Yearlong focus on Latin America Will Involve Academic Programs, Campus and Community

PHOTO: Global Initiative Poster thumbnailMIDDLETOWN, N.Y. – A lecture and campus visit by Dr. Patricio Navia, noted author and professor at New York University’s Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, will kick off SUNY Orange’s upcoming “Global Initiative: Latin America,” the College’s yearlong focus on Latin American culture, heritage, geography, art, music, language and much more.

Navia’s keynote address, “The State of Democracy in Latin America,” will be 7 p.m., Thursday, April 26 in Orange Hall Theater. He is also expected to sit in on a SUNY Orange international studies class on Friday morning prior to a private lunch meeting with a small group of College staff and faculty.

Spearheaded by SUNY Orange’s international studies program, this debut Global Initiative project is designed to integrate all elements of Latin American culture into the College’s curriculum while also involving students, faculty, staff and community members in discussions, lectures, workshops and other special events.

A number of the College’s academic departments have incorporated Latin American-based courses into their programs. Additionally, a pair of international trips to Peru and Mexico are planned; Latino lecturers have been invited to speak to both students and county residents; an immigration and migration workshop is scheduled; and concerts, art exhibits and plays by Latino artists will be performed by the College’s Arts and Communication Department. Many other events are being planned and will be announced as they are scheduled.

“We really had two goals when we first began discussing this Global Initiative,” says Paul Basinski, coordinator of the College’s international studies program and chair of the Global Initiative team. “We are hoping we can create something meaningful here. It is a project that is collaborative, it is educational and it is intended to be inspirational, too. We want to talk about Latin American history, politics, heritage, culture, in all dimensions, the light side, the dark side, because we feel that is part of our ultimate educational mission here.

“The other part of it is to reach out into the Latino community, and we’ve begun to do that as well. We really want to get a sense of who our Hispanic constituency is, and ways in which we can involve those who aren’t part of our academic community, both in terms of attending the events, or helping us to set up, participate or sponsor them,” Basinski adds. “That is part of the collaborative piece as well. We think this is a way to present the best side of SUNY Orange to a very large and growing segment of our potential college population.”

Basinski has already seen the on-campus collaboration hit its full stride as a diverse grouping of departments have banded together to create a yearlong educational focus that ultimately benefits the students. Now that word of the Initiative is beginning to percolate through the community, Basinski is meeting with folks to make sure the College represents all aspects of Latin America in the process.

Dr. Catherine Chew, SUNY Orange’s vice president for academic affairs, says it is imperative that today’s educational programs stress cultural diversity. “You can’t underestimate the importance of helping students gain a deeper knowledge of the global society we live in today. We want to make sure our graduates leave us having been exposed to diverse cultural experiences and recognize their impact.

There is a sense among faculty members that this Global Initiative is not just about Latin America and the focus on learning, academics and culture, but that it will help internationalize the curriculum on campus. Global Initiative artifacts, posters and events are also expected to be prominently featured in the Gilman Center, which will break ground this summer.

The Gilman Center will be carved from the College’s current Library and will house papers, memorabilia and other items from Congressman Ben Gilman’s more than 30 years in Washington. International studies and global understanding will be a cornerstone of the mission of The Gilman Center.

When the Global Initiative focus moves on to another region in the future, whether it is Africa or China or some other locale, Basinski expects the Latin American theme to remain.

“I see no reason why once those courses and events have been established, that they couldn’t continue to be taught and remain a part of our curriculum in the future. That would be one of the real legacies and impacts the Global Initiative could have on the curriculum in international education,” he says.

For more information on “Global Initiative: Latin America” contact SUNY Orange at (845) 341-4983 or visit

Tentative Schedule of Events for SUNY Orange’s “Global Initiative: Latin America”

April 2007
Dr. Patricio Navia from the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at New York University will speak on “The State of Democracy in Latin America.”

Professor Barry Kass will lead a College trip to Peru (July 13-21).

A panel of experts from SUNY Albany, New York University and Princeton will speak on Immigration and Migrant Work in the Hudson Valley.

Latin American Art Exhibit, Orange Hall Gallery (Oct 4-29).

Peruvian International Dinner (end of October) with food, slides, music and cultural displays.

Playwright Carlos Morton will be in residence (Nov. 13-15). The College’s theater department will produce a Morton play Nov 9-11 and Nov. 16-18.

February 2008
Caribbean Jazz Band performance sponsored by Cultural Affairs and the Arts and Communication Department

International trip to Yucatan area of Mexico led by Professor Kathleen Wright (March 22-29).

Mexican International Dinner (end of April), featuring food, music, slides and cultural displays.

Cinco de Mayo-style outdoor festival will culminate end of first Global Initiative (date TBA).

The Criminal Justice Department will sponsor a NYPD Latino detective’s lectures to student classes and community.

Latin American Film Series (January through May) hosted by various faculty and sponsored in part by Cultural Affairs.

Calendar is tentative; events will be added and dates finalized throughout the summer and fall

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Mike Albright
Communications Officer
115 South Street
Middletown, NY 10940