The CORE at Work: Oglethorpe Students Present at International Conference

Rebekka Strom '13

During the high school scramble to find a college, I found myself drawn to Oglethorpe for three reasons: it looked like Hogwarts, it was obsessed with community service, and it offered the Core curriculum. The Core, which strives to enrich student experiences with a challenging, cross-disciplinary education, has led to some amazing opportunities for students. Recently, Rebekka Strom ’13 and Samantha Flynn ’13 were among only 40 students accepted to present their papers at the Association for Core Texts and Courses (ACTC) student conference at Shimer College in Chicago.

ACTC is an international, professional association that seeks to advance liberal arts education by developing and promoting liberal arts education programs (and other programs) which integrate core text courses with the most advanced developments in administration, curriculum, student support services, faculty support, and general education assessment and review.

The ACTC conference gave students the chance to share their papers, which reflected upon and integrated various Core texts, with a group of faculty members and fellow students. Rebekka was able to put her English degree to use in a formal environment, and “to see how Core transcends the classroom setting.” Similarly, Samantha was given the experience of  a “dry run at academia,” which is her ultimate career goal.

Samantha Flynn '13

“What really struck me during the conference was the outstanding quality of an Oglethorpe education,” enthused Samantha. “Other participants in the conference were from Great Books schools and top-tier university names, and yet Oglethorpe’s Core had prepared me to understand, discuss, and critique their papers on a wide variety of subjects. When people met me and asked where I was from, almost no one had heard of Oglethorpe, and yet, by the end of the conference, I had several participants inquire about the nature of Oglethorpe’s Core program because they were convinced it must be a Great Books school.”

“The (conference) solidified my choice in selecting and pursuing a liberal arts education,” added Rebekka. “I was able to interact with like-minded undergraduate students and their support faculty members about core texts and their relevance in 21st century higher education—from Aristotle and  Plato to Hobbes and Locke… it was an exciting experience to network with colleges and universities that strive to keep the liberal arts alive.”

Rebekka’s paper, ”Remember the Ladies: Individuality, Community, and Equality of Early and Modern Women,” was written for her COR-302 class.

“In [class], we talk a lot about modernity,” she said. “I (looked at) the women of these time periods and contrasted them with what it means to be a modern working woman in 2013.”

Samantha’s essay, “Libido Dominandi: Fulfilling the Presence of the Absence of a Reality,” was written for Dr. Orme’s Human Nature and the Social Order class.

“(My topic) was something I saw in a lot of texts…’The Lust for Power,’ ‘The Will for Power… I tried to link all these (phrases) and make them part of the same dialogue.”

For anyone interested in a similar opportunity, Samantha had the following advice: “Take Core seriously… It was one of the main reasons I came to OU, and this is an example of Core paying off.”

Samantha was extremely thankful to have had this opportunity, and feels indebted to Dr. Knippenberg for sponsoring her and to Dr. Orme and Professor M. Smith for advising her on the content of her paper. Likewise, Rebekka expressed gratitude towards Dr. Knippenberg, Dr. Baube, and the entire Core Committee, as well as to her academic advisors Dr. Chandler and Dr. Hornback. Without their support, and without the Core program, Samantha and Rebekka could not have had this experience.

 

Liberal Arts in the 21st Century: War, Peace and Security

Dr. Orme Discussing

Dr. Orme's class discusses politics in a worldwide context.

For years, academics and world leaders have strived to understand the origins of war, the causes of peace, and the sources of future conflict. In his “War, Peace, and Security” class, Dr. John Orme invites students to explore just this, by examining the motives and calculations of past statesmen involved in warfare. He says that investigating historical conflict and resolution is beneficial to helping a student understand how the world works, no matter what career lies ahead of him.

“This is really a theoretical course,” explained Dr. Orme. “It is important to know the answers to questions like, ‘Why do states go to war? Why peace?’ [War stems from] a desire for security, which breeds a competition for power. In this class, we are trying to understand those in power.”

The concept of warring nations is certainly nothing new in the 21st century, but the ways in which we war certainly are. Last summer, in an effort to better understand terrorist ideologies and how democratic states combat them, Dr. Orme travelled to Israel as an Academic Fellow with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. The 10-day fellowship program, taught in conjunction with Tel Aviv University, exposed university professors to the latest trends in terrorists’ operations. While in Israel, Orme and his colleagues engaged in discussions with top diplomats, military, and intelligence officials from around the world, including Ambassador Dore Gold, Israel’s former Ambassador to the UN. They also visited military bases, border zones, and imprisoned terrorists for an up-front view of Israel’s counterterrorism methods.

“The main purpose [of the field excursions] was for Westerners to have some appreciation for what Israel is going through,” remarked Dr. Orme. “I was most impressed by Israel as a people, and especially those who were being recruited into service…Ispecifically recall [at a security fence east of Jerusalem] the face of an Israeli commander. We did not speak to him, but his nonverbal communication spoke to how great a responsibility he has.”

He says that having participated in the seminar has certainly benefited classroom discussion, recently sparking conversation about nuclear proliferation, why states want nuclear weapons, and the differing conclusions about Qaddafi’s fall that those in the Middle East might make versus Americans and Europeans.

“Most of [my students] are not going to end up being practitioners,” said Dr. Orme. “But it prepares them as citizens in the world…if they do end up in a position of power, they’d use it responsibly.”

This article originally appeared in the Winter 2012 edition of Oglethorpe’s Carillon magazine.