Every Monday at noon, Conversations About Our Scholarly Lives provides Macalester faculty with an opportunity to learn about our colleagues’ scholarly work while joining together for lunch and informal conversation. Presenters have 20 minutes to discuss their research in progress, the excitement and challenges of doing research at a small liberal arts college, or their fully formed research products. The rest of the hour will be spent discussing the issues raised in the presentation. Bring your curiosity, collegiality, and your questions; we provide the lunch (no RSVP necessary), 12:00-1:00 in room 309 in the Library.

September 10 – Dan Trudeau (Geography)
“The public impact of private yards: how our yards influence the construction of race in the U.S”
This conversation will trace how a community engagement project in an upper-level geography course led to public scholarship, an undergraduate honors thesis, and a peer-reviewed journal article posing a connection between people’s yard care practices and the construction of whiteness. In 2013, Macalester’s Geography Department started a multi-year collaboration with a local nonprofit organization, The Freshwater Society of Minnesota, to conduct research to support the organization’s effort to improve the health of Minnehaha Creek Watershed. One of the courses focused on understanding people’s environmental perceptions vis-a-vis the ways they managed their private yards in urban spaces. Extending this work through a student’s honors project, people’s  decisions to cultivate native plant gardens and pollinator-friendly habitat as an alternative to turfgrass lawns in the public-facing parts of their yards were explored. Cultivation of such lawn alternatives are framed as performances of a white bourgeois subject position that has an unintended, yet exclusionary effect. Ways in which these performances can be altered to foster more inclusive landscapes are discussed.

September 17 – Shilad Sen (Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science), Paul Overvoorde (Biology and Associate Dean of the Faculty), and Andrew Latham (Political Science)
“Faculty Fathers: Searching for Work-Life Balance”
In the last 30 years, our male colleagues have faced changing social expectations of what it is to be a father. A 2014 study of faculty fathers found that many male respondents had “received messages from their colleagues and department chairs that parenting . . . was not just contrary to the academic identity, but contrary to the masculine identity.” Today’s speakers have agreed to share stories of how they tried, with mixed success, to balance their roles as fathers and professors. What surprising obstacles did they face? What useful strategies helped them maintain their scholarly productivity? Join us for a fascinating glimpse into the often hidden topic of faculty fathers.

September 24 – Brianna Heggseth (Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science)
“New Applied Statistician: Looking for Scholarly Collaborators! (OkCupid-Style)”
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October 1 – Scott Legge (Anthropology)
“Artifacts under our noses: Archaeological excavations at Macalester’s Katharine Ordway Natural History Study Area”
This summer, a team of archaeologists excavated one of four previously discovered Native American archaeological sites on Macalester’s Ordway property. Macalester, the Science Museum of Minnesota, and the University of Minnesota collaborated on a joint excavation to better characterize what was thought to be solely a Middle Woodland period site. We ended up finding connections to other Native American sites from the Late Woodland period as well. With these findings, we are able to add to our understanding about how the people of Minnesota utilized the Mississippi river and the land around it more than a thousand years ago.

October 8 – Allison Adams, Associate Director, Center for Faculty Development and Excellence, Emory University
“Finding and Protecting Your Time: Intellectual Self-Care for Faculty”
This session begins with the premise that for faculty to be effective in their work, they need to find and protect time to think. We will talk through some tried-and-true techniques for balancing scholarly productivity with teaching and service loads and the need for a fulfilling life beyond the demands of the academy. In the interest of intellectual self-care, we will explore ways to take habitual time for focused thinking and concentration, engage your intellectual community for mutual support, and pursue pleasure in your work and life.

October 15 – James Stewart (Emeritus Professor of History)
“Activist Scholarship in the Humanities: Feasible? Legitimate? Consequential?–The Problem of Contemporary Slavery as History”
In an attempt to answer the questions raised by this title, Jim Stewart, James Wallace Professor of History Emeritus, founded HISTORIANS AGAINST SLAVERY (HAS), a network of teachers and activists now numbering more than 1,000. HAS describes its mission as “Using History to Make History.” That is, by deploying “cutting edge” scholarship, innovative teaching, and direct engagement with on the ground antislavery activists. Jim’s presentation will focus on the vexing questions of whether or not this particular project and humanities scholarship in general actually have an immediate, ongoing, “real world” impact in advancing social justice.

October 22 – FACULTY CONVERSATIONS with Laura Linder-Scholer and Timothy Dunn (Title IX and Equity)
“#MeToo and The Moment of Disclosure:  Responding With Care to Revelations of Sexual Violence”
The once stigmatized discourse about rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment have become increasingly audible thanks to the #MeToo movement and to those individuals who have spoken publicly about their experiences. Increasingly, our students and colleagues have shared their own #MeToo moments in social media, in conversations, and in Macalester classrooms. What should we do during that “moment of disclosure,” especially when revelations come during time in our research labs, advising appointments, and classroom discussions? How can we establish appropriate boundaries and show compassion? How do we support our colleagues in a caring way? Please join us for round table discussions of these pressing issues facilitated by Mac’s Sexual Violence Prevention Program Coordinator and the Title IX/Bias Harassment Coordinator.

October  29 – Louisa Bradtmiller (Environmental Studies)
“Blowin’ in the Wind”
How can we use ocean sediments to learn about atmospheric circulation in the geologic past? And why would we want to? This talk will explore the connections between the ocean and atmosphere and what they can tell us about climate change in the past and into the future.

November 5 – Paul Schadewald and Karin Trail-Johnson
“What Does Our Silence Communicate to Macalester Students? A Special Mid-term Election Conversation”
What should we discuss with our students during these times of danger and political discord? If racism, anti-semitism, and politics aren’t the explicit subject of our classes, is it proper to say anything at all about the midterm elections, anti-immigrant hatred, massacred Jews in Pittsburgh, pipe bombs being sent to dozens of political leaders and the murder of two more African-Americans after the killer could not enter a black Baptist church? What conclusions do our students draw about us if we fail to say anything about Nazi symbols repeatedly being drawn at Macalester? Please join us for an informal conversation about these difficult questions that faculty must repeatedly face. Bring your own perspectives and stories to share.

November 12 – Dianna Shandy (Anthropology and Associate Dean of the IGC)
“It’s 2018. Does Your Professional Association Have a Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault Policy”
Sexual violence, as the global clamor of #MeToo suggests, is a problem of deep-seated gender inequities and the social supports that these have found in the institutions and societies within which we all live and work. Taking leadership in addressing the harm of sexual harassment to their professional communities, academic associations in various fields have updated and crafted new policies with clear reporting provisions, engaged in policy advocacy on harassment, provided prevention and best practices resources for their members, and embarked on proactive programs for cultural change in annual conferences. Drawing on my experience as co-lead in developing a Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault policy for the American Anthropological Association, this session presents a ‘state of the disciplines’ overview of various associations’ policies and describes the process necessary to enact this kind of change in a disciplinary association.

November 19 – Summer Hills-Bonczyk (Art and Art History) and Derek Johnson (Civic Engagement Center)
“Empty Bowls: Making Art, Relieving Hunger and Building Community One Bowl at a Time”
Every year Macalester Empty Bowls puts on three public bowl-making workshops in the ceramics studio and a final fundraising benefit. Since it was started in 2014 by the late professor Gary Erickson, Empty Bowls has grown to become a dynamic collaboration between the Art Department, the Civic Engagement Center, the Alumni Office, three student organizations and countless volunteers, neighbors and community members. Now a central part of Professor Hills-Bonczyk’s course curriculum, Empty Bowls has helped her “step out of the often solitary practice of studio art and reach for projects that are community-based, inter-disciplinary and more collaborative.” Both speakers will share their experiences of coordinating the project and reflect on the importance of interdepartmental collaboration and service.

November 26 – Julie Dolan (Political Science) “The Trump or Clinton Effect? Gender and the 2018 Midterm Elections”
After Donald Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, millions of women took to the streets to voice their discontent. After the march, campaign training organizations like She Should Run, Emerge, and Vote, Run, Lead reported record numbers of women contacting them to express an interest in running. Nearly 600 women ultimately launched a congressional candidacy in 2018, coming close to doubling the previous record of 298 set back in 2012. What inspired this historic moment for female candidates? In collaboration with former Macalester professor Paru Shah (University Wisconsin-Milwaukee), Julie Dolan has been conducting interviews with many of these women and will share some of their stories.

December 3 – James Dawes (English)
“Empathy and Human Rights”
In his new book, James Dawes takes up some of the key questions we considered in last year’s International Roundtable. How do spectators of suffering develop or fail to develop empathy for distant strangers? How does empathy help us promote human flourishing, and what are its risks? What can literature and storytelling teach us about empathy? In The Defense of Poesy, Sir Philip Sidney describes the tyrant, Alexander Pheraeus, “from whose eyes a tragedy well made and represented drew abundance of tears; who without all pity had murdered infinite numbers, and some of his own blood, so as he that was not ashamed to make matters for tragedies, yet could not resist the sweet violence of a tragedy.” What is the line that separates those who are merely moved from those who are moved to act?

December 10 – Jess Pearson (History)
“The Colonial Politics of Global Health”
Pearson will explore the collision between imperial and international visions of health and development in French Africa after the Second World War. Pearson argues that decolonization shaped postwar Africa’s public health landscape in important–and often unexpected–ways.  Her work follows doctors and colonial officials from Paris to Dakar and from Geneva to Brazzaville as the French colonial administration struggled to defend its project to an increasingly critical international audience.  European actors marginalized their African colleagues as they mapped out the continent’s sanitary future and silenced African patients’ voices as they negotiated the new rights and responsibilities that accompanied their new French citizenship.