A “Privileged” Life

As the nation pauses on Monday to honor the vision and efforts of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., some professors at Gordon are also considering his impact on their work. Katie Knudsen, adjunct professor of Christian Theology, and The Great Conversations, and Coordinator of Academically-Based Service-Learning in the Office of Community Engagement, offers the following personal essay in recognition of the issues Dr. King raised as he pursued racial reconciliation.

A “Privileged” Life

photo.cfmBy Katie Knudsen

I grew up in suburban New Jersey in a conservative Jewish home. My town was largely white, but more diverse by far than the area I currently call home, the North Shore of Massachusetts. My best friends were some fellow Jews, a Korean and an African American from my neighborhood. Even so, I never thought much about race and was never really confronted with it. When we celebrated MLK Day, I was content knowing my ancestors were busy being harassed in Eastern Europe during the time of slavery and Jim Crow.

Clearly, it was a naive response.

College, however, was an awakening. At Duke University in North Carolina, far from home and the culture to which I was accustomed, I became the first Jew a few of my classmates had ever met. There was an enormous population of African Americans, which was exciting for me. I loved getting to know black students, listening to their music in our freshmen dorm, learning from them how to straighten my very-curly hair.

Some things were more unsettling. Every single cook, janitor, and landscaper I met at Duke was African American. It was uncomfortable always being served by black people, but they were the people in the area who needed the jobs, so some sort of “affirmative action” for white service people would have been inappropriate. I began to wonder, though, why so many African Americans were seeking such low-paying work.

Which brings me to the most emotionally-draining, yet life-changing class of my educational career. The year before graduation, I registered for “Race and Education in America,” a class my now-husband and I quickly renamed “Why White People Suck.” The first few weeks in the class were difficult. My Black and Latino peers behaved differently in this class than I was used to them behaving. Many were angry and combative, and they frequently focused on this thing called “white privilege.” Continue reading

When Women Lean in, Men Grow Up

On today’s home page of Inside Higher Ed, Provost Janel Curry challenges readers to see the benefits for institutions and culture when women and men lead together.

When Women Lean In, Men Grow Up

December 2, 2013

By Janel Curry

Recently, I had lunch with a group of women who had moved to the upper levels of leadership in higher education. As is usual when such a group gathers, we talked about some of our more “challenging” moments as the first women provosts, deans or presidents. But this time, the stories were about team-building experiences that didn’t quite work when a woman was added to the mix.


One dean recounted the weekend retreat she was required to attend at the president’s cottage, where after a day of activities, everyone was expected to join the others… in the hot tub, which makes for an awkward splash if you’re the only one wearing a two-piece.   READ THE REST OF HER ESSAY HERE:

How a Liberal Arts Education Inspires Entrepreneurial Thinking

Gordon has long enjoyed a culture where new initiatives match new ideas. And scholarship anchors both. From the Institute for Public History and Global Education programs to green chemistry research and theatre productions,  the ethos of the  liberal arts tradition and a Christian world view fit easily with entrepreneurial thinking. So when Carter Crockett, an entrepreneurship scholar and social entrepreneur, joined the faculty this fall as the director of Gordon’s new Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, he knew he’d come to the right place.

Crockett’s goal is to merge novel concepts with noble practices across disciplines, and his background has uniquely prepared him. After graduating from Westmont College in 1992, he worked as a marketer among technology companies in Seattle as well as with some of the most innovative companies and products in the world. He left Microsoft to serve as Co-founder/President of Dealer Trade Group, a wholesale (B2B) marketplace for trading vehicles online. As co-founder of Karisimbi Partners, Crockett and close friends worked to build up promising ventures in Rwanda, where client companies are a symbol of national growth and sustainability, and they established a high impact model for social enterprise in frontier economies. With a Ph.D. in Entrepreneurial Ethics, Crockett returned to Westmont as a tenure-track faculty member of Economics & Business and has taught entrepreneurs on three continents.

He sees Gordon as an academic incubator for entrepreneurs in the making. Here’s what Crockett said about his new role:

“Entrepreneurship is inherently practical, personal, cross-disciplinary and relevant, and so this creative endeavor serves to compliment and extend the core of the liberal arts in important and marketable ways. Clearly, not everyone is an entrepreneur, yet already Gordon’s faculty members have inspired our talented students to put ideas to flight and create their own opportunities. To encourage more of these passionate, enterprising students, the Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership is creating a new cross-department minor and will host a campus-wide Social Venture Competition this April. I see entrepreneurship as a natural extension of a liberal arts community, one that seeks to elevate its contribution to the world in new ways that reflect God’s creativity and Kingdom.”

Gordon Scholars Explore: Rejection and Cinema, Values and Mentoring

Around the world and across the Internet, Gordon professors continue to offer their expertise and scholarship for the greater good. Here are more examples of recent contributions from Gordon faculty at the start of a new academic year:

Jonathan Gerber, associate professor of psychology, continues his scholarship on rejection with an article in The Journal of Social Psychology on, “Clarifying the Relationship Between Ostracism and Relational Devaluation,” which recently went online.  In it Gerber and co-author, Ladd Wheeler, examine “how three perspectives on relational devaluation relate to needs that threat following ostracism. In two experiments with 179 first-year psychology students, distress was greatest when participants were ostracized without any prior throws, and distress decreased linearly with increasing prior inclusion.”

In this month’s print and online edition of Texas Monthly Magazine, filmmaker and communication arts assistant professor, Toddy Burton, offered her expertise in an article exploring Christians in cinema. The story is entitled, “Americas Next Top Mogul: Why Rick Santorum Decided to Leave Politics (for now) and Become the CEO of a Texas-based Christian Film Studio,” and Burton is quoted about the growing number of filmmakers who are also Christians who “understand the rigor of doing (film) well.”

Bert Hodges, professor of psychology, just returned from a symposium at the University of Southern Denmark (Odense, DK), entitled “Values and Systems in Interactivity, Language and Cognition,” which brought together scholars from Denmark, Poland, Russia, England, and Sweden,  around his work on values-realizing theory (Hodges, 2007, 2009; Hodges & Baron, 1992). Each speaker described his or her own theoretical or empirical work and related it to values-realizing theory. Hodges also presented a paper, “Breaking the symmetry: Realizing values in remembering, trusting, and learning,” and held a one-day workshop before the symposium on values-realizing theory for faculty and advanced graduate students at the university.

At the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture, Dan Russ, academic dean and professor of English, recently gave a key note address at a two day gathering called, “The Education Forum: What is a Teacher?” His talk, “The Gift of Blind Hope: The Teacher as Seer”—which was an excerpt from a book chapter he wrote of the same name and around the same question of what is a teacher—focused on the story of Athena’s guiding young Telemachus in the guise of a king Mentor, the origin of our word mentoring.

This Just In: Gordon Faculty Continue to Offer Public Scholarship

Even at the start of a new academic year, Gordon faculty members are contributing their gifts and scholarship to the broader community in a variety of ways. Below is just a sample of what’s been happening lately for some professors outside of the classroom:

Tal Howard, professor of history and the executive director of the Center for Faith and Inquiry, wrote about The Promise of Religious Colleges for the leading web site, Inside Higher Education, which they published Sept. 19.

The British Broadcasting Company (BBC) published a story Sept. 21 on the Accessible Icon Project that features Brian Glenney, assistant professor of philosophy, and his work with that project: Is it Time for a New Wheelchair Icon?”

Ruth Melkonian Hoover, associate professor of political science and international relations, is a featured panelist this week at the John C. Danforth Center on Politics and Religion at Washington University in St. Louis, addressing the topic of Welcoming the Stranger: A Panel Discussion on Religion and Immigration. She will also be the keynote speaker for the Zylstra Symposium on Politics and Culture at Redeemer University College in Ontario, Canada, this week addressing the issue of “Proximity, Globalization and the Common Good.”

Wm. B. Eerman Publishing Company released the new hardcover book, “Through Your Eyes: Dialogues on the Paintings of Bruce Herman”co-authored by Bruce Herman, Lothlórien Distinguished Chair in the Fine Arts, and G. Walter Hansen. One reviewer calls Herman one of the “wisest practitioners of art today and Hansen one of the key influencers and patrons of Christians in the arts.”

In the September edition of the national Green Chemistry Commitment, Irv Levy, professor of chemistry and computer science, as well as Gordon’s green chemistry program were featured in an article called “Gordon College: Transforming chemistry through the next generation.”

Thinking About the Flesh-and-Blood Jesus

New Testament scholar and theologian Scot McKnight used to ask his students if they thought Jesus made mistakes learning Hebrew or mathematics or Israelite history. “The question, I learned, was a good way to get students to think about the humanity of Jesus.” Those discussions also confirmed for him that many Christians did not know how to think of Jesus in human terms, which is also why McKnight has endorsed and written the introduction for the second edition of, Flesh-and-Blood Jesus: Learning to Be Fully Human,” by Dan Russ, academic dean. 

The book’s new and updated edition—which was recently released—includes McKnight’s introduction, a new chapter on Jesus and money, and many revised and expanded ideas, sentences, paragraphs and chapters, based in part on feedback Russ received from readers.

In addition to exploring various ways the Son of Man lived as a human, Russ also writes about the importance and power of money in the life of Jesus and our own lives. “(This) was a much needed addition (in the book), especially when considering the influence of today’s culture of materialism. We need to see how Christ himself responded to the challenges money can present.”  Flesh-and-Blood Jesus was first published in 2008, and is one of many published works by Russ .

How the Liberal Arts Can Prepare Entrepreneurs

In his most recent column in the Huffington Post, President and Sociologist D. Michael Lindsay explores the many benefits of a liberal arts education, especially for future entrepreneurs. 

Useful Innovation: The Next Great Challenge for Liberal Arts Colleges

President Lindsay

By D. Michael Lindsay

“It’s happening all around us, and the higher education community needs to pay attention. More and more, young people today are looking to entrepreneurial opportunities as the way of advancing the common good. Whether starting an innovative non-profit or a socially conscious business, these emerging leaders are motivated to make a difference with their lives.

“I’ve seen it in my own community just north of Boston. Gordon College alum Sam Winslow, for example, recently founded Thirst Footwear, which will fund new wells in sub-Saharan Africa through every shoe purchase. Then there’s the Accessible Icon Project — a collaboration between faculty members Brian Glenney and Tim Ferguson-Sauder, current Gordon students, Cambridge artist Sarah Hendron, and the disability advocacy group Triangle — which is working to change public perceptions of disability through a more active, engaged visual representation of the ‘Handicap Symbol.’ Gordon College itself has recently partnered with Praxis Labs, an organization that supports the development of new social enterprises through mentoring and funding opportunities.

“An entrepreneurial spirit is thriving among the next generation. Yet in order to turn their ambition into action, today’s students will need a solid foundation that prepares them for the unique challenges and opportunities of entrepreneurship. This is where a strong liberal arts education can give young entrepreneurs a significant advantage.” READ THE REST OF PRESIDENT LINDSAY’S COLUMN.

Center for Faith & Inquiry Honors Faculty Scholarship: Part I

In an effort to promote outstanding scholarship that can reach both professional and public/church audiences, the Center for Faith and Inquiry recently announced its inaugural Fellows for the 2013-14 academic year. Congratulations to the follow faculty!

Ruth Melkonian-Hoover

Ruth Melkonian-Hoover, associate professor/chair of political science and international affairs, will continue her scholarship focus through a project entitled, “Evangelical Attitudes toward Immigrants and Immigration Reform”: 

“Designed to assess the impacts of Christian organizational advocacy within churches aimed at changing attitudes on immigration, and based on my prior research on evangelicals and immigration, World Relief asked me to assess the impact of their advocacy on the attitudes of evangelicals re: immigration and comprehensive immigration reform (CIR). I’ll pursue this by focused surveys and interviews of parishioners of churches in two key sites in which WR has concentrated its efforts , Denver and Chicago. I will also provide an analysis of recent public opinion data evaluating non-religious factors (economic, partisan, etc) as well as religious factors shaping evangelical attitudes on immigration and CIR. Over the summer I plan to combine my qualitative research into a research article and a WR report based on my overall research by early next fall.”

Karl-Dieter Crisman

Karl-Dieter Crisman, associate professor of mathematics, will continue his research on, “The Moral Case for Open-Source Software”: Most of us in the academy are now familiar with the distinction between programs ‘on the desktop’ and ‘in the cloud.’ Similarly, one would have to withdraw from society not to understand the distinction between software you pay for and software you don’t have to pay for. But there is a third, crucial, distinction. It is the one between proprietary software and open source software, and it is only vaguely understood by most of us. Over my time at Gordon, I have become convinced that this distinction is of great significance, one with deep resonance with Christian thinking.  Through my ongoing research and this Fellowship, I hope to better  reach academic and lay audiences with this message.”

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.

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.