Congratulations to the Doctors Thostenson!

We’d like to interrupt our usual summer hiatus long enough to congratulate two former students — two siblings! — who have recently completed PhD’s in their respective fields.

• Katie Thostenson ’05 earned her doctorate in classics from the University of Edinburgh for her examination of the historical context of the early Christian apologist Tertullian, specifically his views on women, the body, and sexual difference. While Tertullian was “conservative in his recommendations for men and women, reflecting more closely non-Christian assumptions about male and female bodies that fix women in the subordinate position of a sexual hierarchy,” she concluded that he nonetheless challenged the patriarchal assumptions of his time “in his vision of primordial and eschatological states where men and women are not bound by secular institutions, but live in the fullness of God.” A former adjunct professor in our department who reflected on her experience with graduate education in the UK in this 2014 roundtable interview, Katie now lives in Munich, Germany with her husband Kai, an economist.

Katie and Jimmy Thostenson
Katie and Jimmy earlier this year near Asheville, NC – photo courtesy of Katie Thostenson

• Then Katie’s brother Jimmy won an Outstanding Dissertation Award from the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University, for his research towards creating an energy efficient toilet (an initiative of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation). While he majored in Applied Physics as a member of Bethel’s class of 2010, Jimmy also completed a History minor, for reasons he shared in this 2013 blog post:

I often defend my minor in history to STEM people as being as important, if not more important, to me than my major in applied physics. Why? Because of the tangible, practical skills I built through learning about various times in history. It wasn’t facts about the Cold War or the order of Roman emperors I took away that was important, it was how I learned to build and argue my view points, research topics I knew nothing about, critically think about biased material, balance other argued view points, and many other skills which are missed when students ask, “How will studying the humanities land me a job?” To this end, I would say that while applied physics was what allowed me to be considered for a job within a STEM occupation, a minor in history was what set me apart from the pool of candidates and also gave me the skills I needed to be a successful employee.

Jimmy lives in Durham, North Carolina. His wife Melissa Gwynn ’10, exhibition and publications manager at Duke’s Nasher Museum of Art, also has connections to our department: she majored in Art History at Bethel and wrote her senior paper for us on the Russian artist Kazimir Malevich.

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Internship Opportunity: Fall 2019 (Apply Now!)

If you are looking to add yet another set of skills and experiences to your portfolio, an internship is a great way to do that. Just minutes ago, the communications specialist from the Minnesota Office of Governor alerted me to an internship opportunity almost in Bethel’s backyard, geographically. Bethel claims to produce world changers, and this internship seems like it might offer an expedient path to that goal. Below you’ll find the email (and the information you need in order to apply):

“I’m reaching out to let you and your students know about the internship program in the Governor’s Office. I’d greatly appreciate you passing this email on to your students, especially those with an interest in public policy and administration. Interns in our office have the opportunity to work with a specific department (like Communications) to develop professional skills and learn more about working in public service. We are actively accepting intern applications for our Fall 2019 intern cohort until July 5, 2019. Those interested can learn more about our program here: https://mn.gov/governor/contact/internships.jsp.

As a former English major myself, I’m especially interested in reaching out to strong writers and communicators with an interest in policy and politics. Our Communications interns have the opportunity to apply their writing skills in a professional setting and support the Office’s communications strategy by drafting press releases, monitoring media coverage, managing and monitoring digital media, assisting with events, and more.

Those interested should submit an application form (available at the link above), cover letter, resume, and writing sample by email to gov.internships@state.mn.us or by mail to: Attn: Internship Coordinator, 130 State Capitol 75 Rev Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Saint Paul, MN 55155. Please note that mailed applications must be received by the deadline.”

To the Graduates of Spring 2019

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul says, “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy. . . .” Truly the history graduates who will walk across the stage tomorrow have brought me joy, have consistently made me grateful for being called to teach, and I wanted to thank them publicly for that.

In Senior Seminar this spring, it has been a distinct pleasure to work with students already so deep into the process of becoming “whole and holy persons,” thanks to their communities of friends, pastors, coaches, parents, and teachers. I’ve been humbled to see the positive impact of these folks in the lives of our students.

Back Row (L to R): Luke Sherry, Zach Meinerts, Justin Brecheisen, Kyle Kilgore
Middle Row: Logan Olson, Andrew Zwart, Haley (Johnson) Shearer
Front Row: Collin Barrett, Nelson Menjivar Lopez, Brendan Veary, Caitlan Hart, Phia Carlson
Photo by Sam Mulberry

At the same time, I’ve been impressed watching the students in Senior Seminar rise to the challenges I’ve extended. Write better. Speak better. Persist in the face of distractions and crises. They’ve done it, and I couldn’t be more proud. If one ever wonders what value a Christian liberal arts college has, I’d point them in the direction of these students. As faculty introduced each student before his/her Senior Seminar presentation, faculty used words like: character, integrity, curiosity, endurance, courage, and service. These students are the kinds of people who will impact their worlds for God’s glory and their neighbor’s good.

Faculty in the photo include: Professor Annie Berglund, Dr. Amy Poppinga, Dr. Charlie Goldberg, Dr. Diana Magnuson, and Dr. Kooistra
Photo by Sam Mulberry

The prayer for the week in the Book of Common Prayer reads: “O ALMIGHTY God, who alone canst order the unruly wills and affections of sinful [humans]; Grant unto thy people, that they may love the thing which thou commandest, and desire that which thou dost promise; that so, among the sundry and manifold changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed, where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” That’s a great prayer, but I’ll return to Philippians for my parting prayer for these graduates: “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ–to the glory and praise of God.”

Congratulations to our Spring 2019 graduates. God’s speed.

What You Can Do With a History Major… As Seen in Bethel News

What can you do with a History major? Just read about our four alumni who have featured in Bethel media stories this month:

• A social worker at the International Institute of St. Louis, Lauren Peffley ’09 was profiled at Bethel’s website last week. Here’s how the story explains the connection between her undergraduate major and her current work as an anti-trafficking social worker at the International Institute of St. Louis:

…[Lauren’s] pursuit of social justice came alive while majoring in history at Bethel, where she also minored in media communications. She incorporated elements of social justice issues in her history courses, including several on the European colonization of Africa. When she studied abroad in Uganda, she researched colonization and the effects of missionaries as colonizers in sub-Saharan Africa.

Professor of History AnneMarie Kooistra says the history department gives students the freedom to explore while taking courses on the cores of American history, European history, and global history. But within those areas, students can choose courses from a variety of subjects and interests. “We really do encourage independent thought, all of us, in our different courses,” she says.

When Peffley took a senior seminar course, Kooistra could tell her student had found a cause in social justice. “That is a passionate woman,” Kooistra says. “That has not diminished since leaving Bethel.” For her senior paper, Kooistra helped Peffley root that passion in history. Peffley wrote her senior thesis on the “comfort women”—women who were systematically sexually trafficked by the Japanese Imperial Army during WWII and several years after. “That really started my anti-trafficking research in a bigger way,” Peffley says.

Once a History major, always a History major: Lauren points out that this photo was taken in Sarajevo, near the spot where the Austria archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in June 1914, sparking the crisis that led to World War I (which Lauren studied with Prof. Gehrz)

• Lauren is part of a larger story in the current issue of Bethel Magazine on how the Bethel community responds to human trafficking.

• That issue’s cover story — a series of brief profiles of exceptional teachers at Bethel — is inspired by Why We Teach, the documentary film that Prof. Sam Mulberry ’99 made for his sabbatical last spring.

• Finally, Christopher Olson ’87 and Ben Beecken ’10 are the first two alumni featured in a story on “adventurous alumni” whose liberal arts education prepared them to be “nimble and adaptable, ready to embrace changes in the job market—and their own unique callings—to excel in today’s world.”

Both stories originated with our From AC 2nd to… series of career interviews: Christopher told us of his career in nautical archaeology; Ben explained how he used his History degree to become an executive with a top-tier minor league baseball team.

(Ben has since added a new role: freelance writer for Grandstand Central, an online magazine that looks “at the intersection of sports with politics, power, money, science, race, religion, gender, culture, tech and sexuality.” For example, last month he wrote about the major league team sports’ attempts to adapt to change.)

Our Newest Podcast: Bookish

We’re excited to announce the debut of Bookish @ Bethel, a new podcast on the Live from AC2nd network!

Featuring our own Prof. AnneMarie Kooistra and Philosophy professor Carrie Peffley, Bookish will feature conversations about books and other texts that feature in Bethel’s Humanities Program. (Carrie and AnneMarie help lead one of the Humanities teaching teams.)

For the first episode of Bookish @ Bethel, AnneMarie and Carrie started where both Humanities and its gen ed cousin CWC start: Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” To help them explore that text, they talked to someone familiar to many of our alumni: History professor-turned-Bethel chief diversity officer Ruben Rivera, who reflects on King’s iconic status, the civil rights movement past and present, connections to figures like Frederick Douglass and James Baldwin, and how MLK embodies what Ruben calls “remarkable Christianity.”

(Students: if you want to dive deeper into these topics and texts, check out Ruben’s fall courseHIS210U Minorities in America.)

You can download or stream Bookish from Podbean. And be sure to follow all our Live from AC2nd podcasts on Facebook.

Highlights from the 2019 Minnesota Undergraduate History Symposium

Over the weekend, we had the pleasure of hosting the 6th annual Minnesota Undergraduate History Symposium, which drew students and faculty from twelve church-related colleges and universities in Minnesota and Iowa.

In addition to the student research that was presented, we had a terrific (and timely) opening conversation with Kent Whitworth, director and CEO of the Minnesota Historical Society. His comments on “The Future of Public History” and the Q&A that followed were recorded and podcast on Prof. Mulberry’s Live from AC2nd network.

You can see the full program here. If you’re interested in learning more about the research presented by twelve of our students, stay tuned for details of our annual Senior Seminar presentations, coming up the evenings of May 13th and 20th.

Next Tuesday: Bethel ROAR Day

One week from today Bethel is holding its annual ROAR Day, a 24-hour fundraising marathon that aims to show the breadth and strength of Bethel alumni, family, and friends. Funds raised go to the unrestricted Bethel Fund, which helps support students — e.g., through scholarships.

Of course, all giving throughout the year is helpful. But giving on ROAR Day yields extra benefits, since there are matching gifts and challenges that can be unlocked if Bethel reaches certain donor targets.

Click here to learn more.

We’re Moving!

That’s right, we’re going to need a new name for this blog.

As of this summer, the History Department will leave its longtime home on AC 2nd and relocate to CC 4th, where we’ll join our Political Science friends in the office suite currently housing the Education Department.

We won’t move out until after spring commencement, but we’re well along in the process of starting to clean out our AC2 offices.

Which means that there’s a growing collection of books accumulating on AC 2nd — free for any student, alum, or other history buff who wants to add to their library.

Previewing Our Fall 2019 Courses

Tonight Bethel students will start registering for courses next fall. Here’s what’s History faculty will be teaching in FA19:

Class registration according to a cartoon in the Aug. 19, 1964 Bethel Clarion – Bethel Digital Library

HIS200L American Civilization (AnneMarie Kooistra)

HIS210U Minorities in America (Ruben Rivera)

HIS/GEO320K History and the Human Environment (Amy Poppinga)

HIS350 Modern America (Diana Magnuson)

HIS354 Modern Europe (Chris Gehrz)

HIS356 Modern Middle East (Poppinga)

DIG310 Advanced Digital Humanities (Charlie Goldberg)

GEO120 Intro to Geography (Magnuson)

GES130 Christianity and Western Culture (Gehrz, Goldberg, Poppinga, Annie Berglund, Sam Mulberry)

GES145 Humanities I: Greco-Roman through Middle Ages (Kooistra)

GES160 Inquiry Seminar (Berglund, Kooistra)

Introducing Inquiry Seminar

One of the newest courses in Bethel’s general education curriculum is GES160 Inquiry Seminar (or “IQ”). Replacing the older College Writing and Introduction to Liberal Arts courses, IQ sections introduce first-year students to the liberal arts in the Christian tradition and help prepare them for research, speaking, and writing assignments in later courses.

Taught by faculty from a variety of departments, IQ sections tend to start with questions that transcend any single academic field. For example, a recent Bethel News story on Inquiry Seminar featured a section called “Bracketology: Competition and Controversy in College Basketball.” Timed to coincide with Minneapolis hosting the NCAA men’s basketball Final Four last weekend, it’s being taught by chemistry professor Ashley Mahoney, a Kentucky Wildcats fan whose reading assignments include a Andrew Maraniss’ biography of Perry Wallace, the first African-American to play in the Southeast Conference. (Have we mentioned that we’re debuting a sports history course next spring?)

Other sections have covered topics as diverse as comedy, friendship, Native American culture, and YA literature. “This is a curiosity course,” explained IQ coordinator April Vinding in the Bethel News story. “How do you cultivate curiosity? How do you manage the bumper harvest that comes back to you when you start asking interesting questions? How do you communicate your passions and curiosity to other people?”

Two of our professors have already taught Inquiry Seminar. Chris Gehrz offered one of the first sections when the course launched in Fall 2017. Asking what it meant to seek Christian unity in the midst of an increasingly divided society, students read books like Christena Cleveland’s Disunity in Christ and John Inazu’s Confident Pluralism, presented case studies of schisms in church history, and researched causes of polarization in 21st century America.

AnneMarie Kooistra is currently leading “Writing Our Story: Your Voice and the Voices of the American Past,” an IQ option for Bethel’s Pietas Honors program. “We examine how our family histories intersect larger trends in American history in general,” she explains. “Students use digital tools like Family Search to uncover sometimes long-distant ancestors, and their research project asks them to write a paper to recreate the historical context of a family member’s experience.” Readings include Maxine Hong Kingston’s China Men, “an example of the tensions between memory, history, and family stories and artifacts.”

When Dr. Kooistra reprises the section this fall, students will read Martha Hode’s The Sea Captain’s Wife, a history of a nineteenth century working-class, interracial marriage and family constructed from a cache of family letters. In addition, our newest adjunct professor, Annie Berglund, will debut an IQ section called “All God’s Creatures: Animals as Property or Peers?” And our Political Science colleague Chris Moore will reprise a popular section on the politics of food.