Brad Bullock, like most Randolph College professors, practices what he teaches. “I tell my students the best way to understand the value of our liberal arts education is to live it,” he said. “Leave the classroom.”
A sociology professor, Bullock conducts research centered on the Caribbean, and he shares that passion with his students. Inspired by an interest in international economic and social development, Bullock finds the Caribbean’s people, history, and culture fascinating and has spent years engaged in research on the area.
Most recently, he completed a case study of sex trafficking in the Dominican Republic that emphasized social impacts traceable to global inequalities. He will be published on the topic in the spring. His work on the ongoing effects of colonialism in the Caribbean will appear in a new book, “Eternal Colonialism” (University Press of America), and he has begun work on his own book emphasizing social research about the Caribbean from a regional perspective.
One of Bullock’s missions is to bring the world to his students. He most recently led a service learning trip to St. Lucia that placed Randolph College students side-by-side with St. Lucians working on projects to improve their community, such as tutoring children, cleaning up the beaches, building a playground and garden, and restoring a community center.
Bullock believes it is important for students to see firsthand how another culture lives. The issues facing the Caribbean people “are also our issues,” he said. “Unjust inequalities, environmental problems, cultural misunderstandings, peace—these are undoubtedly global in scale now, and the whole world is at stake. Meeting and working with people in another culture really drives this home.”
Foluke Beveridge ’11 is a communications major from Newport News, VA who participated in the St. Lucia international study seminar. “The experiences that I had in St. Lucia are not likely to be had in a classroom,” she said. “I believe it is important, especially for young people born into the American culture, to explore other cultures and other ways of thinking, so that we can keep more open-minded views of the world.”
Sharing his research and love of Caribbean culture with students makes Bullock’s professional life more meaningful. “When you convey that passion to your students, they can’t help but become more motivated to explore,” he said. “I’ve been studying and travelling in the Caribbean for many years now. So when I teach about it, I offer personal experiences of social habits and cultural practices, with all their nuances and beautiful complexities. “Our classrooms at Randolph College already emphasize making broader connections between all we are learning and the wider world,” Bullock added. “Traveling to places you study is an indispensible advantage for teaching and is particularly appropriate for students of sociology.”
Many of the students who traveled to St. Lucia had learned about the issues in class. “It’s real life, and it makes the idea of their education more real to them,” Bullock said. “They see how what they study really does help them understand what they see.”