Only about one percent of college students from the United States study abroad. With such opportunities to increase cultural competency, gain leadership skills and improve world views, Missouri State University has made efforts to get more students to take these trips and for more international students to study at MSU.
Several College of Arts and Letters faculty will be traveling to South America next week in an interdepartmental effort to increase the college’s “global perspectives” and “cultural competency,” said communication department head, Dr. Shawn Wahl.
Five professors representing four departments will depart for Colombia Oct. 25 to visit universities in Bogota and Cartagena, each with educational objectives to benefit both Missouri State and the Colombian institutions. They return Oct. 31.
Wahl said several opportunities are made available by organizing these kinds of trips, including recruitment of international students, building relationships with institutions that Missouri State students can study abroad to, and bringing a broader cultural perspective to COAL’s programs and facilities.
Faculty going to Colombia
- Dr. Shawn Wahl, Department Head of Communication/Co-director School of Communication Studies
- Dr. Mary Jane Pardue, Department Head of Media, Journalism and Film/Co-director School of Communication Studies
- Dr. Jason Jolley, Department Head of Modern and Classical Languages
- Dr. Jason Hausback, Assistant Professor of Music
- Dr. Eric Morris, Assistant Professor of Communication/Director of MSU Debate
Institutions they will visit
- Universidad de La Sabana (Bogota, Colombia)
- Pontificia Universidad Javeriana (Bogota, Colombia)
- Universidad de Bogota Jorge Tadeo Lozano (Bogota, Colombia)
- Universidad Jorge Tadeo Lozano – Seccional del Caribe (Cartagena, Colombia)
- Drs. Morris, Pardue and Wahl will present on research panels the Universidad de La Sabana Communication Week. Morris will present on debate formats during the 2012 presidential election, Pardue will present on journalism from a U.S. perspective and Wahl will present on Business and Professional Communication in a Global Context (the focus of his 2015 Short Term Study Away course he will teach at Universidad de La Sabana).
- Dr. Hausback will be perform an international recital at Pontificia Universidad Javeriana and teach master classes in trombone at several universities in Bogota.
- Dr. Jolley will be networking with department head and faculty at all of the Colombian universities to explore study away program and language training programs.
The University’s office of China programs and department of modern and classical languages have joined efforts to bring the 2015 Asian Studies Development Program’s (ASDP) National Conference to the Hilton Branson Convention Center Hotel, March 19-21.
Submitting proposals for research, panels
Dr. Weirong Schaefer, ASDP conference chair and MSU’s Asian arts and letters coordinator, said having the conference nearby is a unique and inexpensive opportunity for the University’s graduate students and faculty to present research and be involved in panels.
What is the conference?
The ASDP National Conference is an annual event that provides an opportunity for ASDP alumni and other interested college and university faculty members to share research related to Asian cultures and societies, as well as strategies for effectively infusing Asian content into undergraduate humanities, social science, business and science curricula.
2015’s theme: Rethinking Asian Studies
The upcoming year’s theme will be “Rethinking Asian Studies: Taking Asia as Method,” focusing on how to enable Asian perspectives to take on a greater role in informing and shaping our critical engagement with both the historical and contemporary dynamics of Asia.
The keynote speaker, Dr. Pheng Cheah, will bring his expertise as a professor of rhetoric for the Institute of East Asian Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, for his presentation titled, “Asia as Question: Rethinking Asian Studies in Contemporary Globalization.”
Register for the conference
Students and faculty may register to attend the event. For faculty, early registration is $200 if registered by March 1, and late registration is $225. Students’ registration is $75. A round-trip shuttle service from Springfield to Branson will be offered for an additional $25.
Students have until Oct. 18 to sign up for the study away trip to Greece taking place between Dec. 27 and Jan. 11. This winter intersession course, “Heroes and Heritage of Ancient Greece: Athens, Aegina, and Mycenae,” led by the department of modern and classical languages, seeks to study the development of ancient Greek culture and politics from which to draw perspective on the country’s ongoing economic difficulties.
In this course (MCL 550), students will visit key sites that shaped Greek civilization to study the historical events and traditional figures associated with those landmarks, including Salamis—where ancient Greek states won victory over Persia (as popularized in the movie 300: Rise of an Empire)—and Aigina—legendary birthplace of Trojan War figures Achilles and Ajax. At these sites we compare the recent popularizing treatment with the ancient landscape and historical record, with perspective on the foundations of democracy and drama.
*Subject to change
- Oct. 18: Deadline to apply
- Dec. 5: Pre-travel meeting to discuss trip expectations
- Dec. 27: Depart for Greece
- Dec. 28-31: Visit Acropolis, Agora, and Kerameikos
- Jan. 1-8: In Aigina and the Argolid with visits to the temple of Aphaia and other archaeological sites, as well as hiking to explore the landscape and evolving community
- Jan. 9-10: In Athens with visit to the National Archaeological Museum
- Jan. 11: Depart for Springfield
- TBA: post-travel meeting to discuss program evaluation, recommendations and reflections on the experience
Interested in going?
Find out more information about how to get started in study away or contact the Greece trip program directors,
How does it work?
MCL recognizes that many students have acquired proficiency in Spanish as a result of previous exposure to and experience with the language. After passing the verification process, students will then complete the minor by taking SPN 312 and two electives.
Who is eligible?
Learners from the following groups may be eligible for the accelerated pathway, pending verification of their language proficiency:
- Heritage speakers — Students raised in Spanish-speaking households who completed secondary education in the United States.
- Native speakers — Students who completed secondary education in countries where Spanish is the primary language.
- Other speakers with advanced proficiency — Students who have developed high degrees of functional language ability because of intensive study or long-term residency in Spanish-speaking countries.
How to apply
Students interested in pursuing the accelerated pathway should contact the MCL office at 417-836-5122 and request an appointment with the department head for an eligibility assessment.
It was a special summer for modern and classical languages professor Dr. Roger Dowdy. Like most summers, he took a group of 25 or so students halfway across the world, introducing them to the countries, cultures and people he has spent the last two decades cherishing, but this would be his final trip.
Commemorating 20 years of travel
The Spanish city of Salamanca, where Dowdy spent many of those years including this one, made the farewell even more meaningful. City council members surprised him with a silver plaque commemorating his service, the inscription reading:
“The City of Salamanca appreciates all Dr. D. Roger Dowdy has done from Missouri State University. The realization of his intensive Study Abroad Program during 20 years. June 2014.”
Dowdy modestly put the award back into its polished wooden box to go on his office shelf and turned his attention to the students and program to which he’s devoted his life. The experiences he’s had the honor to share with them will live on through the extensive journals he requires them to keep and the relationships built between them.
“That’s probably the most driving thing with me to take students abroad. It’s not so much the language, but it’s immersing them into something that they will never forget for the rest of their lives,” he said. “A lot of students really come back a different person.”
Future of the program
Handing over the reins to the study away program he helped build will not be easy, Dowdy admitted, but after 20 summers abroad to cities across Spain, Ecuador and Costa Rica, it is time to let someone else take over, which will give him the opportunity to spend more time with his grandchildren.
“I think that it is good for someone in the department who is much younger to start going,” he said. “I have had such a passion for this, and for the person who takes over, I want them to love it as much as I have.
“That’s why I’ve hung on to it for so many years. I want [the new professor] to understand the impact it has and see it as a passion to help students. I think we have the right person for that.”
Dr. Luis Lombilla has taken over as program director and will lead next summer’s group in the month-long trip to Quito, Ecuador, beginning with orientation sessions during the spring semester to prepare for the May 24 departure.
Fall 2014 is well underway and as students begin to find their place at the College of Arts and Letters, so do several new faculty and staff. They will be introduced in more depth in the coming weeks, but to get these profiles started, here is a round up of the new faces that can be seen around campus. Let’s give them a big Bear welcome this week!
Adrienne Boulton-Funke, assistant professor
Adrienne Boulton-Funke completed a Bachelor of Education from the University of Saskatchewan, a Master of Arts in Art Education from the University of British Columbia and is finishing her PhD in Curriculum (Art Education) at UBC. She received the Killam Award for teaching excellence as a graduate teaching assistant. Her research explores contemporary art practices in research and pedagogy through arts-based educational research; she has presented her work nationally and internationally. Boulton-Funke said she wants to help future teachers reimagine curriculum and pedagogy to be able to go beyond the assessment-based learning found in classrooms today. “I hope to develop a methodology of visual inquiry that aims to disrupt our static perceptions of education and through arts-based inquiry and research processes, expand the ways in which we understand and perform curriculum and pedagogy in K-12 art education.”
Harrison Witt, assistant professor
Harrison Witt earned a BA in English from the University of Kentucky and an MFA in Film and Video Production from the University of Texas at Austin. In addition to being an award-winning screenwriter and director, Witt brings more than 20 years of professional production experience in cinematography and lighting to the classrooms at MSU. He is eager to build on MJF’s strong foundation in digital film production, which he admired even before signing on as an assistant professor. “I was impressed with the ambition and execution the students brought to their productions. After seeing this work, I wasn’t at all surprised to find the faculty and staff in MJF to be open, energetic, and creative.”
Cameron F. LaBarr, director of choral studies
Cameron F. LaBarr comes to the College of Arts and Letters after serving in university choral positions in Tennessee and Texas. He was the founding artistic director and conductor of the Tennessee Chamber Chorus and has been a guest conductor and clinician for institutions and festivals across the United States, Europe, South Africa and China. He’s published articles and reviews in the Choral Journal and The Chorister and also edits a choral series with Santa Barbara Music Publishing. He was recently awarded a fellowship with the International Conductors Exchange Program to Sweden in 2015 and will be among 14 conductors from the United States to participate in the residency. Excited for the changes and additions expected this year, LaBarr encourages students to put themselves out there to see where the world takes them. “I hope to share my professional experiences with our students here on campus, and I plan to get our students out into the world, allowing for strong relationships and greater understanding among cultures.”
Melanie Kleeschulte, instructor
Prior to joining the MCL faculty, Melanie Kleeschulte was a full-time instructor of Spanish at Greenwood Laboratory School. She received her master’s in Spanish Language and Culture from the University of Salamanca in Spain, Master of Arts in Teaching from Missouri State University and Bachelor of Arts in International/ Multicultural Studies and Spanish from Evangel University. Kleeschulte also holds Missouri K-12 certification in Spanish.
Vanessa Rodríguez de la Vega, assistant professor
Vanessa Rodríguez de la Vega received her PhD from Texas Tech University and comes to MSU from Missouri Southern State University. She will be teaching a variety of courses, including introductory Spanish, Spanish Phonetics and Phonology, Spanish Peninsular Literature and more. She said she hopes to inspire Missouri State students this year, “by making them aware about the importance and practicality of studying foreign languages.” Her research focuses on postmodern historical fiction.
Melanie Dreyer-Lude, assistant professor
Melanie Dreyer-Lude is a theatre practitioner and professor of performance, using theatre as a platform for cultural encounters that generate multiple nodes of inquiry. She specializes in international theatre collaboration. Fluent in German, Dreyer-Lude translates and directs contemporary German plays and has directed more than 60 productions throughout the United States, Germany and Turkey. Her continued love of learning and travel has taken her across the world and across disciplines. “I’m a perpetually curious person and I’m always seeking new intersections between theater practice and other disciplines. I’ve learned about neuroscience, physics, cultural anthropology, business, linguistics, all things German and many things Turkish — all because I was willing to follow my interest into another’s world.”
Other staff additions
Katie McMahon, costume shop manager
Katie McMahon is the costume shop manager for the theatre and dance department. She is an alumna of Missouri State University with a BFA in Theatre and an emphasis in technical theatre and costumes. She also worked as a designer and costume shop manager for Tent Theatre.
Greg Pettus, distributed user supports specialist
Greg Pettus served in the Marine Corps before getting a degree in engineering physics from Missouri State. During his time as a student, he was able to start working full-time and has been a distributed user support specialist for 17 years, helping to ensure the technology needed for faculty and students to succeed is in working order. He lives in Springfield with his wife, Julie, and daughters, Reagan and Kenzie.
Changes are afoot in the department of modern and classical languages. Students interested in majoring in a foreign language will find the department has combined its undergraduate degree programs into one major—Bachelor of Science in Modern Language. The changes, which only affect those entering the program after Summer 2014, reflect a more career-oriented path, moving away from a literature- and culture-based focus, said department head Dr. Jason Jolley.
Students continue to choose language path
Jolley reassures that students will continue to major in one language, be it Spanish, French, German or Chinese (when the classes are available), and for added flexibility, students then choose between a non-comprehensive or comprehensive track.
According to the FAQ page on the department website, each track requires that all BSML majors complete a 39-hour language core, 33 of which in a single language, but they differ in the following ways:
BSML (Comprehensive) – No minor required. Instead, students complete one of the four pre-defined options designed to complement their language study:
- Second Language and Culture
- Applied Business
- Teacher Certification
BSML (Non-comprehensive) – Minor required. Students not interested in one of the pre-defined options offered under the Comprehensive degree should choose this program, which requires them to complete a minor or a second major.
Tailor-made degree to fit career goals
Jolley said because there is no longer a list of required courses, students will work closely with advisors to shape their educational experience, fitting their career aspirations with courses offered throughout the department and making transfer credits easier to integrate. Those interested in literature- and cultural-based study can still find courses to accommodate, and students seeking teacher certification in language can tailor a comprehensive track to do so.
“It’s not a one-size-fits-all program anymore,” he said. “We still have courses in Spanish American and Peninsular, for example in the Spanish program. We’ve also added translation and business Spanish. Soon we’ll be adding medical Spanish.”
“I’ve studied abroad twice in Germany and a chance to work there for a whole year just seemed like a dream come true,” Kennedy said. “For me, receiving a Fulbright grant is an achievement that means I can fully follow my passion of learning German culture and improving my German speaking skills. As the first college graduate in my family, I feel like the Fulbright grant proves that hard work and passion will always be rewarded.”
A passion for German culture
The Marionville, Mo., native, who majored in German and English literature, is one of more than 1,800 U.S. citizens who will travel abroad for the 2014-15 academic year through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. She will spend her year in Hamburg, Germany, teaching English and American culture to German high school students.
“For me, receiving a Fulbright grant is an achievement that means I can fully follow my passion of learning German culture and improving my German speaking skills,” said Kennedy.
A passion for working with youth
For Kennedy, the Fulbright grant also allows her follow her second passion: working with youth.
“My time working with Harmony House through my sorority Alpha Chi Omega helped me find a strong passion to help my community. Volunteering helped me learn that I have always been passionate about reaching out and working with endangered youth,” said Kennedy. “My Fulbright year will give me an opportunity to help my global community by working with German teenagers, among other things.”
Kennedy plans to attend Washington University in St. Louis to work on a master’s in social work, with an emphasis on international social work, once her Fulbright year concludes.
The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential.
Ancient Athens can be credited for so much of the foundation that is today’s society: drama, both tragedy and comedy, and democracy with laws made by the people.