Some time ago, an aide to Todd Gaziano, one of the eight members of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, contacted me about serving on the Commission’s Georgia Advisory Committee. I couldn’t say no; the opportunity was too interesting.
Well, since the beginning of the year, I’ve had two opportunities to see just how interesting the position could be. In the spring, I attended a Georgia Advisory Committee meeting here in Atlanta. We vetted and ultimately approved a very tentative report on the civil rights implications of school discipline in the state. Whether the disparate racial impact we found is caused by discrimination is a question we couldn’t answer on the basis of the evidence we had. We had hard questions, but no easy answers.
Then, back in mid-July, Commissioner Gaziano’s aide contacted me to ask if I’d be willing to participate as a panelist in a briefing on the civil rights implications of state immigration laws in Birmingham. Not quite knowing what to expect, but being an agreeable guy, always ready to learn, I said “sure.”
Don’t worry: I didn’t attract any attention, negative or positive, especially since my contribution to the day’s proceedings was to apply first principles (the consent of the governed, the rule of law, federalism, and separation of powers) to the vexed question of immigration policy. But my fellow panelists included one of the principal authors of all the controversial state immigration laws, state legislative leaders from Alabama and Georgia, and representatives of advocacy groups on both sides of the question.
And in the audience were demonstrators who, as the Commission chair told us, were exercising their First Amendment rights by interrupting the speakers with whom they disagreed.
It wasn’t exactly democratic deliberation at its finest, but, then, democratic deliberation rarely is. Everyone had the opportunity to speak. The demonstrators got the media attention they wanted. The news outlets got some dramatic footage. And the Commission—evidently deeply divided—saw its divisions replicated among the panelists and in the audience. Again, there were hard questions and no easy answers.
Dr. Joseph M. Knippenberg is a Professor of Politics at Oglethorpe University.
Dr. Schall first posted the article on his personal blog, My Own Stormy Petrel Words, reflecting on the question “why do people cheat” in response to the news of a data reporting scandal at Emory University. He says that cheating starts because people are acting to attain the unattainable “when so much is at stake and the wrong thing is being measured, even good people will bend the truth.” Dr. Schall’s article was picked for publication in the August 24th edition of Huffington magazine and will reach more than 115,000 iPad readers worldwide, with more users downloading every day.
The free weekly iPad magazine was launched mid-June 2012 as a part of a HuffPost “slows news movement” initiative, a way for readers to dive more deeply into stories than is possible online. iPad users can download the app to read Dr. Schall’s article in the iTunes store, and other readers can read the article directly on his blog. Consider subscribing to get his latest blogs delivered directly to you.
This summer’s short term, for-credit trip to Italy made an enormous impact on the students who participated. Following up on the original post by Dr. Jeffrey Collins, we now hear from three of those students, in their own words. [Part II] [Part III]
I didn’t think after my transfer to Oglethorpe I would have time to go abroad. Thinking about leaving yet another place was stressful in itself and felt like too much jumping around. My summer was going to be a busy one; I needed to get a list of things done, not only school oriented, but for my entire future in general. Being able to go to Italy this summer AND get a class credit sounded too good to be true.
The journey I took to Florence and Rome, wasn’t just “good,” it was an almost perfect balance of seeing, experiencing and feeling. Being a studio art major, I had a seriously touching experience. I had just taken the Art and Culture Core class this past spring with Professor Loehle. The class had covered, of course, dozens of topics and art pieces; however, we only got to experience these sights through a screen. I got to go to Rome and Florence and experience first hand an overwhelming amount of what I learned in the classroom this past spring.
I stood before masterpieces, ruins, churches, sculptures, etc. feeling knowledgeable and well informed, inspired and humbled. It felt really good. I was enamored standing in front of Botticelli’s Primavera—truly blown away by the mere sight of something so beautiful and, for the first time, out of my textbook. Seeing the David, a staggering 17-feet tall, with every detail carved down to a seemingly blood pumping vein in his hand—I didn’t move on to the next room for over 30 minutes.
Dr. Collins and Professor Loehle supplemented all this awe by guiding and helping me understand what I was truly taking in and on so many different and new levels. We had on this trip discussions, critiques, debates—everything teachers can bring to the classroom we used too, but in museums, in front of ruins or standing before a statue. My learning experiences at Oglethorpe came full circle while I was in Italy, this appreciation never leaving my heart and mind while touring these beautiful cities.
I learned my away around Rome and Florence on so many different and exciting levels. I could guide you to the Pantheon from our hotel, on the way giving you its history, and I could have a confident discussion on Caravaggio’s The Calling of Saint Matthew and the revolutionary techniques he employed as an artist. I had a grasp of the culture along with an expanded mind. I was entirely out of my element, a visiting art student in a new country; however, I was constantly accompanied by a solid group of caring, ambitious and intelligent individuals, all there to fully experience Italy along with me. I got to form my own opinions, hear from other students in my group and absorb a new culture, all at the same time. I got the full ride on this trip, mind, body and soul. And to think I was getting a class credit the whole time was just the cherry on top.
It was an overall amazing, unforgettable two weeks of my life. I would recommend this trip to all students, especially the transfer students who are down on being unable to go to abroad during the school year! I am truly inspired and it feels awesome finding myself putting forth new efforts to keep this fire alive in my everyday motions. And so far, so good.
This summer’s short term, for-credit trip to Italy made an enormous impact on the students who participated. Following up on the original post by Dr. Jeffrey Collins, we now hear from three of those students, in their own words. [Part III] [Part IV]
When people ask me “how was Italy?” I simply respond with “amazing”. The fact is, though, it was more than that. It was life-changing. I learned so much, saw so much, and had such a fantastic time that telling it all to someone like a story is simply impossible—there’s too much to fit in.
The schedule included monuments, museums, gardens and segway tours, but the best times of the trip were unexpected. We’d be tired after a day of walking, or hungry for lunch, or too full of information to handle another bite and then suddenly, out of nowhere, there’d be magic.
From the Medici-offices-turned-art-museum Uffizi, to the towering bronze-doored Duomo, Florence is magical. Walking the cobblestone streets overlooking the Arno, where Leonardo DaVinci walked, staring through glass at Galileo’s right hand, strolling through the market where old, weathered men hand-sew buttery leather pouches like their families have done for centuries, everything about Florence is interesting, beautiful and amazing.
There are, of course, some standout moments. At Reginella’s, a family-owned restaurant Dr. Collins found that became “our favorite” the first night, my pizza was delivered in the shape of a heart! (I think red hair is a novelty in Italy, haha.) It doesn’t matter what age, what major, or what you’re expecting, seeing Michelangelo’s David in person will stop your heart. When I saw it, I understood. He’s alive in the marble, and as you walk around him his brow seems to furrow, his chest heaves, his eyes flicker. He looks so alive that I half-expected his fingers to twitch around his sling. In Art and Culture, I learned that when the David was first shown to the public, people were scared because they thought he was alive. Now that I’ve seen it in person, I finally understand. It’s the kind of lesson you can’t learn from a textbook.
I’ve never had a formal art class, but having Professor Loehle on the trip was better. He took the time to explain the beauty in art and how it relates to what I’m studying. He showed us the elegance of Caravaggio, helped me realize my love for Giambologna, and inspired me to find beauty everywhere—from the most heavily-guarded painting in the Uffizi, to the faces of the people in the Piazza Navona. He became part of the trip family, always helpful, always upbeat, always “just here to help.”
My favorite part of Florence was the church of Santa Croce. I thought, when I walked in, that it was going to be another church in the line of churches we saw, all amazing and beautiful. But it was so much more. There are marble tombs in the floors with bas reliefs of the people in them. There are winding hallways that go to rooms with floor to ceiling cabinets full of centuries-old books with illuminated lettering. I went through a little door that was slightly ajar and found a tiny room with stone water fountains in the shape of lion heads lining one wall and a door in the floor beside a porch that led into a tiny garden. I took pictures and snuck around until I realized that it was an employee-only area. Restricted sections make the best adventures, and Florence was a beautiful adventure.
But it’s Rome that has my heart. When we walked around Rome with Collins and Loehle, it was a constant surprise. Dr. Collins is a walking encyclopedia, and many times I’d look around to find people from guided tours had ditched their neon-shirted tour guide in favor of listening to him speak. He had a way of making every topic we covered interesting, funny, and memorable, even if it was something I would never have cared about before. Once, he stopped us in front of side street and said “I’ve got a surprise for you!” We walked into an unassuming church and then one by one fell silent as we looked up at the most amazing ceiling I have ever seen, with frescos that seem to jump off the ceilings at Sant’Ignazio.
At the Vatican, we were again struck mute by the towering, frescoed ceilings, the light filtering through the windows onto Michelangelo’s Pieta, and the sheer number of people, all silent, all staring upwards.
Then there were the random days. A small group of us took a side trip to the Catacombs of San Sebastiano, miles and miles of tunnels where people have been buried for centuries. Being underneath Rome, walking by tombs with frescoed ceilings and still-intact ancient pots of oil is like being inside of history. There’s graffiti on the walls dating back to the 3rd century (Peter was here, 1989. Peter was here, 1771. Pietr was here 900. Petri was here 256.) The church above the catacombs has floors made of some of the oldest marble in Rome. I stepped on snail fossils bigger than my hand that date back to the Cretaceous period (65 million years ago! WHAT???)
(On our last day in Rome, Professor Loehle, Adrienne Findley, and I worked out my plan to move to Italia. I’ve already picked my apartment. By—ahem— COMPLETELY unplanned, TOTALLY accidental coincidence, it’s on the same street as the best gelato in Rome. Yes, you can visit.)
In a word, it was amazing. I used that word a lot on the trip, but astonishing, fantastic, extraordinary, unbelievable, no word can really capture the feeling of being so utterly swept off your feet by beauty, by history, by culture, by Italy. In Florence, we lived like Italians. When we returned to Rome, we walked like natives. When I go back, it will feel like I’m home. This experience was more than I could have ever hoped for, and I can’t wait to study abroad again.
A group of Oglethorpe University students and professors recently returned from a short term, for credit academic study abroad trip to Florence and Rome, Italy. Here, Dr. Jeffrey Collins shares some of their life changing experiences, accompanied by photos courtesy of student Robert Findley.
I could not begin to describe this extraordinary trip, Oglethorpe’s tenth to Italy. Perfect May-like weather throughout, and we spent six hours a day in examining art, architecture, and sites, lecturing, and giving fabulous reports.
Think of our students standing in front of the Pantheon, walking Piazza Navona, walking through and discussing the art in the Vatican, analyzing the sculptures of Michelangelo, Bernini, many Baroque churches, paintings from Leonardo to Caravaggio, examining the ruins of the Roman forum. It was the best kind of education—they all agreed, and were passionately engaged—well, it is Italy, and art is everywhere.
In Florence, we explored and spoke and questioned the art in the Uffizi, the Piazza Signoria, studied the architecuture of Santa Maria Novella, the Santa Maria della Fiore, and a host of churches—Santa Croce of course—discovering how the Renaissance emerged here, how perspective was rediscovered, how Medici money and genius and artistic perfection and rediscovery of ancient works all fused and formed an era unmatched in western history.
Each day was a day of unparalleled discoveries for most of the students who, by the way, never stepped on a plane before. They learned some Italian, more than just ciao or bona serra, tasted some fine Italian brunellos and montepulcianos, ate prosciutto in the Tuscan noon up at Fiesole. I brought them to the best leather factory in all of Florence, where several bought the best leather purses designed for Grace Kelly. Days spent laughing, studying, dodging vespas, eating marvelous pastries—la dolce vita—walking for miles, building a remarkable community of scholars. As we talked in museums, onlookers from elsewhere would gather and listen and comment upon the student presentations. Two people from boring tour groups told us they wish they were with us.
Professor Alan Loehle and I tag teamed [this trip], and his commentaries and his artistic insights were sheer genius. We are indeed fortunate to have a Guggenheim artist at our university, and the students loved his perceptions and revelations about every painting. I cannot think of a better colleague to work with on these trips, as he rose to the occasion and served with me as teacher, scholar, father, counselor, friend, and a few times, positive disciplarian.
Our hotels were splendid, the food more so. Students cried during our final meal, and many of them, having learned Rome and Florence, went in small groups and explored on their own—they became confident, capable, and independent, exactly what we want, telling us in excited breath their views of Pozzo’s ceiling in Il Gesu or what they found in the hidden symbols of Botticelli’s Primavera. Their most memorable night, no doubt, was the opera at St. Mark’s—La Boheme. Our ladies all cried, the men tried to hold back the tears.
Adrienne Findley, the wife of Oglethorpe’s Board Chair Norm Findley, was absolutely remarkable—she was THE great model of energy, excitement, and joy for our our younger women on the trip, and she too served as a “Mom” and asked great questions that stirred and inspired our students. Everyone was sad the day she had to leave us. She will hold a reunion party for us all at her home soon. The students loved her.
It took some all-in-fun effort to get them focused on broken pediments and balustrades as we passed shop after designer shop—shoes, belts, crosses, icons, leather books, more shoes. Not one complaint though, and the transports were all perfectly timed. Soon, through some blogs, and pics and Facebooking, you will hear and see what they discovered.
I never saw so much community and friendship and cameras and support among students: they acted like an army when we needed them to be so, delivered reports like first-rate scholars when asked to do so, and brought each other home to the hotels each night, the guys guarding the ladies like knights, walking back with gelato in hand, the ladies with scarves and purses—they realized they too could be quite sophisticated, and were.
They all want to go to Greece now, and will; they all told us Oglethorpe was the best, they all will graduate and remember nights in the Palazzo Vecchio and the Tuscan dawns, the touch of refined marble, the rich expresso, and the light pouring upon their faces for eternal moments under the vast dome of the Vatican.
One student, Robert Findley, said it perfectly: “I cannot go back to what I was now, I see the world so differently. I have been blessed by beauty.”
To see more of Robert’s photos from the Italy study abroad trip, visit Oglethorpe’s Flickr photo page.
On May 22, 1932, then New York Governor Franklin Delano Roosevelt received a Doctor of Laws honorary degree from Oglethorpe University at the commencement ceremony held at the Fox Theatre. He gave a rousing speech about the state of the nation—and that speech went on to become historically significant as the beginning of the future President’s New Deal plan.
“The country needs and, unless I mistake its temper, the country demands bold, persistent experimentation. It is common sense to take a method and try it: If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.
We need enthusiasm, imagination and the ability to face facts, even unpleasant ones, bravely. We need the courage of the young. Yours is not the task of making your way in the world, but the task of remaking the world which you will find before you. May every one of us be granted the courage, the faith and the vision to give the best that is in us to that remaking!”
Thornwell Jacobs, the President of Oglethorpe at the time, chose to award Roosevelt with the honorary degree “in recognition of his high achievements in statesmanship, economics, and philanthropy.” (New York Times, March 28, 1931.)
FDR had deep connections to Georgia. He often visited the state for treatment of his paralytic illness. His personal retreat, Little White House, was built on his 1,750-acre farm at the top of Pine Mountain. The farm is now part of Georgia’s biggest state park that was named after him.
Our own President Schall also reflected on this speech in his personal blog.
President Roosevelt’s words withstand the test of time—and his entire Oglethorpe commencement speech is well worth the read!
The annual Georgia Undergraduate Research in Psychology Conference was recently hosted by nearby Kennesaw State University. More than 110 students from nearly 20 universities presented either research posters or talks. Many were honor students from their respective universities—which this year included universities from surrounding states as well.
The Oglethorpe Psychology Department was represented by seven students who had their work accepted for the conference: Jahnavi Delmonico, Julia Fukuda, Cassie Hendrix, Allison Moore, Justin Sabree, Brittany Weiner and Janet Wood. They presented a mixture of research posters and talks based on the original data they had collected in their respective studies from the past year. In addition, all of them participated in a juried competition sponsored by the Georgia Psychological Association (GPA) for best research at the conference. Judges consisted of executive members of the GPA and professors of research methodology.
For the fourth year in a row, an Oglethorpe student earned first place! Specifically, Cassie Hendrix submitted a study she completed during her “Theories of Personality” course on the effects of anxiety on people’s ability to correctly interpret the emotions expressed in facial expressions. She presented her research in a 250-seat auditorium, where she led the audience through a Powerpoint presentation of her study, followed by a question and answer session. Cassie and I (as her faculty sponsor) received certificates of recognition and Cassie received a cash award. She joins previous GPA-sponsored conference winners Ilana Olin and Mary Beth Bidgood (2009), Alyx Buonanotte (2010), and Balbir Khalsa and Brittany Weiner (2011).
Participants had the opportunity to attend all the talks and poster sessions, as well as listen to a keynote address and attend a career/graduate school panel discussion. It was an excellent opportunity to meet students and professors from other schools and to learn from fellow excellent researchers.
All of the students gained valuable experience, practiced publicly presenting and defending their work, and had a good time spending the day with each other and the department faculty. Congratulations to all of you!
Editor’s Note: The Oglethorpe University Psychology Department routinely encourages its students to submit original research they have designed and conducted to professional research conferences. Our students typically attend several conferences during their undergraduate education. Submitting one’s work for peer review by experts in the field and then defending that work in a professional setting is wonderful training for graduate school, professional schools (e.g., medical and law) and many careers.
Oglethorpe seniors Andrew Davenport and Sandy Vuong recently let me tag along to watch their springtime, end-of-semester urban ecology project take off… literally.
The two students were assigned special projects for their Urban Ecology class, taught by Dr. Roarke Donnelly, OU associate professor of biology and director of the Urban Ecology Program. Davenport and Vuong, both biology majors, decided to team up and investigate the behavior of Eastern bluebirds.
“Bluebirds prefer to find pre-existing cavities and build their nests in them,” said Davenport. “They pick already available accommodations and make them their own. Our research aims at explaining why they choose certain locations to nest and not others.”
The project quickly became a campus-wide effort. OU’s Sigma Zeta National Science and Mathematics Society stepped in to help create the habitats, in hopes that the birds would choose them. Chassidy Teal, Sigma Zeta president, and the other Sigma Zeta members built the birds’ boxes as a service project. Dr. John Cramer, OU professor of physics, helped with the building effort and installed them around campus.
There are now 10 boxes all over the OU campus and half of them are occupied by bluebird families. Some are home to adult birds only, some have eggs in them and some little hatchlings. Davenport and Vuong take turns checking the boxes and recording data several times every week.
“Eastern bluebirds don’t have as many cavities available for nesting as they did before extensive logging and land development,” said Dr. Donnelly. “Boxes serve as suitable substitutes.”
Thanks to the joint effort of the honor society and Dr. Cramer, the two OU seniors are able to use their classroom knowledge and apply it to this hands-on project. But, the experiment has benefitted the bluebirds as well as the students studying them.
“We did not have many bluebirds on campus,” said Dr. Cramer. “The experiment has attracted them to our outdoor classroom.”
Join the Urban Ecology Program and other OU science students during Science-Palooza on Wednesday, April 25, from 12:30 to 1:30 in the Academic Success Center, when they will present their projects and findings from their end-of-semester projects.
View more photos of OUr bluebird families!
French Professor Jay Lutz and I designed a First Year Seminar course called “Eyes on Africa.” The seminar explores the culture, literature, people and current events related to the African continent. In addition to our focus on the continent, the seminar makes relevant connections to the African Diaspora—the manifestation of African culture outside of the continent. This manifestation includes Africa’s indelible impact on the United States through the influence of black Americans.
In exploring the rich contribution of Africans on the United States, we thought it appropriate to take our class on a journey to Charleston, South Carolina, the historic city many call “ground zero” of African American culture in the United States. Charleston has this designation because as the fifth largest city in late 17th century colonial North America it was a major slave port, receiving tens of thousands of African men and women destined to toil in South Carolina plantations, rice fields, and urban centers. Moreover, it is estimated that more than half of all African Americans, no matter where in the U.S. they reside, had at least one ancestor who was trafficked through the Charleston port.
Our FYS had the privilege of being escorted throughout much of our Charleston tour by South Carolina historian and author Wayne Anthony O’Bryant, who was generous enough to give the entire FYS an autographed copy of his book, In the Footprints of a Giant: The Vesey Connection, which traces Denmark Vesey’s life and legacy through the author’s childhood recollections and revelations.
Our seminar group visited and learned about the domestic and international slave trade at Charleston’s Old Slave Mart Museum. Originally, Ryan’s Mart, this very building held slave auctions where men, women, and children were bought, sold, and traded. The museum has sobering exhibits focused on the institution of slavery and its importance to the economy and general development of colonial South Carolina. The black population of colonial South Carolina frequently equaled or exceeded that of whites, which permitted a thorough diffusion of African culture, art, music, dance, architecture, craft, cuisine, spirituality, and even language in the region and beyond. Some of the most significant slave insurrections in colonial America, including the Stono Rebellion of 1739 and the Demark Vesey’s famous revolt of 1822 occurred in or around Charleston.
We also toured the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture. Founded in 1865 by the American Missionary Association as the Avery Normal School, this institution, for nearly a century, groomed Charleston area African Americans for professional and academic careers until its doors closed in 1954. Today, the Avery is not only a research center, but also an archives and a museum containing valuable historical documents related to local African American culture as well as to the African diaspora.
Our group also traveled to Columbia, S.C., where we visited the African American Monument, the first and only monument dedicated to African American culture built on the grounds of a state capitol. The granite and bronze monument sculpted by Ed Dwight opened in 2001 and uses a series of expressive panels to trace African American culture from the arrival of Africans to South Carolina shores to the present.
Before returning to Oglethorpe, our FYS explored Sullivan’s Island, a place with significant historical significance despite its relatively low-key status as a Charleston-area landmark. A major battle of the American Revolution took place at Fort Sullivan (now Fort Moultrie). However, prior to becoming a Revolutionary-era battleground site, for much of the 18th century, Sullivan’s Island served as a “quarantine station” for Africans arriving in the United States before beginning their new lives as slaves. It is estimated that 40% of African Americans can trace an ancestors through Sullivan’s Island, making this sacred site akin to an “African-American Ellis Island.”
Dr. Mario Chandler is Associate Professor of Spanish. He received his B.A. from Iowa State University, and his M.A. and Ph.D. from The University of Georgia.