Stepping down from his position as dean of the college after this term, Lawrence Breitborde intends to take a sabbatical in order to conduct research and prepare for his upcoming return as professor of anthropology.
The Knox Student: What do you have planned for your upcoming sabbatical?
Lawrence Breitborde: Well, the reason I have a sabbatical is because I’m coming back Ñ but in my role as a full-time faculty member…I’m a tenured member of the [anthropology and sociology] department and I’ve taught on and off…I’ll be back in the fall of 2014 to begin full-time teaching.
So, I have a year’s sabbatical. And all sabbaticals at the college are…sort of an investment by the college to support faculty’s continued scholarly development as teachers.
I’ve got a lot of work to do, because I haven’t taught full-time in 18 years. I have course development, that’s a big goal. I’ll be teaching some of the existing courses in the department, but I’m probably going to introduce some new courses of my own.
TKS: Will your research over the course of your sabbatical inform this course development?
LB: Yeah, yeah. And one of the things that I’m hoping to do-and this is iffy at this point-is get back to my field research site [in Liberia]. That’s where my fieldwork was in the 70s, in the 80s, in the 90s-[before] I came here. I want to get back there, probably for just a month. That’s a difficult proposition, not because I can’t get there…but because that country has gone through a very long and difficult civil war, and they’re in the process of, I guess you’d call it recovering. They lost a lot of their infrastructure…so the logistics of, you know, where would I stay, are not so easy. But I’m sort of hopeful and I’m still in touch with people who are there, particularly at the university…and they’re trying to work out something for me there.
I have a lot of questions about what happened during the war, because a lot of traditional institutions no longer had anything to offer. For example, there were a lot of relief supplies that came in. Well, they were distributed by churches and by new organizations that came in, so who cared about the old governance? But the [traditional institutions] have come back, and I’m really interested in that process and collecting stories of people from during the war.
I’ll be developing a course on contemporary [sub-Saharan] Africa. Back when I taught full time, I used to teach a course on cities in developing countries that looked at examples from Africa and Asia and Latin America, and I’m trying to revive that.
I’ll be in Galesburg for part of the time, lying low. I’ll probably spend a lot of time in Wisconsin [where] I have family. … So I’ll be back and forth. I’m looking forward to the year.
TKS: When was your last sabbatical?
LB: Well, administrators don’t usually get sabbaticals, but academic deans don’t usually serve for as long as I have…this is my 18th year. And so, when I was in my ninth year…I spent a term away. That was a bit unusual, but that was because I’d already been here for such a long time. When academic deans have had a long stint, and they’re not leaving the institution, they’re just leaving the position and going back into the faculty, it’s sort of customary that they get a sabbatical to kind of retool, take a deep breath.