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Professor Michael Flamm's New Book Explores Ideological Transformation of American Politics in the 60s

April 13, 2006

Randy Quaye is an accomplished scholar and published author. Though he is proud of his personal achievements, it's his teaching that really brings a smile to his face. "I have a passion for making sure students do the best they can," he says. "I enjoy impacting knowledge as well as giving students the skills to learn." Quaye, who is director of the Black World Studies program and an assistant professor, came to Ohio Wesleyan in 2004. A native of Ghana, Quaye teaches several courses including Introduction to Black World Studies; Black Identity; Black Family; Contemporary African Focus; and Martin, Malcolm, and Mandela. All of Quaye's classes are interactive. "I want my students to come away from my classes with the ability to think critically," says Quaye. "I also want them to improve their writing, and I want to expose them to other cultures and life experiences outside of the United States." In his Contemporary African Focus course, Quaye's students choose a country, do background readings, and then focus on various themes in those countries such as human rights, politics, and community integration. "The students then spend time in the library and build their case," Quaye says. "Then we have a mini UN of African countries with presentations and final papers. Peer evaluations are also an important part of the process." In Quaye's Martin, Malcolm, and Mandela course, students read the autobiographies of the "three Ms," and then are assigned into three groups. Each group debates civil rights topics from the viewpoint of the "M" to which they've been assigned. "I like to give students controversial issues and have them look at it from different angles so they understand all sides of the argument," says Quaye. "It's challenging for students because they sometimes have to debate topics from a viewpoint with which they may not agree." As a medical sociologist, Quaye teaches a unit about African Americans and healthcare in his introduction course. "We compare mortality rates among races and causes of death," he says. "What students learn is that health is actually more a function of socio-economic factors rather than genetics. Poverty and the neighborhood in which one lives play a major role in health." In Quaye's most recent book, African Americans'—Health Care Practices, Perspectives, and Needs, he addresses the health care choices of African Americans. "I went to barbershops, Laundromats, public housing, and a variety of other places to ask people a series of questions about their health care beliefs—what they do when they get sick, how long they wait to go to the doctor, etc. Through his research, Quaye found that African Americans are more likely to be uninsured and also more likely to need medical care. He thinks a solution to the racial disparity in medical care is to give African Americans more access to education, which results in jobs and therefore, a better chance of receiving health insurance. "It's also important to train more minority doctors because they are more likely to work in underserved neighborhoods," he says.

Quaye does incorporate his books into his courses, but it's important to him that students form their own opinions. "I teach tolerance and respect," he says. "I tell students that no one thinks and acts the same. However, we are all members of a global village and we have to understand each other, even if we don't agree with each other."