Faculty Kudos: Essays, Books and Professional Contributions

As the fall 2012 semester came to a close, there was much to celebrate with our faculty’s many recent contributions in their respective fields. Here’s a very brief overview:

Provost Curry

The Chronicle of Higher Education published an essay by Provost Janel Curry this week in its careers section. The essay entitled, The Education of a Provost” chronicles Dr. Curry‘s path to her position at Gordon and reminds readers that no part of their journey is wasted. 

Craig Story

Craig Story, associate professor of biology and advisor for Gordon’s health professions, and Justin Topp, associate professor of biology, recently received news of a generous grant from the BioLogos Foundation to “build an international network of pastors committed to increasing their scientific literacy.” (A formal announcement will be forthcoming.)

Assistant professor of English Chad Stutz just signed a contract for a book published by British house Paternoster Press as part of their Studies in Evangelical History and Thought series. With a tentative title, Evangelicals and Aesthetics from the 1750s to the 1930s, the book provides an intellectual history of a largely forgotten tradition of aesthetic discourse among British and American evangelicals between the time of the first awakenings of a modern aesthetic consciousness in the eighteenth century to the fundamentalist-modernist controversy of the early twentieth century.

Gordon education students with students from Lynn Classical High

Gordon education students in the course, Understanding the Context of the Urban School and ESL students from Lynn Classical High collaborated on an interactive field trip exploring the benefits of higher education, thanks to adjunct professor of education and alumna Melissa Winchell who organized the event.

Judith Oleson, professor of social work, supervised nine social work students in field placements in Romania, San Francisco, and throughout Boston’s North and South Shores. Students served in various councils on aging, youth and family services agencies, Catholic Charities, and specific intervention programs.

In an essay entitled, “More Powerful Than Words” and published in the Huffington Post, Brian Glenney, assistant professor of philosophy, explored the impact of symbols through his Accessibility Icon Project

Professor of history Jennifer Hevelone-Harper wrote an editorial entitled, “How St. Francis Made Christmas New and Smelly” that appeared on the opinion page of the Salem News, a regional newspaper that reaches several thousand in circulation across the North Shore of Boston.

Missions and the Christian Church in a Changing World

Paul Borthwick

Between his many global travels, conferences, speaking engagements and teaching, Paul Borthwick, adjunct professor of Christian ministries, somehow found the time to write another book. Just released by InterVarsity Press, Borthwick‘s book, Western Christians in Global Mission: What’s the Role of North American Church? provides a current analysis on how the Western church is viewed through the eyes of Majority World leaders.  His book offers an appraisal of the North American church as well as the Majority World Church while also providing specific and theologically-based ideas for moving forward, calling for a return to our passions to serve and follow the Christ of history. 

Because of his book’s recent publication, Borthwick was a podcast guest on the blog, God and Culture, which you can listen to here. He will also be a featured speaker at this year’s Urbana Missions Conference. Here’s how his publisher described his newest book: 

“The world has changed. A century ago, Christianity was still primarily centered in North America and Europe. By the dawn of the twenty-first century, Christianity had become a truly global faith, with Christians in Asia, Africa and Latin America outpacing those in the rest of the world. There are now more Christians in China than in all of Europe, more Pentecostals in Brazil than in the United States, and more Anglicans in Kenya than in Great Britain, Canada and the United States combined. Countries that were once destinations for western missionaries are now sending their own missionaries to North America.

“Given these changes, some think the day of the Western missionary is over. Some are wary that American mission efforts may perpetuate an imperialistic colonialism. Some say that global outreach is best left to indigenous leaders. Others simply feel that resources should be focused on the home front. Is there an ongoing role for the North American church in global mission? Missions specialist Paul Borthwick brings an urgent report on how the Western church can best continue in global mission.”

Studying the Craft of Writing for Greater Conversations

Denise Frame Harlan

Writing is hard work, and reading great stories can be as inspiring as it is instructive for the aspiring writer. That’s why Denise Frame Harlan, adjunct professor and committee member for The Great Conversations courses at Gordon, models the writing life to her students. This month, for instance, the Englewood Review of Books invited Frame Harlan to reflect on a classic for its Advent print edition; she chose “The Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor,” reviewing it under the title, “Sometimes it Takes a Lifetime to Read a Book.”

The High Calling—a daily blog for Laity Lodge in Texas—has published a series of Frame Harlan‘s stories about her parents and their work. The first   and second stories were published this summer. This month, The High Calling published her third story, which is about working with her brother at a resort over one Christmas break when they were college students.

Frame Harlan also has reviewed several books on the Englewood Review of Books site which she says, “would make excellent Christmas presents for readers who happen to be creative people, creatively tired people, or overwhelmed parents who wonder how to return to creativity and faith.”  To learn more about her work, visit her website.

Where Do Philosophical Problems Go When They Die?

Brian Glenney

Some scholars say that philosophical problems should be annihilated or killed off once they’ve outlived their usefulness. But Brian Glenney, assistant professor of philosophy, believes they live past their usefulness for philosophy and can be resurrected by scientific experiments. In fact, Glenney’s recent article “Philosophical Problems, Cluster Concepts and the Many Lives of Molyneaux’s Question” explores this in the December online issue of the top-tier journal, Biology and Philosophy. The article will also appear in a later print edition. Here’s Glenney’s abstract:

“Molyneux’s question, whether the newly sighted might immediately recognize tactilely familiar shapes by sight alone, has produced an array of answers over three centuries of debate and discussion. I propose the first pluralist response: many different answers, both yes and no, are individually sufficient as an answer to the question as a whole. I argue that this is possible if we take the question to be cluster concept of sub-problems. This response opposes traditional answers that isolate specific perceptual features as uniquely applicable to Molyneux’s question and grant viability to only one reply. Answering Molyneux’s question as a cluster concept may also serve as a methodology for resolving other philosophical problems.”

To read the rest of the article, click here.

Imagining the Next Supercomputers with ‘LittleFe’

Jonathan Senning, right, in his office with student Peter Story ’14 and the model supercomputer they built together.

Last month while attending SC12, an international conference on  high performance computing (HPC) in Salt Lake City, Utah, Jonathan Senning, professor of mathematics and computer science, did something he’d wanted to for a while: he built a hands-on model computer he can use in his class for the first time next spring. Thanks to the National Science Foundation, Senning and his student Peter Story ’14 also spent the week exploring ideas we’ll probably see in the future. Here’s how he described it:

“High performance computing is everywhere today. Weather forecasting, molecular modeling, mapping the genome, economic modeling, simulation, and visualization are just some of the areas that work with large data sets and need substantial computing power. So when Peter Story, a computer science & mathematics double major, and I were selected to participate in a fully-funded HPC Educators program for faculty and/or students from undergraduate colleges, I knew this was an exciting opportunity for Gordon. 

“We also received an additional grant for a small parallel cluster designed for HPC education and spent most of Monday assembling it as part of a ‘build-out’ event.  The cluster, named by its designers ‘LittleFe’—a play on ‘big iron’ which is a term originally used to describe large mainframe computers—is a model of a modern supercomputer.  It operates in the same way and has essentially all the same parts and programming modes as today’s supercomputers.  It’s just not as fast or large, and it certainly doesn’t use as much power.

“This spring I’ll be teaching a new course called Parallel and High Performance Computing and will be able to use LittleFe.  The course will explore the three main forms of parallel and distributed processing in use today: shared memory multiprocessing (the dual and quad core processor chips in our phones and laptops), cluster computing (modern supercomputers), and GPGPU (general purpose graphics processing unit) programming.  GPGPU-equipped systems are the current cutting-edge devices.  As of this fall it is possible to buy a GPGPU ‘card’ to fit inside a desktop or server computer that has 2,496 processing cores and is capable of over 1 teraflop per second.  To get close to these speeds, however, either existing programs must be rewritten or new programmed solutions must be developed. Our new LittleFe cluster supports all three main types of parallel architectures, and as a result allows us to explore hybrid approaches, combining various types of parallelism in the solution of a single problem.

“I learn best by ‘tinkering,’ and I’m convinced that many of our students will benefit from having hands-on experiences.  The LittleFe cluster fosters this sort of learning; its open frame, exposed cabling, and blinking lights invite students to be curious about it.”