<![CDATA[Calvin College News and Stories - Short]]> http://upbeat.calvin.edu/ <![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.

http://upbeat.calvin.edu/news/archive?id=ff47e499-163c-4f25-8f4b-07ccc178ef44 http://upbeat.calvin.edu/news/archive?id=ff47e499-163c-4f25-8f4b-07ccc178ef44
<![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.

http://upbeat.calvin.edu/news/archive?id=c1aebe42-8695-4bab-bf12-17e167eed71b http://upbeat.calvin.edu/news/archive?id=c1aebe42-8695-4bab-bf12-17e167eed71b
<![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.

http://upbeat.calvin.edu/news/archive?id=84d95e53-61b6-4f02-ad2f-e9deb750ded8 http://upbeat.calvin.edu/news/archive?id=84d95e53-61b6-4f02-ad2f-e9deb750ded8
<![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.

http://upbeat.calvin.edu/news/archive?id=26e7c06c-baf2-47dc-bf15-cc771e85a9b3 http://upbeat.calvin.edu/news/archive?id=26e7c06c-baf2-47dc-bf15-cc771e85a9b3
<![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.”

http://upbeat.calvin.edu/news/archive?id=b241a2ef-507a-47f9-9769-a1ecf4be8510 http://upbeat.calvin.edu/news/archive?id=b241a2ef-507a-47f9-9769-a1ecf4be8510
<![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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<![CDATA[Student Senate shares its vision for 2015-2016]]> Tue, 27 Oct 2015 14:15:00 -0400 On the quiet of Calvin’s campus this summer, Student Senate experienced a glimpse of the vision they developed for the coming 2015-2016 school year. Tired of their “awkward office space” in Commons Annex that made student body interaction difficult, Student Body President Ethan DeVries reached out to an architecture student to redesign the space.

Service in Action

Vice President of the Student Body Andrew Darmawan noted that before the redesign of the space, “people, and even our friends would be standing at the doorframe because there would be no space for them to sit.”

To fix the unwelcoming space, DeVries contacted an architecture major and began working with him to fix the problem. Darmawan saw this as a reflection of a beautiful vision. “It’s not something that the senate created,” he said. “It was us saying, ‘We don’t know anything. We appreciate your knowledge and your passion and want to partner with you.’” This partnership allowed for a new, welcoming space designed by a Calvin student and mediated by Student Senate.

Oftentimes, these executives feel that Student Senate has been seen as distant in the past. “[Some people] see it as an elite team of 15 people that can do anything you throw at them. But really it’s about us facilitating and inviting others to the table, setting up the table. And once you have people at the table, we can step away,” Darmawan said. 

In this way, DeVries hopes to empower students with ideas and initiatives that they create themselves. “It can’t be Student Senate pushing everything across the finish line; it has to be the students,” DeVries said.

With this relational, conversational model, Student Senate outlined three outcomes for this school year. These outcomes are set in the hope that the student body would join in the conversation with Student Senate.

Shared Ownership

To begin this conversation, Student Senate considers how they can work with the student body to accomplish initiatives this year. “Student Senate’s vision is to empower students to actively be participants in their Calvin experience,” DeVries said. “It can be easy to say these are the exact projects we want to do and label them out, but then we’re not giving students the opportunity to say, ‘What do I care about? What are my passions?’”

Constituent Services

To discover these passions together, Student Senate intentionally develops relationships with the student body. “We are making sure we’re available to students and not always waiting for students to come to us,” DeVries explained. This involves setting up students with senators to put proposals into action.

Equitable Representation

Student Senate also is prioritizing representation of voices that might be underrepresented. This involves Student Senate empowering unheard voices at the table and working to equally and equitably represent the student body.

Getting Involved

Students can join in the conversation by submitting ideas and proposals on the Student Senate's website.

Students also can take advantage of other programs such as the Take Your Prof Out to Lunch program (TYPO). Free meal tickets are available to dine with a professor in a more casual setting for students.

As DeVries noted, Student Senate is the “only organization on campus that has the ability to link college decision makers with students and engage those perspectives to pursue the positive change we’re looking for.” And by working together, senators and students can “create an experience that we’re going to remember.”

http://upbeat.calvin.edu/news/archive?id=3f8130ac-2d93-41cf-b965-c40de59354db http://upbeat.calvin.edu/news/archive?id=3f8130ac-2d93-41cf-b965-c40de59354db
<![CDATA[Calvin remembers Al Gebben]]> Fri, 23 Oct 2015 14:00:00 -0400 A woodsman at heart, a botanist by profession, Alan Gebben spent 38 years teaching biology at Calvin. Gebben, 84, died on Oct. 17.

He graduated from Calvin in 1954 and became an assistant in the biology department in 1955. He would later earn his master’s and PhD from the University of Michigan.

A woodsy legacy

While he influenced many students within the classroom walls over nearly four decades, his legacy is attached to the woods, particularly those east of the Beltline in Calvin’s Ecosystem Preserve.

Gebben had a vision for what would become the Ecosystem Preserve and in 1974 obtained a grant to survey the then-10-acre woodlot. He mapped and measured every tree larger than two inches in diameter.

The data has been collected in five-year increments since, and now documents the history of more than 1,000 trees over a 40-year span.

He later served on the committee to establish the preserve, which was established in 1985 and has now grown to a 100-acre expanse, averaging 6,000 visitors a year.

In an effort to better acquaint students and the wider community to the botanical beauty of the Calvin campus, Gebben produced A Guide to the Trees and Shrubs on the Calvin Campus in 1993.

Love of creation

“Going on field trips with Al was a joyful and unforgettable experience,” said Calvin biology professor John Ubels, a former student and Gebben’s assistant for the preserve survey. “His love for creation was deep, and his knowledge about plants was boundless.

“I can still identify most of the plants that he taught us about—that’s a credit to Al, not to me,” he said.

Former student and colleague Randy Van Dragt remembered an exercise when as a student he was to measure lengths of plant parts that were intercepting a string in the Ecosystem Preserve. "My line happened to fall across a large and dense patch of poison ivy," said Van Dragt, "and it seemed legitimate to me to seek out some sort of exemption to wallowing in this toxic mess. I approached the difficulty by pointing out to Al the mass of poison ivy I was about to dive into and asked what I should do about it. He screwed up his face in a manner that indicated surprise, and said, 'Measure the length of the line intercepts of course.' No prospect of dermatitis was going to deter me from getting a complete data set!"

Gebben’s interest in botany and ecology expanded to the community as well. He served as a board member of the National Areas Conservancy of West Michigan and a member of the Michigan Botanical Club.

He was also named the Outstanding Environmental Educator by the West Michigan Environmental Action Council in 1985.

Long after his retirement, Gebben continued to attend weekly biology department seminars. "Al left an indelible impression on many as a friend, and effective teacher, good colleague and enthusiast of creation study and care," said Van Dragt. "He will be dearly missed."

Gebben was preceded in death by his wife, Genevieve. He is survived by his children, Laurie (Fred) Metzger, Dave (Claire) Gebben, Paul (Maureen) Gebben, and Lisa (Jeff) Hayes.

Family will greet relatives and friends at the Woodlawn Ministry Center, 3190 Burton St. SE, on Thursday, Oct. 29, from 6-8 p.m. and on Friday, Oct. 30, from 10-11 a.m. The memorial service will take place at 11 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 30, at the Woodlawn Ministry Center.

http://upbeat.calvin.edu/news/archive?id=1df59275-03a0-4ad0-975d-c6e25bd55c9d http://upbeat.calvin.edu/news/archive?id=1df59275-03a0-4ad0-975d-c6e25bd55c9d
<![CDATA[Biology student presents research at Harvard]]> Fri, 23 Oct 2015 10:30:00 -0400 Biology major Peter Boersma recently became Calvin’s first undergraduate student to present his research at a prestigious Harvard conference focused on cornea research.

Boersma, a senior from Milwaukee, Wis., attended the 29th Biennial Cornea Research Conference at Harvard Medical School on Oct. 16 and 17. The conference is co-sponsored by Harvard’s Department of Ophthalmology, Tufts University School of Medicine and Boston University School of Medicine. 

In select company

John Ubels, professor of biology at Calvin, is Boersma’s primary mentor on the research project presented at the conference, and he took Boersma to the event.

Ubels said anyone who plans to attend the conference can submit an abstract to present a poster, but there is a review process.

“For Peter’s poster to be accepted as an undergraduate was definitely an honor for him,” Ubels said.

Boersma, who currently holds one of the Beckman Scholars fellowships awarded to biology and chemistry students from Calvin’s Beckman Foundation grant, said he is grateful for the opportunity to present his work.

“To be accepted was just really humbling and an honor,” Boersma said. “I’m thankful that Calvin offers such opportunities for undergraduate students.

The nature of the research

The research Boersma presented on his poster discusses the effects of ultraviolet light on the cornea. Ubels explained that Boersma’s research appears to indicate that the high potassium levels found in tears protect the cornea from UV in sunlight.

“We’re interested in this because the amount of ultraviolet light that we are exposed to when we go outdoors is capable of damaging our skin in a fairly short time if we aren’t wearing sunscreen,” Ubels said. “But our corneal epithelial cells—the cells on the surface of our eyes—are not damaged in the same way. … So what we’re studying is, ‘What are the protective mechanisms?’”

According to Boersma, potassium leaves the corneal cells when confronted with high levels of UV radiation.

“My part of the research focuses on determining how UV radiation causes an efflux of potassium,” he said. “We know that when UV light is shone on the corneal epithelial cells, they release a lot of potassium starting within a minute or two. But we don’t fully understand the mechanism by which that happens. So my work is trying to elucidate the mechanism by which UV radiation causes the efflux.”

Ubels explained that after disproving the initial hypothesis—that a protein called Fas was interacting with ultraviolet light—Boersma kept on with his research. Based on his reading of the scientific literature, Boersma proposed that a protein in the cell membrane called the TNF alpha receptor is activated by UV, and this became the basis of his proposal for the Beckman Scholarship.

“We think that Peter has in fact identified the TNF alpha receptor as the protein that is activated by ultraviolet and leads to cell death when cells are damaged by ultraviolet,” Ubels said. “Now that we’ve figured that out, we’re going to be able to build a more detailed story of how the high potassium in tears can protect the cornea from the levels of UV to which we are exposed when outdoors.”

A boon to Calvin

Ubels said the fact that Boersma was invited to the conference will enhance Calvin’s reputation in the field of biology.

“It definitely gives us publicity in terms of people being aware of the quality of work that undergraduates at Calvin can do and the quality of work that faculty here can do,” he said. “Having Peter attend there I think will help Calvin students when they apply to medical school and graduate school at institutions that are represented by people attending that meeting.”

The ins and outs of research

Boersma said attending the conference helped him understand more about the research process.

“How a lot of foundational research is translated to clinical practices was a big focus of this conference,” he said. “So people would be doing various research and saying, ‘Now that we’ve found this, we can apply it to the clinical setting to enhance treatments.’”

“It gives me a better idea of how I could engage in research that would be able to be translated to clinical settings,” he said.

http://upbeat.calvin.edu/news/archive?id=d31079f8-85bc-4dd7-addc-8da221ac92e9 http://upbeat.calvin.edu/news/archive?id=d31079f8-85bc-4dd7-addc-8da221ac92e9
<![CDATA[Public health major tackles service-learning, Grand Rapids Red Project internship]]> Mon, 19 Oct 2015 14:30:00 -0400 When it comes to being the hands and feet of Christ, student Carolyn Brown knows where her priorities lie. 

The senior public health and Spanish double major has served in capacities from disaster relief to volunteering at a homeless shelter to her current role as an intern at the Grand Rapids Red Project. The organization offers HIV testing, clean syringe access and overdose prevention services.

Brown, of Battle Creek, Mich., says the work the Red Project is doing for the community is a perfect example of the work Jesus calls Christians to do.

“Jesus spent his time with prostitutes and drunkards and the people who were shunned by the community,” she said. “That’s what Red Project is doing.”

Lifelong sense of calling

Brown grew up watching her dad work as a dentist, spending time in his office, and she had an internship with a general surgeon in high school. She says she has always known she wanted to work in health care.

When she first came to Calvin, Brown chose a pre-med major, until she went to a global health mission conference that ignited her passion for public health care. 

“It really showed me public health is where I want to go, just because of the community focus and the focus on serving people’s basic health needs and making sure people have access to tools and resources,” she said.

Brown’s health psychology professor at Calvin, Julie Yonker, said she is proud of Carolyn and will be sad to see her graduate, but knows she is stepping into her calling. 

“Carolyn is an excellent example of someone who is continually seeking God’s direction and guidance with respect to where she discerns him calling her,” Yonker said. 

Extensive service-learning

Since her freshman year at Calvin, Brown has volunteered every Tuesday at the homeless shelter Dégagé Ministries, dishing out ice cream, painting nails and forming relationships with disadvantaged community members.

She said she is grateful for the opportunity to impact lives through service, both at Dégagé and at another place she volunteered, Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids, a nonprofit that serves cancer patients. There, she worked with the kids’ programs, doing arts and crafts and making preparations for their summer camp. Brown also spent a 10-week stint in New Jersey leading teams of middle and high school students in home demolition projects as part of the cleanup effort following Superstorm Sandy.

What has all of this taught Brown?

“It’s really easy in college to be focused on yourself,” she said. “One of my main goals in college was to make sure that I do invest in the community I’m in. I believe that’s what Jesus calls us to do.”

Joining the Red Project

Alongside all the lessons volunteering has taught her, Brown’s internship at the Grand Rapids Red Project has driven home her sense of calling.

She first visited the nonprofit during a health psychology class taught by Yonker, associate professor of psychology at Calvin.

“I fell in love with it,” she said. “Just with the goal in general of what they’re trying to do and the community that they’re working with. I wanted to do an internship there so bad, so then after that, I talked to my professor and she made connections, and then I communicated with them all summer trying to set something up.”

Brown’s patience paid off. Now, she is working with the hepatitis C program, doing data entry and analysis and getting patients connected with care.

Serving the underserved

Brown said she is glad she’s been able to use her Spanish-language skills at the Red Project’s mobile health unit.

“Our second site on Friday is in the Hispanic community, and so we have a lot of Spanish speakers,” she said. “I’m bilingual, so I can speak with them. I really enjoy connecting with people in their first language, talking about living healthier lives through safer sex and drug use."

Future plans

Looking ahead, Brown plans to earn her master’s degree in public health and then take her skills to South or Central America.

Wherever she goes, Brown plans to keep her eyes fixed on a guiding principle:

“Jesus was a servant-leader, and I would love to emulate that.”

http://upbeat.calvin.edu/news/archive?id=1ccbd489-9b74-4112-ba50-b3c2232823fb http://upbeat.calvin.edu/news/archive?id=1ccbd489-9b74-4112-ba50-b3c2232823fb
<![CDATA[Professor dives deep into history of rare manuscript]]> Mon, 12 Oct 2015 10:00:00 -0400 Tucked safely away in a climate-controlled space in Calvin College’s Meeter Center is a medieval devotional manuscript the college has owned since 1912.

It recently became an object of deeper interest to Frans van Liere, professor of history and a medieval studies specialist, when he needed an image to use as the cover art for his 2014 book, “An Introduction to the Medieval Bible.”

The cover art Van Liere selected from the medieval manuscript was a miniature of the angel Gabriel visiting the Virgin Mary to announce the birth of Jesus, which is the only full-page picture in the manuscript.

“It led me to say maybe I should know a little more about this manuscript,” Van Liere said. “So I started looking into the manuscript, doing an analysis of the handwriting and the dating, and I discovered it’s a much greater treasure than Calvin probably thought they had.”

At this point, with the help of students Dan Wagner and Jeanette Bigelow, Van Liere dove into research to try to figure out when the manuscript was created, where it came from and how it came to be in the possession of Grand Rapids businessman Thomas Peck, who gave it to Calvin College in 1912.

When the manuscript was created

Close observers of the artwork in the miniature of Gabriel and Mary can see the fingers are elongated and the eyes are abnormally large in proportion to their bodies.

“That is typical of 12th century German art,” Van Liere said. “That gave me a clue. The style told me that this was much older than initially thought, and possibly German. So I started reading the text.”

The text, which is written in Latin, shows the manuscript to be a liturgical calendar that was originally part of a psalter. While the psalter itself is missing, the calendar can tell medieval historians plenty.

Van Liere kept digging. A handwriting analysis showed the original had been written around 1200, and the newer handwriting, which sometimes trespasses onto the margins of the page, is a few decades younger.

To date the writing, Van Liere said one of the clues he looked at was the color of the ink. The older ink was brown, and the younger ink was black. Also, the S’s and F’s in the older hand stood on the line, while in the newer hand they dipped under it.

Where it came from

Van Liere discovered that the seven-page fragment—called a quire—most likely came from the Diocese of Cologne, as many of the saints’ days on the calendar were for saints that were specific to that region.

“Every single bishopric, every diocese had its own specific sets of saints that were venerated in one particular place,” Van Liere said.

How Thomas Peck came to own it 

Thomas Peck, a Grand Rapids pharmacist and land speculator, was a collector of antiquities and manuscripts.

Student Jeanette Bigelow found that at one point, Peck went on a grand tour of Europe. Van Liere said that is probably when and where Peck picked up the manuscript, deciding to make it part of his collection, then later gifting it to Calvin College.

What we can learn from it

Aside from its monetary value, which Van Liere estimates to be about $70,000, the manuscript imparts priceless historical value to the Meeter Center and to Calvin students.

“It’s an object that attests to the Christian faith of people living around the year 1200,” Van Liere said.

Van Liere said that despite its delicate condition, he loves to let students view and carefully handle the book.

“The fun part of having the manuscript at Calvin is teaching with it,” he said. “I have used it many times in classes to show what you can learn by the combination of classical studies, medieval studies and art history. It’s those three disciplines that teach us the most about this manuscript. And teaching with an 800-year old artifact gives students a sense of proximity to the past.”

“I think places like Calvin College are repositories of knowledge and learning, and the manuscript is part of a cultural patrimony,” he said. “It’s our job to safeguard that cultural patrimony.”

http://upbeat.calvin.edu/news/archive?id=17f51639-1638-48e6-8734-097041ed79d6 http://upbeat.calvin.edu/news/archive?id=17f51639-1638-48e6-8734-097041ed79d6
<![CDATA[An expert's take on the Syrian refugee crisis]]> Thu, 8 Oct 2015 13:15:00 -0400 Focusing on today's headlines through a Reformed lens is the way Calvin thought leaders fearlessly engage with and boldly impact culture. Social work professor Joe Kuilema explores the Syrian refugee crisis' impact on refugees and their sense of belonging.

What does the feeling of “unbelonging” do to a person?

As Reformed Christians, we understand that humans are created in the image of a triune God, and that we are inherently relational. We are created for community.  Social workers would add that all persons exist in a relationship with their environment, and the systems that surround them, from the family to the nation. Refugees are ripped from these systems: their families are separated by death or necessity, their homes are no longer safe, their nation collapses. Cultural and religious practices, often sources of great comfort in the past, become stigmatizing in new places. Unbelonging is the source of tremendous trauma.  

One of my favorite theologians, Miroslav Volf, would call this sort of "unbelonging" exclusion. We exclude the other because the other is not like us.  For those coming from a war zone like Syria, where they faced physical violence and death, this exclusion becomes another form of violence. Whether in subtle micro-aggressions or in overt racism or hatred, too often they are told they are not welcome. We here in the United States participate in this "othering" when we are willing to spend more on war than on the victims of war. As Christians we must always remind ourselves that each of these human beings was created by God, a little lower than the heavenly beings, and is precious in His sight.  

What is the impact on the host countries?

Many of the countries currently bearing the brunt of this crisis had no role in creating it, and fewer resources to deal with it. Turkey, a nation where the per-capita GDP is about $17,000 compared to $55,000 in the U.S., has spent almost $8 billion dollars housing 2.2 million refugees. One of our social work graduates is currently working in Hungary. Hungary has been vilified by some in the media, and there have indeed been extremely insensitive remarks from some politicians like Prime Minister Viktor Orban. On the ground, however, many are working as hard as possible to help refugees navigate through the nation and onwards towards Northern Europe. The nations of Northern Europe have been reluctant to streamline the processes. Hungary is not a wealthy nation, and this reluctance is causing a lot of tension within Europe.  

Politicians are debating whether to resettle the refugees or have them return home after the crisis dissipates. What are the ramifications of the two different philosophies?

Northern Europe would benefit from the resettlement of large numbers of refugees. While there is a degree of xenophobia from some elements in these societies, many recognize that they have aging populations, and that declining populations would be very difficult for everyone involved. There are concerns about refugees overwhelming social service provision in the already very generous Nordic countries, and some of that has occurred in towns like Malmo in Sweden, but my own sense is that in the long run refugees would strengthen these societies.  

At the same time, as a social worker I would want to highlight the importance of home. Sometimes individuals in countries like Norway, or the U.S. for that matter, think that it's obvious that refugees would want to stay forever in their nation, because it is just so much better than the nation that refugees came from. That ignores the deep ties that people have to their homeland, to their extended family networks, and to their culture. Refugees are driven by necessity, and are indeed looking for a better life, but often only because the possibility of that life has disappeared in their homeland.

http://upbeat.calvin.edu/news/archive?id=6280cabe-e349-4f15-8c0d-c7a1e90a47b1 http://upbeat.calvin.edu/news/archive?id=6280cabe-e349-4f15-8c0d-c7a1e90a47b1
<![CDATA[Calvin hosts lunar eclipse viewing open house featuring Botjes planetarium]]> Thu, 8 Oct 2015 13:00:00 -0400 A recent total lunar eclipse drew 170 people to the Calvin College observatory for a viewing party that lasted nearly three hours. During that time, attendees were given a special look at an antique piece of equipment used to predict eclipses.

That piece of equipment is the Botjes planetarium, built in 1868 and donated to Calvin College in 1992, when it was restored to working condition by Clarence Menninga, professor of geology, emeritus.

"I am quite sure that it had not run for at least 25 years when it was given to Calvin," Menninga said. 

Menninga spent hours filing gears by hand to repair the mechanism, as well as replacing parts and, with the help of a machinist, creating an electric method to wind the planetarium so it would keep time on its own.

Larry Molnar, professor of physics and astronomy and head of the Calvin observatory, hosted the lunar eclipse open house on Sept. 27 in which the planetarium was featured.

“We consider it a privilege to share God’s universe with the general Calvin community and the broader Grand Rapids community,” Molnar said. “The psalmist says, ‘The heavens declare the glory of God,’ and I always think to myself, ‘It’s only good if you’re listening and watching.’” 

Predictor of eclipses

Molnar counts among his responsibilities the maintenance of the Botjes planetarium, which contains a sun-moon dial that accurately predicts the timing of eclipses.

“There’s an extra dial on the sun-moon dial, which is known as the line of nodes, that says if you’re at full moon and you’re on this dial, then you will get an eclipse,” Molnar said. “What happened this past Sunday (Sept. 27) is we had a full moon, and it was near the line of nodes, and so it was an eclipse. And, it was near the point of closest approach to Earth, hence it was a supermoon, which is a bigger-than-average moon.” 

Rare event

When Molnar took attendees to the hallway in the Science Building where the planetarium is displayed, the lunar eclipse was well underway. Four different indicators on the sun-moon dial had lined up perfectly.

“That’s fairly rare,” Molnar said. “Every month, two of the indicators line up, but to get all four of them—that’s every 30 or 40 years.” 

Timeless instrument

The planetarium is run by an antique clock and a set of finely tuned gears powered by a mainspring.

“It’s kind of fun, because if there’s a power outage, all the clocks on all the classroom walls, they will all be wrong by an hour if the power’s out for an hour,” Molnar said. “But the planetarium, since it’s running on its own spring energy, it doesn’t lose an hour.”

For their classes, Calvin astronomy students use a planetarium software program called The Sky to perform complex calculations. But Molnar said the trouble with software programs is they are constantly becoming obsolete as technology changes. One of Molnar’s favorite things about the Botjes planetarium is that it never grows obsolete.

“This thing has run almost 150 years, and it still gives the right answer, as we showed on Sunday,” he said. “There’s something about a device that has that kind of longevity that is worth pondering." 

Another reason Molnar said the planetarium is important is that it makes a visual point about creation that software does not.

“I think this was in the mind of Botjes and other planetarium makers in The Netherlands at the time. And that is that God has created an orderly universe and designed it with good intent.”

Viewing open house

The high attendance rate of the Sept. 27 viewing event was remarkable because it wasn’t a particularly clear night to be able to see the eclipse until it was nearing the end, Molnar said.

“I was amazed to see many, many people came even while it was cloudy, hoping that it would clear up in time,” he said. 

Molnar said he is pleased to be able to introduce groups to an experience that may often be unfamiliar.

“People are interested in the world around them but so often have never seen it,” he said. “If you grew up in a city, you’re just not aware of what’s in the sky above you. So to come either to look through the telescope or to stand on our observing deck and just learn about the constellations is often an eye-opener for many people.”

The Calvin observatory is open to the Calvin community a half-hour past sunset on clear nights Monday through Thursday and to the general public each Wednesday evening. There is no charge for admission.

http://upbeat.calvin.edu/news/archive?id=e3c71b09-c606-48d8-8f7b-63589783a5e7 http://upbeat.calvin.edu/news/archive?id=e3c71b09-c606-48d8-8f7b-63589783a5e7
<![CDATA[Calvin Theatre Company weaves together dark and light for its 2015-16 season]]> Tue, 6 Oct 2015 10:15:00 -0400 For its 2015-16 season, Calvin Theatre Company has elected to explore the light and dark sides of Shakespeare, beginning with a clownish twist on “King Lear.”

“It’s the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death this year,” said Stephanie Sandberg, professor of communication arts and sciences. “I wanted to do something to celebrate that and think about what he’s brought into culture.”

Serious clown business

So, Sandberg wrote an adaptation of “King Lear” that explores the tension between comedy and tragedy—using clowns. The opening scene will reveal a troupe of clown performers who discover a box that contains the script to “Lear,” which they then will act out using props and costumes.

“King Lear” is about an old king on the brink of madness who decides to divide his kingdom among his daughters, giving the largest portion to the one who loves him most. When his youngest daughter fails to express her love to his satisfaction, he disowns her, setting in motion the events of the play.

Sandberg said the clowns will represent the human condition and will be present throughout the play.

“We’re doing it in the style of the white clown, which is a French kind of clowning,” Sandberg said. “We brought in an expert to train us in clowns. It’s a very interesting concept that I’ve been thinking about for a long time.”

“Who thinks of ‘King Lear’ with clowns?” asked Emily Wetzel, a senior theater major and member of CTC. “Stephanie Sandberg does.”

Striking a tough balance

Sandberg said the clown idea, in keeping with the theme of dark and light, was meant to strike a balance with the suffering that makes “King Lear” so heavy, without downplaying the serious subject matter.

“I want it to be very entertaining,” she said. “Oftentimes, ‘Lear’ is so bleak that people don’t consider it entertainment. Because we’re bringing this clown style to it, I think it’s very entertaining as well.”

“It’s very entertaining but it’s also enlightening,” Sandberg said. “Comedy comes out of the human condition. Out of laughing at ourselves during trouble. That’s what makes something funny is the trouble in it.”

Wetzel, who will play King Lear’s eldest daughter Goneril, said she is interested to see how the balance between light and dark will play out.

“I think the biggest challenge for me is finding that balance between the humor of the clown and the despair of the story,” Wetzel said. “Because it would be really easy to go one way or another, to make it all about the clowning, or all about Lear.”

“One of the reasons [Sandberg] chose ‘King Lear’ is because it deals a lot with really deep issues of sorrow and grief and the human condition,” Wetzel said.

Public performances of “King Lear” are at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 12-14 and 19-21.

Mid-season play

During interim, Calvin will put on a play called “You Make a Difference,” written and directed by Debra Freeberg, professor of communication arts and sciences.

The play is an entertaining, educational piece about three friends who are bullied in school but who rise above with a small band of supporters and a “You Make a Difference” campaign.

The public performance of “You Make a Difference” is at 7 p.m. on Jan. 27, 2016.

Spring play

Freeberg also will direct Shakespeare’s comedy “Love’s Labour’s Lost,” with a surprising twist: The production is set in the northern backwoods of Alaska.

Public performances of “Love’s Labour’s Lost” run at 7:30 p.m. on April 21-23 and 28-30, 2016.

Tickets for all concerts may be purchased online, in person at the Calvin Box Office or by calling 616-526-6282.

http://upbeat.calvin.edu/news/archive?id=0d7a487e-c687-4c0e-bade-c0a935684293 http://upbeat.calvin.edu/news/archive?id=0d7a487e-c687-4c0e-bade-c0a935684293
<![CDATA[Walking Boldly: Katerina Parsons]]> Thu, 1 Oct 2015 13:30:00 -0400 This summer, we are following grads from the Class of 2015 as they continue their journeys around the corner and across the globe. Katerina Parsons is working with the Association for a More Just Society (AJS) in Honduras as a research/communications facilitator.

  • Name: Katerina Parsons
  • Class: 2015
  • Hometown: Jackson, Mich.
  • Major(s): writing
  • Next step: Research/communications facilitator for Association for a More Just Society (AJS)

What class at Calvin uniquely prepared you for this position?

I´m here in Honduras because of my Calvin program. My junior year, I did the Justice Studies semester in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, where professors Kurt Ver Beek and Jo Ann Van Engen have lived and taught for years. It was an intense few months of both learning in theory and witnessing in practice, and everything I learned confirmed skills and passions that I will be using now at AJS, the organization they co-founded. Also, a shout-out to the core language requirement for making me take Spanish classes, which I now use every single day!

What about Calvin specifically prepared you for this position?

Calvin was the perfect place for me to first study widely so that I could study deeply. Four years ago, I had never even heard of my major (international development), let alone how it could intersect with my interest in writing. I am here today because professor after professor, even those outside of my major, knew me well enough to suggest new classes and courses of study, helped me navigate schedules, course catalogues, and guided and advised me as I applied for opportunities after graduation.

What has surprised you so far?

I´m surprised how many people in Honduras know Calvin College. It´s a small world, and Calvin students can be found in every square inch of it.

What’s one thing you would want to tell someone starting his or her journey at Calvin?

Be curious! Talk to your professors after class. Read for fun. Seek out people who are different from you. Learn to disagree. Be open to changing your mind.

Be open! Go somewhere you´ve never been, whether that´s a semester abroad or a new neighborhood in Grand Rapids. Sign up for a club that you've never heard of. Take the class for the learning, not the transcript.

Be bold! Take the opportunity to let your voice be heard. Speak out for others. Try hard things. Fail boldly, if you have to fail.

What was your best non-academic experience at Calvin?

I joined Chimes, the student newspaper, in my first year at Calvin, and spent the next four years there. At Chimes, I learned to interview, to edit, to write quickly and under pressure, to collaborate, to respond to criticism and to pull an all-nighter and still wake up to update the website the next morning. I learned to have an eye for news and an ear for stories, all skills that I’m directly using now.

If you could take one more class at Calvin, what would it be?

I actually have a list! Poetry with Lew Klatt, Constitutional Law with Joel Westra, Latin American Economics with Roland Hoksbergen, and Diversity and Inequality in the United States, to name a few.

http://upbeat.calvin.edu/news/archive?id=239e0d93-5b06-4e5a-b96f-71a3937c2c3b http://upbeat.calvin.edu/news/archive?id=239e0d93-5b06-4e5a-b96f-71a3937c2c3b
<![CDATA[UnLearn Week 2015 strives to bring everyone into the circle]]> Thu, 1 Oct 2015 11:45:00 -0400 Calvin sophomore Marisha Addison, one of the organizers of the 15th annual UnLearn Week, wants students to know that Calvin College is like a circle.

“For UnLearn Week, we should focus on that there’s some people in the center of the circle that fit in with Calvin culture, and there’s some people on the perimeter of the circle,” Addison said. “[We should] make the people in the circle be aware of the people out of the circle and try to bring them in.”

Challenge yourselves

For those on the inside, whom Addison said are the ethnic majority students, she recommends setting a goal:

“Come with the intention of listening and changing, looking inside yourself and figuring out, hey, I’m one of those people that assume something about this other ethnicity.”

To that end, the 15th annual UnLearn Week, an event that provides a campus-wide forum for discussions of race and cultural awareness, is hosting events from speakers to panel discussions to an international food festival to a hip-hop-style worship service. Students, staff and faculty all are encouraged to attend.

Open to all

Khayree Williams, assistant dean for the multicultural student development office, said MSDO especially wants to emphasize the inclusive nature of this year’s event.

“Talking about race, talking about diversity, oftentimes it can be very uncomfortable; it can be awkward,” Williams said. “No one wants to say the wrong thing, so a lot of times what will happen is, instead of us engaging in those conversations, we’ll shy away from them.

“But it’s OK to talk about these things here at Calvin.”

Mutual respect amid differences

Williams said one of the goals of the MSDO team is to make discussions of cultural and ethnic differences as accessible as possible.

“It’s just making it a comfortable place for us to have conversations about differences and how we can love each other and all be a part of this community and still be able to understand each other,” he said.

Addison said a big part of what keeps the lines of respectful dialogue open is mutuality.

“I want everybody to look forward to seeing people for who they are,” she said. “See that kid over there that’s different from you, and sit beside them and hear their life story. And then maybe they in turn will listen to your life story.”

According to Williams, UnLearn Week is an important time because it teaches life skills to students.

“Our students are here to grow spiritually and to learn, and to be at a place where they can be employable and be productive citizens once they leave Calvin,” he said. “Once you get out into the workforce, you’re not always going to be working with people that look just like you. You have to be able to navigate that.”

A lasting impact

Last year’s events left a big impression on Addison, who attended as a freshman.

“What I took away from last year is that UnLearn Week should be more than one week,” she said. “I would make it a monthly thing.

“It should be a process throughout the whole entire Calvin community. Even when you leave Calvin, you should be aware and break down stereotypes and prejudice.”

Williams said he wishes he would have had an experience like UnLearn Week back when he was a freshman in college.

“I think it would have helped in my transition,” he said. “I think it would have helped me to be able to develop relationships across those cultural lines, to know how to interact with people, to know that it’s OK for people to think differently from you, to have different beliefs, as long as it’s respectful.”

“It’s only a week and it’s not going to solve all society’s problems, but I think it’s a good start,” Williams said. 

Check out the full calendar of events for 2015’s UnLearn Week.

http://upbeat.calvin.edu/news/archive?id=bc5f2896-0aa9-4eca-9655-30b019198947 http://upbeat.calvin.edu/news/archive?id=bc5f2896-0aa9-4eca-9655-30b019198947
<![CDATA[Calvin, WMU, GVSU create innovative rehab clinic]]> Wed, 23 Sep 2015 15:45:00 -0400 On Tuesday, Sept. 29, from 4–7 p.m., Calvin College Rehabilitation Services (located at 1310 East Beltline in Grand Rapids) is hosting an open house. Opened earlier this month, the clinic brings together speech pathology and audiology, social work, physical and occupational therapy services—all under one roof.­

Calvin College, Western Michigan University (WMU) and Grand Valley State University (GVSU) are partnering on the unique venture that provides innovative, creative and collaborative care for people in west Michigan.

“We are really trying to push an integrated approach,” said Steven Vanderkamp, the newly hired director of the clinic. “We will all be working very closely together to make sure all of the clients’ needs are being addressed under one roof . Because of our proximity, it will make for easier communication. We have top-notch health professionals and faculty from three universities on board to provide specialized services for children and adults such as therapies for persons with Parkinson’s, MS, head and neck cancer, sensory integration issues, autism, traumatic brain injuries and pediatric hearing services.”

Creating opportunities through collaboration

In addition to managing the clinic, Vanderkamp, who has nearly 25 years of medical experience in west Michigan, will serve as a part-time physical therapist. He will be joined by faculty in physical therapy, occupational therapy, social work, speech pathology and audiology. Calvin College, WMU and GVSU will provide graduate interns for those allied health services.

“We're very excited about the opening of the new clinic,” said Nancy Hock, coordinator of WMU’s occupational therapy program in Grand Rapids. “This kind of collaboration with other institutions and with the community is a great opportunity for WMU and a wonderful learning experience for our students.”

Added Barb Baker, associate professor of physical therapy at GVSU, "There is great excitement in the Grand Valley physical therapy department over this venture. Uniquely, this clinic will allow our physical therapy students the opportunity to experience treatment of neurological clients from an inter-collegiate and interdisciplinary perspective. This is meeting an enormous need in educating students, because neurological placements for students are limited.”

And Judith Vander Woude, chair of Calvin’s speech pathology and audiology department, says having her students work alongside occupational and physical therapists will help them learn how to closely collaborate with a variety of professionals to best serve their clients. “It’s one thing to talk about it in class, but it’s another thing to actually do it and figure out how to get on the same page for a particular client to help fulfill his or her needs,” said Vander Woude. “Then when they graduate, they can do that or at least advocate for it.”

Serving clients well

Vander Woude says the clinic is filling an expressed need in the community. She and her colleagues have noticed more recently that many of the clients they serve at their on-campus clinic were also in need of continued occupational and physical therapy as well. And, for some clients, insurance was either exhausted or did not cover the services provided.

The convergence of these needs and the increased program demands inspired the idea for the new clinic. And, generous donors to the college have helped to make this happen.

The new clinic occupies 4,500 square feet of the second floor of the two-story building. The space includes a waiting area, a group therapy room, seven clinical rooms, two soundproof audiology booths and a physical therapy gym, complete with a treadmill, hand bike, rock climbing wall, therapeutic swing and other donated equipment.

http://upbeat.calvin.edu/news/archive?id=364fce79-5e77-4161-af3d-a74ff904a15b http://upbeat.calvin.edu/news/archive?id=364fce79-5e77-4161-af3d-a74ff904a15b