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Community Engaged Learning; Ethnography.
Susan Thomson Tripathy’s research interests emphasize qualitative research methods, including ethnography, oral history interviews and participatory action research, all of which are also important parts of her teaching. To connect these research skills with real life community problems and concerns, she integrates service-learning opportunities into all of her courses. Projects completed by her students in collaboration with community partners include facilitating a storytelling booth for a Franco-American neighborhood festival; creating a museum exhibit featuring the oral histories of refugees from Burma, Bhutan, Congo and Iraq; arranging an exhibit of art created by homeless guests at a local drop-in center; and organizing workshops and college tours for disadvantaged high school youth as part of a local mentoring program.
Thomson Tripathy’s earlier doctoral research, funded by a Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation grant, focused on ethnographic fieldwork in rural Bihar, India, analyzing the politics and artistic development of a local dance form. Before coming to UMass Lowell in 2011, she was the Director of Research at Germaine Lawrence, a residential treatment center for adolescent girls in Arlington, MA. She has also taught at Middlesex Community College, where she was an active participant and researcher in MCC’s extensive community service program.
At UMass Lowell, Thomson Tripathy’s teaching has been recognized in 2013 and 2014 with awards in Applied and Experiential Learning. In addition to her work in the Sociology department, she is Director of the Bachelor of Liberal Arts (BLA) program.