Congratulations to the Doctors Thostenson!

We’d like to interrupt our usual summer hiatus long enough to congratulate two former students — two siblings! — who have recently completed PhD’s in their respective fields.

• Katie Thostenson ’05 earned her doctorate in classics from the University of Edinburgh for her examination of the historical context of the early Christian apologist Tertullian, specifically his views on women, the body, and sexual difference. While Tertullian was “conservative in his recommendations for men and women, reflecting more closely non-Christian assumptions about male and female bodies that fix women in the subordinate position of a sexual hierarchy,” she concluded that he nonetheless challenged the patriarchal assumptions of his time “in his vision of primordial and eschatological states where men and women are not bound by secular institutions, but live in the fullness of God.” A former adjunct professor in our department who reflected on her experience with graduate education in the UK in this 2014 roundtable interview, Katie now lives in Munich, Germany with her husband Kai, an economist.

Katie and Jimmy Thostenson
Katie and Jimmy earlier this year near Asheville, NC – photo courtesy of Katie Thostenson

• Then Katie’s brother Jimmy won an Outstanding Dissertation Award from the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University, for his research towards creating an energy efficient toilet (an initiative of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation). While he majored in Applied Physics as a member of Bethel’s class of 2010, Jimmy also completed a History minor, for reasons he shared in this 2013 blog post:

I often defend my minor in history to STEM people as being as important, if not more important, to me than my major in applied physics. Why? Because of the tangible, practical skills I built through learning about various times in history. It wasn’t facts about the Cold War or the order of Roman emperors I took away that was important, it was how I learned to build and argue my view points, research topics I knew nothing about, critically think about biased material, balance other argued view points, and many other skills which are missed when students ask, “How will studying the humanities land me a job?” To this end, I would say that while applied physics was what allowed me to be considered for a job within a STEM occupation, a minor in history was what set me apart from the pool of candidates and also gave me the skills I needed to be a successful employee.

Jimmy lives in Durham, North Carolina. His wife Melissa Gwynn ’10, exhibition and publications manager at Duke’s Nasher Museum of Art, also has connections to our department: she majored in Art History at Bethel and wrote her senior paper for us on the Russian artist Kazimir Malevich.

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What You Can Do With a History Major… As Seen in Bethel News

What can you do with a History major? Just read about our four alumni who have featured in Bethel media stories this month:

• A social worker at the International Institute of St. Louis, Lauren Peffley ’09 was profiled at Bethel’s website last week. Here’s how the story explains the connection between her undergraduate major and her current work as an anti-trafficking social worker at the International Institute of St. Louis:

…[Lauren’s] pursuit of social justice came alive while majoring in history at Bethel, where she also minored in media communications. She incorporated elements of social justice issues in her history courses, including several on the European colonization of Africa. When she studied abroad in Uganda, she researched colonization and the effects of missionaries as colonizers in sub-Saharan Africa.

Professor of History AnneMarie Kooistra says the history department gives students the freedom to explore while taking courses on the cores of American history, European history, and global history. But within those areas, students can choose courses from a variety of subjects and interests. “We really do encourage independent thought, all of us, in our different courses,” she says.

When Peffley took a senior seminar course, Kooistra could tell her student had found a cause in social justice. “That is a passionate woman,” Kooistra says. “That has not diminished since leaving Bethel.” For her senior paper, Kooistra helped Peffley root that passion in history. Peffley wrote her senior thesis on the “comfort women”—women who were systematically sexually trafficked by the Japanese Imperial Army during WWII and several years after. “That really started my anti-trafficking research in a bigger way,” Peffley says.

Once a History major, always a History major: Lauren points out that this photo was taken in Sarajevo, near the spot where the Austria archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in June 1914, sparking the crisis that led to World War I (which Lauren studied with Prof. Gehrz)

• Lauren is part of a larger story in the current issue of Bethel Magazine on how the Bethel community responds to human trafficking.

• That issue’s cover story — a series of brief profiles of exceptional teachers at Bethel — is inspired by Why We Teach, the documentary film that Prof. Sam Mulberry ’99 made for his sabbatical last spring.

• Finally, Christopher Olson ’87 and Ben Beecken ’10 are the first two alumni featured in a story on “adventurous alumni” whose liberal arts education prepared them to be “nimble and adaptable, ready to embrace changes in the job market—and their own unique callings—to excel in today’s world.”

Both stories originated with our From AC 2nd to… series of career interviews: Christopher told us of his career in nautical archaeology; Ben explained how he used his History degree to become an executive with a top-tier minor league baseball team.

(Ben has since added a new role: freelance writer for Grandstand Central, an online magazine that looks “at the intersection of sports with politics, power, money, science, race, religion, gender, culture, tech and sexuality.” For example, last month he wrote about the major league team sports’ attempts to adapt to change.)

Highlights from the 2019 Minnesota Undergraduate History Symposium

Over the weekend, we had the pleasure of hosting the 6th annual Minnesota Undergraduate History Symposium, which drew students and faculty from twelve church-related colleges and universities in Minnesota and Iowa.

In addition to the student research that was presented, we had a terrific (and timely) opening conversation with Kent Whitworth, director and CEO of the Minnesota Historical Society. His comments on “The Future of Public History” and the Q&A that followed were recorded and podcast on Prof. Mulberry’s Live from AC2nd network.

You can see the full program here. If you’re interested in learning more about the research presented by twelve of our students, stay tuned for details of our annual Senior Seminar presentations, coming up the evenings of May 13th and 20th.

Next Tuesday: Bethel ROAR Day

One week from today Bethel is holding its annual ROAR Day, a 24-hour fundraising marathon that aims to show the breadth and strength of Bethel alumni, family, and friends. Funds raised go to the unrestricted Bethel Fund, which helps support students — e.g., through scholarships.

Of course, all giving throughout the year is helpful. But giving on ROAR Day yields extra benefits, since there are matching gifts and challenges that can be unlocked if Bethel reaches certain donor targets.

Click here to learn more.

We’re Moving!

That’s right, we’re going to need a new name for this blog.

As of this summer, the History Department will leave its longtime home on AC 2nd and relocate to CC 4th, where we’ll join our Political Science friends in the office suite currently housing the Education Department.

We won’t move out until after spring commencement, but we’re well along in the process of starting to clean out our AC2 offices.

Which means that there’s a growing collection of books accumulating on AC 2nd — free for any student, alum, or other history buff who wants to add to their library.

Introducing Inquiry Seminar

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.

What’s Coming Up at the 2019 Minnesota Undergraduate History Symposium

I’m very happy to share the draft program for the 6th annual Minnesota Undergraduate History Symposium, which is now less than a month away: Saturday, April 27th.

MUHS 2019 LogoHere’s the full MUHS 2019 schedule. A few highlights:

• We expect 45 students to present historical research at this year’s symposium! That eclipses the previous record of 37, set the first time we hosted in 2016.

• We’ll be welcoming guests from eleven colleges and universities, including previous MUHS hosts University of Northwestern-St. Paul (2014, 2017), Bethany Lutheran College (2015), and Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota (2018). We’ll also welcome back several schools whose students or faculty were on campus three years ago: Augsburg University, Concordia College-Moorhead, Martin Luther College, St. Olaf College, and the University of St. Thomas.

• Three departments will be making their first appearances at MUHS: our St. Paul neighbors at St. Catherine University, plus Wartburg College (Waverly, Iowa) and Dordt College (Sioux Center, IA) — the first symposium participants to come from beyond Minnesota.

Kent Whitworth in Bethel's Intro to History class
Kent with our Intro to History students – photo: Diana Magnuson

• One more first… This year’s symposium will begin with a keynote speaker: Kent Whitworth, the executive director and CEO of the Minnesota Historical Society. A recent guest in our Intro to History class, Kent will share remarks and answer questions about the future of public history and the History Relevance campaign.

If any other Bethel students, faculty, or alumni are interested in attending the symposium, there’s no registration fee. Just get in touch with me to help us get a final head count.

Join Us for Alumni Trivia Night!

Join us Thursday, April 4th for Alumni Trivia Night 2019!

Alumni Trivia Night poster

Yes, it’s a night of pub trivia with the departments of History, Political Science and Philosophy. Co-sponsored by Bethel’s Office of Alumni Relations, there will be prizes, free food, and a chance to spend an hour or so testing your trivia knowledge with faculty, alumni, and current students. We’ll start around 5pm at The Exchange Food & Drink in New Brighton, just off the County Road E2 exit from I-35W.

Please register in advance to help us plan numbers. You can also find details and invite fellow alumni via our Facebook page.

If you have questions, get in touch with Poli Sci chair Chris Moore. Otherwise, we’ll look forward to seeing you on April 4th!

Upcoming Library Talks: Debating Liberty and Thinking in Public

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.

Poster for 3/26/19 talk by Chris Gehrz and Sam Mulberry, "Thinking in Public"

• 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).

Upcoming Career Development Events

February is always a busy month at Bethel’s Career Development and Calling office, with the following events available to students:

The Art of Conversation (Tu 2/12, 6:45pm, The Underground)

A new event letting up to 100 students practice their networking skills with professionals from a variety of backgrounds. Pre-register by Feb. 11.

Resume Workshop (Th 2/14, 10:15am, AC 228)

Whether you’re preparing for the next event on this list, have interviews coming up, or just want to get some useful advice, learn how to prepare effective resumes in this free event.

Minnesota Private Colleges Job & Internship Fair (Th 2/21, 9am-2pm, Minneapolis Convention Center)

One of the biggest such events open to Bethel students, this fair draws over 2,000 students and over 250 employers. Pre-register by Feb. 18 and plan to attend a prep session. The fair itself costs $12, but Bethel will run free shuttles to and from the Convention Center.