Fall 2011

Fall 2011 Forums:

Thursday, September 8, 2011
Measuring the Sublime - Advances in the Assessment of Philosophical Dispositions
Charles W. Wright
Little Theatre (Quad 346) - SJU

In keeping with the formative mission of the College of St. Benedict and St. John's University the Philosophy Department seeks to inculcate in its students a cluster of dispositions that are important to us as teachers of philosophy, but that have moral and political ramifications as well.   This past year the department reconstructed measures for these dispositions embedded in its in-house assessment questionnaire in an attempt to improve their statistical reliability.  We also introduced new measures of students' learning experience as well as department teaching practices in an effort to learn how our classroom practices might be related to learning outcomes.  This presentation will share with the CSB/SJU community some of the frustrations of this latest effort to measure our students' learning as well as some of the interesting and unexpected outcomes obtained this past Spring 2011.

Thursday, September 15, 2011
Social, Institutional, and Behavioral Explanations of Consumption and Borrowing of Low-Income Households: Theory and Policy Remedies
Parker Wheatley
GDCC President's Conf. Room 2nd level of Gorecki - CSB

This paper discusses the important role of social, institutional, and psychological factors in the behavior of low-income households, and the paper makes direct arguments in favor of policy interventions to alleviate some the challenges of these households in that context. Qualitative focus group evidence and findings on the current behaviors of low-income families are provided to support and motivate this perspective on consumption, particularly in poor communities. While the data is drawn from a specific region, the observations and findings could be generalized to other communities after accounting for different cultural and social characteristics. The research provides an in-depth understanding of the challenges confronted by low-income individuals at achieving their economic objectives and desires for lives of basic dignity, explores both economic and non-economic motivations, and provides insights that might allow for useful modifications of models and policy deliberation.

Thursday, September 22, 2011
ILCP: Enhancing Your Students' Authentic Leadership Potential through Building Emotional Intelligence
Maribeth (Mo) Overland 
Gorecki 204C - CSB

Did you know there is a resource on campus that will help your students enhance their emotional intelligence quotient resulting in expanded authentic value based leadership skill development? The Inspiring Leaders Certificate Program (ILCP), has provided values-based leadership development courses in seven certificate levels to more than 9,342 participants since 2006. Come learn how ILCP can work with you to be a resource for you and your students to build emotional intelligence resulting in more authentic values-based leadership capacity as our students leave CSB/SJU to make a difference!

Thursday, September 29, 2011
The 63rd Japan America Student Conference: Understanding the Globalizing World and Comprehensive Security
Presenters:  Courtney Kimball and Kunihiro Shimoji
Gorecki 204A - CSB

The Japan-America Student Conference (JASC) is a time-honored tradition for young leaders, initiated in 1934 by Tokyo University students concerned by pre-war relations with the U.S. These Japanese students invited a delegation of U.S. students to Japan to openly discuss pressing issues of the day. The following year, American students reciprocated the invitation by hosting a delegation of Japanese students in the U.S. Through the years, this unique cultural interchange has grown in purpose and scope and now includes more than 4,000 alumni on both sides of the Pacific. 

This year the Japan America Student Conference will be held in Japan, and will run from July 24th, 2011 to August 21st, 2011. As members of the American delegation of the Japan America Student Conference, both Courtney and Kuni have been assigned to a Roundtable discussion group that they will investigate while at the conference in Japan. Courtney's Roundtable topic is "Understanding the Globalizing World," and Kuni's Roundtable topic is "Comprehensive Security." Upon returning from this conference, each will have a presentation that they will have publically shared in Japan at the conference's final forum event, and they wish to present their topics to the CSB/SJU community to show what our campuses have contributed to bridging relations between the East and West. A description of the roundtable topics is as follows:

"Understanding the Globalizing World" Globalization is defined as the breakdown of barriers to international trade: an increase in the frequency, magnitude, and freedom of communication, capital flows, migration, and technology that ultimately results in the integration of the world's economies. However, each of these economic processes entails political consequences. Globalization is reshaping the international system, making the conditions of bipolarity that prevailed during the Cold War seem comparatively simple. How can we begin to describe the international system of today? This roundtable will use the insight offered by the theories and paradigms of the past, while at the same time asking what we need to rethink, or what new ideas and theories we must consider, as we attempt to understand the globalizing world. 

"Comprehensive Security" 2010 marked the 50th anniversary of the U.S.-Japan Security Alliance, a multifaceted partnership between the United States and Japan to maintain peace and security in the Far East. Moving on from this important milestone, it is crucial for the two countries to jointly address the global challenges of the 21st century. Namely, the UN has addressed the topics of human, food, and resource security. This roundtable will explore how the U.S.-Japan alliance can cooperate to strengthen ties not only in Asia, but in other areas of the world, while understanding the potential threats posed by neighboring countries and terrorism. This roundtable will also analyze the long-term strategic possibilities for both nations to promote the peace and prosperity of East Asia and the international community.

Thursday, October 6, 2011
Acts of God and Acts of Nature
Richard Bohannon
Little Theatre (Quad 346) - SJU

This paper will be based on three years of qualitative research on media coverage for the 1997 flood in Grand Forks, ND, which inundated the city, destroying much of the downtown and adjacent neighborhoods. 

This paper will ask how people made sense of the disaster, and will look particularly at language describing the presence of God and nature during and after the Grand Forks flood. It will show that language blaming the disaster on "God" was almost entirely absent, and in this way fits the findings of much of the current literature on natural disasters. Nevertheless, and against this literature, the overwhelming reticence of people to publically label the flood as an "act of God" is not evidence of secularization. Instead, the presence of the divine shifts in the literature surveyed: there were frequent instances which saw the Christian God acting in efforts to protect and rebuild the city, for instance, and numerous instances of the disaster blamed on an external "nature," sometimes deified (e.g., into "Mother Nature"). 

Rather than God exiting the scene, this research uncovered two different (though overlapping) narratives used in explanations for the flood as alternatives to traditional "act of God" language.. In the first, the Christian God is very much active, but God's activity is seen in rescuing the people of Grand Forks and in saving (or rebuilding) neighborhoods. In the second, the flood responses show a struggle between two different "ultimate" things, the Christian God and an idealized nature, in a battle to see which would become dominant. The portrayal of God as acting against the flood is thus part of a conflict between two religious frameworks that are simultaneously held together - a belief in a Christian God, and a belief in an ultimate and deeply powerful "nature" - which ask whether nature or God holds ultimate control.

Thursday, October 20, 2011
'The Fatal Effects of Parental Tyranny' and Other Fantasies of Daughter/Father Relationships, 1780-1840
Martha Tomhave Blauvelt
Gorecki  204C- CSB

Popular late 18th and early 19th c. American stories of daughter/father relationships feature either malicious and tyrannical or sweet and incompetent fathers, both concerned with whom their daughters will marry. I will explore the meaning of these stories, their relationship to reality, and shifts in daughter/father imagery in American print culture between 1780 and 1840.

Thursday, October 27, 2011
A Catholic Worker House in St. Joseph, MN
Presenters: Eunice Antony OSB, Molly Weyrens, Kevin LaNave
Board Room in TRC (Main Bldg) - CSB

A Jean Donovan Catholic Worker House was opened in St. Cloud by CSB/SJU students in 1983. There is both renewed need and interest in fostering the three pillars of the CWH movement...a house of hospitality, shared community prayer and clarification of thought...in the local area. Since the summer of 2009, a group of interested folks have been gathering to re-establish a Catholic Worker community in the spirit of Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin. The Thursday forum will include information about the history and philosophy of Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker movement, a sharing of present and upcoming developments for a CWH in the St. Joseph area, opportunities for personal involvement for anyone interested in seeking hope and fostering community in the spirit of Dorothy Day, and a question/answer/discussion period. In the words of Dorothy Day "The greatest challenge of the day is: how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution which has to start with each one of us. - The final word is love."

Thursday, November 3, 2011
Tristram Shandy Unbound: Book Arts and Literary Studies
Cindy Malone
Gorecki 204B - CSB

Early in Lawrence Sterne's wildly idiosyncratic novel, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Tristram invites his reader to join him on a journey. As soon as we begin that journey, we find ourselves plunging downhill, toiling uphill, leaping forward, doubling back-desperately trying to find and keep our bearings. 

Sterne's fragmented, digressive novel cudgels the brains of the reader with questions about the relationship of each part to the rest of the work. This reading experience has led several critics to describe Tristram Shandy as "proto-postmodern"; in fact, students and scholars have created hypertext versions that emphasize the temporal and cognitive leaps in Sterne's novel. Those digital versions help us see the links between Sterne's experimental novel and contemporary experimental fiction. At the same time, however, they conceal the ways in which Sterne explores the possibilities and limitations of the physical book. 

I've created a one-of-a-kind physical book that highlights the fragmented, digressive nature of Volume I. Just as the novel hangs together by the slenderest narrative thread, my book hangs together by means of a little thread and ribbon. In the process of reading it, a reader literally takes the book apart and then reassembles the parts in an attempt to produce narrative coherence. The book aims to illustrate, in physical form, the cognitive operations that all readers perform, all the time-cognitive operations that Sterne makes devilishly difficult. By focusing on the reader's struggle to make sense of Sterne's brilliant and exasperating novel, I hope to suggest possibilities for using book arts to demonstrate concepts in literary studies.

Thursday, November 10, 2011
Exploring the souvenir as a means of materializing experience," collaboration as a model for teaching and learning
Presenters:  Elaine Rutherford, Chloe Briggs, Steven Lemke and NateBurbeck
Gorecki 204C - CSB

In the Spring of 2011, I was invited to participate in a women's leadership group consisting of Visual Arts Chairs.  Within the context of this group we have been asked to consider approaches of teaching visual art and the dynamics of collaboration and the various questions and assumptions that surface within collaborative models.  We often assign collaborative or group projects in the classroom without really engaging in analysis of what collaboration really means and entails.  Often times students become discouraged or disillusioned at what they perceive to be an uneven distribution of workload and shared responsibility.  Why do we assign collaborative projects?  What is the value?  How can we better prepare ourselves and our students to navigate the various challenges of such models for teaching and learning?

As a means of testing the various assumptions that we bring to (art) teaching and learning group members were asked to work on a collaborative visual art project with current or former students.  "Exploring the souvenior as a means of materializing experience", is the working sentence or prompt that my group came up with during our first brainstorming session.  My group comprised of Chloe Briggs, Nate Burbeck and Steve Lemke, (CSB/SJU alumni) and myself, are curious and excited by the possibilities that might arise through a truly collaborative proecess in which we open ourselves to working outside of our comfort zone in all aspects.  This means relinquishing personal control.  An inability to imagine an individualized outcome necessitates trust in the process and in one another.  Our presentation will discuss our experiences in this process, and its potential as an alternate model for teaching and learning.  It also marks the beginning of the dissemination of our experiences.  The project continues in an exhibition at The Minneapolis College of Art and Design in January of 2012 and will be accompanied by a document which details the nature of collaboration in its various forms as experienced by the entire group of collaborators.

Thursday, November 17, 2011
Song Writing and Critical Theory
Mike Opitz (with help from other musicians)
Gorecki 204C - CSB

I will present an illustrated lecture (part concert)showing how the song can be a vehicle for political and theoretical commentary. I plan to perform several original songs--perhaps working with a group of other musicians. I will comment on how the songs were written and recorded. Here is a link to my webpage on song writing. My presentation will be a collaboration with students and will be a development of the work illustrated on this page.


Thursday, December 1, 2011
Trans-Atlantic Literature and Commodity Culture
Steven Thomas
Little Theatre (Quad 346) - SJU

My presentation will raise two questions: what does it mean to read literature within a trans-Atlantic theoretical framework and how do we understand literature's relationship to the transatlantic commodity culture (e.g., tobacco, rice, indigo, sugar, etc.)?  I will focus on the 18th century and the popular poetry and travel narratives that explicitly responded to changing economic circumstances. My presentation will expose the audience to literature that they probably have never heard of before, but it will also address broad themes. There is considerable debate within English and history departments about the questions I am raising, and the theoretical distinction between the word "trans-Atlantic" (with a hyphen) and "transatlantic" is part of that debate. To give you an idea of the currency of these questions, a new interdisciplinary journal called Atlantic Studies was created about eight years ago and a special international seminar on Atlantic history was begun at Harvard University about fifteen years ago to more fully address the topic. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011
CSB at 50  -- A New World of More Possibilities
Annette Atkins
Board Room in TRC (Main Bldg.) - CSB

In 2013 the College of St. Benedict will be 100 years old. In this talk I'll paint a portrait of St. Ben's at 50 -- who were the students, what did the future look like, what social forces were brewing up a storm inside and outside the institution. This is a continuation of the work that I presented on in the Friday Forum series in 2010-2011.