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.
History students and alumni might be interested in two faculty talks coming up in the Bethel University Library’s Prime Time series:
• For American history and politics buffs… This Thursday morning (3/7, 11:15am) Political Science professor Mitchell Krumm will examine how Federalists and Anti-Federalists used the ideas of the French philosopher Montesquieu to articulate “dramatically different conceptions of liberty.” Dr. Krumm is teaching our cross-listed American Constitutional History course this spring.
• Then on the other side of Spring Break, our own Profs. Sam Mulberry and Chris Gehrz will talk about the importance of professors using blogs, podcasts, and other media to “‘think in public’ about teaching, scholarship, and the integration of faith and learning” (Tu 3/26, 11:15am).
Earlier this week at The Anxious Bench, I mentioned five books that I’m planning to read for Black History Month: biographies of Frederick Douglass and Jackie Robinson, plus a study of Catholic civil rights activism in Chicago, an analysis of the impact of the black church on the theology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Jemar Tisby’s widely-acclaimed history of Christian complicity in racism.
But I’m no expert, so I appreciate that Dr. Kooistra (here atAC 2nd) and Dr. Magnuson (at our Facebook page) have also shared resources related to African American history. And today, I’m happy to welcome back our colleague Ruben Rivera, Bethel’s chief diversity officer and the instructor of our Minorities in America class, who recommended three more books to read this month.
There are numerous books about the African American experience in a racialized USA. What I like about Rankine’s is that, with the exception of a few pieces in it, the highly personal experiences are conveyed in the form of vivid short prose poems. I have often been asked what microaggressions are. Still others believe the term was invented by liberals. Read Rankin’s book and you’ll know what microaggressions are and that they are very real.
The Hate U Give is a young adult novel that has been adapted for a major motion picture by the same name. It deals with ripped-from-headlines issues: racial profiling; policing in communities of color; and most explosively, the killing of unarmed black men by white officers.
This book comes in the form of a letter to his son Samori in the context of the need to make sense of recent killings of black men by police. Very well written, thoughtful, moving, and certain to stimulate questions about what it means to live in a black body in America.
I’m excited to meet new classes this week, but even as they get underway, I can’t help but look ahead to Spring 2020 and a new course I’ll be teaching with Political Science professor Chris Moore: HIS/POS252L History and Politics of Sports.
As I explained last week at my own blog, I’ve wanted to create a baseball history course almost as long as I’ve been at Bethel. But while HIS252L will surely have a lot to say about my favorite sport, I’m glad that we’ve instead developed a course with a wider focus… and that I’ll be sharing it with Chris, a specialist in international relations who won the 2018 Bethel faculty excellence award for teaching. We’re not just fans ourselves, but scholars who think that studying sports can help our students ask fundamental questions about community, identity, purpose, and justice, by taking a different perspective on American and international history.
As you can see in the draft syllabus above, we’ve divided the course along the lines of a football or basketball game. After a warm-up week in which we’ll think about why we follow or play sports and how we approach the topic as scholars, we’ll survey the history of a few specific sports, then conclude our first half with deeper dives into topics like race, gender, labor, and business. Halftime will let us pause to consider various Christian perspectives on sports, then the third quarter will take us into the realm of international relations (with a focus on the Olympic Games). After the fourth quarter looks at emerging topics like e-sports and performance enhancement, we’ll conclude with a field trip to Target Field or Target Center, with students researching a “day in the life” of the Twins or Lynx franchises.
To help Chris and me think through the course before we teach it, our colleague Sam Mulberry is joining us this semester for a new weekly podcast, The 252. Last week’s debut previewed the Super Bowl and looked back at the history of the NFL. In today’s episode, we turned the focus on ourselves: why we play and follow sports, and what we love about them. Next week we’ll be joined by our first guest: Dr. Art Remillard of Saint Francis University, an expert on religion and sports.
When HIS205U History of China, Korea, and Japan meets for the first time tonight, its professor will be making a return to our department: Annie Berglund graduated summa cum laude from Bethel in 2013 with a double-major in History and Social Studies Education. After teaching middle school for two years, Annie moved to Seoul in 2016 to earn a master’s degree in international studies at Korea University. This fall she came back to Bethel as an adjunct instructor in GES130 Christianity and Western Culture, and is eager to teach her first History course this spring. Thanks to Annie for taking the time to answer some questions about her journey away from and back to Bethel!
Do you have a favorite memory from your time in the History Department as a student?
Let me set the scene. It’s the last history presentation of my entire undergraduate career. I labored for months making my PowerPoint slides and adding in many hours of research so that I could be prepared for the audience of my peers, my professors, and my family members. My boyfriend at the time, Mike, had one task: feed me this easy question at the end of my presentation to help me look better. Being one of the quietest students in class, he very slowly and mechanically raised his hand the second I ended the presentation.
In a painfully monotonous, rehearsed voice, he responded: “What was one interesting news article you read for your paper?”
The front row full of history professors couldn’t hide their laughter as they clearly saw through Mike’s poor acting and my pathetic scheming. Don’t worry, it does end well. We both managed to graduate and even married each other.
How did you decide to go to graduate school in Korea?
People ask me this question a lot: Why Korea? Every time I give an answer, it’s a little different, as there were so many factors that drew me to Seoul. Chief among them was my plan to study South Korea’s asylum-seeking policies. They are the first country in Asia to establish their own stand-alone refugee act outside of simply following UNHCR mandates. I hoped to study their recent act to see what loopholes remain and how those inconsistencies affected the acceptance of particular subgroups of asylum seekers, from those suffering from religious persecution to those fleeing state-backed gender- and sexuality-based violence.
A less academic answer, though? I wanted a little adventure.
What was your favorite part of living in Seoul?
A unique part about living abroad is that, whether you’re currently in your home country or currently abroad, you tend to see the other location through rose-tinted glasses. My gut answer is: “Everything! Everything about Seoul is my favorite!” In reality, adjusting to life in a country where I had few contacts, where the dominant language is one of the hardest for native English speakers to learn, and where everything from transportation to housing has different, unspoken rules is no easy task. But I also like a good challenge! I miss the feeling of anonymity when walking through downtown streets of a city of 10 million people. I miss jumping into taxis and making small talk in Korean with the ajeossis as they take me from cat cafes to outdoor shopping districts to mountain hiking trails. Mostly, I miss my Korean friends who – for two years! – constantly bent over backwards to help their American friend with the smallest and largest of tasks. True heroes in my book.
What’s it been like coming back to Bethel as a professor?
Amazing and terrifying. I will never get over calling my professors by their first names. Ever.
What are you most looking forward to teaching in HIS205U this spring?
First, I’m excited to discuss the role that women played throughout East Asian history. From the Roman patrician women who ushered in the Silk Road trade routes by driving the demand for silk made by seamstresses in far-off Xi’an, to the impassioned speech by Madame Chiang Kai-shek to the U.S. Congress seeking aid during Japanese attacks on China in World War II, we will study many cases of extraordinary women who — some for better and some for worse — influenced the narrative of East Asian civilization.
Second, I have that nervous-excited feeling about showing one of my favorite films to my students. Made in 2017, A Taxi Driver (or Taeksi woonjunsa) is one of the highest grossing films in South Korea to date. It centers on the experience of an average, “Joe Schmo” taxi driver in Seoul who unintentionally smuggles a German reporter into the city of Gwangju in 1980. The city, a stronghold for students protesting martial law, was barred off to the outside world while government troops fired upon the Chonnam University youth. For the world to see the footage of this massacre, the taxi driver and reporter risked their lives to get back to Seoul. The Gwangju Uprising (or the May 18 Gwangju Democratization Movement) is a jarring, brutal event that illustrates the price many ordinary people paid in East Asia for the sake of democratization.
This morning marks the beginning of the Spring 2019 semester at Bethel. What’s happening this spring in the History Department?
• Dr. Poppinga is taking a well-earned sabbatical, as Dr. Kooistra returns from her fall away from Bethel.
• We have our largest enrollments ever in both Intro to History (30 students joining Dr. Magnuson) and Intro to the Digital Humanities (20 with Dr. Goldberg). We’ve also got full houses in American Civilization, World War II, Human Rights in International History, and History of China, Korea, and Japan.
Some of the books we’re teaching this spring, starting with those for HIS311 Roman Civilization
HIS307 The American Civil War
HIS231L World War II
• Eleven students will be completing their History majors in Senior Seminar with Dr. Kooistra. Look for them to present their capstone research projects in May.
• A recent alumna is returning to the department to teach HIS205U History of China, Korea, and Japan. We’ll introduce her tomorrow…
• And Profs. Gehrz and Mulberry roll out their newest media project, joining with Dr. Chris Moore (Political Science) on a podcast that previews a new course coming in Spring 2020. Learn more this Wednesday…
Some important news from our neighbors in the Political Science department… Prof. Krumm has decided to accept another job in order to be closer to family, so the department is currently hiring for a full-time, tenure-track position, to start this August. In addition to teaching courses in American politics and the general education curriculum, “[i]deal candidates will also demonstrate teaching and scholarly interest in political theory and/or political methodology. The ability to provide leadership for Pre-law advising is especially important.”
Interested candidates can find full details and a link to Bethel’s job application at this link. Contact Dr. Chris Moore, department chair, with any questions.
Congratulations to Prof. Amy Poppinga, who has an article published in the newest issue of the journal Christian Higher Education. With Bethel colleagues Sara Shady (Philosophy) and Marion Larson (English), Dr. Poppinga draws on her scholarship in the field of interfaith studies and her experience with interfaith initiatives at Bethel to suggest how Christian college students can develop interfaith competency.
Here’s a taste of the article abstract:
While Christian higher education provides a valuable space for students to grow in faith and prepare for lives of service to others, many students leave college with little exposure to, or knowledge of, religious differences. Of particular concern is the infrequency of students developing relationships with religious “others,” leaving them underprepared for constructively navigating a post-Christian society. This reality places a special responsibility on Christian educators to provide sound education and opportunities for healthy encounters with different religious voices, allowing persons from these traditions to speak in their own voices and be hospitably welcomed into Christian communities.
Next month marks the 100th anniversary of the Armistice that ended the First World War on its famous Western Front. As part of the international commemoration of that event, the Minnesota Opera will be performing Silent Night, a dramatization of the 1914 Christmas Truce, at the Ordway Center — November 10-18.
As a preview event, the Minnesota Opera, MinnPost, and the University of Minnesota’s School of Music are presenting “Silent Night: A Soldier’s Humanity and the Impact of WWI” — Monday, October 29, 7pm at Westminster Hall in downtown Minneapolis. I’ll be one of the panelists discussing soldiers’ experiences of the war, plus a member of the cast will perform selections from the opera itself. The event is free, but click the link above to register.
To put you in mind of the subject… Enjoy these photos from Monday night’s meeting of our J-term WWI trip participants. Bethel alum Jenna Kubly ’02 joined us to share some of her extensive collection of WWI artifacts, including everything from swords and uniforms to medals and postcards.
Jenna with History/Business major Jeremy Schipper ’20
Business major Dalton Tanner ’21 trying on the uniform of a French artillery officer