PLU
Scene
Winter 2002

LIFE OF THE MIND

 

First-Year Experience helps new students develop critical thinking skills

One of the things that makes PLU distinctive is the belief that a university education must be about more than developing a set of skills, says Douglas Lamoreaux, associate professor of education."It’s also about learning to think and learning how to engage our critical capacities in service to the world," he said.

English prof Tom Campbell
English professor Tom Campbell talks with students about the relationships between fathers and sons as part of his First-Year Experience course.

PLU students it all begins with the First-Year Experience. Lamoreaux is director of the program that includes a writing seminar and an inquiry seminar that are required of all first-year students. Small classes are designed to help students make the transition to college level academics.

Taught by a wide variety of faculty, the writing seminars focus on writing as a way of thinking, learning and organizing ideas. "They help students learn the skills necessary to be a better writer, inquirer and critical thinker in college," Lamoreaux said.

The seminars focus on engaging topics such as the consequences of poverty, drugs, gangs and war or an exploration of dreaming and the development of strategies to interpret dreams as a way of introducing the use of images in writing.

Students in Tom Campbell’s writing seminar are spending the semester thinking, talking and writing about one of the most significant human relationships: fathers and sons. "In journals, letters, autobiographical narratives, descriptive essays and critical analysis we are exploring the dynamics of fathers and sons and related issues of masculinity and gender construction," said Campbell, who is professor of English at PLU.

The second set of first-year seminars, known as inquiry seminars, introduce students to the methods and topics of study within a particular academic discipline. "It’s a taste of academics from the heart of a discipline and a transition to the courses students will take in fulfilling their core and major requirements," Lamoreaux said.

Students learn how critical reflection functions in an academic field, they practice the skills of critical reading and effective communication, and they learn how to work in an academic group.

According to Lamoreaux, the new program that used to be known as the Freshman Experience is already evolving. "It’s likely that the First-Year Experience program will become more closely affiliated with Quest, the year-long orientation program run by the office of Student Life," he said.

By Greg Brewis

 

International scholars debate complex questions about origins of the Holocaust

Distinguished scholars from around the world debated how different religions view Jews – and whether their early teachings played a role in the Holocaust – at an international conference on campus in late September.

The conference, "Christian Teachings About Jews: National Comparisons in the Shadow of the Holocaust," drew scholars from as far as Germany, Poland and Israel. "This is the first time that these people have all come together in the Pacific Northwest," said Robert Ericksen, PLU professor of history who organized the conference.

Part of their plan was to determine which portions of the Christian tradition – if any – might have contributed to the violence and the hatred of the Holocaust, Ericksen said.

Ericksen is an acclaimed authority on the Holocaust and has authored several books about the Protestant Church and the Nazis.

The conference included panels on topics such as "Memories About Christian Attitudes Toward Jews: Survivors Speak," and "Anti-Semitism and the Vatican: A Postscript."

Dr. Susannah Heschel, who holds the Eli Black Chair in Jewish Studies at Dartmouth College, gave the keynote address, "The Failure of Dialogue: Jewish-Christian Teachings from the Jewish Point of View."
Ericksen said the conference will result in the publishing of groundbreaking research on the origins of the Holocaust. Papers from the conference will be published next year in a dedicated volume of the German journal Kirchliche Zeitgeschichte.

By Katherine Hedland ’88

 

Peace Studies classes begin as talk of war builds

Across campus and the world, debate heated up this fall about what should be done about Iraq. Will sanctions work? Should the U.S. invade? If we do, what’s the proper way to do it? Some questions are old, some are new, but the new Peace Studies program at PLU is working to educate people to be able to answer them all.

PLU’s Peace Studies Working Group arranged a teach-in on Iraq, along with panel discussions on the human costs of landmines and an upcoming visit by Lloyd Axworthy, Nobel Peace Prize nominee and former Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Fall marked the first official Peace Studies courses at PLU. This year, introductory Peace Studies seminars (PS 101) are offered, as well as the Psychology of Peace seminar, taught by psychology professor Chris Hansvick, one of the professors who helped shape Peace Studies at PLU.

"In this seminar, our goal is to focus upon opportunities for peacemaking and peace building," Hansvick said. "It doesn’t mean there is no conflict. It means looking to find common ground." While not yet part of a major or minor, the seminars offer the usual class credits. Hansvick adds that many courses already are offered that meet the criteria for Peace Studies; they just haven’t been labeled as such.

Planning for the Peace Studies program began before Sept. 11, 2001, and its scope goes beyond national issues of war and terrorism. One important element is community service. The group is developing local connections so students can be more involved in issues of homelessness, poverty and domestic violence. Participants in the seminars have also encouraged others to sign petitions, and more than 100 students, many for the first time, have written letters to their government representatives.

"For many, this really is the first step in citizenship," said history professor Beth Kraig, who is a key partner in the Peace Studies initiative. "Bringing these things together, from international conflict to community outreach, gives us all a sense of connectedness."

Plans for the future include creating curriculum for Peace Studies courses, establishing a minor, developing individualized majors around the program and creating service-oriented Peace Studies. Organizers also see increasing alumni involvement as a major focus and have set up a Peace Studies at PLU donation account.

By Drew Brown

 

Accolades

Eli Berniker, professor of business, received the Academy of Management Best Reviewer Award for the Technology and Innovation Management Division at the annual meeting of the Academy of Management in Denver, Colo. He was selected from 223 conference paper reviewers from around the world.

Patsy Maloney, associate professor of nursing, presented "Telehealth: Cost-effective, Creative Solution to Quality Care" at the National Nursing Staff Development Convention in Indianapolis, Ind.

Mathematics professor Dane Wu recently published a paper titled "Regression Analyses on Butterfly Ballot Effect: A Statistical Perspective of the U.S. 2000 Election" in International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology. His article on studies of kurtosis will also appear in a 2002 issue of the journal Advances and Applications in Statistics.

Richard Louie, assistant professor of physics, had two articles published in Materials Research Society Bulletin, and others in the Proceedings of the Twenty-Eighth Annual Review of Progress in Quantitative Nondestructive Evaluation, and Proceedings of the 2002 Society for Experimental Mechanics Annual Conference.

Dean Waldow, associate professor of chemistry, had a book review of Introduction to Synthetic Polymers, 2nd Edition, by Ian M. Campbell, published in the May issue of Journal of Chemical Education.

Jessica Sklar, assistant professor of mathematics, had a paper titled "Binomial Algebras" published in Communications in Algebra.

Rachid Benkhalti, professor of mathematics, had a paper titled "Existence of Periodic Solutions for Some Neutral Functional Differential Equations" accepted by Dynamic Systems and Applications.

Winter 2003 Scene Copyright © 2003 Pacific Lutheran University
Credits ~ Last Updated 12-13-2002 ~ Comments