Thursday Forum Presentations

Spring 2020

Thursday, January 30
Gorecki 120 at St. Ben's
Kevin Clancy, Ana Conboy, Henry Jakubowski and Dani Jakubowski
A Visit to the Present: Potential Benefits of Inclusion of Mindfulness in Study Abroad Programs

In this Thursday Forum, we will explore benefits of inclusion of mindfulness in the study abroad setting. We will describe some of the theory behind contemplative pedagogy, and will offer examples of how mindfulness strategies were employed successfully in two of CSBSJU's recent study abroad programs.

Thursday, February 6
Quad 360 at St. John's
Ellen Block and Will McGrath
Infected Kin: Orphan Care and AIDS in Lesotho

In our recently published book, Infected Kin, we argue that AIDS is fundamentally a kinship disease, examining the ways it transcends infected individuals and seeps into kin relations and networks of care. While much AIDS scholarship has turned away from the difficult daily realities of those affected by the disease, our book uses both ethnographic scholarship and creative nonfiction to bring to life the joys and struggles of the Basotho people at the heart of the AIDS pandemic. This talk will discuss the research at the heart of this book, and the process of collaboration between an anthropologist and a creative nonfiction writer.
Thursday, February 13
HAB 107 at St. Ben's
Hannah Windschitl
Wild Minds: Integrating Nature into Daily Life

Many people do not know the impacts that nature has on your body and mind. Going into nature relieves stress, depression, and anxiety. Entering wilderness, even for five minutes a day, has significant mental health impacts. Wild Minds is a wilderness program on campus that emphasizes mental health in relation to nature. This presentation will consisit of a description of the program, the seven meetings during spring semester (which include hiking, canoeing, rock climbing, art in nature, meditation, and bird watching, with others depending on weather) and the wilderness trip to the BWCA after school is over. During the presentation, I will explain how improved mental health can be capitalized from interactions with nature.

Thursday, February 20
Little Theatre (Q346) at St. John's
John Houston
Why Darwin Remains a Problem for Theism

Several recent works in theology have argued that evolutionary theory is compatible with theism. This, of course, is true: theism and evolutionary theory are indeed logically and metaphysically compatible. However, little is being demonstrated on behalf of theism when this conclusion is established. For, the logical and metaphysical compatibility of conceptual frameworks or narratives is a very low bar for attempting to analyze the world and its fundamental nature, and such compatibility tells us little about how the world really is. In this paper I focus on why Darwinian evolutionary theory, though logically and metaphysically compatible with theism, continues to present a prima facie problem for theism. I focus on the problem of evil to make this case, and specifically, a particular species of the problem of evil, viz. divine hiddenness. I begin by showing why the logical problem of evil fails in its attempts to demonstrate God does not exist based on there being evil in the world. It is indeed possible for God and evil to co-exist. However, this conclusion fails to address the serious and problematic evidentiary challenge that evil in general presents for theism, and in particular the evidentiary challenge from evil that Darwinian natural selection entails, including (but not limited to): the apparent gratuitous suffering of individual animals; the cumulative amount of death and suffering of sentient (and in some instances conscious) beings in the world; and the extinction of almost all species since the emergence of life on this planet.

Thursday, March 12
Little Theatre (Q346) at St. John's
Madhu Mitra
Local Crimes, Global Criminals: Environmental Concerns in Crime Fiction

A grisly triple murder in a half-finished, mostly empty housing estate -- a witness to post-crash dereliction. An unsolved murder resurrected after eighteen years in a land rendered dead by extensive clear-cutting. A nuclear disaster zone that holds the key to a string of murders as well as to a new rapacious world order. 
My paper is an examination of ecological concerns in popular crime fiction. Drawing on several recent works in what has emerged as a sub-genre of mystery/crime fiction, I will argue that the focus on environmental issues opens up a space--an ideological space, perhaps--between the investigation of the crime and the cracking of the case. The crime committed turns out to be much larger than the murder(s) under investigation, and goes unpunished even when the murderer is brought to justice. The result, going against the grain of the traditional genre, is often a refusal to close the case. The reader is left with a deliberate irresolution: the mystery of a murder can be solved, but what do we do about the non-mystery of the crime itself?
I will focus primarily on the crime fiction from sub-Saharan Africa, and especially from South Africa, where the genre has been hailed as "the only readable form of 'political' fiction available today."
Thursday, March 19
Little Theatre (Q346) at St. John's
Hassan Hussein
Teaching with Passion: Towards a Benedictine interactive pedagogy
The difference between teaching with passion and teaching with compassion is that in teaching with passion you inspire students and get them interested and even excited about what they learn. Passion is what makes students decide to learn more. Compassion, however, is to suffer together. One way to inspire students  is to get them on the driver's seat and take them to areas where they think they don't want to go (e.g. taking them to areas where they have freedom to contribute to the learning process not as recipients but as providers of the knowledge and ideas.) Another way to inspire them is by engaging them in the design of their course. Although in the beginning students find this is an area that they think they don't want to go, they dramatically change to the opposite as they come to reflect on their learning experience.

Thursday, March 26
Little Theatre (Q346) at St. John's
Carliene Quist
Entertainment Education for Social Justice and Improved Health!

A Hollywood-produced series on Hulu to promote health among LatinX young men and women?

A soccer videogame sponsored by the UN to intervene in the prevalence of violence against women?

A summer youth camp - one in the West Bank and another in El Salvador - centered around that very videogame, which transformed lives in communities experiencingf entrenched conflict?

These are recent "Entertainment Education" initiatives that CSB/SJU Assistant Director of Admission, Carliene Quist, has experienced first-hand! Carliene will present the design and implementation of two mixed-methods applied research projects, as well as make connections with her CSB/SJU Liberal Arts undergraduate education in Peace Studies, Hispanic Studies, and Latino/Latin American Studies. All are welcome, especially studnts interested in applied research, interdisciplinary studies, and social justice!

Thursday, April 2
HAB 107 at St. Ben's
Valerie Jones, Angie Schmidt Whitney, and Glen Warner
Partners in Mission: How to Leverage Volunteers to Deliver on our CSBSJU Mission

Did you know CSB is the first higher education institution to receive a Service Enterprise designation? Many people think engaging volunteers will take more time and energy. But research shows that the most high-performing organizations have deeply integrated volunteers incorporated into their strategic plan and organizational structure, and when approached intentionally, volunteers can help reduce costs and increase efficiencies and effectiveness. This presentation will explain the volunteer roadmap and steps you can take to engage and maximize the use of volunteers in your work.

Thursday, April 9
Founder's Room (Q170) at St. John's
Sophia Geng
Marrying off the Caterpillars Festival: Traditions Hidden in a Zou Ma Town Folktale

This paper examines an array of folktales, mantras, and ballads pertaining to a traditional Chinese festival -- "Marrying off the Caterpillars Festival." The paper begins with a folktale circulating in Zou Ma Town, Chongqing in Southwest China. After an analysis of this folktale's invocation of the Daoist deity Lu Ban, the paper points out the peripheral position of this folktale among all the narratives on this festival, which leads to an exploration of the dominant narrative -- the Buddhist mantra and the grafting of the "Marrying off of the Caterpillars Festival" with the "Showering the Buddha Festival," a Buddhist celebration of Gautama's birthday. Next, this paper explores the tradition of employing mantras to marry off or send away pests. Although Buddhist mantra is predominant, both Buddhist and Daoist mantras fall into this category due to these religions' beliefs on benevolence and their repulsion toward killing. Following, the paper probes into other animistic mantras that summon the power of deities or natural forces to call for the eradication of caterpillars. Despite being dwarfed by the Buddhist mantra that calls for marrying off the caterpillars, the existence of these marginal mantras testifies the vitality of animistic folk beliefs. By examining the mantras, folktales and customs regarding the Marrying off the Caterpillars Festival, this paper breaks new ground in terms of bringing together the diverse folk beliefs, religions, and rituals behind this festival, while also shedding important light on syncretism in the Chinese folk traditions.

Thursday, April 23
GDCC at St. Ben's
Janelle Hinchley, Don Fischer, and Mary Stenson
Assessment of Inclusivity in Exercise Science and Sport Studies

Issues surrounding inclusion, diversity, and accessibility are not broadly discussed in the exercise science literature and are especially absent from research and discussions of post-secondary pedagogy in these fields. While diversity and access is often addressed in social science exercise and sport courses, they are rarely considered in natural science courses. Students struggle to understand how social issues integrate into natural science courses. Intentionally integrating these topics into course content helps students understand their relevance. As faculty we can describe how topics like gender, sexuality, race, and ethnicity affect health and performance. Through student surveys and focus groups we assessed the effectiveness of our curriculum and pedagogies in creating an accessible and inclusive environment for all students in a growing exercise and health studies program. We will discuss our findings, a sample action plan, opportunities for growth, and barriers to inclusion and access in exercise science programs.

Thursday, April 30
Clemens Computer Lab B114 at St. Ben's
Cindy Malone
Artists' Books and the Integrations Curriculum: A Digital Book

The Clemens Artists' Book collection contains stunning and provocative works that address the themes of the Integrations Curriculum. This forum presentation will focus on a digital book featuring images and descriptions of these works. The book aims to help faculty members discover artists' books to use in theme-related courses --or in courses across the disciplines and programs.