Frequently Asked Questions

A Call for Papers

Fall 2008 Schedule

Spring 2009 Schedule

  Past Shop Talks


Fall 2008 Schedule

Presenter:  Michele Koomen (Education)

Title:  Listening to Their Voices: What do regular and special education students tell us about their experiences in learning science?

Time and Place:  September 12, 2008 at 4:30 pm in the Interpretive Center


This Shop Talk reports on a phenomenological study of nine regular and special education students as they studied insect biology and ecology in their inclusive seventh grade life science class. Three fundamental data collection methods of qualitative research (student observations, interviews and artifact analysis) framed the data collection of this study. Hermeneutic phenomenological analysis (Van Manen, 1990) and the seven-step framework from Cohen, Manion, and Morrison (2000) were used to systematically analyze the data. The results of the data analysis reveal three main findings. The first speaks to some of the contextual features (for example working with others or using external cues) of the science classroom that serve to support the learning of the seventh grade students, both regular and special education, as they navigate in life science. The second major finding exposes some of the anxiety and the challenges that are part of the lived experiences of the students as they studied monarch biology and ecology in their seventh grade inclusive science classroom. The third major finding, the practice of inquiry learning in science is fragile, represents the complexity of teaching all students science. Listening to their voices serves to “prime” us to consider and value their perspectives as we make decisions as teachers (both special education and regular education), teacher educators and administrators.

Presenter:  Canceled


Time and Place:  October 3, 2008 at 4:30 pm in the Interpretive Center



Presenter:  Julie Gilbert (Library)

Title:  Beyond Wikipedia: Exploring a Research Agenda in Information Literacy

Time and Place:
  October 24, 2008 at 4:30 pm in the Interpretive Center


Sometimes the encounter feels like déjà vu: “I need three articles for my paper,” the student says. “Okay, why don’t you tell me more about what you’re looking for?” the librarian asks. The subsequent discussion at the Reference Desk reveals that the student really does just want three articles about a certain topic, regardless of whether or not they are the most appropriate sources for the student’s thesis. In this exchange, information has become a discreet commodity and the research process divorced from a sense of stepping into the unknown to see what’s there.
Although the term “information literacy” is not itself particularly descriptive and could easily be an empty buzzword, the concept is essential: teaching students to apply critical thinking skills to all of their encounters with information, whether in writing a research paper or reading the latest news headlines. Being information literate is not an inherent talent but a set of skills that needs to be developed. Ideally, well-developed information literacy skills challenge students to move beyond Wikipedia to wrestle with the broader world of information.
In this Shop Talk I will present the results of two studies that investigate Gustavus students’ attitudes and beliefs about their own research skills, as well as outline the results of a larger survey of the information literacy skills first year students bring to campus. Additionally, I will highlight ongoing Library initiatives to better teach and assess student research skills and behaviors, all the while exploring what it means to pursue a research agenda in information literacy.

Presenter:  Tom Huber (Physics)

Title:  Vibration of Small Objects using Ultrasound Radiation Force

Time and Place:  November 7, 2008 at 4:30 pm in the Interpretive Center


There are many applications in science and engineering that require measuring the resonance frequencies of small mechanical structures.  However, one problem with most conventional excitation techniques is that they require physical contact between the object and some sort of a mechanical shaker.  Our group at Gustavus has been collaborating with groups from the Mayo Clinic and Purdue University to develop a non-contact method that uses interference of ultrasound frequencies in air to produce excitation of structures.  This has been used to excite resonances of devices ranging from the reed in a pipe organ to an atomic force microscope microcantilever that is 1/3 mm long and about the a quarter of the width of a human hair.

Presenter:  Lisa Heldke (Philosophy)

Title:  Food in the Classroom: The Roles of Food in the Academic Program of a Liberal Arts College

Time and Place:  November 21, 2008 at 4:30 pm in the Interpretive Center


Why should a liberal arts college make food a subject of serious examination? Would a greater focus on food “fill out” the liberal arts curriculum in identifiable or important ways (trivium, quadrivium…quintivium??)? What sorts of roles does it—or might it—play in academic coursework: Central organizing principle? Main topic of discussion? Example or illustration? Social lubricant?

Questions such as these may once have prompted dismissive sniffs from pure “liberal artists,” fearful that direct contact with anything so quotidian and embodied as food or agriculture would track manure into the ivory tower. Today, however, such questions prompt liberal arts faculty members to engage in spontaneous flights of course design, or—surprisingly often—to respond with detailed descriptions of their existing coursework, in which food already features prominently. These contemporary “liberal artisans” show, unequivocally, that food already does play a role in the liberal arts curriculum.

For two years, I have investigated some of the roles food plays in the academic program of Gustavus. I worked with two student researchers to interview twenty-one colleagues from all divisions of the college. We found tremendous variety, creativity, and depth in the ways faculty incorporated food (both subject and substance) into their coursework. What we found both impressed and excited us; in some cases, it astonished even the interviewees themselves.

Indeed, I found a kind of invisibility to much of their work. The ways in which faculty used food in their courses were often imperceptible to the faculty members themselves. It became clear to all three researchers that food is indeed “hiding in plain sight” in our academic program. As a result of these interviews, I am led to speculate that more intentional and self-conscious uses of food in the academic program could actually deepen, strengthen and distinguish this college’s liberal arts focus.





Spring 2009 Schedule

Presenter:  Elizabeth Baer (English)

Title:  Who is the golem and why is he looming in post-Holocaust fiction?

Time and Place:  February 20, 2009 at 4:30 pm in the Interpretive Center


The golem legend goes all the way back to the Book of Psalms and has manifestations in Jewish mysticism, in legends surrounding 16th century Rabbi Loew of Prague, and in early 20th century German fiction and film. Surprisingly, the golem has reappeared in many recent novels by Jewish-American writers about the Shoah. Why writers have turned to this historic Jewish hero will be the subject of this talk.

Presenter:  Mary Solberg (Religion)

Title:  The German Christians in Print, 1933-45

Time and Place: 
March 6, 2009 at 4:30 pm in the Interpretive Center


One of the most troubling chapters in the history of Christianity involves the so-called German Christians, a movement that welcomed Hitler's ascent to power and sought to wed Christianity to National Socialism. In pamphlets, radio addresses, even liturgies, members of this movement articulated their desire to eradicate all traces of Judaism from Christianity, as well as their positions on Luther, the Old Testament, the church and the (Nazi) state, Jesus, war, and Hitler. I have tracked down extant German Christian publications from the 1930s and am currently translating a representative selection into English.  Together with introductions and explanatory footnotes, these translated materials will comprise a reader for students and scholars of 20th-century German history, the Holocaust, Christian theology, etc.  This Shop Talk will provide a brief overview of this movement and my translation project.

Presenter:  Joel Carlin (Biology)

Title:  Undergraduate research in aquatic conservation

Time and Place:  April 3, 2009 at 4:30 pm in the Interpretive Center


More than just planting trees and outlawing hunting, modern environmental stewardship requires interdisciplinary efforts in an economic and sociological context. We will explore three local projects where young professionals can contribute new information useful for managing streams. At the same time, such projects provide opportunities for career mentoring and incorporating research into the classroom.

Presenter:  Brandy Russell (Chemistry)

Title:  Molecular origami: Stories of protein folding

Time and Place:  April 17, 2009 at 4:30 pm in the Interpretive Center


Proteins are long, linear chains of amino acids that must fold into a specific and intricate three-dimensional structure in order to perform their biological functions. The folding process is surprisingly fast­it is as if you could crumple up sheets of paper quickly in your fist and produce a perfect origami crane every time.  I am particularly interested in the folding of proteins that contain metal atoms. For these proteins, assembly of the metal site(s) within the protein adds a level of complexity to the folding process. On the other hand, metal-protein bonds help template the protein folding process.  In this talk, I will discuss results from my explorations of the complex energy landscape of protein folding.

Presenter:  Horst Ludwig (Modern Languages, Literatures, and Cultures)

Title:  Haiku and Haiku in Germany

Time and Place: 
May 8, 2009 at 4:30 pm in the Interpretive Center


This report will, after a short introduction to haiku and haiku life in Japan, show how haiku made its way into the German language area, and will attempt to analyze and categorize different "movements" that try to establish haiku as part of the life of present day German literature.  It will also offer some comparison between German haiku life and haiku life in the U.S.




A Call For Papers

The Shop Talk coordinator (Paul Saulnier) would like to solicit abstracts for the Shop Talk series.  These 20-30 minute presentations allow Gustavus scholars to share their original research/art and enthusiasm.  A title, brief abstract (electronic format), and A/V requirements should be sent to Paul (PSAUL@GUSTAVUS.EDU).   If the current Shop Talk schedule does not have any vacancies do not hesitate to contact Paul to reserve a future date (a waiting list is maintained).