Although she only recently moved onto campus, the new Area Coordinator (AC) for Ytterboe and Hoyme Halls, Shawna Newman, has already been busy getting to know the community and the students. Continue reading “Shawna Newman joins St. Olaf as Hoyme and Ytterboe AC”
A number of new businesses moved into the Northfield area this fall, including a highly anticipated movie theater, a juice bar and a third Continue reading “Movie theater, juice bar open in Northfield”
The Great Conversation program has a reputation for grueling, unending reading and sleep-deprived, stressed students. While Great Con students receive ten General Education (GE) credits for their effort, there is one GE that Great Con does not supply: the BTS-T (Biblical and Theological Studies-Theology). Since Great Con has an overabundance of religious texts, it is only logical that a BTS-T credit should be included in the two-year program.
The vast majority of texts covered throughout the course of the Great Conversation discuss religious beliefs, such as Christianity, Judaism, Islam and polytheism. By February of their first year, Great Con students have read much of the Bible, including the books not included in the standard Bible. The religious analysis does not stop there as Great Con students also read numerous religious analyses, personal stories and critiques. No student in Great Con will ever say that the Christian religion was not adequately, excessively and meticulously analyzed.
To prove that the Great Conversation covers every requirement of the BTS-T requirement, let’s take a look at the course guidelines on the St. Olaf Webpage:
1. “The principal focus of these courses must be Christian theology, understood as critical and normative reflection on Christian teachings.”
In the Great Conversation, students read “Martin Luther: Selections from His Writings.” Not only is this text the basis of the College’s theology, but these writings have inspired millions of people and influenced how religion impacts the lives of Christians. An emphasis of Martin Luther is being saved by grace, not by works; therefore, this teaching completely challenges the established doctrine of Catholicism at the time.
2. “Courses must consider substantial examples of historical or contemporary theological reflection, and attend to the context, the variety, and the coherence of the theological claims they advance.”
While Great Con examines many theological reflections, such as Saint Thomas Aquinas’ “Summa Theologica,” and Saint Augustine’s “Confessions,” the course also examines how Christian values and teachings evolved with new generations as in “A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies” by Bartolome De Las Casas and “Canterbury Tales” by Geoffrey Chaucer.
3. “Courses must include explicit attention to Christian teachings about God and Jesus Christ; courses may include attention to significant aspects of other central teachings as appropriate to specific course goals.”
Since the program emphasizes Christianity, students are required to read many selections from the Bible. However, Great Con also compares Christianity to other religions, such as Islam, Judaism and polytheism. Students read ancient epics like The Odyssey, Islamic texts like the Qur’an and Jewish works like “Debating Truth,” a book that contrasts Christian and Jewish beliefs.
4. “Courses must provide opportunities for students to engage in explicitly theological reflection, and to apply their theological knowledge to matters of historical, contemporary, or personal significance.”
The Great Conversation, as the name states, is an in-depth conversation between students focusing on the materials that they have read throughout the course. How a person perceives the texts is partially based off their prior knowledge and experience. Since the vast majority of Great Con readings discuss theological elements, a large part of the class is engaging in “explicitly theological reflection.” In addition, the description of the Great Con program states, “Students in the program are not passive recipients of information … Rather, they respond to great works in an interdisciplinary way, challenging the ideas expressed in the works and challenging their own ideas as well.”
A large emphasis of the Great Con program is to use texts covered throughout the entire program and relate those readings to newer texts. Therefore, the principals discussed while reading biblical or theological texts remain pertinent to students’ readings of non-religiously focused texts and influence how students understand those texts and their influence.
By participating in Great Con, each student is taking five classes with a heavy emphasis on Biblical and Theological Studies. Therefore, the Great Conversation should include the BTS-T requirement.
On Friday, Sept. 1, the Flaten Art Museum in the Center for Art and Dance (CAD) opened a new exhibit in time for the new school year: Shadowlands, by Ken Gonzales-Day.
Ken Gonzales-Day, through photography and research, finds and captures the horrific past of racial violence, specializing in the southwest United States. Then, Gonzales-Day connects these past instances of racial violence to today’s issues.
Shadowlands addresses the need for racial violence awareness, especially after the events which occurred on campus spring of 2017. In his works, Gonzales-Day examines the tensions relating to the lynchings in the southwest to current racialized violence.
“Shadowlands made me think a lot about the unspoken. There is a lot of goodness in the world and people aren’t afraid to share that, but it’s different when it’s the opposite,” Suvd Davaadorj ’20 said.
The majority of the Shadowlands exhibit focuses on three of Gonzales-Day’s collections: “Erased Lynching,” “Searching for California Hang Trees” and “Run Up.” Through these collections, Ken Gonzales-Day captures the true tragedy of these events.
Besides photographs, the exhibit also includes artifacts from Gonzales-Day’s research, such as
postcards, buttons, books, a map and continuous showings of Ken Gonzales-Day’s short film, “Run Up.”
“Run Up” is a reenactment of a lynching event within the United States. Gonzales-Day took some of his photographs from this reen- actment in order to show what a historic lynching would have been like.
A noteworthy aspect of the exhibit is that Gonzales-Day does not include the bodies of the victims in the images. By not displaying the bodies, Gonzales-Day aims to protect the lynched victims from any more gawking and re-victimization. Instead, Gonzales-Day captures the bare trees in their eerie enthrallment.
Besides capturing the haunting events of the past, Gonzales-Day also includes photographs of recent racial violence, such as the memorial to Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Black Lives Matter protests. Gonzales-Day also used elements from both the historical and current racialized violence to create moving pieces and show how the past and the present are connected and similar.
The Shadowlands exhibit will be in the Flaten Art Museum through Oct. 29. On Friday, Oct. 20 from 3:15-4:15 p.m., the artist himself, Ken Gonzales-Day, will be coming to Viking Theater to further discuss his current and future exhibits connected to racialized violence.
A unique feature of the Shadowlands exhibit is that Gonzales-Day’s work emphasizes racialized violence involving both
Hispanic and African American individuals. By doing this, Gonzales-Day shows the current and historical relevance of racial violence. It is relevant across all races and continues to be a problem throughout the United States and around the world.
“[Gonzales-Day] sort of tackled multi-racial issues like Hispanic issues, Black issues all in one exhibition,” a student worker said.
Shadowlands is the perfect exhibit to understand racialized violence and how it continues to be a part of our society. This powerful exhibit conveys a realization that this terrible past is not so long ago and the violence continues even today.
“It’s a biochemical world,” Judy Code, Master Gardener of Northfield, stated at her presentation Thursday, Sept. 28, at the Northfield Public Library. In her talk, “How Plants Communicate with Us and with Each Other,” Code went into specifics about the elements of plant care, nourishment and survival.
Code made the topic of botany informative and interesting, using stories and personal experience so the audience could truly connect with and understand the information. Focusing on trees – a subject many are familiar with – Code was able to show the importance of caring for and listening to plants. She used anecdotes to make the presentation interesting and relatable, ensuring her passion for plants was clear to all.
Judy Code earned a bachelor’s degree in biology at Drake University before acquiring her master’s degree in Neurobiological studies. She also received the Master Gardener Certificate from the University of Minnesota. As Master Gardener, Code is in charge of Floral Bloom and Tidiness for the Northfield area, along with being the Vice President of the Garden Club.
Code based the majority of her talk off the book, “The Hidden Life of Trees” by Peter Wohlleben. Reading this book, Code learned many particulars about how trees
survive and thrive. She recommends Wohlleben’s book to everyone in order to understand the secret inner-workings and the significance of trees. While the focal point of the presentation was on trees, like the book, most of the information discussed in the presentation can be related to other plants as well.
The biggest emphasis of the presentation was on the importance of roots. Roots are the brains of trees and send information between trees and other plants.
“Trees are talking to each other under the ground,” Code said. Code told the story of how “mother” trees can exchange carbon dioxide with new saplings through their roots, promoting the growth of new plants. However, trees cannot nurture each other if they are different species. While planting varying species of trees stops the spread of diseases, it also stops the communication between the plants.
Not only do plants communicate under the ground, but they also communicate above ground. When attacked by insects, some plants release a scent into the air which attracts predators, like birds, to the insects. Similarly, the leaves giraffes eat can generate a toxin which stops the giraffe from eating the leaves, thus saving the tree. By doing this, plants are protecting themselves and communicating with other species in nature.
One of the biggest concerns Code expressed was the issue of people planting trees in the wrong areas. One should never plant trees in cement and always remember that trees will grow and become quite large.
“Most mistakes are made by landscape designers who don’t think about the plant,” Code said. While planting trees near the sidewalk or in front of buildings may be beautiful at first, the tree will grow and will need space to expand its branches and its roots. If the tree is unable to do this, the tree will never reach its full potential and may cause problems with the surrounding structures.
Trees need room to spread their roots. Roots are the stabilizers of trees and spread in every direction. Roots can grow as wide as the tree is tall and therefore need room to do this.
“Location, location, location. How will the plant like it?” Code said. When planting anything, remember to think about the different sizes of plants, how the plants grow and where the best places to plant the plants are.