Professor Nicola Blake was the plenary speaker at the Pathways to Prosperity Network Institute, a joint initiative of Jobs for the Future and the Harvard Graduate School of Education. The three-day conference, held on October 2-4, 2013, brought together state and regional leadership teams and stakeholders from the private sector to gain insight into in depth career pathways planning, curricula development and alignment and implementation issues in three industry sectors: Healthcare, IT, and Advanced Manufacturing.
Professor Blake discussed her experiences teaching the “Ethnographies of Work” course over the past three semesters; she focused on key assignments and the learning outcomes of both courses. Dr. Blake began her plenary session by posing the sorts of questions that she and her students grapple with during class. By engaging in an anthropological, philosophical, and sociological viewpoint of work, students begin to question the role of work in their lives, the debate between holding a job and having a career, myths and stereotypes about work, the changing nature of work and socio-economic-cultural barriers to career advancement and fulfillment.
Professor Blake indicated that the Ethnographies of Work course at Guttman Community College is groundbreaking in its approach. Nancy Hoffman, Vice President at Jobs for the Future and an advisory board member of the College, was key to the inclusion of a course about the world of work at Guttman. This required course includes a multi-faceted experiential approach to learning about work sites and is a cornerstone of the College’s innovative first-year curriculum. Professor Blake remarked, “The meta-cognitive nature of our exploration (and I say our exploration because as students think through these very complex issues I am also wading through the issues with them) is transformational. Students having gone through this year long course will be well equipped to navigate workplaces and work culture.”