The Experiential Experience

ELD2013SMall-32Before coming to Albertus Magnus I had never heard the term “Experiential Learning.” Truth be told I wasn’t even sure I heard people correctly when they used the word “experiential.” Many people around campus confuse the word with “experimental” so I was a bit apprehensive when I was required to attend Experiential Learning Day (ELD) my freshman year. I soon learned that experiential learning is learning by doing and includes direct experiences outside of a traditional academic setting. During ELD students present their accomplishments in curricular and co-curricular activities. Experiential learning takes many forms at Albertus Magnus including practica and internship, service-learning, independent scholarship, research and student teaching.

ELD2013SMall-107At my first ELD in 2011, I attended a presentation on “Discovering the Real Dominican Republic.” During the talk the presenter shared her experiences interacting with Dominicans living below the poverty line. When you think about the Dominican Republic you think about beautiful beaches and a paradise oasis. In reality over 30% of the population lives in extreme poverty. I remember thinking how the idea of traveling in college is so important. This presentation was more influential than I could have ever expected   and came, into play when picking my classes for this semester.

I am now a second-semester junior and planning to go on a spring break, service-learning trip to Canada. The trip is a component of a service-learning across borders course I am currently taking. During our trip we will volunteer with five different agencies. When we return our class will present at this year’s ELD on March 26. The day’s events run from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

ELD2013SMall-3ELD does not only showcase student’s volunteerism and study throughout the world. All types of presentations are welcome. Some students share their internship experiences with television programs like Entertainment Tonight and the Insider, while others share artwork and independent and faculty- mentored research projects dealing with issues such as transit racism, e-waste, Afghani art, healthcare in Peru, pharmacogenomics and market analysis. By sharing these experiences students learn from one another and think about opportunities and projects they may have never discovered on their own. Student presenters get to practice public speaking skills, learn how to prepare conference posters and gain valuable experience that can be put on their resumes.

ELD has become an influential part of the Albertus Magnus College experience. This year students will resent on topics such as a Habitat for Humanity build in Hawaii, a research practicum with the Yale School of Medicine section of Infectious Diseases, public education reform and recognizing the variables that impact intimacy within a relationship, to name a few. Professor Lisa Furman, associate professor of psychology in the Master of Arts in Art Therapy program, will offer a lecture on Ethical Considerations: Clients with Cognitive Degeneration in Art Therapy Research and Treatment. An art show, reception and book signing will follow the lecture.

For more information on experiential learning and other events planned this spring (Business Etiquette Dinner, Money Smart Week and the Veritas Learning Series) please visit us on the web at

Danielle - HeadshotDanielle Thuerling
Experiential Learning and the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence Intern
Communications major
Class of 2015

Cultivating Exemplary Leadership: Part 6

Modeling the Way

What does it take to be a leader? Well, the first step is acknowledging that to someone, at sometime, you are a leader! We all need to realize that others may at one point or another look to us for guidance, advice or support. Once we recognize this simple, yet important, point, we understand that we need to always present ourselves in a way that represents ourselves and our intentions in the best light. This month’s blog is about the importance of modeling the way so that others who see us will be proud of our actions and be desirous of behaving in the same way that we do.

Kouzes and Posner in their seminal work, “The Leadership Challenge,” point to the importance of a leader’s behavior reflecting their intentions and also reflecting the behaviors that they want their people to emulate. This tenet of leadership can be understood along the lines of, “would you want your mother to see you doing that?”, or, “can you look in the mirror and be happy with who you are,” etc. The point being that if we are happy and proud of our actions then we should continue them; if we aren’t then perhaps we should stop.

OrangLeaderOnPodiumSMLeaders in all walks of life need to be aware of the ways that they present themselves and the ways they represent their values and the values of their organization to their team as well as to the public in general. As discussed in the clip above, some organizations such as Southwest Airlines are known for their employee centric workplace. They have a focus on employee satisfaction, and one of the ways they model this is by having their employees at all levels work in different positions, no matter what their pay grade.

Modeling the way can be as simple as a manager taking time out of his or her day to stop and talk with employees, getting to know a bit about them and what they enjoy and don’t enjoy about their job. I had a student some years ago who worked in a large insurance company. One day, she told me, she was sitting by herself in the cafeteria having lunch when someone who she recognized as a senior vice president came to her table and asked if he could join her. He spent about a half hour eating and talking with her about the organization, his job, her job, and what he hopes his employees feel each day at work. The impact of this 30 minutes of the vice president’s time was huge for my student, she was made to feel valuable to the organization and she felt that her insights and observations were valued; she herself felt empowered after the interaction as she was a part of an organization where executives wanted to get to know their employees and spend time with them.

lunch-at-office-579x333We model the way for our people so that the dedication, excitement and passion that we have for our organization becomes contagious. In an interview I conducted with Bob Melvin, manager of the Oakland A’s, he said that “when you have pride in leadership and you believe in your leader, you come to work with a smile on your face, and pride in playing for the organization.” By coming to work with a smile we are modeling the way and encouraging those around us to do the same.

Your homework for this month, pay attention to your actions, attitude and demeanor at work. No matter what your position, is the way you behave each day the way you think everyone should behave? Remember, a bad apple does spoil the bunch…be a good apple and model positive behaviors.

untitled2Howard C. Fero, Ph.D.
The Leadership Doc
Director, Graduate Leadership Programs
Associate Professor of Business and Leadership
Albertus Magnus College

Dr. Howard Fero, is an Associate Professor of Business andLeadership and the Director of Graduate Leadership programs at Albertus Magnus College. When not teaching classes and overseeing the Leadership programs at Albertus Dr. Fero uses his expertise to help individuals and organizations achieve optimal performance and effectiveness as The Leadership Doc. Dr. Fero will be blogging about different leadership topics throughout the year and speaks about these topics in his classes in the Master of and Arts in Leadership Master of Science in Management and Organizational Leadership Programs. He welcomes your comments and looks forward to communicating with you in our exciting new blog.

Crisis in Ukraine

Many Albertus Magnus students may be wondering what is happening in Ukraine that Russian military forces were ordered to invade the country. The answer is not too complicated, but for many Americans under the age of fifty, the answer may be elusive. I’ll try to give you a succinct answer to what is happening in Ukraine.

In 1917, when Czar Nicholas, the leader of Russia, was deposed and assassinated by Russian communists, the Ukraine sent soldiers to fight on the side of imperialist forces (looking to restore the monarchy) against the communist forces. The communists were then trying to consolidate power across the whole of Russia. After the communist victory in the Russian civil war, the communists took over the Ukraine, absorbing the area into a greater union of soviet-style socialist republics (popularly known for many years as the USSR).

The Ukrainians hated the communists and actually supported the German Army as it invaded communist Russia in 1941, hailing the Germans as liberators from the communists. Soon, however, the Nazi SS began killing Ukrainians just as they had done to other people, turning the Ukrainians against them. The Ukrainians then fought alongside the communists to destroy the German Army. In 1945 the communists pushed German forces out of greater Russia and back into Germany, ending World War II. From that point until the early 1990s, the Russian communists controlled the Ukraine.

When the communist party fell out of power in the early 1990s a number of former communist-ruled areas – among them Georgia, Estonia, Belarus, and Ukraine – became independent countries. Since then, many have struggled to forge parliamentary democracies along the lines of modern Western European countries. It has been a very difficult process, as no in those countries ever experienced democracy before. I therefore believe that what has happened in Ukraine over the past six months is growing pains and blood being spilled as that nation’s citizenry and political leadership comes to terms with what is expected under democratic rule.

Unfortunately, given the unrest in Ukraine, Russian President Vladmir Putin has made the situation much worse by ordering Russian military forces to invade Ukraine.

Ukraine has been called the “breadbasket” of Russia. The land is very fertile and Ukrainian farms have long provided Russia with the bread to feed the citizenry across the nation. In addition, as the country faces the Black Sea (which does not freeze over in winter) it is astrategically vital area for the Russians who desire to keep a naval presence there. The Black Sea, which connects to the Mediterranean, is the gateway to the rest of the world’s oceans for the Russians.

Since the breakup of the former USSR in 1999, most all Ukrainians have wanted to forge closer alliances with Western European democracies rather than remain economically tied to Russia. However, the two nations have gas and oil treaties that make them co-dependent. Recently, Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych, rejected offers from Western democracies to join the European Union which would help their economy. This ignited the waves of protests seen for weeks and weeks now. Many Ukrainians are suspicious that Russian President Vladmir Putin put pressure on the Ukrainian president to reject Western economic agreements. They very much want to “westernize” their nation and see closer western ties as a means to improve their economy.

Another issue for Ukraine is that although Ukraine is an independent nation, inside of it is a large area called the Crimea, where many Russians live. They desire some sort of reunification with Russia.

Final Thoughts
Given that Russia 1) invaded Georgia a few years ago, 2) presently has army and naval forces in Ukraine, 3) wants to keep Ukraine in its sphere of influence, and 4) has rejected calls from political leaders that it withdraw its forces from Ukraine, it is likely that a war will occur.

Interested in learning more about Criminal Justice? Click here to find out what Criminal Justice Programs we offer here at Albertus Magnus College.

michael-gearyMichael Geary
Sociology Department
Associate Professor, Coordinator of the Criminal Justice Program
B.S., Mercy College
M.S., Long Island University
J.D., Pace University

Read more from Michael Geary:

National Security and Civil Liberty: A Chronological Perspective. M. Geary (2014) Carolina Academic Press.

Terrorism Investigations and the Public Safety Exception to the Miranda Rule. M. Geary (2013) Homeland Security Review, Volume 7, Number 3.