Westminster College Faculty Attend Conference in Israel

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

NEW WILMINGTON, Pa. - Tina Keller, Westminster College lecturer of education, and Dr. Rena Cornell Zito, assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice studies, attended Bridges: An Israeli-American Faculty Collaboration Conference in May at Western Galilee College in Akko, Israel.

The Westminster and Western Galilee faculty have collaborated on research for five years and have taken turns hosting the Bridges workshop, providing opportunities for both of the institutions' faculty members to engage in formal and informal discussions to enrich their teaching and research.

During this year's conference, Keller led a roundtable discussion concerning education and religion. During the discussion, Keller introduced a survey she and her U.S. and Israeli colleagues created and plan to give to fifth-graders in diverse school settings in Israel and the United States. The roundtable participants, including Israeli faculty, gave feedback on the survey, made revisions, and brainstormed logistical challenges to conducting research in multiple languages and religion.

The survey was created by Keller, Dr. Amy Camardese, associate professor of education and department chair, and Dr. Randa Abbas from Western Galilee College and a visiting scholar in residence at Westminster for the 2013 Fall Semester.

Three Westminster students were also involved in the project:

  • Kearsie Dougherty, a junior early childhood/special education major, is a daughter of Robert and Laura Dougherty of Wexford and a graduate of North Allegheny High School.
  • Lauren Sutton, a senior early childhood/special education major, is a daughter of Paul and Patricia Sutton of Pittsburgh and a graduate of Seton-La Salle High School.
  • Emily Tittiger, a senior early childhood/special education major, is a daughter of Richard and Maria Tittiger and a graduate of Ambridge Area High School. 

Keller, who joined the faculty in 2012, earned an undergraduate degree in elementary education from Messiah College and a master's in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis in children's literature from Pennsylvania State University.

Contact Keller at 724-946-6034 or email for additional information.

Zito and Western Galilee College criminologist Hagit Turgeman presented on a preliminary quantitative research project titled "Family Instability, Family Conflict, and Delinquency among Former-Soviet Union (FSU) Immigrants." The research uses Dr. Turgeman's data on immigrant adolescents in Israel to analyze the influence of family turbulence on immigrant youth delinquency.

In addition to presenting her research, Zito met with several scholars interested in collaborating in classroom-based activities to increase cultural awareness among both Westminster and Western Galilee students.

"This will hopefully take the form of a cross-national, cross-classroom Skype or blog project in which students in Westminster College's "Minority-Majority Relations" course interact with students at Western Galilee College, home to an ethnically diverse student body," Zito said. "This will allow students from varied backgrounds to share their unique perspectives on ethnicity and minority-majority relations, and to reflect on how their perspectives shape and are shaped by local social and historical contexts."

Zito, who joined the faculty in 2012, earned her Ph.D. in sociology from North Carolina State University. She has published other research on families and youth behavior in the Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, Sociological Perspectives, and the Journal of Marriage and Family.  

Contact Zito at 724-946-6032 or email for additional information.

About Westminster College...
Founded in 1852 and related to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Westminster College ranks first in the nation as "Best College for Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math," according to Forbes.com. Westminster is a top-tier liberal arts college and a national leader in graduation rate performance, according to U.S. News Best Colleges guide. Westminster is also honored as one of "The Best 378 Colleges" by The Princeton Review, and is named to the President's Honor Roll for excellence in service learning.

Nearly 1,600 undergraduate and graduate students benefit from individualized attention from dedicated faculty while choosing from 41 majors and nearly 100 organizations on the New Wilmington, Pa., campus. Visit www.westminster.edu/advantage to view "Advantage: Westminster" A Strategic Plan 2010-2020.


Click image to enlarge.

Tina Keller (L) and Dr. Rena Zito (R) at Western Galilee College