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What's all this GIG stuff?

As soon as Laurie Koloski became director of the Reves Center in August of 2006, she began thinking. "Faculty are doing amazing things here, but I found from my own experience in the history department that it's often very difficult to find out what people outside your own department are doing," she said.

Laurie Koloski"What I really wanted to do is to try to create the kind of initiative that would make faculty want to stay at William and Mary."

She knew, of course, that any initiative coming from the College's Wendy and Emery Reves Center for International Studies had to have an international focus, but Koloski also wanted to incorporate interdisciplinary and research components. She began collaborating with Joel Schwartz, director of the Roy R. Charles Center, which coordinates interdisciplinary programs. They came up with the idea of the Global Inquiry Group.

"We came up with an idea last year to launch a series of what we called e-GIGs, which were exploratory gigs, " she said. "The idea with e-GIGs was that a group of faculty come together with an idea and they get just a tiny bit of money for some books or material and maybe to bring in a speaker and they meet every couple of weeks and talk about it. You know, they read an article, they have a discussion, they talk about this particular issue that they are interested in."

Four e-GIGS were funded, with the idea that some of them might evolve into a sustained GIG-an s-GIG. An s-GIG would have more funding, Koloski explained, accompanied by higher expectations. "For each of these Global Inquiry Groups, the idea was that the initiative would grow out of faculty research interest," she explained. "But they would also lead to curriculum innovation and public good-conferences, exhibits, film series, documentary films, web sites-whatever."

The s-GIGS will be funded for two or three years, she said, with the hope that they will then become long-term, signature programs.

"My hope is that these two projects are going to be sustainable and live long past the Reves funding," she said. "The mercury GIG is not just about mercury: It's about the broader issues of science and society. And I certainly hope we are going to have an international film event every year for the next 50 years."