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.

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.

Call for Proposals: The 2018 Minnesota Undergraduate History Symposium

We’re looking forward to taking part in the 5th annual Minnesota Undergraduate History Symposium — Saturday, April 21 at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota in lovely Winona, MN.

(Saint Mary’s first participated in MUHS in 2016, when we were the hosts. The symposium has also been held at University of Northwestern, in 2014 and 2017; and Bethany Lutheran College, in 2015. We’re tentatively slated to host again next year.)

Saint Mary's University of MN

Bethel faculty and students will be well represented, with our Senior Seminar-ians giving initial presentations of their research projects — which tentatively run the gamut from dime novels about cowboys to evangelical marriage manuals to environmental thought in the Early Church. But other students are welcome to propose presentations as well. Just read the MUHS 2018 CFP and fill out the application form linked in it. And, of course, we’d love to meet up with any alumni who live down in that part of Minnesota.

Back in Business… and Looking for Contributors!

Hmm… we’re nearly a month into the spring semester and haven’t posted anything at AC 2nd since just before Christmas. Time to get things back in high gear here at the official blog of the Bethel University Department of History!

Green neon "Open" sign lit up

We’ll have some announcements and other posts this week and moving forward, as we share what’s been happening and what’s coming up.

But we’d also like to hear from you: our students, alumni, and other friends. For example, would you like to be featured in one of the following occasional series of interviews?

  • From AC 2nd to… — interviews with alumni who have entered a variety of careers. Check out the current list of interviews; if you see that your career is missing — or, if you’ve had an especially interesting path to such a career — and wouldn’t mind answering some questions by email, let us know.
  • My Internship with… — pretty self-explanatory: have you completed (or are you in the middle of) an internship? We’ve featured a handful of students and recent alumni who have worked with the Minnesota Historical Society and other local historical groups, but it doesn’t need to be explicitly historical.
  • Studying Abroad in… — no, the titles aren’t all that creative. Have you spent a semester away from Bethel? Share your experience with students who might be trying to decide whether study abroad is a good fit for them.
  • The AC 2nd Travelogue — I’d love to hear more from alumni who have continued to feed their passion for the past by traveling to historic sites.
  • …History Minor — I’d also like to hear from students who combined a minor (or second major) in History with another field of study. We’ve featured several former science students… Any alumni who majored in a professional field, or a social science or other humanity, and yet still enjoyed their studies in history?
  • History Plus… — finally, I’d like to revive something we tried five years ago: a series of brief reflections from students and alumni who majored in History, but were also deeply committed to something co-curricular like musical theater or volleyball. Maybe you’d like to write about being a history student who was active in student government, Vespers, residence life, Model UN, or another sport… or about interesting intersections you saw between your studies and your work-study job with facilities, the library, or Sodexo…

If you’re interested in adding to these series — or if you have an idea for some other kind of guest-post! — just email me and we’ll get you set up. Thanks for writing, and for reading!

Learn More About Our New Digital Humanities Major

Check out Bethel News for an article about our new major in Digital Humanities! Here’s a small taste:

In a pioneering move, Bethel recently became one of the first Midwestern liberal arts colleges to offer a B.A. in Digital Humanities. The major, which officially launched in September, challenges students to use modern skills like graphic design, data analysis, and programming to explore humanistic questions traditionally posed in fields like literature, history, and philosophy.

“Increasingly, there is incredible anxiety about having something useful to bring to the job market,” says Assistant Professor of History Charlie Goldberg, who designed the major. “This is our attempt in the humanities to deliver marketable skills to students while also encouraging them to pursue their passion.”

Charlie Goldberg and DH students
Prof. Goldberg (center) working with DH students in the Makerspace – Bethel University

Prof. Goldberg is just wrapping up the first semester of DIG200 Intro to Digital Humanities, the gateway course for the major. Bethel reporter Jenny Hudalla notes that the class meets on Wednesday evenings

in the Makerspace, a new space in the library dedicated to innovation and creativity. Right now, they’re working with archived blueprints of alternative building plans for Bethel’s campus. Students will bring them to life with 3D printers, creating a tangible version of the Bethel that could have been.

“A lot of students are coming in fresh and a little intimidated about the tech component, but they’re making these really cool projects,” Goldberg says. “It’s important for people to know that they can succeed in this thing without a technology background.”

If you have any questions about majoring in DH (and how it can complement a History or Social Studies Education major), Prof. Goldberg would be happy to talk with you.