Introduction

The American and Global Mosaicsare intensive, interdisciplinary, semester-long research programs designed around ethnographic fieldwork, oral history, and immersion in domestic and global communities. Their objective is to encourage students to think reflexively about the diverse world in which they live as they engage in collaborative work with local, transnational, and international communities. The Mosaics provide opportunities for students to meaningfully apply what they are learning in the classroom, both theoretically and methodologically, to the world beyond – and to bring their experiences in the world back into the classroom. The design of a specific Mosaic program is driven by pedagogical and research concerns, community needs and interests, and faculty expertise and availability. A number of different models have emerged, from a full semester of coursework taken by students with 2-3 faculty from different disciplines to cluster courses, to a one-credit course that integrates a wintertime research trip. Examples of various models can be found at the Community Studies web site.  

Mosaics have been conducted locally in central Pennsylvania and off-campus in the Mississippi Delta, New Orleans, and the Chesapeake Bay, and abroad in Argentina, Cuba, Denmark, France, Ghana, Mexico, Montserrat, South Africa, Spain, and Venezuela. The particular site of the study and the methodological approach varies according to the interests and expertise of the collaborating faculty who team-teach the semester.

  • Recent Mosaics have focused on (im)migration from Northern Africa to France and Spain; Religion in Morocco; the Middle Passage with research trips to Ghana and the Sea Islands of South Carolina; and the Natural History Mosaic (Biology, Earth Sciences, Environmental Science, an English). The third Cuba Mosaic took place Spring 2013 with a focus on sustainability. Other Mosaics have collaborated with communities in Montserrat (geology and sociology), and the South Asian community in Central PA.The Black Liberations Mosaic conducted a comparative study of communities in South Africa and Mississippi Delta. Global Climate Change Mosaics took students as UN delegates to Copenhagen (2010) and to Durban, South Africa (2011), while the Latino Mosaic (2011) once again worked with communities in Adams County.
  • The 1996 and 2001 Mosaics focused on Ethnic and Labor Relations in Steelton, PA was taught by professors in American studies, English, sociology, and economics.  
  • In 1998, Latino Migrant Workers in Adams County, PA, was taught by professors in anthropology and American studies.
  • In 2001, 2003, and 2005 the Mosaic did a comparative study of (im)migration in Patagonia, Argentina, and Steelton, PA, under the direction of professors from sociology and history.  
  • In fall 2003, the Mexican Migration Mosaic conducted fieldwork in Adams County, PA and Mexicoo and was taught by professors in sociology and history. 
  • A three-year Environmental Studies Mosaic funded by Luce focused on watershed communities in the Chesapeake Bay area and Louisiana during the fall semesters

Advice to students interested in the program

Students who participate typically have at least sophomore standing and permission of the instructors.  To prepare for the Mosaic, students are advised to enroll in a course that will prepare them for fieldwork and to strengthen the receptivity to multiple and interdisciplinary perspectives. Adaptability, flexibility, and the ability to work well independently and as a team are important. For more information, contact Professor Susan Rose, Director of the Community Studies Center.