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Hawhee proposed this course last summer, as the Penn State scandal escalated with the release of the Freeh Report. She saw an urgent need for better ethical decision-making at our institution, and she acted swiftly to address this need. Hawhee's course has provided Penn State students with an opportunity to think carefully about the ethical dilemmas they will face not only in sports, but also in life.
Hawhee has had ample opportunities to think through the nature of American sports culture, as a professor at Penn State and a former NCAA athlete for the University of Tennessee's women's basketball team.
Each Tuesday and Thursday afternoon in 316 Wagner, just a few minutes' walk from Beaver Stadium, Hawhee and her 46 students examine the cultural values that sports reflect. Using literature and dialogue as their main tools, students learn to critically examine these values and question their own belief systems.
On Thursday, February 21, Hawhee and her students wrapped up their unit on Basketball, Ethics, and Literature. They had completed their baseball unit, and they will be moving on to football this week.
Hawhee engaged her class in a discussion of "donkey basketball," a sport popular in many pockets of rural America in which players shoot hoops while riding donkeys. This peculiar activity served as the subject of the day's reading, the short story "Basic Training" by American Indian writer and filmmaker Sherman Alexie.
As Hawhee helped her students understand, Alexie's story is about much more than donkey basketball. "If we read donkey basketball as some sort of grand metaphor," Hawhee asked her class, "how would this play out?"
Hawhee and her students spent the majority of class wrestling with this question as they read and analyzed key passages from the piece. One student drew a connection between the demise of the donkey basketball empire in the story and the decline of the NBA in the 1990s. Hawhee applauded the student for pointing out this "brilliant layer" of the story.
Over the course of the discussion, Hawhee and her students identified additional themes at work in Alexie's story--themes of honor, duty, tradition, and nobility. Hawhee explained that "Basic Training" explores the question of where nobility comes from. Does it stem from following one's individual desires, or from fidelity to one's tribe or family? By the end of class, students may not have had an answer to this question, but they did have an important ethical question with which to grapple.
This is precisely her goal as an instructor, as she explained it: to encourage students to think through ethical dilemmas in advance of real-world conflicts. She expressed her belief that literature offers a valuable tool for doing so. Over the course of the semester, Hawhee and her students have addressed a number of challenging ethical questions, including the gender politics of the tee shirt that reads, "Ann Arbor is a Whore," a slogan popular among Michigan's rival schools; and Lance Armstrong's use of performance-enhancing drugs. The course encourages students to think through ethical dilemmas with greater care.
While Hawhee has occasionally brought this discussion closer to home, she has yet to delve fully into the Penn State scandal. The course's football unit will begin this week, and it remains to be seen where the discussions will lead.
At the end of the day, though, the course's content may be less important than the skills students are acquiring. If English 297A is about sports, ethics, and literature, Hawhee implied that ethics take center stage. "The issues are larger than sports and larger than literature," she said, "which often makes this class hard...and fun."
As a Penn State graduate, I can honestly say that my education at Penn State was diverse, fascinating, and challenging. There are several classes that I would retake in a heartbeat, but the one that sticks out the most is PHIL 014: Philosophy of Love and Sex.
I majored in both Marketing in the Smeal College of Business and Advertising in the College of Communications, so I had never taken a philosophy class in my life. The great thing about Penn State, though, is that general education classes are required. Thus came my search for a meaningful GH course that would both challenge me and make a lasting impact. Scrolling through the countless courses, I came across PHIL 014 and I was SOLD. Who doesn't like talking about sex? What I got out of this course, though, was so much more than I ever thought possible.
This class starts out with a bunch of students discussing what we believe the notion of love and sex to be about. Then it digs deeper. You learn about different types of friendship, the history of homosexuality, and how men try to pick up women. The topics are wide and the discussions intelligent. You learn to cherish your friendships and challenge social norms.
Your class experience, however, depends on how much the class is willing to open up and discuss taboo subjects. I'll admit, some discussions lead to analyzing threesomes or fetishes. But that's all part of the course.
If you are looking for a great GH course, seriously consider taking this class. You learn so much about theories of love, why we are kind of crazy about sex, and most of all: you learn a ton about yourself.
WARNING: This is a philosophy class and therefore has plenty of readings to be completed. Don't fret, though. The readings are all incredibly interesting. I promise.
Melanie Versaw currently works in Carmel, Indiana, for Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies as a Marketing Specialist, and she is a lead Penn State recruiter for Ingersoll Rand. She is also a photographer and can be contacted at Mel Versaw Photography. (Twitter handle: @MelanieVersaw)
Hello! I'm Julia, and I am a student representative on the University Faculty Senate, which is comprised of faculty senators elected from each college and campus to provide legislative authority on all matters relating to the educational interests of the University. As a Student Faculty Senator, I represent you, the students of the College of the Liberal Arts.
On Tuesday, February 5, 2013, 11:00-12:00 p.m., in 502 Keller Building, Senate Officers will visit the College of the Liberal Arts, and all Liberal Arts students are invited to the meeting. Email RSVP@la.psu.edu if you are planning to attend.
The following delegation of students will attend the meeting to represent you:
- Julia V. Schrank, Student Faculty Senator for the College of the Liberal Arts
- Spencer Malloy, Chair of the Assembly for the University Park Undergraduate Association
- Kasey O'Keefe, President of The Liberal Arts Undergraduate Council
- Matthew Jewitt, Vice President of The Liberal Arts Undergraduate Council
Here are some items that we may bring to the Senate Officers' attention:
- Technology in the classroom: Can your professor ban electronics from his or her classroom? Is that for the College to decide? Or is it flat-out not allowed?
- Online syllabi for the University: Currently, the College of Health and Human Development has old syllabi from previous semesters online and available for students' use. We think that having these old syllabi available for all courses would be very helpful in allowing you to pick the best course schedule and course sections that you possibly can, and we would like to engage the Senate Officers regarding the feasibility of doing this across the board.
- Excused absences for job interviews: Right now, if you have a job interview during a class, it is not considered an excused absence by many of our professors. We don't want to presume that professors don't want you to get jobs (If anything, they want you to use what you learn to get that prime position!), but there's a lack of guidance in this area, and we think this is important for students in the College.
If you have other concerns that you would like us to bring to the Senate Officers, or if you think that there's something else that I should look into during my term, let me know ASAP at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for your time and have a great semester!
The Tech Tutors service is a free student-to-student tutoring program that provides assistance with class assignments that involve the use of technology. Tutors are tech-savvy students trained by ITS Training Services, and they can offer help with programs such as Access, Blogs at Penn State, Excel, PowerPoint, Photoshop, ANGEL, Word, WikiSpaces, InDesign, and more.
If you need help with technology for a class project, look for the folks in the purple shirts! Currently, they can be found in two computer labs on campus: 201 Pollock Building and study room W122 in the Knowledge Commons of Pattee Library. Tech Tutors are available during regular walk-in hours between 11:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, or you can email them at email@example.com to schedule an appointment.
Find out more about Penn State Tech Tutors on their website, and connect with them on Facebook and Twitter for tech tips and updates.
Photo by Penn State Tech Tutors.
Cortney Stevens, Fall 2012 Liberal Arts Student Marshal, a photo by LAUSatPSU on Flickr.
The daughter of Lynne and Scott Stevens, Cortney has been on the dean's list every semester. She participated in a study abroad language program in Seville, Spain, and served as a research assistant at the Language and Cognition Laboratory on campus.
Her honors include the Evan Pugh Scholar Award for superior academic excellence, the Bayard Kunkle Scholarship, and the Psi Chi International Honor Society for Psychology. She also has been active in the Penn State Spanish Club, the FOTO organization and the OPP (operations) committee for THON, the Campus Band, and the Sinfonietta Orchestra at Penn State.
In the fall, Cortney will be pursuing her life's dream of teaching English in Spain through the Spanish Government for a period of one to two years. Upon her return, Cortney plans to enter graduate school to pursue an advanced degree in Psychology.
Penn State's Department of History is thrilled to announce the development of a new study abroad program at ISI: The Institute at Palazzo Rucellai in Florence, Italy. The program offers a great international experience for students interested in ancient and medieval history, archaeology, and culture. If you've ever wanted to walk the same streets as Galileo, Michelangelo, and Macchiavelli, or experience some of the world's finest cheeses and regional Italian dishes, while studying the history and art of Florence, then this program is for you.
The program--Florence: Ancient and Medieval History--includes a fixed schedule of courses taught by both Italian and American professors, visits to several Italian sites including Rome and Pompeii, and the opportunity to join an archaeological dig that is excavating a late Roman and Lombard site. Courses offered are equivalent to CAMS/History 101, CAMS 150, Art History 199, History 407, and Italian language, making this a great program option for a variety of Liberal Arts majors. (Note: History 407 does not have any prerequisites.)
The program will be offered during the fall semester, beginning in Fall 2013. The application deadline for the Fall 2013 program is January 20, 2013, so start planning now if you are interested in applying to this exciting new program.
For additional information, please go to the program website. I will be teaching one of the courses (History 407) for this program next fall, so please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about the program, the courses, or the application process.
Hope to see you in Florence!
Taryn Noll (Senior, Communication Arts & Sciences), a photo by LAUSatPSU on Flickr.
Throughout my time at Penn State, a pink thread has woven itself into all that I do. My mom battled breast cancer my freshman year here, and I now happily call her a survivor. Since that moment, I became involved in many "pink" organizations and projects. It was no surprise that my thesis ended up following this same pink path.
I was pointed in the direction of Denise Solomon to be my thesis adviser, as she had completed previous research about breast cancer communication. Because I have such a strong tie to breast cancer communication in my life, I decided to study mother-daughter communication during a mother's breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. Mother-daughter pairs that agreed to participate were asked to complete separate online surveys, which were linked by unique identifiers they created at the start of the survey.
During the school year, I am very involved on campus. Some weeks I do not see my roommates for days in a row. It is hard to find time to sit down and put in my very best work. With the Summer Discovery Grant, I was able to put in my absolute best effort, passion and dedication. I did not have to worry about a summer job or making money to pay off my loans that will start gaining interest in merely a year. I was able to dedicate time out of each day to my research.
At the beginning of summer, I worked on submitting my thesis for Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval. I worked with Denise to solidify my survey questions. After I gained approval in June, I spent each day researching organizations I could contact to spread the word about my project. I reached out to participants through email and set them up with their surveys. I contacted over 200 organizations and sent out flyers to promote my research.
Back at school now for Fall Semester, I am still working on my thesis, but I can certainly still feel the benefits of the Summer Discovery Grant. I was able to set a solid foundation over the summer, and I can now take my time with the final analysis of my research.
I highly encourage Liberal Arts students to apply for the Summer Discovery Grant. It is a great opportunity to get a head start on your research and to have the means to do it. It is very simple to apply and you will feel very accomplished by the end of your summer full of hard work!
Coming from a northeastern lifestyle, the first aspect in cultural differences was how relaxed and laid back life is down there. I began my trek towards the Capitol complex a little before 9:00 a.m. Trudging up an elongated hill on which the main street runs, I (no lie) did not see one other person walking or driving along the hill.
It was like a ghost town!
Having worked in downtown Philadelphia where life starts sometime before 7:00 a.m., it was almost peaceful, the sense of calm the city of Montgomery has in the morning.
Also, if I only came away from this trip with one piece of information, it's that I LOVE bread pudding. Who knew? This, along with the very meaty and fried menus of most of the eating establishments, all lent to a very down-home, comfortable lunch and dinner time atmosphere.
Finally, the people epitomize the saying "Southern Hospitality." From a stranger's simple "hello," to the plentiful advice any person you talk to will lend, people there are not strangers, but fellow people helping one another through life.
I wanted to share this cultural information to give a glimpse into a society that is so much different than any I had experienced. If there are any non-Southern kids reading this and tossing around the idea of a trip south, from one northeasterner to another, do it! You won't regret it.
Overall, my second day of research began much like my first. I requested the boxes that I had planned and attacked the information chronologically. All in all, I came away from the trip with close to 100 documents.
I'm not sure if I will use all, half, or even a quarter of them, but what I do use will undoubtedly be pivotal in the writing of my thesis.
Coming away from this experience, I send you all a few pieces of research advice:
Go with a plan.
There is going to be more information than you'll know what to do with. Know what you're looking for, and focus on it.
Don't be worried by what you're missing; focus on what you have.
Again, there is going to be more information than you'll know what to do with. You can't worry about what's in the next box. Make the most of what you have.
Now, it's really up to your own personal preference, but I found it especially beneficial to take digital pictures of the documents I wanted to keep. This is for a number of reasons:
- It is fast! You can quickly move through documents, and you don't have to stop to make photocopies.
- From my experience, the archivists prefer it, as they don't have to be bothered in assisting you with questions surrounding duplicating (i.e. if it can be photocopied, how to do it, etc.)
- It's free!
I don't think I can say this enough: there is going to be more information than you'll know what to do with. I know I said to go with a plan and focus on what you plan on looking at, but also at the same time, be flexible. If you have a feeling about a certain box, or find a piece of information that may lead you off the path you planned, go with it! I probably wouldn't have found the legal filings that are most likely the best pieces of information I discovered without being flexible.
It is easy to get overwhelmed, and if you're ever in this situation, you most likely will be. I hope my experience and tips can help you in research experiences of your own to overcome that feeling!
Writing this blog and recording my experiences have not only given me a chance to spread my advice to you all, but also have given me a chance to reflect on my own time in Alabama. I hope you all had as much fun reading as I've had writing!
To schedule courses:
- Find out your first day to register by checking the first page of your degree audit or by consulting the Registration Timetable.
- If you have not yet met with your adviser to discuss the courses you would like to add for the Spring 2013 semester, please consult the Recommended Academic Plan for your intended major before scheduling. It is still recommended that you schedule an appointment with your adviser to discuss your course schedule prior to the end of this semester.
- Use the Schedule of Courses to select the courses you prefer.
- On or after your first day to register, use the Registration and Drop/Add Instructions and Registration Tips.
- After you complete registration, check the "Student Schedule" on eLion to verify your course selections. For important dates and deadlines for the spring semester, refer to the Academic Calendar.
- For a quick overview of how to register for courses, please refer to the video tutorial below.
- Under degree requirements on the Liberal Arts Undergraduate Studies website, click on any requirement listed to view courses that qualify under the requirement you chose.
- On the Schedule of Courses, use "Additional Search Criteria" to choose a specific type of requirement, such as General Education Requirements, Writing Intensive Courses, U.S. Cultures, International Cultures, and Other Cultures. The search will display courses that meet the specific criteria you selected.
At this point in the semester, you will find that many spring courses are already full. Don't worry; there are steps you can take to add a course that is full. A list of tips to schedule a full course can be found at http://www.psu.edu/dus/dus101/classful.htm.
For more information and additional help regarding the registration process, please visit: http://www.psu.edu/dus/handbook/register.html.
Drew McGehrin outside of the Alabama Department of Archives, a photo by LAUSatPSU on Flickr.
But first, a few surrounding details.
The topic of my thesis may help in describing this whole experience! I am writing on the 1985 Supreme Court decision, Wallace v. Jaffree, and the religious, racial, and political impact it made on its time and on the future. One of the major figures in the decision, and a key player in my paper, is Governor George Wallace of Alabama--the Wallace of Wallace v. Jaffree. The Governor's papers are housed in the Alabama Department of Archives in Montgomery, where I spent my time conducting the research.
The first day of my research was a huge success. I can confidently say that "Southern Hospitality" is much more than just a cliché. The people there were extremely helpful and engaging and really made the first day memorable.
Well that, and the hot, sticky, Alabama weather.
After registering with the Alabama Department of Archives, I requested the specific boxes that I decided to work on that day, those that I previously chose to view before my trip down.
Before I go into the detail of my research, I do want to pass along the most important piece of information my thesis advisor gave to me before I left: Go into the archive with a plan. Know what you are looking for, and use this as a foundation for your plan of attack. Keeping this in the back of my head as I began my research kept me grounded, especially as I opened my first box.
The first box released a musty, stagnant smell, leading me to believe I was the first to view these in a very long time. At first glance, I was extremely overwhelmed. Papers upon folders upon newspaper clippings were all strewn about with no sense of order.
It seemed as though I was in for a very long day. Very quickly, however, I began to separate what I needed from any extraneous documents. If you take on a project like this, you will probably know what I mean by getting into a groove with the research. After this first box, I began to fall into my groove and really began a focused route of attack through my documents.
Towards the end of the day, I had my first breakthrough. Almost by chance, I stumbled upon information telling me that the original and copied legal filings for Wallace v. Jaffree, and the cases that led up to the ruling, all were housed in the archive.
This box was a gold mine in itself.
My strictly planned out research on George Wallace's stances on segregation led me to this almost unrelated box of pivotal information. This instance really shows that no matter how much you plan, you may still get the best information by simply stumbling through almost unrelated documents.
So be flexible!
Be sure to check back for my next post that will have some final thoughts (and some cultural notes) on my summer research experience!
1. The application process will be less stressful. By studying abroad in the fall, you will be gathering materials throughout the summer, when you have more free time. Other than the Penn State application, you will have certain application papers due for your program itself, recommendation letters to take care of, perhaps a language competency exam or similar quota to meet, and maybe even application for a passport or visa if you do not have those materials already. For most countries, it can take weeks at a time to even schedule a visa application appointment with the consulate here in the United States. After obtaining an appointment, the list of required documents can sometimes be quite lengthy - some of those documents could require bank statements, housing bills, or other information that may take some time to retrieve. Without the stress of classes or final exams piling up before your departure, you can concentrate on getting everything you need together for your international travel during the summer months. (Plus you'll probably have Mom and Dad around to help!)
2. More funds may be available to support your financial needs. With the fiscal year beginning July 1st, more funds may be available for you to receive for a fall study abroad term. Remember that the amount of funds designated for study abroad students varies each year and varies with each case, so this is not a guarantee. However, being that the fall semester is the first full semester of the fiscal year, the college may have a bit more funding allocated for student enrichment activities. Check with the Career Enrichment Network for more details on these enrichment funds and for the application or stop by the office in 5 Sparks Building during drop-in hours (MWF 2:00pm-5:00pm, TR 11:00am-5:00pm).
3. You have three to four months of summer to find a job (or two) and save up money for your trip. With the open summer months preceding your trip, you are more likely to find a steady job, one that offers sufficient hours that you don't have to work around a class schedule. This way, when it comes time to leave, you don't have to worry that you recently spent all your savings on regular semester expenses (books, groceries, extracurricular activities fees).
4. It is much easier to find housing for your returning spring semester at Penn State. While the majority of students study abroad in the spring, this turns around to be a benefit for those studying abroad in the fall: all those students leaving in January need to find sublets for their apartments. If you are looking for housing in the spring, there will more likely be apartments available for you to take - and those looking to get rid of these sublets will probably be more apt to negotiating prices. Most students studying abroad in the spring just want to get rid of their place and are willing to bring down the price for those interested. A lot of available sublets seem to be posted on Facebook pages by class (i.e. "Penn State Class of 2015" page), so be sure to check those out.
5. Adjusting to American lifestyles will come more naturally with your return to Penn State in the spring. Though some of you will not experience culture shock upon your return to the United States, some of you will find it difficult adjusting back to "normal life", especially "normal school life". I found that by having the spring semester starting only a few weeks after I came back helped me adjust a bit more naturally because I wasn't hanging around my parents' house for long periods of time. You may find this appealing as well - with an organized schedule, old friends, and the familiarity of Penn State's campus awaiting you after your fabulous trip, you may feel welcomed and at home again more quickly.
*Bonus: You come home just in time for Penn State Dance Marathon in February! Who wants to miss out on helping to raise over $10.6 million dollars FTK? While abroad, you can still stay involved throughout the fall in donating online or sending out THONvelopes from wherever you are in the world.
As a senior entering my final semester at Penn State, my concern is, understandably, I hope, self-interested. My worries center around my own future, and I question myself if the incidents of the past nine months will impact my ability to obtain interviews and ultimately a full-time position after I graduate. Up until the past few weeks, I have had the title "Paterno Fellow" on my resume right under The Pennsylvania State University, B.A. English and French, Schreyer Honors College, three elements of my student character that I say with pride. I hadn't realized until very recently that my association with the Paterno Fellows program could become something of an issue as I apply for full-time jobs this fall. Just the other day my mother texted me, "You should take Paterno Fellow off your [email] signature for a bit....Many will question it." As disturbed as I was by this comment, I believe it was sound advice. For now.
In removing Paterno Fellows from my resume and email signature, I felt torn between two feelings - fear and pride. I feared what potential employers might think when they see the "Paterno Fellow" line on my resume, but I am enormously proud of what I've accomplished through the program. One such achievement includes the research position I held this summer for a non-profit organization in New Canaan, Connecticut, called Voices of September 11th. I applied by writing a simple email inquiry with my resume attached back in December of 2011, asking if any internship positions were available for summer 2012. There was no cover letter or writing sample attached with it. This inquiry led to a phone interview with my current boss, Frank, in which we briefly discussed my involvement within several organizations on campus and previous job experience. His final question involved Paterno Fellows. "I see you are a Paterno Fellow here. That looks impressive. Mind telling me what that's all about?" Fifteen minutes later I was hired.
As Fellows, we know the quality of the program for which we have worked so hard throughout our college careers. For some students, myself included, gaining access to the Schreyer Honors College first became a real possibility because of the Paterno Fellows Program. In becoming a Scholar, I have set out to do exactly what the Paterno Fellows program encourages: to enrich my Penn State experience by integrating my classroom education with advanced external opportunities. My upper level honors courses in English and French have deepened my relationships with faculty in my departments. Studying abroad and declaring a second major - choices I made in order to become a Fellow - have influenced my education and character in ways I would never have imagined. I have received priority scheduling every semester since my acceptance so that I can register for classes that further my personal and professional goals. Even beyond the $4,500 I have received to date through the program to relieve out-of-pocket expenses for traveling and internships, my educational experience as a Fellow has made all the difference in my college career.
My apprehension about the title of the program is, again, fundamentally selfish. In any other context, most non-Penn Staters right now see the name Paterno and do not think of the values of discipline, hard work, ethical leadership and academic excellence for which the program was created. Will they do the same when I advertise to potential employers that I am a part of an academic program named after Joe Paterno?
I am also concerned about incoming classes and the freshmen and sophomores who are currently aspiring to be Fellows. Just the other day I had a friend question whether she should continue aspiring and whether or not it "was all worth it." I hope that she continues to pursue the Paterno Fellows program, because regardless of the title, the program sets Liberal Arts students up for success. It motivates us to do more and to want to do more during our time here. It makes us realize that the power of education can be multifaceted, and that enrichment of all kinds is most certainly accessible right here on campus. I only hope that the rest of the world gives students in the Paterno Liberal Arts Undergraduate Fellows Program a chance to explain that rather than flipping to the next resume as soon as they read the name Paterno.
For now, "Paterno Fellow" stays off my resume. I have made this choice because the current situation is so uncertain. The turmoil is ever-changing, unfortunately. I cannot predict what will happen this semester or by the end of this year, and I do not believe that I need to make a personal sacrifice and risk missing an opportunity because an opinionated recruiter reads that name and dismisses my education and my association with Penn State. I have acknowledged that unfortunately, those people do exist, and I will do my best to educate them and defend the education I received at Penn State. I can defend the Fellows program created for Liberal Arts students, but as wonderful as the program is, I cannot defend its current name.
Volunteer Service Award:
Elicia Abella (Biological Anthropology)
Inspiring Student Leader Award:
Christopher King (Crime, Law, and Justice)
Dahiana Tejada (Latin American Studies)
- Jill Armington (Sociology)
- Tiffany Dempsey (Crime, Law, and Justice)
- Nadine Dietrich (Psychology)
- Kaitlyn Hess (History)
- Matthew Houser (Philosophy)
- Haley Kragness (Psychology)
- Evelyn Mugge (International Politics)
- Harmony Oswald (Law and Society)
- Cory Potts (Psychology)
- Grace Schmidt (English)
- Cortney Stevens (Psychology)
- Kelsey Suloman (Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies)
- Andrew Wigman (Archaeological Science)
- Laura Ariza (International Politics)
- Karissa Arthur (Psychology)
- Giulia Borriello (Psychology)
- Rachael Green (English)
- Robyn Homer (Psychology)
- Kristin Kerns (Sociology)
- Yidi Li (Psychology)
- Lisa Lotito (History)
- Jennifer Maloney (Crime, Law, and Justice)
- Meryn Oswald (English)
- Talia Pankratz (Biological Anthropology)
- Laura Ross (Political Science)
- Frank Rotiroti (Philosophy)
- Beth Rudoy (History)
The following Liberal Arts undergraduate students received the 2012 President Sparks Award for earning a 4.00 cumulative grade point average based on a minimum of 36 graded Penn State credits:
- Megan Carr (Labor Studies and Employment Relations)
- Sara Carter (International Politics)
- Justin Hatch (Liberal Arts)
- Joseph Marks (German)
- Michael Mulligan (Liberal Arts)
- Kathleen Quinn (Liberal Arts)
- Mengjia Ren (Economics)
- Rachel Robinson (Liberal Arts)
- Julia Schrank (Spanish)
- James Searfoss (English)
- Amy Simmons (Liberal Arts)
- Madison Sopic (Liberal Arts)
- Kristen Swigart (Liberal Arts)
- Katrina Taylor (Psychology)
- Chloe Weaver (Liberal Arts)
The President's Freshman Award is presented annually to first-year students who earned a cumulative 4.00 grade point average. Liberal Arts undergraduate students receiving the 2012 President's Freshman Award included:
- Vera Abaimova
- Robyn Behar
- Nina Boscia
- Julia Boserup
- Anna Brunner
- Alexandra Busalacchi
- Jeong Ha Choi
- Jose Figueroa Carle
- Coral Flanagan
- Laura Frey
- Caitlin Gaffney
- Amanda Gower
- Katherine Greensmith
- Benjamin Hamby
- Cailin Hayes
- Duncan Hayes
- Meghan Hennigan
- Deborah Lipson
- Erin McTiernan
- Katherine Milliken
- Paul Monella
- Chun Soo Park
- Rachel Patchen
- Benjamin Rogers
- Erin Ryan
- Siddarth Sathi
- Ricardo Sosa Machado
- Mary Spang
- Bryn Spielvogel
- Julia Warshafsky
- Megan Wolfson
- Victoria Woods
- Zachary Zern
- Samantha Zimmer
For more information on these awards, please visit:
Multicultural Resource Center Student Awards
Undergraduate Scholastic Awards
Because many aren't familiar with the program, I thought I could give back by writing this blog post. Here are seven qualities that, in my mind, capture what is so special about the Athens Program.
1. Athens is an amazing city - Seriously, how many can say they lived in a city that is 7,000 years old? Imagine walking down the streets of Athens, passing bakeries and gyro shops, then suddenly stumbling upon ruins from 500 B.C.E. Just sitting there. In its lifetime, it may have seen the likes of Socrates and Alexander the Great. After four months in Greece, I never got over the magic of walking by these ruins.
On that note, Athens is not accurately portrayed in the media. Recently, it has been in the news for its protests in Syntagma Square. However, as many of us know, the media tends to sensationalize events. There were very few protests during our semester in Athens, and frankly my classmates and I didn't even know about them until we saw them in the American media the next day. Plus, we were far enough away that the demonstrations never interfered with our daily lives. So, seriously, if the protests are holding you back from considering Athens, I strongly recommend that you talk with someone with firsthand experience in the city. They will tell you the same thing.
2. Field trips - Unlike many study abroad programs, the Athens program had field trips built into our class schedule. During our several day trips, some three-day weekends, and a five-day journey through the Peloponnesus, we visited Sparta, Olympia, Delphi, Meteora, Sounion, Nafplio--, and the list goes on. It was great to travel with my classmates and professors, who had already arranged transportation and hotel reservations through the work of the Athens Centre, which hosts the program. Plus, we had classes at the Acropolis, National Museum of Archaeology, in the Ancient Agora, the Museum of Islamic Art, and more. It was a pleasant change from 15 weeks in the classroom.
3. CAMS minor and Gen Ed credits - With the credits from a semester in Athens (plus the prerequisite class), you automatically qualify for a minor in Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies. Furthermore, several of the classes fulfill Gen. Ed. requirements, either GA or GH. Our program included majors in broadcast journalism, kinesiology, HDFS, and secondary education, among the numerous liberal arts majors.
4. Faculty-run programs are awesome - It's often difficult to get close to professors at a school as large as Penn State, but that was never a problem with the Athens Program. I had the honor and privilege of traveling with Dr. Christopher Johnstone and his wife Patty, who acted as the heads of our family. We saw each other in class, ate at tavernas during field trips, and even had dinner at their place in Athens. Many students may be afraid that faculty "babysit" the students in these programs, but I can assure you, this could not be further from the truth. We were respected as mature young adults, and we set our own agendas.
5. The Athens Centre is adorable - The Athens Centre is a small, privately owned institution, which has hosted study-abroad programs for American college and universities since the late 1970s (PSU's first program was in 1989). This is a nice change from a huge, state-owned University like Penn State. At the Athens Centre, you will see the same 5-8 staff members every day - and they are absolutely amazing. From helping us plan our spring break travels to taking us to the doctors when we were sick (my mother was grateful for the latter), I truly cannot say enough about the staff members. Plus, look it up -- it has a quaint courtyard, free coffee for students, and hosts movie nights and lectures.
6. Greek Easter - In addition to spring break, we also had an extra week of vacation for Greek Easter. Indeed, the Greeks are serious about their Easter celebrations. I spent the weekend with my extended Greek relatives on Lesvos, while my classmates visited other islands - from Mykonos to Santorini. No matter where you go, witnessing Greek Easter is truly a once in a lifetime experience.
7. Scholarships are available - This is true for any study abroad program. I applied for enrichment funds from the College of the Liberal Arts (specifically the Paterno Fellows Program), my major departments (PHIL, CAS, and PL SC), Schreyer Honors College, and the Eugene Borza Award, which specifically goes to a student in the Athens Program. I was pleasantly surprised with the amount of aid from these sources. Every little bit counts, so don't let finances stop you from the adventure of a lifetime.
In short, if you have the opportunity to study abroad, don't think twice about it. Send in the application, go through the process, and don't look back. Specifically, don't overlook the Penn State Athens Program. Perhaps I am biased because all of my majors trace back to Classical Greece (philosophy, rhetoric, democracy, oh my!), but in my mind there is no better place for a Liberal Arts student to spend four months.
My heart skips a beat. Tiny
beads of sweat appear on my forehead. I use "colorful language" to express my
dismay. And, although I frantically
pound the delete button on my keyboard, I can't retrieve the unedited or
misdirected or possibly inappropriate e-mail message I just sent.
The topic of problematic e-mails came up during a workshop I attended recently. Our facilitator shared an article he read in which Sundar Pichai, a Google vice president explained why the new Chrome OS-based netbook keyboards don't include the Caps Lock button at all: to increase civility by reducing the electronic shouting that comes from writing in all caps¹.
As a former English major, I don't think I could give up on capital letters, but there certainly are days when I wish the Send button on my keyboard was missing. Over the years, I've sent my share of e-mail bloopers. For the most part, though, I am a particularly Mindful Sender when it comes to e-mails. That trait, like most, is both a gift and a curse. Students who want lightning fast responses from me are often disappointed, and my co-workers often have to listen to me complain about the full status of my inbox. Right now, however, I'm thinking about the gifts of being a Mindful Sender.
When I compose a message, especially one intended for a person I've
never met, I'm very aware that the message really is me in a way. It
creates the first impression the recipient has of me; it sets the tone for our
future interactions; it illustrates my knowledge or competence. Much like a cover
letter says a lot about the person behind it--a simple e-mail message can be
Consider the following e-mail:
To: Katelyn Perry (email@example.com)
Hey, I just wanted to know when your walk-ins are.
I really need to see you because I schedule tomorrow
night, and I want to make sure I schedule the right classes.
Do I have to take STAT 200?
This e-mail is short and pretty straightforward, right? But let's compare it to this message:
From: Kari Thompson (firstname.lastname@example.org)
To: Katelyn Perry (email@example.com)
Subject: Question about STAT 200
Hi, Katelyn: I saw that you have walk-ins on Thursday from 1-4pm, and
I wanted to let you know that I will be stopping by. I can register for classes
next week, and I'd like to talk about what I plan to take next semester. I have
a pretty good plan mapped out, but I'm not sure about STAT 200. Do I have to
take that class?
Thanks! I'll see you on Thursday to talk about everything else.
How many aspects of this second message are awesome in terms of what they reveal about the writer? Let me count the ways...
- The student used a more professional salutation in this message ("Hi, Katelyn,") which is much nicer than the original, "Hey."
- The writer used her Penn State e-mail address AND she included her Penn State ID number. For the adviser on the receiving end of this message, these two items are golden, as they make it possible to correctly identify the sender and to, therefore, appropriately assess her question.
- Advisers' walk-in hours are listed in multiple places on-line. The writer of this message clearly demonstrated her resourcefulness in taking the time to find that information.
- The student illustrated her time
management skills in contacting her adviser a week before she needed to
schedule courses. Furthermore, her
message includes a concise question about STAT 200 that can realistically
be answered via e-mail.
Admittedly, I don't analyze every e-mail message I receive. But I can tell you that a message like the second
one would stand out to me because of the sender's attention to detail, professionalism,
and time management skills.
Not long ago, a student and I met to talk about an offensive e-mail he
sent--in a moment of frustration--to a professor.
The gist of it was that he wanted to add the instructor's course. In his mind, having this course was an urgent
matter. He sent two inquiries to the
instructor, and then when the instructor declined his request, he sent a third,
The offended professor forwarded the student's message to his department
head and to the advising center in his College to complain about the disrespectful
tone of the e-mail. One of the advisers
in the group saw that eLion listed me as the student's adviser and contacted me
about talking to the student. By the time we met, over ten people had seen
In addition to being embarrassed, the student suffered some collateral
damage in terms of his professional reputation because of this e-mail message. It's
easy to think of your professional life as something that starts after you
graduate when you have a job. But that's
a mistake. Your professional identity is
developing now. Your decisions to apply
to college and to attend Penn State are key aspects of your professional self. Your choice of major and your co-curricular
experiences are pieces of this puzzle as well.
Your interactions with others, how you handle yourself and your
experiences at Penn State are also part of your professional development.
My advisee's offensive e-mail consisted of two sentences, but it spoke volumes about him.
In your mind's eye, imagine how the student could have handled the situation and his e-mail exchanges with the instructor in a more positive, professional way. He might not have gotten exactly what he wanted, but I'm sure he--and the instructor--would have felt much better about how everything played out.
Before you hit the "Send" button, think for a moment. What do your e-mail messages say about you?
¹Deiters, Steve. "Google Enters Operating System Mark with Chrome Os." ArticleSnatch.com, n.d. Web. 14 Feb. 2012.
Leadership and innovation are words that we seem to encounter on a daily basis through a variety of means. They are, in a sense, catchwords in the collective conscience that play on people's creative senses. This is best evidenced by company slogans such as Toshiba's, "Leading Innovation," or simply, 3M's, "Innovation." Using these catchwords can get people excited about a company or a certain product. Leadership is also at the forefront of our minds at all times. It would be equally surprising to see one of those clichéd motivational posters featuring the word "LEADERSHIP" accompanied by an inspiring photo and encouraging quote in an elementary school as in a CEO's corner office. While the common image of innovation may be a product that will revolutionize the world and leadership may be portrayed as a great president leading a nation to supremacy, it is also important to look at these ideas within the daily operations of organizations. How does a leader react to an error he or she has made? Can conflict be beneficial for a team pursuing a creative outcome? Are there certain types of people that are more vulnerable to a destructive leader? These are some of the research questions that we tackle in Dr. Hunter's Leadership and Innovation Lab.
One of the projects I worked on last semester was an honors thesis project supervised by Andrea Hetrick. The project pertained to leaders reacting to their own errors. In this project, each participant was told that he or she is the manager of a local department store and has made an error that his or her followers are upset about. The "manager" then discussed the error with a subordinate (played by a confederate) in his or her "office". As a psychology major and participant in a handful of studies, I can say that this experiment is as real and as interactive as they come. For nearly all of the studies, the "manager" took the role seriously and gave a genuine answer that one would expect if the situation were to actually take place. I enjoyed seeing the different strategies that students used to react to the errors.
Working in an I/O psychology lab has given me a better perspective of what I/O psychologists do and why it is important. It has provided me with an opportunity to conduct and learn more about research. While one can learn about a subject from a lecture or a textbook, it is more inspiring to actually participate in the research itself. Next week, I will post an entry pertaining to another lab project and more about the lab in general.
I'm sure you all noticed the construction around the library throughout the fall semester. And if you have walked through the library with your eyes open, you're aware that some major changes took place. During my Monday-Wednesday-Friday forays into the library last semester, I saw a variety of changes, including: construction around the area near the Gateway Commons where the main desk used to be, the removal of the stuffed "Nittany" lion, and a variety of construction projects which blocked off the wings of the library for quite some time. Though the noise and obstructions caused some minor inconveniences, I knew there were many great changes to come.
The Knowledge Commons is a multi-million dollar, privately funded enterprise focused on making the library more user-friendly for all. The renovations take up the first floor of Pattee Library, and there is a new head librarian specifically in charge of this area: Joe Fennewald, a librarian from the Worthington Scranton campus. There will be a larger, more updated computer lab, which houses easily the coolest feature of the new library: the librarians who will always be around to help out with any questions students have. These librarians will be able to take their extensive knowledge of books, the CAT, new technologies, and other library resources to help you with anything you may need, be it advice on projects, papers, or just a refresher on some of the new tech available for you to use in and outside of class. Though the library has so much for us already, the Knowledge Commons will make it that much easier for everyone to have immediate access to the best resource our library has to offer: the expertise of those who work there.
This is a major deal for all undergraduates, as we will be able to use the library for so many additional resources, besides just searching for a book online and having it magically appear at the desk a few days later. The Knowledge Commons is now up and running. I hope you all get a chance to visit the Knowledge Commons and check out all the new features the library has to offer!
Liberal Arts Voices: Episode 35 "Undergraduate
Research and Pre-Law Opportunities"
Originally uploaded by LAUSatPSU
Earl Merritt begins the program by discussing the ways in which he encourages students to take advantage of the variety of research and enrichment programs on and off campus. He tells students to start their first year at Penn State with a plan. For Earl, it is never too early to begin to think about how participating in an undergraduate research project or pre-law program can better prepare you for your future career.
Psychology and Communication, Arts & Sciences double major Carshena Culmer talks about her participation in a pre-law program at Northern Illinois University through the Council on Legal Education Opportunities (CLEO). At the pre-law program, Carshena received LSAT preparation, training from current law school students, and had the opportunity to network with faculty and professionals in the field. Carshena discusses how participating in this program gave her confidence in her ability to succeed and inspired her to continue to pursue her goal of attending law school. Carshena also explains how her PSYCH and CAS majors set her apart and gave her an advantage in the program.
Lastly, Jason Bundy reflects on his participation in the 2011 CIC Summer Research Opportunities Program (SROP), which enabled him to perform his own research project under the supervision of faculty member Dr. David Puts. Jason explains how his interest in the patterns of human relationship formation eventually led him to study evolutionary biology and anthropology. His summer research project focuses on how monotonicity of male voices impacts the listener in categories like attractiveness and physical dominance. This research project gave Jason the opportunity to create a hypothesis, design a study, apply for IRB approval, run participants, and write an extensive research paper. Jason talks about how his participation in this research experience will better prepare him for graduate school.
"Liberal Arts Voices: Episode 35 "Undergraduate Research and Pre-Law Opportunities"
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We encourage all of our listeners to write to us with comments, questions, or suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org. We may even respond to these comments on the next episode of Liberal Arts Voices.
Figuring out where to apply is hard work. Seriously, I had no idea where to start for a while. I managed to cut it down to two criteria-- location and funding. With the second, I tried to search programs that funded most, if not all of their PhD students. It turns out that many grad school programs provide funding, so this didn't narrow it down much. Location, however, is important. As much as I love Penn State, I think I would like to be somewhere less rural as a grad student. Geographic location was also very important to me in this search, as I still am quite close to my family and I did not want to move across the country from them. Another criteria important to consider as you look around at grad schools is the ranking/reputation of the program. I wanted to find a mix of top schools that had stellar reputations in English and good schools where I had a better chance of getting accepted. With all of this to consider, finding a place to start was a difficult aspect of this research that I did not really expect.
Figuring out where to apply is scary. I'm hoping this one isn't just me, but the idea of relocating to some place completely new where I do not know anyone-- it's exciting, but in a totally terrifying way. I remember the stress of freshman year of college, realizing that I needed to get out there and make friends-- and quickly. I remember thinking to myself, "Not this again! I thought I was done with this process!" Though it is always fun to meet new people, the terror of spending my time alone for a while before friendships kick in is still lurking.
Start early. There are some aspects of this where I did well and feel I can pat myself on the back, and others where I'm still stressing. If you're applying to English grad schools, or anything else that demands an extensive writing sample, you can't start working on this too early. Seriously. I picked my writing samples rather early in the game, which was a good choice on my part, but because I didn't finalize my list of schools until later, I was rather shocked and dismayed to find out that most schools have a different length requirement on their papers. I've seen it range anywhere from about 10 to 25--and some want two separate samples! This is a major headache/scare factor because the writing sample is an extremely important part of the application. So have a couple options and choose early. And edit until you can't see straight. That helps, too.
Be flexible. From the applications I've completed so far, it seems most schools want similar information from you, but they all word it differently, or have a different length requirement, or have some aspect that was not included last time. The best way to tackle this is to have materials that you can easily adapt from one form to the next. Many people think that preparing one personal statement is enough. But many schools have a secondary personal statement in which you are asked to talk about your life experiences, etc. Think of a couple good ideas for this and get ready to adapt them depending on the school's requirements.
Be on top of deadlines and specific requirements for each school. This could be my most important tip for you: make sure you know when everything is due and what materials each school needs. Be on top of where you need to send official transcripts. Find out who has supplemental materials that need to be mailed or uploaded online. This will make a huge difference in timing.
If you stay organized, you're on your way to success in the application process. Those are the encouraging words I keep telling myself to get through the second half of this application process.
If you have any experience applying to graduate school, please feel free to share in the comments section of this blog post.
Mr. Cloutier is the President of Catapult Marketing, one of the country's top marketing firms. He gave an awe-inspiring presentation that instilled in me a great sense of confidence in my own English major. Mr. Cloutier brought an unquestionable enthusiasm for the Liberal Arts with him. He stressed the importance of being able to perform a wide variety of tasks, rather than specializing in one specific area. The ability to adapt, a skill that is developed in a liberal arts education, is one of the most important things in the job market today.
Critical thinking, communication skills, and having a broad perspective were three of the things most stressed by Cloutier. These attributes are fundamental aspects of a degree in the liberal arts. Specifically from an English point of view, I know that I have to exercise each of these skills every time I walk into class. Trying to find new things to say about books that have been read by students for a hundred years is very difficult and takes a lot of careful analysis and critical thought. Once I have something worthwhile to say about the text, I then have to communicate it to my peers and professor. I have to do this through speaking in class and writing during exams. These communication skills are vital in the business world as well as many other professional fields.
The broad perspective is the most vague, but arguably the most prized aspect of the liberal arts graduate. Mr. Cloutier used a quote from Sue Kronick, CEO of Federated Department Stores (Macy's, Bloomingdales, JC Penney) to describe just what it means: "You tend to get more narrow in point of view as time marches on. Liberal arts is about approaching problems from a broader point of view, taking into account the subtleties of the situation." This kind of perspective is incredibly important, especially in a world that is evolving as fast as ours is today.
Mr. Cloutier was truly an inspiring and helpful speaker for somebody like me. As a sophomore and newly declared English major, I needed something to help assure me that what I was doing was going to have long-term benefits, in addition to the enjoyment I find in my current coursework. His presentation really stressed not only that is possible to get a job after I graduate, but also that in many cases my background will serve to help me in my job search. The talk definitely helped me to set my head straight for my future and how my major will position me for a career.
Take a look at some of the slides from Peter Cloutier's power point presentation in the slideshow below:
Kaitlyn did not apply to the Schreyer Honors College in her initial application to Penn State. However, she talks about how the Paterno Fellows Program provided an excellent opportunity for her to perform her way into the Schreyer Honors College. Kaitlyn explains some of the academic requirements involved in this program, as well as how it allows students to distinguish themselves in areas traditionally associated with the liberal arts: ethics, service, and leadership; excellence in communication; and international and intercultural awareness.
One of the requirements of the program is to complete a study abroad or internship experience. Kaitlyn spends some time discussing her transformative year-long study abroad experience at the University of Oxford. She talks about how she had to adjust to the different education model at Oxford, which is structured around a tutorial system where students meet with a faculty member (or tutor) throughout the semester instead attending traditional classes. Kaitlyn talks about how this writing and research intensive system prepared her for her senior research capstone project at Penn State. Kaitlyn explains how her thesis, focusing on "Just War Theory" in modern theology, allows her to combine her majors in Religious Studies and Political Science, as well as her minor in Philosophy.
Liberal Arts Voices: Episode 33 "The Paterno Fellows Program Experience: Kaitlyn Randol"
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Unsurprisingly to me, after my previous brief foray into utopian studies, Dr. Coleman started his talk with a discussion of the definition of "utopia." It might seem silly to you that a debate about the very definition of "utopia" is still occurring. This debate can really be traced back to the etymology of the word itself. In his writings, More left the term purposely vague to describe his own version of utopia. Defining the term sets the foundation for the study of the works it inspires. Dr. Coleman specifically was trying to find a way to define "utopia" in an architectural sense, and he spent some time explaining the differences between ideal, visionary, and utopian. To the best of my understanding, his idea of utopia must include some kind of social component--utopias must find a way to move society forward. A design can be "ideal" or "visionary," but to be "utopian" there must be an additional social component.
Dr. Coleman developed his theory on architectural utopia by discussing French architect Claude-Nicolas Ledoux's work. In all honesty, I had never heard of Ledoux before, but it became readily apparent why his works are still considered "utopian." In his talk, Dr. Coleman debated if and how Ledoux's ideas, particularly his famous Saltworks design, qualify as utopian. The Saltworks was a town centered on the salt industry that was very similar to Ledoux's theoretical town of Chaux. Both towns share a focus on industry and a set up that is reminiscent of the Panopticon (a jail consisting of a circle of cells surrounding an observation area, so the prisoners always feel watched even when no one is at the post). Dr. Coleman explored the utopian and dystopian connotations that accompany the authoritative aspects of Chaux and the Saltworks.
Dr. Coleman's talk was illuminating and it really opened my eyes to the multidisciplinary approach that one can take to the concept of utopia. Architecture can be a distinctly utopian practice, especially in city planning, though it still remains tricky to define and identify. I encourage you all to get out to the Special Collections Library Exhibition Hall, 104 Paterno Library and check out the "This Way to Utopia" exhibition going on now!
Before I get too far into the news, I wanted to give you some back-story on the new ability. This development was the result of a University Faculty Senate policy passed during the last academic year. Senate Policy 59-00 (Requirements for the Minor) was amended to add, "Requirements for a minor may be completed at any campus location offering the specified courses for the minor." This change was the result of a Senate push to make minor availability more equal across the many colleges and campuses of Penn State. Once the University Faculty Senate passed this policy amendment, its implementation was left to be decided upon by the Administrative Council on Undergraduate Education. During the last academic year, ACUE passed "L-6: Minors Entrance and Certification Procedure." The actual L-6 is more involved than what I imagine any student (myself included) would actually be interested in, so I will try to highlight the most important parts.
The implementation allows students to declare their minors on eLion. Other stipulations included things like substitution protocols, which initially allowed academic units to make substitutions to minors housed in different colleges, but that course of action is being revised to return substitution control to the awarding college. You can imagine the potential confusion involved in the College of Engineering granting a substitution for the College of the Liberal Arts' "Dispute Management and Resolution" minor. Another point involved in the implementation was to emphasize that minors cannot be declared before the declaration of a major and that declaring a minor does not guarantee a student's ability to take the necessary courses for that minor.
Those minor (excuse the pun) things aside, the ability for students to declare minors on eLion is a huge advantage for students at both University Park and at the Commonwealth Campuses. If you have not already tried it, log on to eLion and scroll down the alphabet to "Minor Declaration" where you can look through a list of all the minors offered across the entirety of Penn State. While this new feature will make it much easier to declare a minor, students should still meet with their adviser to make sure they understand and meet the academic requirements for the minor. Check it out and enjoy this new, easier method of getting the most out of your Penn State education.
- Mid-Semester Reports: If you receive a mid-semester report, please don't be alarmed. These reports were designed as a communication tool for you and your professors about your progress in your courses. These reports also serve as a "prompt" to encourage you to seek assistance. Follow the instructions the instructor sent to you and meet with the faculty member to assess what you need to do to succeed in the course. Try not to view Mid-Semester Reports negatively; they can provide significant insight at a critical point in the semester.
- Study Skills and Self-Reflection: The first rounds of exams, papers, and quizzes in any course are often like experiments: you're still learning about the instructor's expectations and standards. If you want to improve your performance on the 2nd and 3rd tests and assignments, it's important to examine how you prepared for the 1st round. Some students simply say, "I'll study more" when asked what they will do differently the next time. And "studying more" might seem very clear, but you'll do yourself a favor if you spend some time analyzing how, where, when and how far in advance you studied the first time. And then think about what kinds of adjustments you can make now. Penn State Learning offers some valuable information about study tips.
- Office Hours: All instructors must hold office hours--and many would tell you that students under-utilize them. Plan to visit one of your professors, even if you are not having any particular trouble in the class. You can talk about something that was discussed in class or about a question you might have from the course readings. Remember that it's important to become known in your classes whenever you can. Students who feel connected in their classes tend to perform better and they develop a stronger sense of community at the University. Challenge yourself to step out of your comfort zone and make a connection with your instructors.
- Career Services and the Liberal Arts Career Enrichment Network: Career Development is a process--it's not something to suddenly attend to when you're approaching graduation. The more you explore the resources provided by Career Services and the Liberal Arts Career Enrichment Network, the better! Mid-semester is a good time to make a visit to both offices. Career Services is located behind Eisenhower Auditorium and the Liberal Arts Career Enrichment Network Office is located in 5 Sparks.
- Education Abroad Office: Thinking about studying abroad? You can start investigating your options online. The general application deadlines are: Fall programs: January 20, Spring programs: April 1, Summer programs: beginning February 1. But pay attention to the deadlines listed for each program you research.
- Your Academic Adviser: Most students meet with their adviser at least once or twice a semester to discuss course selection for the upcoming semester and to discuss long-term goals. Don't wait until it's time for you to register for courses! Please keep in mind that your adviser's calendar may fill quickly, so schedule an appointment well in advance of your scheduling date. You can use this website to do so: http://www.la.psu.edu/advising-appt/. If you've received a Mid-Semester Report, your adviser can talk to you about utilizing additional PSU resources.
- Campus Happenings: Take advantage of the opportunities that Penn State has to offer outside of the classroom. Listen to a guest speaker, attend a performing arts show, participate in a political event, see a free movie on campus or support student athletes by going to a fall sporting event--volleyball, soccer, or field hockey. The possibilities are endless.
- Local Community: State College and the surrounding areas are home to you while you are a Penn State student, and there are plenty of ways for you to become part of the community. Pay attention to what's happening downtown from the weekly Farmer's Market to Pumpkin Carving at Shaver's Creek to Dark in the Park Stories Around the Campfire at Sunset Park to the Ski Swap Sale at Tussey Mountain, there are so many ways to take part in the local community. Check www.statecollege.com to find out what's happening throughout the semester.
During the fall semester, our class had a chance to attend a screening of "Forks over Knives," a documentary that demonstrates the shocking truth behind the American diet and suggests an alternative. One might ask what our Chicken Culture class has to do with a movie like "Forks over Knives." After the screening, it became obvious that the two are related in their focus on contemporary 'dietary issues.' They both concentrate on what we eat and the facts about food which we rarely seem to care about. This food documentary shed light on a variety of themes related to the consumption of animal products in the United States (and yes, that includes chickens). After the screening I had mixed feelings. I understood the great benefits of plant based diets, but on the other hand, it seemed like some other important factors were ignored.
The obesity problem in the United States is becoming a big social issue. Adults and children are becoming more obese. This has resulted in a significant increase in illnesses and health problems, such as diabetes. The number of prescriptions that people rely on has skyrocketed as well. "Forks over Knives" says that this humungous health problem is directly related to both the food we eat and our misconstrued preconceptions about food. For instance, many people are losing the balance between meat and vegetables in their diets. We are consuming too much meat, which we all know is not a good thing. Perhaps most astonishing, however, are our misconceptions about food. Back in the day, we were all introduced to the 'food pyramid,' which told us that our meals need to be full of every food group. Many of us still believe this and tend to follow its advice. The film, however, indicates that the food pyramid is wrong. 'We need to eat meat for protein' and 'Milk is good because of calcium' are just a few misconceptions we have about food. In other words, many of us have been eating the wrong way for years.
Probably the biggest evidence that the documentary gives is the "China Study." An enormous undertaking, both in scale and time, the China Study was performed over a period of 20 years and covered the entire population of China. The study showed that animal-based diets caused more health problems than plant-based diets. This is due to the fact that animal-based food was high in casein, a type of protein that is mostly found in mammalian milk. Our solution is this: a plant-based diet. By eating this way, people can lose weight and live much healthier lives without having to worry about getting ill. The film indicates that by maintaining a vegan lifestyle, some people are able to avoid severe illnesses, such as cancer and diabetes.
'Forks over Knives' is very convincing in many ways. It provides a variety of analyses and research that suggests a plant-based diet is the best solution to these health problems. However, after leaving the theatre, some questions started to pop in to my mind. First of all, the film relied on a simple, yet controversial proposition: meat is bad for you. However, considering what I have learned in our 'Chicken Culture' class, there is more to the production of meat than we think. Many farms are more like factories now. Cows and chickens live in barred areas, are fed the best feed to get fat and ready to be eaten in the shortest amount of time and at the lowest possible cost. It makes me wonder if this mass production of meat might be the real problem here. Secondly, in my opinion, the film does not adequately consider reducing meat consumption as another possible solution. Too much meat consumption is not good, and that we all know, but I am not sure if the complete removal of meat from our diet is realistic. The film's proposed solution is perhaps too ideal. I doubt many people will be able or willing to so drastically change their eating habits.
Need for a health solution is evident. But before we consider how to solve this problem, it might be best to first acknowledge the importance of and issues surrounding the food we currently eat. This documentary attempts to do both and ultimately suggests that the answer lies in a healthier, plant-based diet. As for me, I have started to consider what I have on my plate and reduced the amount of meat I eat every day, filling the empty spot with more greens. Maybe removing meat completely from my diet is impossible, but trying to eat better, nutritious meals is what I will strive for now. Probably in the future, my plate will be full of greens.
Exploring this collection at length was really quite fun, as I adore children's books to begin with and these were particularly awesome children's books. There were also some cool adult books, particularly Goethe, so let's start with that. First of all, can you say original German publication of Goethe's Faust? It was truly amazing to see one of the small, square copies of Faust as it was originally published. Next to this tiny copy is Sylvia Plath's own copy of the English translation of Faust. Yes, that Sylvia Plath. Her own hand-written annotations are inside it. Next to this copy owned by a famous person lies a copy that is owned by a non-famous person: me. This is your standard, modern-day Norton Edition of the English-translated Faust that can be purchased by college students across the nation at this very moment. I thought it fun to show the progressions of subsequent publications of Goethe's work. It was also fun to let my own copy share the table with such greatness in the literary tradition. Take a look at the slideshow at the bottom of this post to see photos of each text.
On to the children's books! One thing to be said here is that there is no end to the creativity when it comes to German-translated children's stories. Let's start with a well-known classic: Hansel and Gretel. The illustrations in this book are beautiful and well done, but perhaps the best aspect of this edition are the pristine dolls that accompany the text and match the illustrations of Hansel and Gretel exactly. The dolls and illustrations make this copy of Hansel and Gretel unique and beautiful.
No discussion of German-translated children's literature is complete without mentioning the Brothers Grimm. They essentially created the fairy tale genre with their written collection of German children's stories. It is safe to say that the translation of these into English shaped children's literature for us as well. A copy from the first English printing is in our collection, published in two editions: the first in London in 1823 under the title German Popular Stories and the second in 1909. This second publication was a limited edition with illustrations by Arthur Rackham. This copy is significant not only because it is a limited publication, but because the library actually has one of the original, hand-drawn chapter illustrations. The figure is a cute little imp-like creature.
The English-translated German pop-up books were perhaps the coolest things I have seen recently in the library. This might sound strange to you, but trust me, if you see them, you would understand. Pop-up books dating from the late 1800's to early 1900's are totally awesome and you must see them for yourself. There was one pop-up book from 1932 of German fairy tales (I've chosen a picture from "Jack the Giant-Killer" to show the pop-up style). The best pop-up book, however, is from 1891 and called Look Alive! It's filled with short stories that are accented by moving illustrations. My personal favorite was the one of Santa, who is actually, along with the Christmas tree, a German import. The illustration of Santa coming through the door to surprise the children is simply adorable.
Comic books are another amazing German import accessible at the library. Early comics came to us via the German tales of Max and Moritz: two obnoxious children in constant trouble. Their stories, coupled with many pictures of their exploits, basically started the comic tradition. The author of Max and Moritz, Wilhelm Busch, wrote another comic-book-like tale called The Mischief Book, which we also have in our collection. Pictures and rhymes are paired together in what is clearly a comic book style. All these exciting German imports make me glad that I decided to explore the Allison-Shelley collection and even happier that I picked translated German books for my thesis. I hope you all have a chance to explore this collection at some point!
I enjoy fusing together the historical and contemporary academic research from a feminist pedagogical standpoint, processed and reflected through my artwork. My art centers on my personal experiences as a feminist Latina in a way that articulates a larger vision of cultural consciousness and intersectionality, where issues of class, race, and gender inform and challenge our understanding of power and solidarity.
My process is layered with writing, research, and actively working thru and into my paintings with body, cultural context and intellectual backbone. I mostly work with acrylic and oil paints as well as mixed-media in abstraction. In each of my paintings, I try to formulate a language that is expressive of a raw emotional state of a given moment. This creative process has allowed me to find my voice and discover new aspects of myself, both personally and academically. I try to complicate understandings of the self - how our identities are lost and regained, created and re-invented, contested and negotiated in making sense of the new, the old, and our historic and contemporary realities. I envision art as a language that creates space for conversation about shifting migrations of racial and gender identities. I have been quite fortunate to find such an enriching dialogue between my Women's Studies and Art majors.
In June of 2011 I was afforded the opportunity to participate in an embedded education abroad program to La Habana, Cuba. This trip was the culmination of a course cross-listed in the Women's Studies, Anthropology, and African and African American Studies departments, titled "Latin America & Caribbean Cultures: Race & Gender in the Americas." This academically intense environment offered an opportunity to see a new perspective, different from what I have learned in the classroom and in my personal life.
These were the feelings I felt as I approached graduation earlier this year. I had degrees in Political Science and Crime, Law, and Justice, and as I weighed my options late into my senior year I felt that my hard work in the College of the Liberal Arts had been in vain. Like too many liberal arts students, I had planned to enter law school after graduation. But after researching the costs of a law education and the unfavorable employment numbers, I realized that law school may not be the right option for me at this time. Law school seemed like an easy fix to my problem because I was completely unaware of what I could do with my liberal arts degree other than more schooling. This realization came to me two months before graduation. I had not thought to visit career services and had not received career advice of any kind.
So I made the difficult transition from student to job market. I had to learn independently how to write my resume, how to draft appealing cover letters, how to interview well and how to market my degree to employers. I learned these lessons the hard way by trial and error, missing out on many fantastic opportunities because of simple errors that could've been avoided. I struggled to translate my experiences in the classroom into qualifications that employers look for in potential employees. I didn't have enough tangible work experience for most positions, a fact exacerbated by a tough economy flooded with more qualified unemployed professionals. I also had no guidance as to what entry-level careers were open to me with my degrees, and I was left to the mercy of cold calls, online job databases, unpaid internships, and whatever research I could find on my own.
Finally, I received an email from the advisors at the Crime, Law and Justice/Sociology Department. A Penn State Alumni from the College of the Liberal Arts had contacted them about positions as Paralegal Specialists with the Antitrust Unit of the Department of Justice in Washington D.C. It turns out the federal government values liberal arts majors because many of the skills learned - critical thinking, document analyzing, intellectual flexibility -are perfectly suited for government law. I asked for more information, emailed the Alumni, interviewed for the position and was hired last month. I never would've found this position researching vague government websites or entering keywords into an online job search engine. A simple email coupled with the advice of a Penn State graduate at the Department of Justice who guided me through the process was vital to my current employment. How many other students aren't as lucky?
The value of a liberal arts degree cannot be overstated, but it would have been nice if the transition from student to workforce was a bit easier. In many ways, Penn State provides these tools through their career center, one of the best in the country. However, at such a large university the career center is limited in providing advice specifically for liberal arts majors and the correct counseling on how to market their degrees. It is also difficult to be adequately educated on all the opportunities that the College of the Liberal Arts provides to their students. The College provides so many exceptional and challenging opportunities that can greatly enhance a resume, but many students are completely unaware of these opportunities. It is unfair and easy to blame students for their own ignorance. How can even the most motivated students know about every opportunity at a university of this size (especially transfer and branch campus students)? And how many students look for opportunities and fail to find them? I know I would've greatly appreciated the guidance if I had been forced to think strategically about my post-graduate career earlier in my college career. And I'm sure I'm not alone.
So first things first: what is utopian literature? Well, to the best of my understanding, the term "utopia" comes from Thomas More's novel Utopia, a description of a fictional society published in Latin in 1516. The term "utopia" comes from a play on Latin roots, as "topia" translates to "place," but the "u" sound can come from either "ou" which means "no" (translation: nowhere) or "eu" which means "good" (translation: a good place). This means that a utopia is generally seen as both a good place and one that is entirely fictional, and therefore unobtainable. I have seen the differentiation between "utopias," as a general term for fictional societies and "eutopias" as the counterpart to "dystopias," which are negative futuristic views of society. The literature overlaps a lot with the science fiction genre, especially in more recent works.
So now that we've defined the genre enough for our purposes, it's time to talk a bit about the Arthur O. Lewis collections at Penn State. I decided to focus my attention on the literature being pulled for the exhibition this October. The literature will be organized into the following seven categories: architecture, gender and gender relations, travel and imaginary voyage, 18th century, communities, Arthur O. Lewis, and post-colonial. I got to see first-hand some material being considered for each category and I will break them down and share some photos in the slideshow below.
Architecture: The architecture section is important for the exhibition because it provides some very cool pictures of futuristic-looking buildings and designs of sustainable but non-existent societies. The Architecture category gives a visual representation of the ideas of idealistic societies living in authors' heads. It provides a guide to societies that can never be.
Gender and Gender Relations: There seems to be a lot of gender-related utopias that conceive of possible societies and future worlds based on feminist ideals or worlds without one gender or the other. The books investigate parts of our society that we take for granted and aspects that are affected by gender constructs. The covers for this section were some of the most interesting, so I made sure to include some in the slideshow below.
Travel and Imaginary Voyage: This section has the advantage of making up a niche of the utopian genre. Specifically, these texts seem to always find the nowhere and provide awesome descriptions and illustrations of it. The idea of seeking out or stumbling upon a utopian society makes one wonder what other kinds of societies may be out there. It is the ultimate "the grass is always greener," if you will, unless of course one comes across a dystopian society.
18th Century: Due largely to the work of Lyman Tower Sargent, a Utopian Scholar writing a bibliography of utopian works and currently residing in the State College area, our library's utopia collection is kept very up-to-date, and thus many of the texts are modern works. The 18th century works in our collection show the significant range of the works available in our library.
Communities: This section was one of the strangest and most fascinating. My favorite by far was the Communities Directory, which was basically a phone book for communes and community-centered living (think the Amish if you have no other frame of reference for this). The idea of communities here is the real-world application of utopian thinking. It's building the Sci-Fi futuristic perfect society and applying it to the world we have today. It's an interesting idea and one that I find fascinating, for it goes beyond the literature.
Arthur O. Lewis: The Arthur Lewis part of this collection shows off the private collections of the man that started it all. Lewis was a founding figure of Utopian studies and just happened to be an Associate Dean Emeritus of the Liberal Arts at Penn State. His work helped to establish the Society for Utopian Studies. Because he was such an important figure for utopian studies, a section of this exhibition is devoted to him. Some of the books in this section that I saw were owned by Lewis himself. It's cool to see his own preferences within our collection.
Post-Colonial: The post-colonial literature seems similar to the feminist literature because both envision a world in which particular historical disadvantages could be rendered irrelevant or a world in which fewer differences exist between people. It's interesting to picture a world that does not have the kind of problems that were caused by colonialism in the first place or a utopian world in which injustices could be recovered.
I hope from this post, you get a sense of how enthralling utopian literature can be. The reasons for writing utopian literature are many and varied and totally interesting. So please enjoy the utopian collection and try to make use of it if you can, because we have so many great works available.
In addition to the 6 course levels available, there are several alternative options to fulfill the 21-credit minor requirement. Enrolled students are often able to conduct research, perform an independent study, or even participate in an internship for credit, based on availability each semester.
Anouar El-Younssi, a Penn State professor and native speaker of Arabic, said he was thrilled to see and experience the program's launch.
"The addition of the Arabic minor at Penn State comes as an important and logical step to reflect the growth of the Arabic program at the school. [It] comes at a time when there is an increasing demand for Arabic at the college level nationwide."
One of the top 5 most widely spoken languages in the world, Arabic is the mother tongue of some 250 million people worldwide, and finds its home in more than 22 countries spanning across the Middle East and North Africa.
Arabic is also one of the 6 official U.N. languages. Spoken in a region of strategic importance to the U.S. and other Western nations both politically and economically, there is a huge demand for it coupled with a huge shortage of speakers of Arabic in the Western world.
Arabic is unique among most languages; it's a language of 28 letters, written right to left, and spoken in some 30 different colloquial dialects. The various forms are branched into the North African, Egyptian, Levantine, Arabian, and Iraqi dialects, based on the patterns of the region in which they are spoken. Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) was instilled as a common thread connecting all Arabs under one tongue, but the format is used mainly in media and formal speeches rather than everyday conversations. Colloquial Arabic (CA) is essentially the non-uniform mother tongue of all Arabs, making it difficult for all Arabic speakers to communicate effectively as they move across the Arab world. However, being that Egypt is the source of a sizeable portion of the Arab population, media, and entertainment, Penn State professors primarily teach the Egyptian colloquial in concurrence with MSA.
In that sense, learning Arabic is a lot like learning two very similar languages simultaneously. Needless to say, it is an incredibly complex language. "Complex," however, is not the same as "hard." It is complex in the same sense as a patterned (and much less boring) puzzle would be. Every word that comprises Arabic is a part formed from a pattern. When all the parts are formed, it's a matter of connecting them each time in the (grammatical and logical) order that fits the pattern. Upon completion, speakers of Arabic have before them a seamless picture of a beautiful people, language, and culture. All rifts, myths, and misunderstandings can be clarified in the connection of the pieces.
With the addition of the minor, Penn State students now have an option to study a fascinating yet often unexplored language. Says Professor Younssi, "My dream, though, is to see an Arabic major become a reality at Penn State in the future." As more and more students continue to enroll in the program, perhaps this goal is not far from it.
Rooms Filled with Resources
Being an International Politics major and an avid language learner, I am constantly seeking methods by which I can keep in contact with the world that surrounds me. Naturally, I go about this process in just as many ways as possible. I look at it as a win-win way to pass the time; these resources assist me later in the classroom, and, as the New York Times put it best, also allow me to "join the conversation." Consequently, I don't have to feel so bad when I get completely distracted from impending class assignments.
Pattee Library has become a sort of hub away from HUB in the quest for what I've termed the Local's International. There are a number of international resources within the Pattee that I use on a daily basis. In two years at Penn State, they have provided me with endless entertainment, yet a hunger for more. One room I frequent is the News and Microforms Library on the ground floor. Including its physical and database formats, the N&M Library boasts a collection of more than 1,700 newspapers from 92 countries in 48 different languages. Included nearby is a collection of 30 news magazines, with several of them imported from overseas.
A read through the Times, a few articles from Le Monde, and one skim through an issue of Le Nouvel Observateur later, I almost forget that I have other resources at my disposal. Advancing further through the room, students can also borrow headphones to view television news in Hindi, Portuguese, Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, and English, based on this schedule.
It was by chance that I sat down in Stacks 2a one day across from a considerable section of Arabic scripts--history, poetry, fiction novels, Arabic-French-English dictionaries, and even learning texts. Of course the work I'd initially come there to complete would be left undone for several hours, but what I quickly discovered was that the entire floor was loaded with literature from French to Spanish to languages I'd never even seen before. Fascinated by another international discovery, Stacks 2a developed into a new and decidedly wonderful place to study, read, and explore.
Another room filled with international resources is the Arts & Humanities Library. Here, I whet my cultural appetite with a long list of foreign language films, CDs, and personal interest periodicals on site.
Whenever possible during the semester, I attend the International Coffee Hour, which is organized by the Office of Global Programs at Penn State. Every Thursday from 3:30-5:00 p.m., students gather in the lounge on the 5th floor of the Boucke Building. Almost every week, students and organizations of a different country or ethnicity host the event, and all who attend enjoy a sampling of the coffees, teas, cuisines, and music from each respective part of the world.
Often, the sessions serve as a way for international students to build confidence in their English-speaking skills, but with a gathering of people from such wide-ranging ethnicities and backgrounds, there's no telling who or what carries the conversation each week.
Plenty of organizations at Penn State motivate an international perspective, as well. Despite this being my third year as a student at Penn State, I am certain to attend the Involvement Days in Alumni Hall during the first week of the semester to see what else I might like to join this year.
Additionally, the Office of Global Programs has several unique opportunities to get involved, including the Global Ambassadors, Peer Advisers, and Conversation Partners programs. Having participated as a conversation partner, I know it serves as a particularly beneficial program for the culturally curious. I was matched with Mohamed, a fellow Penn State student from Oman. I was glad to offer what help I could in English, and in exchange he offered lessons in Arabic, his native language.
Late last spring, Mohamed invited me to Arabian Nights, an extraordinary celebration of great music, art, dance, and, of course, food. I found myself at a table of Omani students describing with excitement how a celebration such as this might look in the Arab world. Surrounded by conversations in Arabic, performers dancing the dabka, a fashion show of each nation's traditional dress, and a playlist of rhythmic sing-alongs from the region, I couldn't help but smile.
The Education Abroad Fair approaches in the fall semester, as well. Rather than trying to get an idea of where to spend a semester abroad online, take advantage of the fair, when coordinators and past participants from many of the programs gather in one room. This can really help to get a better idea of where you like, the program you like in the place that you like, and even when and for how long to go.
Another fall event full of multiculturalism is International Education Week. For those in the College of the Liberal Arts who are seeking international career opportunities, this week also holds a fair to present various options for volunteering, interning, and working abroad.
These come paired with what I would guess to be hundreds of opportunities, events, and resources I've yet to explore at Penn State. Throughout the semester, be sure to check for the dates and more upcoming events on the University Office of Global Programs homepage.
How have you achieved your Local's International?
When on my tour of the Special Collections section (blogged about in my last post), I mentioned the cold storage and the collection of both black and white and color photographs. Many of these photos are of Penn State and the surrounding area, as are much of the maps in the map room. I'm sure I'm not the only one who has gone around Rec Hall looking at the photographs of old sports teams and therefore, I can't be the only one who finds older photos to be interesting and enlightening. That being said, I was intrigued by the photo collections, a growing number of which have been posted online, and I believe that many of you will find them both entertaining and enlightening as well.
When looking at the online database, it seems to reflect the spirit one sees all around Penn State. Specifically, there are lots of pictures featuring PSU athletics, which Michelle mentioned was also the case for the pictures in storage. This makes sense though, since it's pretty easy to photograph sporting events and teams. My favorite pictures are those that show the evolution of the Nittany Lion mascot, which are featured prominently in the athletics pictures. Picture collections, whether online or in person, are a great way to see the documentation of our University's history, and not to mention just fun to page through and see what those before us were doing.
Another fun resource found on the library's web pages is a catalogue of all the digitized copies of La Vie, the Penn State yearbook (copies of the yearbook are also in the special collections library). When I accessed the yearbooks online, I went right to the oldest copy (naturally) to see all the differences between the first and more recent yearbooks. I think my favorite page of the old yearbook was the "Yells" page, which listed the chants for each of the classes from '89 to '92. The '89 yell goes:
I'm not kidding. Now, the yearbook did not detail whether or not this was a serious chant, but I'm personally quite glad that we have our "We are!" instead of "Roo Rah!" It was also crazy to see the small amount of people in each class. It's a far cry from the many campuses, medical centers, law schools, and thousands of undergraduates and graduates alike that now populate the Penn State community. The design, of course, is quite different as well. No photographs grace the pages, and cute plate designs decorate many of the introductory pages. Looking at the 2000 yearbook online, the graphics, photographs, and geometric use of text immediately catches the eye, which contrasts strongly with the whimsical designs and some hand-written entries in the 1890 yearbook. Combined with the lengthier list of fraternities (and the addition of sororities), the amazing list of student programs, and the extended text in general, it is easy to see how our alma mater has progressed. You can check out the yearbooks online for yourself by visiting the Penn State Libraries' website.
Another way to see the progress of our university is to see the physical expansion of the school through the buildings, architecture and landscaping. The Penn State Landmarks are highlighted on the library website along with many more historical pieces focusing on Penn State, from its presidents to the history of the Nittany Lion. The oral histories on the page in particular seem like a unique and amazing resource to be examined. You can find all of these sources on the Penn State Libraries' website.
I hope that with this post I have ignited a little interest in Penn State history in all of you. I think we sometimes take our school and all of its amazing history and resources for granted, and we should be sure to take the time to discover all our school and our library have to offer-- often these resources are at our very fingertips with online access. So go forth and learn!
View of the Pattee Library in the 1940s
Penn State University Archives
Originally uploaded by pennstatelive
We started in the main room of the Paterno library special collections, which generally has displays open for the public to enjoy. Currently, a Civil War display is up and running, with many facts, photos, and interesting memorabilia from the time period. Pictures of the display will soon be on Flickr as well. After browsing the display, Michelle and I headed up to the third floor of Pattee library, where the Fred Waring's America and the Charles L. Blockson Collection of African-Americana and the African Diaspora are housed.
Fred Waring was a bit of a Renaissance man, who made a name for himself in music, television, and radio as well as being a connoisseur of comics. Many of Waring's music and memorabilia are on display, but the most interesting part of his collection that I saw was behind the scenes. In the Waring back room, there were all kinds of recording equipment, everything from records to disc, wire, tape, kinescopes, videotape to a large soundboard, which is used to convert all of the other types of recordings into things that can be listened to and appreciated in the digital age. I was amazed that such a small back room could be full of so many different types of audio recordings (and the gigantic soundboard, of course). The whole Fred Waring collection is worth seeing, but just knowing that our library hosts that kind of technological power is amazing.
After leaving the Fred Waring collection, Michelle took me to see the Charles Blockson collection. This one we only stopped at briefly, because it has more limited hours and therefore was not open when we went to see it. Once inside, I saw a room full of all kinds of memorabilia, from figurines to books to displays all about Africa and the African Diaspora. Though we only stayed a short while, I'd love to go back during open hours and explore the room at my leisure.
It was only after touring these two collections that we got to the really cool stuff. Not to say that the collections weren't cool, and I would highly recommend checking them out, but this is when Michelle took me behind the scenes. We went to the map room, which intuitively houses maps, and apparently those of Central Pennsylvania get a lot of use around here. We went into a room that housed a lot of the records of Penn State itself - records on buildings and the people who shaped Penn State over the years. And this is where we encountered one of my favorite types of book storage: movable bookshelves. At the push of a button and pull of a lever, these shelves collapse on themselves to create more room for storage. Michelle confessed that she thought they were fun too. Though this is quite a digression from the point of this post, I couldn't help but mention the bookshelves.
We traveled down into cold storage, which, trust me, was quite cold, and full of all kinds of good stuff like color photographs (the black and white ones are kept upstairs because they need to be accessed so often) as well as things like VHS tapes and other forms of media. Many of the pictures are logs of the campus and surrounding areas. Central Pennsylvanian history is apparently a very popular and researched subject.
Outside of cold storage was another storage room for books, in which Michelle specifically showed me the collection of older fantasy and sci fi books. We looked at these books mainly because their covers were so ridiculous. Between that and Michelle's favorite illustrator/author Edward Gorey, we had quite a good time going through the books in this area. As my dream in life pretty much consists of spending as much time as possible being surrounded by books, this was a little slice of heaven for me.
I absolutely loved my tour of the special collections library here at Penn State. Besides the rooms I saw, there are also three warehouses full of material. All of these things are at our disposal as undergraduate students. Though one who wants to work with the special collections materials in the library probably needs to have a clear idea of what materials they want to work with, it is completely worth it to check out special collections materials the next time you research a topic. Thanks again to Michelle for my tour of all things special collections! Check out the special collections website for more information.
Notably, Arabic 001 and 002 were daily classes, allowing far more time to engage myself with the language. Considering the difficulty that learning a second, let alone a third language can be for a nonnative, my own learning curve seemed particularly extraordinary to me. Where I'd been studying French for a number of years and did feel comfortable with it, I was already beginning to feel myself reaching that level of capability with Arabic after just a few classes.
A lecture in French linguistics during that same semester given by Professor Jean-Marc Authier helped to reveal truths regarding my bubbling convictions. He presented something entirely new to me: the Language Acquisition Device (LAD). A theory first proposed by Noam Chomsky, the LAD is a "postulated organ" biologically linked to the learner's age. He even pinpointed the disappearance of the LAD to a stage in every human life: puberty.* Chomsky's theory is tied closely to the Critical Period Hypothesis (CPH), which holds that the optimal (and virtually only possible) time for language acquisition is during the presence of the LAD.
Naturally, other theories have arisen since Chomsky's developments in the mid-1960s. His theory, to pose a point, came in direct opposition to the language acquisition theories of B.F. Skinner, which of course entails a behavioral psychology approach. Chomsky's hypothesis, however, has carried considerable weight in the principles of linguistics into the modern day.
As many who have entered but never fully pursued a second tongue will know too well, gaining fluency in a foreign language during high school, college, or thereafter does prove itself a challenge with a rather low success rate. But fear not; your hormones aren't holding you back.
If you ask me, in a much more plausible solution, the existence of a LAD is a way of labeling a number of roadblocks that arise with age. For one, you are far more likely to attain fluency in the languages with which you identify culturally. A lack of identification with a particular language may cause enough dissonance to make fluency an overwhelming and overly frustrating task.
This leads me to the next point: motivation. Without incentives like cultural identity, surrounding environment, and other speakers of the language to keep you going, the very idea of learning the language in the first place may creep into the shadows of your mind.
A third and often-underestimated factor: time. Think about how you learned your first language. You'll probably answer that there wasn't an option. You were a child who knew exactly what you wanted but had no idea how to request it, save screaming and crying. When you discovered that this wouldn't work, you spent every waking moment of your life copying your surroundings until you could communicate your thoughts, emotions, and desires in what we recognize as a civilized manner.
The closest one can come to emulating this experience and ultimately gaining fluency in another language is much the same. Go to a place where the language you know best is least understood. Without a doubt, it will be both challenging and frustrating (the motivation factor comes to mind again). Short of hand gestures and primitive head movements, you would have no option but to figure out how to make yourself understood in that tongue. You would have to empathize, adapt, and assimilate with a new culture regardless of former cultural identities. And perhaps most importantly, you would have all day every day to try and get it right. These are the factors that are really involved in gaining fluency. After such an analysis, the LAD seems but a scapegoat for these various hardships.
I recently had an opportunity to correspond with Professor Authier again on this very topic. To emphasize the point, says Authier, "There is at present no evidence of any kind that suggests that anything biological prevents adults from acquiring native proficiency in a second language...Second, a very troublesome fact for the unavailability of the biological LAD past puberty is that a significant number of people who start learning a second language as adults ARE able to reach a proficiency level that is INDISTINGUISHABLE from that of native speakers.**
For those on the fence of whether or not to continue studying that foreign language, defeated by the mounting complexity of the task, bear in mind the same points above that immediately hit home with me. For me, Arabic has been a great way to trace my Syrian roots and grow ever closer to the elders in my family. On the other hand, the only identification I have with French is a mild (okay, severe) obsession with its people. With either of the two, I know that at some point my learning curve will plateau as I outgrow the foreign classroom within an all too customary and routine place. I know (and anticipate) that moving forward with fluency will require rising to a challenge beyond the classroom that has trained me and into the environment I've thus far been mimicking.
No matter the source of your desires, don't allow the passing of time and the drifting of your motivation to be a hindrance. Most importantly, know that no time is too late to begin. Redefine the boundaries that surround you once more.
* Chomsky, Noam. Aspects of the Theory of Syntax. MIT, 1965. Print
** Moyer, Alene. Ultimate Attainment in L2 Phonology: The Critical Factors of Age, Motivation, and Instruction. Studies in second language acquisition 21.1 01 Jan 1999: 81-108. Indiana University Linguistics Club. 12 Jul 2011.
*** Gärdenfors, Peter. Language and the Evolution of Cognition. Lund: Lund University, 1995. Print.
Liberal arts graduates are certainly not feckless. Admittedly biased, I genuinely believe the skills liberal arts students acquire in earning their degrees make them some of the sharpest, efficacious employees. As Sam so correctly pointed out, people do understand the value of a liberal arts student - great writer; strong ability to think critically; broad depth of knowledge; all-in-all a very well rounded package - but, they fail to understand how seamlessly said skills (and numerous others) fit into almost every area of the professional marketplace. From geology to banking and engineering to teaching, the skills acquired through liberal arts courses, majors, degrees, etc, are not just pertinent - they are unmistakably necessary.
For example, a banker in Pennsylvania serving on the Pennsylvania Bankers Association needs to have the ability to articulate the pros and cons of potential financial legislation winding its way through the PA Senate to colleagues and shareholders alike. Humanitarian engineers working in Northern Africa need to be able to understand the geo-political ramifications of current freedom movements and how those movements may impact the viability of building a medical clinic, while teaming with entrepreneurs to introduce mobile diagnostic applications on cellular phones. In short, the skills that students master in a liberal arts education are as salient today as they were when farmer and inventor Thomas Jefferson sat down and penned the Declaration of Independence.
I'm unabashedly proud of what the liberal arts can give students; however, I am not naive. The liberal arts as a wide ranging curriculum faces unprecedented challenge in today's world. Obstinately plugging away and sharing the message with folks who already believe in the liberal arts does little to solve our current problem. What mechanisms exist for liberal arts faculty, students, graduates, and believers to promote the utility of the liberal arts? Is there an efficacious way to concertedly promote the skills mastered in the liberal arts? I invite your thoughts on my thoughts and the questions I have posed.
In order to test out this new search engine for hyping and creative purposes alike, I decided to search for a random topic that I find interesting and see where LionSearch takes me. I decided to search "Prometheus" as my keyword. I am currently quite invested in the myth of Prometheus in all its forms, as I am planning to write my senior thesis about adaptations of the Prometheus myth. Unsurprisingly, this keyword search turned up 34,928 results. Both the myth and the name "Prometheus" are quite well known, especially in scholarly circles, so the barrage of results is no shock. Luckily, the LionSearch sidebar provides me with ways to narrow down my search.
Under the "Refine your search" sidebar, I decided to check the "Items in the library catalogue" box and the search was narrowed down to 3,087 results, which is a much more manageable than the nearly 35,000 that bombarded me before. In order to play around a bit more with the search results, I returned to the sidebar.
I started with the "Content Type" selections, which showed me that the materials that showed up for my search of "Prometheus" range from books, the most common (2,875 materials) to kit (whatever that is) which only turned up one item. Interested in this mysterious "kit" I looked for it specifically. Turns out it is a children's book, a collection of illustrated creation myths from all over the world. What earned it the label of "kit" I think is because that the one on the University Park campus is both a book and an audio CD. Also, James Earl Jones is a narrator for the CD, so I think I might need go to listen to this recording.
After going back to my original search of materials in the library catalogue, in order to find out what else may be lurking around the library, I checked out the feature called "Author" and saw that after Aeschylus, the author of "Prometheus Bound," one of the first and longest documentations of the Promethean myth, the next author with the most work incorporated in the search was Ludwig Van Beethoven. Curious, I pursued this next. After including only Beethoven in my search, I found that most of his work held in the library and responsive to the keyword search "Prometheus" is audio recordings of his music for the ballet "The Creatures of Prometheus." Most of these recordings seem to be available in the Arts and Humanities library, but there is at least one online resource. I followed up on this online resource, and I am currently listening to "The Creatures of Prometheus" on my computer as I type this. Oh, and this material is also available as a CD.
With new background music accompanying me, I forayed back to the search page and checked out the languages available for "Prometheus" texts. I didn't follow up on any strange language texts, mostly because I would be unable to understand them even if I did, but plenty of languages were represented. English swept the top prize with 2,993 materials and German came in second with 106 titles (I actually find this fact interesting because I am reading some German works in translation for aforementioned Prometheus thesis, but I digress). The list goes on, with representations of Greek and Latin works and many European languages, until we get to some rather random inclusions, such as Bengali and Church Slavic (?).
I then took a look at the genres represented (did you know that "controversial literature" is a genre?) which quickly showed me that pretty much anything you can imagine is covered here. I was interested that the top genre was biography, as Prometheus is a figure of myth, so I took a look and quickly found my confusing factor-- a publishing company called Prometheus Books. I would like to believe that this speaks to the pervasiveness of Promethean legend in modern culture, and I also note that these could easily be weeded out in a more direct and less ramble-y search than mine.
The last two filters also prove interesting and useful in a search with actual direction: a regional search and a time period search. The time period search alone shows me the way that Prometheus was represented through the ages. All the filters on the site are easy to use and manipulate, and just from this post you can see the interesting directions exploring LionSearch and the Penn State libraries can take you. So use the new technology well, post your feedback, and enjoy your explorations!
Hello, I should say. My name is Chris Tutolo, and I am a junior at Penn State majoring in International Politics and seeking a minor in both French and Middle East Studies. In the first of my posts, I'd like to emphasize the benefits of studying languages, especially as a student in the Liberal Arts at Penn State.
The College of the Liberal Arts is home to over 10 languages available for study at Penn State. I strongly encourage others within the college to pick up a minor in one of them. Not only is learning a foreign language an awakening, fun, and incredibly rewarding experience, but it also perfectly complements the academic track of a liberal arts degree.
Also, if boredom has plagued the best of your midsummer days, direct your attention toward a great opportunity to both master a language and earn credits next summer with the Language Institute at Penn State. The Language Institute offers intensive language sequences in more than 10 languages and students can earn up to 12 credits in just 8 weeks. Many of the courses required for a foreign language minor are now offered in the summer and eight weeks of summer language study can help students make great strides towards a language minor. Past and present participants: feel free to comment below on your experience with the Language Institute.
To echo what Rebekka Egger, Academic Director of the Language Institute, wrote in an earlier post, foreign language skills are developing as exceedingly practical tools in the globalized, multicultural marketplace that marks the 21st century. Increasing, too, with this trend is the number of firms, NGOs, humanitarian organizations, and other American companies that operate outside U.S. borders. Intuitively, getting ahead in this form of marketplace frequently includes knowledge of at least one foreign language.
Foreign language proficiency can even help you in the application process, as a number of graduate and law schools, government jobs, nonprofits and even scholarships and grants weigh language skills into their decision. Even in recreational traveling through foreign countries where English is commonly used, a cultured tourist beats an ignorant one. The list of benefits goes on, but one of the most interesting of them is the suspected advantages of the bilingual brain (Go figure.).
Fellow readers, I challenge you to challenge yourselves. In my lifetime, I have found myself enclosed in a bubble of sorts, constricted further by narrow minds and unfaltering outlooks on life. Since engaging in International Politics, French, and Middle East Studies, I find myself reaching toward endless horizons with an open mind, open arms, and open eyes. From within the Penn State community, I now feel connected on a much broader scale.
I hope to complete my French minor requirements while abroad at a Penn State affiliated institution in France. What's more, I may even stay with a Tunisian family, where I would learn more about both French and Arab culture. Granted, not even I could have expected opportunities so picture perfect. But it started with a piqued interest in language. The room for creation, exploration, and discovery that ensued is what led me down a chance-filled path and, to be sure, toward what great things await.
You, too, have the chance to spring into the opportunities available to you through Penn State. Explore them. Exceed your boundaries. You may find yourself fascinated by the prospect of traveling, studying abroad, and meeting international students (field experience, you might say). And if you're anything like me, you'll never turn back.
Look out for more posts from me throughout the next couple of months. Some of the topics include: debunking the Language Acquisition Device and stress-free escapes on and around Penn State's campus just in time for the fall semester.
I attempted to characterize an education as a tool. In a vacuum, it doesn't mean much (a hammer just sitting on the table doesn't do anyone much good). In the hands of someone who wants to use it, though, it can be very powerful. When I proposed this idea to Rob, he responded (rightly, I think) that education has an intrinsic value. Being contemplative, being able (even if you do not do so all the time) to think critically, being exposed to a community of scholarship - these are valuable things, regardless of how a person uses them.
After considering those points, I have reached the conclusion that it's very difficult - perhaps impossible - to place a value on "an education." Colleges and Universities make an effort to, but they only measure their costs: a student pays enough money to make sure the sidewalks stay paved, the dorms stay heated, and the faculty are paid for their teaching and research. Schools charge students in that manner because it's impossible - in my opinion - to gauge the value of what a student will end up doing with the knowledge and understanding of the world that she accumulates while sitting in Economics or English classes.
Some people attempt to compare the starting salaries that graduates of a certain degree make. For example, we have information that will tell us what the average sociology major spends to receive a degree. We can also guess what his starting salary will be. Although this information may be useful, it does nothing to tell us how a student changed because he took a Sociology class and now understands more about the intrinsic divisions within his home city. And that understanding - broadly termed as "the liberal arts" - is what will allow him to infer and comprehend more things about different cities and populations throughout the world.
I anticipate that you will soon see a subsequent post from a colleague and friend of mine, fellow former LAUC President Geoff Halberstadt. Until then, though, I know that there are a wide variety of views on the value of an education (or how we can value it, if we must), so I will stop here and invite debate in the comments: do you feel that we can state a value for an education? How would you value your education? Would you consider tuition and fees an appropriate numerical representation of the knowledge you acquire while pursuing your degree?
At the close of the 2011 spring semester, Penn State's College of the Liberal Arts hosted a conference that served to highlight a crisis in the liberal arts, and to identify potential solutions. Personally, I think our outgoing LAUC President Geoff Halberstadt summed up the problem in question best in a blog post titled "Crisis in the Liberal Arts: Cynical Faculty":
"The problem I see lies in the turning away from a liberal arts education, and, to me at the very least, a repudiation of the values that education offers its students."
A liberal arts education instills in all of its students leadership, understanding, and ethics, and has been the foundation of higher education since its inception. It is becoming more apparent, especially now with constricting monetary limitations, that these qualities are being devalued by politicians and the public alike. A recent PEW study, "Is College Worth It?", reported that 57% of Americans believe that the higher education system in the U.S. fails to give students good value for the money that they dish out for college. Furthermore, the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices will have you believe that "preparing a state's work force for 21st-century jobs" will require the governors to wean colleges and universities from their "emphasis on broad liberal-arts education" (see Carol Schneider's article "Degrees for What Jobs?' Wrong Question, Wrong Answers" for more information). It seems to me that higher education as a whole is being criticized, and the liberal arts are sure to receive the heaviest critical blow.
This should be alarming to the entire nation, not just liberal arts students, teachers, or administrators. Liberal arts students consistently perform astronomically better than students in other areas of study in reading, writing, and analytical thinking. For some reason, these skills are being kicked to the curb in exchange for extremely narrow fields of study which have short term pay offs, but give students no real room to grow. The liberal arts provide the best avenue for personal growth and a better understanding of the world we live in, giving its students a foundation for success in any field of work. When did we begin thinking of education in terms of dollar signs and pay offs? A few other questions must be addressed, as well. How do the liberal arts contribute to society? Why does higher education have a bad name with the majority of the American public? How can we reverse these beliefs?
We are very fortunate to also be hearing from former LAUC President Sam Loewner in the very near future, who will offer his own insight into how we might measure the value of education. I implore everyone to follow along in a series of posts that will hopefully validate my belief that a liberal arts education is something to be celebrated and encourage.
I now invite everyone in the Penn State community to take part in this discussion. Please feel free to support or refute any ideas that I have put forth in the comments.
Throughout the span of the program, I was consistently impressed with the lineup of presentations, panelists, and activities that kept us busy from 9 am to 5 pm (just like in real Law School). Much of the days' presentations featured Law Professors, Deans, Attorneys, and Judges who spoke about their professional specialties as well as their career paths and experiences in the field of Law. While that may seem to be a monotonous way to spend each day, it definitely was not. Not only did their stories inspire me (let me tell you, these people are successful with a capital S), but I enjoyed the honest and candid testimonials about their journeys. Each presenter shared their successes, but also took time to highlight the many challenges they faced along the way. For instance, they noted several difficulties of Law School such as professors' use of the Socratic Method, emphasis on analytical reasoning, the competitive atmosphere, and long lonely hours reading and studying, to name a few. Despite the challenges, each professional who spoke was very happy in their career and could also highlight many joyful times in Law School and afterward. Throughout the week, I was pleasantly surprised to realize that not all Law graduates take the same path; not every graduate ends up in courtrooms or works in a large firm in a high pressure setting. Many different people spoke to us throughout the week from all different paths; we heard from Law students and professors (legal writing, torts, and criminal procedure), Litigators, Judges, Deans, Transactional Lawyers, and Academic Advisors in the Law School. Hearing the diverse perspectives reinforced the claim that you can do a lot of different things with a J.D.
When we weren't listening to those very informational presentations, we were engaged in mock classes and workshops. We took two mock Law classes, one on "torts" and the other on criminal procedure. Those are two "1L" classes that are prescribed in the first year of Law School. In our Case Briefing Workshops, we worked on the briefs that we submitted as early homework assignments which were then used in the mock classes we participated in. One of my favorite activities was the "Lawyer Simulation Exercise," which was a simulation in negotiation and conflict management. Professors Welsh and Shea gave a presentation on the work of lawyers as "negotiators" in contracts and other deals, and the Law School campers participated in a simulation which I really enjoyed--maybe it's the Resident Assistant in me who loves managing conflict! Our final, big activity was the Litigation Workshop, or "mock trial," where we all got to play a part in a classic slip-and-fall" case. Some of us were lawyers, some judges and jurors, and the rest witnesses (plaintiffs or defendants/appellants/appellees). This activity was a lot of fun, and we got to work together in groups based on our roles. For example, I was the "witness" Danielle Fox, who was also the plaintiff. I had two lawyers (for two separate trials), so I was able to work with those students on my direct examination. It was a lot of fun! After our trials were over, real lawyers stepped into the student lawyers' shoes and performed direct and cross examinations of the same case. It was amazing to see them do what they do best!
Some other things that were discussed throughout the week were of course admissions and logistical questions about the LSAT, percentiles, transcripts, and financial aid, as well as information on joint degree programs and career services information. We were also given a personal tour of the Katz building and we got to hang out with two Penn State Law students--one who just finished her first year and the other who is now a graduate!
All in all, I am so glad I participated in this program. It gave me wonderful insight into life as a law student and to where a degree in Law can take a person in their career. I initially wanted to participate in Explore Law for just that--to explore the possibilities of Law, and this program definitely enhanced my knowledge of the experience. Not only was I surrounded by 34 other super ambitious undergraduate students, but I got to meet and mingle with some highly impressive lawyers, judges, and professors to talk about Law. The days were definitely long and the homework was not easy (at least for a student not accustomed to that kind of homework), but that helped make the week's activities more realistic and useful. For now, my future plans are not concrete, however Law School is most definitely in the mix of potential pathways to pursue and because of Explore Law I no longer feel quite as lost as to what that means. I highly encourage other students to apply for this program next year. Information can be found on Penn State Law's website.
Many thanks to Professor Michele Vollmer at Penn State Law for coordinating and facilitating the whole program. She did a wonderful job!
The article was a speculative commentary on the alleged implications of the Academic Program and Administrative Services Review Core Council memo to the College of the Liberal Arts. It has generated significant student, staff and faculty anxiety, so it is important to clarify the ways the College has responded to the Core Council recommendations about these programs.
The programs mentioned were singled out as ones that ought to be reviewed "to determine the most appropriate arrangements for their administrative homes, organizational structures, and delivery of their curricula." This is precisely what the College has done.
The Women's Studies program is undertaking a very exciting review of their curriculum. It is designed to make it easier for students to navigate the major even as the course of study is updated to speak more directly to the most leading-edge scholarship in the field. We look forward to moving these curricular initiatives through the Faculty Senate process next year. The Women's Studies program is not "on the chopping block." To learn more about the major, visit the Women's Studies website.
The African and African American Studies department has decided to split into two majors: African Studies and African-American and Diaspora. The African Studies major will be designed to give students the opportunity to examine the geographical, cultural, historical, political, and economic aspects of Africa. The African-American and Diaspora major is being redesigned to give students an integrated and critical understanding of the experiences and contributions of African-Americans.
Finally, student interest in the Religious Studies major has been very low for some time. Moreover, due to changes in the faculty over the past few years, there are fewer faculty teaching in the Religious Studies program. Because of the low student interest, we have decided to recommend the discontinuation of the religious studies major. As was stated in this Collegian article in February, this decision will not affect current majors' ability to complete their chosen curriculum.
So the sensationalistic lede in the Daily Collegian was wrong on all fronts: The Religious Studies program has already been slated for discontinuation, while Women's Studies, African-American and Diaspora Studies, African Studies and Jewish Studies are not on the chopping block, but in fact are being reinvigorated to attract new majors. The long term viability of all of these important paths of study depends, of course, on student interest in the fields. So, if you are a student concerned that these majors continue to be offered at Penn State, I encourage you to schedule an appointment with your advisor to declare one of these majors.
The liberal arts have a very strong emphasis on creative writing, reading comprehension, and analysis. These are essential skills, and it's important that students cultivate these during their college years. During college, many people just try to learn the facts to do well on an exam. Statistically speaking, these facts are not retained for very long - they are often "in one ear and out the other." Contrarily, improving ones' skill in creative writing, reading comprehension, and analysis is a lifelong and on-going endeavor. It requires dedication, perseverance, and attention to detail. The payoff is that these skills, unlike the facts learned for a particular test, transcend a single discipline and are universal in their nature and applicability.
Indeed, a liberal arts education cultivates skills that will stay with the individual throughout their life. Agora has proved itself to be a creative, engaging, and inspiring means for students to further cultivate these skills. Agora has shaped my experience in particular by providing an outlet for my creativity. I believe that while a college education can take you to the door, you have to make yourself walk through it in some way. College should be the time in ones' life when one grows profoundly as an individual and realizes their talents and strengths.
To this end, Agora has been a way for me to channel what I've learned as a student of the liberal arts. As Agora's philosophy editor, I've tried to present interesting and diverse material to Penn State. Though relatively young, Agora is already Penn State's premier student magazine. Moreover, Agora's philosophy department is the newest part of this relatively new magazine. The philosophy department has expanded and grown, much like Agora - in an astonishingly short amount of time. Philosophy is logic, it is reasoning, it is thought, and it is everywhere. Philosophy is immensely important, for it is ultimately thoughts and ideas that have the power to progress or regress a society. For this reason I encourage all students to submit his or her written works to Agora for consideration. Though I'm graduating, I'm looking forward to the seeing the bright future that both Agora and its' philosophy department will enjoy.
I became involved with Agora in early 2010 when its first issue was being released. I was so impressed by the intelligence, innovative, and fresh ideas that were being produced by this group of students, the vast majority undergraduates. I think in many ways, Agora renewed my faith in the significance of undergraduate thought and work. I am a student focusing on three disciplines in the Liberal Arts: Sociology, Women's Studies, and African American Studies. In these disciplines, I am required to read, write, and utilize critical thinking skills constantly. I believe all of these things are so necessary and yet, under encouraged and too rarely taught or embraced during the undergraduate years. This is where I found Agora so refreshing - it is the praxis of the liberal arts and it upholds my strong belief that the work produced by undergraduate students is inherently scholarly and academic. This publication has come to define my time as an undergraduate at Penn State. It is my intellectual outlet, it is where I have met some of my dearest friends, and it is the embodiment of what I believe higher education to be about: the sharing of ideas, the honing of skills, and the spread of intellectualism.
This upcoming academic year, I have the incredible privilege and responsibility of becoming the second president of Agora. The first two years of this publication have proved to be incredibly successful, as we have built our reputation of excellent writing and the promotion of free thought. It is in this spirit, that new vice president Rob Turchick and myself, along with the rest of our highly talented new executive board, will continue to produce this publication with creativity, passion, and dedication to make Agora even better and to ensure its long legacy at Penn State. I highly encourage all who are interested to come and write for Agora. It truly has become a transformative experience for myself and the brilliant young minds that fuel this publication. Indeed Agora lends depth not only to our experience at Penn State, but to the thought it provokes among this university's community who is reading it, discussing it, contacting us. In doing so, the community at Penn State can be engaged in a deeper, more meaningful discourse that is such a part of what higher education is all about.
At Lector, our motto is "elevate the conversation." The key concepts that separate Lector from regular student blogs or the course-discussion systems on Angel are focus and exposure. Labeled as a virtual book club, Lector is the first of its kind among American universities: a hub for students to talk about the books they read in class, expanding upon discussions from class or making their own observations. Although it operates on WordPress, Lector has its own URL, which gives it strength in terms of branding. Unaffiliated with any particular class or content, Lector has the markings of a strong brand: abstract and broad, yet official. Unlike other student blogs, which can be randomly titled and scattered from subject to subject, Lector's central home for these comments promotes solidarity and a form of legitimacy: it has all the markings of a professional website, and it seems as though that helps the students take it more seriously. The students who participate in Lector are not assigned topics; they either bring up aspects of the texts that gnaw at them, or respond to others' comments. Although the students are required to post at least once a week, they post with a zeal that has defied our expectations. Each student produces substantive, worthwhile content each and every week.
We can only "elevate the conversation" if we can affect the conversation--and we can only affect the conversation if we can get our arguments into the hands of the people. Lector's other great strength comes from the chance of exposure. In my experience, professors have assigned blog-like tasks to be posted on Penn State's Angel course-management system. Normally, these experiences have not gone so well, due to either problems with the Angel interface or a lack of motivation--what's the point of posting to a website when no one can see your work? Lector makes sure that students have the opportunity to make comments that the world can see and interact with. Moreover, anyone and everyone are encouraged to contribute in some way, by commenting on the students' remarks. This feature is currently open to the public, and therefore must be policed by my fellow administrators and myself, but it allows outside parties to contribute to the classroom conversation. Parents and family members have the opportunity to share in their students' activities; alumnus who miss strong, intellectual conversation can participate; and we're even trying to get some professionals to weigh in on the discussion (Mr. Gladwell, we're looking at you!).
If asked to describe Lector in one word, we would say: promise. Lector has promised to accomplish so many things: to elevate the conversation, to provide students with a platform to have their voices heard, to shatter restrictions on intellectual conversation, and to prove to alumni that age-old adage, "you can always come home again" holds true. Right now, Lector is in its infancy. We only cover one reading list for two small sections, but we chose to begin with readings that cover issues with vast contemporary importance. As of the writing, we have over 5,000 hits, a number that greatly exceeds our expectations. Not all of these hits can be from ours students; it shows that people are taking notice. The eyes of the academic world are focused on Penn State to determine the legitimacy of a virtual book club, and it's up to us to remind the world that books matter. We invite you to check out our website. If you're familiar with the books we're discussing, or the topics they're based upon, feel free to chime in on the students' remarks. Follow us on twitter (@Lectorbookclub) or "like" us on Facebook (search "Lector: A Virtual Book Club"), and watch as the social network and intellectual network combine.
Welcome to the new frontier in reading.
In the spring of 2004, four Harvard sophomores, led by Mark Zuckerberg, set out to move the college experience online. The result of their efforts, the social-networking website Facebook, which launched on February 4, 2004, has achieved just that, extending the social experiences of college online. Students can--and do--add people they meet in class, outside of class, campus club-mates, and potential love interests to their online friends list. We can "like" each others' comments, tag ourselves in images, and we always know when some event is going on, whether it be a party around campus, upcoming tests, or even world events. Facebook has revolutionized the ways in which we communicate with our peers. In the social sense, Facebook has placed the college experience online--but remember, the "social" aspect is only half.
On Thursday, February 3, 2011, English 30 students under the tutelage of Diana Gruendler took the first step in completing the process. As part of the Sony Reader: New Frontiers in Reading research project, Gruendler's undergraduate TAs launched Lector: A Virtual Book Club, a website devoted to expanding the classroom experience to the internet. In the New Frontiers in Reading research project, students have been exposed to Sony Readers in order to gauge the readers' compatibility with the classroom atmosphere. In the past, the research group has run classes using the same syllabus, one a "control" class using regular, codex books, and the other an "experimental" class, in which the students had to use the readers. Now we're taking that one step further, by incorporating a medium natural to an electronic device, a website, and opening the invitation for others outside of the project that have eReaders to participate. Lector takes its name from the Latin word "lector," which referred to a reader in ancient times, one whose job it was to read from texts in public forums, when literacy wasn't common. It's a play on the fact that we call devices such as the Sony Reader, Kindle, and Nook "eReaders" and not "eBooks" -- because they display the text of eBooks (strings of code), and sometimes can actually read to us.
The theory behind Lector is this: give students contemporary literature and provide them with a public forum to engage in meaningful discussions about the text. The texts chosen: Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, War by Sebastian Junger, The Facebook Effect by David Kirkpatrick, and Iran Awakening by Shirin Ebadi all discuss topics pertinent to college-age students. For half of the average eighteen-year-old, first-year student's life, this country has been at war. In an ever-changing, fast-moving world, first-year students at University Park know that it takes something a little extra to be successful, a point which Malcolm Gladwell examines in Outliers and which Mark Zuckerberg, through the eyes of David Kirkpatrick, exemplifies. Believe it or not, Facebook continues to grow, and with each country that Facebook expands to, the ease with which ideas can cross cultures also expands exponentially. In this era of unparalleled communication and connection, understanding how this communion of ideas affects society is invaluable.
As Facebook connects people socially, Lector connects people intellectually. Right now, the key constituency consists of two English 30 sections on campus, taught by the same instructor. But this is only the beginning. Consider the student who misses class, for whatever reason it may be. As a conscientious student, I hate missing classes; the guilt gnaws at me relentlessly. But a student whose class is on Lector can afford to miss a class and still contribute to the conversation online. One of the amazing things about Lector is that two of our TAs (and my fellow research assistants) aren't on campus. One is currently in Michigan on a co-op for chemical engineering, and the other is in Australia studying abroad--half a world away! No matter where they are--either three states away or literally on the other side of the planet--these students still contribute to the conversation, by helping with the design and maintenance of the website, posting videos that go with the current content we're discussing in class, or commenting on the students' remarks. The only limits are those that we place on ourselves--time, day, and location are no longer an issue.
Stay tuned next week as I further explore the vast potential of Lector and where we envision it going. In the meantime, please check out our website and join in the conversation.
- Gen ed courses that have watch lists during the fall and spring have availability in the summer. Courses such as CAS 100 (Effective Speech--GWS), ENGL 202 (Effective Writing--GWS), PHIL 012 (Symbolic Logic--GQ), and 400-level PL SC, which students often have to wait to take, are easier to schedule during the summer.
- Have you had trouble fitting in a lab science? ANTH 021 (Biological Anthropology--GN) is available during the summer, and it fulfills the lab requirement for Liberal Arts.
- Still need foreign language credits? You have the opportunity to complete one, two, or three levels of language in the summer. Because the educational objectives vary somewhat from traditional language courses, the language placement policy enforced during the fall and spring is not in place for these summer courses. That means that if your previous units place you in a higher level of a language than you are comfortable with, you would still receive credit if you take a lower-level language in the summer.
- Class sizes are small. As an example, CRIM/SOC 012 (Criminology--GS) could have 300 students during the spring and just 20 students during the summer.
- Courses are offered during different sessions and different formats, so you choose what works best with your schedule:
- Online, six-week courses: Courses are available in two different sessions--May 16 to June 24 and June 29 to August 10. Examples are AAA S 110 (Introduction to Contemporary Africa--GS, IL, Other Cultures), CMLIT 108 (Myths and Mythologies--GH, IL, Other Cultures), ECON 102 (Introductory Microeconomics Analysis and Policy--GS, Business and the Liberal Arts Minor), LER 100 (Employment Relations--GS, Business and the Liberal Arts Minor), and WMNST 003 (Introduction to Women, the Humanities, and the Arts--GH, US, IL).
- Online, summer-long courses: Courses are available from May 16 to August 10. Examples are ENGL 202 (Effective Writing--GWS), PHIL 103W (Introduction to Ethics--GH, Writing Across the Curriculum), PL SC 014 (International Relations--GS, IL), and PSYCH 100 (Introductory Psychology--GS). The educational objectives are the same for the summer-long courses as the six-week offerings--you are doing less work per week, though, since the lessons are spread across more weeks.
(NOTE: For a complete listing of online offerings, search both the University Park and World Campus listings on the Schedule of Courses. You do not need residency at University Park for any portion of the online courses.)
- Resident instruction six-week courses:Courses are available on campus during two different sessions--May 16 - June 24 and June 29 - August 10. Examples are ANTH 045 (Cultural Anthropology--GS, US, IL, Other Cultures), CAS 100 (Effective Speech--GWS), CAS 450W (Group Communication Theory and Research--Writing Across the Curriculum), CRIM 100 (Introduction to Criminal Justice--GS), ENGL 050 (Introduction to Creative Writing--GA), HIST 010 (World History I--GH, IL, Other Cultures), LER 201 (Employment Relationship: Law and Policy--GS), PHIL 105 (Introduction to Philosophy of Law and Legal Ethics--GH), and PSYCH 100 (Introductory Psychology--GS).
- You can catch up on credits if you are behind, or you can get ahead so you have more flexibility in future scheduling. If you have late dropped credits or taken smaller semester loads and are looking at a heavier credit average for your remaining semesters, summer credits are a way to get back on track. Maybe you are completing a concurrent major or minor and want to take some of your minor credits or 400-level major credits in the summer to make things easier in your final semesters. Some students even plan for full-time enrollment in the summer in an effort to graduate a semester early.
- Students pay the current tuition rate for summer credits. You may use the tuition calculator on the Bursar's site to determine your costs based on the number of credits, and you would check with Student Aid to determine if you are eligible for financial aid during the summer.
For more information about Penn State Summer Courses, visit the outreach website.
Minors are absolutely not required for graduation or graduate school admission. They are an opportunity to do a little extra by taking a significant number of courses, typically 6-8, including a few upper level courses in a field outside your major. In some cases the minor will directly support what you need to learn in your major. A great example of this is one of my economics majors choosing the math minor. In other cases minors will set students apart from the rest of the students in their major or will give students a chance to explore an outside interest. For example that same economics student may add a minor in philosophy because he truly enjoyed something he tried out while working on his general education requirements.
Courses you take to meet your major, general education or Bachelor of Arts requirements can all be used to satisfy a minor as well. You will find a list of minors offered by the university as well as the requirements for each minor on the University Bulletin website. Minors are listed on your transcript and you do receive a certificate with your diploma for each minor you complete. If you are interested in a minor, stop by to see your adviser to start the process of adding a minor by getting your application to a minor form signed.
I would like to invite our students who have declared minors to share their major/minor combinations and let the students who are currently working on these decisions know why you chose your particular combination. I'll go first - I started off with a French major and a psychology minor simply because those are the things I enjoyed studying.
One skill that is bound to give you an edge, no matter what path you pursue after Penn State, is the ability to speak a foreign language. It is difficult to overestimate the importance of foreign language skills in the 21st century, an era that has already been marked by increasing globalization, dramatic shifts in global power and demographic trends, and ever-evolving challenges in the political arena.
You may think to yourself that "so many people throughout the world speak English" so you don't need to learn a second language. Well, the former may be true (although many Americans overestimate the proportion of the world's population that speaks English); the latter likely is not. Whether you plan to pursue a career in business, government, non-profit, law, or academia, there is a good chance that your employer will work with clients, constituents, or partners from across the globe.
Try this exercise: think of an American blue-chip employer (such as Pfizer, Omnicon, Procter & Gamble, Google, Bank of New York/Mellon, or MasterCard) and then try to guess what proportion of its revenues comes from outside the US. For the companies listed above, the proportions approach 50% or more. In fact, recent data suggests that for US companies as a whole the proportion of revenues that are derived internationally is about 30%, while for companies in the S&P 500, the proportion is along the lines of 45-50% (MSN Market Watch, 2007).* These rates are expected to increase over the next several years. Certainly foreign language skills would be an asset for individuals seeking a position in the private sector after college, particularly as the global economy continues to evolve and other regions of the world assume greater economic and political influence.
Knowledge of a foreign language is also a great asset for those considering careers in government, the non-profit sector, law or law enforcement, and related fields. Currently, the fastest growing regions of the world are outside of North America, and are not predominantly English-speaking. Certainly some of the most pressing humanitarian and geopolitical challenges of our era are in non-English speaking areas of the world. In this regard, one might think particularly of the former Soviet republics (where Russian is widely spoken), the Middle East, Latin America, or Eastern Europe. Students interested in careers or research in these fields who possess a working knowledge of a foreign language will be able to take advantage of a wider range of opportunities to serve others, and will undoubtedly have access to a broader range of resources to draw upon in building their careers.
Even if your interests are more local, foreign language skills are still a plus given the increasingly multicultural nature of the modern workplace. Most young people in college today will one day work in an environment where they are required to interact with people from other cultural backgrounds or whose first language is not English. In the multicultural workplace employees who know another language and have developed an understanding and appreciation of foreign cultures that the study of a foreign language promotes are an asset.
Finally, if you plan further education after college, you may already know that many graduate programs require a certain level of fluency in one or two foreign languages. This is because important research is often published in professional journals and books in languages other than English. Language skills can also boost your application to law or business school, and make you more competitive for any grant or scholarship that you may wish to apply for. In addition to making you a better communicator, knowledge of a foreign language showcases your capacity to assimilate complex systems of information, as well as your flexibility and ability to "get outside your own head" and adapt to how other people think.
Penn State offers a variety of ways to integrate foreign languages into existing programs of study. How might you get started? Penn State University Park offers courses in many languages ranging from the more familiar, such as German, to the less commonly taught, such as Hindi. For many of these languages, University Park also offers a range of summer courses (see for example, the many offerings in French, Italian, Spanish, German, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Hebrew, and new next summer, Turkish and Portuguese). Thus foreign language study can complement and fit readily into most educational plans. For many of the languages offered here you can earn a minor which will give you a formal credential to attest to your skills.
Descriptions of Penn State minors, including language minors, can be found on the Liberal Arts Undergraduate Studies website. Language minors typically require 18 - 19 credits in language courses, with 6 - 7 credits at the 400 level. However, introductory language courses (LANG 001, sometimes LANG 002 and 003) do not count towards all minors. It is always good to consult with the departmental adviser to make sure that you understand the requirements.
Good luck! Bonne chance! Viel Glück!
You know the old saying...
The graduate with a science degree asks, "Why does it work?"
The graduate with an engineering degree asks, "How does it work?"
The graduate with an accounting degree asks, "How much will it cost?"
The graduate with a liberal arts degree asks, "Do you want fries with that?"
You must admit that some of you had to explain to your parents why you wanted to pursue a degree in the liberal arts. The genesis of such stereotypical perspectives regarding liberal arts majors can be partially attributed to the computer generation and the industrial revolutions that have dominated our country's short history. But as liberal arts students you know that such stereotypes are unfounded. In fact, a liberal arts degree is more valuable today than ever before. In response to this shifting economic dilemma, many corporations have become less hierarchical and require employees who have developed a wide array of knowledge, rather than ones who specialize in one specific area. Who better is equipped then you! Liberal Arts students gain a unique education that enables them to think critically and to become ethical leaders and global citizens.
You don't just learn facts--liberal arts students apply what they learn, test theories, consider multiple perspectives, and put knowledge into action. As noted in the Wall Street Journal (Sept 13, 2010), The Pennsylvania State University was ranked number 1 in their survey regarding company recruiters. The article stated graduates of top public universities are often among the most prepared and well-rounded academically. Companies have found they fit well into their corporate cultures and over time have the best track record in their firms.
That being said you need to take the appropriate steps NOW so that at the end of your academic journey you have asked the right questions that will help point yourself in the right direction. Here are some to think about...
Where do you look for information about different careers? Career Services! They have entire programs focusing on how to write a resume; interview techniques; suggestions about majors and internships; and drop in counseling.
Where do you look for information about different careers, companies, and jobs? Did you know that Career Services has a fall and spring career fair? Career Services has a page dedicated to finding a job and how to develop the necessary skills to clarify your career goals; identify your job target; and plan and organize your job search.
How can I prepare myself to compete for entry level jobs? It is never too early to do internships. I encourage you to try to obtain an internship every summer. The majority of them are unpaid, however you need to focus on what you will gain during the internship - networking, references, knowledge of the area you wish to work in (non-profit, business, government, local). Use your available time wisely and make an effort to increase your exposure to career fields of interest through job shadowing, internships, volunteer positions, or work experiences during academic and summer breaks. Consult the Liberal Arts Undergraduate Studies Internship website to start your search.
Does performance matter? It helps! Look at your academic coursework to ensure that you are maximizing the array of academic and career options available to you at Penn State. The quality of your involvement within an organization is more valuable than the number of organizations in which you are involved. Seek opportunities for leadership within an organization (i.e. become an officer or take on a position that demands responsibility), find something you care enough about to make a difference, look for opportunities to volunteer in the community.
How do you network? Start now by meeting and building a relationship with your academic adviser to learn about majors, academic options, course content, and requirements. This is just the start of learning how to network. Also, it is very important to establish a relationship with faculty to learn about academic programs and related opportunities to build skills in and outside of the classroom. Remember your faculty members are passionate about the same things you are passionate about! I challenge you to get to know at least one of your faculty members every semester.
So embrace your decision for selecting Liberal Arts because you are the future leaders, creators, and developers of our future! I know you are destined for great things.
Visit the Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures website for more information. You can also find an
Joining Penn State in the top five programs on the "S" scale were Harvard University, Stanford University, University of Michigan, and New York University. Penn State's political science department also scored in the top 10% of the 105 Political Science programs on faculty publication rate, citation counts, and median time to degree, reflecting the department's accomplishments in these key areas. The full NRC report is available at http://www.nap.edu/rdp and details on rankings can be found at http://graduate-school.phds.org/.
Penn State is tied with Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania and trailing only Princeton in the overall quality of sociology graduate program ranking. Penn State is the top-ranked public university sociology graduate program in the country.
The Penn State Sociology Department is ranked second in the discipline on the NRC's "research activity" dimension (average number of publication, citations, and grants per faculty). The Sociology Department is particularly pleased to be ranked at the top in research productivity, as the components of this dimension were identified as the most salient indicators of program quality by all sociology discipline faculty participants in the NRC evaluation.
Confirming the department's strong commitment to the training and mentoring of the next generation of scholars, the NRC ranked Penn State's Sociology Department particularly highly -- No. 3 across all sociology programs -- on the dimension of "student support and outcomes."
1. Mid-Semester Reports - If you receive a mid-semester report, follow the instructions the instructor sent and meet with the faculty member for additional assistance. They can provide significant guidance at a critical point in the semester. This is also an excellent opportunity to review your most recent exam and make sure you understand the material. Also schedule a meeting with your adviser to discuss utilizing additional PSU resources
2. To Drop or Not to Drop? Is it OK to drop down to only 12 credits? At this point, as long as you have late drop credits, you can late drop a course. However, is this in your best interest? In many cases, it is not a good idea to drop a course. This is especially true if you will have fewer than 12 credits, which could possibly affect your financial aid and health insurance. If you are considering a late drop and have questions, please consult with your adviser.
3. Study, study, study. If you are struggling in your classes, reflect on how you are studying. Are you studying with your music on or in a busy restaurant where there are a lot of people? Or, are you studying in the library, where you can concentrate on what you are trying to learn? Are you utilizing all of the services the University provides, such as the services provided through Penn State Learning?
4. Utilize the GPA predictor on eLion. Use the grades you currently have. This should give you a good baseline as to what your GPA will be at the end of the semester.
5. Brainstorm possible internships. This is a good time to start investigating possible internships for next semester. Many internship opportunities are posted on the LAUS Announcements Blog and your adviser can make appropriate referrals about internship opportunities that are specific to your academic department.
6. Thinking about studying abroad? You should start looking into study abroad opportunities on the Education Abroad Website. The Deadline for applying for next fall abroad experiences is January 20, 2011 and the deadline for a summer abroad experience is February 1, 2011.
7. Time to meet with your adviser! Most students meet with their adviser at least once a semester to discuss course selection for the upcoming term and also discuss long-term planning and career goals. Please keep in mind that your adviser's calendar may fill quickly, so schedule an appointment several weeks in advance of your scheduling date.
8. And lastly, it is a time to stay healthy. You are rapidly approaching the end of the semester. You need to make sure you eat right, sleep well and take appropriate measures to stop the spreading of germs. You need to stay healthy to be ready for the end of the semester 'crunch'. Take advantage of the services offered by University Health Services!
Visit the Communication Arts & Sciences blog to see the original announcement.
It might be in this 3rd Women's Studies; African and African American Studies; Labor Studies and Employment Relations; or Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies course when an idea starts to flicker. Could you minor in this area? Would the courses you've taken so far to satisfy Gen Ed requirements still "count" toward a minor? Could you even complete a 2nd major in this discipline that you never even heard of before you came to Penn State? In your next advising meeting, you learn that the answer to all of these questions is yes. And your interest begins to grow...
At some point, you might talk yourself out of this new idea. You wrestle with the question that nearly every Liberal Arts student faces at some point: What would you actually do with a major or minor in this discipline? What value would it add?
My answer to that is that only good things can come from aptitude, interest, and enthusiasm when they influence your academic choices, which in turn, affect your post-graduation plans.
So, what are some of these "good things," specifically?
- Students who are energized about their courses tend to perform well and their transcripts illustrate that success in a concrete way.
- Students who are curious about what they are learning are frequently motivated to establish connections with faculty members, and they become "known" in the academic community--an important professional development task for all Penn State undergraduates.
- Students who are enthused about a discipline tend to investigate related experiential opportunities--internships, research projects, education abroad, extracurricular activities, for example--and incorporate them into their educational plans.
- Students who pursue a unique interest are often asked about it in interview situations (Why did you decide to minor in Latina/Latino Studies or major in Labor and Employment Relations?) Because of their positive experiences, these students are able to talk about them enthusiastically--students can discuss what they bring to the table as potential employees with their specialized knowledge. They can elaborate on what they now understand, appreciate, and can apply in professional settings as a result of their studies.
So, as you sit in your general education courses, pay attention--not just to the lectures, the power-point presentations, and the readings. Pay attention to what resonates with you--and see where this discovery takes you.
If you are currently pursuing a lesser-known Liberal Arts major--or a "discovery major" in adviser lingo--we'd love to hear about your experiences so far.
When you enroll at Penn State you receive 16 "late drop" credits over your tenure as a student. It is important you use those credits wisely because once they are gone you cannot receive more. The period to use them began September 2 and will be over November 12th.
Second, this option can affect you so as you consider whether using late drop credits is right for you, let me propose some thoughts.
1. What is your reason for considering the drop?
If it's because you are having a difficult time with the course material, determine (using a degree audit in eLion) if this course is required for your major. If so, dropping may not be a good option, because you'll be required to take this course again and the material will be the same. However, if you will be receiving a failing grade or will be receiving a lower grade than you want or need to meet a requirement, you may decide to late drop the class.
If the reason is that you have a heavy course load and this one class is particularly difficult but you foresee an upcoming semester where you can pair it with some less rigorous options, late dropping may be for you.
Many other reasons exist that may cause you to consider late dropping, such as: financial difficulty, personal/home obligations that are time-consuming and require you to have a lower credit load, realizing the course is not a requirement for you and this semester is more demanding than initially foreseen, etc. Any of these reasons should be weighed in light of the pros and cons discussed in this post and in consultation with an academic adviser.
2. How many "late-drop" credits do you have remaining?
If you are nearing the end of your 16 credits, look to the future. How many semesters do you have left? Could you use those remaining credits at another more critical point?
3. Will late dropping this course reduce your credit load below 12 credits?
If so you will no longer be a full-time student and this may impact your financial aid and/or your health insurance coverage. In this case, do not late-drop the course until speaking with the Office of Student Aid (814-865-6301) and checking with your health insurance carrier.
4. Is this course a prerequisite for future courses you need or desire to take?
If so, late-dropping this course could jeopardize your progress toward graduation and may not be right for you.
Now, I'm sure you're asking "how exactly do I late-drop a course?". Late dropping a course, once you've consulted with your adviser, is actually a very simple process. Log into your eLion account and use the Late Course Drop application prior to the November 12th deadline. Or, you can complete a Registration Drop/Add Form so that the drop can be processed by an adviser, the department offering the course, or the Registrar's Office. Please keep in mind that you will be charged a $6 processing fee for every course you late drop.
If you read over this post and thought, "I guess late dropping is not right for me. What do I do now?" Consider talking to your professor for feedback and recommendations on how you can improve in the class. Consider attending a tutoring session with Penn State Learning and visit your adviser to discuss options. I also strongly encourage you to visit your adviser if you still need to clarify whether using late drop credits is best for you.
You can schedule appointments and see our calendars by visiting the Liberal Arts Appointment Scheduling System.
- Click on "Appointments"
APPOINTMENTS VERSUS WALK-INS:
Appointments are meant for issues that you know will take longer than 10 or 15 minutes. Examples of topics that could be covered in an appointment include:
- Change of major or concurrent major paperwork
- Long-range planning
- Study abroad plans
- Major/career exploration
- Class schedules for the upcoming semester
- Other topics that you want to discuss in detail and would like a designated time to do so
A few important points:
- Appointments are made in 1/2 hour blocks.
- If you are assigned a specific adviser, you must schedule an appointment with that adviser.
There has been a significant increase in e-mail interactions with students over the last few years. Below are a few guidelines to follow when you write an e-mail to one of us, and decide when you should:
- Include your name, a greeting (ex. Hi Shery), and your ID number.
- Please do not use text message lingo, we can't understand your emails if they include partial words. This is something you should get used to, our future employers will expect the same.
- We are happy to answer quick questions via email. We will not, however, replace an advising meeting with e-mail correspondence. For example, discussing possible courses for the next semester is something that you should do in person, not through the computer. If we feel that something is too difficult to explain over the computer, or a reply would be too extensive, we'll ask you to come in and speak to us personally.
- Please limit your e-mails. If you have several questions, e-mail them all at once. Avoid sending multiple e-mails on the same day.
Have a great first week of classes, we would love to hear about your summer and we look forward to working with you throughout the year!
Allison is from Lebanon, Pennsylvania, and is the daughter of Tracey Allgier-Baker and Paul Baker. A Schreyer scholar, she will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and a minor in International Studies. Allison was the recipient of the President's Freshman and Sparks awards and an Academic Excellence Scholarship. She presented her thesis research at this year's Undergraduate Research Exhibition and won Honorable Mention for Information Literacy. Allison studied abroad in Belgium, was a research assistant for several faculty members, and completed an internship with the Center for Mental Health at Quittie Glen in Annville, Pennsylvania.
The summer undergraduate commencement ceremony is scheduled for Saturday, August 14, 2010 at 10:00 a.m. in the Bryce Jordan Center.