Director of the Joseph S. Bruno Auburn Abroad in Italy Program
College of Human Sciences
Linda Ruth was recently named executive director of the Joseph S. Bruno Auburn Abroad in Italy Program in the College of Human Sciences. The semester-long program operates year-round in Ariccia, a small community located in the Alban Hills less than 20 miles south of Rome. Students spend a semester deeply immersed in Italian culture through lectures, field trips and other hands-on experiences designed to enrich their knowledge base and broaden their world views. Ruth was previously an associate professor in the McWhorter School of Building Science, where she was active in study abroad, service learning and collaborative outreach initiatives for Auburn City Schools, the Lee County Humane Society, Auburn Daycare Centers and East Alabama AIDS Outreach. In 2009, she was named the Outstanding Educator of the Year by the Associated General Contractors of America, the nation's largest organization serving the construction industry.
1. What will you be doing in your new role as executive director of the Joseph S. Bruno Auburn Abroad in Italy Program?
I have the enviable position of taking over an amazing program that is well developed and running smoothly. The program was established 10 years ago and is Auburn's only permanent year-round international campus outside of the U.S. I will be responsible for overseeing the curriculum and content of the 16 hours of credit that provides students with a minor in international studies … Did I mention that I get to live in Italy?
2. What led you to this program?
I strongly believe that having an opportunity to study in and experience another culture is becoming more and more of a necessity in preparing students for the world and workplace of the 21st century. This program offers students 12 weeks of total immersion in the richness of Italian culture and history. It's a life-changing experience, for them and for me … Did I mention that I get to live in Italy?
3. What most prepared you for this position?
As an architect, architectural history has always been interesting to me. For the past five years, I have taught a history of construction class in the McWhorter School of Building Science. A major portion of that class focused on the amazing contributions to construction that came out of Italy from the development of concrete in the Roman Empire to ushering in the Renaissance in architecture with the construction of Brunelleschi's dome in Florence. Then, in the summer of 2008, I led 18 building science students on an eight-week study abroad program in which we visited 14 cities in six countries and studied 4,000 years of construction history from the Great Pyramids to the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. My new job is the perfect culmination of all these interests and experiences.
4. You have also been a leader in outreach and service learning initiatives. Tell us about that work and why it is important to you.
I have always been drawn to non-traditional teaching methods and, particularly, opportunities that allow students to learn outside the classroom – whether it be outreach, service learning or study abroad. All of these teach students that along with education comes the responsibility and joy of applying knowledge and being engaged citizens within their community and the world.
5. What have you enjoyed most about your work at Auburn?
I have most enjoyed watching students develop an awareness and empathy for the world around them while gaining the skills and knowledge they need to prepare them for a productive life. With this new chapter in my own life, I would have to say that I enjoy the amazing opportunities that teaching at Auburn has given me. Did I mention that I get to live in Italy?