Faculty Excellence Award for Service: Sam Mulberry

It is the first day of the Minnesota State Fair, so clearly the end of summer is in sight.  Fall semester classes begin Monday.  That means that this week faculty have been busy putting the final touches on course syllabi, preparing to meet new students, arranging calendars to accommodate a full slate of meetings and other obligations, and attending faculty retreat. Phew.

Faculty retreat isn’t necessarily everyone’s summer highlight, but it is the event where we have a chance to honor a trio of outstanding colleagues in the areas of scholarship, teaching, and service.  This year, Sam Mulberry received the Faculty Excellence Award for Service.

Sam Mulberry receiving the Faculty Excellence Award for Service from Ruth Nelson.  (Faculty Retreat, 22 August 2017) Note the standing ovation!

Ruth Nelson, who serves as Co-Director of the Academic Enrichment and Support Center with Sam, led the nomination effort.  Because Sam’s service to Bethel is so multifaceted, however, a variety of folks including Christianity and Western Culture colleagues, Patrice Conrath (advising), and Kent Gerber (library) joined Ruth to help provide a glimpse of all that Sam does for this university.  Together, these colleagues spoke of how Sam “produces innovative media that enhance student learning,” “builds community and mentors students,” “provides presence, voice and actions to support multiple committees and task forces,” and “pursues programs and practices that support student success.”

Former students, too, spoke of Sam’s impact on their lives:

“Sam Mulberry’s support and encouragement for his T.A.’s was never in question. From my first weekly planning meeting as a teacher’s assistant for Christianity and Western Culture, I was already caught up in the infectious laughs and sincere discussion of fellow T.A.’s and Professor Mulberry. Opening up his home to T.A.’s for team development and bonding, providing himself as a main contact we could access for academic concerns – all the while insisting we call him “Sam” – Professor Mulberry’s personal devotion to creating a unique and cohesive community for teacher’s assistants proved to be a great success. In an unsure time of all undergraduate students’ lives, when we easily felt weighed down by concerns of the future and insecurities of the present, Sam drew out and uplifted our skills and characters.

…Oftentimes there is a distinction between teachers who have a passion for their content and teachers who love their students. Professor Mulberry fits the mold of both, displaying his deep dedication to the discipline of history while continuing to enrich the lives of students through authentic relationship-building.”

Sam is extraordinary.  He is truly ecumenical in his service—willing to help all: students, staff, professors, administration.  Sam’s colleagues have noted that “Sam recognizes that his gifts . . . are all from the Lord and he generously gives back to see students succeed. A number of us are extremely thankful that Sam serves and works alongside us at Bethel University.”



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.

The Things They Carried: Sam Mulberry

“The Things They Carried” is not only the title of a short story collection by Tim O’Brien but also series of articles in Foreign Policy Magazine.  In these articles, a writer at Foreign Policy profiles a person with a unique job in the world of international relations by creating a photo spread of the items that they carry with them as they perform their duties. This series was pointed out to my by my colleague in the Political Science department Chris Moore.  It seemed like an interesting way to use physical objects to tell a a person’s story and to profile who they are and the job they do.  He challenged me to create a similar series on our departmental blog to highlight the people in my department and the work that they do.  I agreed.  As a guinea pig to test how this would work, I started with myself.  Among other things, I am one of the people who teach Bethel’s Christianity and Western Culture (CWC) course.  These are the things that I carry to when I go to give a lecture.

click to enlarge

1. Paper Box Lid – I am often seen walking around campus caring the lid to a paper box filled with the items I need for class or meetings.  People who see my at a distance think that I’m carrying a pizza or a box of doughnuts.  I end up disappointing them with the in-edibility of the items that are actually in the box.  In my office I have a stack of eight extra boxes for when my current box begins to break down.

2. Class Announcements – One of my jobs in CWC is to coordinate the team of Teaching Assistants(TAs) for the class.  At the beginning of each lecture one of the TAs reads the announcements to the class.  This is both to let students know about upcoming events and to get the TAs comfortable speaking in front of 130 students.

3. Lecture Notes – When I first started lecturing in CWC, I would write out the text of my whole lecture.  Now I’ve moved to starting my lectures by building my PowerPoint and then writing out my lecture talking points on a printout of my slides.  My goal is to not have to make reference to my notes while I’m giving a lecture, but it is always helpful to have them with me when my mind inevitably goes blank.

4. Zoom Audio Recorder – For about a decade I have been audio recording CWC lectures – both the lectures give and those given by my colleagues.  We use these lecture recordings to help orient new faculty to the course as they are writing new lectures.  I also listen to a recording of my lecture from the previous semester in morning before class to help me review the content that I need to cover.

5. Printouts of PowerPoint Slides – It is part of my job to manage disability accommodations for the students in CWC.  I bring printouts of the PowerPoints to give to the students who require this as part of their accommodations.

6. Dry Erase Makers – When CC313 – the lecture hall where CWC is taught – was remodeled in the summer of 2015, the chalkboards were removed and replaced with whiteboards. I am not a huge fan of whiteboards largely because I have anxiety about the markers dying on my in the middle of class.  For this reason I bring a box of black dry erase markers for specific CWC use in CC313.  I put blue tape on the ends of the markers to label them as CWC markers. The ones that are bundled in the rubber band and brand new, while the un-bundled markers have been used.  Once a marker starts to fade, it needs to be recycled.

7. Diet Mountain Dew – I am both addicted to caffeine and not a fan of coffee.  So Diet Mountain Dew is pretty ever-present as my caffeine deliver system.

8. iPod Touch – I don’t own a cell phone, but my iPod Touch is a necessary piece of my daily routine.  I rely on in for e-mail, texting, and as my timepiece.  I don’t listen to music much, but I do listen to lots of podcasts. I also use by iPod to listen to recordings of my old lectures in order to prepare for future classes.

9. Keys – My keys are actually an important item to have in class, because inevitably I will forget to bring something to class and will need to run back to my office at the last minute.  There are more keys on this key ring than are necessary.  I actually only know what four of these keys are for.  I’m not even sure where the others came from, but I’ve carried them around for over a decade.

10. “To Do” List – Every morning I start my day by writing a “To Do” list.  It includes all of my daily appointments and all of the tasks that I need to complete.  I carry it with me throughout the day and check off tasks as they are accomplished.  I’m pretty certain I’d me unable to do my job without this regular routine.

11. Pens – I am never without a number of pens, and most of them are green. I do all of my grading in green pen and ask the my TAs do so as well.  This was something that I inherited from my mentor and predecessor Virginia Lettinga.

12. Clicker – I move around quite a bit when I teach and I use a significant number of timings and animations in my PowerPoints. Having a clicker keeps me from being tethered to my laptop.  I got my first clicker as a gift from Mike Holmes.  Although that clicker eventually broke, I still carry keep it in my computer bag because a gift from Mike Holmes is pretty cool.

13. Laptop Computer – I typically bring my computer to class and hook it up to the classroom projector.  I do this because I’m kind of picky about my PowerPoints and I like to use specific not standard fonts at times.  If I run the slideshow off my my computer, then I feel more confident that everything will work.  I also use my computer as a portable podcast and movie studio for other aspects of my job.

Wednesday’s Webisode: Fields within History

Check out the second episode of our new department webisode series, Past & Presence, now available on YouTube:

After last week saw us wrestling with huge questions about the entire discipline of history, today we start to explore some narrower fields within history; Amy Poppinga (religious, environmental) and Diana Magnuson (women’s, social) are our special conversation guests for that topic.

Elsewhere in the episode, we hear Sam Mulberry’s “conversion story”: from arriving at Bethel as an budding Computer Science major to his present position as a history professor and director of Bethel’s Academic Enrichment and Support Center. (Not to mention co-creator of Past & Presence!) And he’s just one of the many Bethel History alumni featured; Emily (Katzenmaier) Busta, Ralph Gustafson, Scott Kirchoff, and Mike Vedders have all returned to their alma mater at some point to work in fields as diverse as coaching, church relations, graduate advising, and web services. Plus an introduction to the Oregon Extension as an off-campus semester opportunity, and an ad for our fall 2015 course HIS302 History of Sexuality in the United States.

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.

Learn About Our January 2015 World War I Travel Course!

In January 2015 our own Sam Mulberry and Chris Gehrz will again take Bethel students to Europe for a three-week travel course, HIS230L World War I. It’s a perfect time, as Europe is about to start an ongoing 100th anniversary commemoration of the war (fought between 1914 and 1918), so we’ll no doubt encounter lots of special exhibits and events during our time abroad.

Our tentative schedule, a photo gallery from the 2013 trip, and links to posts from that first iteration of the course are below. But if you’re a current student and would like to learn more, we have two events coming up in early April:

  1. We’ll have a table at the 2015 Interim Abroad Fair — Wednesday, April 2nd, 11am-2pm in the Brushaber Commons Atrium. Sam and Chris will be there, along with some of the students from the 2013 trip.
  2. Then we’ll have an information session about the class on Thursday, April 10, 10:20-11:00am in CLC 109, also featuring the two instructors and some student-veterans from the first iteration of the course.

And, of course, you can always e-mail Chris or Sam with questions!

Tentative Schedule

January 5: depart MSP for London

January 6-13: London — including visits to the Imperial War Museum (completely renovated for the WWI Centenary), St Paul’s Cathedral, the Tate Britain, and the Museum of London, a walking tour of war memorials in Central London, a night at the theatre to see War Horse, and a day trip to Oxford to learn about C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien’s experiences of the war. You’ll also have plenty of time to see other sites in and around London, like Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace, the Churchill War Rooms, the Tower of London, and the Tate Modern. (Note that you’re responsible for any additional sightseeing and travel costs not included in the cost of the travel course itself.)

January 14-16: Western Front — our local guide, Carl Ooghe, will take us to battlefields, memorials, and cemeteries near Ypres, Belgium and The Somme, France. While we’re in Ypres, we’ll attend Last Post, a nightly ritual going back over ninety years, when Belgian firefighters play bugles at Menin Gate in honor of fallen British and Commonwealth soldiers.

January 17-20: Paris — with stops at the Invalides (home to Napoleon’s tomb and France’s military history museum), the Eiffel Tower, Versailles, and the Armenian cathedral that served as a gathering place for refugees from the 20th century’s first genocide. You’ll also have a day off to use your Paris pass to visit any other site in France’s capital (e.g., the Cathedral of Notre Dame, the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay) or you can join your instructors on a day trip to the great Gothic cathedral of Chartres.

January 21-25: Munich — we’ll consider the aftermath of the war from headquarters in Munich, the southern German city where Adolf Hitler returned after Armistice. We’ll take a walking tour of Hitler’s Munich, learn about the war’s impact on modern art at the Pinakotheke der Moderne, and close with a visit to the concentration camp memorial at Dachau. (You’ll also have a day to yourself to visit nearby sites like Nuremberg, Salzburg, or Neuschwanstein.)

January 26: fly from Munich to MSP

Photos from our January 2013 WWI Trip

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Links from 2013 Posts

“Wounded and Healed”: A CWC Benediction

Our colleague Sam Mulberry offered these words on Monday and Tuesday, as a benediction for the last meeting of the fall in GES130 Christianity and Western Culture (CWC). May they bless and challenge you as you continue your own education…

You made it to the end of CWC. There are a lot of different reactions to that. Some of you are happy to have got the grade you wanted and be done. Some are just happy to be done. Period. Some of you are watching the clock, wondering how long until this is over.

And then there are some of you — maybe only a small few of you — who were maybe really impacted or affected by what we have done together here. Maybe some people who have at least part of them who don’t want to see this end.

For those of you in the first group… It is OK: we are almost done. I won’t talk for long. Just keep watching the clock. Soon you will have the rest of your life to celebrate not being in CWC.

But for those of you in the second group — who really found themselves connecting to something in this course — know that you are among friends and kindred spirits. Eighteen years ago — half my life ago — I sat right here in this room and felt a little sad that it was over. Eighteen years and thirty-one semesters later, I still feel sad. Why?

Let me read to you one of my favorite stories in all of Scripture… in all of literature, really. It comes from the book of Genesis:

Jacob is preparing to meet with his brother Esau. They have had a tumultuous relationship, to say the least. But it is late at night, and Jacob is preparing to confront and come to terms with his brother.

Rembrandt, Jacob Wrestling with the Angel

The same night he arose and took his two wives, his two maids, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. He took them and sent them across the stream, and likewise everything that he had. And Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and Jacob’s thigh was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, “Let me go, for the day is breaking.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.” And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” Then he said, “Your name shall no more be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked him, “Tell me, I pray, your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. So Jacob called the name of the place Peni′el, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.” The sun rose upon him as he passed Penu′el, limping because of his thigh. (Genesis 32:22-31, RSV)

What does this have to do with anything?

Throughout this course, we’ve tried to argue that God reveals himself to us through our stories — both our individual stories and our collective story. In this course, we have examined part — just a sliver, really — of this story. And as we’ve experienced this story of some of the people of God in history — their lives, their ideas, their flaws, and their faith — I hope and pray that at moments you have encountered God, in the people you’ve studied and the people you’ve studied with. And like Jacob on the shores of the Jabbok River, you’ve probably realized that some of these encounters are difficult and challenging things. Most good educational and religious experiences are. Most things worth investing your life in are.

But there are two things, I think, to learn from Jacob’s story as we approach our own wrestling matches with God and those difficult moments when we look at God face to face.

Gauguin, After the Sermon (Jacob wrestling with the Angel)
Paul Gauguin, The Vision After the Sermon (Jacob wrestling with the Angel) (1888) – Wikimedia

First, Jacob leaves this night of struggle and striving with not only a blessing, but also a limp. In the same way, we are blessed to have these experiences together and we are blessed to have this education. But I kind of hope that we are wounded by it, too. I hope we realize that we are affected by it… that it changes us… that we are not allowed to just be the same.

I hope that we can pay attention to these wounds and scars from our education and our experiences. If you find yourself affected deeply by history, philosophy, political science, theology, or literature, make sure to chase those feelings down. (Or as much as you can chase them down with a limp.) Go find professors and other students who have been affected and wounded in similar ways and know that you are home.

The second lesson from Jacob’s late-night encounter with God is that Jacob took the time to recognize that the place where this wrestling match happened was holy ground.  He names the place Peni’el, which means “the face of God.” To him it was holy ground.

Maybe it’s a sign that I’ve been involved with CWC for too long, but at the end of each semester I can’t help but think of the thousands of people — students, professors, and TAs — who have met in this room over the last twenty-eight years to read, and to listen, and to learn… To encounter God, to wrestle with God, and maybe — just maybe — see the face of God. For me, this place is holy ground.

So as each semester ends, I feel a bit sad… Sad that this time that we have together is over.

But I’m also proud. I’m proud of those of you who got the grade you wanted and now are done. I’m proud of you who are happy to just be done. I’m even proud of you whose only thought right now is the realization that I’m clearly wrapping up my thoughts. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I’m proudest of all of those of you that I see exit these doors today with the slight indication of a limp.

Heavenly Father,
Please help us to be wounded and healed
     Wounded and healed
     Wounded and healed
Teach us to long for and find our rest in you.


– Sam Mulberry

Cross-posted at The Pietist Schoolman

Faculty Update, Fall 2013: Grants and Promotions

Today and tomorrow we want to share some news from our faculty: what they’ve been doing the past few months and what’s coming up this year. Look for posts on recent and upcoming publications and conference presentations. Today we’ll start with…

Congratulations to the following members of the History Department faculty, recipients of external and internal grants:

• Prof. Diana Magnuson was awarded a Minnesota Population Center Grant from the University of Minnesota, meant to allow her to write an institutional history of the Minnesota Population Center and the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS) databases, beginning with the harmonization of U.S. census and American Community Survey data in IPUMS-USA.

Lilly Fellow Program logo• Prof. Chris Gehrz used his grant from the Lilly Fellows Program in Humanities and the Arts to develop a two-day faculty workshop at Bethel, “The Pietist Idea of a Christian College.” Featuring talks by Chris, theology professor Christian Collins Winn, and returning Bethel faculty Roger Olson (theology, now at Baylor University’s Truett Seminary) and David Williams (philosophy, now at Azusa Pacific University’s High Sierra Program), the workshop explored what it means when Bethel claims roots in the Pietist tradition. Most participants then undertook summer writing projects that will be published in a book to be edited by Chris. (Stay tuned for more news on that front.)

• Chris and Prof. Sam Mulberry received both Department Computing and Online Course grants from Bethel in support of their radical rethinking of GES130 Christianity and Western Culture for an online environment, which premiered this past summer. Make plans to attend their talk on that experience — Sept. 19th, 10:15am in the Bethel University Library.

We’re also happy to announce that Sam and Chris recently earned promotions in faculty rank: Sam to assistant professor of history; Chris to full professor.

Read the next post in this series of updates>>

A Field Report from the Digital Frontier: Online CWC

For the first time in its nearly thirty years of being taught at Bethel, GES130 Christianity and Western Culture was offered online this past summer, by History professors and CWC coordinators Sam Mulberry and Chris Gehrz. Scrapping the course’s venerable mix of lectures and small group discussions, Mulberry and Gehrz instead produced ten documentary films, seven review webisodes, and seven “virtual museums” covering Western history from Classical Greece through World War I. The museums and films made extensive use of the nearly twenty hours of interviews that Gehrz and Mulberry filmed in 2012-2013 with Bethel professors representing ten different departments.

Map of the Kevin Cragg Museum of Ancient Greece and Rome
Map of the first virtual museum students visited in online CWC, named in honor of longtime History professor and CWC “founding father” Kevin Cragg

To hear Mulberry and Gehrz’s reflections on their experience teaching the course online — and how it might enrich face-to-face CWC in the future — make plans to attend their presentation, “A Field Report from the Digital Frontier: Online CWC.” It’s scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 19th, 10:15-11:00am in the Bethel University Library.

UPDATE (10/7/2013): Here’s the video of our talk, hosted at our department’s YouTube page.