May 18, 2016
Ryan Ballman

Jenna Winton ’17 Receives Graduate-Level Julia Rogers Research Prize


Jenna Winton Goucher College Cultural Sustainability

We are excited to announce that MACS graduate student Jenna Winton ’17 has received the Graduate-level Julia Rogers Research Prize for her paper entitled “The Impact of the ‘Vanishing’ Image on Indigenous Communities,” written for Introduction to Cultural Sustainability. Continue reading »

May 4, 2016
Ryan Ballman

Arlene Goldbard to Serve as Judge for the 2016 Rory Turner Prize


By M.A. in Cultural Sustainability Director Amy Skillman

Arlene Goldbard Goucher College Cultural Sustainability

The MACS program is excited to announce that author and activist Arlene Goldbard will serve as the 2016 Final Judge for the Rory Turner Prize in Cultural Sustainability.  Arlene Goldbard is a writer, speaker, consultant and cultural activist whose focus is the intersection of culture, politics and spirituality. Find her blog, talks, and writings at Continue reading »

Apr 18, 2016
Ryan Ballman

Travel Stipend Enables MACS Students to Broaden Professional Horizons


Once again the M.A. program in Cultural Sustainability has received an anonymous donation to support the MACS Travel Stipend, and just in time. We recently approved the last application for this year’s pool, bringing the number of students and alumni who were able to take advantage of a range of professional development experiences during the 2015-16 academic year to six.

Here are the award recipients from this past year:

Dalen Butler ’14 used the funds to attend the Gypsy Lore Society conference in Moldova. This is the premier international academic organization for anyone interested in Romani studies. He presented a portion of his Capstone Thesis on the International Decade of Roma Inclusion.  Among others, he met a faculty member there who teaches in a PhD program at the University of Michigan; he has subsequently been accepted into that program.  

Heather Gerhart ’16 attended the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association in Denver where she participated in two assessment skills building workshops on social network analysis and mixed-method evaluation – both will be essential to her Capstone research on digital storytelling. 

Shannon Smith ’15 attended the annual meeting of the Small Museums Association in Ocean City, MD where she co-presented a session with MACS faculty member Robert Forloney on Innovating with Tradition: Engaging Communities Through Festivals, Exhibits, and Programs. She also made great professional connections to organizations in the mid-Atlantic area, where she moved in the fall to pursue career opportunities.

Michelle Banks ’13 was invited to present her emergent dissertation research for her PhD in Sustainability Education at the EcoJustice & Education Conference in Yipsilanti, MI. Her presentation, Reviving the Y’uuq K’ixkab’: Violence, Sustainability & the Mayan Poqomchi’es, builds on work she began in Guatemala in 2003 and continued during her studies in the MACS program.

Marilee Gloe ’16 will be using her travel stipend to return to Grenada for her Capstone research to evaluate trainings she conducted in 2013 and 2015. Her research will determine if those trainings resulted in changes in knowledge, fishing practices, and local policies related to sustainable aqua-culture. 

Carol Brooks ’16 will be attending the “Future of the African American Past” at the National Museum of African American Culture and History in Washington, D.C. This event directly relates to her Capstone research and professional pursuits to capture and document the voices and stories of elders in the African-American community, and to create opportunities for interactive intergenerational dialogue to promote healing and restore African-American heritage. 

I hope you agree this is a pretty powerful group of experiences. In each case, our students and alumni have made a significant contribution to the continued conversations around cultural sustainability and cultural equity. 

We look forward to seeing what our students will be able to achieve next year!

Mar 3, 2016
Ryan Ballman

Cultural Sustainability Alum’s SMA Annual Conference Recap


Written by Shannon M. Smith

Museums Amore - SMA Conference

Photo courtesy of Small Museum Association

The best graduate program experience does not end upon graduation. The role of a good graduate program is to deepen your professional work and strengthen your professional networks. While other factors certainly have contributed, the growing relationships with faculty were a significant factor in my recent decision to permanently relocate to the Baltimore area from Nashville, TN–after graduation. Suddenly, it seemed the obvious next move as my most promising invitations to collaborate and move my existing work forward in tangible ways were coming out of my M.A. in Cultural Sustainability association.

Just as I was wondering exactly where I was going to redirect all the energy, thinking, and research resulting from my capstone work, one of my Graduate Committee faculty members, Robert Forloney, asked if I would like to present with him at the 2016 Small Museums Association Conference… Continue reading »

Nov 17, 2015
Ryan Ballman

2015 Rory Turner Prize in Cultural Sustainability


Heidi Thomas Wins 2015 Rory Turner Prize in Cultural Sustainability
Rory Turner and 2015 Rory Turner Prize in Cultural Sustainability recipient Heidi Thomas.

The recipient of the 2015 Rory Turner Prize in Cultural Sustainability is Heidi Thomas for her Capstone entitled Urban Agriculture & the Co-Development of Environment, Culture, & Community.

Three finalists were selected and forwarded to Jon Hawkes, one of Australia’s leading commentators on cultural policy and author of the groundbreaking “Fourth Pillar of Sustainability.”

In his assessment, Hawkes wrote: Continue reading »

Dec 19, 2014

Residency News


Marga-Square-e1386085366172I am really excited to announce confirmation of Marga Fripp as a guest speaker during the upcoming residency. She will share her
inspiring story about empowering women through the arts and promoting social justice in Romania and in Maryland. Read on to learn more.

Marga Fripp, the Founder and President of Empowered Women International, is an award-winning social entrepreneur and international consultant in women’s leadership and empowerment. With over 20 years of experience in solving social problems through the arts, innovation and entrepreneurship, Marga is passionate about empowering women to pursue their dreams. She has worked with thousands of women in the US and internationally to start or grow their micro-businesses. A former journalist and a native of Romania, Marga produced programs that focused on women’s equality, human rights and integration solutions for orphans and street children during the difficult first years of Romania’s transition from communism. She was banned from broadcasting in Romania in 1996 due to her critical portrayal of social policy of the post-communist Iliescu government.

This TEDx talk says it all – Finding Purpose.

In 1998, at the age of 23, Marga founded and developed a successful women’s service and advocacy organization – The Association for the Promotion of Women in Romania (APoWeR) – to counteract violence against women and provide economic opportunities for women in Romania. As part of her strategy of development, Marga formed and led a multidisciplinary team of lawyers, judges and prosecutors to draft a domestic violence bill (2001). She then mobilized citizens, politicians and non-profit activists to advocate for it. In 2000, Marga also produced and hosted a TV talk show to address women’s human rights in Romania. The talk show’s popular debate format for discussions of discriminatory practices towards women, combined with APoWeR’s three years of legislative advocacy efforts, led to a national Domestic Violence Bill signed into law by the Romanian Parliament in May 2003.

With her American husband, Marga left her life in Romania behind in 2001 to bring their newborn son to the US for treatment after suffering a brain stroke two days after he was born. It was during this most stressful time in her life, as she struggled to find her own way in the US, learn the language, care for her baby and eight year old daughter, and with a husband whose work frequently took him out of the country, that Marga began to find other immigrant women with the same struggles with belonging and integration. Hearing their stories and similar plight, Marga began to envision a community of women for women, who could help one another succeed and support each other; where others can hear and see their culturally rich and vibrant stories. Read Marga’s Story here.

In May 2002, Marga created Empowered Women International (EWI) to give voice and create entrepreneurial opportunities for immigrant, refugee and other marginalized women. Over the past decade, Marga’s effective and passionate leadership turned EWI from a volunteer-run program to an award-winning organization with more than 3,500 supporters, over 3,000 women beneficiaries, and more than 1 million dollars generated in donated services. Marga has completed a graduate certification in Business Administration at the Open University, U.K., and holds a BA in Communication/Journalism from the University of Maryland University College. She is married to Jesse Fripp, a former Peace Corps volunteer in Romania and currently an executive with ShoreBank International Ltd. They have two children and live in Bowie, Maryland.

Marga will speak to the Welch Center community on Thursday, January 15th at 7:00 PM. Be inspired by Marga’s passionate talk on what sparked her imagination and vision for Empowered Women International and what drives her purpose for social change.

skillman-headshot1 Amy Skillman, M.A.
Academic Director
As a folklorist, Skillman works at the intersection of culture and tension, where paying attention to culture can serve to mediate social change. She advises artists and community-based organizations on the implementation of programs that honor and conserve cultural traditions, guides them to potential resources, and develops programs to help build their capacity to sustain these initiatives. Drawing on extensive research and documentation, Skillman has developed a variety of public programs that bring awareness to issues of importance in these communities. Her work has included an oral history/leadership empowerment initiative with immigrant and refugee women in Central Pennsylvania, a Grammy-nominated recording of old time fiddlers in Missouri, and a yearlong arts residency with alternative education high school students rooted in the ethnography of their lives. Skillman recently curated a major traveling exhibition that examines the role of folk arts as a catalyst for activism in communities throughout Pennsylvania. She received her Masters degree in Folklore and Folklife from the University of California, Los Angeles and her Bachelor of Arts from St. Lawrence University in a self-designed major in Cultural Minorities and the Immigrant Experience.
Dec 2, 2014

GraduateSPeek: Student-Led Fieldwork


In the last thirty years, the rural town of Helena, AR has gone from the envious name of “jewel of the delta” to the colloquial “hell­town.” A gargantuan drop in population­ from 50,000 to 12,000­ has left Helena with a plethora of abandoned buildings, crumbling civil services, and has perpetuated a burst in inner­city problems: gang violence, theft, murder, rape, and drug trafficking. Tragically, these problems are a part of a student’s daily life.

Classroom - Kyle James cropped

In an effort to combat these devastating social issues, a momentous effort has been placed on education reform. This has resulted in the opening of a charter school to spurn policy and administrative difficulties that traditional schools face. While the opening of the charter school has had a hugely

positive effect in Helena, the local public high school, Central, is often left in the dust of “progress,” and used as the charter school’s unofficial alternative learning school­ akin to a permanent detention. The unintentional shadow cast by the charter school has had a devastating effect in the community.

Many students enrolled at Central feel that they are unimportant as they attend the school for self-exclaimed “nobodies,” or “failures.” As a teacher at Central, I believe this degradation of school ethos is completely unacceptable. In attempting to combat the poor school spirit, a group of teachers, Mr. Sellarole, Mr. Gramble, Ms. Rossoni, and myself, with the help of students got together to form the Central Hip­Hop Team to attack the various challenges our students face.

The greatest struggle for our (low-income, low literacy) students is in understanding the purpose of reading, writing, and self-expression when they feel they aren’t receiving a decent education as compared to students in the charter school. Our project takes the form of a documentary project. By empowering local high school students to speak about how mass media and local politics affects their daily lives, the hope is that students will become community leaders enacting positive and lasting change through their art. Through slam poems, scholarly articles, and paintings, the student-lead documentary will contrast the first year of the Hip­Hop club with the ongoing gang violence, and the impact both have had on the students.

The benefits of this project far surpass mastering the sterile Common Core objectives for high school students. By sharing personal experiences through art, the following possibilities open up for students: The chance to travel outside their rural town to present a high quality documentary to various audiences, scholarships, and reinforcing the idea that student voices matter and that students can direct their future with the skills they are gaining in school. For more information visit,

Kyle James graduated from the MACS program in 2013 and is working in the Mississippi Delta as a High School English teacher at a Title One school. By using a horizontal approach to local fieldwork he is seeking to empower students to enact sustainable change. This comes in the formation of student lead projects, which explore the various factors – gang violence, drug abuse, and failing schools – that plague the rural area in which he teaches.

GraduateSPeek: A Peek at what MACS Graduates are up to.



Oops!  Thanks to a reader for catching our typo in this post.  The title should have read Student-led Fieldwork.  We thought about calling it Student Leads Fieldwork, and it seems we conflated the two.  Good editorial eye! 


Oct 27, 2014

MACS presents first Rory Turner Prize in Cultural Sustainability


The recipient of the first Rory Turner Prize in Cultural Sustainability is Michele Anderson for Imaginative Fields: A Companion to Action. According to the prize committee, this Capstone is, “A remarkable work that illuminates creative place-making, personal health and community transition, along with the tension between art and economic development in one rural town… It is a landmark work in cultural sustainability studies, masterfully written and structured, employing creative nonfiction and public narrative filtered through a solid academic foundation of cultural sustainability leadership theory.   Imaginative Fields incisively explores how personal and family experience shaped Michele’s involvement to repurpose Kirkbride, a historic abandoned mental hospital in Fergus Falls, Minnesota, as a community arts center. It chronicles the distinctive characteristics and promise of rural arts, eloquently making the case that rural arts offer ‘wild possibilities’ for experimentation with artistic creation and community engagement. Cultural workers engaged in community art mobilization will be inspired by this work.”

Her project recently won a major ArtPlace America grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

The prize is named in honor of Dr. Rory Turner, Goucher faculty and founder of the Master of Arts program in Cultural Sustainability. Dr. Turner is nationally known for his innovative work with creative expression in cultural contexts. His legacy has fostered a professional graduate program that engages students in critical reflection and promotes community vitality and social justice.

The award recognizes leadership and vision demonstrated through a student’s final capstone work. The award is granted on the basis of the quality of the research, professional application of the findings, and the writing, as well as courage, integrity and creativity in their work. The award will be given annually to a graduate of the MACS program whose Capstone best exemplifies the ideas and principals of the program and of Dr. Turner’s work.

Prize Committee Members

  • Harold Anderson – MACS Faculty
  • Judy Cohen – MACS Alumnae
  • Amy Skillman – MACS Director
  • Robert Leopold – Director of the Consortium for World Cultures, Smithsonian Institution (now Deputy Director for the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage)

Michele and Rory

Photo of Michele and Rory at 2014 Commencement ceremony

Oct 16, 2014

MACS graduate will be inaugurated as the 14th president of the National Association of Black Storytellers


QueenNurPhotoshoot SmithvilleQueen Nur (2013) will be inaugurated as the 14th president of the National Association of Black Storytellers (NABS) at the 32nd annual festival and conference in Chicago this November. Karen “Queen Nur” Abdul-Malik is a nationally renowned storyteller and teaching artist who works in the tradition of the griot, a West African historian, storyteller, singer, poet, and/ or musician.

Cultural Sustainability was the perfect fit for Queen Nur, since the role of the griot is as a barer of tradition.  Queen combines the storytelling of the African and African American traditions in performances that bring folktales, fables, and fairytales to life; teach students about Kwanzaa and black history; and celebrate multicultural diversity and respecting people as they are. In her performances, she’s accompanied by Dwight James, an international jazz drummer.  At Goucher, Queen Nur explored what the role of storytelling was in cultural sustainability and examined four community-based models for her thesis.

The National Association of Black Storytellers was conceived by Mary Carter Smith of Baltimore and Linda Gross of Philadelphia in 1982 to give more opportunities for African American storytellers and keep alive the rich heritage of the African oral tradition.

Check out more on Queen Nur’s Facebook or website.

Oct 7, 2014

4+1 Information Sessions


4+1 Directors Outreach

Did you miss us yesterday on Van Meter Highway? Join us for coffee and learn more about how you can earn your BA and MA in 5 years at Goucher College.

Date & Time: October 15th from 9:30am to 11am

Master of Arts in Cultural Sustainability at Goucher College (Hoffberger 183)
Goucher Digital Arts(Hoffberger 184)
Master of Arts in Environmental Studies at Goucher College (Hoffberger 155)
Master of Arts in Management at Goucher College (Hoffberger 171)


About this blog

Goucher's MA in Cultural Sustainability provides students with the training to identify, protect, enhance and work effectively with communities around what makes them unique: their traditions, ways of life, cherished spaces, and vital relationships to each other and the world. Read More

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Goucher's Master of Arts in Cultural Sustainability is a completely unique new program. We teach our students how to work closely with individuals and communities to identify, protect, and enhance their important traditions, their ways of life, their cherished spaces, and their vital relationships to each other and the world.

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