This week we start a new blog series called Professor and Student Spotlights. Every day we see the talented and amazing people working and studying at CAENS and other parts of Tuskegee University. Naturally, we want to tell our readers about them. What better way to get to know people than by hearing what they have to say about themselves? So, we asked some of our professors and students to participate in short interviews. Over the next several months, we will be sharing their responses here on our blog.
We start our series with Dr. Robert Zabawa, who has taught in the College of Agriculture, Environment and Nutrition Sciences for 31 years. Dr. Zabawa teaches Research Methods, Rural Development, Black Belt Policy, and Anthropology classes. He currently is engaged in research related to the impact of heir property (property passed down without a will) on personal and community wealth creation; the promotion of the orange sweet potato to combat vitamin A deficiency and iron deficiency anemia in West Africa; and the impact of government programs (e.g. the New Deal Resettlement Program) on successful community development.
We asked Professor Zabawa a few questions about his work, his teaching style, and what he likes to do in his free time. Here's what he had to say.
What do you like best about teaching at CAENS
the diversity of cultures in the classroom
Give students reading this blog two "secrets" to success in your class.
1. Participate in class discussion.
2. Ask questions, lots of questions.
What makes Tuskegee unique?
small class sizes and the opportunity to interact and work with faculty on a personal basis
If someone gave you $10 million to use however you wanted in your field of study, what would you do with it?
I would create a research and policy center for Black Belt studies with endowed professorships for teaching.
Describe your first car.
A 1948 Jeepster convertible. It looked like a WWII German staff car. It was great to put the top down and head out with friends!
If you could choose a theme song for your life, what would it be?
"Across the Universe" by The Beatles
Tell us two facts about you that we won't find in your resume.
1. I play West African drums, both hand drums (djembe) and "stick" drums (dundunba, sangba, and kinkini).**
2. I'm a brown belt in Shotokan karate.
Dr. Robert Zabawa is coordinator of Social Science and Rural Development Research. He also coordinates the George Washington Carver Agricultural Experiment Station and the Agricultural and Resource Economics, MS Program and serves as co-director of the Integrative Public Policy and Development PhD Program. Dr. Zabawa's wife, Amy Kaiser is a potter and an art teacher for home schooled children. They have two children, Jacob, an aspiring actor in Baltimore and Mercedes ("Sadie"), who is spending a year in Jacksonville, Florida as a volunteer in a sixth grade math class for the AmeriCorps' City Year program.
To learn more about Dr. Zabawa's research and classes, visit his Tuskegee University faculty page.
*Responses have been edited for punctuation and length.
**Photo Credit: Djembe Art, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18082929