What Can You Do With a History Major? Work in Washington, DC

I’m in Washington this week to conduct research at the Library of Congress. But while I’m here, I thought I’d reconnect with a few of our alumni working in and around DC. The scene last night at an Italian bistro near Capitol Hill:

Prof. Gehrz with Bethel alumni in Washington, DC

Going clockwise from the bottom-left, allow me to introduce:

  • Andy Burmeister ’04, who started in Washington as a legislative staffer and now works as a contract lobbyist with Lockridge Grindal Nauen.
  • Kyle Peterson ’05, who has worked at the U.S. State Department for about ten years, primarily helping with the economic reconstruction of Iraq and other aspects of American foreign aid.
  • Peter Williams ’04, who is an attorney and senior policy officer for the Special Victims’ Counsel program for the National Guard Bureau, assisting victims of sexual assault. (Peter first talked to us about being an Army lawyer in this 2012 interview.)
  • Caleb Graff ’10, who works as professional staff for the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, specializing in health care policy. (Learn more from his 2014 interview with us.)

You can also find these four on our graduate/professional school map: Caleb, Andy, and Kyle earned master’s degrees in American government, public administration, and international relations, respectively; Peter went to law school at the University of St. Thomas.

So what can you do with a History and/or Political Science degree from Bethel? Work in politics, government, and law in our nation’s capital!

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Why We Teach

Last night Bethel hosted the premiere of Prof. Sam Mulberry’s documentary film, Why We Teach, featuring interviews with fifteen recipients of Bethel’s Faculty Excellence Award for Teaching (including Prof. Chris Gehrz). If you couldn’t be there, the full film is now available to stream:

Filmed and edited over the course of Prof. Mulberry’s spring sabbatical, Why We Teach is available at his CWC Radio Films website. In addition, there you’ll find the original faculty interviews and a searchable database of topical clips. For example, here’s Prof. Gehrz trying out some metaphors for teaching the liberal arts, including a moving story from HIS231L World War II that made the cut for the final draft of the film.

A Photographic Tour of Prof. Gehrz’s Office

I was on sabbatical the semester that Prof. Mulberry published a series here called “The Things They Carried,” in which different Bethel History and Political Science faculty shared some of the things they, well, carry in their work at Bethel. But in the spirit of using “physical objects to tell a person’s story and to profile who they are and the job they do,” I’ll share some photographs I took today of my office (AC 212).

I was responding to an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education that questioned the continuing value of the faculty office. You can read those reflections at my own blog, but I thought some of you might enjoy the pictures on their own. (And maybe I can convince a few more members of the department to do the same with their offices.)

Save the Date: The Premiere of Prof. Mulberry’s Sabbatical Film on Teaching at Bethel

While he’s technically on sabbatical from Bethel, Prof. Sam Mulberry has actually spent most of his spring thinking and talking about Bethel.

Sam MulberryFor his primary sabbatical project, Sam has been filming interviews with fifteen winners of the Bethel Faculty Excellence Award in Teaching — including 2009 recepient Chris Gehrz. (Sam won the excellence award for service this past August.)

Eventually, those interviews will be available in an online archive, but Sam has also edited them into a documentary film, Why We Teach. If you’d like to see the film’s premiere, come to CC 313 at 7pm on Wednesday, May 23rd. (Earlier that day, Sam will talk about the larger sabbatical project as part of our annual West by Midwest forum on innovation in teaching — 1:30pm in the Bethel Maker Space.)

Meanwhile, enjoy the trailer for Why We Teach, featuring Sara Shady (Philosophy), Dan Ritchie and Joey Horstman (English), Carole Young (Psychology), Ken Steinbach (Art), Leta Frazier (Communication Studies), and Dick Peterson (Physics).

Highlights from the 2018 Minnesota Undergraduate History Symposium

Over the weekend students and faculty from our department took part in the fifth annual Minnesota Undergraduate History Symposium (MUHS), joining peers from the University of Northwestern-St. Paul, Bethany Lutheran College, Martin Luther College, and our hosts, Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota.

Six Bethel History majors presented their research at Saturday’s three concurrent sessions:

  • Kerry Bloomfield, “Evangelical Marriage Manuals from 1970-1979”
  • Andrew Fort, “The Quintessential American Cowboy”
  • Hannah Harville, “The Christian Palestinian Experience with, Involvement in, and Response to the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict since the First Intifada”
  • Nelson Menjivar, “Catalonia and Spain: Origins of a Nationalist Movement”
  • Sarah Sauer, “The Moderating Role of Virtus Romana in Augustine’s Desacralization of Nature”
  • Matt Velasco, “The Development and Impact of the Confessing Church”

(Most of these students are currently taking HIS499 Senior Seminar and will be giving more final versions of their research papers on Monday, May 21, 6pm, CLC 109. All are invited!)

Faculty members Amy Poppinga, AnneMarie Kooistra, and Chris Gehrz moderated panels during the symposium, and Prof. Poppinga spoke on the closing faculty roundtable (“Students’ Religious Literacy in a Pluralistic Society”).

(If you’d like to see some highlights from various sessions, Prof. Gehrz live-tweeted the symposium at the hashtag #MUHS2018.)

Thanks to Dr. Tycho de Boer and the rest of our hosts from Saint Mary’s for putting on a fine symposium. We’re looking forward to having MUHS return to Bethel next year.

Nelson Menjivar Named to INCE Museum Fellows Program

Nelson Menjivar ’19, a Bethel History major and Philosophy minor, was named to the 2018-2019 cohort of the INCE Museum Fellows at the Minnesota Historical Society. The program includes a fall course at MNHS, a site visit to museums in Chicago, a paid internship next spring, and ongoing mentoring after the program concludes.

Nelson MenjivarIn addition to letting students explore museum-related careers, the INCE program

is designed to engage students in studying the challenges related to the underrepresentation of communities of color and American Indian Nations in historical organizations and public history graduate programs. Communities need to “see themselves” in the work of cultural organizations in order to identify with their missions.

A native of West Saint Paul, MN, Nelson currently serves as a teaching assistant with Bethel’s Christianity and Western Culture program. He says that he was particularly excited about the INCE program because it offered “the chance to work with museums and professionals who not only study history, but also find a way to present it to the public… I’m excited to get the internship started and use the valuable tools I’ve picked up at the Bethel History department!”

Congratulations, Nelson!

Guess Which Christian Liberal Arts College Comes Up First If You Google “Digital Humanities Major”

 

Bethel at the top of a Google results list for "digital humanities major"

As I wrote yesterday at my personal blog, perhaps the rarest thing in American higher education is a truly distinctive academic program… and Bethel offers one in the form of our new Digital Humanities major.

So whether you’re a prospective student, a high school teacher or guidance counselor, an employer, or simply an interested alum, get in touch with Prof. Goldberg if you’d like to learn more about DH at Bethel.

Giving a Cup of Cold Water in Christ’s Name

Join Prof. Magnuson and the other Friends of The History Center for their spring event on Saturday, April 21 at Calvary Church in Roseville. After coffee and refreshments at 9:30am, the program will begin at 10am.

illustrated history of the Klingberg Children's HomeThis year’s featured speaker is Ron Dischinger, retired CEO/president of the Elim Park Baptist Home in Cheshire, Connecticut (and former Bethel History student — find him on our alumni map). In addition to his nearly four decades at Elim Park, Ron served at the Klingberg Children’s Home. Both institutions are rooted in the historic social ministry of the Baptist General Conference (now known as Converge). (Learn more about Klingberg in the May 2008 issue of The Baptist Pietist Clarion.) In his talk, Ron will trace some of that history, plus the program will feature some creative social ministries being carried out by Converge churches in the Twin Cities. And guests are invited to stop by the oral history table to share their own story of social ministry.

The program is free, but attendees are encouraged to register online and bring a food item to donate.

Get a Preview of Prof. Gehrz’s New Project on Charles Lindbergh

Join us next Thursday (April 12, 11:15am) in the Bethel University Library as Prof. Gehrz gives a Not Ready for Prime Time talk previewing his new project: a “spiritual, but not religious” biography of the famous aviator Charles A. Lindbergh.

Lindbergh gravesite in Hawaii
Lindbergh died in 1974 in Hawaii and was buried on the grounds of a Congregationalist church. His gravestone quotes Psalm 139: “…if I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea…” – Wikimedia

If you can’t make it, you can find video of that talk — and our professors’ and students’ many other appearances in the Library — at our YouTube channel. Or read some of Prof. Gehrz’s recent Lindbergh posts at The Pietist Schoolman and The Anxious Bench:

Alumni Teaching Roundtable: Grad School and Final Advice

Today we wrap up our three-part alumni conversation on teaching in middle and high school. Thanks once more to our outstanding panelists: Micayla Moore ’16, Kelly Van Wyk ’15, Daniel Rimmereid ’15, Zach Haskins ’14, and Joe Held ’13.

Have you started work on a master’s degree? How did you pick the school and program? At what point in the career would you recommend that teachers go back to school?

JH: Teaching provides financial compensation with attaining a master’s degree. I chose to begin my M.A. rather quickly after starting teaching so as to move along the “Steps and Lanes” as soon as possible. I got my Master’s in Educational Leadership from Concordia University Saint Paul (CSP). I had considered Bethel for a master’s degree, but there is benefit to getting an education from a different school. Multiple perspectives and schools can enrich personal growth.

MM: I just started my master’s in instructional design from Western Governor’s University (WGU). It’s an all online, flexible way to get your master’s. WGU is known for its progressive model of competency-based instead of credit-based education, which means if you can show you’re competent in a topic within the program, you can essentially demonstrate that and move on in the coursework so you don’t waste time and money on
information/skills that you’ve already mastered.

Middle schoolers in Micayla Moore's cultures elective course
Some of Micayla’s Spanish immersion middle schoolers in action, designing class flags for a cultures elective

ZH: I started my master’s in educational leadership at St. Mary’s University in the Fall of 2017. I picked the program because it was one that many of my co-workers have gone through, and it is available entirely online. This makes it much easier as a teacher and a coach to be able to get that education.

JH: I chose Concordia’s program for a few reasons. The first being cost. CSP was markedly more affordable than some of the neighboring universities with the same program. The second being the CSP has a reputation for offering pretty rigorous master’s programs. I have many colleagues who received master’s degrees from other universities, and they talk about how they barely had any work. You get out of learning what you put into it. I absolutely love research and paper writing — I know, I’m strange that way — so I wanted a difficult program that would challenge me.

ZH: I would recommend starting your master’s as soon as you feel settled where you are working. I wanted to be at least in my second year at a building before starting. This allows you to adjust to a new school and then tackle your master’s later.

MM: I don’t know that I’d recommend doing it your first year of full-time teaching like I am. (It’s a little stressful!) But I would say do it when you’re younger if you can. I’m only a month or so into it, and it’s already provided immediate benefits to my teaching.

JH: Having completed my M.A. in Educational Leadership, I am now in the middle of getting my Educational Specialist Degree (again, at CSP). This is essentially a step in between a master’s and a doctoral degree (Ed.D). Once I complete this program, I will receive my administration license from the state of Minnesota. This will allow me to pursue becoming a principal down the road if and when I choose.

Any closing advice for current or prospective students thinking about teaching social studies?

MM:  Get involved with youth now in whatever capacity possible. Whether that’s tutoring, volunteering with youth groups, after school programs, etc. Spend time with kids. Get to know them. Spend time in different communities with people of different cultures. You can be so solid in content knowledge and your passion for social studies, but if you can’t connect to your students it means nothing.

ZH: Pursue what you love. Everyone knows that teachers do not make the most money, but you can do something that you really enjoy. Take courses that you find interesting and that will challenge you to make yourself a better teacher.

DR: I would say commit to a school for at least three years. That may seem like a long time but I think that after that you will really know if you want to teach and you will give yourself time to grow as a teacher. The third year really is so much better than the previous two. And get a mentor ASAP. Having someone observe me and give feedback bimonthly changed my teaching so much. It truly made me a much better teacher.

KVW: Think about teaching middle school if you can see yourself working with kids who are beginning to develop self-reliance but also are young and highly impressionable. It takes a lot of patience, clear communication, creativity, problem-solving, flexibility, stability, and humor. Most of all, you must be comfortable with teaching students in all areas: academically, socially, emotionally, etc. Do not go into middle school education if you are only comfortable with the academic side of teaching, or you will be miserable and your students will be miserable.

Kelly Van Wyk and some MOC-Floyd Valley middle schoolers
Kelly and some of her middle school students from Alton, Iowa

DR: I always want more Bethel grads to try teaching in Minneapolis or St. Paul. We could always use more Christians, and those schools are often short on teachers. There are some awesome staff who have really made their life mission teaching here, and I love my colleagues who have given their life to these kids. They are an inspiration to me daily.

JH: The most challenging aspect of being a teacher is planning for the unexpected. Let me tell you a quick story. A few weeks ago, I went to bed at night expecting to teach the next day about the historical importance of the Berlin Wall. I had a killer lesson plan ready and was feeling good about the next day. When I got to school, the following happened:

Period 1) Found out one of my student’s siblings committed suicide; that student had a breakdown/seizure in class.

Period 2) Unexpected school lock down because a student made a threat to the school on social media.

Period 3) One of my students had the stomach flu and threw up in my garbage can during my lesson.

Period 4) Blessedly, nothing happened so I spent that hour trying to get the smell of vomit out of my room.

Period 5) Caught a student vaping in the back of my class and had to get security to come down because he would leave to go to the office.

Each of these things happened in the middle of my super awesome and killer lesson plan. In fact, none of my classes finished what I was hoping to get done. They were completely distracted and had very little interest in the Berlin Wall. Weird, right?

The perspective I would pass along is to remember three things: 1) You must have a sense of humor to be a teacher. Do not take yourself too seriously. 2) Plan to be flexible. Something unexpected will always happen. The sooner you can find peace with that, the less emotionally traumatic teaching will be for you. 3) Finally, remember why you love to teach. It is, and must be, always about the students. These students are with you everyday for a semester. What impact do you want to have? Remember that some things in life are more important than any lesson plan that you made. Build relationships and continue to cultivate those relationships throughout the year. If you show them that you care for them as individuals, I guarantee that they will begin to find excitement in that content that you are going to be teaching them.

MM: Teaching and learning social studies with young people is worth it. There is such a need for kind, compassionate educators in today’s schools. Students need to be known, loved, nurtured, and challenged, and that’s what you get to do as a teacher.

KVW: Just throwing this out there: you can major in history and find a job outside of social studies education. Don’t feel like education is your only option if you major in the humanities!

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