Some time ago I wrote a post about the absurdity of cutting the budget for the College of The Bahamas at the same time as the College is being mandated to move to university status. Not only is the College the national tertiary level institution, but it’s the only indigenous public institution that is engaged in any form of ongoing Bahamian research.
How many of you who are reading this know that? (Colleagues, especially those of you engaged in research, you don’t count.)
Apparently the Minister of Education, who was once a Deputy Chair of the College Council, doesn’t know that.
Certainly the government, which happily pays out hundreds of thousands of dollars to foreign agencies and institutions, doesn’t know that. Or doesn’t care.
Well, here’s the truth of it.
Last Sunday, I returned from Exuma, where seven of my students and I had partnered up with students and faculty from Harvard University as part of the Sustainable Exuma project. Our contribution was at the research end. My students spent ten days in selected communities in Long Island, Great Exuma and the Exuma Cays, studying topics ranging from land tenure to sustainable tourism to social and economic interactions in those communities. In a couple of weeks’ time they will be giving a presentation to a small group of their peers on those studies.
This past Friday, another group of my students gave presentations on the ongoing research they are conducting into the viability of the proposed Bahamian carnival. Their topics included the sustainability of a Bahamian carnival, getting Bahamians’ buy-in for the carnival, the carnival’s benefit to Junkanoo, security at the carnival, and marketing the carnival to tourists. They have engaged in secondary analysis and first-hand interviewing of stakeholders and experts. At the Student Research Symposium, which is in its sixth year, other students (all undergraduates) presented on topics as varied as young Bahamians’ residence in New Providence, mathematical models for the human spine, and the effect of alcohol use and erectile dysfunction among Bahamian men.
And last semester, my students engaged in interviews with people who were ten years old or older on July 10, 1973, to collect their memories of that date and also to collect their evaluation of how far we have come over the past forty years. Those interviews are being transferred to a digital archive which will be available for Bahamians to dip into in the near future, but which will also be available in 2023 when we are fifty years old.
None of these students are graduates. They are all undergraduates. And they are all conducting original, Bahamian research.
Meanwhile, COB faculty are focussing on (forgive me, scientists; I can only speak for my discipline, so my colleagues can help me fill in the gaps): violence in Bahamian society, including violence in the home, the school, the street; criminality in Bahamian society; profiles of inmates at Fox Hill prison; migration; statelessness; human trafficking (yes, politicians, COB is studying human trafficking; there was no need to invite the UN to do it for you); potcakes and pet-keeping; manifestations of Bahamian Creole (aka Bahamian dialect); ways of teaching that incorporate the Creole. Other studies involving both faculty and students include the shortage of Bahamian nurses; the potential impact of VAT; the economic impact of Junkanoo; and the efficacy of the Stafford Sands economic model for the twenty-first century. Not to mention the ever-expanding study of Bahamian history, in broad strokes and in nuance.
Where can we find this research? you are probably asking. Well, it’s around in various forms. There are books published with the research in them, and there is the International Journal of Bahamian Studies, published annually and available online. There’s also the School of English’s journal Lucayos, also available online. If you pay attention, you’ll know what we’re all working on.