Why It’s Okay to Be Undecided about Your College Major

Historically, about half of the History majors and minors at Bethel choose that path in their second year or later. So we want to echo the words of Bethel student Katie Johnson, who wrote an open letter this week to incoming students who feel pressured to declare a major as soon as possible:

Some people emerge from the womb and know they want to be doctors. Or writers. Or computer engineers. Or vigilantes who clean up the streets without permission of the law. Who knows. However, if you aren’t one of those people, feel free to envy their easy choices, but don’t be too hard on yourself. You have time to choose your major, even after you move into your new and shiny school and survive welcome week….

You will not be bound forever by your choices regarding your major. Or school. Or your friends even. You may even surprise yourself as you discover what you’re good at or most invested in. And that’s exciting.

In fact, Bethel has officially replaced “Undecided” as an alternative to particular majors with the “Exploratory” category, which better captures the spirit of the first year of college. Developmentally, it’s a time that’s meant to encourage self-discovery as you encounter diverse people, perspectives, and opportunities and learn to listen for God’s call on your life.

Some of Bethel's majors
Click this picture for a full list of majors and minors at Bethel

Katie, who ended up choosing an English major, adds that entering Bethel as an Exploratory major is especially well suited to our liberal arts curriculum. Rather than viewing every course choice as a zero-sum set of options leading to narrow professional pathways, you’re liberated to enjoy studying everything from the natural sciences and fine arts to Western civ courses like Christianity and Western Culture and Western Humanity in Christian Perspective and gen ed surveys like American Civilization and History of Islam.

Read Katie’s full post here. And watch this short video, featuring students who came to Bethel not knowing their major.

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Mapping Hannibal on a Snow Day

Hannibal's voyage over the alps

Bethel cancelled classes this afternoon, which deprived my Roman Civ students of my lecture on the Carthaginian general Hannibal’s daring journey over the Alps in 218 BCE. But the snow day gave me the opportunity to watch Frozen with my daughters, and think other snowy thoughts. Did you know the Alps also have snow?  Things got a little out of control and I ended up making a 3D annotated map of Hannibal’s voyage.

I’ll share my work with my Roman Civ students on Friday. I’ll also break down the process and assign my Digital Humanities students the task of making their own map later this semester. For now, take a look at the final version on Sketchfab.

 

 

 

What We Did On Our Summer Break: Faculty

It’s the first week of the new year at Bethel, but before we get too far into the fall, we thought we’d look back at what the people of AC 2nd did with their summers. We’ll hear from some students soon enough. But let’s start with a few members of our faculty:

Prof. Poppinga wake boarding off Costa Rica
Courtesy of Amy Poppinga

Amy Poppinga: It is hard to believe we are already back to school. I had a wonderful summer that consisted of research and writing, quality time with my immediate and extended family, and some personal time with friends. It started with me traveling with my closest friend from Bethel on a trip to Costa Rica to celebrate our 40th birthdays. We attended a week-long women’s surfing camp. It was hard work but I loved it! We met as students in the History department, and I am grateful for our enduring friendship despite many moves, job and life changes.

Then along with my good friend and colleague, Sara Shady, I received two grants to work on creating a new course for Bethel’s Pietas Honors Program. The course centers on community, spiritual identity, and interfaith engagement. Keeping with my continued interest and research in the field of Interfaith Studies, I just co-authored an article, “Building Bridges Across Faith Lines: Responsible Christian Education in a Post-Christian Society” with Marion Larson and Sara Shady for the Journal of Christian Higher Education.

Prof. Goldberg in Greece
Courtesy of Charlie Goldberg

Charlie Goldberg: I was thrilled to have been selected to travel to Greece for nine days to participate in a seminar on fostering an appreciation for the classics in undergraduate education. The seminar was run by Harvard University’s Center for Hellenic Studies in conjunction with the Council of Independent Colleges. Along with nineteen other college professors and trip leaders Greg Nagy (Harvard University) and Kenny Morrell (Rhodes College), I toured the Peloponnese and spent time in Delphi and Athens. The group discussed strategies for raising appreciation for the classics and ancient history at small colleges, shared lesson plans, and made plans for future collaborations. I also shared my experience launching Bethel’s new Digital Humanities major with others interested in similar efforts at their home institutions, and will forever appreciate the lifelong professional and personal relationships I forged on the trip.

Diana Magnuson: I continued to collaborate with two historians at the Minnesota Population Center (U of MN). My paper with Steven Ruggles, “Capturing the American People: Census Technology and Institutional Change, 1790-2020,” was submitted in July to an American history journal. Our paper was accepted for presentation at the Social Science History Association annual meeting in Phoenix (November 2018) and will also be presented in October at the Office of Population Research, Princeton University.  We have another project underway researching the history of privacy and the U.S. Census. Then Ronald Goeken and I are expanding our research to include all major census recounts.

Sam Mulberry: I spent this summer getting back up to speed with normal Bethel work after my Spring 2018 sabbatical.  I had two major projects on my plate.  First, I worked to build academic schedules for incoming students who will be new to Bethel in the Fall.  This included both building their initial schedules as well as meeting with students throughout the summer to make changes and adjustments to their schedules.  Secondly, I taught CWC (GES130) online with Chris Gehrz and Amy Poppinga.  This was my sixth straight summer teaching this class.  Although everything in the class went really smoothly, I did spend a chunk of the summer starting to think through how the next iteration of the class might look.

First Congregational Church of Litchfield, CT
One of the places Prof. Gehrz preached this summer: First Congregational Church in Litchfield, Connecticut, whose oft-photographed building dates to 1829.

Chris Gehrz: This summer break was incredible! I spent the first five weeks of break out east, mostly doing research for my new Charles Lindbergh biography. I started at the Library of Congress (holding an impromptu alumni reunion along the way) then spent a month back at my graduate alma mater, Yale University, home of the Lindbergh Papers. While I was in the Northeast, I also had the chance to preach at three churches in Connecticut and Massachusetts, as a follow-up to my 2017 book, The Pietist Option. Meanwhile, I found time to walk the Freedom Trail in Boston, see my first game at Fenway Park, and visit Plymouth Rock. But the true highlight of my summer came in mid-July… On my way back to the Midwest, I detoured to southwestern Virginia for a week to take part in the celebration of my dad’s retirement, after 45 years of service as a pediatrician and medical researcher.

Guess Which Christian Liberal Arts College Comes Up First If You Google “Digital Humanities Major”

 

Bethel at the top of a Google results list for "digital humanities major"

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.

Watch Prof. Goldberg Talk Digital Humanities

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).

Learn More About Our New Digital Humanities Major

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.”

Charlie Goldberg and DH students
Prof. Goldberg (center) working with DH students in the Makerspace – Bethel University

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.

What Do Bethel History Professors Do on Their Summer Breaks? (part 1)

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.

Huntington Library
The Huntington Library in Pasadena, CA – Creative Commons (Aaron Logan)

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.