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The Professor’s Province

It’s no secret that Michigan Tech is well known for our engineering department, but so often other amazing departments are overlooked. Kari Henquinet calls the Social Sciences Department home alongside the Pavlis Honors College.

Henquinet’s academic training is in cultural anthropology, but has had experience in other fields as well. “I have a background working in international development in West Africa working mainly in health education and agroforestry,” explained Henquinet.

Before finding her way to Michigan Tech, Kari Henquinet was at Michigan State University where she got her Ph.D in anthropology and worked in the International Studies and Programs. For two years she was the assistant director for the Women in International Development Program and also worked in the African Studies Center.

In the social sciences side of things, you can find Henquinet teaching some of the anthropology courses offered at Tech. She is also advising the new major in the Social Sciences Department, Sustainability Science and Society. While it’s based in the Social Science Department, it also has courses from the natural sciences and engineering fields. This major was made for those students who are interested in policy, social research and leadership management in the wake of the new era of green energy and sustainability. For more information about the new major, visit the Michigan Tech Social Sciences Department website.

Kari Henquinet has also developed a minor in Global Community Development Partnerships that students can pursue. “There are some students who are really interested in courses relating to cultural studies and cultural sensitivity, so this minor is more geared towards them,” explained Henquinet.

Henquinet also offers an in-depth study abroad trip to Ghana over the summer during track A. Students who are interested in African culture, international development or public health are encouraged to look into the opportunity. “There are opportunities to get involved working in a hospital or community health programs,” explained Henquinet. “There are also some educational programs, so I would say it’s really geared for those who are interested in helping others.” Of course, anyone with a minimum GPA of 2.75 is welcomed to apply.

During the trip, students will be able to experience Ghanaian arts, culture, dance and food through the locals and their festivals. Historical sites such as slave castles, beaches and rainforests will also be explored. For more information in Kari Henquinet’s study abroad trip, visit the study abroad section of the Social Sciences webpage. Applications are due March 1, so there is still plenty of time to apply.

In the Pavlis Honor College, Henquinet coordinates many of the things relating to the Community Engagement Pathway and intercultural learning.

In the Honors College, there are different paths students can take according to what they are interested in while still earning honors recognition at graduation. “We have everything from global leadership to entrepreneurship in business to community leadership,” said Henquinet.

Kari Henquinet is also heavily involved in the Peace Corps Prep program for undergraduates, “It prepares students who are interested in joining the Peace Corps one day to go abroad for two years and work with a community on different kinds of projects. In the Peace Corps Prep, they will take some courses and get some hands-on experience which will help when they’re ready to apply for Peace Corps.”

“I work with students in a class about cultural sensitivity and working with communities. I get to work more individually with, mostly the community engagement students, and advise them, help them develop their project ideas as well all ideas for all the components they need for the Peace Corps Prep program,” said Henquinet.

“We are very experience based here. Experiential learning is a core philosophy and teaching strategy of the Pavlis Honors College, so we try to emphasize students getting out of the classroom,” continued Henquinet. “We support student trying things out too. If they want to work for an industry, we’ll help them try to get a co-op. While they’re doing that we will ask them to do reflections about their experience so they can think deeper into their experience.”

“If a student wants to do the full honors program, oftentimes we can work it out so they can get honors, Peace Corps Prep and a minor all in one shot because we have designed it to align together. However, there are options for everyone,” said Henquinet. “I’ve had students come to me in their junior year saying they want to do the Peace Corps Prep or honors and I sit down with them and make a game plan. While it is advised to start these programs earlier, it is possible to get them done later on as well.” For more information on the Peace Corps Prep program, visit

“I love working with students and helping them set up research or community projects they want to work on. It’s exciting and I hope that we continue growing in this area,” exclaimed Henquinet.

“I would love to see more students study abroad and have an international experience. I think as students get further into their curriculum they sometimes might not know how to fit it in. I would like to find new ways to better support students in the things they need to do for their careers, but also let them develop holistically as people. We have a lot of growing room to find a way to help students get the experience they want while pursuing the degree they are passionate about,” said Henquinet.

“One of my favorite parts of going abroad was just having conversations with people. It’s so fascinating to hear the way people think in a non-judgmental way, just to open your mind and to experience that there are many different ways to exist and be in this world. We have our bio-medical way of thinking about health and wellness, and others think about it in a much more social and holistic way. There’s so much local and indigenous knowledge that is out there, and it’s amazing to be able to experience it,” concluded Henquinet.

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