Fall 2012 / Spring 2013

LAS News

Department of Science and Mathematics Receives Quarter Million Dollar Grant

The National Science Foundation has awarded a two-year, $249,936 grant to the Department of Science and Mathematics. The grant will fund the enhancement and expansion of Scientists for Tomorrow, a program providing young people in Chicago between the ages of ten and fourteen with information and skills related to careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), while cultivating positive attitudes toward science and technology information.

Administered by the department’s Science Institute, the program, which uses small group mentoring to make science and technology accessible to youth through after-school programming and related special events, will partner with the Museum of Science and Industry, the Field Museum, and the Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance.

“This increased funding for the Scientists for Tomorrow program allows us to continue and expand current outreach programs for at least the next two years for youth in Chicago,” said Dr. Constantin Rasinariu, Chair of the Department of Science and Mathematics, and the principle investigator managing the grant. “This also enables us to partner with Chicago museums to pool resources and further expose these students to new learning environments focused on STEM education and potential careers.”

Scientists for Tomorrow also allows students from the Master Arts in Teaching program (MAT) in the LAS Education Department to gain in-class experience implementing three ten-week modules for hundreds of Chicago Public School students in after-school programs and their families in local community centers. The modules will cover alternative energy, physics and mathematics of sound, and environmental engineering. At the end of each module, a student-led presentation will be held at one of the partnering Chicago museums.

This outreach work conducted by the Science Institute in conjunction with the Education Department is an important component of the curriculum in the MAT Elementary Education program, as it allows graduate students in the program to gain first-hand experience teaching science to children, preparing them for future careers as teachers.

“Scientists for Tomorrow is founded on Columbia College’s rich history of providing science and technology workshops and internships for Chicago area youth,” said Deborah H. Holdstein, Dean of the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “This program not only broadens the educational experience for our young people, but it also provides community interaction and real-life experience for our education students in mentoring these talented young minds in the classroom.”

The project’s two overall goals are to develop and implement a high-quality STEM-based afterschool program for underrepresented youth and to enrich and extend the teachers’ knowledge in the STEM areas through professional development and experience with the curriculum, better preparing them to teach science and mathematics.


Reception Recognizes First Honors Program Graduates

For the first time in the college’s 122-year history, a group of graduating students walked across the stage at Commencement, received diplomas from Dr. Warrick L. Carter, and graduated from Columbia College Chicago having completed an honors program of study.

The eight students who graduated from the Honors Program last semester represent the first cohort to complete the college’s Honors Program. The students were Jenna Domeischel (Art History); Deb Durham (Creative Writing – Nonfiction); Brian Gray (Journalism); Noah Kloor (Film and Video); Courtney Muller (Fiction Writing); Ashley Muir (Fiction Writing); David Orlikoff (Interdisciplinary: Journalism/ Film and Video); and Sam Uliano (Fiction Writing).

The Honors Program is located in the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences, where it began in the Spring of 2010. Offering Honors courses to a targeted population of students who excel in their coursework, the program has grown to roughly twenty Honors courses per semester, serving hundreds of Columbia’s high-achieving, undergraduate students in the LAS Core. To complete the program and graduate with Honors, students must complete fifteen credits and maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.50 or higher. Since it began two years ago, the Honors Program has included courses such as “Evolution of Sex,” “Letters from the American Past,” and “Taste and Consumption in French History,” among many others.

“The Honors Program was great,” said Uliano, who attended a reception on April 19 honoring her and the seven other Honors Program graduates. Uliano noted that her favorite Honors course was “Victorian Illustrated Poetry,” taught by Dr. Kenneth Daley, Chair of the Department of English. “I wish there had been more Honors classes,” she said. Durham, who also attended the Honors reception, echoed Uliano’s sentiments about the program. “The level of enthusiasm my classmates had made the Honors Program enjoyable,” she said.

“We are very pleased that as many as eight students were able to complete the requirements for the Honors Program in such a short amount of time, which in essence has only been four semesters,” said Dr. Neil Pagano, Associate Dean of the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences and Director of the Honors Program. “Looking forward, we expect this number to increase significantly, as over the last two fall semesters we have seen approximately 180 incoming freshman who were invited to join the Honors Program.”

The April 19 reception honoring the first cohort of Honors Program graduates took place in the Hokin Gallery, 623 S. Wabash Ave. In addition to the graduates, guests at the reception included faculty members in LAS who have taught Honors courses; Dean Deborah H. Holdstein and her staff; Mark Kelly, Vice President of Student Affairs and a long-time, staunch supporter of an honors program at Columbia; family members of Honors graduates; and Keith Cleveland, former Assistant Dean for Faculty Advising and LAS Initiatives and the founding director of the Honors Program.

“There’s no question it was a pleasure to see the first graduates of the Honors Program at the reception,” said Cleveland, who retired in August of 2011 after more than thirty years at Columbia. “I continue to believe that the Honors Program is important for Columbia, and it is my earnest wish that the program continues to grow and prosper.”


Honors Students Collaborate with Museum on Oral History Project

In its ongoing commitment to civic and cultural outreach in the surrounding Chicago community, Columbia College Chicago has partnered with the National Veterans Art Museum (NVAM)—an important institution in the city that preserves, collects, and exhibits combat-inspired art created by veterans. Over the fall semester, students enrolled in “Oral History: The Art of the Interview,” a course that is part of the Honors Program, interviewed twelve artists, and then transcribed their interviews for a NVAM oral history project. The artists are veterans of the Vietnam War, and the course is offered through the Department of Humanities, History, and Social Sciences.

The Honors Program is open to high achieving students in any major at the college and is housed in the LAS Core Curriculum. The project culminated on December 15, when the students presented their work at the NVAM. “The subject matter is emotionally heartbreaking and mentally captivating,” said Rian Lussier, a student who took the class and is majoring in Art History.

According to Dr. Erin McCarthy, an associate professor of History at the college who taught the course, students learned how oral history can function as a means of primary documentation, and how it differs from other forms of interviewing. Further, and significantly, the students’ projects will be a part of a publicly accessible permanent collection at the museum. “I think it is important that the veterans are provided an opportunity to speak about their time in war and its influence on their life and art,” Lussier said.

“In addition to having the interviews on file for the historical record and so they can be accessed by researchers, we would eventually like to incorporate the artists’ stories into our presentation of the artwork,” said Robin Hoecker, a PhD student at Northwestern who volunteers at NVAM and is involved with the oral history project. “These stories, told by the artists themselves, add much to the museum and help visitors and researchers understand the significance of the artwork.”

In the last ten years, students at Columbia have contributed more than three hundred transcribed oral history interviews to numerous local and national oral history projects, including the Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress, the National Hellenic Museum, and the Chicagoland Anti-Apartheid Movement Collection at Columbia College Chicago.


Fall 2011 LAS Dean’s Lecturers Debate Morality, Ethics

The Fall 2011 LAS Dean’s Lecture took the form of a rousing debate between the Chairman of Columbia’s Board of Trustees, Allen M. Turner, and Dr. Stephen T. Asma, Professor of Philosophy in the Department of Humanities, History, and Social Sciences at Columbia. The two squared off to defend conflicting views of morality and ethics in twenty-first century America in, “Are There Morals in Morality?”

Addressing a number of contentious topics such as waterboarding, U.S. foreign policy, interventionism, and religion, the two traded intellectual barbs—and a few good-humored jabs—for nearly an hour, with Mr. Turner taking a cost-benefit approach in the debate and Dr. Asma crafting his arguments around the position that society owes human beings certain moral and ethic duties, even when it’s disadvantageous.

“When I began the Dean’s Lecture, one of my main objectives was to create a forum in which ideas, opinions, scholarship, and intellectual discourse could operate openly and unhinged,” said Dean Holdstein, who began the evening with a seriocomic introduction. “All of the Dean’s Lectures have accomplished this, but bringing two of the college’s brightest minds together to debate moral and ethical issues made this Dean’s Lecture a truly memorable and important event for LAS and the larger Columbia community.”

Mr. Turner and Dr. Asma began their debate by examining the ethical and moral roles of torture in the case of Jon Burge, a disgraced Chicago Police Department detective and commander. Burge was convicted in 2010 of lying under oath in a 2003 civil court case, which alleged that he and his subordinates brutally tortured suspects into false confessions.

“I would argue that [Burge] is morally disgusting,” Dr. Asma said during the debate. “There’s an ethical tradition from Aristotle all the way through Adam Smith down to the present, which is that morality is based on our feelings, and that we should trust those feelings.” Mr. Turner countered: “I can’t defend Jon Burge; he was a terrible person. But we do not want to throw out the torture baby with the bathwater—or with Jon Burge. I’m suggesting that under some circumstances this (torture) in fact could be an appropriate method for governments to use.”

The two then moved on to the subject of waterboarding, with Dr. Asma arguing, “You can’t base a moral policy on what sickos do,” and that “A cost-benefit analysis is not enough to give us a notion of the good life. We have to have values that are inspired, in part, by emotions like empathy.” Of the cost-benefit approach, Mr. Turner later in the debate said that, “There is some flexibility in how we look at things, depending on the filters. We look through a lens, which is made up of our heredity, our environment, our experience, and our education. We tend to take in information, and process it. [In] everything we do, we calculate cost and benefit.”

The two capped off their debate with a surprise musical performance: Mr. Turner played piano and sang an original com- position, with Dr. Asma accompanying on guitar. They received a standing ovation.

Renowned Rhetorician Delivers Spring 2012 LAS Dean’s Lecture

A leading scholar in the fields of rhetoric and composition presented the Spring 2012 LAS Dean’s Lecture in February. Dr. Kathleen Blake Yancey, Kellogg W. Hunt Professor of English and Distinguished Research Professor at Florida State University, where she directs the graduate program in Rhetoric and Composition, lectured about the role of visual rhetoric as it has evolved alongside words to help humans make meaning. Her lecture was titled, “Isn’t It Really Just About the Words?” 

To expand on the complex and ever-changing role visual rhetoric has historically played in the Western world, Dr. Yancey presented five historical moments when visual rhetoric evolved and shifted the ways humans used language and images to create meaning: pre-historic petroglyphs, medieval manuscripts, Renaissance scientific discovery, ninetieth and twentieth century imaged-based postcards, and our present shift to contemporary digital rhetoric. Each of these moments, she said, represents a shift in the creation and consumption of visual rhetoric, and those shifts have contributed to the ways we process information.

“The visual is clearly becoming a universal language,” Dr. Yancey said in her lecture. “Visuals are, in some instances, replacing words. If the twentieth century was the age of the lens—the lens of the still, film, video, and Web cameras—then I think the twenty-first century is the age of composition fully rendered.”

Dr. Yancey ended her lecture by addressing the way she believes the evolution of images and words will affect the teaching of writing in the years to come. In addition to the clear need to teach traditional forms of writing, she said teachers should further incorporate into their curricula how images and words work together to create meaning. “We can use the teaching of words in the teaching of visuals,” Dr. Yancey said shortly before fielding questions from the audience.

The Spring 2012 LAS Dean’s Lecture marked the third anniversary of the lecture series, which Dean Holdstein created as a forum for scholarly and intellectual voices both from within and outside of the Columbia College Chicago community. “I was very honored to receive the invitation to speak from Dean Holdstein, and my visit confirmed my high expectations: what a wonderful college!” Dr. Yancey said. “The hospitality Columbia offered was warm and gracious, and the response to my talk was exactly what I had hoped for.” 

Larissa Mulholland Named Director of ECE Program

During the Spring semester, Senior Lecturer Larissa Mulholland was named the new Program Director of the Early Childhood Education program (ECE). Prior to Mulholland’s appointment, Angela Fowler led the program as its interim director, following the death in 2009 of the founding director, Dr. Carol Ann Stowe.

In the six years Mulholland has taught in the Education Department, she has established a reputation as a strong collaborator and advocate of the Reggio Emilia Approach—a progressive, arts-based, child-focused teaching philosophy on which the program is based. The Reggio Emilia Approach also emphasizes strong student/teacher relationships, which informs the direction Mulholland takes with teaching her own students.

“I think relationships are really important in Early Childhood Education,” Mulholland said. “Our program really values relationships, and that’s a huge part of what I bring to it. I push students to go deeper and not just come up with easy answers.”

Mulholland has worked in the field of education for more than twenty years. Her professional experience ranges from classroom teaching to mentoring and supervising teachers; developing social studies, science, and language arts curriculum and assessment; teacher preparation; early childhood education curriculum design; and coordinating assessment for the college’s Education Department.

Since becoming Director of the ECE program in January, Mulholland has been focusing on how to revise the program’s curriculum in anticipation of the upcoming teacher certification changes in the state of Illinois. With the college undertaking the Blueprint|Prioritization process over the last academic year, she has also been working directly with Dr. Carol Lloyd Rozansky, Chair of the Education Department, to assess what the ECE program does well and what can be improved.

In the coming years, Mulholland would like to strengthen the program’s relationship with the Chicago Public Schools by creating a professional development initiative in the department. She would also like the program to host more workshops for teachers to acquire new ideas about how to incorporate the arts in their curricula. In addition, she intends to create a non-certification curriculum within the Education Department to prepare students for non-teaching, but related, positions.

“We need to advocate for our practice and make it understood why it’s so important, as well as what its effects are,” Mulholland said. “So, I would like to see our program work with more schools in the Chicago area that are trying to develop more arts-integrated and progressive ECE programs that foster critical thinking.”

ASL – English Interpretation Program Receives National Accreditation

In May, the ASL – English Interpretation program was awarded national accreditation by the Commission on Collegiate Interpreter Education (CCIE). This is a major milestone for the program and the Department of ASL – English Interpretation, which was created in 1993 and is home to the only BA-granting interpreting program in the Chicago metropolitan area.

“This is by far one of the most significant achievements for our department in our history,” said Diana Gorman Jamrozik, Associate Professor in the Department of ASL – English Interpretation and the next chair of the department, beginning this Fall. “Accreditation validates our curriculum, but so do our graduates, who represent Columbia College Chicago daily as leaders in the field of interpretation.”

In its report to Columbia, the CCIE noted that the Department of ASL – English Interpretation and its BA program have many strengths, including, “The fit between the unified passion and purpose of the department and the mission of the college, benchmarks for assessing student progress through the major … [and] solid administrative skills of the program director and the clear administrative support from within the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences, especially from the Dean.”

The CCIE is a member of the Association of Specialized and Professional Accreditors and was created to promote professionalism in sign language interpreter education through accreditation. Provided the Department of ASL – English Interpretation continues to meet the CCIE’s standards and benchmarks, including developing and implementing a process that tracks and analyzes alumni outcomes, national accreditation for the program will last through at least April of 2022.

“By being accredited by the CCIE, students can be confident that the ASL – English Interpretation major meets, or exceeds, national standards for excellence in interpreter education,” Jamrozik said. “Accreditation highlights our program and puts it at a level that very few other programs in the country have.”


LAS Featured in College’s Conversations in the Arts Lecture Series

Three leading figures who have shaped national and international trends in disciplines taught in the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences were featured in Columbia’s 2011/2012 Conversations in the Arts lecture series, an initiative that is administered by the Office of Institutional Advancement. The three lecturers were Donna Brazile, Gloria Steinem, and Michael Beschloss.

A college educator, author, syndicated columnist, and political commentator, Brazile, whose October event launched the lecture series, became best known as the first African-American woman to manage a presidential campaign, serving in that role for Al Gore in 2000. As a political strategist, Brazile worked on every Democratic presidential campaign from 1976 through 2000. She is currently Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee.

In her lecture, Brazile discussed the U.S. deficit, the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street movements, government gridlock, and Hurricane Katrina’s effect on her hometown of New Orleans and relatives still living in the city. She assured the audience that Occupy Wall Street was not backed by the Democratic Party: “The Democratic Party hasn’t seen that much movement since 2008,” she said.

Widely seen today as a political contributor on CNN and ABC networks, Brazile noted that the 2012 election will be the most contentious in the country’s history, given political “incivility” and voter dissatisfaction in the country today. However, she added, citizens must also consider running for office themselves. “Change doesn’t start at the top. It has always started from the bottom up,” she said. “We are the change we voted for.”

In February, iconic activist, feminist, and author Gloria Steinem spoke about a variety of topical issues, from the overturning of California’s Proposition 8 to the problem of rising student debt. She also, naturally, addressed women’s rights. “We’ve proven that women can do what men can do,” she said. “Now we need to prove that men can do what women can do.”

Steinem is an accomplished writer and editor, founding New York Magazine in 1968 and co-founding Ms. Magazine in 1972, where she remained an editor for fifteen years. Her books include Revolution from Within: A Book of Self-Esteem, Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions, Moving Beyond Words, and Marilyn: Norma Jean.” Before her lecture, Steinem spoke to members of The F Word, a student feminist organization at Columbia, and to a “Women and Gender Studies” class, where she noted that it took a century for “real racial equality” in the United States, so full sexual equality may still be fifty years away.

In March, presidential historian, author, and NBC News/PBS commentator Michael Beschloss spoke about presidential courage at the final 2011/2012 Conversations in the Arts lecture, encouraging the audience to think critically about candidates’ platforms when they vote this November.

Addressing how the benefit of hindsight changes viewpoints on political leaders over time, Beschloss discussed historically important presidential qualities that voters should consider in the upcoming election. Using Abraham Lincoln and the once-controversial Emancipation Proclamation as an example, Beschloss encouraged voters to support candidates who aren’t afraid to make unpopular decisions and foreground the best interests of the country.

A Chicago native, Beschloss has written nine books on American presidents. His work has been on New York Times and Washington Post bestseller lists, and in 2011, he annotated and wrote the introduction to the #1 New York Times bestseller Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy. Beschloss is currently working on a book focusing on presidents during wartime.

Research Group Presents Panel Discussion on ‘Emotions’

What are emotions for? How and why did emotions evolve, and what role do they play in our social lives? How does brain science help us unlock the mysteries behind human emotions? These are the questions Dr. Stephen Asma, Dr. Rami Gabriel, and Glennon Curran (BA ’08), all members of the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences Research Group in Mind, Science, and Culture, sought to answer in a panel discussion during the spring semester.

Dr. Gabriel, Assistant Professor of Psychology in the Department of Humanities, History, and Social Sciences, began the discussion by addressing his work examining “emotionally knowing” in brain damaged patients—specifically, individuals who suffer from prosopagnosia, a severe disorder that impairs one’s ability to recognize familiar faces, even one’s own self and family.

Dr. Asma, Professor of Philosophy in the Department of Humanities, History, and Social Sciences, presented on his work studying dreams, how they relate to brain science, why he thinks dreaming might be valuable, and why dreaming might have evolved to help some of the processing that mammals do to get through life. “I’ve always been of the mind that dreams were basically nonsense, and that it was sort of chaos running around in your head after you’ve been knocked out, so to speak,” Dr. Asma said in his lecture. “But I’ve been revising my view about dreams lately.” Dr. Asma titled his presentation, “Imagination: Soft-Wiring the Emotions.”

Discussing the significance of emotion and legal reform, Curran, who is a graduate of the college’s Audio Arts and Acoustics program and an attorney at the Law Office of Marc D. Alberts, P.C., in Chicago, brought to light how emotional learning affects public policy. The Columbia alumnus used the example of how mother-infant bonding influences social behavior and can lead to anti-social behavior when a child’s mother is incarcerated. Curran also presented his research on the importance of emotional science for contemporary social and policies, such as maternity leave.

The School of Liberal Arts and Sciences Research Group in Mind, Science, and Culture takes a holistic approach to the study of the human mind. Its research emphasizes the continuity across mammalian brains by focusing on the integral role of emotion in social interaction and cognition. The group’s goal is to build bridges that connect affective neuroscience, evolution, and philosophy of the mind.

Department of Science and Mathematics Opens Advanced Chemistry Lab

The Department of Science and Mathematics opened its new advanced chemistry laboratory in the summer of 2011—the first lab of its kind in the college’s long history. The lab is now fully operational, and the college community is putting the state-of-the-art facility to use. It serves undergraduate students taking science courses in the LAS Core Curriculum, faculty members in the department, and students in the new Art and Materials Conservation degree program.

Designed to house chemistry courses that require advanced equipment and individual attention, the lab features ten fume hoods, special glassware, and sophisticated equipment that allows students and faculty to conduct complex and advanced experiments. The lab also features two new infrared and ultra violet spectroscopy machines, so that students can use light to identify the composition of materials found in paintings.

“While this lab was conceived and needed for the new major in Art and Materials Conservation, the entire Columbia population benefits from it,” said Dr. Michael Welsh, Associate Professor of Chemistry in the Department of Science and Mathematics and Coordinator of the Art and Materials Conservation major. “We are able to do new and exciting things that we can’t do in our other labs.”

In conjunction with the Art and Materials Conservation degree program, which began in the Fall of 2011, students are using the lab for “Chemistry of Arts Conservation,” a course that gives students enrolled in the program the access to conduct advanced lab experiments. In future chemistry courses, such as “Organic Chemistry,” students will use the lab to learn how natural materials, like oils, proteins, and resins, are used in paint. With individual distilling kits and access to fume hoods, students will also cook and distill organic molecules.

Other science courses using the new lab include “Introduction to Nanotechnology,” “Biochemistry,” “Liberal Arts Chemistry,” and “Concepts of Biochemistry.” The new lab is also available during the summers so faculty members in need of space can collect data and use it as a temporary research station.

“The new Advanced Chemistry Lab in the Department of Science and Mathematics is a great step forward for the department, the college, and most importantly, for all students at Columbia,” Dean Holdstein said. “Having a lab like this at Columbia provides our students in Art and Materials Conservation—a degree program heavily steeped in the sciences—with the tools to become immersed in their program. And it opens new doors for all undergraduate students at Columbia to work side-by-side with faculty members from the Department of Science and Mathematics in new and exciting ways.”