Thursday, July 15, 2004
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There has been an Italian studies program at St. Jerome's University since the 1960s, offering individual courses and a minor. Over the past few years, says Gabriel Niccoli (right), chair of Italian and French studies at St. Jerome's, several factors converged to push the program to the next level.
With the hiring of Gerardo Acerenza, the department now has three Italian faculty members: Acerenza in contemporary Italian literature, Niccoli in medieval and renaissance literature, and Vera Golini in modern Italian literature. They also hold two Distinguished Teacher Awards among them -- Niccoli received his in 1998, Golini hers in 2004. "So we now have the numbers," says Niccoli, who will direct the new program.
UW and St. Jerome's also have an academic exchange program with the University of Calabria, in southern Italy, established in 2002. Each year's batch of exchange students from Italy have helped stimulate enthusiasm for Italian studies at St. Jerome's, Niccoli says, and this fall two or three Canadian students are making the return trip. In the new program, students will be able to study for a term or a year in Calabria's Corso di Laurea in Lettere, for full credit at Waterloo.
The Italian studies program fills a gap in more ways than one, Niccoli notes. It's expected that some students will use the program to explore their own ethnic heritage; others interested in business opportunities in Italy will take the language minor. And there's been a growing demand for Italian studies courses in English and Italian literature in translation from students wanting to round out their own specializations -- especially fine arts, architecture, music, classical studies, history, English, and French.
Most courses in the current program are taught in Italian. In the new degree program, the culture and literature courses -- roughly 80 per cent of the total program when combined with cross-listed courses from other Arts faculty departments -- will be taught in English.
Niccoli, who describes himself as a comparatist by training, maintains that it's impossible to fully understand one national literature in isolation. "Like peace and conflict, literature overflows boundaries," he says. "Italian is one of the mother cultures of the western world, and a knowledge of Italian literature and art fills a gap in the understanding of other cultures. In the study of English, for example, you can't grasp Chaucer unless you know something of Boccaccio, whom the English poet deeply admired. Or know Milton or Joyce without knowing Dante. Or understand some of Shakespeare's plays without reading Groto, for instance; or 17th-century French and Spanish theatre, without some knowledge of the dramatic theories and the staging advancements developed in the mature Italian renaissance and of the impact these had on England, France and Spain."
Courses will include topics such as Dante's Divine Comedy (a new course being developed by Niccoli and available in winter 2005), the Italian novel and cinema, Italian women's writing, Italian architecture of various eras, Italian opera, the Italian Canadian experience, and "Reflections on the Papacy," as well as survey courses on Italian history, literature, and civilization.
The grad is Lance Ferris, who headed a study, along with colleague Mark George, for the Waterloo Organizational Research and Consulting Group in the psych department.
He writes in the newsletter, The I/Opener, that a physician suggested the study, "with the belief that many of the problems seen in patients can be traced back to health and wellness issues in the workplace. . . . The WORC Group undertook a four-month study of health and wellness issues in the region using telephone interviews with Human Resource professionals in area companies.
|UW's Employee Assistance Program|
Full results of the study are available online.
Ferris writes: "We found that many of the organizations surveyed used the Internet as a source of information on where they could obtain health and wellness products and services for their employees, indicating the benefit to service providers in having a website. Also, word of mouth and conferences/workshops/tradeshows were also common sources of this kind of information.
"With regards to approaches used in dealing with health and wellness issues, almost all organizations said they had an open-door policy, through which employees could seek help directly from a manager or another official in the company (e.g., in Human Resources). Employee Assistance Plans also were widely available. The other most-common services involved providing information in events (e.g., 'lunch and learns'; seminars), and media (e.g., newsletter articles).
"The largest barriers to organizations expanding their existing services were financial and time/staff constraints. Manager and employee buy-in were also areas that were mentioned, though less frequently than the previous two. Substantial reporting of employee buy-in as a barrier was a surprise finding; why wouldn't employees be eager to have and use health and wellness programs? This is an area where further research is needed, but one can speculate that some employees question the worth of these programs.
"When Human Resource professionals are looking for a product or service, the most important aspects are the cost-benefit ratio and relevance. Thus, service providers may need to do their own research into benefits/effectiveness and relevance (e.g., proportion of employees likely to need a service) of their particular offerings, and make this information prominent when describing products or services. One further finding was that absenteeism was the most frequently used index by which organizations monitored health and wellness issues."
The next batch of online courses offered by the distance education department starts on July 21, but there is still time to register, either by phone (ext. 4002) or in person at 335 Gage Avenue, Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. These courses are a "flexible training option," according to the department's flyer: "They are targeted for those unable to commit to a specific date or time, yet who wish to expand their knowledge." Courses are six weeks long, with two lessons released each week, and cost $165. Choose from Project Management @E-Speed, The Keys to Effective Editing, Achieving Success with Difficult People, and Customer Service Fundamentals.
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