Drew’s 186-acre wooded campus in Madison, New Jersey is within walking distance of the Madison train station, with direct service to New York City’s Penn Station. Students take advantage of this easy access to Manhattan for both recreation and cultural enrichment. “New York City is only an hour away by train, so it’s perfect for a day trip on the weekend,” a women’s and gender studies major told us, while an English literature major explained, “I got to perform my poetry in NYC under a professor’s invitation.” Thanks to the school’s proximity to New York City, the city also becomes a classroom for students, through programs such as the Semester at the United Nations, Semester on Communications and Media, Semester on Contemporary Art, and the Wall Street Semester.
Professor Marc Tomljanovich, chair of the Department of Economics and Business, runs the Wall Street Semester, and explained what students selected to participate do during the two days each week they spend in New York. “Each day is split up into two parts. The mornings are lecture-based, during which I teach them about the historical, structural and institutional aspects of financial markets. More specifically, the semester is split into four main themes—bonds and bond markets, stocks and stock markets, the role of regulators in financial markets, and financial derivatives. The afternoons are experiential-based, and tied into the morning’s lectures. For example, if I am talking about bond markets in the morning, we will go visit a bond trader from Barclay’s in the afternoon. If I am discussing the risk structure of interest rates in the morning, we will head over to Moody’s or S&P in the afternoon. The point of the afternoon is so that students get the practical viewpoints to augment (or contradict) the morning’s information.”
Fatima Diallo, who graduated in 2013, credits her involvement in the United Nations Semester with helping her to secure a job after graduation. “Due to my semester at the UN with Drew, I was able to get an internship with the UN Wider network which led to another two internships at UN-Habitat and the UN Millennium Campaign. The latter then turned into a consultancy position after graduation.”
In addition to organizing the previously mentioned semesters in New York City, the Center for Global Education offers Drew students the opportunity to study abroad, something nearly 50 percent of students choose to do. One English literature major we surveyed “went to Paris and London to study urban culture and space.” Other students have the option to study with partnering colleges and universities in Morocco, Brazil, South Africa, Israel, and Spain, to name just a handful of locations. Students also have the opportunity to pursue summer projects abroad, again emphasizing Drew’s focus on experiential learning. During the summer of 2015, for example, Drew students performed hands-on archaeological field research in Ecuador, developed anthropological field research studies on race and ethnicity in Bahia, Brazil, researched the energy industry and its impact on the economy and the environment in Wyoming, and explored public health in the Republic of South Africa by studying and working in hospitals, herbal clinics, healing centers of several faith traditions and indigenous religious shrines.
These global experiences lead to even closer relationships between faculty and students. Professor Tomljanovich described trips he took with students “to London and Dublin to study global financial markets . . . to Brussels and London to learn about the economics of European integration” and to Tokyo “to compare and contrast U.S. and Japanese business goals, strategies and corporate cultures. . . .I can honestly now say I’ve been around the world with them.” Dr. Lillie J. Edwards, the founding director of the Pan-African Studies program agreed: “PANAF has taken students to Africa almost every year during my twenty-three years at Drew. . . they have also gone to Egypt with Drew’s Middle East Studies Program, to Cuba with the Spanish Department and to Brazil with the Anthropology Department.”
Science-minded students will appreciate the Research Institute for Scientists Emeriti (RISE), which was recognized with a Merck Innovation Award for Undergraduate Science Education. Through this program, believed to be one-of-a-kind, hundreds of Drew students have conducted research with senior scientists in state-of-the-art labs which have recently undergone extensive renovations. Through RISE, students have access to state-of-the-art, analytical instrumentation typically found only at Tier 1 research universities, including liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry (LC/MS) for separating and identifying components of a mixture and high-field nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometry (NMR) for determining molecular structures.
Through the Drew Summer Science Institute (DSSI), students of science receive a stipend and housing for the summer to work one-on-one with a faculty mentor on a real-world research project. During the summer, DSSI students meet to discuss their projects on a weekly basis, and then present their results to the Drew community at the annual Fall Poster Session. Recent projects completed by DSSI students include “Analysis of Environmental Risk Assessment of Toxins in Fish: Food Security Implications for Inuit”; “Analysis of Eye Movements to Biological Motion”; and “Modeling Atmospheric Aerosols: Ozonolysis of Surface Adsorbed Vanillin in the Presence and Absence of Light.”
As evidenced by the small class sizes and the faculty mentoring program, Drew’s philosophy emphasizes a close relationship between students and faculty. The school’s 9:1 student-faculty ratio, and its commitment to hiring faculty who are passionate about teaching and the undergraduate experience help turn this philosophy into reality, leading students in our survey to frequently cite the faculty as Drew’s biggest strength. An economics and mathematics major told us, “The professors are generally very accessible outside of class. Not only will they provide help in their own courses, but they will also discuss your interests in the field, their personal research, and future career options.” A chemistry major agreed, explaining, “The professors at Drew are always eager to help the students, whether during class or outside of class. The professors have helped me understand the material by working with me one-on-one.” Professors are supportive outside the classroom as well. “They also seem genuinely interested in helping us improve as students and human beings, and in getting to know us as maturing adults,” a psychology major reported, while an English literature major wrote about the close relationship she has developed with her professors: “My professors have really encouraged me to pursue the most out of my education here. One provided me with the opportunity to read my original poetry in NYC with distinguished poets. Another has influenced my decision to write a senior thesis. Within my major, I feel like part of a family. All of my professors know me and I think truly care about my performance.” Finally, a neuroscience major told us, “The greatest strength of this school is how supportive administration and faculty are. A lot of them tend to be like family to students.”
Patrick McGuinn, associate professor and chair of the political science department told us, “A number of faculty have incorporated various forms of experiential learning into their regular courses.” For example, Associate Professor McGuinn himself offers “Social Policy and Inequality in America,” a community-based learning course in which “students surveyed over one hundred local food pantries, social service organizations, and municipal governments to determine the kinds of food assistance that is being provided to those in need in Morris County and indemnity where gaps in access to food exist.” Dr. Edwards, speaking of PANAF, told us: “Several of the faculty in our program direct major off-campus initiatives. Professor Kesha Moore (sociology) directs NJSTEP, a program that takes the Drew classroom into men’s and women’s prisons, and Professor Lisa Brennan (theater) co-directs a Newark project in which Drew students help middle school students write and produce plays.” Beyond their care and concern for their students, Drew faculty are award-winning scholars in their fields, deeply engaged in their own scholarly research and professional pursuits.