Featured post

Cuba’s Powerhouse Theater Duo Comes to Webster in 2015


Lauten (left) and Carrio

This February, Webster University will welcome Cuba’s most celebrated theater duo – Director Flora Lauten and playwright Raquel Carrio – to the University’s home campus in Webster Groves. The co-founders of Cuban theater company Teatro Buendia will spend five weeks in St. Louis as the College of Arts & Sciences 2015 Global Leaders in Residence, sharing their expertise in literary adaptation, translation, and production with the community through a four-week course, a series of workshops, and public events.

“We’re pleased to provide this kind of once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to our students — particularly those in our creative writing program,” said David Carl Wilson, Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. “Flora and Raquel are gifted artists and innovators whose work transcends boundaries and shapes the theater scene worldwide.”

The poster for Otra Tempestad at London’s Globe Theater

Lauten and Carrio will open their residency with a keynote presentation at 7:00pm on Thursday, February 5th titled La Tempestad: Theatre as a Game.” The event takes place in Winifred Moore Auditorium on Webster University’s Webster Groves campus, and admission is free and open to the public. Through discussion and multimedia, the keynote will give participants insight into Teatro Buendia’s distinctive approach to writing, staging, and producing Otra Tempestad (“Another Tempest”) – Lauten and Carrio’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Their version combines Shakespeare’s familiar characters with the characters of Afro-Caribbean mythology, bringing elements of music and dance to the stage alongside Shakespeare-in-translation.

The theater duo will also lead a four-week workshop (ILC 2150) that focuses on two adaptations of The Tempest (including their own) on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 12:00pm – 1:00pm. Lauten and Carrio will guide students in thinking about theatrical adaptation across cultures as a “game of ideas” in which a play’s characters are re-imagined in different places, cultures, and times. The course will have students reading texts, watching theatrical productions, and participating in theatrical exercises to get the full experience of adapting works to the stage. All students at Webster are welcome to register, as are non-degree-seeking students from the community (Interested students should contact Dr. Silvia Navia at navia@webster.edu.)

According to Henry Godinez, resident artistic associate at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago and native of Cuba, Otra Tempestad is characteristic of Lauten and Carrio’s larger body of theatrical adaptations. ”They take what we would consider ‘Western classics’ and… they loosely adapt them to reflect Cuba today.”

Teatro Buendia staged Pedro Paramo for Chicago’s Biennial Latino Theatre Festival in 2013. (Photo courtesy of the Goodman Theatre of Chicago.)

Godinez invited Teatro Buendia to perform as part of the Goodman’s fifth biennial Latino Theatre Festival, which he curates. Of the typical Teatro Buendia production, Godinez says “it’s unlike anything we ever see in the United States — because of its power, but also because of its simplicity. I think that’s the beauty of it. It’s not a lot of bells and whistles; it’s all about the writing, the performing, the performance, the power of the actor, and the music.”

Anne McIlhaney, professor of English at Webster, regularly teaches The Tempest in her courses and has done research on Otra Tempestad. She is pleased that Lauten and Carrio’s visit “will provide an exciting opportunity for students from across the university to explore issues related to literary and theatrical adaptations that cross cultures and traditions.”

Though their work has taken them around the world, Lauten and Carrio’s residency at Webster is one of very few professional visits to the United States – a rarity due, in part, to ongoing diplomatic tensions between the US and Cuba which limited travel. Lauten and Carrio’s forthcoming residency at Webster, however, arrives on the heels of President Obama’s recent decision to re-open diplomatic relations with Cuba. They will live in Webster Groves as Global Leaders in Residence through the month of February – the longest stay in the history of the program.

“Having Flora and Raquel here for a month will allow as many students at Webster as possible, as well as members of the larger St. Louis community, to gain access to award-winning artists whose work and expertise are typically an ocean away,” Dean Wilson said.

The Global Leaders in Residence program extends Webster University’s long-standing commitment to partnerships around the world. The program, housed in the University’s Office of Corporate Partnerships, enables Webster to host distinguished individuals who are considered thought leaders in their fields from across a wide spectrum of disciplines. While in residence, Global Leaders interact with students to assist in real world learning by connecting theory to practice. Leaders share their unique perspectives based upon their experiences in forums that are free and open to all students, faculty and the general public.

Economist and author Richard Wolff served as the College of Arts & Sciences Global Leader in Residence for 2014.

$1 million Endowment Donated for Biological Sciences Professorship

A student hard at work in one of Webster's biology labs

A student hard at work in one of Webster’s biology labs

Larry and Jinny Browning have donated $1 million to Webster University to establish the Laurance L. Browning, Jr. Endowed Professorship in Biological Sciences in the College of Arts & Sciences. The person hired for that new position will be tasked with elevating the study of biology in the community.

“This gift is an important step in enhancing our exemplary STEMM – science, technology, engineering, math and medicine – programs at Webster University, at the same time we make plans to construct the new Interdisciplinary Science Building,” said Elizabeth (Beth) J. Stroble, president of Webster University. “We know that our region needs more students educated in STEMM disciplines, and this generous donation from 2008 Webster University Visionary Honorees Larry and Jinny Browning will fortify Webster’s comprehensive effort to prepare our future leaders for these needs.”

In a written statement, Jinny Browning said her husband was a firm believer in the importance of science learning. He passed away in 2012. “Larry truly loved Webster. He always said, ‘You cannot have a good university without a good biological sciences program,’” the statement says. “It is a fitting legacy of Larry’s love of Webster to ensure exceptional academic leadership and student engagement in the biological sciences through the creation of an endowed professorship.”

Get the full story here.

HPIR Faculty Present on Magna Carta in London

From left: Dr. Gwyneth Williams, Dr. David Pennington, Lady Sophie Laws, Dr. Tom Russo

From left: Dr. Gwyneth Williams, Dr. David Pennington, Lady Sophie Laws, Dr. Tom Russo at the International Partners Conference, London. 

Faculty across the University are celebrating Webster’s centennial in 2015. For faculty in the Department of History, Politics, and International Relations, this year also marks another historic milestone: the octocentennial of Magna Carta.

Dr. David Pennington (Assistant Professor of History) and Gwyneth Williams (Professor of Political Science) traveled to London in January to participate in a symposium on Magna Carta at the International Partners Conference at Regents University/Webster University London. Professors Pennington and Williams were joined by Professor Tom Russo of Drury University and Lady Sophie Laws of Regents.

Professor Russo presented the political and intellectual context of the actual signing of the Magna Carta in 1215.

Dr. Pennington’s presentation explored the importance of Magna Carta in the decades leading up to the English Civil War of 1642-1649. Parliament men and taxpayers’ belief that royal government ought to be limited by the liberties enshrined in Magna Carta severely hamstrung the early Stuart monarchs, leaving them unable to quell revolts in Scotland, Ireland, and ultimately, England itself.

Professor Williams focused on the symbolic meaning of the Magna Carta to American political thought, from the time of the first colonial settlements to the present. She emphasized the ways in which the American and British interpretations of the Magna Carta began to differ in the 18th century, resulting in the document ultimately having more symbolic importance to Americans than to the British.

While in London, Dr. Pennington spent several days in the British Library researching the diaries of members of the House of Commons from the year 1624 as part of a larger project which explores how political conflicts in Elizabeth and Stuart parliaments reshaped England’s political economy.

Dr. Williams attended the exhibition “Women Fashion Power” at the Design Museum in London, of which she is writing a review for the Journal of Fashion, Style, and Popular Culture. This exhibition explored the ways in which powerful women have used clothing to express their influence and sense of self.

“I really appreciate Webster’s willingness to fund these opportunities for professional development,” said Dr. Williams. “This is what makes us a truly global university.”

Good Fortune for Calamity: Playwriting Alumna wins $25k Grant

Lizz Edele, AKA Calamity West

Lizz Edele, AKA Calamity West

Many of Lizz Edele’s former classmates and professors at Webster know her by her pen name – “Calamity West.” But despite her pseudonym, things are looking up for Calamity: this fall, her work as a playwright earned her a $25,000 grant from 3Arts – a nonprofit in Chicago that advocates for the city’s women artists, artists of color, and artists with disabilities who work in the performing, teaching, and visual arts.

West was chosen as the 2014 3Arts Playwright Awardee from a pool of over 100 artists, each nominated by an anonymous member of the Chicago arts community. According to the 3Arts website, the grants come with a bevy of resources for the artists they support – workshops, mentorships, public exposure — but there are ultimately “no strings attached.” You’d expect an award of this caliber to really make an impression on its recipient, and it has. But for West, her experience at Webster still stands out as “the single most important and influential time of [her] life.”

“I literally wouldn’t be an artist without having graduated from Webster,” West says. “There’s never been a misfiring when connecting my current success to Webster University; the two will always be inextricably linked for me.”

Continue reading

Cultural Connections: Mika Toulza Makes Memories in St. Louis

cultural connections bigger

Each month, Global Thinking will feature a “Cultural Connections” guest post written and curated by a member of the Department of International Languages and Cultures (ILC). This month’s post profiles French language Teaching Assistant Mika Toulza.

toulza_headshotMikaël (Mika) Toulza is the French Teaching Assistant for 2014-2015.  He is from Toulouse, which is located in the south of France and is the fourth largest city in the nation. Mika has taught intermediate-level French courses this semester and will lead the French Pronunciation Workshop in the spring. Having only recently moved to St. Louis, he finds it a city full of differences — which reminds him of Toulouse.

This is not the first time Mika has been a TA. Two years ago, Mika taught at a small, exclusive college in central Pennsylvania. His experiences living in rural Pennsylvania and St. Louis, Missouri have been vastly different. While he taught students at similar levels of proficiency with French, he finds the students at Webster have a more open-minded way they view the world. He finds it a very enriching experience to teach to different people and to share experiences with them. In addition, at his other school, Mika was more of an assistant, teaching only once a week per class. Here at Webster however, he gets to be the teacher of his own class and to get to know his students and see how they progress throughout the semester. He feels that he is actually being a driving force in their education and that is the biggest difference.


Toulza on a trip to Las Vegas, NV this fall

Having spent quite some time in the US, Mika has had many memorable moments, but he has some favorites. In Pennsylvania, he and his friends would gather every weekend to have a Kiki, in tribute to the song “Let’s have a Kiki.” These Kikis were always a lot of fun he says, as they had a solid group of friends there. At the end of the year they even had a ceremony, called the “Kiki Awards,” in which they gave one another awards based on their qualities. Mika brought these awards with him to Webster, where they now hang on his bedroom wall.


Toulza and his “sisters”

While Mika has done a lot of traveling around the United States, he finds it difficult to pick a favorite place, as there are so many different landscapes and so much to see. Yet, he shares that it is his bond with people that makes his travels the most memorable. Mika lives with the other TAs, Nas and Magali, to whom he has grown very close. Thus, it is not surprising that his favorite memories in the US are all the moments he spends with them. He reiterated what Nas mentioned in her interview last month: the TAs have become like a little family. Mika sees the other two as his sisters now and he says he enjoys bothering them very much, which, as he put it, he is good at. With winter break upon him, one would think he would be excited, as he is traveling to Mexico; however, because he will not being seeing his fellow TAs for a whole month and he is not really looking forward to that.

Toulza (right) takes in a Cardinals game with fellow TAs (from right) Nas Fehrest-Avanloo, Magali Lopez-Cortez, and Aori Inoue.

Toulza (right) takes in a Cardinals game with fellow TAs (from right) Nas Fehrest-Avanloo, Magali Lopez-Cortez, and Aori Inoue.

Global MA Spotlight: Carleena Lara-Bregatta

GMAINGO Cohort_LaraBregatta Bio PhotoEach term, the College of Arts & Sciences highlights one of its Global MA students from the International Relations or International Nongovernmental Organizations programs.

The second-ever cohort of Global MA in INGO students began their trek across the globe this August. Carleena Lara-Bregatta was among them, and so far, her graduate studies have taken her to Bangkok, Thailand and London, England. We caught up with Carleena on the verge of winter break to see what she thinks about her first semester as a “global.”

Carleena Lara-Bregatta is 22 years old. In her undergraduate studies, she attended West Chester University in West Chester, PA. She studied within the field of psychology, yet her interests have shifted more towards the field of sociology. She would ultimately love to continue her education and receive her PhD in sociology to later become a professor. Her interests within the field of sociology are globalization, inequality, and health. Carleena is also very involved in yoga and meditation. She intends to receive her yoga teaching certification within the next few years. Yoga has allowed her to tap into her spiritual side and remain centered through difficult times. She enjoys many forms of artistic expression as well, including dance and drawing; she is also in the process of teaching herself acoustic guitar. She would love to combine her NGO experience later in life with the teachings and practices of yoga to underprivileged groups. She is passionate about educating youth and combining that with healthy lifestyle practices.

Poppies at the Tower of London

Poppies at the Tower of London

Where are you currently?

I am currently living in London, UK.

What’s your next stop?

My next stop is Leiden, Netherlands.

Why did you choose Webster’s Global MA program?

I chose Webster’s program because I was really feeling unsatisfied with doing a regular Masters. I really wanted to combine traveling with studying to get two things accomplished at once. Since I was interested in the social sciences, I also felt that a global masters would be much more beneficial for my career.

Describe a memorable cultural experience that you’ve had while in the program.

Countless memorable cultural experiences occurred for me in Thailand. I enjoyed learning about their political issues and how the society reacted (and often accepted) the current regime. It was a large change to go from an American culture of outspokenness to Thai culture where things are on the opposite end of the spectrum.

Koh Tao, Thailand

Koh Tao, Thailand

What has been your biggest challenge as you adapt to a new culture?

One of the challenges I faced when adapting to new cultures was to refrain from anger or annoyance in Bangkok. The city is extremely overwhelming at times with people trying to sell you things left and right. I had to constantly remind myself that they are simply working as hard as possible to support themselves and their families. Once I traveled outside Bangkok I realized that the city life is much different than the rural parts of Thailand and I began to fall in love with the country.

Academically speaking, share a moment/experience/knowledge gained in the Global MA program that has introduced you to a new idea/perspective.

Academically speaking, one of the most enlightening parts of the program was speaking to locals about their experiences living in the country. Specifically, in Thailand I tried to question people about their thoughts on the political powers there and see how they felt about it. I feel like this really complimented my educational experience because I learned things in class and then was able to go out and test if what I learned was accurate, based on my own experiences.

Erawan Falls, Kanchanaburi, Thailand

Erawan Falls, Kanchanaburi, Thailand

What are your plans for the future after you complete the GMAINGO program?

I intend to apply, apply, and apply some more to land a job at an NGO/INGO. I am planning on simultaneously applying for teaching English in Thailand or look for NGO jobs there so that I can return. I’d also love to gain my yoga teaching certification after graduation as well.

Any fun travel plans over winter break?

Over winter break I am planning on going to Edinburgh, Scotland. I’ll probably look to rent a car so I can check out the countryside as well. Then I’ll be flying home for Christmas & New Years. Following that, I have a trip to Iceland booked for 6 days to see the Northern Lights and anything and everything else that I am able to see in that time.

The view from the Tower Bridge in London

The view from the Tower Bridge in London

Interview by Gracie Gralike.

Alumni Spotlight: Carol Ellis Leads the Way in Healthcare

Carol Ellis

Carl Ellis, VP of Nursing at St. Anthony’s Medical Center

Thanks to Webster’s over-35-year history of educating nurses, it’s no surprise to find Webster nursing alumni in important healthcare roles throughout the St. Louis region and beyond. They’re award-winning practitioners, researchers, and instructors, putting their Webster degree to use for the benefit of our families and communities.

Carol Ellis is one of those alumni making Webster especially proud: a 2011 Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) graduate, Ellis was recently appointed Vice President of Nursing at St. Anthony’s Medical Center.

Ellis’s journey toward her new role at St. Anthony’s began in childhood. “My parents were both ill and I assumed the caregiver role at a young age,” Ellis said. “I enjoyed helping [care for my parents], and I was fascinated by the wonder of the human body. I wanted to become a nurse as soon as I graduated from high school.”

Webster University offered her an entryway into the nursing profession in the early ‘80s via its Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) program. Ellis went on to earn as associate’s degree and then her Bachelor of Science in Nursing, eventually returning to Webster in 2009 to begin her MSN with a focus on nurse leadership. She says that her MSN instructors “worked hard to bring current, real-life experiences into our classroom that allowed for lively and educational discussions.”

Continue reading

Hybrid Courses Take Students Worldwide

Ready for a trip that will change your life?

The College of Arts & Sciences is offering several courses in spring 2015 that combine a traditional classroom experience or online learning experience with the top-quality study abroad programming for which Webster is known. Students in a hybrid course supplement their coursework with an intensive one-week immersion trip in which the topics they’ve explored in class take on real-world dimension; one alum describes his travels with a hybrid courses as “one of the most profound moments in my…education.” (You can read more about students’ hybrid experiences here and here.)

Hurry — registration for these courses ends December 15, 2014, and they’re filling up fast!

Webster stduents visit Zena Kohlshorn's Earthship during a Taos, N.M., study tour.“Living On/Off the Grid: Taos, New Mexico, USA” (SCIN 1800, 3 credits)
Instructor: Julia Griffey, juliagriffey93@webster.edu
Online Course Dates: Feb. 2 – Mar. 20, 2015
Immersion Experience: Mar. 8 – Mar. 13, 2015 (spring break)

This hybrid travel course investigates on-grid vs. off-grid living toward complete sustainability. We will examine how on-grid systems within traditional homes supply water, process waste, generate power and maintain thermal comfort and compare these to alternative sustainable systems (black water, grey water, solar power, thermal mass, catch water, etc…) in off-grid homes. Students will complete the majority of their course work in Taos, New Mexico over spring or fall break where they will receive instruction, participate in discussions, execute hands-on experiments, and learn alternative building methods in an off-the-grid home independent of public utilities. Throughout the week, students will travel to various sites around Taos to see exemplifications of concepts discussed in class. This course will have lectures, assignments, discussions and an exam on-line prior to the travel portion. Upon their return, students will take another exam and complete an assignment based on their travel experience.

Justin Raymundo and Simone Borisov interact with the children of Nkombo.“Human Rights Area Studies: Rwanda, Africa” (HRTS 3200, 3 total credits)
Instructor: Elizabeth Sausele, esausele98@webster.edu
Online Course Dates (2 credits): Mar. 16 – May 15, 2015 (Spring 2)
Immersion Experience (1 credit): May 19 – Jun. 2, 2015 (May Term)

Examines the conditions in selected countries during a specific time period. (An example might be the conditions in Argentina , Chile , and Uruguay in the 1960s and 1970s that led to the human rights abuses of the 1970s and 1980s.) Investigates the impact of human rights abuses on the politics and society in the countries selected. The approach may vary from semester to semester, ranging from the historical to the literary. May be repeated once for credit, when subject matter varies.

Webster's Leiden campus

“Constitutional and International Issues: Human Trafficking and Slavery: Leiden, the Netherlands” (LEGL 4605/5505, 3 credits)
Instructor: The Honorable Noelle Collins, collins_noelle@hotmail.com
Online Course Dates: Mar. 16 – May 1 (UNDG) or May 8 (GRAD), 2015
Immersion Experience: May 24 – 30 (May Term)

This course will explore constitutional and human rights issues which arise as individual countries and the international community work to address issues and concerns involving slavery and human trafficking. Topics discussed include: trafficking in women and children; sexual exploitation; labor exploitation, i.e. domestic slavery, forced labor, bonded labor; racial discrimination; refugee issues/status; and other related topics.

“International Criminal Law: A Human Rights Perspective: Leiden, the Netherlands” (LEGL 4602/LEGL 5502, 3 credits)
Instructor: Tena Hart, 314-246-7067
Online Course Dates: Mar. 16 – May 1 (UNDG)/May 8 (GRAD), 2015
Immersion Experience: May 17-23, 2015 (May Term)

This course will offer a comparison between international law, as viewed by most of Europe and as viewed by the United States. The impact of those two views of international law will be studied both in theory and as they apply to tribunals, governmental organizations, and non-governmental organizations that are located in the Hague.

“Regional Identities: Nice, France” (ILC 2000, 3 credits)
Instructor: Dominique Macaire, macaired@webster.edu
Online Course Dates: Feb.2 – Mar. 25, 2015
Immersion Experience: Mar. 7 – Mar. 15, 2015 (spring break)

Intermediate-level language study program offered abroad by Webster University or in cooperation with an approved study abroad program. Prerequisites: intermediate level in appropriate foreign language and permission of department chair. May be repeated for credit if content differs.

“Land of Three Faiths: Islam, Judaism, and Christianity in Medieval Spain” (ILC 2150, ISTL 2550, RELG 2200, and HIST 2010; 3 credits)
Instructor: Kyle Lincoln, kylelincoln67@webster.edu
Online Course Dates: February 1, 2015 – May 1, 2015
Immersion Experience: March 7, 2015 – March 15, 2015

A topics course devoted to an in-depth examination of chronological sub-periods or distinctive themes in medieval or early modern European history. May be repeated for credit if content differs.

alphawom 1“Global Gender Rights: New York City, New York, USA” (KEYS 4005, 3 credits)
Instructor: Annie Stevens, anniestevens06@webster.edu
Online Course Dates: February 2-May 8, 2015
Immersion Experience: March 7-13, 2015 (Spring Break)

This course will examine the status of women and women’s rights locally, nationally, and globally. This includes analyses of the economic, political, and cultural policies, structures, institutions, constraints, and conditions that affect the status and rights of women. Possible topics addressed may include: violence against women, women’s health women’s education and economic development, women in leadership and LGBT rights.

Experiential component: Trip to the United Nations Commission on Status of Women conference, interviews of NGO workers or service learning at homeless/ women’s shelters.

Want to learn more? Reach out to the contact listed for the course(s) that interest you, or contact the Office of Study Abroad at worldview@webster.edu.

Cultural Connections: Nas Finds Fun and Family at Webster

cultural connections bigger

Each month, Global Thinking will feature a “Cultural Connections” guest post written and curated by a member of the Department of International Languages and Cultures (ILC). This month’s post spotlights a quick Q&A with German teaching assistant Nas Fehrest-Avanloo. 


Nas Fehrest-Avanloo is the German Teaching Assistant here at Webster University. Nas is from the city of Bochum, which is located in West Germany. Here at Webster, she teaches German classes. This is her first semester teaching. Nas was interviewed by the ILC Marketing and Communications intern and shared some of her thoughts and feelings about her first few months at Webster.

What has been your best experience since coming to St. Louis/ Webster University?

“My best experience so far is of course the teaching, as this is what I love and what I want to do my whole life. Also, meeting with all of these wonderful people. I love the whole International Languages and Cultures Department, my supervisor Paula Hanssen, my students who are awesome, and of course the other TAs who have become my family.”

From left: Nas, Mikael Toulza (French TA), Magali Lopez-Cortez

From left: Nas, Mikael Toulza (French TA), Magali Lopez-Cortez

How does Webster University compare to your university in your country?

“Compared to Ruhr-Universität Bochum, my home university, Webster is much smaller and you can feel this when it comes to ‘feeling like a family.’ When I walk to my office it can take a long time because you just stop to talk to people so many times. These people give you a feeling as if you have known each other for ages. I like this. In my home university, everything is much more anonymous.”

I hear that you are taking Zumba. Why are you so interested in it?

“Thanks to Maggie Dankert, from the International Languages and Cultures Department, I started Zumba this semester. I take classes on Mondays and Wednesdays at 8AM. This is an awesome way to start the week. Now I can spend my morning with something fun, as I always wake up around 5AM anyway. I can forget my stress, which my responsibility as a teacher can bring along.”

Nas is very excited to be a part of the Webster family and all the new experiences it has brought her. She balances her activities and enjoys what she does. Webster’s new addition loves her role as a teacher and enjoys being able to assist students in learning German. Although she loves teaching, she knows that it can become stressful at times and balances this by taking Zumba. Nas loves having fun, and it is obvious to see that she is indeed having fun as part of the Webster community.

Nas (right) shows off her St. Louis spirit

Nas (right) shows off her St. Louis spirit