The First Five Years

The Avery Point Global Cafe — A Brief History

The Avery Point Global Café is a predominantly adjunct faculty-driven, student-focused interdisciplinary learning community engaged in critical dialogues on topics related to local environments and global citizenship. Since its founding in 2009, the Global Café has grown into a campus-wide initiative committed to bridging disciplinary perspectives, providing students opportunities to make connections across courses, and enriching our campus culture through panel discussions, film events, poster sessions, and collaborations with regional organizations.  All of these events focus on dialogue.

In 2009 we began with a series of events–all focused on indigenous people and the environment and designed to explore these questions: “What is an Indian?” “What is the environment?” “How do we construct environments?” “How do objects and environments construct us?”


Feb 2: “Local People, Global Citizens,” Jason Mancini, Adjunct Professor

Mar 2: “Native American Roots of America’s Constitution,” Dick Cole, Associate Professor

Apr 13: “Science Education and Indigenous Worldviews,” Nancy Parent, Adjunct Professor


Symposium: Mar 25: “The Plastic Ocean” Branford House. The “The Plastic Ocean” symposium engaged a wide and varied audience in discussion about the effects of human consumption on the ocean.  The symposium augmented an art exhibition of the work of Susan Schultz, on display in the Alexey von Schlippe Gallery at Avery Point. Schultz created porcelain sculptures and installations of natural and man-made detritus she collected, mapped and researched along the coastlines of the United States and Europe. She also used local and global research including the Midway studies to help her create pieces that show the persistent problem of the life cycle of plastic. Attendees toured the gallery exhibition followed by a panel presentation including the artist, three scientists, and an anthropologist: Susan Schultz, Artist, Stonington, CT; Wayne Sentman, wildlife biologist, Oceanic Society, San Francisco, CA who participated via live webcam from Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, Hawaii. Penny Vlahos, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Marine Sciences Department, UConn, Avery Point; Lonny Lippsett, Journalist, Managing Editor, Oceanus, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, MA; Kehaulani Kauanui, Associate Professor of American Studies and Anthropology, Wesleyan University


Apr 15: Student/faculty fieldtrip to Pine Island, a small island located in Fisher’s Island Sound and immediately southeast of the Avery Point Campus.  The island has a rich history as well as important coastal habitats. The trip offered an opportunity to explore the island, envision future student projects, clean up a small part of our campus home, and have fun.


Professional Development:

June 2010: Panel Presentation at Fairfield University, “Building a Forest for the Trees: A Learning Community at UConn-Avery Point,” by Syma Ebbin, Christine Green, Nancy Parent, and Laurie Wolfley, Fairfield University Conference on Innovative Pedagogy & Course Redesign.


Fall 2010: Local Environments, Global Citizens

During the 2010-2011 academic year, the theme was “Local Environments, Global Citizens,” focusing on the environment, globalizing forces, sustainability, and migration.

Lunchtime Discussions:

Sept 21: “Migration of Pharmaceuticals in the Environment.”  Christine Green

Oct 12: “Exploring Columbus.”  Syma Ebbin and Lynne Rogers explored the cultural transmission of Christopher Columbus:  man, myth, monster or mobster?

Nov 9: “The Empire Strikes Back?  Outsourcing and U.S. Jobs.”  Dale Tuller led a discussion of outsourcing and consumerism in modern society.

Faculty Study Global Citizenship Study Group:  Supported through a Faculty Global Study Group Grant Competition, the faculty focused interdisciplinary discussions on select books addressing the semester’s theme, attended an art exhibition at Lyman Allyn Museum, and developed thematic content for the 2010-2011 year.  Meetings took place Sept 14; Oct 29; Nov 12

The LC was also integral to an INTD 1800 section.


Spring 2011: Local Environments, Global Citizens

The spring 2011 program integrated a range of topics under the umbrella, “local environments, global citizens” with an emphasis on environmental degradation, climate change, and corporate and consumer responsibility. This semester also included a collaboration with the state’s traveling exhibit on women and industry past and present.


Lunchtime Discussions & Events:

Feb 3: “The Story Of Stuff,” Syma Ebbin and Christine Green

Mar 2: “Climate Change: Ironing Out the Half Knowledge,” Penny Vlahos

Mar 29: “Art for Social Change” led by Diane Barcelo

Apr 6: Student Panel Discussion moderated by Greg Stone’s Journalism Class “Through a Glass Darkly: Science through the Eyes of Journalism”

Apr 7: Introduction to Heifer International by Bill Wernau, Heifer Volunteer Coordinator

Apr 7 Symposium: “Environmental Epilogues: Impacts of Industry on the Connecticut Landscape” 7:30pm Branford House. Panelists: Judy Benson, Staff Writer/Health-Environment Reporter, The Day, “Community Interaction with the Thames River,” Margaret Bruchac, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, and Coordinator of Native American & Indigenous Studies, “Native American Basketry as Art, Industry, and Survivance,” Syma Ebbin, Assistant Professor, Department of Geography; Research Coordinator, Connecticut Sea Grant, “Forgotten Landscapes: Rediscovering the Baker Cove Watershed in Groton, CT,” Curt Johnson, Director of Programs and Senior Attorney, Save the Sound and the Connecticut Fund for the Environment, “Action Based Investment for a Healthy and Economically Vibrant Sound,” Penny Vlahos, Assistant Professor, Departments of Marine Sciences and Chemistry, “Citizen Science:  A Global Network of Empowerment.”

Apr 13: Dinnertime discussion led by Margaret Robinson and her History 2100 class “WE MATTER, I MATTER: Environmentalism Past and Present”

Apr 14: Student Panel Event, “Submerged Nation: A Climate Change Effect” 3:30-5:00, Marine Science Bldg.

Apr 12-30: Exhibit: “All in a Day’s Work: Photographs of Women in Connecticut Industry,” Avery Point Library

Apr 19: Earth Week Field Trips to Pine Island (11:00 and 12:45 trips)

Apr 25-28: Student Poster Session “Local Environments, Global Citizens in Action,” Avery Point Library.

June 2011: Panel Presentation at Fairfield University, “Local Environments, Global Citizens: Experiment in Action at the University of Connecticut, Avery Point,” a panel presentation by Faculty Learning Community Members, by Diane Barcelo, Syma Ebbin, Christine Green, Nancy Parent, and Laurie Wolfley Fairfield University Conference on Innovative Pedagogy & Course Redesign.


Fall 2011: Local Environments, Global Citizens

The fall 2011 program continued with a range of topics under the umbrella, “local environments, global citizens” with an emphasis on environment, conflict, pollution, and discussions of pedagogy and student learning.


Lunchtime Discussions:

Sept 27: Falling Man by Don DeLillo, book discussion led Pamela Bedore, examining the legacy of 9/11 on psyche of NYC and America more braodely.

Oct 19: Children at War, by P.W. Singer, book discussion led by Margaret Robinson and undergraduate students from, “Living Through War” History course on child soldiers in recent conflicts.

Nov 3: On Bullshit, by Harry Frankfurt, book discussion led by Hans Dam Guerrero, book argues that bullshit is greater enemy of the truth than lies are.

Field Trip:

Oct 13: Student/faculty fieldtrip to Pine Island. The trip offered an opportunity to explore the island, envision future student projects, clean up a small part of our campus home, and have fun.


Spring 2012: Local Environments, Global Citizens

The spring 2012 semester continued with a focus of local environments, global citizens with an emphasis on poverty, environmental justice, corporate accountability, personal responsibility, and opportunities for action through service learning.


Lunchtime Discussions:

Feb 9:  Mike Alfultis & Syma Ebbin, “Exploring the landscape of environmental justice: mapping the intersections of socioeconomics and environmental hazards”

Feb 22:  Ned Epps (Peace Corps Volunteer; Program Analyst, U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development) & Beth Rumery, “Experiential Learning: Peace Corps’ 50-year Legacy of Service at Home and Abroad.”

Mar 1:  Pam Bedore, “Consuming Monsters: Metaphors of Consumerism in Zombie and Vampire Literature”

Mar 20: Nancy Parent & Laurie Wolfley, “The Story of Broke,” Film and discussion.

Mar 29: Nena Lake & Christine Green, “What is Service Learning?” Students and faculty will share their experiences with service learning.

Apr 3: Bryan Nurnberger, CT resident from “Simply Smiles, Oaxaca Mission”

Apr 4: Dinnertime Discussion:  Margaret Robinson & Nat Trumbull, “I-95 and the Geography of Consumption”

Apr 23-26: Student Poster Session, “Local Environments, Global Citizens in Action,” Avery Point Library


Fall 2012: Civility, Non-Violence, and Democracy

In fall 2012, the learning community faculty re-named the initiative as the Avery Point Global Café, developing a logo and web and social media presence. The Fall 2012 semester aligned with UCONN’s Civility Metanoia and opportunities for community action. Faculty integrated themes of civility, discourse, and action into their courses, as well as analyzing systemic forces of race, gender, and culture.


Sept. 4:How to be Good” with Randy Cohen

Sept 19: Geraldine Brooks discusses her works of historical fiction,

Sept 20: Groton Public Library Evening Film Discussion facilitated by Laurie Wolfley in recognition of the International Day of Peace: I Am, 7:00-9:00 p.m.

Sept 25: Civility Metanoia Poster Exhibit Opening Reception, Avery Point Library

Oct 2: LC Lunchtime Discussion–Bryan Nurnburger from Simply Smiles, Inc.

Oct 30: LC Lunchtime Discussion–on media and the presidential election

Nov 13: LC Lunchtime Discussion facilitated by Laurie Wolfley’s Race, Gender and the Culture Industry class.

Nov 26: Groton Public Library Evening Library Film Discussion facilitated by Laurie’s Race, Gender and the Culture Industry class.

Dec 3-10: Student Poster Session Exhibit, “Local Environments, Global Citizens in Action,” Avery Point Library


Spring 2013: UCONN Reads, The Great Gatsby

The spring 2013 semester leveraged support from the UCONN Reads inititative to provide books and discussions relating to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s, The Great Gatsby. Global Café faculty engaged in interdisciplinary discussions on Fitzgerald’s story, Long Island Sound, and connections to local environments.


Lunchtime Discussions:

Feb 5: “How various academic disciplines view The Great Gatsby,” with panelists: Greg Stone, Journalism; Nat Trumbull, Geography; Syma Ebbin, Agricultural and Resource Economics; Glen Gordinier, Maritime Studies; Dennis Breslin, Sociology

Feb 19: The Great Gatsby in the 21st Century,” featuring Joseph Flora, visiting professor and F. Scott Fitzgerald expert


Professional Development:

May 2013: Panel Presentation at Fairfield University, “Cultivating the Octopus’s Garden: Local Environments, Global Citizens at the University of Connecticut, Avery Point,” Faculty Learning Community members, by Diane Barcelo, Syma Ebbin, Christine Green, Nancy Parent, Laurie Wolfley, and Randall Patterson, Fairfield University Conference on Innovative Pedagogy & Course Redesign


Fall 2013: Food, Sustainability, and the Environment

During the fall 2013 semester, the Global Café focused on food sustainability, pollution, health, and environment. Additionally the Global Café partnered with EcoHusky Club and Groton Public Library on additional events described below.


Film screenings:

Oct 8: Fresh, which “celebrates the farmers, thinkers and business people across America who are re-inventing our food system. Avery Point Auditorium.

Oct 17: We feed the world, Avery Point Auditorium

Oct 29: What’s on your plate? Avery Point Auditorium


Lunchtime Discussions:

Oct 15: “Industrial Animal Agriculture: Myths, Realities and Possibilities for the Future,” Professor Amy Safran, Student Center Glass Room.

Oct 16: World Food Day Information Session:  Students representing the EcoHuskies and Global Café set up information tables in the student center, held food drive.

Nov 13: “Health Conditions and their Relationship to Diet: What Can We Do?” Nursing Professor Robin Miller discusses dietary changes we can make for better health; Local non-profit organization, F.R.E.S.H. of New London shared their work and local activism for just, sustainable, accessible, and productive food systems.


Groton Public Library Collaboration:

Oct 30: Groton Public Library Book Talk:  EcoHusky Club led book talk of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, by Barbara Kingsolver, at the Groton Public Library.


Spring 2014: UCONN Reads, The Complete Persepolis

During the spring 2014 semester, the Global Café supported the UCONN Reads initiative to provide course connections and campus discussions on local and global issues pertaining to Satrapi’s autobiography. This book was integrated through courses at the Avery Point campus.


April 7: Panel Event: The Complete Persepolis, 7:00pm

Guest Presenter, Talinn Grigor, Associate Professor of Fine Arts, Brandeis University presented “Veils, Guns, and Satrapi’s Persepolis”; Pamela Bedore, Asst. Professor of English, UCONN, presented “The Graphic Narrative: Intersections of Text and Image in Persepolis,” and Fakhreddin Azimi, Professor of History, UCONN presented, “Unfolding of the Iranian Revolution and diaspora of Iranian exiles and refugees.”


Fall 2014: Climate Change: Local Environments, Global Citizens

In fall 2014, the Global Café theme focused on climate change starting off with a film screening of DISRUPTION to raise awareness about the Peoples Climate March which took place in New York City on September 21, 2015. Over 60 students, faculty, and community members attended this film screening in the Avery Point auditorium on Sept 18.


Lunchtime Panels on Climate Change:

Oct 14: “Diagnosing A Wicked, Messy Problem: A Policy Sciences Perspective on Climate Change” by Syma A. Ebbin, Ph.D.; “Addressing the Impacts of Climate Change from the Senate to the EPA to the Shoreline of Connecticut” by Rebecca French, Ph.D.; “Kalimiut Community Life and Subsistence: Confronting Change on Alaska’s North Slope” by Jason R. Mancini, Ph.D.

Nov 17: “Extreme Climate Events: The Other Climate Change Problem” by Michael Finiguerra, Ph.D. ; “Innovation Abilities in Animals and Their Necessity for Survival in a Changing Global Environment” by Allison Kaufman, Ph.D.; “Lessons on Resiliency from Sri Lanka” by Jamie Kleinman, Ph.D.

Dec 4: Film Screening of Years of Living Dangerously, Q&A session with Marine Science Professor Emeritus, Frank Bohlen, Avery Point Auditorium