Six Faculty + Summer Grants = Interesting Scholarship, Part III

Each summer at Gordon, the Provost’s Office invites applications for small grants that Faculty can use toward ongoing research and scholarship in between academic years. This summer, six were awarded stipends, ranging in projects from screenwriting and data reviews to humanitarian logistics and fiction writing. Here are profiles of the final two recipients: (Read about the others HERE)

In between travel to scout locations and research, Toddy Burton, assistant professor of communication arts, has been completing a feature screenplay for a spring 2014 production that coincides with her sabbatical then.  In addition to her other scholarship and award winning films, Burton’s current project will explore the genres of drama and comedy. Here’s how she described her creative process for the development grant:The undertaking will involve revising different projects I have been developing, resulting in selection of the script that I will then lock into a production-ready draft. Work will include writing, soliciting feedback and launching of pre-production strategies. Additionally, I am overseeing an independent study this semester (with a film student) to shoot a short based on one of the feature ideas. The resulting film will used in fundraising efforts for the feature. Some of the work this summer will involve completing post-production and distribution on that short film.”

Kaye Cook, professor of psychology, has been continuing her scholarship on, “Teaching Integration, and Understanding Alumni Views of God.”  For her two-part summer project, Cook has been preparing an article for a special edition of the Journal of Psychology and Theology on faith-learning integration in developmental psychology, co-authoring it with Kathleen Leonard (University of Massachusetts—Lowell, Gordon graduate). Their goals are to summarize contemporary perspectives, teaching strategies, and scholarly resources, and to develop materials and propose creative pedagogical strategies for use in the field. Some of Cook’s students are helping with the review of current material. 

Here’s what Cook wrote on the second part of her project: “I have the transcriptions of 120 interviews with Gordon alumni, which current students and I will code for alumni views of God. After a review of the data, I believe they will challenge Chris Smiths’ well-respected description of emerging adult religiosity as marked by MTD (moralistic, therapeutic, deism). MTD refers to a belief in God that God is moralistic (i.e., the source of morals), therapeutic i.e., God is primarily a problem-solver), and deistic (i.e., God as distant and uninvolved in everyday lives). I expect to prepare a publishable manuscript of these data for a peer-reviewed journal and/or write it into a chapter I write on ‘Spiritual Formation in Emerging Adulthood’ this fall.”

Six Faculty + Summer Grant = Interesting Scholarship

Each summer at Gordon, the Provost’s Office invites applications for small grants that Faculty can use toward ongoing research and scholarship in between academic years. This summer, six were awarded stipends, ranging in projects from screenwriting and data reviews to humanitarian logistics and fiction writing. Here are two recipients, with the others to follow:

For his project called,”Impacts of habitat fragmentation on small-mammal carriers of Lyme Borreliosis, Babesiosis, and Anaplasmosis,” Greg Keller, associate professor of biology  and curator of birds and Mammals, says his summer research will include: “1) an increase in efforts to study small mammals and tick-borne diseases; and 2) an application to the National Science Foundation Research in Undergraduate Institution program for grant support. Habitat fragmentation may impact small mammals and transmission of parasitic diseases they carry. Students and I will live-trap small mammals, collect tissue samples, and collect ticks to analyze for infectious agents of Lyme borreliosis, babesiosis, and anaplasmosis. We will compare four habitats to identify specific types of fragmentation that affect these measures. This project will yield considerable data, incorporate student assistance, result in publication, and foster collaboration.”

For her research entitled, “Ritualized Interpretations: A Hermeneutic Account of Social Identities,” Lauren Barthold, associate professor of philosophy and coordinator of gender studies minor, describes her abstract this way: “Most contemporary feminist theories of identity tend toward either gender realism, with its untenable metaphysical assumptions, or post-structuralist gender deflationism, with its danger of political quietism. In an attempt to move beyond this polarizing and paralyzing dilemma, my manuscript draws on the resources of the hermeneutic tradition in philosophy, specifically that of Hans-Georg Gadamer, and argues that identities are like interpretations. Conceiving of identities as interpretations affirms their plural, dialogic and ritualized nature and shows how their main function is not to express the essence and meaning of an individual but to foster community creation.”

Distinguished Faculty Awards, 2012-13

On Saturday, May 18, at Gordon’s 121st Commencement ceremony, provost Janel Curry recognized professor of recreation and leisure studies Valerie Gin and assistant professor of philosophy Brian Glenney as this year’s recipients of the Distinguished Faculty Awards. The Distinguished Faculty Awards are given annually to one senior and one junior full-time faculty member in recognition of excellence in teaching, substantial scholarly and professional achievement, and notable service to the Gordon community. Upon being nominated by the faculty and members of the graduating class, the final recipients of the award are chosen by a committee comprised of Distinguished Faculty Award winners from the previous three years and the provost.

Said Provost Curry of Senior Distinguished Faculty Award winner Valerie Gin, “The Senior Distinguished Faculty Award recipient can be found almost anywhere in the world–mentoring others in places as far-ranging as South Africa or China. Beyond cultural boundary crossings, she has also been exploring the boundaries of gender and sport, and is presently working on a novel–collaboratively–around the topic of Title IX.”

Of Junior Distinguished Faculty Award winner Brian Glenney, she noted, “The Junior Distinguished Faculty Award winner also crosses boundaries–especially disciplinary boundaries. I believe our conversations this year have ranged from: perception of place, to the sovereignty of God and cultural landscapes, to randomness in nature, to graffiti art, and finally, to the construction of shelves in my house–from the abstract to the concrete and everything in between. Often I forget what department he actually belongs to because his work is so creatively cross-cutting.”

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.

From the Provost: The Challenge of Creating Margins

Editor’s note: Gordon’s new provost Janel Curry offered the following thoughts and goals at the 2012-2013 faculty workshop:

The Challenge of Creating Margins

By Janel Curry, August 21, 2012

The frame for my comments today is “The Challenge of Creating Margins.”  But before I specifically define what I mean by margins—not marginal costs, and not being “on the margins”—I want to talk about living an academic life.

The phrase I use to best describe the Academic Life is this: It is the best of lives and the worst of lives. It allows for the development of a rich life, which integrates all aspects of our existence—service, intellectual thought, spiritual growth, and family life.

For instance, when I was traveling back from New Zealand with my daughters after a semester long sabbatical, one of them asked me, “Where are we going on our next sabbatical?” As a geographer who does cross cultural comparisons in research as well as teaches about other cultures, my work has involved travel, and often my daughters.  I have to admit that when they were young they complained about our spring break trips always being “educational.”  But we have become who we are as a family because of the cross-cultural experiences we shared together.  This is the rich benefit of the academic life.

But the nature of the rich integration of spheres of life that come with an academic career also lead to the challenge of balancing roles and tasks.  Your job is never done. I once had an 8-5 job and it was the only time in my life where I could leave it all behind at 5 and know I was finished.

In higher education, you have never done enough, read enough, prepared enough, written enough, know enough.  There is always more that you COULD do. So it is the best of lives and it is the worst of lives!

What’s more, there are numerous additional changes that add to the richness and the challenge of an academic life.  Pressures from outside have grown, leading to accountability for defined learning outcomes, external program reviews, greater competition for students and continual technological change. Students are engaged in inquiry-based learning—this is the most effective way of learning. But inquiry-based learning involves changes in pedagogy, and is often more time-intensive.

Obviously, Gordon has a goal of becoming a more diverse place. But our faculty then must take into account increasingly diverse student learning styles and backgrounds—it is no longer one size fits all. Our faculty carry out university-level research with undergraduates, but they do this alongside comparatively heavy teaching loads and a strong commitment to teaching.

In the past, people could tell what they had to do and whether it was complete, but presently we live in a fog of accumulating open-ended obligations with the boundary between personal and professional becoming even fuzzier, and a growing ambiguity between what is done and what remains undone (Fallows 2004, 171). I describe this as trying to walk forward while juggling, trying to decide which balls are worth keeping in the air, which in my back pocket, and which I should just let drop. 

Given all this, as well as the increasing challenges and changes in higher education, the Provost’s office theme for the year is:  Creating Margins. We want to construct institutional practices and curricula that build margins into our lives to aid student learning and to help us serve as models for students.

Richard Swenson’s book Margin provides the definition for what we are working toward: “Margin is the space that once existed between ourselves and our limits. It’s something held in reserve for contingencies or unanticipated situations. It’s the gap between rest and exhaustion, between breathing freely and suffocating.”

In light of this, I want to share with you five goals that the Provost’s office identified in our planning retreat: Continue reading

“The Last of the Rowanberrys” or The Distinctions of Gordon College

When Provost Mark Sargent started preparing his fall presentation about Gordon’s distinctives, he wondered if he would be able to get the marketing jargon and agenda from the past decade out of his head.  He told the faculty and staff who gathered for the special faculty forum, that what “saved” him was reading Wendell Berry. By exploring five key areas of distinctions, Dr. Sargent described Gordon’s unique qualities, using his recent encounter with Berry’s story, “Are You All Right?” to help frame his perspective. The text of his speech is printed in full below:

The Last of the Rowanberrys, or The Distinctions of Gordon College  

By Mark Sargent

October 10, 2011

Not long ago the members of the Cabinet were in the President’s Office preparing for a conference call with the Board of Trustees, and we were scurrying around to insure that we had all the right papers and notes ready for the event, when we suddenly ventured onto one of the thornier philosophical topics we had faced in some time. Was it possible to taste the difference between Coke Zero, Diet Coke, and Diet Pepsi? While we are at it, why not add Pepsi One and some generic store brand to the mix. President Lindsay, like most of the others, seemed certain that he could identify the difference by taste.

So I asked Jerry Logan, our academic programs coordinator, if he would conduct a taste test this past week among the visitors to our office. We found what many studies have confirmed: That virtually everyone had a very strong preference among the five choices. Before they took a sip, they generally knew what drink they would buy if they saw these choices in the store. And yet only 13 percent were successful in picking that flavor simply by taste. You would have better odds if you rolled dice.

What this implies, of course, is a triumph of marketing. The actual distinctions between colas are relatively slight: this one has a few more milligrams of corn syrup or artificial sweetener than that one. But most all of us who have spent any time watching television have absorbed certain images associated with each drink. We may not fully realize how effectively Coca Cola has targeted Coke Zero at men and Diet Coke at women, feeding the absurd notion that a sweetener that comprises less than 1 percent of the volume defines the boundary line between genders and gender roles.

I tell you this to confess why I shuddered some when I was first asked to describe the distinctions of Gordon College. For the last ten years, when I have been engaged in earnest discussions about distinctions at Gordon, it has usually been part of a quest for that Holy Grail of sales: a market differential. In one respect, the term “distinction” should refer less to something precise than to something quite generic: we refer sometimes to a person of distinction as one with integrity, wisdom, perhaps even a gray-haired eminence.

To be fair, I am not fully discounting the need to find themes in our marketing that enable us to recruit students and to define our product. But I will confess to having listened to too many consultants and advisors on branding: Too many people who have pressed us to define our “brand” or our “brand promise” and then be sure that we conform our academic and co-curricular programs to match in order to secure our customer. Or too many advisors have told us to define reality by our marketing jargon. When I suggested to one marketer that MIT might quarrel with a tagline proclaiming Gordon now to be “New England’s best science college,” I was told I needed “aspiration.”

So I started thinking about this presentation about Gordon’s distinctions fearing that I would not get the marketing jargon and agenda out of my head.  What saved me, you might say, was reading Wendell Berry. Continue reading

Distinguished Faculty Awards, 2010-2011

tedwood_2006_10_05_12_37_04On Saturday, May 21, at Gordon’s 119th Commencement ceremony, provost Mark Sargent recognized professor of economics and business Ted Wood and associate professor of linguistics and classics Graeme Bird as this year’s recipients of the Distinguished Faculty Awards. The Distinguished Faculty Awards are given annually to one senior and one junior full-time faculty member in recognition of excellence in teaching, substantial scholarly and professional achievement, and notable service to the Gordon community. GraemeBird_2008_08_15_11_27_30Upon being nominated by the faculty and members of the graduating class, the final recipients of the award are chosen by a committee comprised of Distinguished Faculty Award winners from the previous three years and the provost.

To view the provost’s remarks for each recipient, use the following links for Senior Distinguished Faculty award winner Ted Wood and Junior Distinguished Faculty Award winner Graeme Bird.

Easter in the Ruins

corinthbemaandacrocorinthtb011601091_2011_04_25_05_58_23As Provost at Gordon, Dr. Mark Sargent often has the opportunity to travel for various purposes and responsibilities he has in his role as a leader in higher education. On a recent accreditation team visit, he went to Greece. This essay is his response to visiting that land:

In early spring the scarlet poppies of Greece fill the cracks of the marble ruins. They crop up alongside the dust of tourist paths, and mix with the thistles in the open grasslands, not so much in clusters but in scattered blossoms, like drops of blood sprinkled over the fields.

When I visited Ancient Corinth some ten days ago there were a few poppies growing between the rust-colored stones of the Bema, or the public rostrum, where the Apostle Paul appeared in 51 A.D. before a Roman tribunal, accused of “persuading people to worship God in ways contrary to the law.” The proconsul—brother of the philosopher Seneca—dismissed the charge even before the defendant had an occasion to speak. This was, after all, an intramural quarrel, weighty perhaps for the poor Jewish community but irrelevant to the edicts of Rome . . .

The Provost’s Film Series

marksargent_2010_11_19_02_23_20The Provost’s Film Series returns for the spring semester with a set of five films that explore the theme of “The Outsiders.” Since 1999, Provost Mark Sargent has partnered with faculty members to produce 4-5 film-and-discussion nights each semester. Mixing a variety of genres around a semester- or year-long theme, the series has now shown more than 100 films representing 29 different countries.

This semester’s iteration will focus on those who, for different reasons, live on the fringes of the world around them. Below is the lineup for the spring semester as well as an introduction to the first film, Spider-Man 2, after the jump.

February 1: Spider-Man 2
discussion led by Toddy Burton, assistant professor of communication arts
February 15: My Best Friend
discussion led by Emmanuelle Vanborre, assistant professor of French
March 8: The Ghost Writer
discussion led by Mark Sargent, provost
April 19: The Counterfeiters
discussion led by Daniel Johnson, associate professor of sociology
May 11: Blade Runner
discussion led by Ian DeWeese-Boyd, associate professor of philosophy
Continue reading