A Message from Associate Dean Tammy Anderson
A Message from Associate Dean Tammy Anderson
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USC University of Southern California
Experiential and Applied Learning



As Black History Month concludes, I reflect on the incredible trajectory of African Americans in this country and at USC. As a 40+ year member of the Trojan family, I still remember the rush of emotions when I received my acceptance letter to this great university and my excitement in all my subsequent experiences being a Trojan. I am a proud alumna of the Leonard Davis School of Gerontology and the Rossier School of Education; both which have prepared me for a long and fulfilling career of service at this university. 

I’ve thought often about those who have come before me, the accomplished trailblazers upon whose shoulders I stood as I navigated USC: John Alexander Somerville (the first black person to graduate from USC’s School of Dentistry in 1907), Paul Revere Williams (well-known and respected Los Angeles Architect) and Verna Dauterive (whose $30 million gift named the Drs. Verna and Peter Dauterive Social Science Building); all were and continue to be inspiring models of Trojan Excellence. 

Last year, Dornsife’s own psychology graduate Tianna Shaw-Wakeman was the university’s first African American valedictorian. In celebration of this monumental accomplishment, the Class of 2021 Marshall School of Business, Master in Social Entrepreneurship graduate said, "this revelation stands as a testament, albeit small, to both how far we've come as an institution, as a country ... and how far we have to go."
Dr. Somerville was known to live by a wonderful philosophy, “Do not wait for your ship to come in. Row out and meet it.”  

As Associate Dean of Experiential and Applied Learning, it is important to me that current and future Trojans participate in Dornsife’s enriching, dynamic and iconic experiential learning programs and opportunities. These life-changing experiences are open to all, despite the challenges of marginalization or need.  

This month, we launched the ExL Award, which provides funding for student participation in ExL programs. It is my hope that USC students seize the oars we offer at ExL, set their eyes on an ambitious horizon, and row with courage and commitment to meet their future.


Interview by Gabriella Marquez, ExL Communications Intern

The journey to becoming a difference maker at some point began with a spark. That person, instance or circumstance that led to an investment to investigate further.  Our students are facing the incredible challenge of balancing self-discovery while navigating a world filled with absolutes; if you don't do this, you'll never be able to achieve that or you only have a small window before the opportunity is missed. Oftentimes, a successful path is thought of as one that mirrors the experiences of others.
Our Spark to Flame series is intended to illustrate that some of our most lauded faculty did not take a linear path to achieve the accomplishments seen today.
This issue's conversation is with Jeffrey Fields.  Jeffrey is an associate professor of the practice of international relations and founding director of the Dornsife Washington, DC Program. The program brings USC students to DC for a semester to study as they complete an internship at a government agency or NGO. In addition, students who are interested in politics, international relations, and public policy participate in public affairs related programming and professional development activities. Find out what was the spark that led to his impressive career in his interview with ExL Communication Intern,  Gabriella Marquez.

Written by Teresa Hudock and Xiomara Gillette

The Center for Active Learning in International Studies (CALIS) is a division of the ExL office. Our centerpiece is the Teaching International Relations Program (TIRP), a service-learning opportunity for USC undergraduates to team-teach at local high schools. 

CALIS made a spectacular rebound this past semester! Over the past 21 years, CALIS experienced hard hits from state and global financial disasters – the pandemic brought the biggest blow yet when our primary funder closed their doors unexpectedly. Despite the recent round of challenging times, we imagined CALIS could once again bounce back stronger…and here we are!  
The Kachigian Family endowment took effect in July and will
provide a portion of the Center’s budget each year. Then in October, a new sponsor agreed to meet previous funding levels! With this support, we are going in exciting directions to invite new collaborations.

Five Dornsife International Relations professors joined the CALIS team as Faculty Advisors: Iva Bozovic, Jeffrey Fields, Shannon Gibson, Nina Rathbun, and Pamela Starr. Each advisor will select two undergraduate students as Research Assistants (RAs). As part of their position, RAs will work to create new outreach resources related to professors’ fields of interest. RAs participate in TIRP each semester where they can test drive their new case teaching materials. 

These initiatives support the CALIS mission of deepening collaboration with IR faculty and further supports undergraduate students as the driving force behind USC outreach growth and impact.

The TIRP reboot has also been amazing! We were able to launch Virtual TIRP during the pandemic and thought it would have to continue, but now we are back live!

Xiomara Gillette, a junior studying International Relations (Global Business) with a minor in Dance, refelcted on her experience being involved with CALIS below:

Fall 2021 was the first semester I was involved in TIRP; I loved it so much that I am now a staff member for the CALIS office! I first discovered the opportunity in my class with Professor Katada and was further encouraged to participate by fellow members in my professional fraternity Delta Phi Epsilon. 

I chose to teach a high school economics class as I am passionate about international finance. My TIRP partner Javier Calleja Erdmann and I used previous CALIS database items and a worksheet he created while a research scholar for the office. Our central focus was political culture in markets; we utilized analytical tools to support the students’ understanding of concepts such as derivatives, the faults within capitalism, and alternative currencies. 

The experience was exciting and enlightening for me! The students asked detailed questions which assured me they were grasping the material and curious to learn more. I broke down complex concepts which ultimately improved my own analysis of content I study in my classes. 

Being involved with TIRP made me more confident when discussing academic topics and further motivated me to research aspects of international political economy that I am passionate about. Interacting with the students in-person, answering their questions about college, and teaching them about international issues makes me feel as if I am truly making a difference in the surrounding LA community.

Interview by Amber Harris, Innovation and Implementation Manager

ExL recently revamped its website. The goal of the project was to have the website reflect the mission of the office. Anyone who visited should be intrigued enough to want to continue with the experience.
Graduate students Jiaqi Li and Nicole Lu speak with ExL's Amber Harris to discuss their experience in participating in an experiential learning project.  Find out what they had to say about the project and how this experience will lead them towards future endeavors.
The biggest takeaway that I really appreciate is the confidence...I became a confident person through this experience. ~Nicole Lu

Written by Linda Yaron Weston, Lecturer

We are excited to announce the launch of the new Mind-Body Studies minor in Dornsife! This is an exciting opportunity for students to build comprehensive well-being tools into their academic experience.

Minor Description: Students will explore the interconnectedness of body and mind well-being through an experiential, interdisciplinary study that blends theory, research, and practice. Offered through the Department of Physical Education & Mind Body Health, core coursework includes foundations in yoga, mindfulness, and stress management for a comprehensive approach to healthy living. Interdisciplinary coursework examines mental and physical health for a multi-dimensional view of mind-body awareness and connection. This minor is designed for students who want to add a dimension of well-being to their personal and academic lives. It is particularly suited for those with career interests in health care, physical therapy, psychology, or social work.   

Required Coursework: 20 units, comprised of core courses and electives from Physical Education and Mind-Body Health and a choice of upper-division interdisciplinary coursework from departments across USC.  

All are welcome to join our upcoming info session on Tuesday, March 29 at 3:00pm and launch party on Tuesday, April 12 at 4:00pm to learn more about the minor and meet students and faculty. 

For more information about the Mind-Body Studies minor, contact Linda Yaron Weston at lyaron@usc.edu


As we acclimate back into campus life, many of us are finding that we do not wish to return to the previous rigors of the day. While it's great to have some sense of normalcy return, taking a few moments out of the day for self-care is of the utmost  importance so Physical Education lecturer Isabelle Mazumdar has shared a quick five-minute chair yoga practice to help us re-center during our busy work schedules.

With a background in dance and gymnastics, Isabelle has been practicing yoga for over 30 years. She has been working as a lecturer for the Physical Education department for 12 years,  teaching various fitness, yoga and stress management courses. She recently created Principles of Yoga through Community Outreach in collaboration with the Joint Educational Project (JEP), a newly offered course that provides students with an opportunity to learn yoga basics and give back to the community through a volunteer program hosted in grade schools surrounding the USC area. Isabelle is also the instructor for the Dornsife Yoga Hour, a noontime yoga program open to all Dornsife staff.

For more information on how to ExL in Experience, visit the ExL website.

Watch our ExL trailer.

Support ExL experiences by donating here.

Donate to ExL


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