Previewing Our Fall 2019 Courses

Tonight Bethel students will start registering for courses next fall. Here’s what’s History faculty will be teaching in FA19:

Class registration according to a cartoon in the Aug. 19, 1964 Bethel Clarion – Bethel Digital Library

HIS200L American Civilization (AnneMarie Kooistra)

HIS210U Minorities in America (Ruben Rivera)

HIS/GEO320K History and the Human Environment (Amy Poppinga)

HIS350 Modern America (Diana Magnuson)

HIS354 Modern Europe (Chris Gehrz)

HIS356 Modern Middle East (Poppinga)

DIG310 Advanced Digital Humanities (Charlie Goldberg)

GEO120 Intro to Geography (Magnuson)

GES130 Christianity and Western Culture (Gehrz, Goldberg, Poppinga, Annie Berglund, Sam Mulberry)

GES145 Humanities I: Greco-Roman through Middle Ages (Kooistra)

GES160 Inquiry Seminar (Berglund, Kooistra)


Introducing the Bethel 434 Campaign

Students looking for ways to help those affected by the violence in Syria can get involved by supporting the Bethel 434 Campaign.
The Bethel 434 Campaign presents a way for students to get involved with assisting those affected by the Syrian refugee crisis.

As college students, it is often easy to get lost in the difficulties of our own lives: dealing with exams, assignments, and student employment is enough to distract us from life outside of Bethel. We often forget that Bethel’s mission, vision, and values call us to seek out the truth, follow the teachings and example of Jesus, and to strive to be world-changers. Such a calling demands that we pay attention to the news, identify situations in which assistance is needed, and strive to do our part to help those in need.

Keeping that in mind, I would like to encourage each of you to do your own reading and research on the Syrian refugee crisis. However, if you don’t have the time for that at the moment, below is a brief overview of the situation provided by Professor Amy Poppinga:

“Did you know the world is facing the worst refugee crisis since WWII? 7.6 million Syrians are displaced within the country, and 3.8 million have sought refuge in other countries. The UNHCR’s latest figures show the crisis is getting worse. Families are moving not to simply better their lives, but to literally save their lives.”

Clearly, we, as the Bethel community, as Christians, and simply as human beings, are called to do something about this situation. But where do we even begin with such a major crisis? How can we organize ourselves and find a way to turn our concerns into tangible help? Fortunately, Bethel’s History and Political Science Departments have an idea- support the 434 Campaign.

The 434 Campaign began when History and Social Studies Education Grades 5-12 double-major, BTS minor, and current Modern Middle East student Brandon Sebey told his professor that something should be done. In his words, he “hates the idea of doing nothing when there is a problem and just couldn’t handle not doing anything.” After that, the campaign grew through discussions in Amy Poppinga’s Modern Middle East class, and has gained the support of the History Department and the Political Science Department. The campaign will last from November 2nd through November 6th, and will focus on two essential areas: awareness and action.

For the awareness portion of the campaign, we will see a visual representation of the number of refugees. 434 members of our community (or 17% of our 2500 member College of Arts and Sciences)  will be wearing orange on November 4th. This is to represent the estimated 17% of Syria’s population that is currently living as external refugees. Of these 434, 43 students, staff, and faculty members will be wearing orange t-shirts. These individuals will also be carrying laminated cards with important information about the Syrian refugee crisis. I would highly recommend that you stop to talk with one of the orange t-shirt bearers.

Please take the opportunity to discuss the 434 campaign with anybody wearing one of these orange shirts on November 4th.
Individuals wearing this shirt on November 4th will be able to discuss the Syrian refugee crisis and the goals of the 434 Campaign with students.

Of course, the call to do something about this crisis does not end with awareness. Awareness must be coupled with action. The campaign’s goal is to get 434 members of our community to become involved in at least one of three ways:

  1. Giving $5.00 to the campaign. The campaign is partnering with World Relief, an organization active in many of the countries that are directly caring for refugees (such as Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, and Greece.)
  2. Signing the official petition to the White House and to our members of Congress urging the U.S. government commit to resettling 200,000 refugees in the upcoming year, to increase support for the millions of refugees and internally displaced Syrians, and to pursue peaceful ends to the conflicts that created this crisis.
  3. Committing to pray on a particular day of the week for the remainder of the semester. Students who make this commitment will be given a prayer card stating their day of the week and their specific prayer area, based off of the We Welcome Refugees Prayer Guide.

Please consider stopping by the 434 Campaign’s table in the Brushaber Commons on November 4th, 5th, or 6th for more information or to get involved. If you aren’t able to make it to the BC, Brandon Sebey recommends checking out the We Welcome Refugees website for more information and ideas on how to get involved. As a closing reminder, I’d like to share a short statement from Brandon that clarifies what the 434 campaign is really about:

“There is a quote by Dietrich Bonhoeffer that says, ‘Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.’ I think that this quote applies quite a bit to the situation. This campaign in a call to action. I pray that it will stir something in students and faculty that will make them see the world as a place in need. It is often easy to just stay in our own little bubbles and not worry about others. It sure is the easy thing to do, but not the right thing. I think once you see how it is around the world, it is almost impossible to suppress that and not care for others in this world.”

Wednesday’s Webisode: Christian History, Part I

On this week’s episode of Past & Presence, Profs. AnneMarie Kooistra and Chris Gehrz begin a two-part conversation about how Christians approach the discipline of history. In today’s half of that conversation, they take up historian George Marsden’s argument that Christians can and should “play by the rules” of the secular academy — that, in many respects, thinking historically about the past and thinking Christianly about it are identical.

Also in episode 8:

  • Chris visits the World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, and civil rights memorials on the grounds of the Minnesota State Capitol — a different way of getting at the interplay between the secular and the sacred.
  • We interview History majors Kelly Van Wyk ’15 and Jacob Manning ’15, about how they chose that major and what it’s like to be a teaching assistant in the department.
  • And we get previews of two of our Fall 2015 courses: HIS356 Modern Middle East and HIS354 Modern Europe. You can see many more course previews at our YouTube channel.

Wednesday’s Webisode: Primary Sources

Episode 4 of Past & Presence, our department webisode, is now available!

This week’s was an especially rich faculty conversation, as we talked with Diana Magnuson and AnneMarie Kooistra about the nature of historical evidence and research. Not only did we discuss primary sources and why they’re fun to use in teaching, but we reflected on the experience of conducting archival research — which struck us as both sacred and earthy, frustrating and energizing.

Diana was also kind enough to take us on a virtual tour of The History Center, the archives of the Baptist General Conference and Bethel University in the upper floor of the Bethel Seminary Library. While we were up at the Sem, we shared some of its long history and visited Scandia Chapel, the oldest surviving Swedish Baptist church building in the state of Minnesota.

Rounding out episode #4 are conversations with Amy Poppinga about HIS356 Modern Middle East, Fletcher Warren ’15 about his semester in Oxford, and Brandon Raatikka ’03 (who also spent a semester in Oxford) about his journey from AC 2nd to his current position as vice president of risk assessment with FactRight, LLC (by way of the University of Minnesota Law School).

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

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.