Sabbatical Showcase 2007-08

Read what some Gustavus faculty have accomplished on their sabbaticals.

Kate Wittenstein, Professor of History
Thanks, in part, to a grant from the Gustavus Research, Scholarship, and Creativity   Fund, I researched the history and gendered nature of black women's political activism during the first half of the twentieth century. My focus is on a group of four black women and how their experiences as leaders of the segregated Harlem branch of the YWCA during the 1920s shaped their understanding of social justice and led them into the more formally organized and male dominated the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. The research which uncovered previously unknown individuals and documents from the Schomberg Library in Harlem and the National African American Museum and Cultural Center at Wilberforce University in Wilberforce, Ohio, among other archives, will be published on-line as part of  the Women and Social Movements Project located at the University of Binghamton's Center for the Study of Women and Gender run by historians Thomas Dublin and Kathryn Sklar.

Doug Huff, Professor of Philosophy
During my 2008 sabbatical leave I wrote two plays, A Far Shore, and The National Endowment, and one philosophy article, “A Failure To Denote.” A Far Shore is a play based on the life and work of B.R. Ambedkar, which I undertook at the request of members of the Bangalore Little Theatre (BLT) in Bangalore, India, the largest theatre in Bangalore and has collaborated on projects with the National Theatre in London.  The National Endowment is a two-act comedy about the trials and tribulations of a small Lutheran liberal arts college in the Midwest.  Any similarity to actual places and people is purely coincidental, more or less.

My essay, “A Failure to Denote,” is an analysis of Bertrand Russell’s famous paper, “On Denoting,” where he attempts to demonstrate that it is possible to make meaningful empirical statements about non-existent objects without introducing metaphysical entities.  In my short note, “A Failure to Denote,” I argue that it is not possible to make meaningful statements about non-existent objects under Russell’s analysis without concluding that the law of non-contradiction does not apply to all empirical statements, which is no one would grant.

Greg Kaster, Professor of History
I researched and wrote an article on the death, funeral, and memorialization of Union general William Tecumseh Sherman for the journal Civil War History.

Carolyn O’Grady, Professor of Education
My primary sabbatical project was to explore the role of reflective insight in helping students learn more effectively in higher education. Sometimes described as "contemplative approaches" to learning, these methods are designed to enhance mindfulness while complementing intellectual and analytical work. This topic continues from my interest in spirituality in education but with a more narrow focus. To this end, I read widely in the literature on contemplative practice in higher education, and attended a faculty retreat on this topic. In addition to this work, I also did some reading on mentoring students of color at predominantly white colleges or universities, read a range of memoirs for possible inclusion in my FTS class (that has memoir as its theme), served as the outside member on the dissertation committee of a University of St. Thomas graduate student, read grant proposals for Minnesota Campus Compact, and served as a judge for the Minnesota Book Awards. I also travelled to California, the Grand Canyon, and other beautiful spots.

Barb Zust, Associate Professor of Nursing
I provided the INSIGHT program at the Hennepin County Correctional facility and the Minnesota State Correctional Facility in Shakopee.  The program works with women in prison to better understand the poverty, racial profiling, social injustice, economics,  mental health issues, political funding/ lack of funding, the importance of education, cultural sensitivities/ insensitivities, communication  concerns,  public health issues, family health concerns, and the role of faith, self forgiveness, writing, and other artistic expression in empowering change.  I also published two articles, “Partner violence, depression and recidivism: The case of incarcerated women and why we need programs designed for them,” in Issues in Mental Health Nursing, and “Assessing and Addressing Domestic Violence Amongst Incarcerated Women” in Creative Nursing Journal.

In preparation of teaching mental health nursing beginning in the spring of 2009, I completed six courses including: Integrative Treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder, Bipolar Disorders, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Clinical Psychopharmacology, Schizophrenia, and Substance Abuse. 

Mimi Gerstbauer, Associate Professor of Political Science and Peace Studies
In addition to maternity leave I substantially revised two past conference papers and submitted them for publication in journals.  I also researched and wrote my first case study of international forgiveness (the US and Nicaragua) and presented it at the International Studies Association conferences in Spring 2008.

 “The Whole Story of NGO Mandate Change: The Peacebuilding Work of World Vision, Catholic Relief Services, and Mennonite Central Committee" has been revised and resubmitted to The Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly.

“Transnational Peacebuilding: Bringing Salt and Light to Colombia and the United States” has been revised and resubmitted to Development in Practice.