Hi everyone! This is a post I've been wanting to do for a while, as I may have mentioned once or twice, for me, the most amazing part of Franklin is the incredible, and I truly mean incredible, connections between students and faculty. These professors have taught me so much both inside the classroom and outside on Academic Travel over the past three years and I wanted to interview a few of my favorites to hear their Franklin perspectives!
So here we go, and I hope you enjoy these as much as I enjoyed interviewing these professors! Many thanks to all of them for their time and thoughtful answers. It is a pleasure being your student.
Originally from: Lyon, France
Pre-Franklin: PhD at New York University
Length of time teaching at Franklin: 15 years
Courses he teaches: French + Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies (CLCS) Classes
Professor Saveau, what do you enjoy most about the Franklin Community?
I enjoy students who are not 'regular' students, but have something more. First, they overcome obstacles (different languages, different cultures…) but in the end when they decide FUS is for them, they have what no other student has: the ability to adapt to any situation. What I enjoy the most are students who are curious, adventurous, and take chances, because they know that attending Franklin will pay off for them later on. All of the students I have kept in touch with have become very successful - they’ve done something different with their careers. These students are where they are now because they’ve been able to use that Franklin experience and sell it back to their employers.
Professor, would you say there is a specific type of Franklin student?
No, I can’t really say that. However, you need to be curious, adventurous and open. For example, right now one of my current students is studying abroad in Lyon, and she told me, imagine this, that she misses the international diversity of Franklin even though she is studying in a place that is so much more ethnically diverse than Lugano. This idea that we are an international school should not be underestimated. I have presently two study abroad students in my LC 110 class and I can sense that what they learn here in some of their classes, what they are experiencing during their semester at FUS is blowing them away. We have an identity that is like no other.
A Franklin student needs to know he or she can grow intellectually because professors are at his/ her encourage that. This is this closeness that is difficult to match anywhere else. Once again, a student will succeed if he / she takes advantage of what FUS has to offer, and it offers a lot.
If I could do it all again, this is a place I would have loved to go, and sometimes I ask myself if students realize how lucky they are.
What changes in a Franklin student while they are here?
The idea of transformation is so relevant to our lives here, some students have no clue how different they will be after their time at FUS. The knowledge you are going to acquire as a student and not just from books, a lot of the knowledge you will gain will be from your own traveling, your own experience of mobility. The culture, the language, the food will be different, the idea you will need to adapt to something new and different during your time at FUS will necessarily make you a different and enriched person. If you have had to adapt in a country that isn’t your own, imagine what you can achieve at home. To me, you have such an advantage over others.
What do you enjoy about leading Academic Travel?
This is an opportunity for you to see outside the box, and, as a professor, I want to take you outside of your comfort zone. Morgan, you were with me on our Academic Travel to Morocco. In Morocco I get to take you to places you could never experience otherwise. A lilla for instance cannot be experienced by tourists. What tourists experience in terms of music are diluted versions of what music is about in Morocco. Another example: I am presently teaching notions of space in my LC 110 class and I can assure you that the way you experienced space in the medinas of the cities we visited during our trip to Morocco is so different from what you’ll find back home, and this is enlightening. North, South, East, and West doesn’t work in a Medina, for example. So, just this notion of orienting yourself in a non-Western way makes you a richer person.
Another thing I like about Academic Travel is that we break down the barriers between different fields of study. Morgan, normally I’m not supposed to have you as a student because you are studying business and I teach French and CLCS. However, the beauty of Academic Travel is that it is interdisciplinary; if you’re able to make connections between all the different fields of studies I am exposing you to before and during travel, then a lot of what you learn in your respective classes takes another dimension.
One last thing about Academic Travel, you learn things you will not learn in class. Experience for me only reinforces what you learn in books and I am convinced it is this experience that will stay with you. Academic Travel creates an intellectual and cultural experience that is like no other.
What would you say is the difference in learning at Franklin versus at other universities?
There is a difference between book knowledge and what you do on your own here. There’s something that takes place here outside of just traditional learning methods. For example, when Professor Hale takes his students to Iceland on Academic Travel, they learn about Iceland in a way that’s entirely different from studying it in the classroom. There is an empirical knowledge of what you experience that stays with you forever.
Further, it is not just the students who are out of the box thinkers - the faculty are as well. Most of us come from places that are not our places of origins. The way we broach our “global” reality as university professors here is different.
When looking for a job, a FUS student needs to use his or her experience, cultural, intellectual, to his or her advantage. For example, this way of thinking will have been totally different from what an American student who studies in the USA will have experienced.
In CLCS, I always try to make a connection between what I’m teaching you and the way you experience it. For instance, we talk a lot about visual culture; in a world where we are surrounded by images, I am pushing you to constantly question them. I give you tools to analyze things from a different point of view, I push you to dig beyond the surface, and it is always a pleasure to see students realize how our perspectives are being shaped.
In French I like the idea that students are going to to speak another language when they leave FUS, because it is such a plus. If you speak another language it is a lifelong skill. French is alive and well at Franklin and this is very exciting.
Professor Saveau, do you have any other comments on Franklin?
The experience at FUS will not only make you a different person, it will enable you to get a better, more interesting career if you use it to your advantage when you get on the job market.
Originally from: Scotland
Pre-Franklin: Ph.D at the University of Toronto, Canada
Length of time teaching at Franklin: 4 years
Courses she teaches: Literature and Culture courses
How did you end up at Franklin University Switzerland?
I had been living in Toronto and was looking for opportunities in Europe as I am originally from Scotland and wanted to be back over here. I found Franklin and was drawn to the various forms of internationalism, and thought this place would be perfect for me.
What do you like about the students here?
It’s hard to make generalizations about Franklin students, in part because we get to know individual students so well and in a way that just isn’t possible in a lecture class of 200. I like that I see really different types of students come in and that I actually get to know the students. The students in my major are very committed, you just can’t sit in a Franklin classroom and not be involved, in a sense you have to be engaged, because you don’t go unnoticed in the classroom.
Can you speak to the larger Franklin community, and Lugano as a whole?
It’s so beautiful here and I forget about how pretty it is, I live in the middle of a postcard and you never really get used to it. As a faculty member, I like how interdisciplinary it is here. I came from an English department that was as big as Franklin, so I didn’t have the same close contact with other disciplines there as I do here and I really think it benefits the students as well.
What are your thoughts on Academic Travel?
I’ve never had a bad experience on Academic Travel. It is really unique to Franklin, and it’s shifting and developing with the move to 3 credit travels. It’s the notion of experiential learning that I love - how can you learn and study differently while traveling? I strive to teach in ways so that students don’t necessarily realize they are learning, simple things like riding the Underground in London can become a learning experience. You also get to know the students really differently on travel - there’s good conversation and it breaks down the border in the classroom between the professor and the student. I also get to see Britain through the eyes of the traveler, I take them home, to Britain, and it’s interesting for the students to travel with a native of that place.
Do you have any recommendations for incoming students who don’t know what to study?
I would say study what you want to study… you’re not going to do well with something you don’t want to study and you definitely won’t get as much out of it. Take a variety of courses in your freshman year, who knows, you could be passionate about art history and just never had the opportunity to study it. Students these days often worry about practicality and professional potential of the degree, but a good liberal arts degree from Franklin sets you up for all sorts of future possibilities. In literature, for example, you learn how to read closely, analyze, and write, and these are very valuable skills for any career later on. The best decision you can make for your future is to learn and do well in the things you are passionate about. Also, I would suggest getting advice from professors because we are truly resources here at Franklin.
Originally from: India
Pre-Franklin: Ph.D. at the University of Kansas City, Missouri
Length of time teaching at Franklin: 2 years
Courses she teaches: Economics courses
Professor Dasgupta, you have been teaching here for two years now. What has your experience at Franklin been like so far?
My Franklin experience has been exceptional for me to be honest. Coming into a new country and getting used to a new culture and work life has been interesting. The students here are from so many parts of the world. This creates a challenging but rewarding classroom environment. I can use a variety of teaching styles, and students get to learn in so many ways. Students really enjoy interacting with the professors. It’s a good atmosphere with the professors as well - we are all thinking from such different perspectives. It’s interesting for the students as well to have so many perspectives present, it’s a good way to learn from each other.
How has the transition been with your new colleagues here?
I’ve had very supportive colleagues. This is my first time living in Europe and Franklin was such a positive atmosphere to settle into from the very beginning. It is a welcoming community and I felt that I could focus on doing a good job in the classroom because the rest was taken care of.
Interdisciplinary learning is also a fact here. I have participated in Professor Peat’s literature classes and she has joined me in teaching economics. The collaboration with colleagues is helpful because it offers a broader perspective, it’s very enriching to sit with other professors and chat about other areas of study.
What do you feel is Franklin’s biggest asset as a University?
Perhaps the small size, many of the benefits we receive is gained from having small classrooms and the personalized relationships between students and professors. Students are encouraged to meet with their professors and go over their class work during office hours. They get advice from their professors on their papers, projects etc., which makes learning more effective. Small classrooms also make classroom discussions and debates a more integral part of learning.
What do you think about Academic Travel? You lead travels back to your home country, India.
It’s so interesting to see my home country from a different lens. Seeing my own culture through the eyes of Franklin students forces me to think more critically about my home country. For the students it is a wonderful opportunity to learn as well. The experience is so different than just reading about a place, and I believe it teaches students to be more tolerant, understanding, and sensitive.
Can you speak to the larger Franklin community? What are your impressions of the community?
I am always surprised at how many extracurricular activities are constantly taking place on campus. There is a lot of involvement here for such a small school. I feel like that I am a part of a very lively and dynamic community. The students take a lot of initiative to organize events on campus.
The faculty is always doing something more by encouraging student research, organizing workshops and conferences. The faculty is very dedicated to the students and we really do care about the students doing well. We try to introduce students to new ideas and encourage them to develop their critical and analytical skills.
Can you characterize a Franklin student?
You can’t just generalize the students here because everyone is so different and international. There are different expectations and the way they communicate is often different, but I do believe there is a healthy respect for one another here. There is also a respect for the professors. Students are excited to be in the classroom, and happy to see you, it’s very refreshing and challenging.
Most Franklin students have the ability to look at things critically. Students are not just critical for the sake of being critical, but they are critical to enhance their understanding and to expand their knowledge base.
I also believe diversity is a strength and not a barrier here. It’s a level playing field in the truest sense, there is no dominant culture, and not just one identity.
Students are also in the middle of Europe, and Europe is undergoing such changes, economically and politically and it’s so incredible to be a part of it, what more could you want as a student?
That's all for now - tune in next week for Part 2 of the faculty interviews with Professors Delle Croce, Rocourt, and Vogelaar!
That's all for now - tune in next week for Part 2 of the faculty interviews with Professors Delle Croce, Rocourt, and Vogelaar!