Girls from Schenectady and Albany looking up to the sky at the NYS Mesonet station at Indian Ladder Farm. They came to the UAlbany campus as part of the four-week Girls Inc. EUREKA! Program. Photo by: Brian Busher Girls from Schenectady and Albany looking up to the sky at the NYS Mesonet station at Indian Ladder Farm. They came to the UAlbany campus as part of the four-week Girls Inc. EUREKA! Program. Photo by: Brian Busher

CAS Public Engagement

The College of Arts and Sciences encourages long-term, high-impact involvement in public engagement efforts.

College of Arts and Sciences Public Engagement

The College of Arts and Sciences encourages long-term, high-impact involvement in public engagement efforts. The College features public engagement as a central component for research, teaching, and service initiatives.

We encourage you to review the public engagement definitions below and consider opportunities for publicly engaged scholarship, courses or programs, service, and volunteerism. Be inspired by past, current, and future efforts that are highlighted throughout this site.

If you have a public engagement initiative that you would like to develop, or if you are interested in working with an existing initiative, please contact Deb Privott, Assistant Dean for Public Engagement using the contact form.

Is My Activity Publicly Engaged?

Public engagement includes varying degrees of involvement, ranging from outreach to full engagement with two-way relationships. The questions below are to help you determine if your research, teaching, service or creative expression is included on the spectrum of public engagement. If you answer "yes" to each question below, then the activity in question meets the baseline criteria.

Questions to ask about your activity


  • Does this activity address a public or community need?
  • Does this activity align in some way with UAlbany's mission?
  • Is this activity relevant to my discipline/expertise?


  • Is this activity conducted for, in, or with any communities or publics, as defined?


  • Does this activity have mutual benefits for both the University and communities involved?
  • Are the results/products of this activity available/accessible to the appropriate communities?

Departmental Public Engagement

If you have a public engagement initiative that you would like to develop, or if you are interested in working with an existing initiative, please contact Deb Privott, Assistant Dean for Public Engagement using the contact form.

For information about international courses, visit the UAlbany COIL page.

Departmental Internship Courses

For detailed information about undergraduate and graduate internship courses by department, please visit the Schedule of Classes, Undergraduate Bulletin's Course Index and Graduate Bulletin's Course Index.

Visit the Minerva Center for High Impact Learning's Internship Programs page for additional information undergraduate internship courses. 

Prof. Marcia Sutherland introduces Poet Nikki Giovanni at a New York State Writers Institute event to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Department of Africana Studies at the University at Albany on Thursday, October 10, 2019. (photo by Patrick Dodson)
Africana, Latin American, Caribbean, and Latinx Studies
Ongoing Activities

The Department of Africana, Latin American, Caribbean, and Latinx Studies interacts with local and global communities: faculty share their expertise in classes, symposia, and forums, many of which are geared toward the community, while students participate in internships and community service that integrate their academic and practical knowledge. For example, the Department co-sponsored (with the Office of International Education) an awareness-raising event about the Invisible Children of Uganda and continues to work on many aspects of HIV/AIDS awareness and research, including fundraising for HIV infected South African women, educating two South African Zulu girls, and a book drive for AIDS orphans in Zimbabwe during the spring 2008.

Applied and Service Learning Courses

Intro Afro Afro-Amer History
African Civilizations
Africa in the Modern World
Senior Seminar Afs
Topics in African Studies
Topics Afro-American Studies
Independent Study & Research AAS
Directed Readings in AAS

To see more detailed information about Africana Studies courses - please visit the Undergraduate Bulletin.


The Department of Africana Studies offers internship opportunities to its majors, minors, and graduate students with the Homeless & Travelers Aid Society of the Capital District, Equinox, Adolescent Employability Skills Plus Program, Inc., the Executive Chamber, the Capital District African American Coalition on AIDS, among other governmental and non-profit agencies. The student, host agency, and faculty supervisor arrange for the student to complete 135 hours of on-site work and academic work per semester.

Contact: Marcia Sutherland
Phone: 518-442-4730
Email: [email protected]

Excavations at the Pethick site, a cooperative endeavor between the Department of Anthropology and the New York State Museum. Photo by: Brian Busher
Ongoing Activities
Archaeological Field School

This is an eight week program designed to teach students the basics of archaeological field work, laboratory processing, and artifact analysis. The field school will be conducted at the Pethick site, a prehistoric Native American site that dates to approximately between 1,500 B.C. and AD 1500. Excavations at the Pethick site are a cooperative endeavor between the Department of Anthropology and the New York State Museum. This course is intended for students planning a career in archaeology; however, students who are not planning on future archaeological work will also find the course a rewarding experience and are encouraged to attend.

Contact: Sean Rafferty, [email protected], 518-442-4713


Archaeological Projects in Cyprus

In the spring of 1970, the first Albany archaeological expedition arrived in Cyprus under the leadership of classics professor John Overbeck. Stuart Swiny joined the team since he was already working on the island. Since then, a long list of UAlbany faculty members have visited, researched, and written scholarly works on Cyprus.

Contact: Stuart Swiny (Department of Art & Art History), [email protected], 518-442-3982


Westray Heritage Centre on Westry Island of the Orkney Archipelago in North Scotland

Dr. Julia Jennings works with the Westray Heritage Centre on Westry Island of the Orkney Archipelago in North Scotland to develop a family history database that allows visitors to the island to search genealogical records and learn more about their family ties to the community. About 600 people live on Westray today.

Contact: Department of Anthropology, 518-442-4700, [email protected]

Faculty Spotlights

Jennifer Burrell  |  Walter Little  |  Marilyn Masson  |  Lawrence Schell


Jennifer Burrell

Associate Professor

Anthropology professor Jennifer Burrell, portrait

Dr. Jennifer Burrell has served as consultant and expert witness for U.S. immigration cases for Central Americans in general and in particular, for people from the municipality in which she’s conducted fieldwork for the past two decades. Burrell consults in human and economic rights, with organizations like the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team (an organization that applies forensic anthropology to investigate human rights violations including investigating the murdered students in Ayotzinapa, Mexico; and, assembling a Central America-wide database on missing migrants) and recently, with the Interamerican Development Bank, assessing their work with indigenous peoples in Central and South America. Burrell has worked as part of a binational team researching health care accessibility among Mexican and Central American migrants in the NY State Capital Region and in Mexico. In these capacities, she’s been active in policy recommendations in the worlds of human rights, grassroots economic development, immigration, and healthcare.



Walter E. Little


Anthropology professor Walter Little

I am a cultural anthropologist whose primary way of doing research is using ethnographic methods to understand how material culture, economic practices, and political identities are tied together. As this is my basic modus operandi, I have been drawn into a lot of different kinds of work that can be considered public engagement, such as serving as an expert witness in the US courts for Guatemalans seeking political and economic asylum or, even, when they have been accused of capital crimes, like murder.

For sixteen years (until 2012), I co-directed a Kaqchikel Maya language and culture class in Guatemala with my colleague Dr. Judith Maxwell (Tulane University) that put me in the middle of Maya language activism and teaching Kaqchikel Maya to Guatemalans and foreigners. I’m still involved in these politics and pedagogies, as a co-author with Professor Maxwell, a Kaqchikel author, Kawoq Cuma Chavez, and several other Kaqchikel consultants, in a writing a third book to study Kaqchikel Maya language.

Most of my 28-year anthropological career in Guatemala has had a public engagement component, from speaking at public schools and community organizations in Guatemala and in the US to serving as a consultant on development projects and legal cases. This work is closely tied to my two main research interests, textile production and sales and heritage and tourism practices.

Currently, I am involved in two very different public engagement projects. One is working with Guatemalans and international organizations to understand how people respond to natural and human-made disasters. The people who are most affected by these disasters are most often the poorest and they tend to live in areas that are marginalized because they are known to be high risk for disasters yet close enough to towns with thriving agricultural or tourism economies.

Linguistics and Cognitive Science students from Field Methods (ALIN/AANT 429) present their final projects on the endangered Copala Triqui language while members of the local Triqui community join them at the University at Albany on Tuesday, December 17, 2019. (photo by Patrick Dodson)
Linguistics and Cognitive Science students from Field Methods (ALIN/AANT 429) present their final projects on the endangered Copala Triqui language while members of the local Triqui community join them at the University at Albany on Tuesday, December 17, 2019. (photo by Patrick Dodson)

The other project is with Triqui Oaxacan Mexican immigrants who live in the Albany, NY area. In this project, I collaborate with the community organization, Triquis Sin Fronteras (Triquis without Borders), University at Albany colleagues, especially, Dr. Lauren Clemens, and students to help promote Triqui language and culture. The collaborative work between Triquis, students, and faculty includes developing materials for teaching and learning the Triqui language and hosting events that highlight Triqui cultural practices like dancing, weaving, and food. The students started a complementary organization that helps tie members of the Triqui community to the university and get them more involved in how Triquis themselves strive to share their culture with the broader Albany community.

My community engagement work in Guatemala came about from being in Guatemala during natural disaster episodes. The first time I became more directly involved was in the aftermath of Hurricane Stan’s destruction of the Lake Atitlán region of Guatemala in 2005. A number of other academic colleagues and I founded the Guatemalan Emergency Relief Fund, a short-lived project to help direct aid to those afflicted communities in equitable ways. We also helped raise funds to improve access to education and clean water to the poorest residents.

This last summer, June 2018, I was in Guatemala helping with the recovery efforts following the eruption of the Agua Volcano. Because it had such an impact on the region of the country where I’ve done much of my ethnographic research, I felt compelled to help. Many people who were killed, injured, or displaced by the eruption worked in low-wage jobs in the tourism industry. As I learned about how people responded to the disaster, the more I wanted to figure out how language, culture, and economy influenced the outcomes.

Some members of the Triqui community had been working as language consultants on University at Albany linguists’ projects when they learned about me and my research on Guatemalan Maya culture. They asked if I would like to join them on a range of activities to share their culture and help others better understand who they are. I even served as the secretary of Triquis Sin Fronteras, which was a very humbling experience, since many are tri-lingual speakers (Triqui-Spanish-English). We participated in cultural festivals in New York State and New Jersey, host an annual Day of Triqui Culture (most years at the University at Albany), and created a social media presence that brings together Triquis living in numerous US and Mexican places.

In both my Guatemalan and Triqui public engagement, it is rewarding to be able to collaborate with each respective community and figure out ways to be helpful, on terms that are respectful of their cultural values. For many of us cultural anthropologists, research work – especially when it comes to analyzing our data and writing it up in peer reviewed publications—is done in isolation. So, to be on a couple of vibrant, active projects that join together community members, students, and faculty scholars is an enriching experience, even, when we don’t always know where we are going. Both projects are evolving and, hopefully, in directions that will benefit Guatemalans and Triquis.



Marilyn Masson


What are you currently working on in the area of public engagement?

Marilyn Masson portrait

Together with Matt Kirk (PhD student, UAlbany) and Dr. Michael Lucas (Research Archaeologist, New York State Museum), we are assembling a team of UAlbany students to excavate at key sites in the first half of the 1800's in historic Albany. These sites are places where members of the African American community lived and worked. Some dwellings were home to key figures in Albany's pivotal role in the efforts of the Underground Railroad; others housed enslaved Africans. Our work will investigate the daily lives and experiences of pre-Abolition era African Americans.

Public engagement activities will involve communicating with the public through casual or formal visits to the excavation sites; formal invitations for the public to visit on a given day are planned. Outreach will include communicating with local museums, the media, and the Historical Albany Foundation. Matt Kirk (through Hartgen & Associates) also runs an archaeology summer camp for a week or two in July for students in late elementary school/early middle school grades. UAlbany students will work with these youngsters and help train, educate, and mentor them.

How did you get involved in this work?

UAlbany students participated in an archaeological dig at the Ten Broeck Mansion located in Albany, NY under the guidance of Professor Marilyn Masson. photo by: Brian Busher
UAlbany students participated in an archaeological dig at the Ten Broeck Mansion located in Albany, NY under the guidance of Professor Marilyn Masson. (photo by: Brian Busher)

I was looking for an opportunity to work locally in archaeology, in the context of a field methods training course for students. As I know Matt Kirk from UAlbany, I contacted him to see if he would be interested in collaborating. Matt suggested these sites and research themes, which were very exciting. It is nice to offer field courses locally for UAlbany students. Most field schools have expensive room and board fees. In this respect, the summer 2017 field school will be more inclusive.

What is the greatest reward in your publicly engaged work?
My prior work has been in Mexico, and before that, Belize. Field schools are transformative experiences for undergrads, who return at a greater level of maturity, with much more confidence regarding their abilities and potential. This tends to make them more active/engaged researchers for the remainder of their undergrad years and beyond. The most rewarding part for me is to witness and foster students' independent thinking, developing identity as scholars, and confidence as researchers evolve. In Mexico, community members are part of our research teams. Many opportunities for education are fostered - the team learns from traditional knowledge of local ways of life, and archaeologists share their knowledge of deeper history.

What are your future plans for your publicly engaged work?
We envision continuing the field school in future summers.



Lawrence Schell

Distinguished Professor 
Director, Center for the Elimination of Minority Health Disparities

Lawrence M. Schell

My community engagement began when I first started working with the St. Regis Mohawk tribe, known to them as the Akwesasne Mohawk. Initially they were involved in some studies with David Carpenter of the effects of PCB pollution. The tribal members were interested in expanding their studies into how the PCBs might be affecting the development of the children who had been exposed in utero or after birth.

The choice of the project and the methods to be used was developed from numerous discussions, proposals and evaluations between myself and Joan Newman of the School of Education and members of the tribe, particularly members who also were part of the Akwesasne Task Force on the Environment (ATFE) and their subcommittee, the Research Advisory Council. It was clear that the tribe and the ATFE had embraced certain principles of conduct and researchers who intended to work with people were to follow them.

The development of a project was not lead by this researcher. The process included a discussion of project ideas and methods, with those formed and reformed to suit community and researchers’ needs and wants. Eventually a plan was put in place and became part of the Superfund application to NIH lead by David Carpenter in 1994. It included 10 different projects of which only 2 concerned humans, mine with Joan Newman and another lead by Azara Santiago-Rivera.

After obtaining funds from NIH, the ATFE conducted a series of workshops to educate all researchers on what we now would call cultural competence. The Akwesasne principles of respect, equity and empowerment guided the conduct of the research. The projects were intended to do more than increase knowledge, something desired by both parties, but to also respect and improve the lives of the community. One very concrete improvement was the creation of jobs to perform research as data collection at Akwesasne was performed by members of the community after undergoing extensive training.

I readily accepted these ideas and principles. Knowing something of the history of attempted extermination of Native peoples, I felt that the goals of the ATFE were worthwhile and accepted them enthusiastically.

During the five years of the project that studied adolescents in the community, I co-wrote a paper about partnership research with Alice Tarbell who was supervising the data collection. Speaking in two distinct voices we spelled out what Native people had experienced through research collaborations and what needed to change. It was a lessons from the past and guidance for the future. One of the most important lessons was to include community people in all aspects of research from identifying a problem or topic to planning, conducting and writing up the results.

Yajaira Cabrera-Tineo from Counseling Psychology (Education), Melissa Noel from Criminal Justice, Kaydian Reid from Health Policy, Management & Behavior and Wayne Lawrence from Epidemiology & Biostatistics (both Public Health), and Erica Tyler from Anthropology (Arts and Sciences), Lawrence Schell (middle), distinguished Anthropology professor and director of Center for the Elimination of Minority Health Disparities.
Yajaira Cabrera-Tineo from Counseling Psychology (Education), Melissa Noel from Criminal Justice, Kaydian Reid from Health Policy, Management & Behavior and Wayne Lawrence from Epidemiology & Biostatistics (both Public Health), and Erica Tyler from Anthropology (Arts and Sciences), Lawrence Schell (middle), distinguished Anthropology professor and director of Center for the Elimination of Minority Health Disparities.

We also have conducted two additional studies. Each one was a response to community concerns and involved community people in the research planning, conduct and write up.

An important part of our community partnership approach has involved community meetings to present and discuss results. The last of these was held in December of 2014 and was attended by 150 people.

Since 1995 I have co-written three other papers on community engaged research but for different audiences. Each time I worked with a member of the Akwesasne community. This ensured that what was written was not offensive to the community and reflected the reality of their experience. Community people can provide valuable insights into the research problem and are a resource for the research.

The experience with the ATFE and the Akwesasne community as a whole prepared me to lead an application to the National Institutes of Health in 2004 to establish a center on minority health that was grounded in community partnership research principles. The Center for the Elimination of Minority Health Disparities was established in 2014 with two themes. First there is a focus on the problems and solutions concerning minorities and other disadvantaged groups in smaller cities and towns (in contrast to NYC, Boston, Baltimore, Compton, etc.). The second theme is the methodological approach—community partnership. The center’s work is about partnering with communities to learn of health problems, matching up community needs and resources with faculty ones, and working together to develop a solution and testing it. The center is now in its 13th year and is a recognized center at the university. We continue to fly the flag of a faculty engaged with the surrounding communities.

On the university campus I have been deeply involved with the FCCER, a group of faculty who seek to support one another in community engaged work and elicit support from the university to continue their work and support the work of others. Between the CEMHD and the FCCER, support for community engaged work extends throughout the campus and it is hoped stimulates more of this work from more of the faculty.

Applied and Service Learning Courses

Applied Learning Courses 

Internship Arch Conservation
Independent Study Linguistics
Sem Topics in Linguistics
Intro to Syntactic Theory
Field Method Ant Linguistics
Advanced Phonology
Seminar on Topics Linguistics
Independent Study and Research

Linguistics and Cognitive Science

Understanding Language
Introduction to Linguistics
Introduction to Syntax
Advanced Phonology
Field Methods Anthro Linguist
Honors Thesis

A ANT 338/338Z  Archaeological Field Research (6)

Directed archaeological excavation of selected sites, including experience in site location, mapping, excavation, preservation, analysis, classification, and interpretation. May be repeated for credit. Prerequisite(s): A ANT 335 or permission of instructor.

Archaeological Research

Dr. Marilyn Masson's summer research project includes the education of village families regarding long term cultural heritage, while the families educate archaeologists about traditional lifeways, resources, and technologies. This NSF-funded archeological research project also will employ 30 heads of households in the Maya village of Telchaquillo, Yucatan, Mexico. These households are supported by subsistence farming and occasional wage labor. This archaeological research is highly collaborative, and for the past 14 years, has been founded on a two-way flow of information between archaeologists and local stakeholders. The project also employs a team of four degreed Mexican professional archaeologists at every level from fieldwork to publication and this circumstance engages the research community in Yucatan, Mexico. 


Fieldwork in Kianjavato, Southern Madagascar

Dr. Adam Gordon does fieldwork in Kianjavato in southeastern Madagascar in conjunction with colleagues from the University of Calgary, Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo, and the Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership. They employ local members of the community in Kianjavato as conservation guides to monitor lemur populations and participate in ecological research. The members of our research group also run a local reforestation project and associated education program for local school children.

Professor Adam Frelin stands in front of one of the buildings included in his public art project entitled 'Breathing Lights'. The multi-city installation transforms abandoned structures into glowing places of warmth. Photographer: Paul Miller
Art and Art History
Faculty Spotlights
Melissa Thorne

Assistant Professor

Melissa Thorne (Photo Credit: Heather Phelps-Lipton)

Melissa Thorne, who teaches Studio Art and is the department’s Area Head of Painting and Drawing, is a 2021 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellow. A painter whose practice includes multiple formats, from paintings on canvas and paper, to large-scale site-specific wall drawings in ink and watercolor, she has been shown widely in solo and group exhibitions across America.


Adam Frelin

Associate Professor

Adam Frelin

Breathing Lights was the Winner of the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Public Art Challenge, of which Associate Professor Adam Frelin was lead artist. In October and November 2016, nightly from 6pm – 10pm, Breathing Lights illuminated the windows of hundreds of vacant buildings in Albany, Schenectady and Troy, NY. Warm light filled each window with a diffused glow that mimicked the gentle rhythm of human breathing. Concentrated in neighborhoods with high levels of vacancy, Breathing Lights transformed abandoned structures from pockets of shadows into places of warmth. (From the Breathing Lights website

What are you currently working on in the area of public engagement? 

Currently I’m lead artist on Breathing Lights, a temporary public art project funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies and co-sponsored by the mayors of Albany, Schenectady and Troy. Along with my collaborator, architect Barbara Nelson, we will be illuminating the street-facing windows of hundreds of abandoned buildings in the Capital Region during the fall of 2016. Warm light will fill each window with a diffuse glow that visually mimics the gentle rhythm of human breathing. Concentrated in high vacancy, economically disadvantaged neighborhoods, these installations will illuminate the need for community revitalization.

In tandem with the art installation, we have created a series of Neighborhood Engagement and Content Creation Programs, including: Community Ambassadors Program, Youth Media Workshops, Community Arts Award Program, and Building Reclamation Clinics. These programs will magnify personal stories from within the shadows of the lights and bring attention to our surrounding urban landscape. The project will culminate in a regional summit on vacant homes and neighborhood revitalization that will engage local residents, prospective buyers and investors, and policy makers.

Breathing Lights exhibition seen on abandoned house. Adam Frelin of Art and Art History leads an urban art installation that uses pulsating lights in windows to recreate a sense of life in abandoned buildings.
Adam Frelin of Art and Art History leads an urban art installation that uses pulsating lights in windows to recreate a sense of life in abandoned buildings.

How did you get involved in this work?
Bloomberg Philanthropies announced the launch of a new program to support temporary public art projects in cities across the US. The foundation invited mayors in cities with 30,000 residents or more to submit proposals for innovative temporary public art projects that celebrate creativity, enhance urban identity, encourage public-private partnerships, and drive economic development. The mayors of Albany, Schenectady, and Troy came together to put forth an application, and Barbara Nelson and I were invited to collaborate on a project idea to be submitted.

Our idea was simple: determine a benefit (the history of lighting technology) and a detriment (vacancy) evident in our region, and find a creative way to put them together. Initially, 237 cities applied and 12 finalists were selected in March of 2015 to submit full proposals. Ultimately, four communities were chosen to receive up to $1 million each to execute their projects over two years, our region being one of the four.

What is the greatest reward in your publicly engaged work?
At this point we are only at the beginning of the public engagement component of Breathing Lights. Nevertheless we have held many meetings with various communities, and I’ve had the chance to hear firsthand how people react to our project. Some love it, some are suspicious, and some hate it. All of it helps to make the project feel alive. The greatest reward so far is experiencing the gap between an ideal and the real collapse.

What impact has this work had on you? ...on your students? ...on community members?
Receiving this award has had a substantial impact on our local arts community, if only by helping to put it on the map nationally. Though our region isn’t known for having a strong arts movement, we hope that Breathing Lights will help lay the groundwork for more art projects like ours to happen in the future, as well as to help bolster support for the regional creative economy.

Breathing Lights exhibition seen on abandoned house with spectators standing in front of the house and on steps. Adam Frelin of Art and Art History leads an urban art installation that uses pulsating lights in windows to recreate a sense of life in abandoned buildings.

In regards to issues of vacancy and community disinvestment, Breathing Lights is kicking the hornet’s nest dead on, topically speaking. Because our project is sited in abandoned buildings––places of great pain and loss––we are dealing with this issue in literal terms (as opposed to relating to it metaphorically). From this, we have already witnessed the impact this has on people living in disinvested neighborhoods, which comes out in impassioned speeches during our community meetings. In many ways our project is meant to function as a catalyst and a platform where these difficult conversations can take place.

And for me, I’ve been working for twenty years to be a part of a large-scale, temporary public art project like this. Perseverance pays off!

What are your future plans for your publicly engaged work?
Though it looks promising, it would be disingenuous for me to answer this question now before we have had a chance to implement and evaluate the public engagement component for Breathing Lights. Ask me after this project is finished!

Applied and Service Learning Courses

Applied Learning Courses

Internship in Art History
Beginning Drawing
Two-Dimensional Design
Three-Dimensional Design
Life Drawing
Beginning Sculpture
Beginning Painting
Silkscreen Printmaking
Begin Phot/Dig Imag
Introduction Digital Imaging
Intermediate Drawing
Intermediate Sculpture
Sculpture Fabrication Technique
Intermediate Painting
Painting in Water-Based Media
Intermediate Etching
Inter Photo/Digit Imag
Intermediate Digital Imaging
Intermediate Screenprinting
Topics in Printmaking
Advanced Drawing
Sound Design Film, Thr, Media
Advanced Painting
Topics in Painting
Advanced Printmaking
Topics in Photography
Internship in Studio Art
Senior Studio
Internship Art Museum Mgmt & Operation
Mentor Tutorial
Independent Study Art Studio
Honors Project I
Honors Project II
Sculpture III
Projects in Sculpture
Painting III
Projects In Painting
Graduate Photography Workshop
Projects In Graphics
Drawing and Composition
Graduate Sculpture
Advanced Projects in Sculpture
Graduate Painting
Advanced Projects in Painting
Graduate Intaglio
Graduate Photography
Departmental Seminar
Combined Media Workshop
Independent Study
Concentration in Drawing
Workshop in Drawing
Workshop in Sculpture
Workshop In Painting
Workshop in Intaglio
Concentration in Photography
Exhibition Thesis Project
Concentration Combined Media
Topics In Sculpture
Topics In Drawing

To see more detailed information about Art & Art History courses - please visit the Undergraduate Bulletin: Art CoursesArt History Courses

A tower that will be linked into the New York State Mesoscale Weather Network (Mesonet) is completed in Hudson Crossing Park in Schuylerville, NY. Photo by Brian Busher
Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences
Ongoing Activities
NYS Mesonet

The nation's most advanced Mesonet system with a 30-foot weather station tower; The first of 125 weather towers located throughout New York State to provide extensive, real-time, 3-D data to emergency personnel and first responders.

Contact: Chris Thorncroft, 518-442-4586, [email protected]


Research Collaboration with the National Weather Service

The National Weather Service is located on the UAlbany campus. It performs research, often collaboratively, with the University in order to improve forecasts and public service.

Faculty Spotlights
Nick Bassill

Sr Research Support Specialist

Nick Bassil

Nick Bassill is a Senior Research Support Specialist in the Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences; and Director of Research and Development at the Center of Excellence in Weather & Climate Analytics.

In this video, Improving Severe Weather Outcomes, Dr. Bassill describes how he works with New York State utility companies to improve their ability to forecast weather and outages.

Brian Tang

Associate Professor

Brian Tang

Brian Tang is an Associate Professor in the Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences.

In this video, Keeping an Eye on Hurricanes, Dr. Tang talks about his research on how hurricanes evolve and intensify.

Applied and Service Learning Courses

Applied Learning Courses

Internship in Atmospheric Sciences
Undergraduate Research
Research I
Research in Atmospheric Sci II
Internship in Environmental Sciences

To see more detailed information about Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences courses - please visit the Undergraduate Bulletin.

Marvin Rodriguez, a SUNY Oneonta student working with Biology Assistant Prof. Annalisa Scimemi. This is part of the SUNY 'BRAIN' grant program, which is funding 3 students to conduct internships at UAlbany this summer.
Ongoing Activities
Brain Awareness Day

Sponsored by the Society for Neuroscience Hudson‐Berkshire Chapter and the Dana Foundation; Six oral presentations; 20 poster presentations; high school students, undergraduate students, graduate students, postdocs, and faculty from UAlbany, Albany Medical Center, Neural Stem Cell Institute, and Skidmore College.

Contact: Annalisa Scimemi, [email protected]


International Brain Bee

The International Brain Bee, founded in 1999 by Dr. Norbert Myslinsky, is a program of the non-profit Mankind for International Neuroscience Development (MIND) and the largest worldwide neuroscience competition for teenagers. Anyone aged 13-19 can compete, regardless of their academic standing. Divided into local, national, and international levels of competition, the competition tests high school students in neuroscientific skill through examination in academic knowledge, as well as neuroanatomical, neurohistological, MRI, and patient diagnosis applications. First-place winners at local levels proceed to the host country's national competition, after which the national champions are invited to compete at the international level. Its purpose is to motivate young men and women to learn about the human brain, and to inspire them to enter careers in the basic and clinical brain sciences.

Contact: Annalisa Scimemi, [email protected]

Faculty Spotlights
Annalisa Scimemi

Associate Professor

What are you currently working on in the area of public engagement?

Annalisa Scimemi

​I am working on the organization of Brain Awareness Day and of the Local round for the International Brain Bee Competition. In addition, I serve as the President of the Society for Neuroscience Hudson-Berkshire Chapter, which brings together the Neuroscience community of the Capital District Region at every level of background, from high school students to Associate Professors.

How did you get involved in this work?
​​I thought the area had great intellectual resources, but lacked the presence of a person with initiative, can-do attitude and creativity. I thought I would give it a try.​

What is the greatest reward in your publicly engaged work?
Bringing to others opportunities that I wish I could have had. I do it because I think it is just, not because I am expecting an immediate reward.​

What impact has this work had on you? ...on your students? ...on community members?
It facilitates my interactions with local neuroscientists.

...on your students?
It makes them more pro-active and capable of better talking about their own research findings.

...on community members?
It breaks social barriers between academics and low socio-economic realities​.

What are your future plans for your publicly engaged work?
Keep on truckin'....

For more information about Brain Awareness Week please visit the Dana Foundation website.

Applied and Service Learning Courses
Applied Learning Courses

Supervised Research Juniors
Supervised Research Seniors
Lab Rotation I
Lab Rotation II
Graduate Research
Internship in Forensic Biology
Masters Research
Master's Thesis Continuation
Doctoral Research
Doctoral Dissertation

Service Learning Courses

ABIO 298 - Invertebrate Ecology
A BIO 298 Contemporary Issues in Biological Sciences, with Laboratory (1-3) Laboratory classroom training in selected areas of biological sciences. Particular areas of study to be announced each semester. Yields laboratory credit towards the major in biological sciences. May be repeated for credit when topic varies. Prerequisite(s): A BIO 201 and 202Z; consult with instructor for specific prerequisites. S/U or A-E graded. Effective Fall 2013 and beyond, course fee applies. Consult the Schedule of Classes.

Service Learning Component:
Aiding environmentalists at the Huyck Preserve given the many calls for help with invasive species monitoring.

ABIO 341 Neurobiology
This course has a community engagement component with the Alzheimer’s Association. Dr. Shannon Lawler, Director of Programs and Services at the Alzheimer’ Association, will discuss the goals, programs and services offered by the Association, which include an active role in funding research programs. Students will get extra credits for raising awareness about Alzheimer’s disease research through the Trial Match program, which includes participation in one of the walks organized by the Alzheimer’s Association on a weekly basis during the months of September and October 2016. More information will be provided in the first class, during which Dr. Lawler will present the program. Additional questions can be directed to Dr. Scimemi.

To see more detailed information about Biological Sciences courses,  please visit the Undergraduate Bulletin.

The Society for Neuroscience - Hudson-Berkshire Chapter

The Chapters of the Society for Neuroscience provide an opportunity to bring awareness on neuroscience research performed at the local and regional levels. The Hudson-Berkshire Chapter brings together neuroscientists from numerous institutions in this region. University at Albany professors Ewan McNay from the Department of Psychology and Annalisa Scimemi of the Department of Biological Sciences, currently participate with these efforts.

UAlbany Chemistry Professor Igor Lednev works with PhD candidates Claire Muro and Kyle Doty. Photographer: Paul Miller
Faculty Spotlights
Igor Lednev


Raman spectroscopy for forensic purposes

Our laboratory has pioneered the use of Raman spectroscopy for forensic purposes over the last decade. In particular, we developed the first universal tool for the identification of biological stains recovered at a crime scene. This research has been continuously funded through the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) for 16 years and resulted  in over 60 articles in peer-reviewed journals and three U.S. patents.

All these years, we worked closely with NY State Police Crime Laboratory and Forensic Investigation Center (FIC). Dr. Ray Wickenheiser, Director of the New York State Police Crime Lab System is a strong supporter of our research. He is a consultant at the University spinoff SupreMEtric LLC, (short for Supreme Metric), a start-up company targeting the commercialization of the developed technology. Four graduates from our lab work now for NYSP (all women!) including Dr. Kelly Virkler, Supervisor of the Toxicology Laboratory. 

We also worked with Dr. Wickenheiser to create “The Forensic Science Incubator.” Once launched, this first of its kind resource will offer research support to academic and industry inventors who are interested in developing – and validating – novel technologies for law enforcement purposes.

Our company has received NSF small business grant support.

Albany Business Review published a short story about our development of crime scene technology.

We also collaborate with Professor Entesar Al-Hetlani from Kuwait University on further development of this methodology and have demonstrated its ability to differentiate smokers and nonsmokers based on the analysis of saliva traces.


What have you worked on in the area of public engagement?

Igor Lednev displays holds a portable Raman spectrometer.

According to a 2009 study by the National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. students placed below average in science, trailing many countries including Canada, Japan and the Czech Republic. In 2004, the National Science Board reported that the number of 18-to-24-year-olds receiving science degrees in the U.S. had fallen to 17th in the world. At the same time, many schools, facing severe budgetary shortfalls, have made drastic cuts in science and lab classes. Taken together, these facts point to a future shortage of trained scientists and engineers in the U.S., which could have devastating effects on both the economy and national security. With that in mind, an important component of High Education is engaging and educating high school students about science as early as possible using universities’ research capabilities.

Professor Igor Lednev keeps his doors of his laboratory open to local high school talents, who are interested in research. Two students from the Shaker High School, Srinija Nalluri and Niraj Shah work in his laboratory as research volunteers now. Srinija works on understanding the mechanism of amyloid fibrillation, the formation of insoluble protein aggregates associated with neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and other devastating disorders. Her goal is to understand how the formation of amyloid fibril can be controlled, stopped and even reversed. Niraj is working on the development of a new forensic method, which would allow determining race and gender based on a traces of biological fluids recovered at a crime scene. If successful, this method will allow CSI create a suspect profile immediately at a crime scene. Both Srinija and Niraj are making significant progress in their challenging projects. They reported their results at the RPI Science fair on March 19th, 2016.

Dr. Lednev established a great relationship with Mr. Nathaniel Covert, a science teacher at the Shaker High School. Mr. Covert is a very enthusiastic educator devoting a significant time to students, who are interested in exploring the possibility of scientific research. He indicates (quote) “our students are working in many different institutions around the area and some have actually collaborated at Harvard and I have another student who will begin work this summer in MIT. Shaker research students currently intern in Albany Medical center (cancer research), RPI (Graphene for batteries, biotech for study cell chirality, LED smart lighting, helicopter and drone ducted fan work), the University at Albany/ school of nano science for solar radiation and proposed areas for optimization of solar cell placement, wind assessment similar to the solar, graphene vapor deposition, robotics with Dr. Knuth and Dr. Muckle and of course Dr. Lednev's lab for protein analysis and forensic analysis with RAMAN spectroscopy.”

Igor Lednev Lab

According to Mr. Covert, developing presentational skills and the opportunity to report at student’s conferences is another important aspect of the research activity. Quote, “we hold an annual symposium in which we invite parents, mentors, faculty/staff public to view a poster display of all of our students work. Seniors conclude the night with power points on their research. Shakers research students also compete in the local science fairs; JSHS (junior science and humanities symposium) (Burnt Hills), JSHS the University at Albany, RPI Science fair (which is the feeder source for the INTEL ISEF fair that is held at various locations around the united states. Our students also compete in the INTEL STS paper competition, senior standing students only.”

A significant positive impact of research activity on the training of local school children indicates a great need for expanding this program, so every local kid would have this opportunity. Professor Debernee Privott leads the development of a university-wide Program for the engagement of high school students to science. Dr. Lednev works closely with Dr. Privott on the proposal to integrate high school research to the regular activity of the university research laboratories. This proposal as well as other ideas was discussed at the SUNY-AIR panel on Student Success organized by Dr. Privott in January 2016.

How did you get involved in this work?
Dr. Lednev has been developing a close relationship with local public high schools for several years with the goal to create the opportunity for local high school talents to experience science in a real academic environment. His lab attracts students interested in developing cure and new diagnostic methods for neurodegenerative diseases and new techniques for forensic purposes. High school students often contact Dr. Lednev after they read about his research in scientific journals and/or local news including newspapers, magazines and TV reports. A summer intern student from Bethlehem High School was the first high schooler in his lab in 2011. Since then, several high school students conducted research in his laboratory as volunteers.

Engagement of high school students to science is a significant part of a broader impact of Dr. Lednev’s research activity supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF). In the recent proposal for the renewal of his NSF grant, Dr. Lednev requested a support for creating a Raman spectroscopy station at a local high school with the goal to introduce high school children to advanced spectroscopy at the early stages of their education and career development

What is the greatest reward in your publicly engaged work?
Working with high school students is very rewarding for many reasons, the most important of which is observing how this activity help young talented fellows to build their future career. All high school students, who went through Lednev’s laboratory so far, chose a career in science and engineering! One can argue that the students, who chose to do research, were already interested in this type of career, but the fact that they made this choice when it was time to choose the college is encouraging.

Muhammad Mujtaba Ali worked in Lednev’s lab as a research volunteer for almost two years studying the structure and formation mechanism of amyloid fibrils, protein aggregates associated with many neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson diseases, Huntington diseases and Type 2 diabetes. Muhammad is a very focused and dedicated young fellow. He learned methods and techniques used in the lab and applied them for studying the kinetic mechanism of fibrillation. Muhammad presented his results at K-12 science events and won several awards including a scholarship from Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, 1st Place as a Poster Presenter at the Upstate New York State Junior Science and Humanities Symposia, 2nd Place as a Speaker at the Eastern New York State Junior Science and Humanities Symposia and Society for In-Vitro Biology Award. Muhammad made to the semifinal of a prestigious national science competition, Intel Science Talent Search (Intel STS) and was interviewed by Times Union and WTEN-10 TV Station. Now, Muhammad is student at Cornell University. He continues his interest in neurodegenerative diseases. He is currently working in Dr. Schaffer laboratory, Biomedical Engineering Department, on understanding the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease and testing a new hypothesis for the disease based on the decreased blood flow via clotting.

What impact has this work had on you? ...on your students? ...on community members? 
This is a great experience for graduate students in Lednev’s laboratory, who work with high school volunteers. Specifically, Manuel Rosario Alomar worked with Muhammad Mujtaba Ali. He is preparing a joint manuscript based on their results. Tatiana Quinones Ruiz and Claire Muro, PhD students, share their experience and supervise Srinija Nalluri and Niraj Shah, respectively, in Lednev’ laboratory now. This is an excellent opportunity for graduate student to develop their leadership skills.

Muhammad kindly agreed to comment on his research experience in Lednev’s lab: 

“After my school year ended, I went to Pakistan for nearly two months and worked as an EMT for the Edhi Center, an organization that provides medical assistance in emergency situations. It was there, in the midst of frantic emergency operations, without a mere stethoscope or even a nifty pair of shears, that I came to appreciate the endless resources you provided me with to conduct research. That was the first summer I hadn't been in your lab for the past two years, yet I was more appreciative of the time you spent with me then than I was ever before. As I gain more life experiences at Cornell and beyond, I know that my appreciation of the time you and Manuel (IL: Manuel Rosario Alomar is a graduate student in Lednev’ laboratory) spent with me will continue to grow.”

Mr. Covert has also shared kindly his thoughts: 

“Science Research has a special place in many of the hearts of my current and former students. Owing to the fact that it is a 3 year course in which I get to track with my students for the tenure of their work, we tend to have a very close knit community. My students often come back during their colleges years to visit and consistently they state that the class prepared them for actual college work. Many if not most of my students continue their science track in college and many of these students undertake undergraduate research. The ability to actually have a hand in creation of new experimentation and or innovation in technology is one of the highlights of the research students high school career.”

Srinija Nalluri has shared her thoughts about the research opportunity at UAlbany: 

“Research at Dr. Lednev's lab has exposed me to new levels of thinking, collaboration, and presentation skills. Unlike the academic norm, research allows for students to use powerful instruments for real life applications. As a high school student, to have the opportunity to delve into this and make progress in the research community pertaining to neurodegenerative diseases is a great opportunity. I feel college ready in high school.”

Niraj Shah has also shared his thoughts: 

“This research has helped me understand science beyond the classroom. In the classroom, we are limited in what we learn. This research has allowed me to create professional posters, present my research... I was able to present my tentative research to doctors and other professionals at the RPI competition. This has helped me develop my presentation skills and give me confidence. We also give to the community by holding a symposium. The symposium allows the community to understand the current research that the students are involved in.”

What are your future plans for your publicly engaged work?
According to Mr. Covert, he does not pick the internship for his students: 

“Rather, the student reads peer reviewed journal articles and attempts to contact the author of the paper for internships. It is one of the best and most frustrating aspects of my class. I would love to have my students work with the researcher of their choosing however it often turns out that there are age restrictions and/or lack of space for the lab and so the students will have to adapt/change their focus. I am happy to collaborate (with UAlbany) on any new possibility for public awareness for science.” 

This is the major reason and motivation for Dr. Lednev to work closely with Dr. Privott on the development of a university Program for the engagement of high school students to science. Specifically, Dr. Lednev plans to discuss with his colleagues the best way to integrate high school research to the regular activity of the university research laboratories.

Applied and Service Learning Courses
Applied Learning Courses

General Chemistry I
General Chemistry II
General Chemistry Laboratory I
General Chemistry Laboratory II
Current Topics in Chemistry
Organic Chemistry I
Organic Chemistry II
Organic Chemistry Laboratory I
Quantitative Analysis
Chemistry Internship
Current Topics Advanced Chemistry
Inorganic Chemistry I
Intro Undergrad Research Chemistry
Undergrad Research in Chemistry
Forensic Chemistry Research
Chemical Biology Laboratory
Forensic Chem Intern
Independent Study Chemistry
Inorganic Chemistry
Chemical Biology Lab
Chemistry Laboratory Rotation
Research Updates In Organic Chemistry
Research Updates Inorganic Chemistry
Research Updates in Physical Chemistry
Research Updates in Biochemistry
Research Updates Analytical Chemistry
Internship in Applied Chemistry
Faculty Research Seminar
Review of Chemical Literature
Chemical Research
Biochemistry Research
Organic Chemistry Research
Physical Chemistry Research
Inorganic Chemistry Research
Analytical Chemistry Research
Doctoral Dissertation

To see more detailed information about Chemistry courses - please visit the Undergraduate Bulletin.

Communication alumnus Steve Greenstein, seen through camera viewfinder, talks about his career in video and film at an event sponsored by the Communication Department. Photographer: Paul Miller
Ongoing Activities
Center for Donation and Transplant - Communication Campaign Course

The Department of Communication has been working for several years with the Center for Donation and Transplant on a communication campaign course. The course is taught every spring, CDT underwrites it, and a group of students work on planning and executing a campaign to encourage registering to be an organ and tissue donor. Last spring the department received an award from CDT as their choice for “PR Star.”

Contact: The Department of Communication, 518-442-4871

Applied and Service Learning Courses
Applied Learning Courses


Studies in Public Persuasion
Internship in Communication
Internship in Operations & Applications of Communication Theory
Independent Study & Research in Communications
Persuasion/Public Relations
Studies Communication Theory
Senior Honors Project
Guided Research Project
Doctoral Dissertation


Foundations of Journalism
Intro Reporting & News Writing
Reporting and News Writing II
Media Law and Ethics
Narrative Journalism
Visual Culture
Magazine Writing
Broadcast Journalism
Digit. Media Wrkshp: Online
Digit Media Wrkshp: Desk-Top
Topics in Journalism
Digital Publication
Internship in Journalism
Independent Study Journalism

Service Learning Courses

ACOM 465 - Communication Campaign Practicum
A COM 465 Studies in Communication Theory (3) Study of a selected topic in communication theory; e.g., nonverbal communication, consistency theory, or mass communication. May be repeated for a total of 15 credits when content varies. Prerequisite(s): A COM 265, and junior or senior standing.

Service Learning Component:
Communication Campaign Practicum in Collaboration with the Center for Donation and Transplant The partnership between the Department of Communication at UAlbany and the Center for Donation and Transplant (CDT) originated in a research project that was carried out with funding from the Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) from August 2003 to July 2006. The Department of Communication was part of a consortium composed of the New York Alliance for Donation, the University of Buffalo, and the University at Albany to study processes and outcomes of students' carrying out a campaign during the spring semester each year aimed at increasing awareness of the importance of organ and tissue donations. Registrations for the Donate Life New York State Registry were collected through the campaign course, COM465, on behalf of the CDT. The students who participated in planning, organizing, executing, and evaluating the campaigns were very successful both in learning the process of campaigning and in increasing the number of people who signed the registry.

When the research component of the project ended in 2006, CDT wanted the course to continue, and they took over the funding of the campaign course in order to continue to promote awareness of the importance of donation. Their first sponsorship of the course was in spring 2008. (The course was funded in spring 2007 with a no-cost extension from the HRSA grant.)

To see more detailed information about Communication courses - please visit the Undergraduate Bulletin.
To see more detailed information about Journalism courses - please visit the Undergraduate Bulletin.

East Asian Studies World of East Asian Studies Students at dinner
East Asian Studies
Faculty Spotlights
Aaron P. Proffitt プロフィット・アーロン, PhD

Assistant Professor

Aaron Proffitt, East Asian Studies

I am a professor in the East Asian Studies Department here at UAlbany. My PhD is in Buddhist Studies with a specialization in medieval Japanese Buddhism, and my MA and BA are in the academic study of religion. Most of my classes are cross-listed in East Asian Studies as well as Religious Studies. Right now, my favorite classes to teach are my introductory classes: Introduction to the Study of Religion (AREL 100), Introduction to Buddhism (AREL/AEAS 265), and Introduction to Japanese Religions (AREL/AEAS 261). I also enjoy teaching classes on Zen Buddhism (AREL/AEAS 375) and other specialized topics in Buddhist Studies including Shin Buddhism, Esoteric Buddhism, and the Lotus Sutra (AREL/AEAS 450). When I was an undergrad, I loved taking classes in religious studies and learning languages, so now I literally have my dream job!

Thanks to the Fulbright Foundation, during grad school I was able to study Buddhism in Japan at various Buddhist universities, and I have presented my research in Japanese at Ōtani University, Ryūkoku University, Kōyasan University and Taishō University. I have been inspired by the way my colleagues in Japan approach the study of Buddhism, and I maintain close contact with scholars, priests, and scholar-priests at these and other institutions. In Japan, scholars specializing in the academic study of Buddhism often actively engage Buddhist communities of practice. These scholars write popular introductions to Buddhism, erudite academic monographs, and in many cases are themselves ordained teachers in the traditions they study. In the US, on the other hand, Buddhist Studies has historically been a philological discipline concerned with ancient texts, and not so much with the study of living Buddhist communities. However, this has begun to change in important ways as more anthropologists, sociologists, philosophers, and scholar-practitioners are entering the field. As part of this growing demographic shift, I am working to put into practice what I observed in Japan by actively building relationships with diverse Buddhist communities in the Capital Region, and beyond.

Picture of Aaron Proffitt

I enjoy giving talks at Buddhist temples, Dharma centers, and other places where communities of practice meet. I have also led several UAlbany student field trips to visit groups that practice in Chinese and Japanese Buddhist traditions. Also, as the faculty advisor for the UAlbany Buddhist Student Association, I work with the UAlbany Interfaith Center and help students interface with Buddhist communities in Upstate New York and New York City who practice in Chinese, Tibetan, Japanese, Burmese, and other traditions as well. The UAlbany Buddhist Student Association has also invited teachers from various schools of Buddhism to teach meditation on campus.

In my personal life I am currently involved with developing the children’s program for the Albany Buddhist Sangha, a local Buddhist group affiliated with the New York Buddhist Church in NYC that meets at the First Unitarian Universalist Society of Albany. Through these relationships I have been invited to share my scholarly research at the American Buddhist Study Center in NYC, with whom I have discussed the possibility of designing an online introduction to Buddhism course.

In the future I plan to work with other university faculty to help build the UAlbany Religious Studies program into a thriving interdepartmental hub for the exchange of ideas that can actively engage various groups in the community. Furthermore, by continuing to cultivate relationships with Buddhist organizations in Japan and the US, I plan to build UAlbany university programs that work with Buddhist universities in Japan to facilitate experiential learning opportunities abroad.

English Professor Glyne Griffith reads to the audience at the Toni Morrison Tribute, Nov 1, 2019 (Photo by Patrick Dodson)
Ongoing Activities
The Center for Humanities, Arts, and TechnoSciences (CHATS)

Community Enrichment Since 2004: The Humanities Are Alive and Well

Center for Humanities, Arts and Technoscience, clockwise from left: Closeup of an animal's eye, drawing of a woman with long hair and green leaves around her head, butterfly on a plant, planet - half orange half blue.

Since its designation as an official research center in 2004, The Center for Humanities, Arts, and TechnoSciences has forged partnerships with the Capital Region’s premiere cultural, educational, and performing arts organizations to produce innovative and nationally recognized events and programs in the arts and humanities. From its Technology Plays produced with Capital Repertory Theatre, funded by Apple Computer, and featured in the New York Times Magazine to the recent James Family Celebration, the Center has been fulfilling its mission to serve as a forum providing the University at Albany and the wider community with a model of intellectual and aesthetic innovation and outreach. The Center promotes cultural exchange among humanists, scientists, artists, architects, filmmakers, educators, technology experts, business people, and the public in a wide variety of public programs and initiatives.

Directors: Dr. Mary Blatner Valentis, [email protected], 518-442-4082, Charles Shepherdson, [email protected], 518-442-4065


The Humanities Labs Project

The Humanities Labs provide a more robust sense of academic community for undergraduates, by extending these Areas of Study beyond English in collaboration across departments, including social sciences and Rockefeller College. Their goal with this collaboration is to rebuild and reinvigorate the humanities across campus.

Contact: Dr. Mary Blatner Valentis, [email protected], 518-442-4082

Faculty Spotlight
Randy Craig

Professor Emeritus

Past department chair and professor, Randy Craig was named one of the University’s two William L. Reese Fellows for 2022. This distinction recognizes “UAlbany Emeriti for sustained, consequential, and exemplary post-retirement professionally-related contributions and achievements in scholarship/creative productions, teaching, or service, in or outside the University.” Randy retired from the University in 2017.

Randy has been recognized specifically for his work as an instructor at Greene Correctional Facility, where he has been teaching for the non-profit organization Hudson Link for Higher Education in Prison. He was instrumental in the establishment of the Greene Correctional Facility’s Writing Center/Study Hall, which is now run by the UAlbany English Department and UAlbany Writing Center's own Sam Rider.

Applied and Service Learning Courses

Applied Learning Courses

AENG 240Z - American Experiences

AENG 270 - Living Literature: Challenges in the 21st Century - “Women, Race and Nation”

Intro to Creative Writing
Creative Writing
Studies in Writing About Texts
Internship in English
Contemporary Lit & Critical Theory
British Lit & Culture
American Lit & Culture
Independent Study and Research
Workshop In Fiction
Directed Readings English
Master's Research Tutorial & Exam
Master's Research Tutorial Cont.
Master's Thesis
Master's Thesis Continuation
Textual Studies I
Prac Teach Writing & Literature
English Internship
General Readings in English
Directed Readings in English
Doctoral Dissertation
Ind Study/Research Med/Ren Studies

To see more detailed information about English courses - please visit the Undergraduate Bulletin.

To see more detailed information about Medieval & Renaissance Studies courses - please visit the Undergraduate Bulletin.

Assistant Professor Alexander Buyantuev and Graduate student Clare Gaffey working with Drones to document the tree canopies at the Huyck Preserve. Photo by Carlo de Jesus
Geography and Planning
Ongoing Activities
Environmental Monitoring

Dr. Andrei Lapenas trains undergraduate students in field sampling and laboratory analysis of soil and water contamination in his Environmental Analysis course. Through the Mohawk Tower Observatory, continuous live-time webcam images are available of the University and Region.

Contact: Andrei Lapenas, 518-442-4191, [email protected]


Graduate Planning Studios

The Masters in Urban and Regional Planning (MRP) Program, a nationally known, accredited program, in the Department of Geography and Planning at the University at Albany, requires graduate students to participate in a real-world studio project. In this four-credit course, students engage community members to learn about their issues, work with local officials to promote high quality planning outcomes, and gain valuable experience in how to address problems in a public setting. Recent studios include the Central Albany Bikeway, a set of action plans to guide strategic neighborhood improvements related to parks, open space and greenway connections for the Arbor Hill neighborhood, including working with neighborhood youth to carry out a public arts mural project, and a planning study on the Mid-City University District among many others.

National Transportation Information Systems Planning

Prof. Catherine Lawson is assisting the National Academy of Science's Transportation Research Board guide the development of intelligent transportation systems as chair of their Urban Transportation Data and Information Systems Committee. She also chairs their National Cooperative Freight Research Program Panel and is a panel member of the Hazardous Materials Cooperative Research Program.

Contact: Catherine Lawson, 518-442-4775, [email protected]

Faculty Spotlight
Youqin Huang


College of Arts and Sciences 2022 Spring Speaker Series

Professor Youqin Huang is the organizer of the CAS Speaker Series, which gives the UAlbany community access to speakers from around the world speaking about international issues. 

College of Arts and Sciences 2022 Spring Speaker Series

Service Learning Courses

APLN 681 - Planning Studio
APLN 681 Planning Studio (4) Team planning exercise using students with varied academic and planning specializations to design, evaluate, plan, and manage projects and programs. Written, graphic, and oral presentations before juries of officials, practicing planners, and faculty complete the course. Prerequisite: Pln 505 (Gog 525) or consent of instructor.

APLN 523, APOS 523, RPAD 561 - Urban Community Development
APLN 681 Planning Studio (4) Examination of policies and programs designed to reduce social and economic distress in U.S. communities. Focuses on local and neighborhood-based efforts to address problems of inadequate housing, unemployment, lack of community services and facilities, crime, etc. Considers role of government, private sector, and nonprofit organizations in community revitalization.

This small graduate class consisting of planners as well as students from other disciplines (public policy, education management, and political communication) partnered with a nonprofit organization in Albany's South End, the South End Improvement Corporation, to develop a series of 5 topical white papers as part of a neighborhood planning initiative: housing & development, neighborhood marketing, zoning, food access & greening, and energy & resilience. The students interviewed a variety of community stakeholders as part of their research process, shared research findings at a neighborhood association meeting to gather feedback from residents, and at the end of the semester delivered a final presentation to the community at the local library which was attended by approximately 20 community partners.

To see more detailed information about Geography & Planning Department courses please visit the Undergraduate Bulletin: GeographyUrban Studies and Planning CoursesGlobalization Courses.

May 5, 2016 - David Hochfelder portrait at the Empire State Plaza for the 2016 Research Report. Photos by Paul Miller
Ongoing Activities
Institute for History and Public Engagement

The mission of the Institute for History and Public Engagement is to connect researchers across the university with community leaders to create a more engaged university. The Institute seeks to build on the university’s strengths in the humanities, broadly defined, and on the particular emphases of the Department of History – business, environmental, religious, policy, and public history – and draw on the capital district’s resources in these areas in order to assist and engage community stakeholders, to improve faculty research, and to attract new students. The Institute seeks to make community engagement an essential part of a liberal education (a comprehensive approach to college learning across disciplines that encompasses critical thinking and evidence-based discovery) and to provide real benefits to our community in the process.



Talking History Radio Show

"Talking History," broadcast locally on WRPI and archived on the Talking History website, is recognized by USA Today and other news organizations as a teaching and learning resource. The radio show enjoys a broad listening audience across the state and nation.

Contact: Gerald Zahavi, 518-442-4148, [email protected],

Faculty Spotlights
Sheila Curran Bernard

Associate Professor

Sheila Curran Bernard is the recipient of a 2021-2022 National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholar Award, support for her writing of "Bring Judgment Day": Reclaiming Lead Belly's Truths from Jim Crow's Lies, under contract with Cambridge University Press.

Bernard is also an Emmy and Peabody Award-winning writer and filmmaker with credits on nearly 50 hours of prime time broadcast and theatrical programming, work that is often leveraged to serve as the centerpiece of public engagement (impact) and education efforts. She produced, directed and wrote two films for the acclaimed civil rights history, Eyes on the Prize; was series writer on the six-hour history I'll Make Me a World; series development writer on the six-hour This Far by Faith; and writer of the four-hour series School: The Story of American Public Education. Bernard also wrote the feature documentary Slavery by Another Name, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Douglas A. Blackmon. Also currently in distribution are three projects in which she was involved: Backpack Full of Cashan important look a the real cost of efforts to privatize public education;   Jerusalemfilmed for IMAX and giant screen theaters; and Inside Story, a science-based dramatic feature produced by Discovery Learning Alliance and Quizzical Pictures. 


David Hochfelder

Associate Professor

What are you currently working on in the area of public engagement?
I am working on a social and spatial history project called 98 Acres in Albany. Our goal is to digitally reconstruct and repopulate the 98-acre area demolished in the 1960s for the Empire State Plaza and South Mall Arterial. The area was home to 1,150 structures, 3,300 households, 7,000 residents, and 400 businesses. It was one of the largest urban renewal projects in proportion to a city's population.

We are working on two publications. Our main product will be a website that will remap the lost streetscape. We are able to do this thanks to the rich visual documentation that still exists, including photographs of nearly all of the demolished structures. The website will also analyze the demographics and housing statistics of the lost area. Our second publication is a book of photo-essays that tell the stories of residents and business owners whose lives were affected by the demolition of the area. We have an advance contract from SUNY Press for that book.

Preliminary results are at our Wordpress BlogStory Map, and Timeline.

The project team consists of myself, Ann Pfau (PhD historian--full disclosure, we are married), Stacy Sewell (historian, St. Thomas Aquinas College), and Christopher Rees (Research Scientist at Center for Human Services Research, University at Albany).

How did you get involved in this work?
About two years ago, we discovered a set of photographs at the Albany Institute of History and Art. These photographs, taken by property appraisers hired by the State of New York, document nearly all of the buildings demolished for the Empire State Plaza. We realized then that we could digitally reconstruct the streetscape. Subsequent research turned up a remarkable set of photographs at the New York State Archives that delve deeper into the interiors of buildings, often showing people in their homes and businesses. About a year ago, the Times Union generously gave us access to their photo morgue and allowed us to scan about 300 relevant photographs, with permission to publish them. Recently we discovered a microfilmed set of New York State records that thoroughly document the structures demolished, including the names of residents. These records will allow us to repopulate the area and match former residents with their demolished homes.

What is the greatest reward in your publicly engaged work?
Former residents and others affected by the demolition and construction of the Empire State Plaza really want to tell their stories. So it's been rewarding to be able to give them a voice. These are people whom planners and government officials did not take into account when they decided to build the Empire State Plaza. We fully embrace what public historian Michael Frisch famously called a "shared authority," that good public history is about full collaboration between historian and audience.

Another rewarding aspect has been the ability to involve undergraduate students. One example is Jackson Ciavardoni, a student in Susan McCormick's Spring 2015 oral history class. He interviewed the son and daughter of a pharmacist whose business was demolished.

This semester, Salah Muhidin, a student in Chris Pastore's class on the history of the Hudson River Valley, is doing a project on the investigative journalism of William Kennedy, reporter turned Pulitzer Prize winning novelist, on the Empire State Plaza and housing conditions in Albany.

What impact has this work had on you? ...on your students? ...on community members?
Since we are at a preliminary stage, our work has not yet had much impact on the community. We hope to foster a more informed conversation about the costs and benefits of urban renewal. Thanks to a recent New York Humanities Council grant, we want to include the voices of African Americans and tenants, groups who have not yet been part of that conversation here in Albany.

What are your future plans for your publicly engaged work?
Specific to this project, we plan to have the digital reconstruction and repopulation of the 98-acre take area complete by the end of 2017, as well as the companion book of photo-essays.

More generally, as a public historian, I would love for this project to serve as the seedbed of a digital and spatial humanities capability at the University at Albany. I'm convinced that these approaches will become more and more important over the next several years, and that we can become a leader in this field. We've had a nationally-recognized Public History program for over thirty years, and we have several faculty who are doing digital projects. A digital humanities center would be a natural extension of our past success and current capabilities.

Applied and Service Learning Courses
Applied Learning Courses

Senior Research Seminar
Independent Study in History
Special Projects in History
Practicum in College Teaching
Independent Study in History
History & Media Masters Project
Master's Thesis in History
Internship in Public History
Public History Project Thesis
Directed Reading in History
Doctoral Dissertation

Judaic Studies

Jewish Civilization
Zion/Palest/Isra-His Perspective
Medieval Jews among Musl & Chr
Antisemitism Challenges
Readings in Hebrew Literature
Jewish Lit Imagination
Independent Study in Judaic St


Service Learning Courses

AJST 221, AHIS 221 - American Jewish Experience
A JST 221 (= A HIS 221) The American Jewish Experience (3) A general overview of the American Jewish experience. Examines historical developments in such areas of American Jewish life as religious expression, political activity, education, demographics, socio-economics, and secular intellectual and cultural activity. Assesses the impact on American Jewry of immigration from Europe and elsewhere, and such pivotal events as World War I and II, the Holocaust, and the founding of the State of Israel. Addresses the relationship between diverse segments of American Jewry and between Jewish and non-Jewish Americans. Only one version of A JST 221 may be taken for credit.

To see more detailed information about History Department courses please visit the Undergraduate Bulletin: History CoursesJudaic Studies Courses

98 Acres in Albany

“98 Acres in Albany” will chronicle the biggest story in the history of Albany since its founding by the Dutch—the State’s 1962 appropriation of 98 acres in the city center for construction of a futuristic state capitol complex.

Contact: Associate Professor David Hochfelder, [email protected],

Area high school students studying the French language learn traditional French folk dance at the 2017 Francophone Day celebration in the Campus Center Ballroom. Photo: Mark Schmidt
Languages, Literatures and Cultures
Ongoing Activities
Spanish Day

The Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures and UAlbany in the High School (UHS) provide UHS-participating high schools a day-long group experience at UAlbany for students interested in all things Hispanic. There are opportunities to participate in cultural activities, music, dance, games, and presentations from and discussions in Spanish with a variety of native Spanish speakers from around the world about their countries and Hispanic topics. It’s a great way to expand students’ experiences and explore more of the wide-ranging Hispanic world. Interested high school teachers should contact their UHS liaisons for more information.

LLC Faculty Community Lectures

Individual faculty regularly share their expertise and research with the community. For example, Summer 2022 Professor Timothy Sergay (Russian) gave talks on "Ukraine Crisis in Context" and "Russian Art and Culture after Mariupol."

UAlbany Student Experience Podcasts

Meet UAlbany students where they are, what has shaped them to date, inspired them, how they've handled struggles and grown through them. Students working with Spanish Professor Carmen Serrano capture oral histories of UAlbany students who often find themselves on the periphery of higher education and/or society, students for whom English is not their primary language, immigrants, minoritized communities, non-traditional college students, Dreamers, undocumented students, LGBTQ community members and allies, students with disabilities and military veterans. Hear what they have to say in their own words.

High School Language Teacher Workshops

The Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures and UAlbany in the High School (UHS) provide workshops on best foreign language pedagogy practices and strategies, highlighting languages research, and serving as resource sharing sessions. The day’s immersion experiences help reinforce and grow teachers’ language skills while interacting with native speakers. An excellent continuing education opportunity for foreign languages teachers.

Francophone Day

The Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures and UAlbany in the High School (UHS) provide UHS-participating high schools a day-long group experience at UAlbany for students interested in all things French. Activities have included immersion experiences, tours of the campus in French, opportunities to participate in cultural activities, dances, games, treasure hunts, and presentations from and discussions in French with multiple native speakers from around the world about their French-speaking countries and francophone topics. Interested high school teachers should contact their UHS liaisons for more information.

Contact: Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures, 518-442-4100, [email protected]


International Film Festival

The Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures (LLC) hosts foreign language films (with English subtitles) in a variety of languages, cultures and settings from around the world. Films are free and open to the public throughout the fall and spring semesters at the uptown campus as posted on the LLC events calendar. Films range from classics to cutting edge avant-garde. Festival themes vary from semester to semester and have included: "Cinema Without Borders: The Multiple Faces of Globalization," "Global Giggles" (humor across cultures), and "City Scope" (exploring international urban centers through film).

Contact: Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures, 518-442-4100, [email protected]


Living in Languages Colloquium

An annual collaborative conference between the departments of English and Languages, Literatures and Cultures, the Living in Languages Colloquium brings together graduate students, faculty, and international scholars to present work on numerous topics related to translation.

Faculty Spotlights
Charles Giglio

Lecturer of Latin and UHS Latin Liaison
Languages, Literatures & Cultures

Charles Giglio

NYS Teacher of the Year and UAlbany Latin Instructor Charles Giglio continuously gives back to the community. His warm, welcoming personality and passion for learning, years of experience teaching in the public schools, working in mental health and with the Learning Disabilities Association of New York State give him particular strengths to draw on, whether giving a TED Talk, working in leadership in the CAES Latin Institute, his work as an organist in the community, helping make people’s lives better with his therapy dog, or educating and mentoring UAlbany college students and graduates. In his own words:

 “Teaching Latin in area high schools as well as on the UAlbany campus has given me a unique perspective about teaching a world language, especially a Classical language, to teenagers and young adults.

 As a principal in New York City’s Chinatown, I witnessed first-hand the beauty of diversity and bilingual education and I was challenged to pursue education of my own Italian American roots by studying Italian language and culture at Long Island University. When I arrived at UAlbany I felt simpatico with many of my students from urban school districts in the five boroughs of New York City and Long Island.

 After first reassuring my UAlbany students they will not be studying a “dead” language, I invite them to dive into the deep end of the world language pool and explore with me the richness of the Latin and Greek heritage that surrounds our everyday lives. We begin by studying the day's date in Latin, daily Latin proverbs, and English words in the media derived from Latin (ripped straight from the headlines!). In addition to the text, cultural readings, and mythological stories of ancient Greece and Rome, we take advantage of national holidays and holy days, exploring the rich heritage contained in values, mores, and traditions. My students are usually astounded when they recognize the etiology of everyday words, phrases, religious and cultural practices. We do not miss opportunities to bring music and cinema into the classroom as these two mediums illustrate connections to our ancient past.

 I also invite my students to join me at the Annual Institute of the Classical Association of the Empire State, where they meet, speak with, and attend sessions with some of the best Latin teachers in New York State, thereby beginning a professional network of teachers and future mentors.

 The highlight of each semester is the visit of my therapy dog, Tanner, who has yet to disappoint as he lovingly shares himself with each member of the class. Once or twice during the semester, my students and I will meet for breakfast or lunch and have the chance to explore relationships from high school and family without the confines of time and space.

 Recently my Latin students were invited to participate in Professor Serrano’s student podcast initiative and I am happy to report that Christopher Stewart, a former member of the Navy, and a UAlbany Latin student, dazzled podcast listeners with his story (April 2022). UAlbany and Christopher’s fiancé changed his life. Not only has he become a voracious reader, but as a SUNY graduate was immediately employed by Global Foundries in Malta.”

 Such one-on-one personal connections in LLC’s classrooms and our outstanding, caring faculty like Professor Giglio make a difference every day on campus, across NY, and beyond.

Ilka Kressner

Associate Professor

Ilka Kressner, LLC professor

My current research studies poetry in public spaces, such as slams and impromptu recitals in parks, libraries, and bars. I see the function of literature as a social practice in a shared space that connects the individual with the broader community, communicates between bodies, things and words, and links aesthetics with socio-political issues.

As a professor of Spanish, I am an educator of future educators, as many of my students are or will be teachers and professors in higher education. My community involvement ranges from discussions with teachers in the Albany area, related to teaching practices (how to foster intercultural awareness, use technology for real-time discussions, expand students’ learning outside the classroom walls), to scholarly exchange with former students of mine, who have become university professors. For instance, this spring, I will visit Bogotá, Colombia, to participate in a scholarly venue dedicated to collecting in postcolonial contexts, organized by an alumna of UAlbany, Dr. Alejandra Olarte.

I have been organizing tango dance events at UAlbany for the last five years. What started as a grassroots movement by interested dancers on campus has now become the UAlbany Tango Club, of which I am the faculty adviser. We host weekly dance classes for students, staff and faculty, and occasional events for dancers from the Albany area. This semester, our club activities have expanded; we offer free classes on Tuesday evenings on the downtown and uptown campuses (

Future plans for publicly engaged work:
As a passionate cyclist and user of public transportation in Albany, and member of United University Professional’s (UUP) new Transportation Committee, I help raise awareness of the importance of the creation of protected bicycle lanes on Madison Avenue and the plan proposed by the Capital District Transportation Authority (CDTA) to implement a new rapid route between Downtown Albany and Crossgates Mall, with an exclusive busway through the Harriman State Office Campus and the UAlbany Uptown campus. Both plans are particularly timely given our university’s planning to host the new College of Engineering and Applied Sciences (CEAS) at the downtown campus, which will likely result in an increase of circulation between both campuses.


Véronique Martin

Lecturer and UHS Liaison (French)

What are you currently working on in the area of public engagement? 

Véronique Martin

I am currently working on several events that are part of our community outreach effort.

My colleagues Cynthia Fox, Susan Blood and I are coordinating activities for Francophone Week on campus, with a French lunch at the Patroon Room, a documentary viewing and our ninth annual Francophone Day when our UHS students visit the campus not only to gain an early college perspective, but also to have a French culture immersion experience very different from the classroom setting. From a scavenger hunt to a roundtable session with native speakers (this year from Togo, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Haiti, Quebec and France), all entirely conducted in French, the day’s activities help encourage students to use their language skills in more authentic circumstances.

Area high school students studying the French language learn traditional French folk dance at the 2017 Francophone Day celebration in the Campus Center Ballroom. Photo: Mark Schmidt
Area high school students studying the French language learn traditional French folk dance at the 2017 Francophone Day celebration in the Campus Center Ballroom. Photo: Mark Schmidt

I am also organizing an immersion program in French for the Minds-On educational program coordinated by the Rensselaerville Institute. Advanced French students from local high schools are engaged in hands-on activities conducted entirely in French by my colleagues from the department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures; Frederic Meni of the Center for Language and International Communication, Hélène Pafundi and Komla Amegashie. This is the only full-day immersion program in French available to local schools and it is designed to reinforce and the regular school curriculum. The rule of the day is “French only” and teachers have expressed that “…it is an excellent experience to be with students who all want to try to use French as much as possible.” Interacting with native French speakers is often a first for these students as reflected in a teacher’s feedback: “[it’s] fantastic to see [them] begin to just speak as if it’s normal.”

Another outreach event I am involved with is designed for professionals. As a liaison for the UHS French program, I plan an annual workshop on campus for the almost 50 teachers enrolled in the program. Many UHS teachers view this as a unique opportunity to meet and interact with peers teaching university content courses, to keep up with best practices, and to immerse themselves in French for a day. Jeff Brown, from Averill Park High School comes back every year “…because the UHS French teacher workshop is designed specifically for us. Véronique solicits ideas from us so the presentations and teaching suggestions are relevant and practical. Being able to focus an entire day on the needs of French teachers is a great benefit for people like us who are isolated professionally.”

How did you get involved in this work?
I come from an environment in Europe where foreign languages are an essential part of young people’s education and are in effect a lot more connected to people’s lives and communities. Therefore my involvement in this type of activity naturally started early on when I volunteered for a community based after school program as a tutor for German and English. Connecting languages to community-based activities was always enjoyable and most of all enriching for me. When I came to the US, I first took part in Franco-American heritage group meetings in Maine, had a weekly radio show in French and gave presentations at local schools, in addition to teaching Montessori, middle school, high school and university students as well as adult education. In Albany, my outreach work has been primarily facilitated by my UHS liaison work which serves as a bridge between high schools and the French Studies program here at UAlbany. It provides me with unique insight and promotes connections to language professionals and language learners.

What is the greatest reward in your publicly engaged work?
A lot of what I do with high schools, the UHS program, my own classes and events on campus is connected and intertwined. From my standpoint, I can first engage with students in high school French classes and immersion programs, then meet them again in our on-campus courses and then see them move on to do work in which they apply the language skills they’ve acquired. I find witnessing this whole process and helping to facilitate it rewarding as an educator.

What are your future plans for your publicly engaged work?
I would like to expand outreach opportunities both for early and advanced learners. With the support of the Rensselaerville Institute, I used to offer immersion experiences in French for 8th graders from Glens Falls and Saratoga area schools. It would be great to run these again as well as more programs for high schools.

Building on what we already have is an essential aspect to outreach activities and with the integration of technology in our classes, I feel we have gone beyond the normal class setting, globalizing the student experience in the classroom. With the support of the Center for Language and International Communication (CLIC), my students regularly engage with students from the Université de Haute-Alsace in France and complete tasks designed to further their linguistic skills, cultural knowledge and intercultural competence. We have a rich population of students with Francophone backgrounds on campus and thanks to the UHS program, we have students who already have an intermediate proficiency level in French when they start university. We hope to build on and increase our offering of courses to include higher level and more specialized courses for professional purposes with the intent to connect our students to companies working with France and Quebec in New York state.

I am able to do this work and take advantage of these opportunities because the resources such as funding, administrative support, skilled and trained French specialists and native speakers, are readily available. It’s important to make sure that we do what we can to keep in close contact with these francophone connections on campus, in the schools and local communities. If we are to function effectively in a globalized world, being able to relate to and engage more with others locally or abroad, we need to start early and have access to enough resources.

Students lined up on stage singing in the UAlbany 2017 holiday concert.
Music and Theatre
Ongoing Activities
Costume and Prop Exchange

The Theatre Program's Costume and Prop Shops exchange costumes and props stored in stock with other theatres and educational institutions in a mutual effort to enhance the production values of all the work done at the cooperating institutions.

Contact: Department of Music & Theatre, 518-442-4200, [email protected]


Music Program Ensemble Groups

Opportunities for participation in various performance ensembles in the Music Program are available to community members. For the community at large, the Department's sponsorship of many concerts by its ensembles, faculty, students, and guest artists each semester are the main vehicle for outreach. Concerts are held as often as four to seven times a month depending on the season. The series includes collaborative programs with other groups.

Contact: Duncan Cumming, 518-442-4187, [email protected]


Music Program Faculty Performances

Music Program Faculty are active as performers and lecturers throughout the Capital District and beyond. Pianist Duncan Cumming collaborates with the Berkshire Ballet and tours throughout the Northeast. Ethnomusicologist Kyra Gaunt has guest-lectured at Skidmore College and the University of Michigan. Max Lifchitz often performs as pianist and conductor in New York City and abroad. Musicologist Nancy Newman has been invited to lecture at the Library of Congress. Music Theorist Andre Redwood has presented at conferences in France.

Contact: Duncan Cumming, 518-442-4187, [email protected]


Theatre Program Faculty Outreach

Faculty members of the Theatre Program provide academic, artistic and dramaturgical expertise to theatres and organizations locally and nationally. Examples include local work at Capital Repertory Theatre, Stageworks Hudson, and Siena College and national work at New York University's Tisch Department of Dramatic Writing, the Hangar Theatre, the Des Moines Metro Opera, Northern Stage Company, and Glimmerglass Opera.

Contact: Kathryn Walat, 518-442-4200, [email protected]


Theatre Program National Affiliations

Members of the Theatre Program are involved with the United States Institute for Theatre Technology, Inc. (USITT) and the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF). Both organizations have national reputations as well as local regional sections. Faculty and students have attended both conventions as presenters, award recipients, and competitors.

Contact: Kathryn Walat, 518-442-4200, [email protected]

Faculty Spotlights
Kyra Gaunt

Assistant Professor

kyra gaunt photo

Digital ethnomusicologist and artist Kyra Gaunt, PhD (Department of Music & Theatre, WGSS Joint and Sociology Affiliate faculty) received a $25K research grant sponsored by the Ms. Foundation for Women's Girls of Color Initiative (2022-23) to support her current book project PLAYED: How Music and Tech Grooms Violence Against Black Girls Online

She was also a recipient of the U-Mich Alumni Society 2022 Hall of Fame Award, recognizing individuals who have made outstanding contributions to society, to their professions, or the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance. 

This spring, she will present her work at the 2022 TED Conference in Vancouver (April 10-14) as one of ten Senior TED Fellows (2020-2023). Her talk will speak to breaking the glass ceiling in music and tech in black girls' bedroom musical play. 

Her website:


Duncan J. Cumming

Associate Professor

Duncan Cumming 2018

Associate Professor Duncan J. Cumming has performed concertos, recitals, and chamber music concerts in cities across the United States as well as in Europe. The Kennedy Center in Washington DC, Merkin Hall and Carnegie Recital Hall in New York City, and the Wallenstein Palace in Prague, Czech Republic are among the concert halls in which he has appeared. Concerts outside of the New York Capital Region this season include a concert tour of the Boston area in March as well as the United Kingdom, France, and Switzerland in May. A recent review describes his playing as “technically flawless… thoughtful, deliberate and balanced, without a wasted gesture or any histrionics, rather like Rachmaninoff.” His new book, The Fountain of Youth: The Artistry of Frank Glazer, came out in 2009.

The year 2011 marked the release of three compact discs. The first was a solo piano CD on the Centaur label (CRC 3125) including music of Brahms, Chopin, Debussy, and Satie. Chamber music of Bill Matthews with the Capital Trio was released on Albany Records with several premiere recordings; finally, a recording with Christopher Hogwood of the music of Carl Maria von Weber. This is the first recording of Weber’s music on Weber’s own 1812 Brodmann.

Born in Maine, Cumming graduated Phi Beta Kappa with highest honors from Bates College in 1993, where he studied with Frank Glazer. In 1994, he received a full scholarship from the European Mozart Foundation and participated in intense chamber music study and performance at the European Mozart Academy in Prague, where he performed often with the Czech mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kozena. Upon his return to America, he studied with Patricia Zander at the New England Conservatory, where he received his Master of Music degree in 1996. In May of 2003, he graduated with the Doctor of Music degree from Boston University.

From 2002-2008, Cumming was on the faculty of the Boston University Tanglewood Institute as a teacher, chamber music coach, and performer. He was assistant director of the Young Artists Piano Program for the first six years, and in his final summer he took over as the director when an illness forced the director to leave just days into the program. Before accepting the position at the University at Albany, he was a member of the faculty at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. He has lectured, given master classes, and served on juries for competitions, in addition to his performing and teaching. Known for his innovative and carefully constructed programs, Cumming often presents informal commentary to the audience on the music he plays. He has commissioned, premiered, and recorded new works for solo piano, violin and piano, and piano trio. He performs frequently with his wife Hilary, violinist and adjunct professor of violin at the University at Albany. With the cellist Şölen Dikener, they make up the Capital Piano Trio, the new ensemble in residence at the University at Albany. Duncan and Hilary have two daughters, Lucy Rose and Mairi Skye, and a son, William Bear.

What are you currently working on in the area of public engagement?

Music Associate Professor Duncan Cumming won a 2018 Exemplary Public Engagement Award. Seen here posing with five other men on stage in front of screen.
Duncan Cumming, third from left, accepts a 2018 President's Award for Exemplary Public Engagement.

In addition to my professional concerts I bring students of all ages to the university once a year to participate in the Youth Movements Festival. Some years we have had lectures, master classes, dance performances, and children’s presentations; but in any case each year we have a concert involving pianists from the region.

How did you get involved in this work?

As a classical musician and a parent I became interested in bringing classical music to children.

What is the greatest reward in your publicly engaged work?

The Youth Movements Festival has been a great opportunity to bring lesser-known works to the public. Multimedia and multidisciplinary presentations (slides of art, poetry, dance, and music) are complex to put on but give children and people in the community an opportunity to experience this music in a variety of ways. I have also been rewarded personally by the cards and letters from students and teachers who have been involved in the projects.

What impact has this work had on you? ...on your students? ...on community members?

It has been rewarding for me to see students learn, improve, and perform from year to year. My connection to the community inevitably deepens when I work with these teachers and students from the Capital Region. This is a recent email from a teacher in the community whose students were involved in Youth Movements:

Dear Duncan,
Thanks so much for the great recital on Sunday. The students really enjoyed having the opportunity to play in such a great atmosphere. The feedback from the parents was wonderful and they all had many different perspectives on the entire program, including my husband (an engineer). Parents were happy to learn about Satie and that helped to understand his music… Some parents were happy to see other students the same age and gender as their child which was very motivational. My husband was so intrigued by Satie that when we go France in August, we will visit his home/heritage which would be great. It's near Normandy which we planned on seeing but I wasn't excited to travel several hours from Paris to go. But now the trip is worth it. So thank you for educating, intriguing and motivating youth of the Capital District once again. I truly feel this is more educational, fun and beneficial than any music test for the youth.
Thank you again,

What are your future plans for your publicly engaged work?

I am grateful to have received a FRAP B award to publish some of my stories with classical music for children in the future.

A professor in a green button up and khakis holds a microphone and stands in front of a presentation screen while speaking to a crowded auditorium
Ongoing Activities

Wednesday Wonders of Science

Faculty in UAlbany's Physics Department—Vivek Jain, Daniel Robbins, Matthew Szydagis—give public lectures on topics related to their research and other topics discussed in popular media. This series is held at the Pine Hills branch of the Albany Public Library, and they give six lectures per year.

Contact: Vivek Jain, [email protected], 518-442-4540

The Planned Parenthood rally, organized by WGSS alumna Brittni Gulotty, Public Affairs and Volunteer Coordinator of Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood, joined nationwide protests championing reproductive rights, with a huge turnout on Saturday, October 2, at the West Capitol Park in Albany, including WGSS faculty, students, and alumni.
Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Faculty Spotlights
Janell Hobson


WGSS Chair Janell Hobson at her Harriet Tubman pop-up exhibit, November 2019

Professor Janell Hobson, professor of Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies and the 2021-2022 Community Fellow at the Institute for History and Public Engagement, proposed the Harriet Tubman Bicentennial Project to Ms. and, in addition to writing the introduction, is an editor for the entire project.

The project is a special commemorative issue of Ms. magazine, in print and an interactive online site. Dubbed “Tubman 200,” the project includes an essay series focusing on Tubman’s life and legacy that began with Hobson’s piece on Feb. 1 and continues through March 10.

Spotlight on Collaborations

The College of Arts and Sciences engages with faculty and staff from other schools, colleges, offices and centers/institutes within the University at Albany to support the University's goals. Here we highlight some of our successes in the community.

Rae Muhlstock

Writing and Critical Inquiry Program 

  • Rae and her students collaborated with students from Edmund J. O'Neal Middle School on Superhero Showcase
  • Rae's students collaborated with the Friends of Chamber Music Org/New York State Chamber Music Festival and produced Original Monster Movies.
Rae Muhlstock (center) discusses posters made by middle school students with her class.
Luis Silva of EJ O'Neal Middle School stands next to a poster he created.
(Left) Rae Muhlstock (center) reviews posters from O'Neal Middle School children with her UAlbany students. (Right) Luis Silva of O'Neal Middle School stands next to the poster he created. 


Living in Languages Colloquium

An annual collaborative conference between the departments of English and Languages, Literatures and Cultures, the Living in Languages Colloquium brings together graduate students, faculty, and international scholars to present work on numerous topics related to translation.


Centers/Institutes Public Engagement Activity
Performing Arts Center
Ongoing Activities
Performances for High School Student Groups

Each season, the Performing Arts Center hosts professional touring artists for performances, residencies and outreach. Three or four times per season, these artists present weekday matinee performances that are specifically for high school groups. Area secondary students are bused to campus to see the shows and often stay afterwards for campus tours, visits to the Art Museum, presentations by the Admissions office, among other activities. Study guides and other materials are provided to teachers to prepare the students for the experience.

Visit the PAC High School Matinees web page for more information.


Performances and Residencies by Professional Artists and Companies

The Performing Arts Center hosts professional touring artists each season. Drawn from a wide variety of performing arts, offerings have ranged from Shakespeare with a contemporary twist to stand-up comedy, from Big Bands to professional classical music, from dance companies to family entertainment. Tickets to these performances are available to the general public and group sale discounts are available.

Visit the PAC website for more information.


Facility Rental Program

The Performing Arts Center's (PAC) Rental Program allows community organizations to use its facilities for their events at very reasonable rates. Facilities are appropriate for a wide range of events from lectures and receptions to full-scale ballets and other productions. The numerous musical, dance, theater and local groups that rent PAC spaces include Albany Symphony Orchestra, Albany Pro Musica, Capital Region Center for Arts in Education, Empire State Youth Orchestra, Albany Berkshire Ballet, California Theatre Center, National Theatre, American Theatre Arts for Youth and various local organizations.

Visit the PAC facilities rental web page for details about spaces and fees.

UAlbany in the High School (UHS)
Ongoing Activities

In the UHS program, high school teachers become adjunct faculty members of the University at Albany, and give courses in their high schools for UAlbany college credit. These courses provide students with the academic challenges of college-level curriculum during their final year(s) of high school. As a "bridging" experience to college, UHS courses can help students begin to develop the skills and experience necessary for academic success in higher education. The teachers are visited in their classrooms by UAlbany faculty and academic staff to (1) ensure that the courses are taught by UAlbany standards, and (2) to give constructive feedback to the teachers. Enrollment in UHS courses may provide future opportunities to students, such as the ability to enroll in higher-level college courses or to complete a four-year degree in a shorter amount of time.

Contact: 518-442-4148, [email protected],


Science in the High School Program

This program increases high school student's interest in science research and prepares them for careers in science. The program trains high school teachers to teach science research techniques in their courses. The 3-year science course is designed to help students develop critical thinking skills, to engage in the real life application of science, and to recruit their own science mentors. Student research covers a broad range of interests. UAlbany's University in the High School Program trains the teachers, who in turn facilitate the program, while mentors in a wide range of scientific fields work with students on their research. 

Contact: 518-442-4148, [email protected],

The RNA Institute
Ongoing Activities

The RNA Institute brings together leading researchers from higher education, industry, and other institutions and offers advanced instrumentation facilities for RNA research that are critical to new frontiers in human health. 

Our priority is to advance RNA research while training the next generation of RNA scientists, which includes our commitment to increasing the number of individuals from under-represented groups at The RNA Institute and in STEM.

The Institute offers competitive summer fellowships for undergraduate students and a doctoral RNA training program for students who are selected from PhD programs within the UAlbany departments of Biological Sciences, Biomedical Sciences, and Chemistry, and SUNY Polytechnic Nanobiosciences.

The RNA Institute also welcomes collaborative and contractual partnerships within UAlbany, other academic institutions and industry organization from the Capital Region, New York State and beyond.

Contact: [email protected], The RNA Institute website

Girls Inc. Eureka!

Girls Inc. Eureka! is a free and unique five year program that provides girls with a gentle introduction to STEM, personal development, sports, mentoring, and career exploration. Girls commit to the program for five years, preparing them for the next step in their education after high school. It is a partnership between Girls Inc. and the University at Albany, College of Arts and Sciences.


Girls Inc. Eureka! Program at the University at Albany
Girls Inc. Eureka! Through the Years

Advisory Committee

The CAS Public Engagement Advisory Committee includes the following notable CAS faculty/staff:

Kim Engel
Assistant Director, Performing Arts Center

Annis Golden, PhD
Associate Professor, Department of Communication
Interim Director, Center for the Elimination of Minority Health Disparities

Michelle Harris, PhD
Professor, Department of Africana Studies
& School of Social Welfare
Director, Institute for Global Indigeneity

Lawrence Schell, PhD
Professor, Department of Anthropology

Public Engagement Awards


University at Albany President’s Awards for Exemplary Public Engagement

The President's Awards for Exemplary Public Engagement honor UAlbany faculty, staff, students, projects, programs and units that have made outstanding contributions to addressing a significant societal need and enhancing public well-being through publicly engaged research, academic study, teaching, experiential learning, creative activity and/or public service. 

The award acknowledges collaborative efforts and partnerships that emphasize two-way, mutual benefits, as well as exemplary work on the part of an individual, project, program or unit.

College of Arts and Sciences Winners

President’s Award for Exemplary Public Engagement 

David Hochfelder

Associate Professor and Director of the Public History Program, College of Arts and Sciences


Honorary Awards for Distinguished Community Engagement

Annalisa Scimemi

Associate Professor, Biological Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences


FLIP (Future Leaders in Planning)

Department of Geography and Planning, College of Arts and Sciences


President’s Award for Exemplary Public Engagement 


Distinguished Professor, Chemistry and the RNA Institute, College of Arts & Sciences

Watch a video about Igor Lednev and his partners' work.

Community Partners

  • Dr. Ray Wickenheiser, DPS, MBA, FAAFS, Director, New York State Police Crime Laboratory System 

  • Dr. Earl A. Zimmerman, professor of neurology at the Albany Medical College and director of the Alzheimer's Center at Albany Medical Center

UAlbany Partners

  • Dr. Lednev’s lab team


Honorary Award for Distinguished Community Engagement


Associate Professor, Department of Geography and Planning, College of Arts & Sciences

Watch a video about Rui Li and his partners' work.

Community Partners

  • Ruth Leslie, regional vaccine lead; and Dr. Angela Antonikowski, chief health equity, diversity and inclusion officer; Capital Region Vaccine Network

  • Dave Eslinger, general manager; and Paula Lemire, historian; Albany Rural Cemetery

  • Linda MacFarlane, executive director, Community Loan Fund of the Capital Region

UAlbany Partner

  • Kurt Swartz, adjunct professor (retired), Department of Geography and Planning

Youqin Huang, PhD

Professor, Department of Geography and Planning
Director, Geography BA Program
Past Executive Director of the Confucius Institute

Awarded for the Confucius Institute at the University at Albany, a non-profit educational collaboration between UAlbany and Southwestern University of Finance and Economics in Chengdu, China that provided Chinese language instruction and cultural programming.

Marcia Kees

Adjunct Instructor, Department of Geography and Planning, College of Arts and Sciences
Video for Marcia Kees' award

Elana Gordis

Professor, Department of Psychology, College of Arts and Sciences
Video for Elana Gordis' award

The Triqui Project 

Department of Anthropology
Video for Triqui Project award

Duncan Cumming

Associate Professor, Department of Music and Theatre, and the Youth Movements Festival, College of Arts and Sciences
Video for Youth Movements Festival award

Justin Minder 

Assistant Professor, Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, and the UAlbany Weather & Climate Camp
Video for UAlbany Weather Camp award

Blanca Ramos 

Associate Professor, School of Social Welfare; Director, Education Core, Center for the Elimination of Minority Health Disparities; Community Outreach Liaison, Amsterdam Community Health Task Force
Video for Amsterdam Minority Health Task Force

Breathing Lights

Department of Art and Art History, College of Arts and Sciences. Associate Professor Adam Frelin, the lead artist, partnered with the cities of Albany, Schenectady and Troy and numerous civic organizations on the project.
Video for Breathing Lights award

Healthy Historic Walking Paths 

Department of History, College of Arts and Sciences. Assistant Professor Maeve Kane was the lead on the project. Kane’s students developed a series of self-guided walking tours through a number of Albany’s historic neighborhoods and produced a website and mobile app for the project. In its first year, logged over 10,000 visitors. Kane worked with Orville Abrahams, director of Community Development, Capital District YMCA.
Video for Healthy Historic Walking Paths award

John Delano 

A Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Department of Atmospheric & Environmental Sciences, Delano has worked throughout his academic career to bring emerging scientific research in astrobiology to community audiences, as well as to assist high school science teachers improve science instruction. Receiving a lifetime achievement award, Delano has inspired generations of STEM researchers.

Gary Kleppel 

Biology Professor Gary Kleppel has been a long-standing advocate for sustainable agriculture and local food systems, strengthening UAlbany’s ties with the local agricultural community and using his own farm as a learning laboratory for students and community members.

Schoharie Archaeological Field School, College of Arts & Sciences, Sean M. Rafferty

Associate Professor, Anthropology Department

UAlbany and NYS Museum researchers excavated an archaeological site in Central Bridge, N.Y., and uncovered more than 350,000 artifacts that they have shared with the local community to educate about the area’s history and the importance of preserving cultural resources.

Problem Gambling Research and Treatment Group

Department of Psychology, College of Arts & Sciences; Partners: Center for Problem Gambling; Capital Counseling

Derik Smith

Assistant Professor, Department of English, College of Arts & Sciences; Partners: Bard Prison Initiative; African American Cultural Center of the Capital Region

University in the High School 

College of Arts & Sciences; Partners: ~200 participating high schools and ~500 participating teachers

Center for the Humanities, Arts and Technosciences

College of Arts & Sciences; Partners: Albany Institute of History & Art; The Albany Academies; Albany County Convention & Visitors Bureau; William K. Sanford Town Library; UAlbany Libraries; UAlbany Foundation

Women’s Health Project 

Center for the Elimination of Minority Health Disparities; Partners: Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood

U.S. President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll

The President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll logo

This federal program recognizes colleges and universities for their role in addressing public issues and promoting civic engagement among students. The exemplars below were selected for an annual application to illustrate UAlbany's commitment to public engagement.


College of Arts and Sciences Winners

  • Center for the Elimination of Minority Health Disparities, University at Albany
  • Psychological Services Center
  • Master’s in Regional Planning Program
  • Center for Autism and Related Disabilities


Debernee S. Privott, PhD, Assistant Dean for Public Engagement, College of Arts and Sciences (center), dancing in South End, Albany, NY

Share your public engagement endeavors with the College of Arts and Sciences Dean's Office by filling out the CAS Public Engagement Contact Form.


Debernee S. Privott, PhD, Assistant Dean for Public Engagement, College of Arts and Sciences

Debernee Privott seated in her office.

Committed to public engagement, Dr. Privott currently serves as the Assistant Dean for Public Engagement with the College of Arts and Sciences and as the Director of the UAlbany in the High School Program at the University at Albany. She also serves as a lecturer with the Rockefeller College’s School of Criminal Justice, where she earned her MA and PhD.

Dr. Privott graduated from Spelman College with her BA in Psychology. Passionate about action research, she was previously employed at the Southern Center for Studies in Public Policy at Clark Atlanta University, where she also worked with the Army Environmental Policy Institute. Dr. Privott has completed research related to youth justice with the Continual Improvement Project, now known as Service Outcomes Action Research, at the University at Albany. She has worked with several community initiatives, and she currently leads the Girls Inc. Eureka! Program partnership with UAlbany's College of Arts and Sciences, encouraging girls to be "strong, smart, and bold!"

Dr. Privott is a member of the first class of the Leadership Academy of the State University of New York Research Foundation and a recipient of the University at Albany’s Initiatives For Women President’s Award. She is pleased to currently serve as a Board Member of AVillage, Inc., UAlbany's Center for Women in Government & Civil Society, and Girl Scouts of Northeastern New York, where she chairs the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force. Dr. Privott is a member of the Executive Committee of the Center for the Elimination of Minority Health Disparities and a Community Advisory Board member of WMHT.