The Professor Is In: Q&A with Claudia Green

Lubin professor Claudia Green, who’s involved with a sustainability initiative in preparation for the World Cup and Olympics in Brazil, talks about travelling with students, how a birthday card changed the lives of her and her family, and much more in the third installment of The Professor Is In! >>Read More

Shortly after meeting Professor Claudia Green, PhD, it is clear why students have selected her as one of their favorite professors at Pace’s New York City campus. Remaining true to her field, she maintains an intense professionalism while still managing to be approachable if not entirely personable. It is this straightforward demeanor coupled with the dedication to her students both inside and outside the classroom that make her teaching methods all the more effective.

In addition to her duties as an Associate Professor of Management, teaching courses ranging from safety and security in hospitality and tourism to restaurant management and travel and tourism management, it is her other roles as Director of the Lubin School of Business’ Hospitality and Management Program and former Executive Director of the Center for Global Business Programs at Pace that have brought her the most professional satisfaction.

Though she resides in New York City, Green admits that she travels once or twice a month outside the city. Her travels, whether work related or personal, have taken her to places such as Greece, Italy, Portugal, Brazil, Canada, Belize, Aruba, Costa Rica, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, and Thailand, to name a few. Her trips to Brazil enable her to focus on sustainable tourism and resources as well as the implementing of Green Mapping, in which students interview local business on their practices as means of creating a map for tourists offering an authentic Brazilian experiences.

Having traveled to Brazil a total of 18 times, Professor Green confesses that the most rewarding trips there have been the 11 in which she has traveled there with students. Seeing students arrive with preconceived notions of the culture, society, and business environment, and return with an entirely different point of view after immersing themselves in the Brazil first-hand is most rewarding.

Most recently, Professor Green was featured on NPR as part of “The Global Salon,” which features different cities around the world. This series, highlighting Rio de Janeiro, Brazil allowed Green to promote her work as organizer of the “Rio Green Map” initiative on sustainable development in preparation for Rio+20, World Cup 2014, and Olympics 2016. She is also the spearheading Amigos Digitais, a non-profit organization that allows students (grades K-9) in the favelas of Rio with students in the Lower East Side for cultural and educational exchange. Though a frequent traveler, never quite in one place too long, we are glad to be part of a University in which she can call home.

What was your favorite class as a student? Least favorite?
You can probably guess, it was a geography class, where we had to learn about different countries of the world and their capitals and I remember that from the 5th grade. My least favorite was finance…I like creative endeavors, and you’ll see that when you see with whom I have selected to “have dinner.”

What one thing or person made you passionate about your current career?
The thing that makes me passionate about my career is that I teach tourism and focus on sustainable tourism and development. I think that through tourism, you really learn to take everything you’ve learned in your life and put it together. Tourism is history, geography, culture, economy, politics, society, environment—it’s everything. It is the convergence of all those disciplines that  helps you have a global view of how the world works and how dependent we are upon each other.

What quality do you most value in your students?
What I value in the students is their drive and their passion for what they want. It is a gift to be able to find your passion and follow it. A good number of students are able to do that. Even if they go down a wrong path, they learn from it and redirect into another path.

What’s your advice to students to make the most out of their time in college?
Be involved, take risks, explore and make sure they have an international experience.

If you had to do it all over again and took another path, what profession would you like to attempt? What profession would you not like to do?
I would want to be a technology guru and travel around the world and teach. I’d really promote technology that would empower people. A profession I would not like to attempt is anything that has me sitting behind a desk all day long. 

What is your favorite book/TV show?
I really don’t usually watch TV, but, if I do, it is usually Geographic and The Discovery Channel. With regards to books, I like reading Thomas L. Friedman’s books.

What would you do if you had an extra hour every day?
I’d go to the Apple store in SoHo and hang out with the Geniuses and the Creatives and work on a project—I do that all the time. I make podcasts, movies, and videos. For my son’s birthday, I scanned pictures from when he was young, set them to music, launched on Vimeo, and sent him the link.

What is your favorite journey/experience?
Going to Brazil with students for the past 11 years has been my best experience. I’ve been there a total 18 times. It is actually more fun when I go with the students than when I go on my own. I love to see them learn and experience Brazil. It is empowering to help them open their minds to other cultures and societies.

What is your favorite saying/words to live by?
There’s a whole poem here, “The Summer Day” by Mary Oliver, but the thing that’s most important to me is the line, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do/with your one wild and precious life?”

There’s a story behind that: My son gave me a birthday card that had that phrase. He left and went to Cameroon for the Peace Corps for two years.  Then, right after I got that card, I quit my job and moved to New York. I gave that card to my middle daughter. She quit her job in Greensboro, North Carolina and moved to Silicon Valley, California. She gave the card to her younger sister who quit her job, sold everything she owned, and travelled  around the world for 18 months. It’s kind of our family mantra.

If you could have any five people, living or dead, imagined or real, as guests at a dinner party, who would you choose?
This was so hard. I’ve been going over it, eliminating and adding. Steve Jobs, Steven Spielberg, Ken Burns, Jon Stewart, and Richard Branson. There’s a common thread of creative people who think outside the box and think differently.

There’s a Steve Jobs quote that I like “Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes…the ones who see things differently—they’re not fond of rules…You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things…they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

This interview has been edited and condensed from its original form.

–Jordan Veilleux ‘13