Faculty Scholarship Serves Everyone

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“In order to pursue the mission of Fresno Pacific University and the Fresno Pacific Idea, our faculty must be comprised of academic leaders whose primary task and calling is scholarly teaching.”

So reads the Faculty Handbook, which rightly elevates teaching as the noblest calling and highest pursuit of our faculty. At the same time, “scholarly” describes the type of teaching we expect our faculty to pursue and signals that we do not view the pursuit of scholarship and excellence in teaching as mutually exclusive, or worse, competing interests. On the contrary, good scholarship can and must inform effective teaching. For that reason, FPU seeks to nurture and support our faculty in their efforts to engage in meaningful scholarship. Such scholarship enhances our students’ learning, but it also serves society and the learned community.

Let me introduce a smattering of some of this recent scholarship and how it serves our contemporary version of Judea, Samaria and the uttermost bounds of the earth. Regrettably, a thorough survey of faculty scholarship over even the past six months is beyond the scope of this essay, so I encourage you to visit a new website developed by Kevin Enns-Rempel called FPUScholarWorks at fpuscholarworks.fresno.edu/

An example of scholarship which serves the immediate community in which we live and labor is Sharon Merritt’s paper “‘A Bridge to Somewhere’: Metaphor in Two-Way Immersion Programs and Bilingual Policy Reforms” that she will present at the Sixth International Conference on Immersion and Dual Language Education this week. As California voters consider dismantling Proposition 227 through Proposition 58 in November 2016, bilingual educators, parents and students must become aware of how language ideologies and metaphorical framing affect political decision-making and program reforms. Accordingly, Merritt will present findings from a two-way Spanish immersion program review and an analysis of the framing of Proposition 58.

In a similar manner, the scholarly duo of Steve Pauls and Chris Brownell has been serving the cause of improving STEM education in California and beyond through a series of presentations at conferences such as: the California STEM Symposium – “The Physics of Free Fall, a Model of Integrative Learning” (a hands-on session where participants design experiments around the dropping of free-falling objects within the convention center’s atrium to better understand the integral relationship between science and mathematics); the California Science Teachers Association – “Using Simple Physical Models and Graphical Analysis (GA) to Integrate Math and Science in the Classroom;” and the California Math Counsel regional math conference – “Using Graphical Analysis to Make Sense of Real Data,” another hands-on session where participants collect data from a small number of physical systems that have played significant roles in the history of math and science and then model the observed behavior mathematically to make predictions. Move over Bill Nye!

FPU is constantly seeking to help students think across academic disciplines and see how knowledge from various fields of study infuse and inform learning. As an excellent example, one needs look no further than the second edition of Kevin Reimer’s book The Reciprocating Self (InterVarsity Press), co-authored with Jack O. Balswick and Pamela Ebstyne King. This book presents a model of human development that ranges across all of life’s stages: infancy, childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, middle adulthood and elder adulthood. The authors draw on a biblical model of relationality, where the created goal or purpose of human development is to become a reciprocating self—fully and securely related to others and to God. In this revised and expanded edition, the authors add research from developmental neuroscience and neuropsychology; the moral, spiritual and religious dimensions of human development; and the burgeoning fields of positive and evolutionary psychology.

We move from works crossing diverse disciplines to a focus on diverse peoples and populations. Quentin Kinnison’s book Transforming Pastoral Leadership: Reimagining Congregational Relationships for Changing Contexts discusses pastoral and community leadership with an emphasis on diversity and inclusion. Offering a fresh perspective on a well-worn subject is Allen Carden’s Freedom’s Delay: America’s Struggle for Emancipation, 1776-1865 (University of Tennessee Press) which probes the slow, painful, yet ultimately successful crusade to end slavery throughout the nation, North and South, while, according to the publishers filling an important gap in the literature of slavery’s demise. Or consider Melanie Howard’s “A Satirical Sermon on Cheeks for Checkpoints: Matthew 5:38-48 as a Text of Terror for Immigrant Populations,” presented at the National Fellows Meeting of the Society for Values in Higher Education (Oberlin, OH, July 15, 2016) and which received the Robert Spivey Excellence in Scholarship Award.

Then there is Rebecca McMillen’s article “Social Media, Social Inclusion and Museum Disability Access,” published in the Journal of Museums and Social Issues (July 2016) and Gary Gramenz’s “A life well lived:  Compassion, altruism, and satisfaction at L’Arche community homes,” published in the Journal of the Christian Institute on Disabilities—both addressing an area still sorely in need of greater attention at our own campus. Finally, there is Lisa Keith’s witty and personally courageous presentation “Your papers are due at 3; My panic attack is at 4. Mental Illness in the Academy,” presented at the 47th Northeast Modern Language Association Convention, Hartford, CT, March 17–20, 2016. Keith courageously confronts the fact that those within the academy who suffer from mental health issues are often silenced about their own disability even as they advocate on behalf of their students. Thankfully, this has not been the case at FPU, where Keith has been able to fully express her status as a person with a mental illness and her complete dependence on Jesus Christ and the Christian community for support.

Several of our scholar teachers have fanned out across the globe, including: Peter Smith, whose paper “Judge Not: Accusation, Belonging, and Current Mimetic Crises,” was presented at the Colloquium on Violence and Religion (COV&R) Annual Conference in Melbourne, Australia; or Peng Wenn’s paper, “TPP, regional integration and the cooperation of economic policies” which he just presented at the 2016 Financial Integration and Global Economic Governance conference in Qingdao China. Of an equally global nature are Sylvia Kim’s recent doctoral dissertation, “Multinationality, Firm-specific Advantages, and Financial Performance: Their Relationships in Korean Multinational Enterprises,” and Mark Baker’s new book, Ministering in Honor-Shame Cultures: Biblical Foundations and Practical Essentials (InterVarsity Press), co-authored with Jayson Georges.

If all this leaves you breathless, remember it is only a smattering of the work our faculty are engaged in as they seek to serve and love God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength.