What Do Bethel History Professors Do on Their Summer Breaks? (part 2)

Part two of our brief series sharing summer plans from Bethel’s history professors. (Read part one here.)

This summer, Sam Mulberry be working at Bethel on three major projects. First, he’ll help build academic schedules for incoming students who will be new to Bethel in the Fall. This includes both building their initial schedules as well as meeting with students throughout the summer to make changes and adjustments to their schedules. Secondly, Prof. Mulberry will be teaching Christianity and Western Culture (CWC) online with Chris Gehrz and Amy Poppinga — his fifth straight summer teaching this class. Finally, Prof. Mulberry will be working on several major video production projects: a series of digital study skills workshops; a new online Tutor Training for Bethel’s Academic Enrichment and Support Center; a video archive of exit interviews with students of color who have recently graduated from Bethel; and a short interview film with faculty who were on Sabbatical during the 2016-17 academic year.

Sunset at Glacier National Park in Montana
Sunset at Glacier National Park – Creative Commons (B D)

Amy Poppinga is off to Montana in early June with her family for ten days of touring, horseback riding, fishing, and white water rafting in Glacier National Park. Upon her return she will be working to implement a grant she and colleagues Marion Larson and Sara Shady received along with faculty from the University of St. Thomas and Augsburg. The campuses will be working together to host an interfaith leadership conference for students in February 2018 at St. Thomas. In the meantime, Poppinga, Larson, and Shady are waiting to hear news regarding another grant for interfaith competency training for faculty and staff at Bethel. They are also working to submit a proposal for the CCCU International Forum in 2018. She will also be resuming edits on her dissertation, and teaching online Summer CWC with her colleagues, Sam Mulberry and Chris Gehrz. When she’s not working on any of the following, she can be found watching her sons play baseball or spending time on her paddleboard at the family cabin in Alexandria, Minnesota.

In addition to co-teaching online CWC with Profs. Mulberry and Poppinga, Chris Gehrz will be developing a fall section of Bethel’s new Inquiry Seminar, a first-year gen ed course that introduces students to the Christian liberal arts and helps them develop critical thinking, research, writing, and speaking skills. His section will focus on how Christians strive for unity in the midst of a polarized society. Then he’s also excited to get started on a new research project: a “spiritual but not religious” biography of Charles Lindbergh. (Look for the finished product sometime in 2021, on whatever new platform has taken the place of Amazon.) In his spare time, he’ll chauffeur seven-year old twins kept busy with a schedule full of baseball practices/games and Roseville parks and rec programming. Then there’s an August road trip to Colorado — during which Prof. Gehrz will (finally!) see Mount Rushmore. (Unless his wife decides that they’ll fly. In which case his childhood wish will remain unmet for another year.)

Live from AC2nd: Our Professors as Podcasters

Live from AC2nd logoThanks to the vision and energy of Prof. Sam Mulberry, members of our faculty have been podcasting for a decade — long before the medium really took off. (We even had our own departmental podcast for a couple years.) Now Sam is joined by two of our professors and several of our disciplinary neighbors, for a new podcast network he calls Live from AC2nd.

Its lineup currently includes the following podcasts:

• The Live from AC2nd flagship, a wide-ranging, roundtable discussion featuring a mix of faculty that includes Sam, historians Amy Poppinga and Chris Gehrz, political scientist Chris Moore, and philosopher Sara Shady. On their most recent episode, those five shared books they’re currently reading.

Amy Makes Us Try Stuff logo• Moore and Mulberry also occasionally join Poppinga for Amy Makes Us Try Stuff. Which is pretty much exactly what the title says. For example, on the debut episode, Amy “made” Sam and Chris try the TV series Justified.

• Predating the network itself is its most popular pod, Election Shock Therapy, an ongoing conversation about politics and government featuring Chris Moore and fellow political science professors Andy Bramsen and Mitchell Krumm. The most recent episode dissected Pres. Trump’s first address to Congress.

• And the newest member of the Live from AC2nd lineup is Nothing Rhymes with Gehrz, in which that Chris joins Sam to riff on six words that, well, don’t rhyme with Gehrz. Last Friday’s pilot episode featured everything from a rumination on the importance of wondering for teachers to a preview of likely upsets in the upcoming NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

You can listen to or download individual episodes at the Live from AC2nd homepage, or subscribe at iTunes.

Wednesday’s Webisode: A Usable Past?

Episode five of Past & Presence is now available!

It’s a special episode on at least two counts:

  • It’s the first to be hosted somewhere beyond Bethel’s campus — at Bethel’s former campus across from the Minnesota State Fairgrounds in St. Paul!
  • And it’s the first to feature two of our teaching assistants in place of faculty members for our weekly conversation. History major Jacob Manning ’15 and History/Social Studies Ed major Kelly Van Wyk ’15 join Prof. Gehrz to discuss what’s “usable” about history and how “the past is a foreign country.”

Plus look for an interview with alum/prof Amy Poppinga ’99, an ad for Diana Magnuson’s American Beginnings course (returning this fall), and information for students who might want to continue their studies in seminary.

What’s New in 2014-2015? Curriculum and Courses

This year’s crop of History majors and minors at Bethel will be the first to experience a curriculum that’s been significantly revised. While our programs remain small (about 36 credits for the major, half that for the minor) and flexible (mostly giving students choices within categories), it’s been updated in several important ways:

  • Screenshot of the title sequence for "Past & Presence"
    Screenshot of the title sequence for our Past & Presence webisodes. (Click through to YouTube to see a rough cut of our “road trip” episode, culminating in a visit to Duluth, MN.)

    Probably the most notable change is that we’ve created a new course, HIS290 Introduction to History, as a requirement for both majors and minors. Blending face-to-face instruction (a two-hour Monday evening seminar) with online elements (weekly department webisodes and a course blog), HIS290 will introduce students to the theory and practice of history as a discipline, with particular emphasis on how Christians engage in study of the past and connections with vocation and career. You can read more about it at Prof. Chris Gehrz’s blog: first this introduction, then this update on what he and colleague Sam Mulberry did this summer to prepare for the webisode series, Past & Presence.

  • Students will continue to study history from multiple regions, taking two courses each from U.S., Global, and European (ancient, medieval, and modern) categories. The most important change here is in doubling the Global requirement from one course to two — at least one of which (as in the other two categories) needs to be 300-level.
  • With the new Intro course, the old Introductory category requirement goes away. (Though most of those courses still satisfy regional distribution requirements.) Likewise, with each category now requiring an upper-division course — all of which feature high expectations for writing and reading, plus elements of original research and/or historiography — the Foundation category has disappeared. (Though Modern Europe, Modern America, and Roman Civ still meet other requirements.)

One of the reasons we were able, at long last, to expand and deepen the Global requirement was the full-time addition of Amy Poppinga to our faculty. In addition to HIS328G Muslim Women in History (which debuted last year), Amy has created another new upper-division course, HIS/POS356 Modern Middle East, which premiered last week. She writes:

It has been interesting to develop my course curriculum this summer in the midst of the daily news, dominated by the struggles facing the region we will be studying. At the same time, I think students will be challenged by our need to stay on top of current events weekly, and will be enriched by building their knowledge of both the history and cultures of the countries of the Middle East. It has been hard to narrow down the selection of films and documentaries we will draw from and I am looking forward to having students assist me with determining which of these media resources will be most helpful for the students following in their footsteps. To me, that is one of the most exciting things about being a part of an inaugural course. This first group will inform how the course develops over time and I hope that these students will be excited by that opportunity.

(This spring Amy will also get a chance to teach a 200-level course on her primary field of expertise as a part of Bethel’s Honors program.)

Amid the larger curricular shifts, our capstone experience, HIS499 Senior Seminar, remains both unchanged and always unpredictable, as Prof. AnneMarie Kooistra explains: “…every new semester means a slew of new research projects from veteran History majors. I always look forward to assisting students as they get a glimpse of what it feels like to be a professional historian, and to do what they often consider their best work as Bethel students.”

<<Read the previous entry in this series of updates

What’s New in 2014-2015? Faculty Presentations and Publications

Today we’ll continue our look ahead at the 2014-15 academic year with a list of venues where you can read and hear our faculty as they publish and present in the coming months:

Amy Poppinga writes, “This fall is going to be busy. I will be spending Tuesdays sequestered at home, working on my dissertation. However, I am still making time to work on one of my other areas of interest: interfaith opportunities. I will be headed to Washington, DC at the end of September with Marion Larson (English) and Sara Shady (Philosophy) to attend the Vanguard Interfaith Campus Convening at Georgetown University. Later in the semester, Professor Larson, Professor Shady and I will host members from Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) and New York University at Bethel to examine the ways we engage interfaith opportunities here at Bethel. These events are possible through funds awarded to us this past spring by IFYC.”

Gehrz, The Pietist Vision of Christian Higher Education Chris Gehrz will be speaking at two gatherings of Christian scholars later this month. As part of the Bethel delegation participating in a colloquium for the Christian College Consortium, he’ll present a Pietist perspective on Christ-centered higher education. Then a few days later he’ll fly to California for the biennial meeting of the Conference on Faith and History (CFH), speaking as part of a panel on how historians use social media and moderating a discussion of how historians help institutions manage change. Also this fall, Chris will appear at the Minnesota Genealogical Society in early November to give a talk on Polish history during and after the Cold War.

Then early next year IVP Academic will publish The Pietist Vision of Christian Higher Education: Forming Whole and Holy Persons, a collection of essays by current and former Bethel faculty that’s edited by Chris (who also wrote the book’s introduction and conclusion). We’ll have more as the release date (1/5/14) gets closer, but you can read lots about that project at Chris’ blog, The Pietist Schoolman.

• In her role as director of archives for the Baptist General Conference and Bethel University, Diana Magnuson will play a leading role in two events this fall at Bethel Seminary: the dedication of the Virgil A. Olson Stained Glass Windows Memorial (Friday, October 10, 3pm — in conjunction with the biennial meeting of Converge Worldwide) and the installation of the Herb and Jessie Nyquist Memorial Collection at the Seminary Library. As part of her Spring 2015 sabbatical at the Minnesota Population Center (MPC), Diana is scheduled to present her research at the February 9th installment of the MPC Seminar Series.

<<Read the first post in this series               Read the last post in this series>>

Learn More About Our Faculty on the Autobiography Podcast

Having already helped usher in an early 21st century podcasting boom at Bethel as the co-founder of CWC: The Radio Show, The Policastand our own Historia!, Prof. Sam Mulberry has started his own podcast, Autobiography.

Logo for The Autobiography Podcast and Blog

Among Sam’s first interview subjects are History Department colleagues Amy Poppinga and Chris Gehrz, who share their stories of becoming historians and teachers.

Why record long-form interviews with fellow Bethel professors about their intellectual autobiographies? Sam roots his interest in such stories in his early days teaching Christianity and Western Culture with our now-retired colleague Kevin Cragg:

Amy Poppinga and Sam Mulberry
Amy and Sam

When I attended my first CWC summer planning meeting in June of 2001, I was initiated into yet another aspect of Kevin’s focus and interest in stories.  As a new faculty member, I was asked to tell my intellectual autobiography to the other nine members of my teaching team. Kevin wanted me to tell everyone else about who I was and how the sources and trajectories of my life led me to teaching this course at this school at this moment.  Who was I?  What was I interested in and why?  What questions shaped or drove my life? When I was finished telling my story, he asked everyone else on the team to tell their intellectual autobiographies too.  His idea was simple: “How can we teach as a team if we don’t know each other? And how can we know each other if we don’t know each other’s stories?”…

That is the purpose of this podcast.  I want to sit down and talk with the people I know. To collect their stories and their wisdom. I want to be open to what I can learn about teaching, and God, and life.

(These podcasts might have particular interest for students and alumni considering graduate school, as the interviews often explore that experience.)

Learn more about Autobiography at its blog, or subscribe at iTunes.

Engaging Islam in the Bethel Classroom

Join our own Prof. Amy Poppinga in the Bethel University Library next Thursday (April 3) at 10:20am as she and faculty colleagues Andy Bramsen (Political Science) and Carrie Peffley (Philosophy) present “Teaching without Preaching: Engaging Islam in the Bethel Classroom.” Amy will draw on her experiences teaching classes like HIS212U Introduction to the Muslim World and HIS328G Muslim Women in History(Andy teaches about religion and politics in courses like POS329 African Politics, which is cross-listed in History; Carrie teaches PHI230U Medieval Islamic Philosophy.)

Interim and Spring Course Previews: Muslim Women in History

#3 in our series of four new course previews: Prof. Amy Poppinga will spend this J-term teaching one of her primary fields of expertise…

HIS328G Muslim Women in History

Ad for HIS328G Muslim Women in HistoryWhat are some of the big themes of this course?

One of the central themes of the course is to determine how religious practice changes and evolves according to space in time and cultural context. How do Muslim women regard the role of faith and practice in their lives differently than Muslim men?  When have they been in control of shaping their own destinies and when have others shaped it for them?

Can you introduce us to some of the Muslim women students will meet in HIS328G?

We will read about some key figures in early Islamic history like Khadija, Aisha, and Fatima. We will study Shajarat al-Durr, co-founder of the Mamluk dynasty, and contemporary figures like Benazhir Bhutto, Fatima Mernissi, Queen Noor of Jordan, etc…. We will read works by female academics like Leila Ahmed, Ingrid Mattson, Kecia Ali, Jamillah Karim, and others. However, I want to emphasize that a central part of the course is interacting with Muslim women from our own Minnesota community. So you will ACTUALLY meet some of my Muslim friends like Mariam and Mona Hannon, Mallerie Shirley, and others.

What do you think students will enjoy most about it? What will they find most challenging?

One of the things I love about women’s history is that it requires the teacher and the students to think outside the box in order to get to heart of the Muslim woman’s story. We have to rely on certain methods, like oral history, song, poetry, photos, and artifacts in order to piece together the roles women have played in shaping their societies because they often do not have a voice in written history. We will also be inviting Muslim women to have tea with us in our classroom, and we will share our own stories with one another. This is an important form of “cementing” history that women of all cultures have participated in throughout time.

I think the challenge comes in confronting our own stereotypes and prejudice. We have to be willing to be honest about how the Christian community, at times, feeds the negativity that exists regarding Muslims and Islam. Interacting with stories and making personal connections breaks down that negativity. To be honest, sometimes we’re not quite ready to do it; it requires bravery and faith.

If students take away only one thing from the course, what would you like it to be?

One of the central themes of the course is the celebration of individual experience. We will dispel the myth that there is one singular type of Muslim woman, just as there is no singular type of Christian woman.

<<Read the previous entry in this series               Read the final post in this series>>

Faculty Update, Fall 2013: Presentations

A Third Way logoOver the weekend Prof. Amy Poppinga was in Chattanooga, TN for the 2013 Adventist Forum Conference, A Third Way: Beyond the conservative/liberal divide to a Christian identity refreshed by interfaith dialogue. In her presentation, “”How Cultural Identity Shapes Faith and Complicates Interfaith Relations,” Amy considered the role of vulnerability in interfaith relationships and the challenge for Christians to rely less on our confidence of what we think we know and more on faith.

That was the first of several presentations that Bethel History professors will be making in 2013-2014:

• Prof. Chris Gehrz will be a fish out of water at the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society, held in mid-November in Baltimore. Chris will speak on “The Global Reflex: An International Historian Appraises David Swartz’s Moral Minority,” as one of three scholars invited to respond to Swartz’s acclaimed history of politically progressive evangelicalism. (Learn more at Chris’ blog.)

• And next May, Prof. AnneMarie Kooistra will present at the Berkshire Conference on Women’s History, held for 2014 in Toronto. On the heels of teaching her new spring course, History of Sexuality in America, AnneMarie will take part in a panel on “Sexualities in the City,” contributing a paper on “Enterprising Men in Los Angeles’s Red-Light District, 1870-1909.”

Then Prof. Diana Magnuson and Prof. Ruben Rivera will be attending conferences and workshops this fall: Diana later this month at the Minnesota Population Center‘s workshop, “IPUMS-USA, US Census and American Community Survey, from 1850 to present”; Ruben at the Coming Together Immigration Conference, this year on the theme of “The Gospel, the Church & Immigration” (in October at First Baptist Church, Minneapolis), and then the 5th Annual Student Diversity Leadership Conference, “Achieving Peace by Embracing Diversity” (in November at North Park University in Chicago).

<<Read the first entry in this series of updates                Read the last update in the series>>

Premiering Fall 2013… HIS356 Modern Middle East

Amy PoppingaWe’re barely into April, but Bethel students are already registering for their Fall 2013 courses. In addition to old favorites like American Beginnings, Latin American Civ, and Modern Europe, they’ll find a new option available: HIS356 Modern Middle East.

One of two new courses being offered in 2013-2014 by new hire Amy Poppinga, Modern Middle East gives our students a chance to explore in depth a region of enormous religious, cultural, economic, and political significance. (It also fulfills the Global history requirement for the History major.) We asked Amy for a preview:

What are the major themes of the course?

1. Increase knowledge of the many peoples and cultures that comprise the Middle East by using sound scholarship and personal narratives.

2. Analyze the role Western cultural, political, religious, and economical influences have played in shaping the current realities of the Middle East.

3. Recognize cross-cultural commonalities in human experiences in order to gain a deeper and more appropriate appreciation of both our similarities and our cultural differences.

4. Consider the impact that Islam, Christianity, and Judaism have had on the historical development and “story” of the Middle East region.

Of the historical figures you plan to talk about… Whom do you find especially interesting?

Tolan, The Lemon TreeOne thing that makes the study of recent history in the MENA (Middle East/North Africa) so interesting is the impact of the “ordinary” person. Many of the social, political, and religious changes that have shaped society, at times good and at times bad, can be traced to “the streets.” I’m excited for students to learn the story of Bashir al-Khayri and Dalia Landau, a Palestinian and an Israeli whose chance encounter has led to a lifelong friendship and common commitment to peace and stability for their homelands. I first learned of their story (which is now widely known through the book The Lemon Tree by Sandy Tolan) through one of my grad school professors who is married to Dalia. This is just one such story but there are so many.

What are some of the pivotal events in the course’s narrative?

There are a few “turning points” that serve as markers for our course. Students often have quite a bit of knowledge and experience with WWI and WWII from and American and European perspective. I’m looking forward to exploring how these wars shaped the Middle East, particularly after WWII. In addition, we focus on how the Arab-Israeli War, the Revolution in Iran, the Iran/Iraq war, and the first and second Gulf War all have shaped the Middle East’s struggles with globalization and westernization.

What most excites you about teaching this course for the first time?

We have many Bethel students and professors who have spent time in the Middle East. This course presents the unique opportunity to draw on the experiences of those around us. I’m looking forward to utilizing podcasts and interviews in ways I have not before.

Secondly, while this is certainly the case with all areas of history to some extent, it is exciting to accept that our content has no official “the end.” This history is literally unfolding, and I am looking forward to working as a team with my students as we all find ways to keep up on current events. I’m predicting each class will need to start with the question, “Did you watch/read the news last night?”

And third… I ♥ GEOGRAPHY!

The principles of geography, particularly the relationship between humanity and land, are key to understanding Middle Eastern history. (Note: Amy also teaches our History and the Human Environment course — offered both fall and spring.) I hope this course widens my student’s understanding of history by demonstrating the role of the environment in shaping political, social, and religious movements.

What do you think students will find most surprising or challenging as they learn about the modern history of the Middle East?

Part of me would like to give this class the title The Middle East: Let’s get the backstory. In certain respects, this is a class that will be taught backwards. We have to start with what we know now, and then we do the investigative work of finding out how we got to where we are. I find that exciting. There’s a tendency to think of 9/11 as the starting point of US/MENA relations. In other courses I have taught that focus specifically on Islam, we have taken this backwards approach and it works really well. There are many “Aha” moments and spaces to pause, ask some self-reflective questions, and then try to put the pieces together. I promise we will get back to the present, but we have to do some tough stuff to build our way back.

If students take away only one thing from the course, what would you like it to be?

That they would walk away convinced that studying other societies, cultures, and religions is a worthy pursuit. Certainly for the sake of becoming a better global citizen but also because it informs and challenges our understanding of our own place in history.