Letter from the Director

Maria Elena Garcia, Director

Dear Friends,

As we approach the end of this academic year, I wanted to highlight a few important developments from a very eventful year.

We are very happy to note that Suzanne St Peter (CHID alum, 1991) joined us in February as CHID’s new administrator. We are thrilled to have her! Suzanne comes to us after many terrific years of experience at the UW School of Social Work. Along with an impressive set of professional skills, she also brings laughter and compassion daily to CHID.

Although it is wonderful to add a great person to CHID, this year also brought a long good-bye to our longest serving faculty member, John Toews, who is retiring after almost four extraordinary decades at UW. CHID did send him off in style with a terrific set of events, including a symposium on education, a musical celebration of John’s life and teaching, and a fantastic short film by CHID senior Nick Bragg called A Brief History of John Toews. You can see some of that multimedia celebration at Johnposium.org.

The “Johnposium” also included the incredible musical talents of our own Nick Barr Clingan as a member of his band, Banda Vagos. Whether you got to speak as part of the weekend's celebrations, or you missed the opportunity, we would be grateful for your words, photos, or other tributes to celebrate John and commemorate the night. You can still send your contributions to Nara Hohensee at info@johnposium.org, and feel free to contact her with any questions. John has officially retired, but we expect to see plenty of him at future potlucks and CHID events.

As I mentioned in our Fall Newsletter, CHID is also in the final stages of the Ten-Year Review process. Over the course of two days in March, the review committee visited with CHID faculty, staff, and students to talk about CHID’s intellectual and pedagogical work. The committee’s visit went exceptionally well and invited many intense conversations about our work, our place in the University, and how CHID might develop in the coming years. We are waiting for the committee’s final report and hope to have the entire process completed by the end of this quarter. This means that next year (perhaps as early as Fall 2016) we will hear back from the College about whether CHID will become a line-bearing program, and what resources they may be able to provide to help us with potential additions to program faculty and staff. This is all very exciting! And we will be sure to keep you posted.

In the midst of a challenging year, CHID faculty, staff, and students have continued to work intensely:

  • CHID faculty Anu Taranath was selected to participate in the 2016 Fulbright-Hays Summer Seminars Abroad Program. This year’s seminar is called Religion and Diversity in West Africa and convenes a group of 16 higher education faculty for a month of site visits, tours, meetings, and conversations in Senegal.
  • Adam Nocek, former CHID Faculty, is now doing amazing work as an Assistant Professor in the School of Arts, Media, and Engineering at Arizona State University. He is the Director of the Laboratory for Critical Techniques (LCT), a transdisciplinary laboratory for critical experimentation on the conditions for living and dwelling together in the 21st century.
  • Two of our CLIP Fellows will be moving on to terrific positions in other institutions. Katie Gillespie was awarded the prestigious Animal Studies Postdoctoral Fellowship at Wesleyan University. At Wesleyan, Katie will be teaching courses such as The Politics of Living and Dying and Race, Gender, Science, and Species, and working on a book on the multispecies entanglements of race, species, and gender at the Louisiana State Penitentiary. And Dave Giles starts a new job next year! Dave will be a Continuing Lecturer in Anthropology at Deakin University in Australia. He will be teaching courses on Medical Anthropology and Urban Globalization/Global Urbanism.
  • Our students have yet again been tremendously successful. Several of our students were accepted to top-notch graduate programs, many with years of funding; two CHID students were selected as part of the inaugural class of the Husky 100 Award; two CHID students were part of the winning 6-member team at the C21 Ideathon; and one of our students received an honorable mention for the National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship.

I feel so lucky to be part of this vibrant and generous intellectual community. I also wanted to let you know that I will be away for part of 2016-2017, on professional leave in fall and winter. I am very happy to say that Phillip Thurtle has generously agreed to serve as interim director while I am away. It is the first sabbatical I have ever taken in my 16 years of teaching and I am looking forward to making some progress on my book. I will miss you all, but, before I go, I look forward to seeing you at our end of the year party and CHID graduation!

All the best,

María Elena García