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Fordham to Offer New Course in West African Language

A course in Twi, the most widely spoken language in the West African nation of Ghana, will be taught at Fordham next summer.

Fordham will be the only New York City university to teach this language of the Akan people, the largest single linguistic group in the country. The official language of Ghana, where hundreds of languages and dialects are spoken, is English.

The Bronx has the highest concentration of African immigrants in the United States, said Mark Naison, Ph.D., chair of the Department of African and African-American Studies at Fordham. There are about 36,000 Africans in the Bronx, as assessed by the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2005-2007 American Community Survey, a large percentage of whom are Ghanaian. There are also significant numbers of Nigerians, Malians, Guineans and Gambians.

That number is likely higher, according to Jane Kani Edward, Ph.D., director of African Immigration Research and a postdoctoral fellow at Fordham. She based that assessment on her team’s interviews with Bronx Africans in places such as mosques and churches, as well as at Fordham.

Ghanaians comprise a major portion of the labor force in health care, particularly nursing homes, Naison said. That fact, and the number of first-generation Ghanaian-American children enrolled in the public school system, contributed to the decision to teach the language at Fordham.

“Twi is for people wanting to teach, and for people working in health care, in the Bronx and Westchester,” he said. “Teachers will be able to talk to their students’ parents and health care workers will be able to communicate with patients.”

The teaching of the language is one example of a greater prominence to be given to Africa at Fordham in the coming year. The African Cultural Exchange, a two dozen-strong student group led by Kojo Ampah, a junior at Fordham College at Rose Hill, plans to hold an African festival in February as one way to “bring Africa to the fore,” he said. Eventually, Ampah hopes that the cultural exchange will grow to become a resource for African issues.

Naison agreed.

“Fordham is a place where African culture and history is going to be discussed on a regular basis,” he said.

—Syd Steinhardt

Fordham and IBM Team Up to Showcase Analytics Research

On the day that Fordham’s Graduate School of Business Administration and IBM announced a collaboration on a new business analytics curriculum, representatives from both groups gathered at the Lincoln Center campus for a wide-ranging discussion of the importance of the field to businesses both small and large.

“Smarter Education: An Era of Opportunity,” a colloquium on Dec. 9 that also was webcast live from the Lowenstein Center’s 12th-Floor Lounge, featured presentations by:

Ambuj Goyal, general manager, business analytics and process optimization at IBM;

W. “RP” Raghupathi, Ph.D., professor of information systems at Fordham;

Kamal Bherwani, CIO, New York Health and Human Services;

Jonathan Bowles, director of the Center for an Urban Future.

Part of the push for the partnership, noted Goyal, is that a recent IBM Global CIO Study found that 83 percent of respondents identified business analytics—the ability to see patterns in vast amounts of data and extract actionable insights—as a top priority.

“Companies that use business analytics at the point of impact—not just to do the analysis, the graphs, the scatter plot, leveraging that in the context of making a business decisions—are 15 times more effective in terms of high performance,” he said. “Another way of saying this is: We found, in high performing companies, 15 times more effective use of business analytics at the point of impact.”

Raghupathi, in announcing the collaboration, noted that beginning in spring 2010, students who enroll in the course “Business Analytics for Managers” will gethands-on training in business intelligence, data warehousing, data mining and online analytical processing techniques. The course, he said, aims to close a gap between what the private sector is searching for and what has traditionally been offered in academia.

“Analytics can vastly improve our lives and provide new job opportunities for college students entering the workforce, Raghupathi said. “With this effort, Fordham is preparing students with marketable skills for a coming wave of jobs in healthcare, sustainability and social services, where analytics can be applied to everyday challenges.”

—Patrick Verel

This Month in Jesuit History…
Common Curriculum Sets Standards for Jesuit Schools

Claudio Aquaviva, superior
general of the Society of Jesus

As Jesuit colleges and universities multiplied in the latter half of the 16th century, certain questions kept recurring—about curriculum, teaching methods, textbooks and procedures. Never had the world seen such a large network of schools; ensuring quality control and consistent standards grew more pressing, especially among Jesuits who sought consistency as they moved from school to school.

After many drafts and much consultation among Jesuits, the Ratio Studiorum, or plan of studies, was announced in January 1599 by Claudio Aquaviva, superior general of the Society of Jesus. Unlike the training documents of other religious orders, it applied to the education of lay students as well as Jesuits, and it included humanities—such as literature and history—along with the theology and philosophy traditionally studied by clerics.

It reflected the best educational practices of the day, and helped establish the world’s first true system of schools.

—Chris Gosier





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