For years, academics and world leaders have strived to understand the origins of war, the causes of peace, and the sources of future conflict. In his “War, Peace, and Security” class, Dr. John Orme invites students to explore just this, by examining the motives and calculations of past statesmen involved in warfare. He says that investigating historical conflict and resolution is beneficial to helping a student understand how the world works, no matter what career lies ahead of him.
“This is really a theoretical course,” explained Dr. Orme. “It is important to know the answers to questions like, ‘Why do states go to war? Why peace?’ [War stems from] a desire for security, which breeds a competition for power. In this class, we are trying to understand those in power.”
The concept of warring nations is certainly nothing new in the 21st century, but the ways in which we war certainly are. Last summer, in an effort to better understand terrorist ideologies and how democratic states combat them, Dr. Orme travelled to Israel as an Academic Fellow with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. The 10-day fellowship program, taught in conjunction with Tel Aviv University, exposed university professors to the latest trends in terrorists’ operations. While in Israel, Orme and his colleagues engaged in discussions with top diplomats, military, and intelligence officials from around the world, including Ambassador Dore Gold, Israel’s former Ambassador to the UN. They also visited military bases, border zones, and imprisoned terrorists for an up-front view of Israel’s counterterrorism methods.
“The main purpose [of the field excursions] was for Westerners to have some appreciation for what Israel is going through,” remarked Dr. Orme. “I was most impressed by Israel as a people, and especially those who were being recruited into service…Ispecifically recall [at a security fence east of Jerusalem] the face of an Israeli commander. We did not speak to him, but his nonverbal communication spoke to how great a responsibility he has.”
He says that having participated in the seminar has certainly benefited classroom discussion, recently sparking conversation about nuclear proliferation, why states want nuclear weapons, and the differing conclusions about Qaddafi’s fall that those in the Middle East might make versus Americans and Europeans.
“Most of [my students] are not going to end up being practitioners,” said Dr. Orme. “But it prepares them as citizens in the world…if they do end up in a position of power, they’d use it responsibly.”
As an international student at Oglethorpe, I felt it important to make the absolute most of my experience here in Atlanta, which is why I choose to volunteer at PATH Academy. I tried to make it to the DeKalb County charter school every week to help out in a 5th grade classroom with language arts teacher Ms. McCombs.
As I was talking to the students about college life and the different languages I was learning, it struck me that every single child in the class spoke or understood at least two languages already. We discussed the great advantage of this and how they would be able to benefit from it in their future. I asked them in how many languages they were able to say “hello” and I was surprised to see how many students were eager to show off their knowledge on the white board. I watched as a number of students came up and wrote words from “Bonjour” to “Ni Hao” to “Hola.” I then told them about Belgium, my homeland, and they asked me to teach them French words.
Their excitement was really heartwarming. One thing was for sure: the interest in foreign languages was definitely there! I thought that as their brains were already accustomed to constantly switching from one language to the other, why not use that skill as much as possible?
I told my story to Peyton Healy in the Oglethorpe Center for Civic Engagement, who coordinates all volunteer placements at “OUr partner school,” and she offered to help me to set up an International Languages Fair to get the students even more interested in foreign languages. I recruited a group of both international and American OU students and was thrilled to see how many were happy to help.
At the Academy, we set up five different stations, each representing a different country. France, Spain, Germany, Turkey and China were all represented by two Oglethorpe students of different origins.
The 32 PATH Academy students were each handed makeshift passports at the beginning of the fair, indicating the order in which they would be “flying” to the different countries. As they traveled along the five different stations, their passports were stamped and they learned interesting facts about the respective countries, as well as a few basic words in all the languages. Various activities were organized for the small groups as they rotated from station to station. For example, in Germany, students made Christmas stockings out of brown paper bags. For Spain’s station, they were taught basic flamenco moves and in China, they learned to draw Chinese characters.
They spent 10 minutes at each station and we’d ask them questions about what they had learned about the country. The first students to answer correctly got to place their name in a raffle box. At the end of the fair, five lucky students received great prizes related to the various countries.
Thanks to the great work by the Center for Civic Engagement staff as well as both international and American Oglethorpe student involvement, the languages fair was a great success and the team of teachers at PATH academy all were very pleased. More importantly, the kids really enjoyed it and loved interacting with college students from different cultural backgrounds.
Attention Oglethorpe students: Are you interested in volunteering at the PATH Academy? Learn more at an orientation and information session this Wednesday, January 25, 12 noon – 1:30 p.m. in the Center for Civic Engagement. Contact Peyton Healy at email@example.com for more information.
On the weekend of November 4-6, Ashley Causey ’14, Tirzah Brown ’14, Keturah Thomas ’13, and I all lugged our (overly-packed) luggage and our Oglethorpian minds up to Charlotte, N.C. for the 2011 Amnesty International Southern Regional Conference. Amnesty International is a global movement of more than 3 million people, in more than 150 countries, who fight injustices and advocate for human rights all around the world.
The organization uses a three-prong strategy to fight for human rights: (1) public education, (2) state work, and (3) case work. The vision is for every person to enjoy all the rights preserved in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which are rights that are often denied more than we realize. Some of the issues that Amnesty advocates for include, but are not limited to LGBTQ rights, the abolition of the death penalty, human trafficking, environmental issues, torture in Guantanamo Bay, controlling arms, immigration rights, and issues in Syria, China, Nicaragua, the Middle East, and North Africa, just to name a few.
With multiple workshops to choose from, Ashley, Tirzah, Keturah and I thrived off of the abundant information that was presented in each workshop. We all decided it was best to attend workshops that presented on issues we knew little about, which proved to be a successful learning experience. This conference was a life (and mind)-changing experience for me. This experience gave me that “boost” of motivation that I so greatly needed to start advocating and educating people on the many injustices that engulf society every day.
Out of all of the workshops and events that I attended, (including the Troy Davis Vigil and plenaries on human trafficking, queer liberation, undocumented youth, and more), the Closing Brunch Plenary impacted me the most. During brunch on the last day of the conference, two advocates against the death penalty spoke about their own personal experiences with the criminal justice system, and why and how we can make an impact against the injustices that violate human rights everywhere. Troy Davis’s nephew, De’Jaun Correia, only 17 years old, spoke about the execution of his uncle and how it impacted him. He was recently named one of the Top 25 Youth that will change the world. Rais Bhuiyan also spoke. He is a Bangladeshi American who was shot by Mark Stroman, who told police that he was “hunting Arabs” after the attacks on 9/11. Rais was saved from brain damage, but lost sight in one eye. He appealed to save Stroman from the death penalty.
These two speakers had a huge impact on me and really made me realize what we, as an organization, are really fighting for. We’re not fighting to change institutions, or even to change people’s minds about the most effective form of punishment, we are really fighting to eliminate hate. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.”
Last month the OU Blog told you about a lecture and book signing by author Twesigye Jackson Kaguri and organized by Oglethorpe’s Women’s Network.
In Kaguri’s book, A School for My Village: A Promise to the Orphans of Nyaka, he describes his amazing journey from a small farm in Uganda to the ivy halls of Columbia University, and then home again to build a tuition-free school for almost 500 Nyaka orphans.
Affected by the Kaguri’s story, Betty Londergan, President Schall’s wife, journeyed to Uganda, to see the work of Kaguri’s Nyaka AIDS Orphan School wtih her own eyes. Read about her experiences and follow her journey on her blog:
The fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989 was an event of epochal significance. It not only changed the existing world order, it also had a deep impact on the people who lived in East Germany. Tonight, Oglethorpe students and others will have the opportunity to hear an eye-witness account of the events that changed Germany, Europe, and the world.
Sina Nitzsche, visiting assistant professor of German, and Tamás Novák, who were both children in the GDR and adolescents in the unified Germany, will share their personal experiences about the cultural aftermath of 1989.
“It is important to understand the significance of what happened and make the connection between history books and today,” said Nitzsche. “We would like to share our personal experiences, engage in dialogue—and also enjoy a fine selection of German food.”
The evening starts off with a selection of German food at 6:00 p.m., followed by a viewing of the award-winning film Goodbye, Lenin! (2003), and a Q&A discussion with Nitzsche and Novak. The event will take place tonight, November 9, in the Skylight Gallery of the OU Museum of Art in the Philip Weltner Library. All are welcome to attend this special event.
This past month the German classes at Oglethorpe were invited to tour the Atlanta Goethe Zentrum, a center that promotes the German language and culture in the U.S., as well as other countries around the world.
The tour featured a modern and very popular subject: comics! We learned about many prominent and well received—and some so not well known—German comic artists. The gracious guide elaborated on how the rise of German “comic culture” was almost revolutionary because of their handling of many political issues and some taboo topics. The comics showed how the German culture was influenced by other countries and how they took these influences and created a new form of political satire.
The tour was capped with the showing of a short animated German film titled The Raft, a macabre comedy on the trevails of two lost sailors on a hand-built raft. The Raft displayed the universal concept of karma with a hilariously somber ending.
All in all, the excursion was truly an interesting experience. To some, comics are just the colorful sections in the newspaper, but while touring in the Goethe Zentrum one learns that they are truly a form of literary expression—and for the comic artists, a means for cathartic release against the backdrop of increasingly global culture.
Photo: OU German students outside the Atlanta Goethe Zentrum.
Are you ready for a virtual trip to ancient Greece? Next week Oglethorpe University will present two art history lectures that will sweep you away to these ancient worlds.
Oglethorpe will welcome Dr. Jasper Gaunt, the curator of Greek and Roman art at Emory University’s Michael C. Carlos Museum, who will lecture about Greek artifacts as they relate to the study of the texts of Herodotus, Homer and Thucydides. The lecture will take place on Monday, September 12 at 6:30 p.m. in Lupton Auditorium, and a reception will follow in the Great Hall of Hearst.
“The Minoan Mystery”
The next evening, Dr. Jeffrey Collins, assistant professor of art history at Oglethorpe, will lecture about Minoan archaeology. The Minoan culture, pre-dating the ancient Greeks, was one of the most intriguing and mysterious cultures in the ancient world.
“Archaeology informs us, mythology inspires us,” said Dr. Collins. “Both archaeology and mythology help reveal a mysterious people who built palaces, painted extraordinary frescoes, and traded as seafarers in the ancient world. Who were they?” He will help answer this question and lead the audience on a visual journey through the history and the mystery. Dr. Collins will present the most recent findings and ideas about the Minoan culture on Tuesday, September 13 at 7:30 p.m. in the OU Museum of Art.
Dr. Collins also is the director of the Study Abroad program at Oglethorpe University (OUSA). For more information about OUSA and the study abroad opportunities for OU students to visit this ancient art up close and personally, contact Jessica Sundstrom.
Photos: Dr. Jasper Gaunt; The Bull-Leaping Fresco from the Great Palace at Knossos, Crete.
Last month we told you about COEXIST Oglethorpe, a new campus-wide organization of students and staff, which emphasizes interfaith cooperation and community service as an important way to build understanding between different communities. Now, with the tenth anniversary of 9/11 this Sunday, COEXIST Oglethorpe has planned events and service projects this Sunday—also National Day of Service. Everyone is welcome to attend and participate.
COEXIST will host a Community Interfaith Dialogue and Roundtable Discussion in Emerson Student Center on Sunday, September 11 from 2:00-4:00 p.m. The Dialogue will include various community and faith leaders who will answer questions about cultural and religious diversity and the implications of 9/11.
The panel will include moderator and OU alumnus Dr. G. Gil Watson ’68, senior pastor at Northside United Methodist Church. Panelists include Reverend Mr. Bill Garrett, deacon at All Saints Catholic Church; Rabbi Chiam Neiditch, from the National Conference of Synagogue Youth, Atlanta; Mr. Gogi Basi, President of the Sikh Study Circle, Inc.; Reverend Marthame Sanders from Oglethorpe Presbyterian Church; and, Soumaya Khalifa, founder and executive director of the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta.
Refreshments will be served following the discussion when everyone will get a chance to write letters to U.S. soldiers and veterans. If you are able, please bring a healthy non-perishable food item to donate to the Suthers Food Pantry in Chamblee (beans, fruit, nuts, peanut butter, tuna, veggies, etc.). COEXIST also is hosting a blood drive that same day in Emerson Student Center from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. The drive is in collaboration with the American Red Cross and will support victims of Hurricane Irene. Sign up online at www.redcrossblood.org using the sponsor code: Oglethorpe.
Center for Civic Engagement Director Tamara Nash and Assistant Director Heather Staniszewski have credited staff and student members of COEXIST Oglethorpe as instrumental in planning these events—in particular, Clair Carter ’12, Ruwa Romman ’15, Emily Sharfstein ’14, Zach Robinson ’15 and Kendra Hunter, director of student leadership and activities.
Here at the OU Blog, we’ve heard plenty of stories of students traveling all over the world to enhance their OU education. Most explore places like England, Spain, and plenty of places in Asia—but a student studying archaeology in Turkey? That’s a new one for us!
Meet Katherine Harkleroad ’12. She is an art history major at Oglethorpe, and decided to spend her summer in Turkey, where she attended an international archaeology seminar at Crisler Library. Crisler is an American archaeological research and teaching facility which hosts some of the world’s brightest researchers and historians. The program is open to undergraduates, graduates, and PhD candidates, and it’s based in Selçuk, near the ancient Roman city of Ephesus.
But when we say archaeology, don’t think of Katherine with a shovel and brush in hand. As much as she’d probably love to dig, Katherine was taking the seminar from the standpoint of an art historian, and was a respectful observer of those “on the ground.”
“We are not actually digging in the dirt,” explained Katherine, while still in Turkey. “We are visiting Ephesus and the surrounding sites—such as Priene, Miletus, Didyma, and Aphrodisias—with archaeologists and professors from around the world…Turkey is very strict about who is involved in excavations. Although the archaeologists here are from all over, the excavation crews are from Turkey…[While] walking behind the scenes at many of the sites, our group has been able to view and hear about finds that are not yet published.”
Even without digging, Katherine kept a busy schedule. Each morning, she and her colleagues traveled to a new site, exploring topics such as Roman private life, cult and politics, pagan sanctuaries, and how the Romans supplied themselves with water. The seminar is taught by esteemed archaeologists known the world over for their research, including Germany’s Hilke Thür, the main lecturer in the course and a thirty-year veteran in the field.
“It is such a great opportunity to visit Ephesus and the surrounding sites with such a well known and renowned archaeologist,” said Katherine. “[This] has helped me better understand archaeological practices, excavation, and restoration techniques and strategies. Such things are very useful for historians as well as art historians. [In the past,] I have taken a basic archaeology course, but this seminar has given me first-hand experience with the field of archaeology.”
So, after spending her summer up close and personal with professional archaeologists, can this Petrel see some digs in her future?
“I am very interested in the work of archaeologists, but I don’t think that I am cut out for the life of an archaeologist,” comments Katherine. “The work season for most [is in] the summer, [when the] heat and sun are brutal. The living conditions in an excavation house are…interesting! …like being at camp,” she says laughingly. “The program was a great—a once in a lifetime opportunity. It was amazing.”
Photo: Katherine atop a fortress at the Basilica of St. Johns in Selçuk, near Ephesus.
This year Oglethorpe University will participate in President Obama’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge, which challenges more than 300 colleges and universities around the country to promote intentional interfaith dialogue and community service. Oglethorpe will focus specifically on the issues of health and hunger.
To work toward meeting the challenge, OU students and staff created COEXIST Oglethorpe, an effort open to all Oglethorpe students, faculty, staff, and alumni who are interested in this interfaith initiative. Staff from the offices of Admission, Campus Life, and Center for Civic Engagement have met with students Clair Carter ’12, Jimmy Comerford ’13, Emily Sharfstein ’14, Awet Woldegebriel ’14, Zach Robinson ’15 and Ruwa Romman ’15 throughout the summer to pave the road for the next two semesters.
“COEXIST helps us create a culture of understanding and in doing so, allows us to reach out to the community and work towards progress in health and hunger,” said incoming freshman and committee member Zach Robinson ’15.
Heather Staniszewski ’02, assistant director of the Center for Civic Engagement, recalls that when she first started working at Oglethorpe, she was impressed with “the Interfaith Council and collaboration between faith groups to keep the dialogue open and ongoing.” She joined COEXIST Oglethorpe because it “gives [her] a chance to work with students and fellow OU staff members of different faiths to not only educate the community, but educate [each other].”
The fall semester’s inaugural event, to be held September 11, 2011 in Emerson Student Center, will combine service projects with an educational interfaith dialogue. The day will consist of three different service projects including a healthy nonperishable food drive, a blood drive from 1:00-6:00 p.m. hosted by the American Red Cross, and an opportunity to write letters to soldiers and veterans. From 2:00-4:00 p.m. a panel of various community faith leaders will answer questions and lead discussions with participants.
Please direct any questions or interest in volunteering for these events to the Center for Civic Engagement staff via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 404-504-1978. We hope to see you in Emerson on Sunday, September 11.