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JensenDr. Jessica Garces Jensen

Assistant Professor of French

French studies and science have long been my passions, so much so that I initially had difficulty determining how to pursue a career that embraced both disciplines.

As the daughter of a Chilean father and American mother who communicate to each other exclusively in German, I have always been sensitive to and appreciative of the challenges of negotiating cultural differences and language learning. When I turned 12, my family moved to Le Pecq (France) where I learned French at a small, local collège introducing me to yet another culture that grew to become my life-long passion. My parents with their unique backgrounds, love for different cultures, and diverse group of friends exposed me to different cultural perspectives, spawning an enthusiasm in me that continues to grow even today.

After three years in France, my family moved to Wisconsin where I continued my studies in French and became interested in biology. At Brown University, I concentrated in French literature while fulfilling pre-med requirements. During the school year, I worked at the E.P. Bradley Sleep Research Lab and I spent summers researching schizophrenia in a neuroscience research lab at McLean Hospital. Only shortly after graduation, in the midst of conducting research on the regeneration of the liver at the University of Pennsylvania, did I realize that a doctorate in French could allow me to explore both fields while incorporating my interests in cultural and women’s studies.

My doctoral dissertation explored French fiction centrally concerned with the autodiegetic narrator’s perception of the female reproductive body during pregnancy, pregnancy loss, sterility, and menopause as well as when confronted with human reproductive cloning. By revealing how contemporary French authors make use of this previously underexplored literary space, I uncovered the diverse fictional manifestations of this body that engage with the twentieth century’s dramatic changes in birthing culture and the social, legal, and medical management of the female body, while revealing French women, modern medicine, and society’s conflicting perceptions of it. Much of my research on the history of women’s medicine was conducted at the Bibliothèque nationale de France during a year I spent at the Université Paris-Diderot. I am currently revising my dissertation for a book and this spring I will be presenting parts of my project at professional conferences in Georgia and Kentucky.

During my graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania, I taught numerous courses in French language, culture, and civilization courses at all levels from beginner to advanced. After receiving my PhD, I spent two years as lecturer and language coordinator of elementary and intermediate level French courses working with creative and devoted colleagues who continue to inspire my teaching today.

In August 2012, I arrived at USI and my first semester was incredibly rewarding as I met scores of fascinating and supportive colleagues and genuinely enthusiastic students. I am the faculty advisor for the USI French Club that is organizing restaurant outings, French film nights, excursions, and fundraisers this spring. I am also hosting a Table française to provide students and interested members of the USI community with the opportunity to speak French outside of the classroom and hopefully connect with the local Francophone population in Evansville.

Last semester, I had the pleasure of working with a wide variety of students at USI in my beginner and advanced French and Introduction to Francophone literature courses. This spring, I look forward to teaching Intermediate and Advanced French, Francophone Civilization, and a Special Topics course on French women writers across the centuries.

Having lived in France as both a child and an adult, I teach with the hope that my personal experiences in some way enrich and inform my students’ learning and instill in them the same excitement and appreciation for different languages and cultures that I myself feel. At all levels, my students not only concentrate on oral and written proficiency in French, but work on improving argumentative, analytical, and organizational skills, while seriously considering many social, cultural, and literary issues. By the end of each course, I want my students to recognize that language learning is a continuous, life-long process that contributes to self-discovery, cross-cultural understanding, and a better awareness of our global society.


DickersonDr. James (Jay) Dickerson

Assistant Professor of Social Work

I grew up North of Evansville, in a small, rural, farming town named Petersburg and received my undergraduate degree from Indiana University. Like many kids growing up in the mid-west, I dreamed of living in a tropical climate and having a beach at my front door. This dream was achieved when I was hired to work with first time juvenile offenders in a private non-profit, alternative education program in south Florida. During my time with the “Marine Institutes”, I began to realize how complex family dynamics can be, and that many children do not grow up with the necessary social supports to flourish and become productive individuals. Although this was a rewarding experience, I wanted to know more about these complex family dynamics and what could be done to help.

The University of Southern Indiana and the Social Work faculty offered me this opportunity when I was accepted into the Master of Social Work (MSW) program. The MSW program offered me insight into human behavior, psychopathology, and clinical experience. It also introduced me to social and economic policy, as well as macro practice (i.e., working with organizations, groups, and communities). While working on my MSW, I was putting my new found knowledge to work with the Samaritan Center, Child Adolescent Unit. Again, similar to Florida, I saw individuals and families struggling with complex issues and needing assistance from multiple social service agencies. The Samaritan Center also saw this need and asked me to participate in developing a Wrap-around Program. A program that provides home, school, and community based services; while assisting clients in navigating the expectations of multiple service agencies. The wrap-around process makes it necessary for inter-disciplinary agencies to combine efforts and resources for the best interest of the client(s).

Working within a Wrap-Around System of Care, along with my new found knowledge of macro-practice, spurred my decision to continue my education at the University of Louisville, where I received my Ph.D. in Social Work. To further enhance my educational experience in policy and macro-practice, I was given the opportunity to work as an assistant to Dr. James Ramsey, President, of the University of Louisville; performing such duties as data interpretation, grant writing, and most importantly developing community and university relationships. During this time in the President’s Office and with my dissertation research on the collaborative behaviors of a juvenile treatment court, I continued to learn about interdisciplinary collaboration and its importance to service delivery. Preparing to graduate and find an academic position seemed daunting, as many of us come to realize as we prepare to graduate, finding a University where all of our education, service, and scholarship interests are met is difficult.

Fortunately, the University of Southern Indiana (USI), Social Work Department, my MSW alma mater, had an opening for a faculty member with interests in social/economic policy and macro-practice; both of which I  now teach in the undergraduate and graduate programs with courses SOCW341, SOCW344, SOCW503, SOCW509 and SOCW510. It has been extremely rewarding to introduce our students to a social work field that is not limited to only providing direct services to clients, but to a field that is only limited by their imagination.

Along with teaching in the Social Work Department at USI, this past Summer I published my findings on the effects of shared meaning on interagency collaboration in the Juvenile and Family Court Journal and presented at the International Institute on Economic and Social Science Conference in Dubrovnik, Croatia.  Currently, I am the primary investigator in the program evaluation of the Vanderburgh County Treatment Court (VCTC) and the Director of the University of Southern Indiana, Center for Social Justice Education (CSJE). The CSJE, situated within the College of Liberal Arts and housed within the Social Work Department, attempts to bring awareness of social and economic inequalities to our students and community. During the spring 2013 semester the CSJE will be hosting several events, including a panel series called “Let’s talk about…” that explores issues of racism, inequality, and acceptance. This event will be open to the public and I hope to see everyone there….Macro Love!