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April 10, 2006

Faculty News


On April 5th at the Unitarian Church in Davenport Allen Bertsche gave a lecture on the theological issues raised in Miguel de Unamuno's short novel San Manuel Bueno, Martyr. He gave the talk the title "Truth v. Happiness: A Case Study". Unamuno is one of the foremost novelists, essayists and philosophers of Spain's "Generation of 1898" and an author well-known for his struggle with topics of faith. In his discussion he focused on Unamuno's battle between doubt and faith and his intriguing assertion that in some instances ignorance is preferable to truth. The goal is to explore just how Unamuno seems to propose that ignorance allows mankind to live, whereas knowledge of a profoundly disconcerting truth might devour us.


On April 20 Allen will present findings from my sabbatical research at the Kentucky Foreign Language Conference, at the U. of Kentucky in Lexington. The title of his paper/presentation there is "Teaching Spain: A Study of the Current Situation of Spanish Culture & Civilization Courses in the Undergraduate Spanish Curriculum."


This paper uses the online and survey data he was able to gather this past Fall to create a snapshot of where these unique courses lie within the curriculum, what is and is not being done in the field, and what challenges confront faculty both in liberal arts colleges and large universities who lead Spanish culture courses. It includes data on course placement, frequency and status within the Spanish major which has been gathered from both the top 100 liberal arts colleges (as per US News 2004) and the top 30 flagship state universities (also as ranked by US News in 2004) as well as survey responses from 20 liberal arts faculty who lead courses in Spanish Culture.


Lendol Calder's article "Uncoverage: Toward a Signature Pedagogy for the History Survey" appeared this month in the Journal of American History. Pulling together ideas and research Lendol has been working on since becoming a Carnegie Scholar in 1999, the article calls for historians to rethink how they teach introductory courses. A web page accompanying the article can be found at Jonathan Zimmerman of New York University describes Lendol's essay as "the best argument I've seen for why historians need to take teaching and learning seriously. My strong hope is that one day--not so far from now--people will cite the essay as a watershed in the way we think about these issues."


Margaret Farrar has just had her article "Rah- Rah- Radical: The Radical Cheerleaders' Challenge to the Public Sphere" accepted for publication in Politics & Gender. The article is co-authored with Jamie Warner (Marshall University).


The name “Radical Cheerleaders” refers to loosely-organized groups of women and men who use creative cheers and costumes to engage in political protest. This article explores the ways in which the Radical Cheerleaders challenge gendered assumptions about women’s political activity. Through their aggressive presence on the streets, their rejection of norms of civility, and their use of humor, the Radical Cheerleaders (ab)use the traditionally gendered practice of cheering to stage transgressive political spectacles that cannot easily be subsumed into or appropriated by mainstream political discourse. We argue that these kinds of subversions are important for broadening our understanding of the construction and practices of democratic citizenship.


Bob Grenier has been elected to a two year term on the Board of Directors for the Association of Information Technology Professionals (AITP). He will be representing the Central District which covers professional and student chapters in Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, Eastern Iowa, and metropolitan Saint Louis. He attended the AITP National Collegiate Conference in Dallas last week.


Rachel Magdalene is serving as Secretary of the American Academy of Religion (AAR) Taskforce on Religion and Disability this year and attended both its November 21, 2005 meeting in Philadelphia and its March 4, 2006 meeting in Atlanta. This group advises the Executive Committee of the AAR on matters of accessibility and presents forums related to disability to the AAR at its annual meeting. She also attended the 2006 Annual Meeting of the Association for the Study of Law, Culture, and the Humanities held in Syracuse, NY, March 17-18. She presented her paper, “‘Judge My Cause, Decide My Decision!’: Neo-Babylonian Courts and Their Jurisdictional Powers,” at the Ancient Law and Sacred Texts session. She also presided at the Culture, Conflict and Law in the Middle East Panel.


Scott Magelssen and students Bekki Cheatham, Derrick Engel, Shasta Green, Hannah Kalk, Susanne Kepley, Kevin Wender, and Charlie Zamastil, presented a scene from LAST ONE OUT OF THE QUAD CITIES, TURN OUT THE LIGHTS, as part of the QCALM “Discovery Through Discussion” Series at the Bettendorf Public Library on March 30th. The play was written last year in conjunction with a joint project in History, Speech Communication and Theatre Arts. Based on verbatim interview accounts, the play treats deindustrialization in the Quad City Area in the 1980s.


On Saturday, April 1st John Pfautz presented a masterclass/workshop on American Art Song for the Central Illinois Chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing.
Secondly, he has been accepted to present a paper entitled The Sacred in Opera: A Genre Comes of Age at the National Faculty Leadership Conference in Washington, DC, this June.


Kim Vivian would like to announce that Augustana College recently concluded an exchange agreement with the Catholic University of Eichstätt (northwest of Munich) and the University of Regensburg. These two programs supplement our existing exchange agreement with the University of Passau. During the coming academic year we will have on campus one student from the University of Passau and one from the University of Regensburg. We, in turn, will be sending one student (Kristin Wolski: German/Music) to Eichstätt and one (Bryan Schmid: German/Business) to Regensburg.


Dara Wegman-Geedey just completed her stint as "guest facilitator" for the Crossroads Online Institute Spring 2006, sponsored by FIPSE and developed/coordinated by the Center for New Designs in Learning & Scholarship (CNDLS) at Georgetown University. She served as an on-line consultant for the 14 participants as they completed evidence templates (see Week 4 below for more info), a model faculty members can use to effectively assess student learning within a course. She was part of COI Spring 2005 and received a $1500 travel grant to represent COI at the ISSoTL meeting in Vancouver last October. In January 2006, she was invited to serve as a facilitator given my continuing work with evidence templates. The Crossroads Online Institute invites faculty to join in a collaborative project centered on curricular design and the exploration of student learning. Faculty learn how to effectively design and assess activities that incorporate technological components to enhance student learning. Faculty from across the country collaborate to implement, analyze, and document innovative teaching practices. (This last part is adapted from the Crossroads on-line site: )


Week 4: March 7th - March 13th: Thinking about Evidence
Guide participants in preparing an evidence template and thinking about how students will move towards an "expert" competency in your course. The whole point here is to define as clearly and explicitly as one can what would count as evidence of student learning in a particular course. Use past evidence templates as models for the session.


On March 27 Michael Zemek was invited to guest conduct at the 27th Annual Geneseo Music Festival Conductor Concert. Following a full day of rehearsals, the Treble Choir, Bass Choir, and Junior/Senior Choirs performed in an evening concert along with the Jazz Band,
Concert Band, and Honors Band under the direction of Gary Smith, former director of the Marching Illini at the University of Illinois.


Michael also successfully defended his dissertation, Cooperative Relationships Revealed: The Selection and Preparation of Cooperating Teachers in Music Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research explored the practices and procedures used throughout the state to identify and select K-12 inservice music teachers as mentors for the student teaching semester as well as the preparation they received for that role. He found that the reliance on an informal process of selecting music cooperating teachers based on the personal and professional relationships with collegiate music educators significantly differs from use of school principal recommendations reported in the general education literature. Education and preparation activities for music cooperating teachers are limited and poorly attended. Interestingly, selection practices based on previous knowledge of cooperating teacher candidates may in fact decrease the need for preparation in general. Finally, serving as a cooperating teacher and participating in provided preparation activities have the potential to improve the student teaching experience as cooperating teachers are viewed as teacher-educators and full, contributing members of the teacher preparation program. This includes input into the content and structure of methods classes as well as the culminating student teaching practicum where theory and knowledge covered in coursework is put into practice.