Student Presentation on Living in Uganda

Please join us next Thursday (March 29th, 11:15am) in the Bethel University Library for a presentation by junior Social Studies Education major Rachel Land, “Uganda: Learning to Live, Love, and Find a Home Outside My Comfort Zone.”

Rachel Land '19 during her stay in Uganda

Part of the Global Perspectives of Students series sponsored by the Office of Off-Campus Studies, Rachel’s presentation will cover her experience in Uganda and Rwanda, and “address the changes she experienced in her faith and worldview, her new-found understanding of community, her experience with reverse culture shock, and many other aspects of her time abroad.”


Learn More about Our January 2019 World War I Trip to Europe

Interim 2018 is barely in our rear view mirror, but it’s time to start thinking about January 2019… when Prof. Mulberry and I will take our fourth group of Bethel students to Europe for the travel course HIS230L World War I!

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Here’s the course description:

An experiential study of the history of the First World War built around travel in England, Belgium, France, and Germany, including visits to battlefield sites, cemeteries, memorials, and museums. Students will learn what it was like to experience and remember total war and to appreciate this particular conflict’s larger significance for American and European culture.

The itinerary is still taking shape, but will roughly follow this schedule:

  • Depart MSP: Dec. 31, 2018
  • Stay in London (with a day trip to Oxford): Jan. 1-8
  • Battlefield tour of the Western Front and Normandy: Jan. 9-12
  • Stay in Paris (with a day trip to Versailles): Jan. 13-15
  • Stay in Munich (with a day trip to Dachau): Jan. 16-20
  • Return to MSP: Jan. 21, 2019

Yes, this year we’re cutting a day out of our stay in Paris in order to extend the battlefield tour to include some sites from the Second World War. It’s a topic we’ve always touched on — especially during our last leg in Munich — but wanted to expand a bit as we mark the 100th anniversary of the peace conference that ended WWI and started the clock ticking on WWII. (It’s also a chance to preview my actual WWII class — HIS231L — next offered in Spring 2019. On campus, that is.)

Current students: if you’re interested in joining the trip, here’s how you can learn more.

  • Find our course page on the new Bethel Study Abroad website (coming soon)
  • Stop by our booth at the annual Interim Abroad Fair: Wednesday, March 28, 11am-2pm in the BC Atrium.
  • Attend our first informational session: Tuesday, April 10, 11:15am-noon in CLC 109.

And you can read reflections from students on the 2017, 2015, and 2013 trips here at AC 2nd.

Interfaith Storytelling for a Vibrant Democracy

Congratulations to Prof. Amy Poppinga on the success of last month’s undergraduate leadership conference: Interfaith Storytelling for a Vibrant Democracy, which sought to help college students address inter- and intra-religious rifts in American society by “equipping ourselves to tell our own stories and learn to listen to the stories of others with clarity, charity, and hospitality.”

Amy PoppingaAlong with her Bethel colleagues Sara Shady (Philosophy) and Marion Larson (English), Prof. Poppinga helped coordinate the event, which drew about 80 students (15 from Bethel) to the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul. (Bethel and St. Thomas co-sponsored the event with Augsburg University.) The conference was the latest in a series of interfaith collaborations for the three Bethel professors — and an extension of themes from Prof. Poppinga’s research and teaching (in courses like HIS212U History of Islam, HIS328G Muslim Women in History, and HIS356 Modern Middle East). In addition to coordinating, Prof. Poppinga led a breakout session on Moving into One Another’s Stories.

“Because the conference was workshop-based, students were engaging with peers, not just listening to experts,” she told Bethel News. “They had the opportunity to connect shared experiences, concerns, commonalities, despite coming from multiple campuses.”

The conference was funded by a grant from Interfaith Youth Core, whose president, Eboo Patel, will speak at Bethel on Monday morning, April 9.

From AC 2nd to… Minor League Baseball

This spring we’re reviving our series of interviews with alumni whose Bethel History degrees have prepared them for a wide variety of careers. Leading off: Ben Beecken ’10, director of partner services for the Oklahoma City Dodgers — the leading minor league affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

We always start with your choice of major: Why history? Was that your original plan when you started at Bethel, or how did you change to that track?

Ben Beecken

History was my favorite subject in middle school and high school, and I was leaning towards becoming a high school teacher after college. I had always enjoyed sports — in fact, my long-term goal was to teach high school social studies/history and coach baseball and basketball. That overall love for sports, plus an interest in business, pushed me to shift gears when it came to my career path.

A lot of our graduates have interesting paths from college to career, but yours is pretty unique. How does one go from majoring in History in Minnesota to working for a minor league baseball team in Oklahoma?

Somewhere around the start of my junior year at Bethel I began to realize that I could make a career out of working in sports. I had no idea how my History major would translate, and truthfully, I interviewed for at least one internship with a local sports team that more or less told me that they were leaning towards only hiring interns with sports management or business degrees. It was discouraging, but I was still convinced that there had to be a path for a non-sports management major.

I attended the Minnesota Twins job fair in fall of 2009 – the last one held at the Metrodome. Most jobs were part-time roles and there were very few internships or full-time jobs available, but I spoke with the manager of the Twins ticket call center. He gave me a business card and encouraged me to follow-up with him closer to the move to Target Field that winter, when they would be increasing staffing. I reached out in November and landed an interview, and he hired me to begin working in the call center at Target Field in early January.

I worked part-time in the call center around classes until graduating from Bethel in May, and then worked 9am to 5pm on Mondays through Fridays until the end of December. I had just begun applying to a variety of sports jobs around the country, and was fortunate enough to be hired by the first team that I interviewed with. The then-Oklahoma City RedHawks had just come under new ownership and were staffing-up their ticket sales team in a strategy shift, and I was offered a sales job.

I wasn’t sure I’d like sales, but I knew this was my shot. I was recently married and my wife was still attending school in the Twin Cities, so I moved to Oklahoma City by myself in January 2011 prior to her moving down to OKC in May. It took me a few months to truly enjoy ticket sales and feel as though I had the hang of it, but I ended up loving it. After three years as a sales representative, I was promoted into a sales management role for the next three years before moving over to the corporate partnership side in the fall of 2016. I am currently the Director of Partner Services and oversee all of our corporate partner activations.

What’s the best part of your job?

Truthfully, the best part has to be having my office be a ballpark, and being able to look at a baseball diamond every morning when I arrive at work.

Outside of that, I would say that the reward of putting on 70+ successful events every year that impact the community, give our fans an awesome and family-friendly experience at an affordable price, and consistently over-deliver for our corporate partners. Plus, experiencing Opening Night each season, followed by another 25+ sold-out games with 10k screaming fans is extremely rewarding.

Oklahoma City Dodgers logos

Do you run into any other History majors in your line of work?

Not often. I can think of one that I’ve worked with in 7+ years here (although I think he was an Art History major…), and I’ve encountered a handful at various industry conferences and forums. It’s always a fun talking point when meeting new people or introducing myself to current college students at events, etc. as a History degree certainly stands out among the sports management and business degrees.

Do you think your historical studies set you apart in any way? (Do you ever feel like you draw on the knowledge or skills you picked up at Bethel?)

I absolutely believe that being a History major was helpful. While I work in sports, my day-to-day job function is centered around business, just like any other company in any other industry. Our product is baseball/fun/entertainment, but we need to make business decisions for our organization and communicate with our fans and clients in an effective way. The skills I learned as a History major — primarily related to writing, public speaking, and working with others in group settings — were vital: first to land a job that usually requires a sports management or business degree, and they continue be important as I communicate with others every single day.

Any parting advice for our current students – either those who want to get into professional sports, or those who might not quite be sure what they want to do after Bethel?

History degrees are much more versatile than one might think, so if you aren’t sure what you’d like to do career-wise, don’t let your major deter you from trying anything out.

Professional sports is all about getting that first job and then kicking the proverbial door down. There are only so many pro sports teams to start with, and full-time roles are competitive and, generally speaking, don’t compensate highly. And once you’re in, you have to work hard, be willing to pitch in wherever needed/outside your job function, and network like crazy.

Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions, Ben! If you’d like to add to our growing list of History-to-career stories, contact Prof. Gehrz.

The Value of the Christian Liberal Arts

If you follow Chris Gehrz on his any of his social media outlets, then you may have already read about his concern regarding the future of the liberal arts at Christian colleges.  Among the many points Gehrz raises is that instead of just focusing on how a liberal arts degree can net students a job, we might also start by asserting that:

“Our tuition is high, but engaging in four years of patient study in a variety of fields with highly-trained faculty is the most valuable investment you’ll ever make, resulting in the transformation of your heart, mind, body, and spirit at one of the key stages of your life.”

Some of our colleagues at Bethel have read the post, and at least a couple give the impression that purveyors of the liberal arts education still need to reassure parents that such an education will provide their kids jobs and get kids out of their parents’ basement.  Well, for the most part, it does.  But there’s a lot of ways to get a job, and it may not involve going to college at all.  I am all for employment.  I just happen to agree with Gehrz that a lucrative job is not the primary reason folks should attend a Christian liberal arts university.
Back in 2005 when I first applied for my position at Bethel University, I responded to a prompt asking me to “explain what you believe to be the elements essential to the educational theory and practice of a Christian liberal arts college.”  Even then I spoke about the tension between competing visions about education–one emphasizing practical concerns and one emphasizing more visionary concerns.  If you care to read further, here’s what I wrote:

            At the turn of the twentieth century, Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. DuBois disagreed on the type of education African Americans should pursue. Washington thought African Americans should pursue a vocational education because this education would allow them to pursue the practical goals of economic independence, or self-reliance. DuBois, on the other hand, believed that African Americans should pursue a liberal arts education; exposure to the arts, literature, philosophy, and the natural sciences was the route to intellectual excellence and leadership.

            These differing perspectives on education reflected contrasting ideas about the relationship of African Americans to the rest of the world. Washington’s ideas about education supported his theory of racial accommodation—that African Americans should not seek primarily to change the world in which they lived. Instead, they should seek to develop the skills that would allow them to get along as best they could in an imperfect world in which racism circumscribed black rights and opportunities. DuBois, on the other hand, did not believe in racial accommodation. He hoped that, through exposure to the liberal arts, black leaders would arise and challenge the existing norms of society to change it for the better.

            For Christians, questions about the function of education are different, yet there are certain parallels. What are Christians called to do? Are they to give this world up for lost and focus exclusively on their individual quest for reunion with God in the afterlife? Or does the work of sanctification call on Christians to bring about renewal in the present world? In the process of making themselves holy before God, Christians are also called to take part in the redemptive work that Christ himself epitomized with his sacrifice on the cross. For this task, the liberal arts education has much to offer by seeking to acquaint students with a broad understanding of the world in which they live.

            On the one hand, a liberal arts education can deepen students’ appreciation for God’s creation. When God had finished creating the world, he pronounced it good. Even though sin has corrupted this world, there are still evidences of that goodness. This is true not only in the natural world but in the contributions of humans, who, after all, were created just a little lower than the angels. The study of the natural sciences helps students see the intricacies of that creation just as the study of the arts allows students to understand the creative abilities God endowed to humans.

            On the other hand, a liberal arts education can also show students the brokenness of creation, alerting them to the redemptive work that must still be done. While we are commanded to think upon holy things, we must also be willing to minister to the broken parts of creation. The study of natural sciences also helps students see creation run amuck just as the study of the arts shows students the darkness in the hearts of humankind.

            Today, a Christian liberal arts college must retain some of the Washingtonian elements of education, equipping students with practical skills for economic independence, so that they can accommodate themselves to the world in which they live. Yet, a Christian liberal arts college must also offer students a deeper, broader understanding of the world in which they live, not only as a way of strengthening their understanding of the Creator but also as a way of creating Christian leaders to challenge the existing brokenness of society and change it for the better.

When I think about what I want for my daughter, I don’t first think of what kind of job she will have.  Instead, I think of what kind of person she will be, and–to paraphrase the 1928 Book of Common Prayer–what good works the Lord has prepared for her to walk in.  My hope is that a Christian liberal arts education is in her future, that it will help her grow in her faith, illuminate and challenge her mind, and provide her with a beloved community of support as she sets forth on a path of holy calling.  If such a path involves some couch surfing in my basement, so be it.

How You Can Stay in Touch with Us

In addition to this blog, there are several ways that you can stay connected to the Bethel History Department on social media:

Facebook logo• Like our page on Facebook

• Follow us on Twitter (Prof. Gehrz is also active on Twitter)

• Join the Bethel History alumni group on LinkedIn

• Listen to any of the Live from AC 2nd podcasts (recent episodes featured Profs. Mulberry and Poppinga discussing the Winter Olympics and History alum and Bethel RA Lauren Gannon ’17 contributing to a conversation about pop culture awards season)

Prof. Goldberg Headed to Greece This Summer

Congratulations to Prof. Charlie Goldberg, selected from a national pool of applicants for “Traveling with Pausanias through Greece” — a faculty seminar sponsored by the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) and Center for Hellenic Studies. (Prof. AnneMarie Kooistra participated in a 2012 CIC seminar at Yale University, on slave narratives in American history.)

Late medieval manuscript of Pausanias' Description of Greece
15th century European manuscript of Pausanias’ Description – Laurentian Library/Wikimedia

For a week this June, Charlie et al. will visit historic sites like Athens, Delphi, Olympia, and Argos, traveling in the footsteps of the 2nd century CE travel writer Pausanias. Through site visits and readings, the seminar “will provide a background on the development of Greek material culture, such as the evolution of sacred, domestic, and civic architecture, funerary practices, sculpture, and two-dimensional representations of traditional narratives and daily life in vase paintings.”

All of which is great news for students who will be taking courses with Charlie, like HIS310 Near Eastern and Greek Civilizations and classes in our new Digital Humanities major.

Check Out a Map of Our Alumni in Grad School

Among its many other benefits, a Bethel History major is terrific preparation for anyone likely to continue their education in a graduate or professional program. Our graduates are well prepared for the rigorous reading, research, critical thinking, and writing required in advanced levels of education.

While a few of our alumni have continued further with their original field of study, most have gone beyond history and pursued master’s and doctoral degrees in everything from library science to social work, dentistry to nursing, education to public policy, archeology to business, seminary to law school. Some stay in Minnesota, but our graduates can be found studying around North America and the United Kingdom.

In fact, so many of our alumni are in grad school that it’s hard to keep up. So if you see anyone missing from this map — or if anything needs to be updated or corrected — please email Prof. Gehrz.

History Teachers at the 2018 Conference on Faith and History

This fall the Conference and Faith and History (CFH) will be celebrating its 50th anniversary as it holds its biennial conference (Calvin College, Oct. 4-6). One of the oldest Christian academic societies in North America, CFH describes itself as “a community of scholars exploring the relationship between Christian faith and history” and primarily aspires “to encourage excellence in the theory and practice of history from the perspective of historic Christianity.” Bethel has long had faculty participate in CFH, with Prof. Gehrz currently serving on the group’s executive board.

Conference on Faith and History logo

While most CFH members are college and university professors and graduate students, we want to echo program chair John Fea’s invitation for middle and high school teachers to consider attending the conference. The schedule is still taking shape, but John reports that there will be a special session just on the role of secondary school teachers in CFH, and that several such educators have already proposed papers. Plus it’s a chance to engage in some continuing education as you hear papers and talks from leading scholars in a variety of fields (not just church/religious history). We’ll share the full schedule once it’s set, but the list of plenary speakers includes Margaret Bendroth (author of The Spiritual Practice of Remembering) and Robert Orsi (History and Presence).

Oh, and you’d have the chance to spend a few days with Bethel faculty: Profs. Gehrz, Goldberg, and Poppinga have all proposed papers or sessions for this year’s meeting.

Hope to see you at CFH 2018!

Upcoming Bethel Alumni Events in DC and the Pacific Northwest

While many of our alumni remain in the Twin Cities, many have moved elsewhere. (Almost 40% of those on LinkedIn.) So if you’re one of our graduates who doesn’t live in town and maybe doesn’t have many chances to return to campus, know that Bethel might be coming to you!

This semester the Office of Alumni Relations has several Royal Nation events scheduled for different spots around the country, including one tomorrow night! (too late to register online, but it sounds like you can still attend if you just email that office)

Washington, DCThursday, March 1, 7:30pm, Washington Court Hotel — featuring Bethel political science professor Chris Moore, whom some of you might know from his cross-listed course on Revolution and Political Development — or from his many contributions to Prof. Sam Mulberry’s Live from AC 2nd podcast network.

Jefferson Memorial at dusk
Creative Commons (Joe Ravi)

Seattle, WASaturday, May 5, 2pm, The Museum of Flight

Portland, ORSunday, May 6, 2pm, Oregon Zoo

We’ll keep you posted about other such events. Last year Royal Nation came to Chicago, Denver, Philadelphia, and Phoenix, among other cities.