Posts by Stephanie

Students Explore Community-building on Research Trip to Japan

Japanese farm

By Leah Veldhuisen ’19

Many CC students have amazing summer experiences abroad. One such experience for students this summer was a trip to Japan with Assistant Professor of Art Emma Powell and Professor of Japanese Joan Ericson. The focus on photography alongside Asian studies for this trip was a first, but Ericson has taken students on similar trips previously.

Professors Ericson and Powell wanted to collaborate to support their respective fields, Asian studies and art. From this idea, “we decided to develop this trip, which would give students opportunities to learn first-hand about Japanese culture and making photographs in the field,” explains Powell.

The trip was not a class, but a research trip for both students and professors, with a goal of exploring machi zukuriand the process of town revitalization in Japan. Machi zukuriis the Japanese term for community and town building or revitalization; machi refers to a town or small area, while zukurimeans making or planning.

In practice, Powell explains, “machi zukuriaims to improve or make sustainable a neighborhood or town. It often refers to the active attempts to revitalize small Japanese towns that have declined as populations have moved more and more into the big cities. These efforts are being run by local governments and small groups of residents.”  Japan has taken a particularly proactive approach towards these efforts.

Local people have utilized a variety of approaches to revitalize communities, but everyone is working towards sustainability. To learn about the phenomenon of machi zukuri, the group was able to talk with many CC alumni living in Japan, visit a farm run by a CC alumni, tour many art studios and museums, and meet the mayor of Fujiyoshida, the sister city of Colorado Springs. Students on the trip had the opportunity to choose a more specific topic withinmachi zukuri, and focus their investigations on their own interests.

Powell says one of her favorite activities was the group’s visit to the Tokyo Photographic Art Museum, although she says climbing Mount Fuji was memorable for the students. Additionally, Powell says “we all enjoyed the trip to a rural farm run by a CC graduate. The farm was in a beautiful valley and we were able to have a relaxed, in-depth conversation around our topic as we explored the village, and visited his neighbors and a Buddhist temple.”

The trip was funded by the Art Department, Asian Studies Program, Dean’s Office, and HEC.


Japanese tea

CC Paragliders Featured in Pilot Magazine

CC students are featured in this Pilot magazine article.

A View from the Monument Creek Restoration Project

By David Sachs ’20

The Monument Creek Restoration Project is a collaboration between the State of the Rockies Project and Innovation at Colorado College, with support from the Geology Department and the GIS Lab. Inspired by Colorado Springs’ founding principles and Colorado College’s strategic plan, the aim of the project is to create a model framework for the kilometer-long stretch of Monument Creek that forms the western border of campus.

In this phase of the project the team is using a method for research, planning, and design known as geodesign. Geodesign is a multifaceted approach that aims to account for the myriad of factors at play when revitalizing a given area. While traditional planning methods typically focus on research and data aggregation for a specific feature, geodesign relies on a more holistic set of information. This can range from environmental and socio-economic data, to feedback and input from community stakeholders.

This summer, I and a team of two other interns are conducting a pilot study in the stretch of Monument Creek running from the Uintah overpass to the Mesa Bridge a kilometer south. We have been tasked with collecting stream-bed topography at various points along the reach. In addition, we are building a catalog of various elements in the riparian landscape, gathering data on everything from vegetation to extended human presence. The project has provided us the opportunity to meet with various city planners, Colorado Springs Utilities, and other local creek patrons in order to build a deeper understanding of their concerns and more broadly, how Monument Creek is utilized in its present state. Going forward, the team will visualize our data in industry standard GIS software, which provides powerful analytic tools, enabling us to identify key areas for redesign.

Following the data collection and analysis phase, the other interns and I will shift the focus of our work to a GIS modeling software which allows designers to model buildings and vegetation in conjunction with preexisting conditions. The team will attempt to create a plan which can improve storm water quality, aide in flood mitigation, and restore degraded ecological systems. The plan will also seek to create a stronger connection between the creek and the Colorado College campus, enabling further education on hydrology and riparian landscapes in our own backyard. For me, this is one of the most compelling components of the project. By using detailed geospatial data as the framework for design creation, we have the opportunity to achieve a powerful synthesis of science and creativity which truly represents the potency of a liberal arts education. Knowing that down the line our work may help enable a positive change in our community is icing on the cake. Our project parallels ongoing work being done by the Fountain Creek Watershed District, Colorado Springs Parks and Recreation, and The Rocky Mountain Field Institute.

The models and data generated this summer will be used and refined by CC’s Introduction to Geodesign course, which is being offered in Block 8, 2019. Students in this class will have the opportunity to learn the geodesign method and continue conversations with community stakeholders in order to develop models which may be presented to decision makers both on campus, and within city government.

While the work being done here is local, the scope of the project is far greater. The Monument Creek Restoration Plan will be Colorado College’s flagship contribution to Changing our Global Infrastructure, a geodesign collaboration among academic institutions worldwide. Colorado College’s focus on digital liberal arts, and early adoption of the geodesign methodology has enabled CC to be the only four-year liberal arts college to participate. This international Geodesign consortium aims to create a diverse body of work, showcasing the capabilities of the new methodology. Areas of study range from urban centers to wilderness, and initial work will be presented at the International Geodesign Conference in February 2019. Our Geodesign at Colorado College project will also be presenting a poster in September at GIS in the Rockies, the premier geospatial conference of the Rocky Mountain west. Through these conferences we hope to hone our presentation skill as well as gain insight into other implementations of the informational technologies through which we work.

For more information please visit our website.

Student interns are:

  • David Sachs, senior, Interdisciplinary Major
  • Will Rundquist, senior, Geology Major
  • Darryl Filmore, junior, Computer Science Major

Collaborators/mentors are:

  • Christine Siddoway, Geology Professor
  • Matt Cooney, GIS Technical Director
  • Cyndy Hines, Program Coordinator, Innovation and SOTR, with expertise in stream ecology and hydrology



Human Anatomy Class Leverages Unique Resources for Lifelong Learning

by Laurie Laker ’12

The study of the human body at Colorado College is something of a unique opportunity for an undergraduate student body. CC is one of the very few colleges in the country, particularly among our liberal arts peer schools, where students can immerse themselves fully in the study of the human anatomy, applying their classroom theory with real-world practice.

“We’re extremely careful about how we present the anatomy lab, what we say about the lab, because we want to be as respectful as possible to the donors,” explains Professor Dan Miska of the Human Biology and Kinesiology Department.

‘Donors’ is the language of the department and all those who move through their classes, rooted in respect for the persons who’ve donated their bodies to scientific teaching and research. The class Introduction to Human Anatomy, running this Block A, lets students gain an understanding of the fundamental concepts of human anatomy, and includes the examination of skeletal, muscular, nervous, cardiovascular, and respiratory structures.

“I’d estimate that 90 percent of our students go on to some form of medical program,” Miska adds. “Anatomy has the reputation of being all about memorization, but what we try to teach here is the true applicability of the material — to the clinical work of a future career.”

“For example, with certain diagnoses we bring socioeconomic issues into our discussions as well. Cases like heart attacks, for example, often hinge upon diet and exercise, which in turn frequently hinge on the socioeconomic status of the patient,” adds Miska. “It’s a clinical class, but with applicable knowledge and social awareness woven throughout.”

The class is a combination of clinical study modules and laboratory sessions, and students work in small groups to diagnose a hypothetical injury or condition using the methodology of clinicians — asking questions, noting patients’ medical histories, and then offering a possible diagnosis.

“I’m taking this partly for my major, partly because it’s super interesting,” says Nabeel Elabdeia ’20, who majors in Organismal Biology and Ecology.

“It’s so different from the textbook type of class, a lot more messy — just like real life medical practice.”

“This kind of work — particularly with the donors — it makes me think about real doctors, how difficult it is to diagnose real people. I was a bit nervous at first, but you soon learn to dissociate from the personal and treat it as a learning experience.” Elabdeia, who plans to head to dental school after CC, adds.

“It’s not just checking a box,” Miska details, expanding more on the longer-term goals of the class.

“Students take this because it’s going to follow you in life, to set you up for what you’re doing for a career — these are practical life skills for impactful careers, and that we can offer the practical skills of body diagnosis at the undergrad level is incredible. It gives our students such a head start when they head to med school after CC.”

Nerves are commonplace among students before heading to the lab for the first time — understandably so, given the nature of the material. But it’s no deterrent — the clinical experience of examining a human body and all its systems is often the chief attraction for students taking the class.

“I was anxious but excited for the lab before we went in,” explains undeclared major Julia Moore ’20, who is on the Molecular Biology track and minoring in Human Biology and Kinesiology. “To be honest, it was very much a ‘let’s get this first one over with’ scenario. We get to see this, to do this, from the first day of class, and that’s amazing.”

“It’s a very, very respectful space, aware of the donors and their wishes, and having access to this sort of facility is quite unique for an undergraduate experience,” she says.

“I actually visited the lab as a prospective student, and it’s one of the reasons I came to CC — it’s a special thing that undergrads don’t always get to do,” adds Moore’s lab group partner, Rianna Reimers ’19, a Molecular Biology major who’ll be interning with a genetics lab in her home state of California after the class finishes.

“The way Dan presents the class, and especially the interactions we have with the donors, it’s amazing — respect is the utmost important thing. He even said, on day one, ‘These (meaning the donors) are the four best anatomy teachers you’ll ever have’ — that’s really stuck with me.”

Dan Miska’s Block A Human Anatomy class discusses a case study and views a carpal tunnel surgery online to learn more about the mechanics of a hand to better diagnose treatment.

Hairstreak Butterfly, CC’s New Online Literary Journal

hairstreak butterfly

Hairstreak Butterfly Review,named after the official Colorado state insect, embraces CC’s aspiration to invite innovation and possibility into our understanding of the world. Launched by the Department of English, the online literary journal’s editors describe their mission as offering “a space for writing that stirs the senses and invokes things wild, sacred, daring, and visionary. We are as excited about feeling out the limits of genre, language, perspective, and narratives as we are about the careful rendering of that which makes humans human and keeps time waxing and waning.” Take a look at Issue 1.

Assistant Professor of English Natanya Pulley is the journal’s managing editor. She says that when imagining a literary journal for CC, she asked herself two things: Does the world need yet another literary journal? and What can it offer our students that they aren’t already experiencing in student-run publications, through our Visiting Writer Series’ events and class talks, or through discussion (in-class and one-on-one) about contemporary literary publishing?

“I’ve been editing literary journals for the last 10 or so years and find it is an essential part of being a contemporary writer. One can read the trends before they hit the bookstores and find emerging and marginalized voices that may not find a publisher for some time.” Pulley also says that reading submissions for the journal means encountering not only a wide spectrum of styles, perspectives, and content, but also reading underdeveloped work or writing that feels so close — but not enough — to complete.

“It means confronting writing that is clumsy, hollow, amateurish, offensive, unimaginative, or worse: average,” she says. “This exposure ultimately helps a writer identify their own weaknesses and limitations, and even face their fear of failing while also finding their strengths and readership.”

There are a multitude of writing programs with nationwide literary journals that build the student editorial experience with exactly these areas in mind, says Pulley. “My goal has always been to provide such an opportunity for our students, but I returned often to that first question as I began planning a ‘Literary Publishing Practicum’ adjunct and in my discussions with students and visitors about literary journal publishing,” Pulley says of getting this project started. “Our students are innovative, hardworking, and inquisitive people. Many love writing and reading; they read to escape, be challenged, learn, and see themselves reflected in the words of others. But they also want to build spaces for change and growth — they want to be a part of something important that is inclusive and supportive of marginalized people.”

While the journal increases the number of publications in the literary world as well as at CC, Pulley says her vision for it has been not only to deepen students’ connection with the literary industry and their own role as writers within that industry, but also to deepen work in diversity and inclusion by asking what it takes behind the scenes for marginalized voices to be seen and heard.

“How do we build such an infrastructure?  What are we looking for when we read submissions? What do we see or look for when reading published work and what does this say about how we conceive of the world?” Pulley says of the questions she asks throughout the process of putting the journal together. “What does our understanding of ‘good writing’ rely on and how did it come to be? How can we be proactive about inviting and honoring work by writers of color, LGBTQ writers, and writers with disabilities? And most importantly, how do we interrogate our own choices in building this space and structure? What questions of about our own positions and views must we embrace — not once, but every moment we read submissions and edit, communicate with, publish, and promote our contributors?”

The literary journal, and the Lit Pub Practicum Pulley teaches, offer students an opportunity to tackle these questions and toward a specific purpose. “We work to put something out there that we hope speaks to and teaches others as it has us,” she says. “This is why the world needs literary journals — thousands of different kinds: we must always ask ourselves which narratives, voices, perspectives, and images do we find essential to understanding our world today? And at CC we must ask how do we best amplify them?” Spend some time with Hairstreak Butterfly Review.

Test Yourself with a New Game of Skill: Bridge

Summer Bridge Open Play

When’s the last time you tried something new? Something complicated? You’ll have the chance on campus this summer with a new program to teach and play (and eventually master?) the strategic card game, bridge.

Phoebe Lostroh, associate professor of molecular biology, is leading the effort to bring this challenging game to campus. “It is a way for us to learn together and play together this summer,” she says. “It’s open to students, faculty, and staff. I’m also trying to get the local high school to participate, especially to bring disadvantaged students on to campus to meet college students. Bridge can be played by anyone and everyone — and in fact it is played all over the world.”

Check out with the motto “Bridge for Peace.”

“I’m very interested in activities that make better local communities, and that help people feel connected to one another across boundaries like citizenship and religion,” she says. “Toward that goal, I am working with a local bridge center of primarily senior citizens who will help teach and mentor anyone on campus who wants to learn the game.”Local bridge masters John Dukelis and Ann Parker both are retired K-12 teachers and part of the American Contract Bridge League Unit 360.

Lostroh also cites research on K-12 students, which shows that playing bridge improves communication and conflict-resolution skills.

Bridge is a four-person card game with similarity to spades, hearts, euchre, and pitch. Pairs of players sitting on opposite sides of a table compete to take the most tricks (which consist of four cards, one from each player in turn), or to defeat the other pair from taking as many tricks as they had planned. Before any cards are played, there is a complex negotiation, called bidding, to arrive at the contract, which determines the number of tricks one pair must try to make as well as the suit that will be the most powerful during the play of the hand. You have to count cards, and you have to consider the odds of an important unseen card being in one of the other hands. Lostroh points out there are no shortcuts to becoming an expert bridge player.

Lostroh says she was inspired to start up a bridge group on campus afterreflecting on her own experience learning the complex card game. “There are many parallels between learning bridge and learning in college,” she says. “In addition to practicing, it pays to listen to experts and to study, and to avoid getting distracted by charlatans who claim they’ve found an easier, faster way.  You have to play the hand you’re dealt. Sometimes that means you get the most organized biology professor in the department — sometimes not. Sometimes the hand is perfect for the new bid you that your partner just learned — sometimes not. Either way, the only way forward is to keep trying.”

Participate in the kick-off event Saturday, June 2, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. in Tutt Library Room 105; open play is happening every Wednesday in June and July, 6-8 p.m. in Worner Campus Center.

Get to Know the Class of 2018

More than four years ago, when members of the Class of 2018 first started their CC experiences, we knew lots of random trivia about them based on admission applications: Two members of the incoming class had biked across the U.S., four were Girl Scouts, nine were black belts in karate, and they spoke a combined 27 languages. Now, as they prepare for CC graduation, here are a few fun facts about those same students, now that they’re seniors: 97 students have received Keller Venture Grants (so far), 30 students have been awarded at least one Ritt Kellogg Expedition Grant.

Seventy senior students have presented research at a past summer research symposium and 11 of the student bands that competed at CC’s Battle of the Bands are primarily made up of senior musicians. Fifteen members of the Class of 2018 completed art theses and there will be 16 academic paraprofessionals and four full-time interns from the graduating class on campus for the 2018-19 academic year.

There have been 14 year-long PIFP fellowships and 19 summer fellowships awarded to members of the Class of 2018. More than 250 students have used Tutt Library’s thesis carrels this year. The class has 50 graduating varsity athletes, one Watson fellow, one Fulbright winner, two Fulbright alternates, two recipients of NSF Graduate Research Fellowships, and one Goldwater scholar. And the awards list keeps growing.

Signs for the Times: New Campus Markers are Up

New Campus Signs

You may have noticed some big changes to campus marker signs this week.

New college signs are going up in the next few weeks celebrating our new college visual identity marking the entrances to campus at Uintah Street and Cascade Avenue, Uintah and Nevada Avenue, Nevada and Dale Street, and Cascade and Dale.

The new signs will be installed just in time to welcome many parents, visitors, and alumni for Commencement, and demark our new campus boundary that now extends to Dale Street to encompass CC’s alliance with the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center.

The updated campus markers are part of the college’s new sign system that was presented to the campus and approved in 2016. The system converges the goals of the Campus Master Plan and the Master Communications Plan, both integral components of the college’s main strategic plan to celebrate our sense of place — as well as an effort to unify all campus signs under one clear, cohesive system. A black square or block with white letters — representing the Block Plan — is the base component of most new signs.

The old stone “headstones” with the college’s former wordmark will come down as the new campus marker signs go up. Other major components of the sign system have already been installed, including the new, red Fine Arts Center “block” on Dale and Cascade, and a prototype of major campus “block signs” placed at Cutler Hall. Look for other major updates throughout the next academic year, including more block signs, new building signs, and all new numerals for building addresses.

Materials from the former stone markers will be placed in storage and used for future projects around campus.

Lachlan Nutting ’18 Selected to Present Philosophy Paper

By Alana Aamodt ’18

Philosophy major Lachlan Nutting ’18recently attended the 20th annual Midwest Undergraduate Philosophy Conference at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, to present her paper, “Emotionally Determined Destiny.”

Nutting says she has been interested in determinism, the philosophical theory that all events are determined by causes outside of human will, since sophomore year, but doubted that she could write a paper on it. It wasn’t until her senior year, in the class Philosophy of Emotions, when the themes that had originally interested her reappeared and she decided she would write her final paper on the topic.

“I argued that emotional responses are determined based on Cheshire Calhoun’s idea of biographical subjectivity and Max Scheler’s individual destiny,” explains Nutting. “This basically means that emotional responses are determined by who you are at your core as an individual, and they allow you to actualize your destiny by telling you what is significant in your life.”

After having this topic swirling around in her head for years, Nutting decided that her final paper was worth submitting to the Midwest Undergraduate Philosophy Conference, and she was honored to have the opportunity to speak, saying that “everyone there was amazingly nice and supportive. I think more people should submit their papers to conferences; it was the most wonderful experience.”

Reflecting back, Nutting says she was drawn to the many diverse frameworks of philosophy, and how the subject took on huge questions about life and reality. Her studies required her to keep an open mind and, as she describes, “see how these different ideas might apply to my life, making studying philosophy incredibly worthwhile.”

Congratulations to 2018-19 PIFP Fellows

PIFP Fellows

The Public Interest Fellowship Program is pleased to announce the incoming cohort of PIFP fellows. Below, meet this year’s fellows and learn which partner organizations they will be working with during the upcoming summer and year. PIFP offers paid summer and yearlong fellowships to CC students and graduates. This pipeline to nonprofit partner organizations provides fellows with significant experience, specialized training and mentoring, and the opportunity to make a difference in the issues facing our state and community. Over the past 15 years, PIFP has placed nearly 400 fellows and worked with 80 partner organizations.

Yearlong Fellows

Helen Griffiths ACLU of Colorado
Rowan Frederiksen Arc–Pikes Peak Region
Dorsa Djalilzadeh Bell Policy Center
Duranya Freeman CO Center on Law & Policy
Savanah McDaniel CO Consumer Health Initiative (policy)
Isabelle Nathanson CO Consumer Health Initiative (outreach)
Asheton Gilbertson Conservation Colorado
Amelia (Mimi) Smith Denver Scholarship Foundation
Salem Tewelde Denver Scholarship Foundation
Tia Phillip DSST Public Schools
Rachael Maxwell Innovations in Aging Collaborative
Naomi Randell OMNI Institute
Caroline Olin TESSA
Delaney Tight Volunteers for Outdoor CO

Summer Fellows

Jacqueline Nkhonjera ACLU of Colorado
Maria Cortner Arc of the Pikes Peak Reg
Bianca Lydia Thomas Atlas Preparatory School
Max Blackburn Atlas Preparatory School
Graham Campson Catamount Institute
Annie Engen City of Colorado Springs
Abe Lahr CO Dept Health Care Policy & Financing
Hannah Schultz CO Dept Health Care Policy & Financing
Maggie Mehlman CO League of Charter Schools
Carolyn Best Fountain Creek Watershed District
Jasmin Thibou Gill Foundation
Carter Eng Greenway Fund
Anna Smith NCSL Communications Div.
Meg DeMarsh NCSL Education Program
Riley Hutchings NCSL Energy, Environment & Transportation Program
Annie Zlevor NCSL Health Program
Alison Takkunen NCSL Health Program
Kendall Stoetzer One Colorado Education Fund
Hannah Pardee Palmer Land Trust
Alison Baird PEAK Parent Center
Logan Coleman ProgressNow Colorado Education
Mark Scaggs Towards Justice