By Montana Bass ’19
Currently on display at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, the “Force/Resistance” exhibit speaks to the relationship between power and violence, particularly as demonstrated through tensions between U.S. police use of force and citizen protest. The exhibit features the work of artists Floyd Tunson, Dareece Walker, and Walter and Bunky Echo-Hawk, along with the film, “Force/Resistance: From Standing Rock to Colorado Springs,” produced by CC’s own Arielle Mari ’12, Han Sayles ’15, and Dwanna Robertson, assistant professor of race, ethnicity, and migration studies.
The installation comes at a time of national tension surrounding perceived infringements on citizens’ civil rights by government policies and law enforcement. As complementary pieces, the still works focus particularly on highlighting the humanity of protestors in the Black Lives Matter movement, and the documentary tells the story of self-proclaimed “water protectors” who have been opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline for the past year. Curator Jessica Hunter-Larsen says a series of campus conversations coordinated by the Butler Center about police violence, as well as the Race, Ethnicity, and Migration Studies program’s spring series “Race and Terror” inspired her to put the installation together.
She says she hopes the exhibit provides members of the Colorado Springs community, including CC students, a place to contemplate and discuss challenging issues. “An opportunity to practice radical empathy is necessary to begin to make real change in the world,” says Hunter-Larsen. “The exhibition is at its core about speaking truth to power, through visual images and through the narrative format that the film offers. Ideally, then, the gallery becomes a forum for discussion about the various ways in which power is used, abused, and resisted.”
It was Hunter-Larsen who reached out to the producers of the documentary, Mari, Sayles, and Robertson, about exploring a connection between Standing Rock and Colorado Springs. The result, as Mari explains, is an expansion on the idea of protest. Their documentary not only reports the high stakes of the Standing Rock conflict, but also the incredible community created through the act of resistance. Interviewees speak with deeply moving conviction, often sharing very similar sentiments regarding their experience. “I think it speaks to the unity of the Standing Rock movement that they responded in such similar ways,” says Mari.
The inspirational exhibit offers an effective compilation of powerful artwork that calls viewers to take accountability for their communities. “I think the call to action speaks for itself,” Mari adds. “When Dwanna [who is featured in the film] says, ‘What is the price of doing nothing?’ That has stuck with me since January.”
“Force/Resistance” is on view at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center through September 9. Catch a screening of the 45-minute documentary “From Standing Rock to Colorado Springs” Monday, May 1, 5:30 p.m. in the Cornerstone Screening Room. A panel discussion with documentary subjects will follow the screening.
Jordan Travis Radke took on the role of director of CC’s Collaborative for Community Engagement in March, and jumped right in to the work of deepening, supporting, expanding, and assessing community-based learning and community-based research and its integration into the scholarship of the college. It is what she calls, “a fantastic job.” Here’s your opportunity to get to know Radke as she shares insights on her role and the impact of a community-engaged campus:
How do you think your position will impact CC?
I hope that my work, and the work of our entire office, has a large impact on CC. I am passionate about the integration of community-based work into teaching, learning, and scholarship. For students, I believe community-based learning experiences foster empathy and awaken in students a hope and an obligation to build a more just, humane world. For both faculty and students, I believe community-based research offers the chance to generate knowledge and insights of public relevance, applying knowledge to improving the quality of life of the community.
Where did you work before CC and what where you doing?
Before I came to CC, I was a Ph. D. candidate in the Sociology Department at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (she finished up her Ph. D. in the fall, congrats!). As a late-stage Ph. D. student, the majority of my time was devoted to undergraduate teaching. I also spent much of my time seeking to gain experience in community-based learning, teaching, and co-curricular programs, and became heavily involved in a year-long, service-learning sequence oriented around race, class, and gender, in which students mentored at-risk middle school students. My training and experience in qualitative research throughout my dissertation was transformative for me, and I hope to draw on these skills and this interest, as well as to continue to explore my interest in the trend to individualize collective action.
What do you bring to this job?
I am a deeply committed person with strong convictions, and my hope is that this passion and energy will enable me to build a vibrant, active culture of community-based learning. I would like to bring stability and longevity to this position, and build something long-lasting and transformative. Lastly, I am by nature collaborative and hope to build bridges and relationships to transform the CCE into an office connected to the campus and our community.
What are some personal or professional experiences you’ve had either at CC or outside of it that play into your current role?
My Ph. D. certainly plays into my current role and gave me a range of skills and knowledge from which I draw. Additionally, before I went back to graduate school, I worked as a UNITE HERE union organizer for a short time, worked the front desk at a Ronald McDonald House, and was a volunteer grant writer at an organization that supported African immigrants. These experiences gave me interesting insights into the world of community organizing as well as the nonprofit sector, and I take those experiences with me in all that I do. In particular, these experiences revealed to me how difficult yet inspiring it can be to try to work toward social changes.
Who/what was the biggest influence on you?
Two things come to mind for me. First, I studied abroad in Madagascar my junior year of college, and it was a life-changing experience. Living there gave me a glimpse into a totally different culture and pace of life, and made me deeply question the American ethic of ever-increasing consumption and unwavering focus on achievement.
The other experience that deeply shaped me was the recession. My husband, a wide and bright-eyed first-year teacher, lost his publically funded high school teaching job along with all other new teachers in his district. It took him 15 months to get a career going again, and that was to return to graduate school for a different degree. While difficult, this time left me feeling ever grateful and privileged in our current, secure lives, and to empathize more deeply with those who struggle for stability.
What have you noticed about CC?
This campus is a true community, in which relationships are built between and among students, faculty, and staff. I love that I am on a campus where, when I walk to grab lunch or run to the library, I am likely to run into another person who knows me by name. After several years at a very large public university, that feels like a distinct privilege. I am also amazed at the extent to which CC is committed to students as entire people — providing programs and support to develop not only students’ intellectual interests and foundations, but every other aspect of their humanity.
Tell us a little about your background
I grew up in a family of eight with five siblings. I also come from a very long line of Presbyterian ministers. I credit my childhood and parents with instilling in me deep empathy and a desire to live a life that is other-oriented.
What do you like to do when not working?
In most of my free time, you’ll find me running after my firecracker of a three-year-old, Avery, and trying to make my 1-year-old Brynn giggle. When I do get to enjoy some time to myself (I am told this will happen in 18 years), I enjoy reading science fiction and fantasy, and watching TV shows like “Game of Thrones” with my husband. I also love nature photography, and enjoy being outdoors, playing in the water, listening to music, writing, and have been playing with meditation as well.
What is something people might be surprised to know about you?
I am an identical twin! My twin, Jesse, lives outside of San Antonio with her husband and three adorable children. For 18 years of life, my identity was totally intertwined with another person — and we still understand one another in a way that I think non-twins could never understand. I am grateful to have been born with a built-in best friend.
By Alana Aamodt ’18
April 15, Reid Arena’s main gym will be transformed into the multicultural, culinary bonanza that is “Taste of the World.” Offering mouthwatering samples of food from across the country and world, the event also features globally diverse music and lots of dancing.
The event is hosted annually by MOSAIC, which stands for Multicultural Organization of Students and the International Community, a club whose role is to “provide a space for international students to come together as a group and build a strong community, making CC a place in which international students feel a sense of involvement and belonging,” explains MOSAIC co-chair Eden Lumerman ’19, who is an international student herself from Israel. “I got involved with MOSAIC because it was a group of primarily international students who have grown to be my family in the US and with whom I felt the most at home at CC.”
Students signed up as chefs prior to the event and have the opportunity to “cook a dish that they love from wherever they identify as home,” according to Lumerman. The event is free and open to the public, the only requirement is that you stop by the Worner desk and pick up a ticket.
This event will be held 5-7 p.m. on Saturday, April 15, in Reid Arena.
By Montana Bass ’18
This season, the group of staff and faculty previously known for “noon ball” stepped up their game by joining a Colorado Springs adult basketball league. Not only did they up their game from a three-day-a-week, lunch-hour game to take on competitors from across the city; in its first year in the league, the CC team went on to win its division. Playing together regularly helped the team score a big win on and off the court, fostering camaraderie and community along with their basketball skills.
Team member Andy Kohel, assistant men’s soccer coach, says he felt confident about the team at the season’s start in November, but together they exceeded his expectations. “Everyone on our team has played basketball at the high school level or past it, so we all come from a very strong background,” he explains. That doesn’t mean the team didn’t have its challenges. “We had a bit of a size disadvantage,” Kohel admits. “We had one guy that is 6’6”, but the rest of our roster is comprised of 6’1” and under. That’s not the norm.”
It may have been that CC camaraderie that propelled them to victory. In fact, both Kohel and his teammate Kevin Rask, professor of economics and business, cite their team dynamic as their favorite part of competing this season. “Our roster is comprised of representatives from four different divisions: Faculty, alumni, residential life, and advancement. It’s fantastic to see everyone come together from their respective divisions and share a similar passion with each other,” says Kohel. Adds Rask, “There is nothing better than having the same good team to play with week in and week out.”
This season, the team has shown impressive determination and spirit. Rask spoke of an upset in which the team overcame an 18-point deficit to win the game as his favorite moment. Kohel adds, “Everyone was part of the win, it was cool to see.” Next year, he thinks, they’ll take that teamwork all the way to a championship victory. This year’s roster:
Andy Kohel, assistant CC men’s soccer coach
Jordan McCann, assistant CC women’s basketball coach
Mike Hart, assistant CC men’s basketball coach
Matt Kelly, annual gift officer
Kevin Rask, professor of economics
Matt Edwards, residential life coordinator
Isaac Salay ’16
By Leah Veldhuisen ’19
Felicia Chavez, a Riley-Scholar-in-Residence at CC, is having a busy year. Throughout 2016, Chavez, visiting assistant professor of English and film and media studies, published five works in four months, and has two more pieces to be published in Fall 2017.
Chavez is part of CC’s Riley Scholars program, which started in 1988 with the goal of diversifying CC’s faculty. The program sponsors a selection of Ph.D. candidates and post-doctoral students each year to work and teach on campus. The program has produced many current tenure-track professors, including Mario Montano, associate professor of anthropology, and Claire Garcia, professor of English. Chavez is a post-doctoral student and has been teaching courses in the Departments of English and Film and Media Studies throughout this academic year. Before teaching, Chavez worked as a thesis writing specialist in CC’s Colket Center for Academic Excellence. She has also worked as Program Director to Young Chicago Authors and founded the literary webzine GirlSpeak.
Chavez’s recent publications address varying topics, such as life and death, violence against women, medically induced seizures, and the military. Chavez says she, “considers art a vehicle for community mobilization,” which is what led her to include themes of “power, agency, and activism” in her work. Chavez says her time at CC has been transformative. She explains, “teaching at Colorado College has inspired me to couple rigorous writing production with a holistic concern for the whole student.”
Chavez also says “writing is psychological, emotional, and physical,” and always makes a point to “incorporate well-being exercises into CC coursework to balance the effects of creative or thesis production.” These exercises include walks before writing responses to assigned readings, pleasure reading as homework, and time to write freely about the difficulties of writing.
The Riley Scholars program has allowed Chavez time to sharpen her teaching skills and advance her experience as a professorial candidate. Chavez says she is grateful for this opportunity, as teaching is her ultimate goal, and she is hoping to find somewhere to teach permanently. Listen to Chavez’s recent audio documentaries in “The Pinch Literary Journal” and “Noise Medium.” Her graphic essay “Warning U. S. Military” is also available. In the fall of 2017, she will have two more works published in Black Warrior Review and Pilgrimage Magazine.
The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center has been named the Best Gallery and Museum in Colorado, and one of the top 25 in the country by board of the American Art Awards.
Additionally, Don Coen’s exhibit of migrant workers, now on display at the museum and recently included in a Colorado College story, was featured April 8 on NBC Nightly News in a segment called “An Artist Paints the Nation’s Forgotten Migrants, One Canvas at a Time.”
Colorado College and the FAC are in the process of an historic alliance. The agreement between the two institutions calls for a four-year transition period to allow for careful planning and integration. The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center will retain its current name until July 1 of this year, when it will become known as the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College.
By Leah Veldhuisen ’19
While Spring Break offers time to relax, one group of CC students took the break as an opportunity to travel to New Mexico to work with paleontologist Gary Morgan.
Steve Getty, director of the Quantitative Reasoning Center, led the trip, along with BreakOut leader Toan Luong ’17. The students were able to work with Morgan, the curator of vertebrate paleontology at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History, on his research and helped with some interesting excavation projects. They found between 40 and 50 types of animal fossils from the Miocene Era, and helped to excavate a 13 million-year-old giant land tortoise discovered near Albuquerque.
Luong came up with the idea for the trip. As an international student, he wanted an option for Spring Break that didn’t involve flying 30 hours home, staying on campus, or spending too much money. Though he did have the option to take a BreakOut trip through the Outdoor Recreation Committee, Luong opted to work with his mentor Getty to plan a trip to Albuquerque. Getty’s previous work for the New Mexico Museum of Natural History made the planning easy, Luong says. The group worked closely with Morgan while at the museum, and Luong explains that he “never took a geology class at CC so helping the paleontology lab of the museum really opened my eyes.”
Luong says he hopes students realize not all CC trips take up an entire break and involve backpacking and hiking. When in New Mexico, the group stayed in air-conditioned cabins and explored restaurants in Albuquerque. The trip was only five days long, which worked perfectly with Saria Sato Bajracharya’s schedule. As a Winter Start freshman, she “wanted to explore the opportunities provided by CC,” while still having a few days on campus. Like Luong, she didn’t have any geology background, but found the “concepts were easy to grasp as we were learning out in the field through hands-on activities.” Both students found the trip educational and fun, and Bajracharya recommends students “go for it” when considering opportunities for travel and exploration at CC.
by Alana Aamodt ’18
The Block Plan provides flexibility for students to pursue and combine their interests, and in the case of Noelle Edwards ’19, this means balancing school and competitive snowboarding.
From the beginning of her college search, she knew she wanted to continue snowboarding competitively, but didn’t want to sacrifice the quality of her education, factors that led her to CC. Now a sophomore, she spent her first two years at CC traveling and training during Blocks 5 and 6, while simultaneously completing independent study blocks.
Edwards rides a 22-foot half pipe and is sponsored by GNU Snowboards and Woodward at Copper Mountain. This past season, she placed second at the Mammoth Mountain stop on the U.S. Revolution Tour, 15th in the Copper Mountain Grand Prix, and competed at the U.S. Open in Vail, Colorado, riding with some of the world’s best snowboarders. To end her season, she competed at the FIS World Snowboard Championships in Sierra Nevada, Spain.
Edwards shares, “this year, I was able to work with CC’s very supportive staff to design two independent studies that would challenge me and advance my academic studies while also allowing me to train in Mammoth Lakes, California, during the winter months.”
One of those courses was Economic Discrimination in Sports Based on Gender, where Edwards conducted research and wrote a paper analyzing the wage gap between professional athletes based on gender. Her independent block was an English independent study based around travel writing, which studied well-known travel anthologies and helped hone her writing skills amid her travels.
Edwards is a film and media studies major as well as a news reporter for the Catalyst. She says she hopes to combine her interests in film and storytelling with her other passion, snowboarding. “I’ve wanted to work in the action sports industry for quite some time and coming to CC I wanted to be a film and media major from the very start,” reveals Edwards. “I think a combination of the classes I’ll take at CC and my snowboard experience will guide me to the ideal career path.”
Edwards is back at CC for Blocks 7 and 8.
Heather Fedesco, CC’s first Mellon pedagogy researcher, spent Blocks 1-4 studying the Block Plan. In a position funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Fedesco’s role is to investigate the distinctive pedagogical outcomes of CC’s unique academic program. The college will then use what is learned to refine CC’s Block Plan model, and share it with others in higher education who want to learn from CC’s success in implementing the Block Plan. Now, some of the research findings are providing evidence to explain why the Block Plan works.
With more than 1,600 responses from students, assessing over 300 different courses, Fedesco spent Block 5 poring over survey results. She says one thing is very clear in this preliminary analysis: Field trips are beneficial for students.
“The data show that trips positively affect student motivation and outcomes,” she says. “CC spends a good amount of time and funding on these trips, so it’s important to show they are making a difference.” It’s a result that speaks specifically to the Block Plan; students at colleges where they’re taking multiple classes at once simply cannot take field trips the way they can at CC. “Here, it’s the norm. It’s a big reason why students come to CC, so we can show that it’s really valuable in terms of their learning experience; we have the data to show that now.”
By using self-determination theory, which is a theory of motivation, Fedesco’s research assesses three basic psychological needs; when each of those is met, it creates intrinsic motivation for students, which leads to improved performance. Those needs are perceived autonomy — students feel like they have choice or a say in how they go about their learning; perceived competence — students feel they can meet the learning objectives of the course; and perceived relatedness — students feel connected with their instructors and their peers.
“I wanted to see how this theory of motivation played out at CC by comparing courses with field trips and those without. My idea was that courses with trips allow students to form greater, deeper relationships with professors and peers, really addressing the relatedness component of the theory,” she says.
Fedesco found that students felt more autonomous in classes where they participated in field trips. “They also felt like they had more competence, and as expected, they formed a deeper connection with instructors and peers.”
Fedesco also found that students were more interested in the course when they went on at least one field trip — that is, they were more intrinsically motivated. Students also perceived that they learn more in classes where they have a field trip. Students even had higher final grades when they took a class with at least one field trip.
“I tested what happens when you include more field trips—the more you include, the deeper the relationships, the stronger the connections,” she says. “Students were also more interested in the course. That’s the variable we truly want to tap: Raising student interest level, because that can lead to greater student outcomes. That’s a really good thing to show.”
Students reported on a variety of on-campus and off-campus field trips, which were included in the analyses. When just focusing on off-campus trips, like the Denver Art Museum or Garden of the Gods, and overnight trips like camping, visits to the Baca Campus, or classes that took place entirely off campus, out of state, or abroad, the same pattern of results, for the most part, emerged.
Interestingly, on-campus trips also make an impact, such as visiting the IDEA Space, the Fine Arts Center, Sacred Grounds, or participating in events, performances, or meals together outside the classroom. These types of trips may also occur at colleges operating on a more traditional course schedule, however the flexibility of the Block Plan seems to allow for these trips to occur more frequently, and we now know that more trips can be even more beneficial to students.
Fedesco says the results also provide some advice. To make field trips even better, students must understand the purpose for the trip or out-of-classroom experience. “The purpose can simply be, ‘I want us to get to know each other better,’” says Fedesco. “It doesn’t necessarily have to do with the subject matter. Maybe it’s just to set the tone for the rest of the course, for example. Professors should be up front with that and should explicitly state why getting to know each other will lead to a better learning environment.”
She also notes that in some cases, students may need a better sense of how they should be spending free time on a trip, which can be addressed with clear expectations in advance. A post-trip debrief also helps students make connections between what they’ve experienced and concepts that apply to their course.
Field trips also provide students time to interact with people in the community, and Fedesco says those interactions were inspiring for the students, giving them a sense of agency that they can make a difference. She says those interactions also serve to provide different points of view on the same issue, allowing students to sift through those different perspectives, promoting critical thinking.
“When students are faced with concepts that might conflict with their previously held beliefs or notions, they pay attention to it more and think about it more, so that is a great way to use field trips,” she says. “Grappling with that is a really beneficial learning experience.”
Fedesco participated in numerous class field trips as part of the research process. She says that regardless of the topic it was evident students and faculty were connected with one another.
“There is a strong sense of community here at CC; you get that in the classroom and on the field trips, and a lot of it comes down to the nature of the students being open and welcoming and interested in facilitating a sense of community. That is really beneficial.”
These are just the preliminary analyses; Fedesco will also be exploring comparisons across academic divisions and will test whether class size is a factor. She will also be coding interview data to analyze and develop themes, to identify results that speak specifically to the learning experience here at CC.
In May, she presents at the Crown Faculty Center lunch, where she will look at new findings and additional conclusions. And, during Block 7, she’s observing one more class to take a look at what happens when a course takes place entirely off campus (this one will be at the Newberry Library in Chicago). “It’s really a unique CC thing,” Fedesco says.