For about six years now, we’ve tried to use social media to better connect with past, present, and future Bethel history students. While it seems like this blog and our accounts at Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn serve alumni well, we’re always looking for better ways to reach out to current and prospective students.
While we’ll keep publishing interviews and other posts about career paths, study abroad and internship options, and department news and events, our Instagram feed will feature much less text. In keeping with one of the key themes of our new Digital Humanities program, we want to do a better job of telling stories visually.
Since we revised our major and minor four years ago, our new gateway course — HIS290 Intro to History — has been a site of hands-on learning, helping students to apply traditional historical methods in a digital age. As taught now by Prof. Diana Magnuson, Intro to History has students work extensively with digitized primary sources — e.g., taking part in Cornell University’s crowdsourcing project to digitize runaway slave advertisements and using oral histories at the Minnesota Historical Society to understand the experience of recent immigrants to the state.
“I want students to be as engaged in the past as they are in the present,” Dr. Magnuson told Bethel News for a new feature on HIS290. “Hands-on experiences help them understand that the people they read about lived in color, just like we do.”
In addition to cultivating empathy, she added, students prepare for an array of careers, since the “skills students are learning are transferrable everywhere.”
That includes future social studies teachers like Intro to History student Sophia Carlson ’19, who found herself “seeing the possibilities of what my future classroom could be—not a place with simple lectures and textbook questions, but a classroom with the exploration of artifacts, sources, and real research that will help students to love learning.” But also those who will work in the business, public, or nonprofit sector. Sterling Harer ’18, a double-major in Business & Political Science and International Relations major, explained:
When you interpret historical sources yourself, you have to think critically and try to set aside your own biases to truly understand how people thought back then… It’s an important skill for the workplace, because you have to be able to understand your colleagues and their points of view.
Click here to read the full story about Intro to History and how it connects to the work Prof. Magnuson does with students in Bethel’s own archives. And if you’re a current or prospective student, look for HIS290 to be taught again next spring.
As I wrote yesterday at my personal blog, perhaps the rarest thing in American higher education is a truly distinctive academic program… and Bethel offers one in the form of our new Digital Humanities major.
So whether you’re a prospective student, a high school teacher or guidance counselor, an employer, or simply an interested alum, get in touch with Prof. Goldberg if you’d like to learn more about DH at Bethel.
Look who’s the latest professor featured in Bethel’s Meet the Faculty series of brief video interviews:
Please consider sharing this with people you know who might be considering Bethel: it’s a great way to get the word out about our exciting new major in the Digital Humanities.
And check out earlier installments of the series, which has featured humanities colleagues like Sara Shady (Philosophy/Gender Studies), Chris Moore (Political Science/International Relations), and Scott Winter (English/Journalism).
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.”
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.
The calendar has turned from May to June. Spring grades are (almost) in. The Bethel campus is quiet, and even the Upper Midwest is starting to warm up.
So what will our faculty do this summer? Three share their plans today; look for the rest next week.
Charlie Goldberg is reflecting on a fruitful if frenetic Year One as a Bethel History professor. Even though his time with the History Department’s ’17 grads was relatively short in comparison with other faculty, he will cherish the memory of his first graduating class, and looks forward to continuing the relationships he’s forged with younger students next year. His summer will be a busy one, mostly spent designing two new courses for the fall: an upper level History course on Medieval Europe, and Intro to Digital Humanities, part of the new Digital Humanities major at Bethel, which the History Department has spearheaded. Prof. Goldberg is also traveling to British Columbia in early June for a week-long Digital Humanities workshop on big data textual analysis. Later, in July, he will guest lecture in a graduate course on the Digital Humanities and material culture at the University of Delaware’s Winterthur Library, where he will share his experience from the major online project on Roman coins he conducted with his Roman Civ students. Prof. Goldberg will spend any remaining free time with his daughter, Nora, growing vegetables in their garden plot in Blaine, which will either lead to a successful August harvest or else a forthcoming self-help book, entitled, Gardening with Toddlers: A Survival Guide.
Throughout the summer months Diana Magnuson will continue working at the History Center, Archive of Bethel University and Converge. This work consists of accessioning materials, serving patrons, digitization projects with the Bethel Digital Library, and updating the HC website. Prof. Magnuson is also engaged in several collaborative research projects with colleagues from the University of Minnesota, with deadlines for two paper submissions in July and one conference paper accepted for presentation in November. She is the archivist for the Minnesota Population Center (at the U of MN) and over the summer will continue to curate their collection and exhibit space. For a little added summer spice, Prof. Magnuson has jury duty, but on most summer evenings you can find her at a soccer field somewhere in the state of Minnesota.
AnneMarie Kooistra‘s plan for the summer includes a research trip to the Huntington Library and Gardens. The bulk of here research will be on Los Angeles criminal court records ranging in dates from 1862-1893. Most of the cases involve individuals arrested under the charge of “keeping a house of ill fame.” She hopes to spend the rest of the summer writing, gardening, cooking, reading, and hanging out with family.
We’re happy to report that our much-anticipated Digital Humanities program is moving forward, with the new DIG200 Intro to DH course debuting next fall. It’s being taught by Prof. Charlie Goldberg, who coordinates the DH program.
To learn more, plan to join us next Tuesday (April 4) at 10:20am in the Bethel Library. Charlie and digital librarian Kent Gerber will give an overview of DH, DIG200, and the new program. Bring a laptop or tablet to take part in a hands-on demonstration of one digital tool from the new course!
The Fall semester has a certain cadence. The rush of September gives way to a steady October routine; as we approach the finale, Thanksgiving week allows a (too brief) respite before the mad scramble of the final weeks, when final projects compete with the Festival of Christmas and final exams. Today, we as a department pause briefly to celebrate the Christmas season and enjoy each other’s company during our Christmas party.
I’ve been looking forward to today even more because we have the honor of welcoming back Bethel alum (’05), and former history major, Dr. Ben Wright, who will speak to our students during our celebration. After graduation, Ben went on to do his graduate work at Columbia and Rice University, and is now Assistant Professor of History at the University of Texas at Dallas. Ben has wide-ranging teaching and research interests, from religion to ideas about the apocalypse across cultures, but he primarily focuses on the history of race in the U.S. Ben is also at the forefront of our profession in finding creative ways in the digital age to study history, doing trailblazing work in the digital humanities. He is co-editor of both the Abolition Seminar, an online K-12 teaching tool on the abolition movement, as well as the American Yawp, a free and online American history textbook. Ben’s visit today has perfect timing: The history department has spent a long time designing a new digital humanities major here at Bethel, which we tentatively hope to launch next fall. Ben will speak to us today about his digital projects, and how all of us, students, professors, future teachers, can harness computing power to share our passion for the past with a wider audience.
If you have some free time this afternoon, stop by HC 413 at 2:50 for some free coffee and treats, and to hear about the great work this particular Bethel alum is doing.
This afternoon in HIS231L World War II: the first of a two-part film festival, as student groups presented ten-minute documentaries about topics from the war. Today we learned about everything from the Winter War between the Soviet Union and Finland to the German atomic weapons program, Hitler Youth, and attempted assassination of Adolf Hitler in July 1944. On Thursday we’ll watch films about Holocaust rescuers, Navajo code-talkers, African American pilots and soldiers, and the postwar refugee crisis.
It’s the third time I’ve assigned this kind of project — once before with HIS231L, and then the last time HIS230L World War I was taught on campus — but the first time it’s happened over a full semester, rather than during J-term. It was inspiring to see the quality of student work in a 200-level gen ed course: both the depth of research and the quality of digital storytelling, as students integrated narration, primary source readings, “talking head” interviews, still photos, newsreel clips, and background music.
This morning, our own Profs. Sam Mulberry and Chris Gehrz hosted a special presentation in the Bethel Library in honor of the 30th anniversary of GES130 Christianity and Western Culture (CWC). If you missed it, you can find video of the event on the Library’s YouTube channel:
Mostly, the event consisted of Chris interviewing CWC faculty from different eras: Mike Holmes (BTS), one of the course’s four founders; late 80s/early 90s faculty Dan Ritchie (English) and Paul Reasoner (Philosophy), who went on to teach in the Western Humanities program; and current faculty members Sara Shady (Philosophy) and Amy Poppinga (History). Live on tape, we also heard from former history prof Neil Lettinga and his wife Virginia (long the coordinators of the course), plus philosopher David Williams. There was also a brief tribute to Stacey Hunter Hecht, who taught CWC during most of her career at Bethel and passed away last December.
The presentation concluded with Chris performing a rare live, unplugged version of his updated version of the “Augustine Rap,” originated by Dan Ritchie and then-CWC instructor Greg Boyd back in the first decade of the course. (Of course, there’s also a music video version of that rap — Chris said he found it less embarrassing to rap live than to show that video, but there’s nothing stopping you from clicking here now.)
If you want to dive deeper into the history of this foundational course, Sam has worked with digital library manager Kent Gerber to create a significant, growing collection of media and digitized artifacts from CWC. In addition, earlier this year Sam conducted an oral history project among some of the course’s many former teaching assistants, including five former History majors and minors. It’s available via a digital timeline. (click on the image to see the full timeline)