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.”

Boorse Invited to Address National Leaders During Climate Week NYC

Invited as one of only 20 speakers to address an influential group of leaders, Dorothy Boorse, professor of biology, will be making brief remarks at the opening ceremony of Climate Week NYC 2013 on Monday, September 24, at the Morgan Library & Museum, and participating in a panel discussion later. Because of her work on the NAE report, Loving the Least of These, that addresses, in part, the economic implications of climate change, Boorse was invited by a representative to the United Nations to address the group.

She reflected the voice of evangelicals concerned about climate change, especially noting why climate change is an issue evangelicals should care about, how perceptions are changing, what actions the U.S. could take to address climate change going forward and how evangelicals can be part of that. 

Climate Week NYC is the annual summit that convenes the world’s top government, business and thought-leaders to discuss the potential of innovation, clean energy and smart technologies to boost growth and create jobs. The Fifth Climate Week NYC addresses the theme: “Our low carbon future: Leadership. Opportunity. Security.”

The Opening Ceremony brings together a coalition of political, business and community leaders who will discuss their shared commitment to a Clean Revolution, and offer specific ideas on how American leaders can collaborate to invest in clean energy, efficiency, innovation and infrastructure for a better future.

Boorse will be joining other speakers such as: David Kenny, CEO, The Weather Channel;
 Deborah Fikes, Permanent Representative to the United Nations for World Evangelical Alliance;  Dr. Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank; Meg Whitman, CEO HP; Amy Davidsen, Executive Director, The Climate Group North America
Rt Hon Tony Blair (late arrival);
 Dr Steve Howard, Chief Sustainability Officer, IKEA; Bob Inglis, Executive Director of the Energy and Enterprise Initiative;
 Sen. Timothy E. Wirth, Vice-chairman, UN Foundation, and
 Ted Turner, Founder and President, UN Foundation.

Practicing Peace in Urgent Times

With so many recent headlines pointing to global, corporate or personal conflicts, it seems particularly appropriate to be thinking more about peace and how to promote it. In preparation for the International Day of Peace on Sept. 21, 20013, representatives from Gordon’s faculty and staff have planned a week of conversations, vigils and discussions. Special guests will be on campus to talk about peace efforts and the role of faith in promoting peace. The Week of Peace is a combined effort of the Gordon College Initiative for the Study and Practice of Peace led by Daniel Johnson, professor of sociology; the Balkans Semester; the Peace and Conflict Studies program; and the U.S. Institute of Peace Public Education for Peacebuilding.

“At a time when the world is looking at the crisis in Syria, it is crucial that our  students are prepared to consider alternative strategies that can deter war, and create opportunities for peace,” said Judith Oleson, professor of social work and director of the Peace and Conflict Studies minor. “With our mission to prepare students to be global leaders and our unique ethical frame as a Christian college, we’re in a unique position to explore issues of peacemaking in this urgent time.”

The Week of Peace events include the following:

Monday, Sept. 16, 12:00-1:30: “Philosophy, Faith, and the Practice of Peace”— Why this is important to Gordon College?   A Lunch Conversation with Richard Kearney, the Charles B. Seelig Chair of Philosophy at Boston College.  President’s Dining Room, Lane Student Center.

Monday, Sept. 16, 7:00: “The Small Work of Peace”—A Panel Discussion with Richard Kearney;  Padraig O’Malley, the John Joseph Moakley Professor of International Peace and Reconciliation, McCormack Graduate School of Policy Studies, University of Massachusetts; and Aida Vidan,  Lecturer, Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Harvard University.

Thursday, Sept. 19, 7:30: “Seeking Peace in Film: Halima’s Path”—A Film Screening and Conversation with the Director, Moderated by Aida Vidan  8:00-10:00 BCA 138

Saturday, Sept. 21,7:00: “Peacemaking and the Spiritual Disciplines”—A Walking Peace Vigil, Chapel Steps.


Visiting the Land of Peter Rabbit and His Creator

Janis Flint-Ferguson in Ambleside, England.

As many fans and scholars honor the 70th anniversary of Beatrix Potter’s death, Janis Flint-Ferguson, professor of English and education, visited the author’s home in June to see first hand the setting that launched such works as “The Tale of Peter Rabbit” and “The Tale of Gloucester.” A lecturer with Wisconsin Lutheran College for its “Best of Britain” course, Flint-Ferguson, along with 11 undergraduate students, spent four days in Ambleside of the Lake District north of London. With dozens of walking paths, trails and hills, the rural beauty of the Lake District is both a tourist destination and the inspiration for much of Britain’s best literature, especially, Flint-Ferguson said, from the Romantic period. The class visited William Wordsworth’s home as well as the property and home of Potter (1866-1943). Here’s what Flint-Ferguson, whose expertise includes children’s literature, said about Potter:

“At the 70th anniversary of Potter’s death, it was particularly interesting to visit her home and land. As the grandmother of children’s literature, she revolutionized the genre through her illustrations and stories. For instance, as a natural scientist and conservationist, she studied all of the mold and fungi in the Lake District’s wooded areas, fields and pastures so as to draw them in detail, using her scientific skill and knowledge to capture them in illustrations. Many of these drawings as well as her journals were on display at her home this past summer, which we got to see.

At Potter’s home.

“The Lake District is also home to the sheep industry in England—Potter herself owned some 270 sheep farms in the region—and when she died, she left all of her property to the National Trust of England, which virtually opened up the Lake District. She wanted people to be able to come and see, to walk and enjoy the area as much as she did. But in terms of her literary contributions, she wrote in good, standard, proper and appropriate English, even though some of her editors felt she should ‘dumb down’ a bit for children. But she absolutely refused. And as a result it was one of the first times in England that parents were reading to their children, not in simplified English but in good standard English. There’s some tough vocabulary in her books. She would also sometimes ask caretakers to bring  dead animals to her—mice, rats, rabbits—where she would set them on the desk in front of her to draw them. So when you’re looking at the illustrations in her books, you’re not only seeing the setting in her home but every animal drawn anatomically correct because she studied them so carefully. She was a woman far more intelligent and curious about the natural world than we often give her credit for being.”

Gordon Tradition: Moving into the Best Year Yet

 Gordon begins each new academic year with a matriculation chapel and hears from last spring’s distinguished professor. In her talk, “The Best Shape of Your Life,” Valerie Gin, professor /chair of recreation & leisure studies and 2013 Distinguished Senior Faculty,  challenged students to consider how trust and regiments could translate into their best efforts for the new year. Her speech is reprinted below.

“The Best Shape of Your Life”

By Valerie Gin

When I told my Mom I was asked to speak at Matriculation Chapel, she wondered why I was asked.  When I told her it was because I received the faculty award, without hesitating she told me to, “GIVE IT BACK!”  My mom was horrified and worried that I had to speak in front of so many and now I think I should have listened to her. Well, at least I didn’t have to worry about what I was going to wear.

I am here today because I am blessed by faculty and staff colleagues who support, encourage and pray for me; wonderful students and the Lord’s generosity, grace and goodness. I am grateful for the opportunity to teach at Gordon College. I thank you all.

Wouldn’t it be great to start off this year in the best shape of your life and better yet, maintain it?  Perhaps some of you are there, others not quite. Whether you are there or not, Proverbs 3 provides wonderful guidance in how to prolong life, bring peace and prosperity, win favor and a good name in the sight of God and others, be on a straight path and bring health and nourishment to our bones.  Sounds like great shape to me!

How do we get and stay in shape?  Well, you are already off to a good start because you are at a state of the art boot camp/training facility with the best trainers available. The drill sergeants—I mean professors and staff—will provide a regimen so that you won’t easily forget what you have been taught. It’s our job to ensure that you write on the tablet of your hearts and not just your iPads.

We are professors because we profess what we believe.  Our profession of God’s teaching, commands, love and faithfulness are embedded in who we are and what we teach.  The Gordon basic workout/core classes are designed to develop and strengthen your CORE.  This tremendous workout, premeditated by the faculty, ensures that your mental, spiritual, emotional, social and physical muscles are developed in symmetry. Have you ever seen people who only work out their upper body and then have skinny chicken legs? Back problems are at an epidemic because we have stronger quads and weak hamstrings and abs.  But if you work on the CORE regimen and do your daily reps, you will be well balanced and in great shape.

I have had personal trainers before they were in vogue.  I’d like to share part of my training history with you to encourage you in your training.

Read the rest of this entry »

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.”

Teaching Teachers of French Through Technology and Cinema

Though Emmanuelle Vanborre, associate professor of French and chair of Languages and Linguistics, spent much of her summer in her native country of France, she’ll be bringing her scholarship August 22 to Boston’s French Consulate. In a workshop on cinema and French language acquisition, Vanborre will explore the use of technology in the language classroom through online activities that help students learn language and culture.

As part of an annual summer university co-sponsored by the French Cultural Center and the Consulate, the two and a half day training offers seminars ranging from “Cinema for French Conversations” to the usage of interactive learning sites in the classroom. The equivalent of 15 hours of complete French immersion, the seminar offers intensive training in language and cultural activities to New England French teachers (K-12 – university).

Here’s what Vanborre wrote about her workshop: “Boston College graduate students created a series of web sites for use by middle school to college level students of French, Italian, and Spanish. These sites contain activities written by graduate students that can only be completed by examining existing L2 web pages written for and by L2 speakers. My presentation will concentrate on French sites. It will explore numerous ways to make students proficient readers and writers, and to integrate art, culture and literature in the curriculum through technology. The strategies I’ll present will facilitate comprehension and expression by focusing on developing reading and writing skills while enhancing background knowledge of culture, history, geography, and politics.”


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. 

Six Faculty + Summer Grants = Interesting Scholarship, Part II

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 more recipients, with others to follow:

Mike Veatch, chair and professor of mathematics and computer science, writes about his project entitled: “Airport/Port Congestion During Relief Operations”: “Humanitarian logistics, which concerns the acquisition and delivery of material, is receiving increased attention from aid agencies and academics. Although similar to commercial and military supply chains in their core IT and transportation technologies, humanitarian operations have unique timing, goals, and human factors. This project addresses an aspect of humanitarian logistics that has not received much attention: scheduling an airport or seaport after a disaster. Mathematical models and data from Port-au-Prince airport after the Haiti earthquake are used to test innovative scheduling strategies to allow more aid to be delivered. One or two papers will be submitted to logistics journals.”

Valerie Gin, 2013 distinguished faculty, chair and professor of recreation and leisure studies, and Jo Kadlecek, senior writer and journalist in residence, are co-authoring a novel (tentatively) titled, “When Girls Became Lions.” Here’s their abstract of the story: “A work of contemporary fiction, When Girls Became Lions celebrates the power of women’s friendships against the backdrop of Title IX. Through alternating view points and parallel stories, the novel follows a young woman soccer coach/high school teacher in 2008—herself an ‘entitled’ beneficiary of Title IX—as she discovers the history of her school’s first girls soccer coach, his state championship team, and their corporate legacy. The more she learns what the inaugural team endured just to compete, the more her own perspectives are challenged. The novel’s climax publically honors those first players, who had never received recognition.”

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.”