Michael Beschloss Coming to St. Paul

If you’re a presidential history buff — or if current events have you interested in the development of the presidency — consider attending a free lecture by presidential historian and NBC/PBS contributor Michael Beschloss: Sunday, May 21st, 2pm in the sanctuary of House of Hope Presbyterian Church, on Summit Avenue in St. Paul. Most recently the author of the American Heritage History of the PresidentsBeschloss will appear at part of the church’s Sunday Series of talks.

Next Tuesday: Learn More about Digital Humanities at Bethel

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!

Happy Trails? Welcome Back?

“So the Midwest nourishes us … and presents us with the spectacle of a land and a people completed and certain. And so we run to our bedrooms and read in a fever, and love the big hardwood trees outside the windows, and the terrible Midwest summers, and the terrible Midwest winters …. And so we leave it sorrowfully, having grown strong and restless by opposing with all our will and mind and muscle its simple, loving, single will for us: that we stay, that we stay and find a place among its familiar possibilities.”

-Annie Dillard, An American Childhood

Many of you know that I grew up in a tightly-knit, largely Dutch, Calvinist community in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  I did feel nourished by that community, the people did seem completed and certain, and my mother probably saw my leaving as almost a kind of betrayal.  My immediate family remains in Grand Rapids, and sometimes when I think of “home,” it’s Grand Rapids rather than Northeast Minneapolis that springs to mind.  I remain grateful for that place, the people, and the identity that community helped me to create.

I hope Bethel has nourished you, but I guess I think it’s okay if our community doesn’t always seem completed and certain.  And, while I miss you, I’m glad to see you leave.  It would be selfish to keep all of you, with your attendant gifts, to ourselves.

Still . . . I really like it when you come back, and I hope that sometimes you inadvertently think of Bethel, too, as a kind of home.

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Katie McEachern and Hilary Ritchie (both class of 2013) visiting in Northeast Minneapolis before their respective departures to Fuller Theological Seminary and Princeton Seminary in September 2016

Homecoming at Bethel this year is scheduled for October 1.  We hope to see many of you on campus.  In light of our tremendous losses over the past academic year, we are planning what I like to call “the Memory Project.”  Come to campus, share your favorite memories of Professors G. W. Carlson and Stacey Hunter Hecht, and then join us afterward for a walk to the Royal Gardens where will dedicate a pair of apple trees to their memory.  None of this will bring them back, but it does help remind us that they are an integral part of the cloud of witnesses we share.

Watch the CWC at 30 Birthday Celebration

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)

Screenshot of CWC TA Oral History timeline

What’s Coming Up at the 2016 Minnesota Undergraduate History Symposium

Today we’re thrilled to announce the full program for the 2016 Minnesota Undergraduate History Symposium, taking place at Bethel on Saturday, April 9, 8:30am-3:30pm.

Click here to view the entire schedule. A few highlights:

  • Thirty-seven students will give presentations on their historical research. That’s more than twice as many as last year and just over three times what we started with in 2014! Another eleven students and twenty faculty are scheduled to attend.
  • Together, the presenters represent eleven different Christian and church-related colleges and universities in Minnesota. Last year’s four participating institutions (Bethany Lutheran College, Martin Luther College, University of Northwestern-St. Paul, and Bethel) are all returning, to be joined by newcomers Augsburg College, the College of Saint Benedict/St. John’s University, Concordia College, Crown College, Saint Mary’s University, St. Olaf College, and the University of St. Thomas.
  • We’re grateful to colleagues from other schools for their help in promoting this symposium, and for agreeing to help chair panels in our three concurrent sessions. We’re particularly glad to welcome back to campus two of our own alumni: Dr. Rick Chapman ’79 (professor at Concordia College) and Nathan Weaver Olson ’97 (doctoral student at the University of Minnesota).
  • In addition to ten student panels on everything from immigration to genocide, the symposium will include a closing roundtable discussion on academic freedom in church-related higher education, featuring faculty from Bethel, Martin Luther, and St. Mary’s.

If you’re interested in attending any of the sessions, it’s not too late to register. Just email symposium coordinator Chris Gehrz by Wednesday. (Registration is free, though you’ll have to pay for your own lunch.)

Or follow the proceedings virtually, as participants live-tweet sessions using the hashtag #MUHS2016.

Learn About Our January 2017 World War I Travel Course!

In January 2017 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 an especially good time to take this trip — not only is Europe in the middle of its ongoing centenary commemoration of the war (1914-1918), but 2017 also marks the 100th anniversaries of the U.S. entering the war and Russia undergoing its famous revolution, so we’ll no doubt see some special exhibits along the way.

If you’re a current student and would like to learn more, we have two events coming up in early April:

First, we’ll have a table at the 2017 Interim Abroad Fair — Wednesday, April 6th, 11am-2pm in the Brushaber Commons Atrium. Sam and Chris will be there, and perhaps some of the students from the 2015 trip.

Then we’ll have an information session about the class on Tuesday, April 12, 10:20-11:00am in CLC 109. Chris and Sam will explain the details of the trip in more detail, including the cost (tentatively set at $3,799 — lower than in the past thanks to a favorable exchange rate and more reasonable air fare.)

If you can’t wait till April, you can click through to see a day-by-day digital preview of the three-week trip — featuring video, photos, and student comments from the 2013 and 2015 courses.

How to Help Us Remember G.W. Carlson

This Sunday, Bethel University will host a memorial service for G.W. Carlson — 2pm in Benson Great Hall. If you’re planning to attend that event and can come a bit early, you’ll find faculty and alumni from the History and Political Science departments near Royal Grounds between 12:30-1:30pm. (That’s the new coffee shop in between AC and CC 2nd, in case your time at Bethel predates the Brushaber Commons.) Nothing formal: it’s just a chance to reconnect and share stories about our friend, mentor, teacher, and colleague.

Even if you can’t be at Bethel on Sunday, you can help us remember GW in two other ways:

• Share your own stories of GW by sending them to Prof. Diana Magnuson, archivist of Bethel University and the Baptist General Conference.

• If you’d like to honor GW’s memory with a financial gift… The family has been kind enough to designate the Bert H. and Bernice Carlson Scholarship as one of its two memorials. (The other is Central Community Services, Inc.) Named for GW’s parents, the Carlson scholarships annually support six history and political science majors with demonstrated financial need. To make a donation to that scholarship fund, complete the online giving form, select “Other,” and specify “G.W. Carlson Memorial.”

Call for Proposals: 2016 Minnesota Undergraduate History Symposium

We’re honored to be hosting this year’s Minnesota Undergraduate History Symposium, coming to Bethel on Saturday, April 9, 2016. If you’re interested in learning more, check out the call for proposals that went out this morning to history departments around the state.

2015 MN Undergraduate History Symposium group picture
A few of the participants at the 2015 MN Undergraduate History Symposium at Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato, MN
This is the third installment of the MUHS, with previous symposia having been hosted by our friends at University of Northwestern-St. Paul (2014) and Bethany Lutheran College (2015). A delegation from Martin Luther College joined the founding trio last year in Mankato, and this year we’re hoping to expand the circle further, to other church-related colleges and universities in Minnesota.

Another change this year is that we’ll be accepting proposals for presentations in three categories. As usual, we’ll invite students to report on research projects from capstone courses like our Senior Seminar, upper-division classes, and independent research projects. (Of course, because it’s an early April event, some of these projects will still be in progress, but that’s okay — it’s a chance to share preliminary findings and get some valuable feedback from faculty and peers at other schools.)

But this year we also welcome proposals from students who want to share digital history/digital humanities projects, or their reflections on internships, student-teaching placements, and other experiences connecting historical studies to the workplace.

After concurrent sessions throughout the morning, we’ll take a break for lunch (on your own, at Bethel or off-campus). The symposium will conclude with a faculty panel discussing how historians relate to various publics.

If you’re a student interested in taking part, applications are due online by March 9th. Note that you can attend even if you’re not presenting; just email Prof. Gehrz by 3/9.

Stacey Hunter Hecht (1968-2015)

In profound sadness and continuing disbelief, we must report that our friend and colleague Stacey Hunter Hecht, associate professor of political science, passed away on Wednesday afternoon. Only 47 years old, Stacey had been on medical leave this year while she battled breast cancer.

Flowers and cards being collected on a table in front of Stacey's office on AC 2nd

At this point, it’s hard to find the words to explain just how much Stacey meant to the people of our department, but we encourage you to listen to Prof. Sam Mulberry’s December 2014 interview with Stacey on his Autobiography podcast, and to read Prof. Chris Gehrz’ reflection on his friendship with Stacey, posted yesterday at his blog, The Pietist Schoolman.

A memorial service for faculty, staff, alumni, students, and other members of the Bethel community will take place on Wednesday, Dec. 16th at 9:30am in the Seminary Chapel. Our own Diana Magnuson and Chris Gehrz will be among those participating in a service meant to celebrate Stacey’s life and enduring influence.

If you would like to join Stacey’s family and broader circle of friends in remembering her, visitation will be that same day from 4-8pm at Holcomb-Henry-Boom-Purcell Funeral Home in Shoreview (Hwy 96 and Mackubin). Then on Thursday the 17th, Stacey’s church, Como Park Lutheran (1376 W. Hoyt Ave. in St. Paul), will host a memorial service at 11am, with a gathering time the hour before.

Please join us in praying for Stacey’s family — especially her daughter, Rosie, and husband, Steve — and for her colleagues and students in the Political Science department. Peace be to her memory.

Two Talks This Week on the Nuremberg Trials

If you live in the Twin Cities area and are interested in the war crimes trials held at Nuremberg seventy years ago, this is your lucky week!

Tomorrow night (Wednesday, Nov. 11) at 7pm, World Without Genocide and several local co-sponsors will present a talk by law professor Michael Bayzler, co-author of Forgotten Trials of the Holocaust. The talk will be at William Mitchell Law School in St. Paul. Tickets cost $10 for the general public, $5 for students and seniors; it’s free for law students at Hamline and William Mitchell. (It also carries continuing ed credit if you’re a lawyer or teacher.) No reservations are needed.

Bayzler & Tuerkheimer, Forgotten Trials of the HolocaustIf you can’t make it on Wednesday night, you get a second crack at the same speaker on Thursday night (Nov. 12, also 7pm) when Prof. Bayzler speaks at Historic Fort Snelling, as part of the Dr. Harold C. Deutsch World War II History Round Table. This time he’ll focus on lesser known trials, as the round table newsletter explains:

Over the next seventy years there were trials for the lesser known perpetrators of the Holocaust in many different countries and under widely varying legal systems. The most famous trial was that of SS-Lieutenant Colonel Adolf Eichmann in Israel in 1961-1962. There would be trials for the camp commandants like Amon Göth (made famous in the movie Schindler’s List) in Poland, and camp personnel at Dachau by the United States Forces Europe, Germans trying German personnel from Auschwitz, collaborators like Pierre Laval in France, female Nazi camp personnel of Ravensbruck under British jurisdiction, and Jewish kapos (Concentration Camp Jews who worked for the Nazis) in the newly formed state of Israel. Each country had to wrestle not only with how to mete out a paltry justice for the victims but its with own conscience.

The Round Table suggest a $5 donations, with no cost for students and veterans.