During the spring semester of 2012, News & Notes editors published content on https://bsunewsandnotes.wordpress.com/
The stories on this page appeared in print editions of News & Notes that were published during the 2013-2014 school year.
During the spring semester of 2012, News & Notes editors published content on https://bsunewsandnotes.wordpress.com/
By Daniel Hill
When people think about the Honors College, many may not know everything that students are involved in outside of the classroom.
One group that students gather for in DeHority Complex is the Navigators Bible Ministry, according to junior Dan Carpenter.
Through spiritual development, students are finding ways to be philanthropic across the world. Most recently, two speakers from Zambia, Chapo Masona and Ngambo Ngimbu came to Ball State University to share, about leading a branch of the Navigators in Zambia.
After this presentation, there was also an invitation for students to go to the University of Zambia and Copperbelt University to serve the people in those regions through the Navigators organization.
Carpenter, a participant in the Navigator ministry, got to share in this experience in the summer of 2011.
“Life-changing,” Carpenter said. “I don’t think you can go to another country, even for a day, and come back unchanged. Many times it could be stressful and stretching, but there was always an excitement that came from such a unique learning experience.”
Zambia, along with its neighbors, is a developing country that is constructing infrastructure to compete in global markets. As Masona described, “in Zambia we do a lot of walking.”
In rural areas, streets are made of compacted dirt as opposed to the concrete highways of the United States.
The capital city, Lusaka, is the largest city in Zambia and is the main center for innovation. During his travels, Carpenter flew into the city and played a hand in advancing the construction of assets in the African country.
Carpenter said, “I’ve had the blessing of feeding gypsies, playing football with street children, ministering to college students, and being available to do anything when asked.”
Opportunities like this through Navigators and the Honors College have provided students like Carpenter with a chance to get leadership experience outside of the classroom.
Editor's Note: This story was written for the 2013-14 school year edition of News & Notes and is being published here as part of the modernization of our archives.
By Brittany Held
As my alarm went off on the morning of Oct. 1, I did not know whether I would be going into work or not. The day before, Congress failed to agree on a spending plan and the government shutdown for the first time since 1996.
You might be wondering, why did this affect me? At the beginning of the fall 2012 semester, Dr. Stedman approached me and asked if I would be interested in interning in Washington, D.C. She already had a program in mind—The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars. She helped me set up interviews with The Washington Center representatives, fill out my application, and get Honors College credit for my experience.
Through the help of Dr. Stedman and The Washington Center, I was lucky enough to be accepted as a Publishing Office Intern at the Library of Congress.
As an intern with the federal government, I was furloughed, not able to work during the government shutdown.
In the weeks leading up to the shutdown, I was naïve. I did not think that the government would actually stop. In our office staff meetings we joked about the possibility. As I walked past the Capitol every morning on my way to work, I did not fully appreciate that my internship was in the hands of the people meeting in that building at that very moment.
I continued on with my days as if nothing was wrong. I went to my cubicle, did my research, and went home at five each day. The Friday before the shutdown, I left work with full confidence that I would be returning the following Tuesday. I did not even think to bring my favorite jacket home.
Once the decision had been made, where did that leave me? I was left with the strangest two-and-a-half weeks of my life. Not only was the Library of Congress closed, but all unessential federal government sites were, as well. This included the National Mall, all memorials and monuments, and the Smithsonian Museums.
Unable to go to work and unable to visit most of the city’s attractions, I was left with a boring couple of weeks. For the first week I spent a lot of time catching up on sleep and Netflix. It was nice at first, but I soon got a little stir crazy. Not to mention that I was paying for this experience and internship. I was extremely frustrated when I was not able to do the work I came here to do.
I was grateful when my internship program provided the furloughed students with alternative programming. The Washington Center was able to find a way to make my down time educational and beneficial. The programming mainly consisted of speakers and professional development workshops. We talked about the history of government shutdowns and how they affect the entire country.
The people that work in the private and non-profit sectors were also affected. My roommates, public policy associates at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, were not able to do their normal duties. They usually went to congressional health hearings, but since the hearings were stopped, they could not do that. There was no progress being made in the mental health and other fields because nothing could be done congressionally.
Tourists were also affected by the shutdown. Many people travel from around the world and the country to visit the nation’s capital. With everything shut down, they were not able to experience all Washington, D.C. has to offer. During the first weekend of the shutdown, I had a friend visiting from home. I took her downtown to show her some of the sites that we could still get to, and the city was deserted. I was able to stand in the middle of the usually bustling street with no problem. This was the same street that I walk along every day on my way to work.
The National Mall is part of the National Park Service, so the Mall was technically closed, but people still walked on it. The monuments and memorials all had barriers and blockades, but we were still able to walk around them and take pictures. There were a select few people that had come out and were doing the same things as we were; there was nowhere near the usual horde of people.
As we walked past the World War II Memorial, there were honor flights going through. The situation was extremely tense. There were mounted police surrounding the opposite entrance so people would not sneak in. They would not even let people get close to the memorial. I was incredibly intimidated as a bystander. It was disappointing that I was not able to properly show my friend where I have been living and working.
The shutdown tested my resiliency and flexibility. It required me to work with a situation that I had never expected to be faced with. While the government shutdown was annoying and unfortunate, I can say that I have definitely had a unique Washington, D.C. experience.
By Emily Hart and Alyssa Hartman,
Photo by Dan Edwards
Each semester, two immersive learning seminars are held in the Virginia Ball Center for Creative Inquiry. Located at the Kitselman Center west of campus, these programs are designed to unite students across a wide variety of disciplines. The students are charged with implementing a semester-long project designed by the course instructor, a faculty member at Ball State.
Central to the Virginia Ball Center is their mission to foster an experience that allows faculty and students to "explore the connections among the arts, humanities, science, and technology, create a product that illustrates collaborative research and interdisciplinary study, [and] present their product to the community in a public forum." Unlike many regular on-campus courses, VBC programs seek to allow students to take charge and exercise leadership in the creation and implementation of this project.
"VBC projects are really empowering for creativity. They give you a lot of freedom," said Dan Edwards, a junior telecommunications major with a focus in video production. "I think the conventional education system sometimes gets in the way of learning."
Goals of the Project
In the Fall semester, Dr. Andrea Powell Wolfe, an assistant professor in the department of English and in the Honors College, led a course at the VBC entitled Down to Earth.
This course focused on sustainable agriculture and the problems small-scale farmers face in an increasingly industrialized food system. The course was made up of 14 students, nine of whom were members of the Honors College. They were separated into three teams, each with a different function in the implementation of the project: the creation of a documentary film, an educational outreach program, and researching into the various issues surrounding small-scale,
The goal of the project was to increase awareness of the benefits of this form of agriculture in its ability to grow communities, foster relationships, and supply nutritious, ecologically contentious food.
Students were chosen for participation in this project based on an application process that took into account their interest in the project’s topic and their skills and knowledge relating to sustainability, agriculture, and film-making.
Passion for Sustainability
Dr. Wolfe was most inclined to recruit students who displayed an obvious passion for sustainability; she felt that they would be more willing to put forth the effort a student-led project such as this one takes if they truly cared about the project’s mission.
Amy Anderson, a junior biology major and member of the Honors College, is one such student. Her interest in the Down to Earth seminar stemmed largely from her enthusiasm for animal welfare.
“I wanted to be able to make an impact regarding a subject that I am pretty passionate about,” Anderson said.
As part of the outreach team, Anderson realized this goal by helping to create a proposal which could ratify an ordinance that makes it illegal to own chickens within Muncie’s city limits; she will also be presenting research on consumer perceptions of food labels and terms such as “organic,” “grass-fed,” and “cage-free” in relation to animal welfare, nutritional value, and environmental impact at this year’s Undergraduate Research Conference at Butler University.
This project also allowed students to discover new passions and interests. Garret Brubaker, a junior telecommunications major with a focus in video production, initially joined the project because of his interest in filming and editing a documentary.
“I wanted real-life hands-on experience that I knew would be invaluable to my future careers,” Brubaker said. “From a technical standpoint, I have learned a lot more on how to produce videos. From a broader standpoint, this project has opened my eyes to how the food I eat is produced. I have become a lot more conscious about being sustainable in my own life.”
Because the word "sustainable" can have so many meanings, the group began this semester by defining what sustainability meant to their project. They decided that sustainable agriculture is "agriculture based upon the principles of ecological health, economic viability, social empowerment, and cultural creativity."
From there, the group researched these aspects of sustainable agriculture and the current food system by reading and discussing related literature, conducting personal research, visiting farms around the region, and speaking with professionals involved in various facets of the field of sustainability and food production.
Christine Kincade, a fifth year biology major in the Honors College, was a member of the team in charge of ecological and scientific research.
“I study and write articles on scientific issues such as soil health and livestock-crop integration systems,” Kincade said.
She was able to draw from her background in the sciences and apply that knowledge to this project; similarly, she found that her experiences working with Down to Earth have helped her in other areas of academia. Kincade’s Honors Thesis, titled “The Real Food Thesis,” draws on many of the concepts and issues central to the Down to Earth project.
“For an entire semester, I am only eating ‘real food,’” Kincade said. “No preservatives or artificial ingredients or processed food. I wanted to see if it was feasible on a college student’s budget. It ties in a lot with the project we're doing and I am able to cross-research the issues that we cover in the seminar that are relevant to my diet."
Interviews and Research
The students decided to focus on Kyle and Emily Becker, owners of Becker Farms, for the film documentary entitled Down to Earth: Small Farm Issues in a Big Farm World. Kyle and Emily are residents of Mooreland, Indiana where they live on their 98 acre farm and produce a variety of food animals and vegetables which are sold within East Central Indiana.
The triumphs and struggles seen at Becker Farms are representative of those faced by many small-scale farmers throughout the Midwest and speak to the nature of the current food system in the United States. The film seeks to promote awareness about the positive benefits sustainable, small-scale agriculture can have on the environment, the economy, and on the local community.
Kyle and Emily, who sell a large percentage of their goods directly to local consumers, raise their livestock to standards upon which they and their customers have agreed. In doing so, they are able to sell food that is healthier for their customers and for the planet, and are able to form lasting, personal relationships with consumers. Though Becker Farms is not certified organic by the USDA, they practice environmentally-friendly farming methods; as Kyle says, “I am certified by my customers.”
In order to gain a wider perspective of the world of sustainability and agriculture, members of Down to Earth interviewed several notable figures for their film, from Indiana State Senator Joe Donnelly to sustainable-farming pundit Joel Salatin. The filming team was able to talk with people in Washington D.C. from the Federal Farm Bureau and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, and also got interviews with people well-regarded in the world of sustainable agriculture, such as Salatin, who is the owner of Polyface Farms in Virginia, and Will Allen, who is the CEO of an urban agriculture organization based in Milwaukee.
The Down to Earth group, through the Virginia Ball Center, was able to bring Will Allen to Muncie this past September and featured him as a speaker at the Living Lightly Fair, where he discussed the agricultural and community outreach programs he utilizes through his non-profit organization, “Growing Power, Inc.”
Whether the farms are in an urban setting like at Growing Power, or a rural one like Becker Farms, Down to Earth hopes their film and their outreach programs will help people understand the positive effects sustainable, small-scale agriculture and local food consumption can have on all aspects of life.
The film premiered at their Showcase at Heartland Hall of the Delaware County Fairgrounds on December 5, 2013. It won a regional Emmy award in June 2014.
You might not expect someone majoring in accounting to venture out into muddy waters chasing frogs. But, last year, the biology department gave me the chance to do just that.
by Zach Richardville
A snap of a branch somewhere underneath my foot is my only warning before suddenly my footing is helplessly lost. I stumble to my right for a step and a half before tripping over another submerged branch. As I fall, I flail my arms toward a nearby tree trunk in a last ditch effort to catch myself and successfully find support. I reposition my feet underwater to stand on what feels like even ground and survey the damage. My headlamp illuminates my waders, which are soaked up to the top, but no further. I consider myself lucky not to have taken a bath in the cold, swampy water, but the real problem is that my clamoring seems to have spooked the nearby frogs, which have fallen silent.
In spite of my overwhelming display of nimbleness and resultant spooking of the critters, I could not help but smile at how much fun I was having in class.
So how does an accounting major find himself doing something as enthralling as chasing frogs, salamanders and snakes in a swamp after dark – as part of a class? A minor in Biology allows me to take electives within the Department of Biology after finishing earlier required courses. These 400-level electives include choices such as Herpetology (the study of reptiles and amphibians), Ichthyology (the study of fishes), and Ornithology (the study of birds) among others. Each of these courses includes a corequisite lab portion during which students look at preserved specimens of the animals they are studying or actually traverse into the field and collect live specimens. Students are typically responsible for being able to identify Indiana species of the animals by their common and scientific names, so observing the animals in the field is instrumental in becoming familiar with the animals.
During the spring 2013 semester, I had the pleasure of being enrolled in Herpetology, which is taught by Dr. Kamal Islam, a passionate wildlife expert. The lecture portion of the course met twice a week, during which we discussed an array of topics ranging from phylogeny to locomotion and thermoregulation in amphibians. The lecture also included segments of David Attenborough’s Planet Earth that illustrated the topics we covered in class, which was also a refreshing alternative to a note-taking lecture session. The lab portion of the class involved hands-on work with preserved specimens, which gave us a chance to actually see the features we talked about in lecture on the animals. The opportunity to handle the animals was invaluable to a visual learner like myself. During one lab period, we ventured to Summit Lake State Park to search for any amphibians or reptiles we could find. I was ecstatic to spend a day overturning logs and snatching salamanders rather than sitting in the lab looking at specimens. We had another opportunity on a beautiful spring evening to break out the headlamps and waders and head to “Salamander Swale” after dark. There we found an abundance of several species of salamanders and frogs, all of which are thoroughly active. It was during this trip that I was able to get down and dirty (and nearly soaked) as I stumbled through knee-deep water in the dark, following the calls of nearby frogs. Although I almost went for an involuntary swim, the experience of exploring the natural habitat of the animals we were studying was an incredible experience that would never be available in a typical classroom.
During the fall 2013 semester, I was enrolled in Ichthyology, which is taught by Dr. Tom Lauer and qualifies as the last elective for the completion of my Biology minor. The structure of Ichthyology is similar to that of Herpetology, with two lecture meetings and one lab meeting per week. The first two weeks of lab were spent dissecting a Yellow Perch to gain familiarity with the general anatomy of a fish. The next several lab meetings were spent in the field, visiting locations such as Buck Creek and the White River. We waded into the water with an electro-fishing unit and netted live fish for observation and identification. Dr. Lauer did not use the unit himself, but rather instructed on how to use it safely and encourage us to do so. At the end of each lab period, the class would converge and we would observe all of the fish we had collected to illustrate some of the defining characteristics by which we can identify the Indiana species. As a student whose favorite hobby is fishing, the chance to do it as part of a class is a dream come true.
As an accounting major, I see a lot of the same concepts in my different classes. For example, there are countless transactions or situations that can affect an earnings account, as well as a discouragingly abundant number of rules for how the transactions must be recorded. While I enjoy the study of accounting and the sense of fulfillment that comes when the debits equal the credits, a break from the monotony of multiple business classes throughout the week is welcome and refreshing. I will never forget Dr. Lauer’s reaction on the first day of Ichthyology when he found out that I was an accounting major, sitting in the middle of twenty-some other students who had Zoology-relevant majors. He placed his elbows on his desk and slowly lowered his face into his palms. Luckily, as a kid that grew up with a healthy obsession with wildlife and dreams of becoming the next Steve Irwin, I am not a typical accounting major. This is something I am passionate about, and the diverse curriculum at Ball State University allows me to exercise that passion - and earn credit for it. Because of the exhilarating experiences offered in my zoology courses, I find myself able to take a break from reconciling a bank account to spend a little time in the field reconciling my love for wildlife and the outdoors.
by Emily Rapoza
“So what are your plans this weekend?”
This question used to be answered with fun plans, like hanging out with friends, going to the movies, running around the Quad at 2 A.M. or even just catching up on sleep. Recently, however, something has entered into my realm of consciousness that has struck all potential plans out of existence: my honors thesis.
In all sincerity, the creation of an honors thesis is not awful. In fact, if someone is passionate about his or her topic, it can be a lot of fun. It offers the chance to delve deeper into a personal love or interest of something. The one question I hear from those frantic about their final honors project is “where do I start?” My best advice is to look at the honors classes required.
Because I will be graduating early, I had a shortened timeline in selecting my topic for a thesis. It was not on my radar at all until one day in Dr. Brent Blackwell’s Honors 296 class. As a history major with a severe case of math and science-phobia, Inquiries into the Physical Sciences was what I thought would become the bane of my existence.
I soon found that Honors 296 was a blast. It was an opportunity for me to look at how math and science played into everyday aspects of life. The one class that thoroughly held my interest was on the issue of morality and Nazi science
experimentation. Dr. Blackwell presented the Nazi experiments as perfect in the following of scientific theory and in the presentation of their findings. Never had it dawned on me that an aspect of Nazism could be almost justifiable. That is when I knew what I wanted my thesis to be on.
The nice thing about having a class on my thesis’ topic is it allows me to have a slight bit of foundation, as well as a thesis adviser who understands where my curiosity comes from.
“I thought the idea was a great one,” Blackwell said. “Rarely will you find an honors professor who is not totally on board with an idea.”
Writing a thesis is extremely time consuming, even if you get an early start and have everything planned out. None of this came as a surprise to me, but what I did not expect were the odd looks in the library and the “let’s wait for the next elevator” comments as I was carrying around a stack of Nazi books. These odd interactions are why I beg honors students to pick a subject they love and are highly interested in.
As a senior, I spend a lot of time with my thesis, including date nights of Nazi documentaries and grabbing Starbucks with dozens of online articles.
The honors thesis gives students the opportunity to avoid a traditionally researched project and instead combines interest, hands on experience, and creativity, and presents them all in a non-traditional way. The open parameters of the project also allow for all the analytical skills learned in the humanities sequence and other honors courses to be utilized and, quite frankly, shown off to the college.
“There’s so much flexibility with an Honors thesis. It allows for a lot of creativity and fun,” encourages Blackwell.
The writing of my thesis, though it sounds daunting to those not tasked with this duty, is an opportunity for me to prove my skills as an undergraduate and prove that I can practically apply myself to my major.
So when people ask what I’m doing this weekend, my response tends to be “The usual, writing my thesis, taking a nap, maybe a movie.”
by Stephanie Davidsen
Every year, Student Honors Council puts on several key events, including Honors Week—a week-long event featuring a different activity every night, and ending with the Honors Formal.
For the last few years, Honors Week has taken place towards the end of the spring semester, but this year it was moved to the fall, according to Carson Weingart, SHC’s president.
“The officers and I decided that the week might be more successful if it functioned as a welcome event,” Weingart said. "We had always faced issues with weather when having it in the spring, and we figured that having it in the fall would allow us to do more outdoor activities.”
More students than ever before attended this year’s Honors Week, according to Weingart, which was named “Fall Fest” and featured fall-themed events from Monday through Friday. So many students showed up on Campfire Monday for s’mores and pumpkin decorating that the SHC members staffing the event said they ran out of supplies.
The Fall Craft Fest attracted more than 50 students to DeHority’s lobby Tuesday afternoon, according to SHC members. Attendees decorated paper pumpkins and made 2D scarecrows – complete with straw – to hang on their doors during the fall season.
When asked what her favorite event was, freshman Megan Crosier said “Door decoration for sure, I love crafts. The door decorations were great.”
Wednesday’s comedy improv event, “Whose Thanksgiving is it Anyway?” featured groups of students willing to take the stage and act out scenes assigned to them on the spot.
The Talent Show on Thursday showcased skills and tricks mastered by Honors students.
According to Weingart, Fall Fest “showed a much higher turnout in the fall” than in the spring, and prompted SHC officers to make the move permanent. Weingart said Honors Week will be held during the fall in future years.
If anything didn’t go as well as planned, it was Friday’s Backyard Bash, a party in the backyard of the Honors House featuring food, games and a live band. Decorations hung from trees and snacks including candy corn, apple cider and more were ready to go, but student attendance was much lower than expected, according to SHC members at the event.
SHC sophomore Katie Norman attended the Backyard Bash.
“It was poorly timed with it being family weekend,” Norman said.
“Many students preferred to spend the evening with their parents,” Weingart said. “Next year, we will definitely keep the Friday event away from Family Weekend.”
Before then, Weingart said SHC will have a chance to improve with the Honors Formal this spring. The Honors Formal did not make the move to the fall and instead will be its own event to cap off the spring semester.
Because of its place in the fall, Weingart said incoming freshmen had an early chance to see what SHC is and what it does.
SHC has more members this year than any year before, and Weingart said he has high hopes for the group as it prepares for the rest of its fall and spring events.