2015-16 EPIC Community College Fellows

Ben Armerding

Associate Professor, Foothill College

Ben Armerding earned a B.A. in English Literature and an M.A. in Composition and Rhetoric from San Francisco State University, and studied abroad at the University of Wales in Swansea. In addition to teaching as an adjunct and associate professor at various community colleges and universities across the Bay Area, Ben has also taught English as a Second Language courses in both Mongolia and Kazakhstan. These experiences have all shaped his interest in globalizing education; he is delighted to participate in this project with Stanford University, College of San Mateo, and fellow Foothill colleagues. 

Project: Social Reading & Writing

Working with Lacuna Stories, Stanford’s digital annotation tool, Armerding developed digital course materials to utilize web-based annotation and discussion tools, in order to encourage greater interaction and discussion among students. Topics included major events in the news, such as ISIS, U.S. drone policies, articles from opinion leaders, Intelligence Squared debates, and more. 

For their final project, Armerding had his students write a dialectic essay, which requires students to argue their own view and the counter argument equally well. Using Lacuna Stories, the students were able to quote their peers in their own essays. Through this approach, Armerding found that his students were able to think more critically from multiple, global perspectives. 

Tania Beliz

Instructor, College of San Mateo

Tania Beliz has been teaching full time at College of San Mateo (CSM) since 1990. Tania earned a Ph.D. in botany at the University of California, Berkeley, and a B.S. in biology at the University of Panama. Tania is familiar with the flora and ecology of Costa Rica, Panama, Mexico, and California. At CSM, Tania has developed instructional materials, including tutorials, for her online, web-assisted, and campus classes. As part of a Community College Biology Faculty partnership with San Francisco State University, Tania has mentored graduate students aspiring to become community college instructors. Tania teaches General Botany; Plants, People, and the Environment; Introduction to the Life Sciences; and General Health Sciences. Tania likes to combine her interests in gardening, traveling, and learning about different cultures with her passion for teaching. 

Project: Internationalizing Biology Classes

Tania Beliz modified her Introduction to General Biology classes at College of San Mateo to feature contributions made by scientists from different parts of the world. She highlighted individuals who are collaborating on research about biomes in different regions, such as the rainforests, and highlighted the biographies and experiences of influential biologists including Gregor Mendel and Charles Darwin. 

For her botany courses, Beliz added a supermarket project where students investigated the origins of fruits and vegetables found in ethnic stores, to find out where food items come from and how and why they are grown.

Tess Hansen

Professor, Foothill College

Tess Hansen is a full-time professor in the English Department at Foothill College, where she has taught for 24 years.  As a composition teacher, she believes that her role is to teach her students—especially the underserved and underrepresented—the “rules of the game” of academia.  Her courses focus on empowering students to critically examine the structure of inequality in U.S. society and to voice their protests against their own marginalization. She received her Ph.D. in Educational Leadership at San Francisco State University, where her dissertation focused on the pedagogical practices of African-American learning communities. She also received her B.A. in English from Santa Clara University and her M.A. in English from the University of Iowa. 

Project: Refugees and Identity

"What is a refugee? Who are they? Where to do they come from?" Tess Hansen asked her English 1A class at Foothill College, where she has taught for 24 years. For her EPIC project, Hansen developed a curriculum that focuses on refugees and identity and used Lacuna Stories as a tool to facilitate class discussion online.

Scott Lankford

Professor, Foothill College

Currently a full-time Professor of English at Foothill College, Scott completed a Ph.D. in Modern Thought and Literature at Stanford in 1991 with a dissertation on “John Muir and the Nature of America.” Previously, he served as Foothill’s Dean of Language Arts and cofounder of the Foothill College Cultural Diversity Center. In 2011 he became the cofounder of the Foothill College Center for a Sustainable Future, collaborating with the Stanford Design School and California State University Chancellor's Office to help infuse sustainability across the curriculum, and from 2012 to 2013, he continued that work as a Fellow with the Stanford Human Rights Education Initiative (SHREI). Based on this work, in 2013 he received the Hayward Award as northern California’s Teacher of the Year from the statewide Community College Academic Senate. His book, Tahoe Beneath the Surface (published by Heyday Books and Sierra College Press), was named a 2010 Nature Book of the Year Bronze Medal winner by Foreword Reviews. His next book will focus on the earth's largest lakes and the battle to save them. 

Project: Teaching Climate Change: The Ultimate International Issue? 

Lankford has been teaching and writing about climate change for his entire career, but felt he had been failing at it. He decided to take a new approach: apply the topic to different areas across the curriculum in his writing and critical thinking honors courses. His students used critical thinking concepts, such as meta-silence, confirmation bias and assimilation bias, to examine climate change through various lenses, such as STEM and biology research, political and economic arguments, as well as literature and art about the topic. 

John Stover

Assistant Professor, University of San Francisco

John has been an Adjunct Professor in San Mateo Community College District since 2012, and served as both an Assistant Professor and Adjunct Professor at the University of San Francisco (USF) since 2008. John received his M.A. and Ph.D. from Loyola University Chicago, where his research earned the university’s very first award for excellence in graduate student research and was published in a special edition of Nova Religio (2008). John's dissertation research highlights the artistic and political intersections of documentary filmmaking and social activism. Prior to his career in academia, John worked for nine years in a diverse array of positions in both the public and private sectors, including immigration advocacy, adolescent mental health services, and non-profit fundraising. John is also well versed in the sociologies of gender and sexuality; religion and new religious movements; social movement theory (especially as related to the LGBT movement); qualitative methodologies; and film and society. John received the 2015 Distinguished Adjunct Teaching Award at USF in recognition of his "superb instruction and engagement of students, and dedicated work within the Department of Sociology and the College." 

Project: The Internationalization of Sociology Curriculum 

Before his EPIC project, less than 10% of John Stover’s Introduction to Sociology curriculum was internationally focused. Now, more than 40% of his syllabus incorporates international themes and studies. Stover decided to internationalize his curriculum in order to motivate his students to become more engaged in their learning. He changed the topics and readings in his courses at the College of San Mateo to reflect a more transnational global approach, and added a semester-long research project focused on transnational social problems.

Sean Negus

Instructor, Foothill College

Sean is an English instructor at Foothill College, where he integrates social and environmental justice concerns into composition, reading, and critical thinking courses. Before teaching at Foothill College, he earned an M.A. in English Composition from San Francisco State University, where he studied representations of authorial consciousness in experimental writing. In addition, he uses his background in cultural studies and his M.F.A. degree in Creative Writing to invent new curricular approaches to literacy education. 

Project: Integrating the Literary Transnational in Composition Pedagogy

For his EPIC project, Sean developed and taught a course that helps his English students understand the relationship between their local and global environments by reading transnational literary works.

Stephanie Roach

Assistant Professor, College of San Mateo

Stephanie has been Assistant Professor and Digital Resources Librarian at College of San Mateo (CSM) in San Mateo, California, since the fall of 2014. Prior to CSM, she was Librarian and Adjunct Faculty at John F. Kennedy University in Pleasant Hill, California. She earned her Master of Library and Information Science degree from San Jose State University’s School of Information in December 2010. In 2011 she was awarded the Technical Services New Leader Award from the California Library Association, where she served as chair, and as a member of several committees, including the Steering Committee. Her professional interests include information literacy; the ethics and social aspects of information creation and use, including use of technology and various media types; social media; and metadata. 

Project: Teaching Information Literacy from a Global Perspective

Roach redesigned her academic research course to add an international focus. Now, her students explore global forces such as war and techno forces such as Google's search algorithm, that impact decision making and access to information and knowledge.

Nathan Maertens

Professor, Foothill College

Nathan is an adjunct professor at several Bay Area institutions of higher education, but he most enjoys working with the excellent students and faculty at Foothill College. He has an M.A. in English Composition, with a certificate in Teaching Post-Secondary Reading, both from San Francisco State University. His research interests are many, including, but not limited to: addressing issues of educational (in)equity, researching how technology is (and isn’t) changing the reading and writing processes of students, contingent academic labor issues, and how students gain ownership of reading and writing skills and techniques. 

Project: Approaching the International Student Experience in CA Colleges

Using Lacuna Stories, Stanford’s social annotation platform, Nathan learned how to facilitate conversations between domestic and international students in higher education.

Michele Titus

Instructor, College of San Mateo

Michele studied anthropology at Los Angeles Pierce College and the University of California at Los Angeles, where she received her A.A. and M.A. degrees, respectively, specializing in physical anthropology and archaeology. Her research included the osteology and excavation of sites on the southern Channel Islands: San Clemente, Santa Catalina, and San Nicholas, as well as the California mainland. Currently, Michele teaches courses in physical and cultural anthropology, anthropology of religion, and archaeology at College of San Mateo, in San Mateo, California, where she also serves on the Academic Senate. She cofounded a food pantry for students and has served as an advisor for the Anime and Charity Clubs at the college. Michele is a recipient of the Golden Apple award for excellence in teaching.

Project: Thinking About Diet: A Workbook for Anthropology

Michele Titus was looking for a way to engage the growing Tongan and Tongan-American student population at College of San Mateo, where the pass rate of Pacific Islanders is 57%—well below the college's average. She noticed her students were experiencing a number of health issues, such as diabetes and obesity, and decided to explore the relationship between ethnicity, diet, and health in her anthropology courses. Students learned about the traditional Tongan diet, and attempted to follow that diet as part of a nutrition challenge. As part of the challenge, students explored where their food comes from, gave up the burgers, fries and canned corn beef, and ate items such as yams, taro, and fish instead. At the end of the challenge, they noticed there was quite a difference in student health, including weight and Body Mass Index (BMI).