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Professional Development is an International Affair for Two Centenary College Professors

07/08/2013, 01:35 PM

Hackettstown, N.J. – Two Centenary College professors felt that an effective way to improve their teaching methods related to international forensic science and criminal justice practices and sociology issues was to spend two weeks in the Republic of Ghana.  So, that is exactly what they did.

Dr. Norman Cetuk, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice, and Professor Christopher Linne, Associate Professor of Sociology and Criminal Justice, first traveled to Ghana when Centenary sponsored a trip for its students during the summer of 2007 and 2008 when the College offered a Contemporary West Africa: A Ghanaian Case Study course to its students.  Since then, Professor Linne has continued correspondence with Eric Ofori-Ansah, Headmaster of Independence Junior High School “A,” one of seven schools in the Village of Brahabebome in the Obuasi Municipal Assembly School District. Linne and his family also have taken the school on as their own personal philanthropic cause.  They provide support to the school by raising funds and collecting simple supplies, such as chalk, pencils and composition notebooks, which are then shipped in barrels to the school. Over the past few years, Centenary College students, alumni, staff and faculty have donated many of the supplies for the barrel shipments. Some of these donated school supplies were distributed to students during the visit. The Linne family also sends funds to update the classrooms, such as new blackboards and window repairs.
“West Africa is an area of the world that offers a breadth of cultural experiences, but it is an area that faces serious challenges,” says Linne. “For example, the school complex does not have running water or toilet facilities. The teachers want to serve their students in the best possible manner, but they lack the financial resources to obtain some of the most basic tools used by students in the classroom. By engaging with the professionals and students there, we can exchange ideas and knowledge and I can also bring that experience back to the Centenary classroom. Our goal is to help Centenary students learn more about the developing world and become better global citizens.”

The two weeks abroad, which ended in mid-June, were ones full of activities. Most importantly, the professors wanted to deepen their knowledge of West African criminal justice systems. During their trip, they met with officials of the Ghana Police Service.  In the capitol of Accra, the professors provided lectures on forensic investigations and sexual predators to 40 detectives from the Ghana Police Service, which resulted in articles in the Ghana Daily Guide, the No. 1 independent newspaper in the country, as well as Ghana MMA and MC Modern Ghana.  Additionally, they met with the Division commander and District commanders of Obuasi to gain insight into police practices in an urban area that is expanding due to gold mining activities and experiencing an increase in crime.

The professors also became acquainted with the economic institutions in Ghana. Cocoa farming and processing is a major industry and they toured the Golden Tree Cocoa Processing Company in Tema. Additionally, they toured the AngloGold Ashanti goldmine, which has been in operation since 1897. The gold mining operations provide secure jobs and housing for many Ghanaians living in the region. The AngloGold Ashanti mine company also subsidizes some schools and medical facilities. The professors were given a tour of one such facility by Dr. Eugene Carl Augustt, Head of Operations at the Edwin Cade Memorial Hospital, AngloGold Ashanti, where they learned about the level of care available and medical challenges in the Obuasi region.

Professor Linne provided the Commencement Address for the Commendation Service for Final Year Services for the Independence Complex Schools.  The emphasis was on pursuing a college education in order to move closer to one’s dreams.  Both professors also attended the Intersectional Quiz Competition, where Junior High School students competed in teams in an academic competition covering English, Mathematics, Science, Foreign Language and Social Studies.  They also talked to classes about the use of metals in forensic science and American Social Studies.

“It greatly pleased me to return to Ghana for this opportunity,” says Dr. Cetuk.  “This was as much as a learning experience for me as it was for those who I interacted with.  Western Africa is a fascinating place and I plan to incorporate aspects of my trip into next semester’s coursework.  For example, in Introduction to Criminal Justice, we will compare the Ghanaian criminal justice system to the American criminal justice system.  In the Forensic Science/Crime Scene Investigation class, we will discuss and examine different investigative tools and techniques used by the Ghanaian Police.”

Founded in 1867 by the Newark Conference of the United Methodist Church, Centenary College’s academic program integrates a solid liberal arts foundation with a strong career orientation. This mix is designed to provide an educational experience that prepares students to succeed in the increasingly global and interdependent world.

Centenary College’s main campus is located in Hackettstown, N.J., with its equestrian facility in Washington Township (Morris County).  The Centenary College School of Professional Studies offers degree programs online and in two locations: Parsippany and Edison, and at corporate sites throughout New Jersey.  The School of International Programs recruits international students for study at Centenary and Centenary students for study abroad.