Dr. David M. Lucas, better known to most of us as Dave, championed the cause for the qualitative research method known as folknography. Lucas says, “We defined the method out of a need for a field research practice that allowed flexibility, pragmatism, creativity, but also preserved academic excellence and rigor. In retrospect, we first tried ethnography. This method seemed too broad, too difficult to explain or teach, and too loose. Then, we moved to rapid rural appraisal. This limited our practice because, though a RRA remains a great option for agricultural or land use projects, we need something to use in social and cultural applications such as marginalized neighborhoods or communities. So, in the end, we borrowed, homogenized, blended, and mixed different research components, plus added a few ingredients of our own, and outlined the method now known as folknography."
On folknography, Dr. Lucas comments, “This is an applicable and flexible method for use in the cultural, social, or communication disciplines. We’ve used this method successfully in several international applications. In the Dominican Republic, we queried health issues; in México, we have investigated development and economic issues affecting small communities. We have done field research with the Gullah/Geechee in South Carolina, equine industry in Great Britain, and perceptions of math in Appalachia and we studied Hong Kong through the use of metaphors. We have applied this method in over 20 projects internationally and nationally. Folknography has many and flexible possibilities. Yet, the method produces dependable and accurate results.”
Dr. Lucas writes poetry, speaks publicly, travels extensively, and works constantly. He often puts in 16 hour days. “I have an incessant curiosity. I have a need to know and understand. In the end, this must be what drives me. I always ask ‘why?’” Aside from these many activities, Dr. Lucas is heavily involved with Native American cultures and Appalachian log cabin architecture. Dr. Lucas stands ready to explain the research method folknography.
Regional Campus Outstanding Professor Award
Ohio University awarded the 2005-06 Regional Campus Outstanding Professor Award to Associate Professor of Communication David Lucas from the Ohio University Southern Campus was this year's winner.
"Each year we recognize no more than two individuals, and Professor Lucas is a richly deserving recipient. David has made strong contributions across the board. We are proud of his accomplishments and pleased to have him among our colleagues," said Charles Bird, vice president for University Outreach and Regional Campuses.
The award, now in its fourth year, was created to formally recognize faculty members at Ohio University's five regional campuses who have demonstrated excellence in teaching, scholarship and service. Each award recipient receives a $3,000 stipend for the next two years.
Lucas' most noteworthy contribution in the classroom has been his interaction with students beyond the walls. He frequently engages his students in conducting research in his innovative communications classes, examining customs and cultures of groups and countries outside their familiar knowledge base around the world. That ties into his primary interest and work of the qualitative research method folknography, about which he recently published a book that he describes as a guide on how to use the method, "The Handbook of Folknograpy." He defines folknography as a research method that requires interviewing members of a certain socio-cultural or geographic population and then analyzing the themes of the interviews to better understand that demographic population
Lucas developed a new Tier III course in 2002, Cultural Inquiry in Various Contexts, which also ties to folknography. While he has taught numerous communications courses, he has also taught a course in international studies and several in Spanish. Preferring to think of himself as a learning engineer rather than a teacher, his teaching philosophy centers on interactive instruction and learning, the success of which is reflected in his students' positive feedback.
He has taught international courses in Hong Kong, Japan, Mexico and Spain and taken students on trips to Mexico, Dominican Republic, Australia, Hong Kong, Japan and Vietnam to study diverse cultures.
"I am humbled, but happy to receive this honor," Lucas said. "My efforts as a faculty member at Ohio University have been and will be directed toward my students. I seek to engage them in meaningful learning and also in research. Actually, I found my locus and focus in one of Karen Sandell's teaching colloquiums. I decided that I was a learning engineer. My task is to engineer ways, means, and mediums of learning for each student in each of my courses."
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