Research, writing top priorities for Mount professors on sabbatical

June 11, 2013
Newburgh, NY -

Pycior ResearchMount Saint Mary College professors on sabbatical take on a variety of academic adventures, both at home and abroad, to brush up the knowledge they share with students.

Stanley Pycior (left), a longtime Mount history professor, spent weeks poring over the League of Nations archives in Geneva, Switzerland. It was the experience of a lifetime for the dedicated historian.

“While working in the archives, I took a self-portrait and noticed the painting of [United States President] Woodrow Wilson behind me,” Pycior noted, realizing, “He was looking over my shoulder as I reviewed League records.”

In 1918, Wilson, hoping to avoid the bloodshed of another World War, outlined 14 points for world peace. The League of Nations, formed in 1920, was based on Wilson’s ideas, including his final point: “A general association of nations must be formed under specific covenants for the purpose of affording mutual guarantees of political independence and territorial integrity to great and small states alike.” The organization was a forerunner to the United Nations.

Ironically, America did not join the League, leaving Wilson heartbroken.

Back in the United States, education professor Frances Spielhagen spent her sabbatical as a visiting scholar in residence at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA. She crafted a longitudinal study involving her former high school students, now approximately 30 years old.

“When I was their teacher, I involved them in problem-based service learning activities that resulted in significant community problem solving,” she explained. “I have been interviewing these young people to determine the possible effects of their involvement in my classes and this specific project on their lives as young adults, their civic engagement, and their attitudes toward community involvement.”

As adults, all of the former students perform regular community service.

Spielhagen Research“They attest to the importance of the service learning activities they did in my classes,” said Spielhagen (pictured at right looking over the shoulder of a Thomas Jefferson statue, in the Colonial Williamsburg restoration).

Spielhagen also conducted a seminar for doctoral students at William and Mary, detailing content analysis of qualitative interviews; and presented her emerging research on the longitudinal effects of service learning at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association in San Francisco, Calif. She spoke on various topics at the University of Muenster in Germany, and at the Association for Middle Level Education in Portland, Ore.

During her research, the writing bug bit Spielhagen. She revised and enhanced her book, “Debating Single Sex Education,” to be published in July 2013, and served as editor-in-chief of Middle Grades Research Journal.

She also co-edited a book based on three of the Mount’s Center for Adolescent Research and Development conferences, along with psychology professor Paul Schwartz. The book, titled “Adolescence in the 21st Century: Constants and Challenges,” and containing chapters written by several Mount scholars, will be published this fall.

“I have been grateful for this sabbatical as a time of study and research,” noted Spielhagen. “It will inform my practice as a teacher-educator.”

Sociology professor Margaret Bussigel stayed close to home during her sabbatical, engaged in research.

Bussigel ResearchIn addition to developing an honors component to the introduction to sociology course at Mount Saint Mary College, Bussigel completed an analysis of Medicaid data over the last five years, and surveys of providers and homeless clients. The project was funded by the Department of Social Services on homelessness in Orange County, NY.

She also designed a new program for adolescents who have been classified as persons in need of supervision. The research, continuing over the next three years, will evaluate the effectiveness of nine specific programs in eliminating recidivism and maintaining adolescents in their family home.

“The research will involve collecting data from the agencies serving the adolescents, as well as surveys of the adolescents at entry and exit from the programs, and interviews with a sample of their families,” explained Bussigel (left).

Finally, she researched family justice centers across the United States for the purpose of identifying the range of goals they have, and determining the extent to which these centers represent a consistent and innovative approach to the problem of domestic violence.

Murphy ResearchReligious studies professor Sr. Peggy Murphy, O.P., said of her sabbatical, “The gift of time has been wonderful.”

(Right) Sr. Peggy Murphy, O.P., sings at an early monastery in Glendalough, Ireland. It was founded by St. Kevin and is one of the first Christian sites in Ireland.

Sr. Murphy headed to Ireland’s Glendalough retreat house, one of the earliest foundations of Christianity in country, where she increased her already expansive knowledge of the faith. Glendalough was founded by St. Kevin., patron of animals.

She also submitted an application and proposal to the National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education of Seton Hill University, and received a scholarship for the 2013 Summer Institute in Israel sponsored by Seton Hill, Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies, and Hebrew University’s Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism. The National Catholic Center focuses on historical dimensions and moral and philosophical issues raised, in response to the call of Pope John Paul II to promote the necessary historical and religious studies on the event which concerns the whole of humanity today.

“There will be educators from across U.S.,” she said, “so I'm very excited for that.”