BLC Lecturer Profile: Amelia Barili

Amelia Barili is a Spanish Language and Culture lecturer in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, who is inspiring and preparing university students to use what they know to help others, through an innovative pedagogy that integrates the most recent findings of Cognitive Science Neurobiology and Service Learning.

Recognizing the potential that UC Berkeley students have to serve the surrounding community, while mastering what they are learning, Amelia Barili, integrates in her “Advanced Grammar and Composition” courses, a component of service learning. Students have the opportunity to further reflect on the course readings by working one-on-one with Spanish speakers, while assisting the Latino community in Berkeley and Oakland. While volunteering at East Bay Sanctuary Covenant—a Berkeley NGO, which helps Latino immigrants and refugee—students do interviews in Spanish, translate documents, do research on Human Rights conditions in various countries assisting the staff of East Bay Sanctuary with the research and preparation for their political asylum cases.

This innovative method of teaching and learning, fosters in students a passion for the Spanish language and the culture they come to know so personally, it opens their hearts and minds to effective ways of building nurturing communities by using what they are learning at the university to help others in need.

Barili’s research has been supported by two Berkeley Language Center Fellowships, the Berkeley Engaged Scholarship Initiative, the Berkeley Lecturers Fellowship, and has been distinguished with a Chancellor’s Award for Public Service and with a 2010-211 Chancellor’s Grant for Community Partnership.

The video “Building Nurturing Communities” is a short presentation of some of the principles and results of this methodology based on principles of Cognitive Science, Neurobiology and Service Learning as applied to intercultural studies and to the learning of a second language.

For a more detailed discussion of her most recent research with the Berkeley Language Center, see BLC Newsletter, Fall 2008: