<![CDATA[Calvin College News and Stories - Short]]> http://upbeat.calvin.edu/ <![CDATA[Klamer family donates $1 million to Calvin College science, nursing programs]]> Thu, 4 Feb 2016 09:00:00 -0500 Thanks to the generosity of a local family, three of Calvin’s academic departments have been entrusted with a gift of $1 million.

The estate of the late Dr. Bernard “Bernie” and Lorraine Goris Klamer has donated the amount to Calvin College, to be split among the biologychemistry and nursing departments. The funds will be used for scholarship endowments and research fellowships for all three departments and will support the nursing program’s community nursing component.

About the Klamers

Dr. Klamer, who passed away in 2014 at age 85, was a 1950 graduate of Calvin College and earned his PhD in biochemistry at Michigan State University. His research career spanned the fields of biology and chemistry, as he worked at Parke-Davis Pharmaceuticals in Ann Arbor; the Institute of Pathology in Amsterdam; Abbott Laboratories in Waukegan, Ill., doing pharmaceutical research; and then spent 20 years conducting clinical drug trials around the world.

His wife, Lorraine Goris Klamer, was a 1950 graduate of the Calvin/Blodgett nursing program and worked in places such as Blodgett Hospital in Grand Rapids and Sparrow Hospital in Lansing. In the latter years of her career, she spent time educating nursing students in Racine, Wis., and advocating for the Arthritis Foundation. She was especially passionate in raising awareness about rheumatoid arthritis, which she had throughout her adult life. Lorraine passed away of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in 1988 at the young age of 59.

Honoring their legacy

The couple’s children, Craig and Janet Klamer and Lynn and John Morrow, said the family carefully considered the opportunity to give Calvin the $1 million for endowments.

“We started thinking through various causes and what would be a unique way to honor them,” Craig Klamer said. “We decided the best way to honor them was by letting Calvin have a gift that will allow others to pursue what my parents had pursued as their passion and work for the Lord.”

Craig Klamer said he hopes the funds will make possible a Calvin education in the sciences for students who otherwise could not attend Calvin or who could not complete their programs because of financial obstacles.

“We hope this gift allows committed Christian students who want to pursue disciplines of nursing, biology and chemistry to do so,” he said.

Ken Erffmeyer, vice president for advancement, expressed his gratitude to the Klamer family for their gift.

“We are thankful for the lives of Dr. Bernard ‘Bernie’ Klamer and Lorraine Goris Klamer,” he said. “We appreciate the passion that their children, Craig Klamer and Lynn Morrow, have for Calvin College, demonstrated through this philanthropic partnership and the investment in our students in the critical areas of nursing, biology and chemistry. This gift will make a real difference in students’ lives by equipping them through scholarship and research opportunities.”

Arlene Hoogewerf, chair of the biology department, added her thanks.

“Not only will this enable us to choose a deserving biology student to receive a scholarship each year, but we will also be able to support summer research for students,” she said. “Summer research positions, where a student works closely with a faculty mentor, are considered to be really high-impact teaching. We always have more talented and deserving biology students who desire these summer experiences than we can support, so we are extremely grateful for this tremendous gift.”

Cheryl Feenstra, nursing professor, said the gift will help students live out Calvin’s mission.

“Our students, faculty and those we serve will all be the beneficiaries of this remembrance,” she said. “As students study and care for patients; as faculty teach, advise and do research; and as our clients benefit from our care, we are able to reflect on the generosity of the Klamer family to help us achieve the goal of thinking deeply, acting justly and living wholeheartedly.”

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<![CDATA[Calvin remembers Carl Sinke]]> Fri, 22 Jan 2016 16:30:00 -0500 From railroads to singing to politics to statistics, interests were plentiful for Carl Sinke. The Calvin mathematics professor emeritus died on Jan. 20, 2016.

Sinke graduated from Calvin in 1949. He went on to earn both a masters (1951) and PhD from Purdue University. Following his graduation in 1954, he served in the U.S. army for two years before coming to Calvin as the first mathematician with a doctoral degree at Calvin.

“Carl chaired the mathematics department most years from 1964 to 1985,” said Calvin mathematics professor and dean Michael Stob. “This was a period of enormous change both in the personnel and curriculum, and Carl was a calm and steady presence in the department.”

During his 35-year tenure, Sinke developed and taught the first Calvin course in statistics. He also had a special interest in serving teachers of mathematics. During the “new math” era of the early 1960s, he directed several National Science Foundation-funded institutes for teachers at Calvin.

“Carl would teach anything,” said Stob. “He often taught upper-level courses as an uncompensated overload.”

Through a stern and gruff exterior, Sinke endeared himself to students because of his authentic concern for every student’s welfare.

“You didn’t want to come to class unprepared,” said Stob. “But it wasn’t long before most students realized that his door was always open and that he genuinely wanted every student to succeed.”

Sinke’s love of trains was widely known. “His interim on the railroads in American history was legendary and always filled early in registration,” said Stob. “His backyard train was ridden by many faculty children and in the days of the Knollcrest Festival, Carl would bring the train to campus to give rides along the sidewalk from the Commons to the Science Building.”

Sinke also occasionally engineered on the full-scale Coopersville–Marne railroad. “I once got a chance to ride with him in the engine,” said Thomas Jager, a former colleague. “It was quite a different experience from riding in a passenger car.”

Additionally, Sinke was a member of the celebrated faculty quartet: Three Johns and a Sink(e). John Worst, John Primus, John VanZytveld and Sinke sang at many college functions and sometimes opened for Glenn Bulthuis.

Furthermore, he used his leadership skills as a member of the Kentwood zoning board and later was elected to the Kentwood City Commission, where he served two terms.

Sinke will be remembered for his dedication to Christian education, his church, the community and to Calvin.

“As a colleague and department chair, Carl was always supportive and helpful,” said Jager. “I remember him as a teacher, colleague and friend.”

Carl is survived by his wife, Cora Mae; his children: Charles Sinke, Tom and Carol Sinke, Betsy Sinke, Laura and Roger Szotko; and seven grandchildren.

A funeral service will be held on Monday, Jan. 25, 2016, at East Paris Christian Reformed Church, 3065 E. Paris Ave. SE, Kentwood, 11:00 a.m. The family will receive relatives and friends Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016, at Zaagman Memorial Chapel, 2800 Burton St. SE from 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m.

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<![CDATA[Fighting for Flint]]> Fri, 22 Jan 2016 13:00:00 -0500 When Calvin College senior Martin Cervantes learned about the Flint water crisis, it hit him hard. Maybe because their reality was once his reality.

“I lived in Mexico for 13 years before I moved here [Leland, Michigan]. We were never able to drink out of the faucet in Mexico, always had to buy water,” said Cervantes.

Cervantes said he was wary about drinking out of the faucet when he first moved to the United States in 2007, but he slowly became accustomed to it.

“That [experience] has always been present on my mind when I hear people locally, less than two hours away, having this issue,” said Cervantes. “They have always been able to drink, bathe, cover all necessities with the same water, and they can no longer do that. While I can’t completely comprehend what they’re going through, I can somewhat relate, and I don’t think it is fair in any way.”

Acting on conviction

Cervantes was moved from a recognition of injustice to a resolve to take action. And so he started an event on Facebook called the Flint Water Drive & Distribution. He’s inviting the Calvin community and the West Michigan community to join the effort in two ways—to donate bottled water and water filters and/or carpool to Flint on Saturday, January 23, to deliver the water to the American Red Cross and then work with them to go door-to-door delivering water to families in need. (Bottled water and filters can be brought to Calvin College’s Mail and Print Services Building—located at the Lake Drive entrance to campus—from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, January 22 or before 10 a.m. on Saturday, January 23. The group will leave campus for Flint at 11 a.m. on Saturday and return at 6:30 p.m.)

Cervantes says donating money towards this effort may be seen as more efficient, but in talking with the American Red Cross, they said a real need is manpower to get the water to residents. Plus, Cervantes stresses the importance of building relationships with the people of Flint as he’s working with student senate on a proposal that would empower this student-led initiative to be much more than a one-time event.

Living out the mission

“For students, there is importance of being boots on the ground. You are creating a relationship, which is an important concept in creating change,” said Ethan DeVries, student senate president. “You can’t help solve anything from standing afar, you won’t understand, won’t grow relationships that are beneficial down the road. It’s kind of like if you have a cold and nobody shows up, they just send a card.”

Administrators agree. And they are delighted to see yet another student’s passion intersecting with a need in the world.

“It’s a blessing to see our students embodying the college mission. Calvin is a place that fosters curiosity in students as well as a sense of agency,” said Sarah Visser, vice president for student life. “When our students see evidence of injustice and brokenness in the world, they respond with compassion and action.  This blending of head, heart and hands is the core of what it means to live wholeheartedly as Christ’s agents of renewal in the world.”

Cervantes, who is a member of the college’s Food Recovery Network—a student organization that fights waste and feeds people in the local community—says his actions reflect the heart of the Calvin community.

“We always talk about being stewards of creation, doing what we can and I think if there’s one thing I’ve seen here at Calvin and just learned is the amount of passion and drive that people have and care for others,” said Cervantes. “While we recognize our limitations, we see a city like Flint, an hour or so away from us, lacking this basic need of water and we know this is something that we can and should do something about as we have the resources. I wake up every morning, take a shower, get a glass of water—that’s something they can’t do every morning.”

For more information on how you can get involved, visit the event page on Facebook.

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<![CDATA[Expert analyzes GOP nominee scenarios]]> Thu, 21 Jan 2016 16:30:00 -0500 Focusing on today's headlines through a Reformed lens is the way Calvin thought leaders fearlessly engage with and boldly impact culture. With the Iowa Caucus just over a week away, political science professor Doug Koopman offers his thoughts on who will emerge as the GOP's nominee and what ultimately will make the difference.

What single issue will hold the most weight for Republican voters as they decide between the GOP front runners?

The main issue will be who is the most unlike President Obama and most likely to reverse his legacy, particularly in foreign and defense policy and in healthcare by repealing and replacing Obamacare. Whereas in point of fact the world is relatively peaceful, and the domestic economy about as good as one can reasonably expect, it won’t sound that way while the Republican primaries are in progress.

Will Donald Trump win the nomination? If not him, who do you predict will represent the GOP in the 2016 race?

As of this writing (in mid-January), I would say Donald Trump is the most likely Republican nominee. He’s masterfully test-marketed themes and ideas, dropping those that don’t resonate and patching together those that do in an impressionistic and emotional appeal to rank-and-file conservative voters of both parties. There is a path to him losing, but that will require two things happening fairly quickly. First, it will require Ted Cruz to stay in, splitting to some extent the same demographic as Trump. Second and more important, three of the four more traditional candidates—Rubio, Bush, Kasich, Christie—will have to drop out and consolidate behind a remaining one, most likely at this point to be Marco Rubio. Both these events are possible, which leads me to suggest Marco Rubio as the next likely nominee behind Trump.

Who stands the best chance against Hilary Clinton and/or Bernie Sanders?

I agree with the conventional wisdom that Marco Rubio would be the best one-on-one candidate against Hillary Clinton in a general election. He can make a very attractive “new generation” argument against her, and his working-class roots help as well. I also think he would be the strongest against Bernie Sanders, for roughly the same reasons, although I’m of the opinion Sanders would be harder to beat than Clinton.

If Donald Trump does win the nomination, who do you think he’d ask to be his running mate?

Ted Cruz is by far the most likely running mate for Donald Trump. They have for the most part been cordial to each other, and they claim many of the same positions. I would not be surprised if this were announced by Trump before the primary season ends if he remains the leading candidate by accumulating the most delegates. Longer-shot candidates would include U.S. Rep. Steve King of Iowa, or Mo Brooks of Alabama.

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<![CDATA[Award-winning book influences religious freedom conversation]]> Wed, 6 Jan 2016 16:00:00 -0500 Stephen Monsma, senior research fellow at Calvin College’s Paul B. Henry Institute for the Study of Christianity and Politics, is deeply concerned over threats to the religious freedom of faith-based organizations.

“One’s faith—when consistently followed—shapes all of one’s life, whether in education, social services, overseas development or business. But a mindset that does not recognize this leaves faith-based organizations of all types vulnerable to pressures to secularize what they do,” said Monsma.

Faithful and influential

So Monsma, seeing this threat, stepped in to show faith-based organizations how they can defend their ability to follow their religiously based beliefs without having to jettison the faith that led them to provide services to those in need.

His recently released book, Free to Serve, was recognized by the editors of Christianity Today as one of the books most likely to shape evangelical life, thought and culture in their annual book awards.

“Plenty of people speak the truth about God and his world, but their manner is abrasive. Others use warm, artful language in the service of half-truths and falsehoods,” wrote Matt Reynolds, an associate editor at Christianity Today in his introduction to the annual book awards. “We recognize Christian writers for painstaking research and trenchant analysis, for dazzling prose and arresting imagery. What a testimony to the power of beauty and orthodoxy uniting in a delicious feast.”

Monsma co-authored Free to Serve with Stanley W. Carlson-Thies, the founder and senior director of the Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance, a division of the Center for Public Justice. In their book, the two present a pluralist vision for religious freedom for faith-based organizations of all religious traditions.

A timely and key resource

Thought leaders who have read the book see it as a key resource for those involved in faith-based organizations and public policy development, and those interested in knowing how religious organizations can maintain and winsomely communicate their authentic religious identities.

“The next decade may very well see more ferocious—and hugely important—battles over religious freedom than at any time in recent years. [It is] a must-read for anyone interested in preserving our country’s historic stance on religious freedom,” said Ronald J. Sider, distinguished professor at Palmer Theological Seminary.

“This book explains how religious institutions caring for our communities risk losing their character as faith-based organizations. We have to protect the rights of everyone in our society if we are to protect the rights of anyone,” said Richard Stearns, president of World Vision U.S.

Defending freedom for all

The book also develops case studies that document the challenges faith-based organizations face to freely follow the practices of their religious traditions, analyzes these threats as originating in a common, yet erroneous, set of assumptions, and develops an alternative position labeled principled pluralism, which according to Monsma “protects the religious freedom of faith-based organizations of all types and all religious traditions without compromising the freedom of secular persons and organizations.”

The book also includes responses by diverse voices—an Orthodox Jew, a Roman Catholic, two evangelicals, two Islamic leaders, and an unbeliever who is a religious-freedom advocate—which reviewers of the book say underscore the importance of religious freedom for faith-based organizations.

“Monsma and Carlson-Thies present a timely and compelling case for how the United States can navigate the current changes to social norms by proposing that society value and give equal credence to the ideas of all religions and the nonreligious alike,” said Shirley Hoogstra, president of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities.

Free to Serve received an Award of Merit in Christianity Today’s Politics and Public Life category of their annual book awards. Free to Serve was one of only two books awarded in this category in 2016.

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<![CDATA[Calvin celebrates five decades of interim programs]]> Wed, 23 Dec 2015 14:45:00 -0500 When the idea for interim studies at Calvin first was dreamed up in the 1960s, no one could have predicted the rich array of programs the college now has in the gap between its fall and spring semesters.

A committee was formed in 1966 to discuss and approve interim programs. At its first meeting, the group agreed that the objective of interim was to create a time during which students and faculty could “study materials, topics, problems and relationships which usually remain unexplored in the semester courses … and to study them in ways in which the formal structure of the semester usually precludes.” 

Translation: Interim is a time of diving deep into the studies that excite and motivate learners.

Spirit of intellectual curiosity

Don De Graaf, who is on Calvin’s interim term committee and is director of off-campus programs, said interim was developed with a spirit of curiosity in mind.

“I think that the spirit of the interim is that it is a way to encourage students to think interdisciplinary,” he said, “to think a little bit creatively, to take something maybe not in their major, to foster intellectual curiosity, in a little bit more of a relaxed setting,” he said.

Living out Calvin’s mission

De Graaf said interim studies are a perfect illustration of Calvin’s mission to equip students to think deeply, act justly and live wholeheartedly as Christ’s agents of renewal in the world.

“It’s a commitment to experiential education, providing different ways to learn and creating opportunities to engage every square inch,” he said. “We talk about reforming and going out into the world and engaging all parts of our world, and I think interim gives us that opportunity. It allows us to not just use our heads or our minds to learn, but it also brings in a lot of our other senses in terms of just experiencing, seeing and hearing stories from other people.”

Wide range of study

From the very beginning, interim courses offered a wide range of topics to study. Some of the first courses approved included art, Dutch, economics, English, French, biology, history, educational philosophy, German literature, classics, mathematics, engineering, Spanish and speech. 

In early 1967, discussions began about creating a French interim abroad. It was launched as the first off-campus interim in 1968, and was followed by Dutch and German interims in 1971.

Throughout the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, Calvin added off-campus interims ranging from trips to study biology in Florida, to interims studying history and philosophy with Francis Schaeffer in Switzerland, to trips to England, New York City, Hawaii, Greece, the Appalachians, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Connecticut, Spain and Costa Rica. 

‘Dwell well wherever you are’

De Graaf says alongside the excitement and adventure students will experience as they study and travel, he hopes interim will offer something even more lasting: 

“At Calvin, we talk a lot about creation, fall, redemption,” he said. “But I think for our interims, I like to think of it as wonder, heartbreak and hope. And that wonder is to see the wonder of the world, and to see the brokenness of it, too—to see some of the challenges that we face firsthand—but also to see hope in terms of where you can contribute to addressing some of those issues.”

“I also hope that it gives us a sense of learning to take risks and to explore and to have an adventure, but also to understand the importance of learning to dwell well wherever you are.”

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<![CDATA[Calvin alumnus reflects on 95 years of God’s faithfulness]]> Tue, 22 Dec 2015 09:30:00 -0500 When Alvin Bielema ’42 reflects on his 95 years on this Earth, a theme emerges: gratitude.

He is grateful for his Calvin education, his four years playing basketball, his service in the Navy during World War II, his wife, his family and, most of all, for God’s care and provision.

Bielema recently gathered with family and close friends to celebrate 68 years of marriage to his wife, Jean Bielema. Some of the group convened again recently for a conversation about the highlights of his life.

Starting at Calvin

Bielema came to Calvin in 1938 as the youngest son of a family from rural Fulton, Illinois. He said the size of Calvin, small as its Franklin campus was then, dazzled his senses, coming from a school where eight grades were taught in two rooms.

“Everything was new,” he said, smiling.

He said his basketball coach, the legendary Albert Muyskens, saw that he looked a little lost, so he took him under his wing. 

“This is as true as I’m sitting here,” Bielema said. “He saw the captain of the basketball team and said to him, ‘I’d like to have you be the roommate of Al Bielema, at least the first semester, so he gets a good start while at Calvin.’” 

Bielema quickly acclimated to the demands of being a four-year starter on the college’s varsity team. He was the team’s leading scorer his freshman year—and was known for his hook shot. He often would shout after scoring, “Yoofy-Do!” to which the Calvin fans responded with a rousing, “Yoofy-Do, give us two!” The nickname “Yoofy-Do” stuck, even to this day.

One event during his Calvin years stands out to Bielema: His father came all the way from Illinois to see one of his basketball games. His dad, who was a passionate sports fan, was immensely proud of Bielema. He often referred to him as “My boy Alvin.” Much to his chagrin, the Calvin fans took to chanting that phrase.

The war years

After Calvin, where Bielema majored in business, he went on to earn his MBA at the University of Michigan. Then, he joined the Navy and was stationed in New Zealand during the final years of World War II. Bielema recalls his favorite duty was being appointed the ship’s “marriage officer.” This position entailed interviewing the parents of the sailors’ prospective brides to ensure they gave consent. 

“I have one specific marriage in mind that I approved,” Bielema said. “I spent a long period of time talking with the mother and the daughter. The mother started to cry. She said to me, ‘My husband and I, if he were here, would want to make this decision together. Unfortunately, my husband has passed away. But I am happy to give my permission that she become married.’ I took that very seriously.”

Putting down roots

When the war was over, Bielema launched a lifelong career as an insurance salesman at Metropolitan Life.

He and his wife, Jean, met through mutual friends around 1945 while Jean was studying at Butterworth Hospital’s School of Nursing. Jean recalls sneaking out the window of the nurse’s lodge to go see him. They married in 1947.

During the early years of their marriage, Bielema played semi-pro basketball for Pasteurs, along with a few fellow Calvin grads. They split their earnings, and Bielema used his portion to buy the couple’s first bedroom set.

Family and faithfulness

The couple has three children: Cindy Terlouw, Sally Koll and Mary Winters. All three attended Calvin College, which their parents paid for.

“Instead of having some of the other luxuries, they chose the value of a Christian education,” Terlouw said. “I really honor that those are the choices they made.”

Added Koll: “It was pretty special to be able to say, I get to go to the same school as my folks, where I could get a solid faith-based education. I received that at Calvin.”

Winters agreed: “I am thankful that my parents instilled in me the desire to attend Calvin and also provided for my education. The Bielema tradition at Calvin has continued through their grandchildren.”

Bielema, who is a lifelong Calvin donor, offers this advice to the Calvin community: “The most important thing is your faith and your love for God.”

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<![CDATA[An expert's take on the role of sports in the Christian life]]> Fri, 11 Dec 2015 09:00:00 -0500

Focusing on today's headlines through a Reformed lens is the way Calvin thought leaders fearlessly engage with and boldly impact culture. Kinesiology professor Brian Bolt, one of the thought leaders behind the "Declaration on Sport and the Christian Life" examines the role sports should play in the Christian life.

What role should sports play in the life of a Christian?

Sport is a wonderful option for those who enjoy participating as a player or fan. Derived from the God-given impulse to play, people play sports primarily for the love of the game, the thrill of competition and the joy of participating with others. Not everyone enjoys sports, and that’s okay. For those that do, the passion of sport can lead to a meaningful and enriching experience when one participates with gratitude to God and genuine humility.

What are the main benefits for someone engaging in sports competition?

The primary purpose of sport is not hard to see among the competitors; people love to play. We desire to be excellent, to belong, and yes, to win, or at least we invest enough to have a chance. Of course, there are other potential benefits to sport, but they are conditional. Sport can develop certain character traits, produce benefits like scholarships or endorsements, foster social relationships or even enhance or develop faith. But when other secondary benefits are emphasized beyond the joy of play, sport is reduced to a tool, and often an inefficient one.

With kids getting involved in sports at such a young age, how does one create the right boundaries so that sports don't become all-consuming?

Most kids participating in sport will not ultimately compete at the highest levels, and those that do lead fairly balanced sport lives as young children. Youth sports have a way of being all consuming. Whole families are often intoxicated by sport success or opportunity afforded through sport. When youth sport decisions compromise deeply held family values, require lengthy rationalizations, or are derived from a fear of falling behind, these are warning signs that sport has moved from appropriate affection to idol.

What affect, if any, should the increased risk for head/neck injury in sports have on a Christian athlete’s decision to play or keep playing a particular sport?

Our whole selves, including body, mind, and soul, are important to God and part of His creation. Head and neck injury is possible in nearly every sport with contact, but the risk increases with certain sports like American football. Christians are not charged with eliminating all risk of injury, and voluntarily entering a sport that contains risk does not necessarily make one morally culpable and require withdrawal. However, where risk is involved, Christians are called to contemplate the consequences of participation, whether physical, emotional or psychological. There is a threshold where non-participation in a sport is the wise choice, and Christians need to reflect on this individually and in community.

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<![CDATA[Economics professor writes book on gender discrimination in the Arab world]]> Thu, 10 Dec 2015 14:15:00 -0500 Imagine for a moment that you live in a place where you cannot ride a bike, you cannot drive, you cannot vote, you cannot leave home without the permission of a guardian, and you cannot act on the most basic self-preservation instincts, because to do so would endanger your family. 

This life is a reality for millions of women living in the Arab world. And it needs to stop.

So says Adel Abadeer, Calvin professor of economics and author of the new book, “Norms and Gender Discrimination in the Arab World” (Palgrave Macmillan, October 2015).

The book dives deeply into the cultural forces that shape systemic oppression of women, taking an unflinching look at topics such as violence against women and the economic, political and legal rights of women in Arab countries.

Roots in compassion

Abadeer says he was motivated to write the book by his deep Christian faith. 

“I wanted to give a voice—especially a Christian voice, a saved person’s voice—to the voiceless,” he said. “There’s a verse in the Bible that says to defend the widow and the orphan. The widow and the orphan are symbolic; they’re a symbol for the poor and marginalized population groups in the world.”

So with the help of his research assistant, Lauren De Haan ’15, Abadeer tackled a wide-ranging study of the norms, religious teachings, women’s roles and women’s perspectives from within collectivist societies such as the Arab world.

What is a collectivist society?

“I use the term ‘collectivist society’ to mean where decisions are made collectively,” Abadeer said, “compared to individualist societies, where you make decisions individually."

Abadeer, who is from Egypt, said he chose to focus the book on the Arab world “because the Arab world is a great example of collectivist society. We act as a collective group, religiously, tribally and nationally.” 

The prime tenet of collectivism is that the individual must sacrifice her own interest for the good of the whole.

“And in the Arab world,” Abadeer said, “most of the sacrifices are imposed on women.”

In a detailed and eye-opening section of the book, Abadeer describes the practice of female genital mutilation and cutting (FGM/C), which is justified in the Arab world as a way to keep women pure, chaste and faithful to their husbands. The practice is performed on prepubescent girls at the behest of religious leaders, and the price to families who do not comply is severe punishment, even death.

Abadeer explains that FGM/C is in keeping with all of the other restrictions placed on women in the Arab world: Women are the objects, and men are the subjects.

“Her ‘freedom’ or her responsibility is to protect her body and to protect her reputation,” he said. “Men will punish, penalize, guard and constrain many of women’s behaviors to ‘protect.’ And in case of violation of the norm, men will punish the dissenting female.”

This punishment ranges from beatings to honor crimes, where the collective kills a woman, often by poisoning, sometimes by stoning.

Economic freedom

In chapter four, Abadeer’s book takes a look at the capability approach, pioneered by economist Amartya Sen and philosopher Martha Nussbaum. It basically states that economic well-being goes beyond an individual’s income.

“A woman in Sri Lanka can be very poor relative to a woman in Saudi Arabia,” Abadeer said, “but the woman in Sri Lanka is free to ride a bike in the street and can vote and can sue and can be a judge.”

Being rich in the traditional economic sense is not enough, Abadeer says, unless it comes with freedom to use the wealth as one sees fit.

What can be done?

Abadeer says the way to overcome discrimination in a collectivist society is for more people to speak out against the will of the many.

“We need to hear more voices—some people who are brave enough pay a heavy cost for standing up.”

And for those of us in the West?

“Spend time to understand and read,” he said. “Encourage nongovernment organizations and civil society groups that are truly seeking to liberate women from this gender discrimination.”

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<![CDATA['God's Art Studio,' Captured in a Book]]> Tue, 1 Dec 2015 00:00:00 -0500 The goal for Todd and Brad Reed ’00 in their new book, Todd and Brad Reed’s Michigan: Wednesdays in the Mitten, is to “just let Michigan tell its own story.”

“Michigan abounds with beauty,” said Todd Reed. “It’s in basically everybody’s backyard.”

So it was in the “backyards” of Michigan that Brad and father Todd Reed trekked—some 30,000 miles in all—on all 53 Wednesdays in 2014.

The result is a stunning look at the Great Lakes State: 250 images presented on a large scale. From the northernmost locale in Michigan—Isle Royale National Park—to Rochester, on the southeastern side of the state, and so many points in between, the photos represent the expected and no-so-expected places in the state.

“Both of us are good listeners,” said Todd Reed. “We ask the experts, the locals who know a place best. People in Michigan are extremely proud of their state.”

“We found a lot of places from maps drawn on the back of a napkin at a local coffee shop,” added Brad.

Brad figures half of his photos were taken from wandering and half from destinations he had planned. “Even in the obvious places, the photos aren’t as much about what I set out to shoot, but what Michigan presented,” he said. “A lot of what I previsualized didn’t make the cut because I found something more phenomenal.”

Such was the case for the Grand Island ice caves images that the Reeds shot in late March. “That was a game changer,” said Brad. “There were colors inside those caves that I didn’t know existed on Earth. As photographers we usually hate clear, blue skies, but on that day it’s exactly what we needed for the light to shine through like it did.”

“We felt like we stepping into God’s art studio as we entered a glowing world of intricately sculpted green and white ice,” they wrote in the book’s introduction.

They were equally inspired by their first trip to Isle Royale National Park. “Now that we’ve done it, we want to be Isle Royale’s biggest cheerleader,” said Todd.

“It’s one of the least visited, but most revisited national parks,” added Brad.

The book, selected from more than 30,000 images (that’s an average of almost 600 photos per day), also highlights each photographer’s specialty.

“My cup of tea is the detail. People say it’s because I’m short, and I’m closer to the detail,” Brad said with a smile. I think it’s just the part of creation that really fascinates me.

“My dad is more like the landscape artist,” he said. “I think it all works together.”

Another new angle to this book are some underwater shots, creating breathtaking looks of waves and what’s beneath in Lake Superior and Lake Michigan.

“We really like to show people fresh views,” said Brad. “People ask, ‘Don’t you get bored shooting the same things over and over?’ But really every shot is something different and new.”

The book also includes stunning close-ups of a hummingbird, a snowy owl, an osprey, an elk, an eagle and other Michigan wildlife.

The Reeds made no compromises in this project, according to Brad. “We made the book we always dreamed of making,” he said. The 224-page, 18½-inch book opens to more than 36 inches for some of the horizontal views. “You can really feel Michigan in this book. There’s at least one photo of the 250 that I’m pretty sure will move you, and it might be an unexpected surprise.”

Lynn Rosendale is managing editor of Spark.

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<![CDATA[Calvin speech pathology and audiology students win national competition]]> Mon, 30 Nov 2015 09:15:00 -0500 When it comes to knowledge of speech-language pathology and audiology, Calvin College students are at the top of their game.

Calvin’s chapter of the National Student Speech-Language Hearing Association (NSSLHA) won a Knowledge Bowl competition at the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) convention in Denver, Colo., Nov. 12-14.

The victory came with $1,000 in prize money to be used by the chapter as it sees fit.

About the Knowledge Bowl

The Knowledge Bowl is a "Jeopardy"-style game that uses multiple-choice sample questions from the Praxis national board exam to test the students’ clinical and academic knowledge.

To qualify for a regional spot in the Knowledge Bowl, which is comprised of 10 five-member teams from across the nation, Calvin students had to write an essay explaining why they wanted to participate and what they would do with the prize money if they won.

Senior Chelsea Bischer, Calvin’s NSSLHA president, wrote the essay that helped Calvin qualify for a regional spot. Her essay said her team would use the money to serve the community and to help pay for Girls’ Club, a local outreach to young adults who are developmentally delayed.

Bischer was unable to compete in the Knowledge Bowl because she was presenting a research poster during the competition. Her fellow senior Lauren Schrotenboer participated, along with students Sarah Weiss, Kendra Burmeister, Janelle Agren and Makenzie Kuipers.

Stiff competition

Schrotenboer said the competition was intense.

The five categories were Clear My Throat, Back to Basics, Can You Hear Me Now, Mixed Bag and Neurological Disorders. Schrotenboer said the points ranged from 100 to 500 per clue, with occasional Daily Doubles. The students took turns selecting clues, and the teams worked collaboratively on their answers.

Burmeister, who is a second-year student in Calvin’s speech-language pathology master’s program, said the clues were a mixture of case study-based and direct knowledge-based questions.

“One question involved a case study of a client with dementia who also had a swallowing disorder,” she said. “We then had to decide what treatment would be appropriate given the client's cognitive skills and risk of aspiration, or having the food/liquid go into his lungs.”

Schrotenboer said the "Final Jeopardy" round was tense, because they were down 600 points from the leader, the University of Iowa.

“At the end, after we answered the final question, there were about 10 minutes where they were adding up the scores, and all of us knew we had a shot at it,” she said.

She said Calvin’s cheering section chanted, “Do it all, do it all!”—urging Calvin’s team to wager all its points.

“So we bid it all,” she said. “Then we were just waiting and holding hands in anticipation. After they announced [we won], I lost my voice because I screamed so loud. It was just really fun. The adrenaline was pumping the last 10 minutes because we were all so anxious.”

Burmeister said she couldn’t be prouder of her team.

“It's pretty impressive that we won, given that we were up against students from much larger universities who had prepared specifically for this competition,” she said. Calvin’s team did not practice solely for the Knowledge Bowl but was prepared because of everything the students had been learning in class and clinical work.

‘Cutting-edge’ opportunity

Denise Makuch, Calvin’s NSSLHA faculty advisor, said it was a privilege for 10 Calvin students to be able to attend the ASHA conference, let alone to win the Knowledge Bowl. 

“The ASHA conference is the biggest conference in the field,” she said. “It’s attended by 14,000 speech-language pathologists and audiologists, as well as students. It has cutting-edge information presented by the leaders in our field."

Makuch said the Knowledge Bowl competition was exciting because it was a great way to spread the word about Calvin.

“I brought Calvin mittens for everyone to wear and cheer with, to put Calvin’s name out there,” she said.

Makuch said she is proud of the students’ hard work.

“To compete against that many teams in the nation and win shows that they’re prepared for their future careers and they could apply the knowledge that they’ve learned in the academic setting,” she said.

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<![CDATA[Calvin Remembers June DeBoer]]> Tue, 24 Nov 2015 16:30:00 -0500 As a long-time member of Calvin’s Student Academic Services department, June DeBoer clearly had a heart for students.

“June found her calling and her deep joy in helping students overcome barriers or adversity and find the pathway to academic success,” said colleague and friend Jane Hendriksma.

DeBoer died Tuesday, Nov. 24, after a year-long battle with cancer.

DeBoer graduated from Calvin in 1982 and later earned a master’s degree from Michigan State University.

A passionate advocate

DeBoer began her career as a sixth-grade teacher at Kelloggsville Christian School in Grand Rapids, where she spent 18 years. She joined Calvin in 2001 as a coordinator for students with disabilities. In 2010 she was promoted to associate director of academic services, and in that position also served as the director of Access, a program that helps students develop new approaches, methods and strategies for learning by means of placement testing, academic advising, specialized courses and consultation with students' professors.

 "June was a passionate advocate for the students with whom she worked. As a teacher and academic counselor, she worked tirelessly to help students discover and realize their potential, celebrating each success along the way with joy and encouragement,” said Tom Steenwyk, director of academic services.

 DeBoer served on numerous committees at Calvin, including the Commencement Committee, Committee on Admissions, and the Calvin Assessment and Response Evaluation (CARE) team, tirelessly working to benefit students and the Calvin community.

 A positive influence

 “June always saw the positive in people, and made sure to tell people the strengths she recognized in them,” said another friend and colleague Thea Brophy. “I remember my first semester teaching at Calvin, June had to observe my class. I was not totally confident about how the semester was going and was nervous to have someone in the classroom. We met after class and she was so affirming and kind. She pointed out ways that I was connecting with students that I wasn’t able to see.”

 She had the same effect on students.

 “Students would come to her office, often nervous, anxious or unhappy with their academics. She talked with them and connected with them on a personal level. She never focused on things students couldn’t do; she focused on what positive things could be taken from the situation. She helped students believe in themselves, and she did that by showing that she believed in them,” said Brophy.

 Her colleagues will miss her passion and energy.

 “She was a passionate advocate for students, faculty and staff members with disabilities. She was a fierce warrior for campus accessibility, both physically and academically,” said Brophy. “She fought to open doors—both literally and figuratively—for people on campus.”

Added Hendriksma: “June had boundless energy for people. She radiated with love for her family, friends and church family. June was one in a million and will be deeply missed.”

 DeBoer is survived by her husband, Nick, and children Jonathan and Jenna.

 Friends and family may greet the DeBoers on Friday, Nov. 27, from 2–4 p.m. and 7–9 pm at Zaagman Memorial Chapel, 2800 Burton St. A service will be held at First Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids on Saturday, Nov. 28 at 2 p.m.

The June Antuma DeBoer Scholarship has been set up to honor her legacy. To contribute to the scholarship visit www.calvin.edu/support. (Go to “Make a Gift,” and then in the Designations section, choose the Named Scholarship option and write in “June Antuma DeBoer Scholarship.”) Or you may send a check to the Calvin Development Office: 3201 Burton St. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546. (Be sure to write June Antuma DeBoer Scholarship  in the memo section of your check.)

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<![CDATA[An expert's take on Black Friday sales trends]]> Tue, 24 Nov 2015 15:00:00 -0500 Focusing on today's headlines through a Reformed lens is the way Calvin thought leaders fearlessly engage with and boldly impact culture. Business professor Tom Betts takes a closer look at Black Friday sales trends and considers the reasoning for and impact of stores opening their doors on Thanksgiving Day.

What is the economic impact for a store deciding to buck the trend of opening their doors on Thanksgiving Day?

For any specialty store that has a loyal following, it’s not that big of a risk. If I can’t buy my hockey stick, for example, on Thursday, I’m going to go on another day to get it from the store I’m loyal to. But, for general merchandisers, they’ve made their own bed. If the competition is open, they have to be open. It’s so difficult for Walmart or Target to stay closed if the competition is open. They will lose incremental sales.

With online shopping on the rise, will there continue to be demand for Thanksgiving Day shopping, even Black Friday shopping in the future?

I think so. But stores will have to make it fun or an adventure for people to come. You could almost view Black Friday shopping like gambling or fantasy football, where consumers compete against other people. It doesn’t cost them much, but makes the games more interesting to watch. It’s the same with adventure shopping…will I get there in time...will I get the deal? There’s a whole group of people that find the adventure really thrilling and stores still need to cater to that segment of the population. For other consumers, it is a group activity that they share with their friends and family. So stores need to make it an enjoyable experience and one where people most of the time get what they are looking for, otherwise they won’t come back. Also, if retailers are going to be open, they shouldn’t offer the exact same deals online at the same time—it takes the fun out of the adventure.

Do you think it’s more feasible that we will see more stores closing their doors on Thanksgiving Day OR pushing their in-store deals up earlier and earlier in the day?

I think the economic impact on the stores is the biggest factor. I am seeing a trend of stores offering “Black Friday all month long” or “Early Bird Black Friday Deals.” If Black Friday becomes just another name for great sales at any time and not a special one-day event, it will lose its value in the consumers’ eyes and stores are going to find that it’s not worth the major hassle to open as they are not losing that much to shut down. But, if retailers can continue to create the right environment, then I think it will stay about the same. I don’t see stores being open all day on Thanksgiving. They are already playing up to the edge of consumer tastes by opening in the evening. If stores open all day I think people will get upset—at least in the next few years.

I think online will be a factor as well. There is some thought already that ‘I can shop that day online anyway.’ So maybe stores will just say ‘if you want to shop on Thanksgiving, we have our specials online, go there.’

What is the impact on a company’s public perception AND on employee morale for those stores that remain open on holidays, like Thanksgiving Day?

I think it has a pretty minimal impact on the perceptions of those people shopping. If people want to shop on Thursday, they are happy about it. And for those who look down on it, they can shop another day and get a similar deal. So, from a consumer’s point of view, there’s not a lot of negative here.

On the flip side, I think it’s awful for employee morale. If stores open at 6 p.m., many employees have to be there at noon setting up. So, it ruins their holiday with their families.

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<![CDATA[Entrada Scholars Program expands thanks to $300,000 gift from Meijer]]> Fri, 20 Nov 2015 12:30:00 -0500 During the summer of 2014, Hasani Hayden, then a junior from Kelloggsville High School in Grand Rapids, Mich., was selected to attend the Boys Nation Conference in Washington, D.C. He was one of two state senators representing Michigan in a mock government situation. During his time in D.C., he met President Barack Obama.

But when Hasani looks back at the highlights of the summer of 2014, meeting the commander-in-chief doesn’t top his list.

“My highlight of that summer was still Entrada,” said Hayden. “I am still friends with people from Entrada; it was a life-changing experience.”

A gateway to higher ed

The Entrada Scholars Program, which started at Calvin in 1991, is a month-long academic achievement program designed to provide ethnic minority juniors and seniors in high school with the necessary tools for successful college enrollment and completion.

Since its inception, more than 1,100 students have graduated from Entrada, with 96-percent of those students choosing to pursue higher education. Nygil Likely, director of pre-college programs at Calvin, says Entrada is one way the college shows its commitment to ensuring that students who are academically talented have access to higher education.

“We are working to give all students access to higher education, regardless of income, color or creed. It shows our renewed commitment to diversity and how it contributes to the flourishing of God’s kingdom,” said Likely.

A shared commitment

And that commitment is shared by those who help make the Entrada program happen, including among many generous donors, Meijer Corporate, which, this past month, agreed to double their gift to the program. This commitment of $100,000 per year for the next three years will allow the Entrada program to add an additional 25 students to the program annually.

“I’m thrilled that this show of support has come,” said Likely of the Meijer gift. “It will allow us to do more good in the community, across the country, in terms of serving underrepresented populations in the higher education setting.”

“Our dad always believed that greater educational opportunities are invaluable,” said Hank Meijer, co-chairman of the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based retailer. “We are pleased to help the Entrada Scholars Program at Calvin College enroll even more students who are interested in pursuing their goals in higher education.”

An environment of excellence

When Entrada started in 1991 it welcomed about a dozen students. The program’s growth over the years, combined with the increased gift, will allow about 100 students to attend beginning in 2016.

Hayden, one year removed from the program, is studying economics at Harvard. He credits Calvin’s multiple pre-college programs that he participated in beginning in elementary school in helping prepare him for the rigors of college, especially the Entrada program.

“One benefit of Entrada is the program selects qualified students, creating an environment of excellence. Being around successful students drives you to do your best,” said Hayden. “Your profs don’t hold back, they expect you to do real work. I appreciated that because it prepared me for the work I’m doing in college.”

A faith-integrated approach

Jeremy Smith, a 2010 graduate of the Entrada program, graduated in 2015 from Calvin College. He’s now working as an account manager for Civic Solar, a solar design and distribution outbase, which Smith says is the fastest growing distributor in the industry. He said that while at Calvin, he was taught to think deeply to “try and find the why behind the what that was happening,” and he was provided a faith-integrated worldview, which he said helped him better understand that learning in a broader world wasn’t as separate as he thought it was. “It kind of bridged that gap between Sunday and Monday,” said Smith.

“Entrada helped me better understand why it matters where you go to school and that having a tool kit for how you think is just as important as what you think,” said Smith.

For Marquicia Pierce, who went through Entrada in 2001, her pre-college experience solidified in her mind that she wanted to pursue higher education. Now, eight years later, with a degree from Purdue University and a PhD in molecular physiology and biophysics from Vanderbilt University, Pierce is on the teaching staff in Calvin’s biology department.

“Entrada set up a framework for integrating my faith with the biology field and my interest of trying to navigate those types of difficult areas. And it also reinforced my enthusiasm for science,” said Pierce.

An opportunity to build relationships

Now teaching at the collegiate level herself, she also reflected on the value of connecting with professors even before coming to college.

“Through Entrada you see how the classroom is setup and the different study habits you should employ,” said Pierce. “You gain a better understanding of what it takes to effectively communicate with your professors. Being able to see the professors and talk to the professors can ease your transition to college.”

Likely says that the feedback his office receives from the Entrada program consistently hits on the academic and spiritual growth of students and the lasting friendships that are made in just one month’s time. And the fact that in 2015 almost two-thirds of the Entrada staff was alumni of the program shows their commitment to creating a gateway to college for the next generation of scholars.

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<![CDATA[Vos Endowment established to support Math & Stat education]]> Wed, 18 Nov 2015 12:15:00 -0500 The Department of Mathematics and Statistics is pleased to announce the creation of the Kenneth and Grace Vos Endowment for Excellence in Mathematics and Statistics.  This endowment provides flexibility to pursue a range of activities that will encourage and promote creative and innovative education in mathematics and statistics.

The first public events sponsored by the endowment will be two presentations by Chris Franklin on December 10, 2015.  At 3:30 pm, Dr. Franklin will speak in the Mathematics and Statistics Colloquium on the topic Navigating the Data Stream — An Essential Life Skill.  At 6:30 pm, she will discuss the role of statistics in K-12 education.  The title of that presentation is Statistics and K-12 in the United States: We’ve Come a Long Way!

Both talks are open to the public, and we especially encourage parents, K-12 educators, and others interested in K-12 education to join us for the evening event.  We ask that you RSVP online to help us estimate the number of people who will be attending.

More information about Chris Franklin and her presentations is available at the links above.

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<![CDATA[Calvin College ranked second nationally for students studying abroad]]> Tue, 17 Nov 2015 14:45:00 -0500 Calvin College ranked second nationally for students studying abroad

The Institute of International Education again has Calvin College ranked near the top of its lists for the number of students who study abroad and the number of international students studying on-campus.

The institute’s most recent Open Doors Report, published on November 16, 2015, shows that 602 students from Calvin College studied abroad during the surveyed period—the 2013-14 academic year—placing the college second in the nation among baccalaureate institutions. That number represents 15-percent of the student body in just one year. According to the Open Doors Report, only 10-percent of all U.S. undergraduate students will study abroad by the time they graduate.

“Experiencing other cultures helps us build a connection with places all over the world, with our neighbors near and far,” said Don DeGraaf, director of off-campus programs at Calvin College. “And our commitment to students learning abroad is rooted in our mission. If we want to work for renewal in the world, we need to first experience the wonder, heartbreak and hope in places we are less familiar with.”

While Calvin College courses are taught on six continents and in more than 30 countries in any given year, the college is also among the national leaders in welcoming students from around the world to its campus in Grand Rapids, Mich. In fact, in 2014-15, the college hosted 467 international students from 56 different countries, accounting for nearly 12-percent of the college’s total enrollment—placing the college fifth among baccalaureate institutions.

The top five countries represented by international students based on their citizenship are South Korea, Canada, Ghana, China and Nigeria.

“Our mission here at Calvin is to equip students to think deeply, act justly and live wholeheartedly as Christ’s agents of renewal in the world,” said Russ Bloem, vice president for enrollment management at Calvin College. “And that equipping is best cultivated in a rich learning environment, where perspectives both foreign and familiar are presented and challenged, molded and refined. To have such a rich diversity of students in this community provides all of us with an opportunity to listen well and to broaden and deepen our understanding.”

The annual Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange is published by the Institute of International Education, the leading not-for-profit educational and cultural exchange organization in the United States.

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<![CDATA[CALL program empowers seniors to continue their education]]> Mon, 16 Nov 2015 11:30:00 -0500 One of the things Calvin College emphasizes to students is that developing lifelong learning habits equips us for a rich life of service. 

And who better for students to take a cue from than 1,900 senior citizens, members of the Calvin Academy for Lifelong Learning (CALL).

History of CALL 

CALL was founded in 1996 by a group of Calvin emeriti, alumni and employees who wanted to create a meaningful way for retirees to continue their education.

And so CALL started with a pilot program of nine courses. In the two decades since, CALL has added a Noontime Lecture Series, member events, extended trips and has assumed oversight of the Passport Travel Film series, which is now in its 50th year at Calvin. The next travelogue show will be a high-definition film called “Cuba: A Road Trip from Havana to Santiago de Cuba,” on Monday, Nov. 23.

Sonja De Jong, administrative coordinator for CALL, says the program is flourishing, and it continues to be sustained through word-of-mouth advertising.

"It’s crazy how many people are in this program because they had a conversation in a swimming pool exercise class," De Jong said. "We do not advertise because [CALL members] like to have coffee, and then they just talk."

Future plans 

CALL is largely a volunteer-driven organization, with only two full-time employees, De Jong and Marjo Jordan, the membership assistant. Volunteers who sit on various committees do the bulk of the planning.

De Jong said CALL is looking into partnerships with local arts groups to share information, including Broadway Grand Rapids, the Grand Rapids Symphony and Master Arts Theater. CALL’s hospitality committee also might host a community-wide Antique Day, to which attendees could bring two art pieces each and pay $5 to have them appraised. 

"It’s kind of like the 'Antiques Roadshow,' but on a community level," De Jong said.

Educational crux

CALL provides entertainment and fellowship, but the program was built on its educational offerings, which include courses in English, history, economics, technology and philosophy. Jennifer Holberg, professor of English, has been teaching CALL courses since 2001.

"I think those of us who teach in CALL, one of the reasons we come back again and again is that we know that it’s a privilege to get to work with folks who continue to show us that you’re never done learning, you’re never done growing, you’re never done being stretched," she said.

Holberg has taught a range of four- to six-week courses, from Victorian literature to contemporary poetry to film to the works of Flannery O’Connor. She said one of the things she loves about CALL is forming relationships with returning students.

"I have a lot of students who come every semester to take a class from me," she said. "I consider them friends. There’s one lady who I go and have tea with occasionally."

Spanning generations

"It’s also fun because, of course, I have some of their grandchildren as students," Holberg said.

According to De Jong, that cross-generational connection is part of what makes a mutually beneficial relationship between Calvin and CALL.

"We believe that [CALL members] have the ability to influence their grandchildren on where they’re going to go to college," De Jong said. "We want CALL to become so important to them that it trickles down to their grandchildren." 

New insights

One of the newest instructors is Kevin Corcoran, professor of philosophy.

"I taught a course called 'Persons, Bodies and Life Everlasting,'" he said. "We looked at different views of human nature, and then we thought about the afterlife and how that’s going to work."

Corcoran said one of the remarkable things about teaching the class, which included students in their 90s, was the rich perspective they brought to the subject of mortality.

"The topic was really meaningful to them in maybe a different way than it would be to you and me," he said. "It’s a lot closer to the surface."

Corcoran emphasized the integral part CALL plays in the Calvin community. 

"You know in Hebrews where it talks about the great cloud of witnesses and the communion of the saints? These CALL participants are a part of that intellectual community."

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<![CDATA[Calvin College announces 2016 January Series lineup]]> Wed, 4 Nov 2015 12:00:00 -0500 The 2016 edition of Calvin College’s award-winning January Series features a solid lineup of speakers who are leading some of the nation and world’s most critical and timely discussions. From Wednesday, Jan. 6, through Tuesday, Jan. 26, these nationally acclaimed speakers will continue those conversations on Calvin’s campus for the noontime series.

Among the 2016 lineup of speakers are David Brooks, one of America’s most prominent political commentators and OpEd columnist for the New York Times; Laurie Garrett, a senior fellow for Global Health at the Council of Foreign Relations and the only person to win the three P’s of journalism—the Pulitzer, the Polk and the Peabody; Eric O’Neill, a security expert who has experience working as an FBI counterterrorism and counterintelligence operative; and Bethany Haley Williams, a psychologist who is a leader in the specialized field of rehabilitating children traumatized by war.

The experts will be discussing a wide range of today’s most relevant topics, including global health, interfaith cooperation, foreign affairs, autism and cyber security.

Kristi Potter, director of the January Series, says the free 15-day liberal arts education, which is also offered at 48 remote sites around the nation and world, is a natural extension of the college’s mission.

“At Calvin, we teach students to think deeply, to live wholeheartedly and to live into justice. That’s exactly what we do through the January Series, too,” said Potter.
“As we listen to the wide range of speakers each year we are challenged to wonder and think courageously and sometimes that also means we are stretched in new ways. As people of faith we should be using the brain God has given us to think well and always be learning about the world we live in.”

And, even in its 29th year, the January Series continues to introduce innovative ideas. For the first time, the CFAC Auditorium will be turned into an instrument by William Close, who will set the body of his Earth Harp on the stage, while the strings travel over the audience, attaching to the back of the auditorium. Close, a finalist on NBC’s America’s Got Talent, has turned many iconic venues into instruments in recent years, including Rome’s Coliseum, New York’s Lincoln Center and Shanghai’s Grand Theater.

In addition, renowned thought leaders George Marsden, Richard Mouw, Alvin Plantinga and Nicholas Wolterstorff will take the stage together for the very first time. Each one served as a professor at Calvin College for more than two decades in the 60s, 70s and 80s before moving on to the halls of Notre Dame, Yale and Fuller Seminary.

“To have four of the pillars of the Calvin tradition together on the same stage will be a real treat,” said Potter.

The series continues to broaden its audience, now reaching 48 cities throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. In 2015, more than 40,000 people attended between the on-campus and remote sites.

See the full schedule of speakers and topics.

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<![CDATA[Student-faculty project maps history of Dutch immigration]]> Thu, 29 Oct 2015 15:00:00 -0400 For a self-described data lover like junior Matt Raybaud, his summer job was the perfect fit.

Raybaud, a geography and sociology double major from St. Clair Shores, Mich., landed a position through Calvin’s summer research program. The job was data mapping for emeritus professor Henk Aay’s atlas project, “The Atlas of Dutch American History and Culture.”

“It started with an Interim trip to the Netherlands that Calvin offered last year,” Raybaud said. “That’s where I met the professor who I ended up working with (Henk Aay). We were both in the geography department, so we got along. Near the end of the trip, he told me about the position and the research. So I decided to apply.”

Making the maps

Over the course of 10 weeks Raybaud’s job was to take databases of information from other researchers, U.S. census records, Dutch provincial records and ship manifests and convert them into maps. Five hundred maps.

To begin, Raybaud converted a series of punch cards created by researcher Robert Swierenga, into Comma Separated Value files. Then he made Excel sheets from the CSV files. He then took information from the Excel sheets and plugged it into Calvin’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software, which, as he put it “is just a fancy term for cartography on the computer.”

“Matt is a very good GIS technician, a very good computer mapper,” said Aay, Calvin’s former Frederik Meijer chair in Dutch language and culture. “I needed someone who could do the computer mapping of all these data, and Matt just had the skills that I needed.”

A successful outcome

Aay’s atlas project has been a multi-year endeavor so far, and he’s enlisted the help of several students from Calvin and from Hope College, where he is senior research fellow at the Van Raalte Institute.

But Raybaud gets the credit for converting the Swierenga punch cards into useable data for mapping.

The result is clear. Raybaud showed a selection of maps in his presentation on campus on Oct. 23, “GIS mapping for ‘The Atlas of Dutch American History and Culture.’” His maps show counties of origin, numbers of immigrants and their destinations, demographics, occupation, location of churches and more.

Aay said the maps are an important step forward in the atlas project.

“An atlas by its very nature begins to translate into a visual and more understandable form the scholarship of academics,” he said. “I have only praise for [Matt’s] output and for his ability to put his shoulder to those tasks.”

Paying it forward

Aay also said that beyond its usefulness for the atlas project, the data Raybaud converted will pay dividends for other researchers.

“Most of this data is data from the 1980s [when Robert Swierenga collected it]. It had been gathering dust and no one was really using it,” Aay said. “By updating it into readable form for today’s software, we could make much more use of it, and now we are likely going to post all these databases for everyone to use in the future.

“I think what we’ve done here is not only prepared maps for the atlas and for other publications; it has made these databases retain their usefulness in perpetuity.”

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<![CDATA[Micah Watson begins as Spoelhof Chair]]> Thu, 29 Oct 2015 09:00:00 -0400 Political science professor Micah Watson joined the Calvin faculty this summer as the Spoelhof Teacher-Scholar-in-Residence Chair, a position endowed by Stanley and Harriet van Reken, in honor of former Calvin College president William Spoelhof.

What attracted you to Calvin?

I’d been here before for the Henry Institute Conference on politics and I was impressed not only with Calvin’s facilities, but I have been impressed with Calvin as one of the flagship schools in the CCCU and Christian higher education. Calvin takes not only the life of the mind seriously, but also the practice of being a Christian in a diverse world. Here it’s emphasized that every square inch is under Christ’s lordship; it’s the Kuyper idea that you hear so often. I was also interested in the Reformed perspective. There’s a wide variety of perspectives here, but I was looking forward to working with Calvin students of whom I’d heard many good things.

What are you excited for this year?

I knew I would have good colleagues from conferences that I’d attended, so that’s been exciting. I’m a political theorist and there hasn’t been a dedicated theorist in the department in a few years. With my coming on board we now have our team assembled, like the Avengers. We’re all excited now about no longer rebuilding the department, but building from what we have now.

I was also excited about getting back in the classroom, for meeting students, and learning the Calvin culture. I was told that it might be different and I’m still learning how I should adjust my teaching. I was told that Calvin students might have this midwestern reserve but that’s not been the case. They’ve jumped right into discussion.

What is your area of interest in political science?

Jean Jacques Rousseau was quite critical of Christianity and said at one point that, “It is impossible to live in peace with people you believe are damned,” that it’s impossible to live with your neighbors if you think they’re not going to be saved. I’ve always been interested to find if he’s right about that. Can people get along even if they have really different views about religion, about faith?

So I’m interested in how Christians can live well with neighbors that don’t share their convictions. We might share some things, but not everything, so how can we, as Christians, be true to what we believe without bashing others over the head with a Bible or never saying what we think is true about faith? How can we find that balance of being salt and light in a culture? I think Calvin’s in a really cool place to be looking at those questions.

What I do more broadly is political theory. I cover Aristotle, Locke and Hobbes, some of the “hot potato” topics like marriage, abortion, poverty. I’m interested in those sorts of things.

What makes you so interested in those 'big, hot potato topics?'

The thing that makes them so interesting is also what makes them so dangerous in terms of people getting upset, because they really matter. So when you’re talking about the hot topics of things like gender relations, everyone relates to that. They’re subjects that are fascinating, but are somewhat abstract. When you’re doing things like studying an ancient manuscript, it may be really interesting, but it may not have purchase on a lot of people’s lives. But if you’re talking about the hot topic issues, they concern everybody. What makes them so delicate is also what makes them so important because our lives will be impacted based on what we decide about these things.

What are you researching specifically this year?

One of my research interests is C.S. Lewis. A friend of mine and I are working on a book that’s coming out soon on this, and Lewis wrestles with this problem quite a bit; he’s someone who’s known for defending Christianity, but in his view the England that he was defending was already post-Christian. He’s trying to figure out how he can communicate the truths of Christianity to a culture that was Christian at one point but now is no longer. That’s one way I’m trying to figure out what Lewis did with that. We’re not Lewis, we’re not England, but what lessons can we learn from him?

I’m also writing some online about the constitution and marriage. It’s how we conceive of who should make the decisions on marriage: should it be legislatures? Courts? Those sorts of questions. I’m also working on a John Locke project concerning whether or not we should be forcing religion with the coercion of government.

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