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Deans' Seminar

Complete list of past seminars (excel file)

Deans' Seminar Series 2015-16

Sessions will be held in the UCET Classroom (NS245) at noon (before or after the Academic Senate meeting) unless otherwise noted.

Drinks will be available; please feel free to bring your lunch.

2015-16 Series

October 16, 2015 Kirk Mecklenburg, Associate Professor of Biology
Neuron sprouting by gene manipulation: a step towards healing damaged nervous systems

November 20, 2015 Zachary Schrank, Assistant Professor of Sociology
Cultivating and Consuming Sacred Foods in Community Supported Agriculture

January 29, 2016 Marvin Curtis, Dean and Professor of Music
Susan Moore, Associate Professor of Fine Arts
John Thompson, Visiting Lecturer in Fine Arts
James Bowyer, Assistant Professor of Music
Tami Martinez, Lecturer in Communication Arts 
Music is a Hobby…Get a Real Job – The Role of the School of the Arts in Society

February 26, 2016 Monica Tetzlaff, Associate Professor of History
African Activists: Documenting the Ghanaian Human Rights Movement for Women Accused of Witchcraft

March 25, 2016 Julia Gressick, Assistant Professor of Instructional Technology
Serious Fun: How Games Promote Learning for Undergraduates

April 22, 2016 David Dodd Lee, AssIstant Professor of English
Orphan, Indiana and the Dismantling of Narrative: The Poetics of Erasure and Collage as Verse Autobiography

 

ABSTRACTS

October 16, 2015 Kirk Mecklenburg, Associate Professor of Biology
Neuron sprouting by gene manipulation: a step towards healing damaged nervous systems 

The human nervous system develops before birth and individual neurons are maintained throughout the life of the individual. Cells in the central nervous system do not divide after they have differentiated, and so brain and spinal cord injuries can have permanent affects. Recently, using genetic model systems, scientists have discovered that when specific genes are activated, mature neurons in the central nervous system can be coaxed into growing again. In our laboratory, we have explored the activation of photoreceptor cells in the retina, and demonstrate that we can induce mature cells to begin extending axons deeper into the brain. This work contributes to our understanding of neuron sprouting and may help provide a framework for developing techniques to treat patients with brain and spinal cord injuries.

November 20, 2015 Zachary Schrank, Assistant Professor of Sociology
Cultivating and Consuming Sacred Foods in Community Supported Agriculture

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and farmers markets continue to flourish outside the mainstream parameters of the economy. These alternative markets are enticing because they enable producers and consumers to co-construct unique experiences of place and heritage that are often absent from traditional sources.  In response to the ubiquity of industrial agriculture, my research demonstrates how local food enthusiasts involved with CSA engage with the land and each other in pursuit of the authentic and sacred.  Specifically, I provide an ethnographic account of the local market conditions created by an organic farm in Southern Arizona.  I also utilize interview data from over 50 CSA members with this farm to construct an outline of consumer desires and experiences.  What emerged during my fieldwork was a thematic narrative among local farmers and CSA consumers of a quest for the “sacred” in a world “profaned” by capitalism.  These observations reflected the values and dispositions of a new “eco-habitus” elite.  However, I also find that the same “sacred” qualities that bolster the CSA movement might also undermine the democratic expansion of local organic foods into the mainstream.

January 29, 2016 Panel presentation by Dr. Marvin Curtis (Lead), Dr. James Bowyer, Tami Martinez, Susan Moore, and John Thompson, Ranclin School of the Arts 
Music is a Hobby…Get a Real Job – The Role of the School of the Arts in Society

Many students face discouragement from parents and others when wanting to major in some form of the arts in their collegiate careers. Students are told that they will be they will be poor, have no future, and not be able to support a family. They are encouraged to major in business or some other career where they will be guaranteed a great job and a great future and do arts as a hobby.

Study of the arts in elementary and high schools are constantly being challenged as being the “frill” areas of study that can be eliminated to help balance budgets. STEM programs (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) are being touted as the solution to the nation’s education system, but are leaving any study of the arts as irrelevant.  Many colleges and universities are reducing the number of arts related courses or School of Arts because they are perceived to be expensive while growing athletic programs. 

Studies now show that the arts play a vital role in the development of children and youth.  SAT and ACT Tests scores are shown to be higher for students that study some form of the arts. Arts districts in parts of the United States have helped to revitalize neighborhoods and bring economic stability to areas that were blighted.  Schools of the Arts can play a vital role in the development of society, of corporations, and individuals.  Teaching skills of communication, teamwork, and creativity are parts of what makes an individual human and a productive part of society.  Using the areas of Music, Communication, Theater, and Fine Arts, faculty from the Ernestine M./ Raclin School of the Arts at Indiana University South Bend will explore how their areas of the arts are not a hobby but can lead to real jobs and skills for not only their graduates but for society in general. 

February 26, 2016 Monica Tetzlaff, Associate Professor of History
African Activists: Documenting the Ghanaian Human Rights Movement for Women Accused of Witchcraft

Since the 1990s, African nations have become more open and democratic, allowing civil society groups to advocate for various causes.  In Ghana, a women’s rights movement has flourished, led by women’s organizations, human rights lawyers,  Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and Community Based Organizations (CBOs).

One human rights abuse that has been particularly aimed at women is witchcraft accusation.  The practice of banishment of accused witches affects about 500 women and children at this time.  While the number is small, the symbolic significance of this stigma affects all women to some degree.  Belief in witchcraft has some roots in traditional customs, but it has also been shaped by Christian churches, for good and for ill. The Northern Region of Ghana is unique in Africa in having established “camps” where accused witches can seek protection and this region is where I did the bulk of my research. 

My colleague Dr. Kwado Okrah, first introduced me to this topic and we have co-written a publication on interventions on behalf of accused witches and their children in Ghana.  This presentation focuses on my historical research in newspapers, government documents and organization records, as well as interviews with Imams, traditional religious leaders, Catholics and Presbyterians, women’s rights activists and secular humanists.  All of these African-based groups have defended and aided accused women, children and men.

Rather than seeing the effort to reduce human rights violations as a campaign organized in the Global North and imported to Africa, as some scholars have done, I examine the extent to which the human rights movement to reduce witchcraft accusation is African-based and employs methods that area a combination of legal/political tactics and more traditional, village-based approaches. 

March 25, 2016 Julia Gressick, Assistant Professor of Instructional Technology
Serious Fun: How Games Promote Learning for Undergraduates

There is a breadth of psychological research that points to potential cognitive benefits of game play. Games engage and motivate learners while promoting mastery of skills and content knowledge. Games as pedagogy can foster collaborative learning and essential 21st Century habits of mind, including critical thinking skills. Argumentation is at the heart of the critical thinking process. Despite being an essential component of sound reasoning, the process of constructing high-quality arguments is something many people struggle with well into adulthood. Recognizing errors in thinking can be a challenge since they often seem persuasive and resemble sound reasoning despite their unsound nature. Whether committing these fallacies is intentional with the goal of persuasion or simply an oversight, it is important for undergraduates to recognize and understand them in order to defend against them while strengthening the arguments they advance.

Fostering undergraduates’ critical thinking skills is a ubiquitous goal across disciplines. How best to support the development of these skills has been a topic of debate. Considering broad critical thinking goals of higher education and potential cognitive benefits of game-based pedagogical approaches, I will examine the science behind how games influence domain learning and thinking skills through design-based and experimental studies in undergraduate classrooms.  

April 22, 2016 David Dodd Lee, AssIstant Professor of English
Orphan, Indiana and the Dismantling of Narrative: The Poetics of Erasure and Collage as Verse Autobiography