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“Building Community in Times of Social Unrest”: A New Virtual Residency has begun at SUNY Empire

Updated: Jun 29, 2020

On February 24, national and international students all across SUNY joined this online, multi-campus, three-week residency on different topics of human interest.



Buffalo, NY: SUNY Empire State College is hosting its newest Virtual Residency (VR), entitled “Building Community in Times of Social Unrest”, available at OpenSUNY multi-campus module from February 24 to March 22, with the purpose of engaging over 70 registered students to learn about modern-day social issues.


Virtual Residencies (VRs) at SUNY Empire State College began as a partnership between SUNY Empire International Education and the participatory action research project named “The Buffalo Project”, led by principal investigator Dr. Rhianna C. Rogers. “The goal of VRs is to connect undergraduate, graduate, and international education courses via a three-week collaborative, cross-disciplinary online module.” - said Dr. Rogers, who coordinated 15 faculty across SUNY, to develop this virtual residency.


TThe program of a Virtual Residency usually consists of discussions, assignments and keynote addresses by experts in the thematic field of a term. Some of the current keynotes are: “Women, Gender and Sexuality” by Professor Menoukha Case, “American immigration” by Dr. Rhianna C. Rogers, and “Empowering Yourself in a Post-Truth World” by Professor Tom Mackey. The full list of topics can be found at SUNY Empire webpage. “Data indicates that [through participation in VRs] students not only gain knowledge of their course materials but a better understanding of other cultures” - stated Dr. Rogers, whose goal through The Buffalo Project research and the Virtual Residencies is to teach intercultural competencies.


As a highlight of the program, there will be a 60-minute international keynote discussion happening on Wednesday, March 4th, at 10:00-11:30am EST (Greece/Lebanon: 5:00-6:30pm), titled “Building Community in Times of Social Unrest: Global Reflections”, presented by several members of SUNY Empire International Education Faculty, including Dr. Patricia Isaac (SUNY Empire), Dr. Celine Merheb-Ghanem (American University of Technology, Lebanon) and Christos Dellasoudas (University of Essex, England).

UPDATE: The international keynote discussion can be accessed here.


Virtual Residencies began as a grant-funded pilot in 2017 and, after their success, they were adopted as a new modality of learning at SUNY Empire in 2020, becoming the first pilot project within SUNY Empire State College to do so. The Spring 2020 internship is also the first to employ the OpenSUNY multi-campus login module. OpenSUNY is a collection of thousands of online courses available throughout all 64 SUNY campuses.


Dr. Rhianna Rogers serves as Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies (Tenure Track; August 2010-2017) and is currently the Associate Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies of History & Anthropology, since August 2017, at SUNY Empire State College, and is the Director of the Center for Law and Policy Solutions (CLPS) Internship Program.


Empire State College is a public, multi-site college founded in 1971, headquartered in Saratoga Springs, NY, and a part of the State University of New York (SUNY) system, known for offering Associate, Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree programs worldwide.

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