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J-Term offers intense study and service opportunities as well as travel

By Steve Hansen


Shanda Burton ’07 spent J-Term this year in Costa Rica studying Spanish and society.

Along with intensive language work, Bridget Yaden’s class visited orphanages and a soup kitchen and helped build beds for children.

“It’s more than speaking Spanish; it is a totally different connection,” Burton said. “We wouldn’t have taken in the whole culture without it.”

More and more students are choosing study away programs that focus on service and active learning.

A young boy gets the best of Brian Lubeck ’08 as they play together on the grounds of a Costa Rica orphanage.

“Students are looking for experiences that are more adventurous,” said Susan Mann, associate director of The Wang Center for International Programs. “They want their courses to be challenging and demanding and to take them to places they have not traveled before.”

In addition to a healthy list of semester-long study away programs, more and different J-Term courses attract students. PLU’s month-long session has become an ideal time for students to participate in shorter, comprehensive study away programs (See photos from J-Term 2005 on page 41).

Students typically have had access to about 15 J-Term study away courses in any given year. Next year, PLU will offer 26 off-campus J-Term programs.

Among the planned programs are first-ever courses to Antarctica and Japan. Human rights and development issues will be studied in the southwest African nation of Namibia. A math course will travel to Honduras to introduce students to the importance of math education and to provide them the opportunity to work directly with children in schools there.

These programs are typical of the more diverse courses offered to an increasing number of students who want to learn about the world. By the time they graduate, 40 percent of PLU students have spent time in at least one off-campus course – internationally and/or domestically. The national average, by comparison, hovers between 3 and 4 percent. That places PLU in the top 10 among comprehensive masters-level universities in the United States.

“But we need to do better,” said PLU President Loren J. Anderson in an address at the Pathways to Peace symposium in January.

PLU seeks to increase that percentage to at least half the student body by 2010. Citing the Global Education Strategic Plan approved last year, Mann said she aims to improve quality and quantity of opportunities.

Anderson identified the keys to PLU’s continued success in building a globally focused program. “What has been happening at Pacific Lutheran University today has been the process for 30 years,” he said. “It has been the result of the dedicated effort of innovative and creative faculty leaders throughout this time.”

A combination of forces contributes to this growth, Mann said. More professors are getting involved in the program, the key to it all. It has not always been easy to get faculty to lead trips, Mann said, because of the extra work and time involved.

“It is deeply meaningful and can be a lot of fun, but it is a heck of a lot of work.” she said. “Everybody comes back tired.” The Wang Center helps faculty with administrative aspects, allowing professors to focus on the academic and student elements of their courses.

With more professors committed to study away programs, more disciplines are offering courses. That means a greater selection of increasingly innovative courses.

One program under development (and slated for implementation in 2007) is a J-Term program to Macedonia, where PLU students will explore communication and conflict-resolution strategies in the war-torn Balkan state.

Headed by Ed Inch, acting dean of the School of the Arts, PLU students will work with non-governmental organizations, media outlets and aspiring politicians to help establish peace in a region where ethnic violence is rampant.

Programs such as this connect The Wang Center’s vision to “educate for a just, healthy, sustainable, and peaceful world” with student interests. And the results, said Inch, can be profound.

“This is a great example where education is not simply an academic exercise, but a real-world thing,” said Inch. “This is education that is immediate, forceful and important.”

 



Accolades

Deborah Tannehill, assistant dean and professor in the School of Physical Education, delivered the 39th Annual Amy Morris Homans Commemorative Lecture at the 2005 annual convention of the National Association of Kinesiology and Physical Education in Higher Education. Tannehill’s lecture made connections between teacher education in physical education during Homan’s era in the early 1900s to current research and practice. Only one scholar per year is invited to deliver this lecture.


Alicia Batten, assistant professor of religion, was named a regional scholar by the Society of Biblical Literature Pacific Northwest Region. The award was based on a paper she delivered at the University of British Columbia titled, “James 3:13 - 4:10 as an Elaboration of Theme.” Batten was also awarded the 2004 Fortress Press Award for Undergraduate Teaching. She was commended for her upper-division course on the historical Jesus that correlates biblical studies with service learning as an integral component.


Rick Rouse, executive director of Church Relations, wrote “Fire of Grace: The Healing Power of Forgiveness,” detailing how his former congregation overcame a fire that destroyed their church and forgave serial arsonist Paul Keller. He lectures regularly about the power of forgiveness.


Jeffrey L. Staley, visiting assistant professor of religion, was an invited participant at the 19th World Congress of the International Association for the History of Religions in Tokyo. Staley presented his paper, “Clothed and in Her Right Mind: Mark 5:1-20 and Postcolonial Discourse.” Prior to the conference, Staley gave a lecture to members of the religion faculty and graduate students at Hokkaido University in Sapporo, Japan.


Gregory Youtz, professor of music, wrote three new works premiered by the PLU Wind Ensemble this spring: “Song of Joy,” “Elegy and Celebration” and “Haboo.” “Haboo” was commissioned in 2004 by the Northwest Collegiate Wind Band Consortium.


Frosty Westering, former head football coach, will be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame Divisional Class for 2005 in South Bend, Ind., in August. Westering coached the team from 1972-2003 and led the Lutes to three NAIA Division II and one NCAA Division III national championships, 19 national playoff appearances and 10 conference titles. He is the winningest coach in NAIA history with 256 wins, andis the ninth winningest coach in college football history with 305 victories.

 

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© Scene 2005  •  Pacific Lutheran University  •  Summer 2005

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