Lehigh University
Lehigh University


Gisolo named director of Lehigh’s Global Citizenship program

Gisella Gisolo, the newly appointed GC director, traveled with the first-year GC students to Ghana over the winter break.

When the former director of the Global Citizenship (GC) program left in July 2008, an interim director was needed to welcome incoming students. Jack Lule, the Joseph B. McFadden Distinguished Professor of Journalism and director of the Globalization and Social Change Initiative, read applications for the position as a member of the committee charged with finding an interim director.

He recalls his reaction to Gisella Gisolo’s curriculum vita: “I said, ‘I hope she will be the permanent director.’”

Lule’s hope was fulfilled in November, when Gisolo was formally appointed as the permanent director.

“Lehigh is very, very fortunate,” Lule says. “We could have looked for a long time and still not have found someone who is as qualified as Gisella.”

Gisolo grew up in Italy and received her Laurea, the Italian equivalent of a Bachelors of Science, in philosophy and cultural anthropology from the University of Pavia. She then earned her Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Florence. During her years of schooling, she engaged in an uncommon activity for a student at an Italian university: She studied abroad. She spent semesters in France, Germany, Great Britain, and the United States. In 2001, she left Italy for Grand Rapids, Mich. when her husband accepted a professorship at Grand Valley State University. Gisolo taught philosophy at the same university as a visiting assistant professor.

“I enjoyed teaching, but at the same time, something was missing,” Gisolo says. “Philosophy had too much theorizing and not enough practical use.”

To this end, Gisolo enrolled in a graduate certificate in nonprofit management at the School of Public and Nonprofit Administration at Grand Valley State University, and she planned and co-directed a six-week faculty-led study abroad program to Italy. She co-founded and edited an education e-newsletter, called Educational Bridges

When she and her husband moved to Easton, Pa., she enrolled in Leadership Lehigh Valley, a leadership program that assists nonprofit organizations in the valley. She also joined two community-based leadership teams with the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley.

At the same time, Gisolo accepted a part-time position at Lehigh as coordinator and program manager for the Dietrich W. Botstiber Scholarship, a merit- and need-based scholarship for students from developing countries.

In her new role as director of the GC, Gisolo will combine her background in ethics and theory with the responsibilities of running a program.

“In Global Citizenship, you have both aspects. Ethical issues are a primary concern for the program. We are teaching students to become aware of the world and cultivating virtue by serving the needs of those who have been left behind in the march towards globalization. On the other hand, the job has organizational and management aspects, which I am very intrigued by,” she says.

“Students are amazing”

Gisella Gisolo (far right) and Tina Richardson (center left), associate professor of education and human services, met with the administrator (middle right) of the Maranatha clinic, a non-profit medical clinic in Ghana.

Over the last semester, she has worked closely with the senior and first-year cohorts, and anticipates using their input to build on the existing program.

“The students are amazing,” she says. “They are not satisfied to sit and theorize about life, but they want to be hands-on. They really believe in the element of citizenship.”

The GC program, established in 2004, is a cross-college program that encourages students to examine their role and responsibilities as members of a global society. Students apply before entering their first year at Lehigh. They then spend the next four years exploring issues of globalization, intercultural competence, and local and global service through study abroad and curricular as well as co-curricular activities, Gisolo explains.

All first-year GC students are required to attend an intersession trip designed to pique their interest in international affairs early in their college career. (Over this winter break, Gisolo traveled with the GC first-year students to Ghana.) In their junior year, GC students spend a semester or summer studying abroad. Students also enroll in two to three required courses a year to graduate with a certificate stating their accomplishments. As seniors, the students complete a capstone project.

“The Global Citizenship program is a really distinctive and unique program; it’s one of the jewels of Lehigh’s global program,” Lule says. “With Gisella in charge of it, GC should continue to be one of the special parts of Global Lehigh.”

Other members of the GC faculty committee that conducted the search were: John Savage, associate professor of history, James Maskulka, associate professor of marketing, Sudhakar Neti, professor of mechanical engineering and mechanics, and Daphne Hobson, director of the international program in the College of Education. Anne Meltzer, Herbert J. Ann L. Siegel Dean of the College of Arts and Science and professor of earth and environmental sciences, led the search.
Stacy Burger, who worked in the provost’s office, now oversees the Botstiber scholarship.

--Becky Straw

Posted on Monday, January 26, 2009

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