming: an ongoing speaker series, student internships, and scholarly seed grants.
One Hall scholarly seed grant is supporting the efforts of five University of Redlands professors—Amber Bechard, Kim Coles, John Glover, James Krueger, and Eric McLaughlin—to create a Southern Africa Corridor-themed framework for classes, faculty and student research, internships, and other opportunities.
Building on existing networks forged through five May term classes by James Krueger, the group embarked on a three-week trip to Eswatini, a small country in Southern Africa formerly known as Swaziland, to further foster collaboration between the University of Redlands and Swazi communities. Part of the trip was funded through a crowdfunding project hosted on the University’s crowdfunding platform, Rfund. As a next step, the professors will host a series of workshops at the University of Redlands, with a group of Swazi health and geographic information systems (GIS) professionals and government officials in attendance.
“Ideally, the conference will be interdisciplinary, touching on health holistically, for example, through social, humanitarian, policy, or economic dilemmas,” says Coles, who teaches sociology and anthropology. During the trip to Eswatini, Coles studied the history, politics, and economics of the country. “We are very interested in ensuring that we build reciprocal relationships rather than falling into all-too-common hierarchical models of help. Inviting professionals to the United States is part of that, instead of only uni-directional travel.”
In addition to the conference, another idea to grow out of the trip was to develop a curriculum for an elective course on eSwatini for a middle school in Redlands called the Grove School. Bechard, a visiting professor in the School of Education at the time, encouraged U of R graduate student Reynisha Day-Ballinger ’18, who had been hired at the Grove School, to advance the project.
“I was interested in the youth education farm [in Eswatini, which raises money to help fund K-12 students’ tuition and books] and wanted to connect that with some of the activities at the Grove School,” says Day-Ballinger. “The students in the elective class split into committees—groups studied Swazi culture, food, and history; another committee made a video introducing our class to the youth education farm students in Eswatini; since Future Farmers of America plays a big role at the school, students were interested in the farming that Swazi students do.”
At the end of the course, Day-Ballinger and her students will host an Eswatini Day, where they will present their research to other students at the school, read letters from the youth education farm students, and celebrate Swazi culture by cooking traditional dishes. “This is something I hope we can do every year,” says Day-Ballinger. “We want to encourage students to reach out to other communities and become global citizens.”
These connections are largely due to Professor of Philosophy James Krueger’s work in the country. For the past 10 years, he has been introducing University of Redlands students to the country’s medical professionals. This May Term, Krueger is teaching a global medical ethics course and focusing on AIDS in Southern Africa.
“Hopefully the grant will help foster regular, sustained interactions with universities in Johannesburg and Eswatini and with the Swazi Ministry of Health,” Krueger says of the Hall seed grant. “Our next step is a GIS-centered event that will bring officials from the Swazi ministry and faculty from the University of Swaziland to Redlands for workshops.”
You can support the group's Eswatini projects online at www.redlands.edu/givenow or by calling the Office of Annual Giving at 909-748-8068.
Learn more about the interdisciplinary conference, Southern California, Southern Africa: Place and Practice of Health.