Belmont University hosts its 12th annual Humanities Symposium next week, featuring authors, poets, researchers, philosophers and professors from across the country.
Centered on the theme “Encountering Otherness,” the Belmont 2013 Humanities Symposium will occur Sept. 22 through 30 and parallels the 2013-14 University theme of “Through the Eyes of Others.” The Humanities Symposium seeks to stimulate intellectual conversation through its 31 events, which together will engage in a week-long conversation designed to increase interactions with different cultures, religions, political views and historical understandings to dislodge the default view and open students to broader understanding.
“We have scheduled what might be the most diverse group of speakers we’ve ever had for the 2013 Humanities Symposium, so we are very excited to share the work of our presenters with the Belmont community. We are proud of the fact that we have developed such a wide variety of events as well,” said Associate Professor of English Cynthia Cox, who is chairing the symposium. “In addition to many panels and lectures, this year’s symposium offers two writing workshops, an art exhibit showcasing the paintings of Belmont staff member Tam Mai, a Teaching Center luncheon, an open discussion of relevant philosophical questions, and a day of community service projects coordinated by the College of Arts and Sciences and the Office of Service Learning.”
Among the notable events are a 90-minute poetry reading by CantoMundo Fellow Eduardo C. Corral, a session on using networking opportunities to learn with Peabody College’s Dr. Kevin Leander, a lecture on race by Duquesne University’s Dr. George Yancy, a lecture on using empathy to understand others with Ohio State University’s Dr. Amy Shuman, a talk about Native American history and spirituality with University of Denver Centers for American Indian and Alaska Native Health Research Office Director CeCe Big Crow and a discussion on illegal immigration with Vanderbilt University’s Dr. Robert Barsky. All events are free and open to the public. For more information and to view the full program of events, visit www.belmont.edu/cas/humanities_symposium.
This year the Humanities Symposium also includes six community service projects across Nashville for approximately 120 Belmont students, faculty and staff to practice the theme of encountering otherness from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Sept. 28. Opportunities include working at building fences for outdoor dogs through Music City Hounds Unbound, creating crafts and playing board games with senior citizens at Morningside of Belmont Assisted Living and gardening with homeless women at the Women’s Center of Nashville Rescue Mission.
Summer Scholar Communities is a program in the that blends the structure of a summer session class with the format of a research team focused on a faculty-designed research project and differs from traditional undergraduate research in that students and faculty from various disciplines across the CAS meet regularly over the course of the summer to share results, to learn from each other, to present their research findings and discuss challenges and commonalities. The students will present their findings at Belmont’s Science Undergraduate Research Symposium (SURS) on Dec. 2.
Dr. Darlene Panvini, professor of biology, mentored a group of biology and environmental science majors investigating the “Impact of Exotic Plants on Abundance, Diversity, and Distribution of Earthworms.” The students participating were Sarah Gilmore, Kari Morse and Megan Swaine. Little is known about the occurrence of earthworms in areas invaded by exotic plants, though the “biomass of invasive shrubs has been associated with biomass of exotic earthworms in eastern North America” (EREN proposal). Earthworms play a crucial role in decomposition of leaf litter and the regeneration of carbon in the carbon cycle. The presence or absence of earthworms can affect nutrient cycling and levels of biodiversity in ecosystems. In some instances, the presence of exotic earthworms has contributed to the loss of rare plant species and reduced seedling survival. Humans are the major vectors for earthworms; earthworm, exotic plant, and human movement “have been associated with land-use patterns, disturbance, and deer herbivory” (EREN proposal). Not clear, however, is the impact of invasive shrubs on earthworm diversity or the vice versa effect.
Dr. John Niedzwiecki, associate professor of biology, mentored a group of biology and environmental science majors including Court Reese, Valini Ramcharan and Kyle Sullinger along with Hannah Martin. Court worked to determine the relationship between two populations of salamanders by comparing mitochondrial DNA. Valini and Kyle studied the effects of size and predator cues on snail behavior. Hannah’s project used Geographic Information System to collect data about local environments.
Dr. Lori McGrew, associate professor of biology, had a group of biology majors who worked with zebra fish to explore the effect of different compounds on memory and anxiety in the fish. Two students, Allison McCoy and Jen Myer, used antidepressants to treat the fish and then measured the effect on the fish’s working memory. Katie Farrell tested the homeopathic compound, Bacopa, to determine whether this herbal supplement had an effect on working memory or anxiety in zebra fish. Finally, Jordan Gann measured anxiety in zebra fish following their exposure to the pesticide glyphosate.
Belmont University celebrated the official topping out today for the 188,000-square-foot Wedgewood Academic Center siting above a 430-space parking garage on the corner of Wedgewood and 15th Avenues. The building will house most departments from the College of Arts and Sciences as well as the School of Religion, providing much-needed classroom and lab space for the growing University. The center will house a 280-seat chapel, a coffee and sandwich shop, 30 classrooms that vary in seating capacity, state-of the-art laboratories, study rooms and conference room space. Anticipated to cost $76.5 million, the structure connects on three floors to both the Inman Center and McWhorter Hall.
Belmont President Dr. Bob Fisher said, “This structure is the product of significant collaboration among the students, staff, faculty and leadership team. It is clear that we really are ‘better together!’”
The topping out marked the completion of the concrete structure and five-level underground parking garage. Since Belmont’s general education and core curriculum requires courses in writing, speech, math and religion, among others, every undergraduate will take classes in the Wedgewood Academic Center. The building is designed for interdisciplinary collaboration and planned collisions between students and faculty.
Dr. Thomas Burns, who serves as Belmont’s Provost overseeing all academic programs, added “From inception, our faculty and students have been involved in helping to design a facility that serves current needs, provides extraordinary potential for our future and creates an environment where collaboration and community will help define the future of higher education. Today’s topping out ceremony brings us one step closer to realizing our shared vision.”
As part of Belmont’s ongoing commitment to environmental sustainability, the University is seeking Platinum-level LEED Certification for the Wedgewood Academic Center. The LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System™ is a feature-oriented rating system that awards buildings points for satisfying specified green building criteria. The new facility is incorporating a number of green features including a green roof adjacent to biology lab space, garage recycling room and trash compactor, motion-sensor lighting in all offices, classrooms and labs and a variable flow refrigerant HVAC system.
Designed by ESa with construction by R.C. Mathews, the academic building will be complete and ready for occupancy by fall 2014.
Recent graduates to serve in Ukraine, France
May 2013 Belmont University graduates Katie Godwin and Jill Barrett were recently awarded program grants for overseas teaching in Ukraine and France, respectively.
Godwin, an English and honors major and Russian minor from Huntsville, Ala., received an English Teaching Assistantship Fulbright grant to Ukraine to assist in teaching English in a university for the 2013-2014 academic year. Sponsored by the United States Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Fulbright Program provides funding for students, scholars, teachers and professionals to undertake graduate study, advanced research, university teaching and teaching in elementary and secondary schools.
In addition to aiding with classroom lessons and activities, Godwin will be responsible for other English language-oriented projects, such as language labs or American culture seminars, for students and those in the community. In addition to receiving the Fulbright, Godwin has participated in the U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship (for Russian) in Kazan, Russia, volunteered as an English language instructor in Moscow with the Institute of Humanitarian Development and served as an English language teaching assistant in a bilingual primary school in Madrid, Spain.
Godwin said, “I applied for an ETA Fulbright grant because I am interested in pursuing a career in education research. I’m particularly interested in teaching abroad because participating in and observing foreign education systems will allow me to better understand the many methods and tools that can be used to approach the current issues facing our school systems. Furthermore, the Fulbright is an opportunity to promote cross-cultural understanding, which is an essential part of international education.”
Jill Barrett, a French/English double major, will be working with the Teaching Assistantship Program In France (TAPIF), a sister program to the Fulbright administered by the French Ministry of Education. A native of Franklin, Tenn., Barrett will be teaching English from late August through next May to middle and high schoolers in Excideuil, a small town in the south of France.
Barrett—who studied abroad in Angers, France during the spring semester of her sophomore year— said, “Basically, I get to serve as a sort of conversational guide and language facilitator. I have always had an affinity for the French culture, language and people… When I came home [from studying abroad in 2011], I knew that my time in France wasn’t quite over, and I started looking for ways to go back when I graduated. The TAPIF program was a great option, and thankfully, I was selected! In the long run, I’d love to get my master’s in French and teach it in some capacity. This experience will hopefully solidify my French language skills, while also giving me a little bit of insight into the culture and lifestyle.”
Heart of Belmont award winner Rami Nofal lives out University mission to ‘engage and transform world’ with new appointments
Belmont University alumnus Rami Nofal (’13) was recently selected for two distinguished, international opportunities: a fellowship at prestigious Cambridge University and a stint in Ghana serving with the Peace Corps.
Nofal—who graduated in May earning degrees in international business (marketing and Arabic), finance and economics with a minor in political science—won one of Belmont University’s highest honors in April when he was selected to receive the John Williams Heart of Belmont award. The Heart of Belmont award recognizes a student who demonstrates commitment to service, initiative, innovation, persistence, advocacy, and maturity, among other qualities. He also was actively involved with the two-time National Champion and 2012 World Cup-winning Enactus team.
A 2009 graduate of Nashville’s Overton High School, Nofal will next participate Aug. 18-30 in the Ariane de Rothschild Fellowship at Cambridge University in England. This Fellowship is the premier gold standard of social entrepreneurship intersected with cross-cultural exchange for global minded change agents. Nofal’s acceptance letter noted, “Your selection as a Fellow reflects the careful judgment of prominent scholars that you meet the Fellowship’s rigorous criteria for admission, emphasizing both excellence in the quality of your civic engagement and your serious contribution to social enterprise.”