Every Tuesday, during this season of thankfulness and giving, we will be profiling the fabulous people who are part of the DRC Team.
Karen introduced herself to me in the Spring of 2014. I knew immediately that she would be a perfect fit for the DRC Board. Her dedication to Self-Directed Learning throughout her career has been impressive. And, she studied Anthropology ....
She has taken on the DRC mission and vision with a vengeance and even spent three days at the Liberated Learners Conference in Amherst, MA with me this past June.
Name: Karen M. Gagne
How long on the DRC Board and responsibilities? I have been on the board since April 2014. I became the Board President in March 2015.
Why do you serve on the DRC Board? I am really committed to the philosophy and practice of freedom. I think that this freedom should start in rethinking how we learn and grow as humans. I saw the logo of Deep Root Center first on Kara McLuckie's Facebook cover photo and asked about it. When I met Maria, I knew I wanted to become a part of DRC. I am an alum of Hampshire College and the fact that both her son and daughter were student and student-to-be at Hampshire said a lot to me about Maria's and Mike's ideas about learning. Once I joined, I became even more convinced that I was in the right place. When I saw the film Class Dismissed I started including it as a film I showed in my Social Problems and Policy course at St. Lawrence University. I think everyone should see the film.
What do you do for a living? I teach sociology at St. Lawrence University. I have been a professor since 2008, having moved here from Platteville, Wisconsin where I taught for 5 years.
If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why? I have long had the dream of spending a year or so on the island of Carriacou, one of the small islands near Grenada. I have had this dream since I read the novel Praisesong for the Widow by Paule Marshall. At one time you could only get there by boat. It is still relatively sparsely populated. It has a long African history, that is written about in the novel. I think I imagine working there and maybe writing the book I've always wanted to write.
What are your hobbies and interests? I like reading, cooking, and photographing food and coffee. I love going out to eat as well.
What are you the most proud of? I am most proud when someone I don't know writes to me and says they read an article I wrote and asks me for advice about their writing. I am proud of all the students that I have influenced over the years to see them all grown up and doing really cool things in their lives.
If you could spend one day with someone you admire (living or dead), who would it be and why? I think I would like to have a day with my father, who passed away at 58 in November 2000. We didn't really get to say goodbye and I'd like to have that chance in person, you know to catch up and say hello and maybe goodbye for real.
Where did you grow up and why did you move to St Lawrence County? I grew up in St. Albans, Vermont. I moved to Canton in August 2013 to work at SLU. This is the closest I have ever lived to my hometown without being there. I like the proximity because I run into lots of people who are familiar with St. Albans and Lake Champlain.
If you were going to play hooky for the day, what would you do? I would love to finally make it to Ottawa! Yes, I have lived here going on 3 years and still haven't been!
Name the last three books you have read. I am teaching a new course in the spring called Black Studies as Human Studies. The books I have been reading are to look for texts to use for the course. I'll name two in particular that I am now reading: Sylvia Wynter: On Being Human as Praxis, edited by Katherine McKittrick. In addtion, I am working on a review of the book, which I love. The second and very connected book is called: Dysconscious Racism, Afrocentric Praxis, and Education for Human Freedom. Through the Years I Keep On Toiling: The Selected Works of Joyce E. King. Both Wynter and King heavily inform the title and subject of the course.