I am Jackie Modeste, an educator who enjoys good conversation. A saxophonist and pianist until college, jazz “made sense” as the working metaphor for interactions of most every kind, on and off the stage. I majored in math and minored in physics but found these fields obscured learning the social sciences and humanities. I switched to English and economics, but found these fields obscured the natural and biological sciences. Only music seemed comprehensive enough to capture the variety and nuances of each field.
As a graduate student at Columbia University, I was the beneficiary of the shared intelligence and hard work of a core group of scholars led by Robert G. O’Meally who became the founder of the Center for Jazz Studies. O’Meally’s introduction of Ralph Ellison’s literary masterpiece Invisible Man via a scratchy LP of Louis Armstrong’s “What Did I Do (to be so Black and Blue)?” made sense. O’Meally later assigned Albert Murray’s Train Whistle Guitar, a masterpiece of language and style, and also brought the author to class. I became a strong supporter of Murray’s conviction that US culture is “incontestably mulatto” and had the honor of being mentored by Murray until his death. My dissertation on Murray’s body of work, “The Blues and Jazz in Albert Murray’s Fiction” formalized my work in connecting jazz beyond the stage.
For more than 20 years, I’ve worked to support and advance the myriad ways jazz shapes interactions in business, education, and diplomatic affairs. Career highlights include: the implementation of graduate degree programs in International Business and Law at Columbia University via six years of service as a member of Columbia University’s Alumni board; penning the Education committee’s recommendations for Columbia University’s Manhattanville campus expansion; delivering a keynote address funded by the Louis Armstrong Foundation on “Cultural Diplomacy in the Spirit of Pops and Duke” at the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy (Germany); research on the capital value of blues-based jazz and its relationship to cultural heritage and nation branding (Sweden); a working discussion with researchers on the building of emotional communities at the world renowned Max Planck Institute (Germany); and a Forbes article written by Greg Satell that highlights my work, “How Jazz Can Transform Business.”
I believe in educating and community building through jazz at home and abroad. Through my consulting firm, The Global Roundhouse, I offer short courses — Bandstand to Boardroom (B2B) and Treble & Bass — designed to improve collaboration between and within communities, businesses, and educational institutions. Check out my weekly online radio program, Trading Fours with Drs. Modeste & Wes; its a great show that democratizes the conversation about jazz and demonstrates its impact on education, business, governance, and diplomacy. My co-host “Dr. Wes” and I engage a global audience of thought leaders in exploring jazz “beyond the bandstand.”
I am committed to the democratization of education. As a faculty member at an urban community college, my students are often the first in their families to attend college. Representing more than 20 nations, my students resemble the billions globally seeking higher education. My work with immigrant communities from Central and South America, and Asia have helped educate and integrate non-native speakers into more meaningful professional lives and increased civil and workplace engagement.
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The Global Roundhouse (GRH) is a consulting firm that curates and delivers innovative educational products. Seminars, workshops, executive training, and course materials are rooted in the tenets of the blues and jazz and are designed to develop more thoughtful leaders, with a specific emphasis on education and business.
The Global Roundhouse is “where trains of thought meet.” When thoughtful conversations on culture intersect with obviously related and seemingly disparate fields of knowledge — such as international relations, diplomacy, democratic formation, governance, politics and law — our individual and collective journeys are enriched; we deepen understanding and move towards greater peace. Get on board…
I’m on Linked In at, http://www.linkedin.com/in/jackiemodeste
and on Twitter @GlobalJackie