The Global Language(s) of Scholarship

Academia today often requires dialogue across cultures, especially in addressing global issues, old and new. These faculty from very different disciplines have been busy with such work:

Wilson_Marv_2008_11_19_02_55_441_2009_09_16_05_18_15Marv Wilson, professor of biblical studies, recently delivered the Ninth Annual Edwin M. Yamauchi lectureship at Miami University, Oxford, OH, March 7-9. His lecture combined chapters of a new book he’s written, scheduled for publication in May. Exploring Our Hebraic Heritage: A Christian Theology of Roots and Renewal (Eerdmans) is a sequel, of sorts, to Our Father Abraham, but more theological.  The Department of History at Miami University sponsored the event in co-operation with other organizations within the Oxford community. In addition to his main lecture on “Abraham: Historical Figure of Continuity, Discontinuity and Eschatological Hope,” Wilson also spoke to faculty and students at four other scheduled events in Oxford during the weekend.

Melkonian-Hoover-_Ruth_2007_11_02_09_00_44Ruth Melkonian-Hoover, associate professor of political science and international affairs, addressed the Venezuelan crisis recently in her column for the Center for Public Justice. At the end of May, she’ll be attending the Christians in Political Science conference at Azusa along with Michael Jacobs, assistant professor of political science, and two Gordon students, Ian Isaac and Ilya Timchenko,who recently returned from Ukraine over spring break. Melkonian-Hoover will present a workshop entitled, Jacobs,_Michael_2013_07_12_10_06_29“Religion and Immigration Attitudes,” while Jacobs will explore, “Just Business or Just Politics: Christian Approaches to Corporate Social Responsibility.”

Perez-Serrano_Pilar_2011_12_07_09_39_50Associate professor of Spanish, Pilar Pérez Serrano, will be traveling to Harrisburg, PA, in early April to present the following paper at the North East Modern Language Association conference  entitled, “Mediocridad y fantasía: jugando a ser alguien en tres obras de Juan Pablo Heras.”  This spring her new book,  “La rebelión de Los esclavos: tragedia y posibilidad en el teatro de Raúl Hernández Garrido” (Madrid: Fundamentos) will be released, and she’s recently published two two book reviews for the  Spain’s Association of Theatre Author’s journal, El Kiosco Teatral: Leer Teatro.

Models of Excellence, Scholars in Dialogue

Gordon professors from very different fields are often invited to offer their insights and expertise on teaching and dialogue at national gatherings. Here are three recent examples:

Crisman-_Karl-Dieter_2007_11_01_10_12_39In January as the Joint Mathematics Meeting gathered in Baltimore—”the world’s largest mathematics meeting in the world”—Karl-Dieter Crisman, associate professor of mathematics, was there as well. In a poster presentation, Crisman discussed Gordon’s long-running relationship with a local community partner, Girls Inc of Lynn, Mass: “We used a Tensor grant to begin a Math Circles program with an explicit mentoring component for urban middle school girls, mostly from underrepresented minorities.  After one semester, the program has been a success in getting the girls excited about math; it has also provided extremely good experience in flexibility and thinking on one’s feet for our mentors, who are mostly pre-service mathematics educators.” Crisman also gave a talk entitled, “Thou Shalt Compute, in One Click: Using (Embedded) Sage Cells Online” where he demonstrated several ways to use free, open-source Sage cell technology as part of his pedagogy.

Brink-_Paul_2007_11_02_08_59_52Paul Brink, associate professor of political science, will also participate in a unique dialogue related to his scholarship. At an event sponsored by The Constitution Project (TCP) in Washington, D.C., in March, Brink will travel there to discuss a recently commissioned TCP report called, “Preventing Irreversible Error: Recommended Reforms in the Administration of Capital Punishment,” which offers current analysis of the country’s death penalty system to help Americans get beyond fruitless debate over abstractions. Brink was one of only 20 evangelical leaders invited to participate and said that the “goal of the report was not to resolve the theoretical issue of whether the death penalty is right or wrong in the abstract. Instead, it’s to examine how the death penalty is actually practiced and how that practice might better conform to constitutional principles and American values, regardless of theoretical positions.”

Vanborre_Emmanuelle_0729_sm_2011_11_22_10_58_43Dialogue and technology are crucial elements for professors of foreign languages. Emmanuelle Vanborre, associate professor of French, will also present in March at a training workshop called, “Technology as a Tool for Linguistic and Cultural Development” for the Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Language in Boston. Vanborre will  explore “numerous ways to help make students proficient readers and writers, and to integrate art, culture and literature in the curriculum through technology. I’ll  present strategies  (in French) that can help facilitate comprehension and expression by focusing on developing reading and writing skills while enhancing background knowledge of culture, history, geography, and politics.”

New Frontiers: Faculty Expand Their Influence

Gordon has long recognized the impact and influence of its professors beyond the classroom and into the broader academic landscape. Recently, four professors took on new opportunities.

While on sabbatical this semester, Tim Sherratt, professor of political science, was named as a Fellow at the Center for Public Justice in Washington, D.C. His role there will be to continue writing and creating interactive content about the political values of the CPJ.  According to the CPJ announcement, “The primary project Sherratt will complete as a CPJ Fellow first will engage local congregations—particularly those who say they don’t have a reason to have a Christian perspective on politics—to generate questions.”

Though she’s also on sabbatical, Janis Flint-Ferguson, professor of Education and English, has been invited to speak at the national convention for the National Council of Teachers of English on Nov. 23. Building on the conference theme of “Re-inventing the Future of English,” Flint-Ferguson‘s talk address the integration of ELA and history using genres to teach reading and writing in middle school.

Patricia Anders, part-time instructor in the Department of English Language and Literature, is now an associate editor at Hendrickson Publishers. One of her roles will be acquiring new titles for the Hendrickson list, and she hopes to guide faculty with appropriate book proposal. (A Gordon alumna who works at Hendrickson Publishers wrote the press release on Anders’ new role.)

John Sarrouf, adjunct professor of Peace and Conflict Studies as well as communication arts, directs The Family Dinner Project for The Public Conversations Project, a local non profit grassroots movement of food, fun and conversation. He was recently invited to pen the organization’s most recent family blog post, “Don’t Yuck on my Yam: A Mantra for the Table and Beyond.”

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.”

Public Scholarship: Faculty Lend Expertise to the News

July has been a busy media month for several Gordon professors as they’ve discussed their expertise with national and regional journalists, and offered unique perspectives for the public with their observations on current issues. Here are a few examples of how Gordon professors are helping shape public discussions:  

On July 19, Ruth Melkonian Hoover, chair and associate professor of political science and international affairs whose most recent scholarship focuses on evangelicals and immigration, discussed her perspective on the immigration reform efforts in Congress with a national reporter with the Religion News Service. The story also appeared on the Washington Post’s On Faith blog.

On July 18, Chemistry Professor Irv Levy discussed Gordon’s commitment to green chemistry and its inclusion with only a select few other colleges and universities in the nation for a story in GreenBiz.Com.

Dorothy Boorse, professor of biology, was quoted July 10  in a Sojourners Magazine article regarding a recent letter sent to Congress from evangelical scientists on climate control.  

On July 8, Political Science Professor Timothy Sherratt wrote an opinion column on the Supreme Court’s recent ruling on marriage that ran in the Salem News.

That same day in the Salem News, English Professor Mark Stevick was the focus of a front page story regarding the two decades success of his play “Cry Innocent” and its adaptation to film, which the paper also endorsed later that week in its own editorial page. Stevick’s new play, “Good Night, Captain White,” an historic comedy of one of Salem’s most notorious murders, opens this weekend July 26 at the Griffen Theatre and has also received positive press, including this prominent story in the July 25 edition of the Salem News. 

Ends and Beginnings—and the In Betweens

Tim Sherratt

As another semester comes to a close, Timothy Sherratt, professor of political science, reflects on a year filled with challenges and questions, both essential elements in the process of learning—and living. (His essay will appear in the upcoming edition of Capital Commentary published by the Center for Public Justice.)

At the Corner of Need and Calling

By Timothy Sherratt 

The academic year is ending. In the first year seminar course I teach, the spring semester picked up where the fall had left off, moving from character and the good life to consideration of community and justice. Students embarked on service projects in the City of Lynn, near in miles but far in cultural and economic distance.

The political backdrop to the semester saw the President inaugurated for a second term, sandwiched between the averted fiscal cliff and the looming sequester. Hopeful signs accompanied a renewed debate on firearms, occasioned by the atrocity at Sandy Hook, and on immigration, occasioned by predictions of electoral extinction for the G.O.P.

The semester ends on notes of tragedy and terror. Bombings at the Boston marathon. A political rather than a popular failure to take commonsense steps to restrict gun violence, even as some in Congress excoriate federal agencies for failing to intercept the makers of an IED. Closer to home, the community memorializes a freshman killed in a traffic accident and remembers a beloved professor taken by a heart attack at the peak of his powers. Referencing these events, one student declared with refreshing transparency, “Transience is suddenly becoming a very real issue.”

A common theme emerges in my students’ final papers. There is so much injustice and so much need. Am I in the right place, going to college? What is God calling me to do? All this time spent equipping; shouldn’t I be doing?

There are, I respond, certain problems with this view. The need is great, but it lies deeper and is more varied than the most visibly urgent concerns. Short-term missions and direct aid have their place. But have we asked ourselves how much difference good government could make in most of the places where the aid is destined?

Besides this, education cannot be reduced to equipping. To the Christian, the mind is not a luxury made available only to an elite but is instead integral to human living, securing our health in the largest sense against the reductionists of our age. It is the ballast that holds us fast against what George Steiner memorably termed, “the detergent tide of social conformity.”

But I sympathize with these nineteen-year-olds. Theirs are some of the right questions. The Christian life ought to be lived at the intersection of Need and Calling. Living it there creates an appropriate tension in a fallen world, one that helps us examine our vocations for evidence of cynicism or indulged self-interest. Continue reading

In Memory: David Lumsdaine, Pastoral Scholar & Friend

Timothy Sherratt, professor of political science, offered the following reflection at the memorial service of colleague and friend, David Lumsdaine, who passed away last Wednesday morning, February 27, 2013:

“Could it be fewer than six years ago that I met David Lumsdaine for the first time when we brought him to interview at Gordon College? The Wheaton political science chairman who urged me to consider him for our open position described David’s demeanor as pastoral, telling me that in one short year many students had beaten a path to his door for advice and counsel. And in the subsequent years, more than I could ever have expected to, I gained a new purchase on the meaning of loyalty in friendship, got closer to humble genius than I ever expected to, and saw teaching and scholarship practiced with passion and care from one who loved God and neighbor with unguarded enthusiasm.   

We mourn the loss of our friend. The suddenness of his departure is shocking. We will feel the full weight of it over the weeks and months ahead as we grieve. And yet I believe we will witness something else, too, something even weightier. We will witness the fruit of the good seed David cultivated in the lives of students and colleagues and church family alike. Continue reading

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.”

Voting and Coolness, Lectures and Leadership

Faculty contributions beyond the classroom have been many during the past few weeks. Here’s a sampling:

On election day, Paul Brink, associate professor of political science, was a featured guest on the “John Hall and Kathy Eamons Show” at 5 o’clock p.m. for the Salem Network Radio affiliate in Pittsburgh, PA, to discuss a Christian approach to voting.

Jonathan Gerber, assistant professor of psychology, published the results of his study, “Measuring the existence of cool using an extended Social Relations Model” in the current edition of peer reviewed online journal Psychnology. Gerber was also recently interviewed about his study by a reporter for the Boston Globe for a story that was published in the print and online editions, Thursday, Nov. 8.

Judith Oleson, associate professor of social work, has been asked to lead a pre-conference session at the American Academy of Religion’s Annual meeting Nov. 16th in Chicago for evangelical theologians/scholars involved in the Postcolonial Theological Network. The session entitled, “Enhancing and Equalizing the Roundtable in Postcolonial Theological Dialogue” will explore themes such as the power of dialogue, and power dynamics within dialogue across culture, traditions and historical contexts.

Dwight Tshudy, associate professor of chemistry, was the invited speaker for the Fourth Annual Sigma Xi (Northshore chapter) Lecture in October. Dwight’s lecture on green chemistry and sustainability was delivered to an audience of students and faculty from Endicott College, Gordon College and Salem State University.

Peter Iltis, professor of kinesiology and horn, gave a talk entitled, “Musician’s Dystonia: What do we know, and what can be done?” on October 24th at the New England Conservatory. Attendees included students, faculty, several clinicians and medical people who work with dystonia patients, and at least one patient suffering from dystonia as a violinist.

During the last weekend of October, Joel Boyd, associate professor of chemistry, lead a group of nine students to Boston’s Museum of Science where they facilitated the museum’s outreach activities. The Museum’s annual event during National Chemistry Week brings hundreds of visitors to participate in hands-on activities.

Sean Clark, associate professor of  kinesiology, gave a lecture entitled, “Exercises for Balance and Mobility: From Fitness to Fall-Prevention” at the Massachusetts Clinical Exercise Physiologist 2012 fall meeting. Clark’s talk included a practical, learning by doing component where attendees performed various progressive exercises similar to those in our program at the Center for Balance, Mobility and Wellness.

How Then Should a Christian Vote?

In the November 2, 2012, Capital Commentary published by the Center for Public Justice, Paul Brink, associate professor of political science, offers a Christian perspective on why and how to vote.

How Should We Vote?

By Paul Brink

First of all, we should vote.  I join others in saying that to vote is actually part of our Christian calling. Given the responsibility of the state to pursue justice, the chief goal of democracy is not to give citizens the right to determine the state’s purpose, as secular justifications for democracy might suggest.  Rather, when citizens vote, they share with their fellow citizens the duty to discern and pursue together justice and the common good. This is a responsibility we may not ignore. It’s a remarkable privilege—and a daunting one.

READ MORE HERE.