Posts in: Around Campus
Professor Dwanna Robertson and Judy Fisher ’20 are working together on research that is not only academically relevant, but also meaningful to them both on a personal level.
“Our research is so relevant, not just to Judy or me, but to all Native scholars,” says Robertson, assistant professor of race, ethnicity, and migration studies. As part of the Summer Collaborative Research program, they are examining the low rates of recruitment, retention, and tenure granted to Native women faculty in predominantly white higher ed institutions.
“There is scarce research available about Native women faculty and the stagnancy of their integration into academia,” Robertson says. “I plan to expand that to Native men faculty in the future. Judy’s also looking at retention rates for Native students in college and the tactics they employ to succeed in spaces that, originally, weren’t meant for them.”
“This research has allowed me to work on something that will directly benefit other Native scholars navigating higher education institutions,” says Fisher. “This is significant to me personally because, as a Native person, I pursued higher education to fight for marginalized people at an institutional level, particularly Native people. I want to give back to my people for all the love and support I receive through my tribe.”
Fisher says the summer research opportunity has helped grow confidence in her ability to do research, while working directly with afaculty member and expert in the field. Robertson says it’s easily a two-year project and she and Fisher will continue their work together.
Middle schooler Sydney Murphy took the phrase “embracing the concepts” to a whole new level during her summer course. Holding a baby goat, she got up close with the farm animal, which was brought to her Caring for Critters class for a petting and milking demonstration.
Throughout the class, co-taught by Scott Purdy ’18 MAT, CC Master of Arts in Teaching student, and Brittni Darras as part of CC Gifted and Talented+ summer program, middle schoolers explored a wide range of research and got to apply their knowledge on visits to local animal shelters and rescues. Students also learned about local and global impacts of animal conservation and treatment, and developed their own action plan to address problems locally with our animal population.
Caring for Critters was just one of dozens of courses in the GT+ program that brought elementary, middle, and high school students to campus for three weeks this summer. Now in its 42nd year, the program is designed for students entering first through tenth grades with offerings to challenge their intellectual and creative abilities.
The program also brings to campus teachers who are experienced and skilled in working with gifted children and who are well educated in their fields. Plus, it provides an opportunity for CC’s Master of Teaching students to work directly with students and expert teachers in the classroom; each teacher has a CC graduate teaching assistant to help provide the individualized attention that gifted children need.
“I love to share these tools and then model for the MAT students those same strategies with the summer program students. It’s my goal to send them off as a new teacher with as many items in their toolkit as possible,” says Tiffany Hawk, teacher in the GT+ program of working with the master’s students. Hawk co-taught a course titled Farm to Fork for ninth and tenth graders with CC MAT student Savannah Teeple ’18 MAT.
Throughout the class, students explored local and global issues surrounding food scarcity, waste, and ethical practices of sustainability of food sources around the world. Students also studied real-life struggles of various cultures and developed plans to address issues that affect international citizens.
The students spent three days working directly with seven Habitat for Humanity families building and planting backyard raised garden beds in the Crestone Peak Trail neighborhood in Colorado Springs. Students also provided seeds, student-created recipes using crops from the gardens, and care instructions with the beds so that homeowners could put their new gardens to good use.
“When we are able to open our minds and explore the connections between global and local issues, we begin to see that there are so many experiences that bond us throughout the world,” Hawk says of developing the concept for the Farm to Fork class. “The beauty of this program is that students are able to experience the impact of their action. They are making community partnerships and experiencing the power of collaboration. They learn that they can make a difference.”
Hawk says she hopes the MAT students also gain practical knowledge throughout the program. “It is my hope that they take ownership and embrace the power of reflection and taking risks. My emphasis is to remain flexible with instruction and allow students to take you, as the teacher, in different paths to explore what they want to learn within our course objectives.”
From waterfalls to greenhouses to a glacial lagoon, students explored the far reaches of the Icelandic landscape, immersing themselves in the country’s culture and thriving ecotourism industry. This summer, two guides and 10 students embarked on the second-ever international trip with the Office of Outdoor Education, a partnership with the Office of Sustainability.
“Iceland has been on the top of my bucket list as a travel location for years because of the untouched wilderness,” says Matt Cole ’18 of why he wanted to participate. “This trip was the perfect opportunity to travel to Iceland and see a wide variety of all that the Icelandic wilderness and culture had to offer.”
Students completed an application process and attended pre-trip seminars before being accepted into this summer’s nine-day Iceland summer program. The trip itinerary was based on outdoor activities, with educational elements delving into sustainability and aspects of Iceland’s growing ecotourism industry.
“When we put a trip like this together, we want it to be thematic and intentional,” says Ryan Hammes, director of the Office of Outdoor Education and one of the trip’s two guides. “This one combined sustainability and the timely ecotourism topic with outdoor experiences in the natural environment.”
The group tackled hut-to-hut backpacking treks, as well as numerous day hikes. They visited a farm using greenhouses heated by geothermal to grow tomatoes, an exceptional feat, the group learned, for a country where growing such produce wouldn’t otherwise be possible because of the climate. They traveled to a horse farm and learned about the Icelandic horse, a significant part of the country’s culture. And they took a boat tour into a glacial lagoon. “In 60 years, that glacier will be completely melted, so it was a special part of our trip to get to see it,” says Ian Johnson, director of the Office of Sustainability, who co-led the trip with Hammes.
“Traveling and having the opportunity to explore the world is a wonderful experience we should all do at least once in our life, especially when it’s with a purpose,” says Jubilee Hernandez ’20 of why she wanted to be a part of the trip.
Hernandez and the rest of the group experienced all four season during their visit — from blue sky to snow. “What really makes a trip memorable is taking the time to truly explore the area, by going on walks, hikes, car rides, taking a ferry, as well as getting to know the others on the trip and making friends with strangers,” she says.
When talking about first impressions, Johnson says many students were surprised at how clean the country is, especially in the big cities and urban areas. Another theme students discussed was the environmental impact of tourism and how Iceland is working to balance tourism and preservation.
“We saw how all of these natural resources can be an asset and something to be protected; it’s very different than how we have our national park system set up,” Hammes says. “The students were doing personal reflection on how this place is different from what they call home.”
“I learned a lot about the geothermal process and what makes Iceland such a sustainable country, and that this geothermal energy potential could be possible in theoretically every country on Earth,” says Cole.
One-hundred-percent of Iceland’s energy comes from renewable resources — primarily geothermal and hydroelectric; a small percentage also comes from wind power. It’s also historically been a self-sufficient country, with many sustainable farming and fishing villages.
“Since 2010, tourism has been picking up, due to the nature, waterfall, geysers, hiking, black sand beaches, glaciers, puffins, whale watching; all of the things we experienced here,” says Johnson. “As a country, they’re struggling with it and how to [support tourism] responsibly.”
The group got a behind-the-scenes tour of a geothermal energy plant and saw how the “wastewater” from the plant spills into Iceland’s famous Blue Lagoon.
“The thing that stands out to me weeks after the trip is the connections with the group of students as well as the leaders. I knew no one on the trip and would have never crossed paths with any of them at school, however we all became very close,” Cole says.
Building relationships with one another also empowered students to embrace opportunities to venture outside their comfort zones.
“Every day brought a new adventure spent outside,” Hernandez says of her experience. “Most challenging was the trekking. I absolutely hated my life when we were hiking, but I wouldn’t have changed any part of it. It was the slips, falls, and challenging paths that I remember the most.”
Hammes and Johnson say there was certainly enough student interest in the trip to offer a similar program in the future.
This summer, 25 students from four different area colleges and universities came together to solve challenges facing our community. In its third year, the Quad Innovation Project Summer Intensive brought together 10 CC students, along with recent graduates and peers from the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs, the United States Air Force Academy, and Pikes Peak Community College to partner with local organizations in developing scalable, innovative solutions to real-world problems.
Quad Partnership Director Jake Eichengreen says he was surprised and impressed by the team dynamics. “The program this year was tremendously diverse, with a broad and inclusive representation of different academic tracts, ages, life experiences, races, and backgrounds,” he says. “Each of our teams was comprised of members from multiple schools. For many of our participants, it was their first time working closely together with students from such radically different backgrounds, and it went phenomenally.”
For example, a team comprised of a CC junior majoring in political science, a 25-year veteran of the U.S. Special Forces pursuing an associate’s degree in science, and a retired army private who just finished his third degree in advanced manufacturing at Pikes Peak Community College were working together to build an urban farm.
“I was pushed out of my comfort zone and challenged to think bigger, broader, and from multiple perspectives,” says Abbey Lew ’18, who worked on a project addressing food insecurity in the community. “I was inspired by the many community members who came to speak to us as well as by my passionate peers, all of whom are dedicated to bringing about positive change in the Colorado Springs community.”
Thomas Gifford ’18 worked with his team to reduce peak energy demand in the region by developing a new format for utility billing. He says working toward a common goal was a valuable part of the program. “Not only did I gain confidence in my own abilities, but also in the idea that I can truly contribute towards solving a large and complicated issue when working with the right people,” he says.
Thomas received a job offer from a startup called Maxletics, which he accepted and where he’ll be working for the rest of the summer; he met the company’s founders through the Quad summer program. Along with Gifford, several summer participants interviewed with and/or obtained employment with businesses or organizations that visited the class as part of the program.
Lew says she and her teammates are excited to continue pursuing their project and are currently working with various community businesses and organizations to develop a food-focused comic book that aims to increase food literacy among children.
“I’ve gained more entrepreneurial experience, learned how I work with different types of individuals, discovered the vast number of preexisting resources and opportunities in Colorado Springs, and have seen how seemingly small ideas can lead to bigger actions and impacts,” says Lew. “The most rewarding part of Quad was the connections and relationships I formed that continue beyond the end of the program.”
“My group was working on a project centered around sharing the stories of people experiencing houslessness,” says Emma Finn ’20. “It was both informative and eye opening to hear their stories and begin to understand the deep rooted stigmas that span throughout Colorado Springs and the rest of the country. I think the most rewarding part of the program will come when we get our project up and running.” She says her team intentionally begin using the term “houseless” instead of “homeless” after discussion with one community member who conveyed that, while it may be unconventional, he did have a “home.” What he was missing was a house. “After this encounter, we shaped our project around what people experiencing houslessness actually need, not what others may think they need,” she says.
It’s a program that not only benefits participants, but also the broader community. “The program offers the community access to the kind of entrepreneurial talent and young leaders capable of building new value here in a variety of ways throughout the community,” Eichengreen says. All six of the Quad Project teams chose to build projects to address major issues facing the community – food insecurity, homelessness, and peak energy consumption. “The community is the true beneficiary of the sustainable, scalable concepts our students built that open new opportunities to the homeless, stimulate demand for fresh food in food deserts, and reduce peak energy consumption,” he says.
More than 75 community members attended demonstration day in late June to hear students present their projects. Here’s a full list of the projects students developed to tackle community challenges this summer:
Stuff Comics – (CC, PPCC, UCCS)
Creating superhero comics that excite kids about healthy eating.
Finalizing funding, printing, distribution, and content partners; Committed to 1,000 copy beta version launching in September.
300 Energy – (CC, UCCS)
Creating improved formats for energy bills to encourage customers to reduce demand during peak energy usage times, while also saving users money. A bill design under consideration for further development with Colorado Springs Utilities.
Lift Me Up – (CC, PPCC, UCCS)
A philanthropic ride-sharing program for those in need. The team has secured a service provider partner and raised $1,000 towards a beta launch.
Apical Horizons – (CC, PPCC)
Building urban farms to produce food and housing for college students in need. The team identified a possible pilot site and is finalizing a modular, replicable design.
Strive – (CC, PPCC, UCCS)
A project to amplify the stories of the houseless to improve access to mental health resources. The team has identified initial houseless participants and mentors.
Avium – (CC, PPCC, UCCS, USAFA)
Creating engaging education to stimulate demand for healthy food choices in food deserts. The group’s first teaching dinner will be Aug. 5; they have secured a chef/instructor, food, venue, and marketing.
JoAnn Jacoby will join CC in August as the new library director.
Most recently, Jacoby served as associate dean for user services in the University of Illinois Library, the largest publicly funded academic library in the U.S. She has spent most of her professional career at Illinois in a number of roles over the last 18 years, including head of research and information services, coordinator of the New Service Model Program, anthropology and sociology subject specialist, and visiting assistant university archivist. Jacoby has published her research on evolving scholarly practices and library service evaluation processes in major journals in the field. She has served as chair of both the American Library Association’s Library Research Roundtable and of the Anthropology and Sociology Section of the Association of College and Research Libraries.
Jacoby has a Master’s Degree in Anthropology from Southern Illinois University and a Bachelor of Arts in English and Master’s in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois.
Jacoby will begin leading the newly renovated Tutt Library on Tuesday, Aug. 1.
In just a few weeks, the shelves will be stocked and garage door will be open wide to Autrey Field, as the Outdoor Education Center Annex makes its home on campus as a resource for all things related to outdoor recreation.
“We’re striving to decrease the barriers to participate in the outdoors, and encouraging everyone to get outside,” says Rachael Abler, outdoor education specialist.
The 1,500-square foot space looks much like a well-outfitted garage, with lots of thoughtful storage, a check-in desk, and comfy seating; the annex will help to equip students as they embark on personal or CC-organized trips. But it’s a resource that’s open to the entire Colorado College community, including faculty and staff. From renting a daypack, kayak, or snowshoes, to advice on following trail maps or winter weather layering, the new space will bring together all outdoor resources in one place. Currently gear and rentals are stored in various locations across campus.
Outdoor education staff will be available to not only handle checkout and return of equipment, but also to help educate members of the campus community in doing their own bike or ski repairs.
“We’re offering the four R’s: Rentals, resources, repairs, and retail,” Abler says. “The annex can also sell consumable items at discounted rates, things you can’t rent, like camping utensils and water bottles.”
There’s also outdoor furniture, extending the center’s connection to the east side of campus and Autrey Field. Plus, solar panels on the roof offset energy usage of both the new annex and the current Outdoor Education facility.
Check out the new space: It will be open for business by the start of Block 1.
The Student Life Division is thrilled to announce Alex Hernandez-Siegel will join CC in August as the new chaplain and associate dean of students.
In his role, Hernandez-Siegel will provide leadership in in the ethical, religious, and spiritual dimensions of community life at CC, serving the entire campus community including students, faculty, and staff.
Hernandez-Siegel comes to CC from Harvard University, where he has served as university chaplain since 2012. He also advised graduate students in the organismic and evolutional biology Ph.D. program and worked for two years as a community associate director with the Pluralism Project at Harvard.
He also brings experience overseeing student academic progress and diversity recruitment in Harvard’s OEB program and leading national efforts to attract underrepresented students to the genomic sciences at the undergraduate and postdoctoral levels.
As chaplain at CC, Hernandez-Siegel will bring his own experience to guide programming, activities, and conversations that foster a welcoming and supportive environment where religious and spiritual exploration can occur.
Hernandez-Siegel will begin on campus Tuesday, Aug. 1.
Courses and field trips don’t end with the conclusion of Block 8. Summer Session 2017 is underway with 225 CC students, along with 12 visiting undergraduates from around the country enrolled in 28 courses combined over Blocks A and B. This week marks the start of three months of programming and academic study.
“We’re thrilled to see such a rich variety of academic and extracurricular programming this summer,” says Jim Burke, director of Summer Session, “we’re continuing the vibrancy of the academic year into the beautiful summer months.”
This year, Burke and his team also expanded the pre-college program to five courses, and have enrolled 50 students so far for the block beginning July 10.
And, CC’s graduate programs in the Department of Education have two tracks of students, 35 Masters in Education students and 29 students enrolled in the Literacy Intervention Specialist Certification Program (LISCP).
CC students are traveling all over the world, with 158 undergraduates enrolled in 13 summer off-campus courses. Course offerings range from language and culture courses in Brazil, Senegal, and Spain to studies of archaeology in Israel and the arts in Bali.
Additionally, 118 students are conducting research with over 40 faculty members on- and off-campus this summer.
CC expects to enroll more than 30 international students in the next academic year, and is expanding its Global Scholars Program course offerings to include three tailored courses designed to provide students with the opportunity to adjust to U.S. classroom culture in a higher education context, as well as gain a valuable introduction to the intense academic pace of the Block Plan.
Throughout the summer months, prepare to welcome plenty of visitors: CC Summer Conferences will host 17 conferences bringing more than 1,800 participants to campus June 3-July 29. This year’s participants hail from all over the United States along with Germany, Russia, Canada, and Japan.
Plus, this year marks the 33rd season for the Summer Music Festival. The program will feature 27 concerts on campus and around the Colorado Springs community June 4-24. The festival also hosts 54 pre-professional fellows working with 27 top classical performers and educators.
Follow along with @ccsummersession on Instagram for a look at CC life all summer long.
By Montana Bass ’18
During the final weeks of Block 8, Naomi Van der Land ’17 and Alejandro Perez ’17 have been spending time at the Fine Arts Center. They’re working with five high school students and a local graffiti artist who goes by FUSE, collaborating on an art project that will soon be on display in the halls of Bemis School of Art.
It’s the extension of a long-time collaboration between Bemis and Colorado Springs School District 11’s program for at-risk high school students, students who have not succeeded in a traditional school environment. “This project gets them interested, gets them engaged,” says Tony Acosta, a special education teacher with District 11. “We’re able to get them out of their comfort zones, out of the classroom. It develops their coping skills.”
The impact for the high school participants goes far beyond developing their artistic talents. “I hope it involves all of the kids and that they feel like they’ve really accomplished something in creating a piece of art,” says Perez, a CC studio art major who had met FUSE a few years ago at a previous FAC exhibit opening. “It’s important to give younger kids different ways they can express themselves. It’s been super relaxed and positive.”
Social worker Devra Allen adds that it helps build confidence, “if they can venture into the unknown here as part of the art project, do something that makes them scared and succeed, it builds their confidence to think, ‘Yeah, I can do this.’ And for kids who have attendance issues in school, this gives them something to show up for and to be a part of.”
The team is spray-painting the mural onto a piece of wood salvaged from a former FAC theatre set. This means they’re working outside, in open air, and have been battling the elements of spring Colorado Springs weather in order to get the project done. Despite challenges, after just three painting sessions over the course of a few weeks, the students are nearly done with the project, which will be a mural with the word “BEMIS” in graffiti-style lettering. Each student submitted sketches of their personal ideas to FUSE, and the artist incorporated different elements into one plan.
High schooler Amy VonSeht says being part of the mural’s creation helped her embrace the unknown. “I’ve never done graffiti before; it’s a good experience. It’s something new to try. It’s very expressive,” she says, “I’ve done other classes and projects at Bemis, but this is the biggest.”
Some of the students feel hesitant to paint, nervous they’ll make a mistake. “I don’t want to mess it up. I’ve never done graffiti before, but I draw,” says Dominic Makinano, another high school participant. But the students are supportive, encouraging one another, “Just do it!” he adds as VonSeht considers picking up a paint can after Makinano is done with his portion, “I’m still afraid, but I just do it!”
FUSE does not just show the kids how to paint in the context of the project, he also teaches them about the history of graffiti as an art form, one he has been involved in for over 30 years. “I started when I was young, and I didn’t have a mentor then. The best way to learn is to get with someone who’s been doing it a long time,” he says. Now at the FAC, “Everyone gets painting time. I let them decide – with graffiti, the decision making is on the fly, it’s spontaneous.”
“It’s about giving them choices,” says Tara Thomas, executive director of education at the FAC. “Because of various issues, they don’t have a lot of choice. This gives them that freedom.”
The project provides students a freedom to express their own creativity in ways they may not otherwise have an opportunity, to thrive using art to build relationships and self-confidence.
The completed mural is scheduled to be unveiled Monday, May 22, and will remain on display in the Bemis School of Art stairway.
J Street U is a national organization that works towards a two state solution between Israel and Palestine. This year, it has a presence on the CC campus, an effort led by several students, including Elam Klein ’20, who says he wanted to bring conversations, activism, and education about what can often be a heated topic. “We felt there was a lack of discourse about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on campus, even though people were interested in the topic; J Street U fills this void.”
The primary focus of the J Street U organization is that it is Pro-Israel, Pro-Palestine, and Pro-Peace, and is generally seen as in-between the polarized right and left of the political spectrum. Klein along with Rachel Powers ’20 and Kalie Hirt ’20 started a chapter on campus this semester. “We hope to open up a dialogue and lead some activism on this issue on campus,” Klein says. So far, the group has hosted weekly meetings to discuss current events and the response from the campus community has been a positive one.
“We provide a space for a more nuanced understanding of the conflict, which has appealed to many students who simply wish to learn more about the issues at play, and our open, candid discussions bring in people from a range of ideological backgrounds,” Klein says. “Even people who know little about the conflict have come to our meetings simply to listen and ask questions.”
Wednesday, May 10, 7-9 p.m., J Street U hosts its first big event: A screening of the film “Bridge Over the Wadi,” which gives an overview of the trials and tribulations of starting a school for Arabs and Israelis in Israel. Lee Gordon, a co-founder of this series of schools, called Hand in Hand, will both introduce the film and lead a question and answer session afterwards, both in Cornerstone Screening Room. With this event, “we hope to present a more nuanced look of the conflict on the ground, which will provide a strong foundation for both having important conversations and affecting concrete social change in the future,” says Klein. In addition, J Street U is working to expand outreach and influence on campus as a new student organization.
“We hope that people realize that the whole conflict is more complicated than it is often described,” Klein says of the purpose for the screening and discussion.” In the United States, we tend to oversimplify complex issues and are generally disconnected from the reality on the ground in Israel, so this event will provide a much-needed human look at the situation,” he says.
Klein says he hopes, at the very least, the event helps us all learn a little bit more.