The Pedant • August 2013

 

• Editor's Note

• Your Portal to a Better (CGU) Life


• GSC Travel Awards


• PhD in Paper Pushing


• Minority Report


• GSC Update


• Hagelbargers


• Transdisciplinarity


• La Flâneuse: the Claremont Wanderer





Editor's Note

You could call it a “paradigm shift”

Since I started editing and writing for the Pedant three years ago, CGU has seen a lot of change: changing presidents, new departments, institutes, and buildings. But the pace at which the university has been changing these past few months has, at least in my experience, been unmatched.

But this time it’s not just about a new office here, a new dean there. CGU is changing in profound ways— at the level of DNA. When President Deborah Freund took office in July, 2010 she focused her vision for the university on student-centeredness. And while last year we went through the labor pains of realigning the university to better serve students and research, this past spring and summer have been about other ways to make the university more “user-friendly.”

This issue of the Pedant is about those changes. In the story just right of this note, we cover a major shift in how students interface online with the university. Our news feature, “Minority Report,” (page 4) covers the ways CGU is trying to make CGU not only more diverse, but more supportive of all students. And the feature story, “Across and Beyond: Transdisciplinary” is a primer on the concept of “transdisciplinarity” (something I wish I had seen as a first-year master’s student), and its future at CGU. More than a buzzword, transdisciplinarity seeks not only to change the way we solve problems, but how we ask questions.

CGU isn’t just changing the way it organizes itself and does business, it’s changing the way it thinks. And despite the shortterm inconvenience of having to learn new college names or how to navigate bill pay, in the long-term, this is change we can get behind.

Cheers,

Rachel Tie
Editor, the Pedant

Pedant@cgu.edu

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Your Portal to a Better (CGU) Life

Your Portal to a Better (CGU) LifeIf you’re new to CGU, the Portal website is all you’ve ever known (like those feral children raised by wolves, who only know to hunt and howl and never adapt to human civilization). For veterans, the new Portal will drastically alter how you interact with CGU online. Hopefully, for the better.

Whereas in years prior you would sign into your MyCGU account to pay bills, register for classes, and check grades, the new Portal (mycampus.cgu.edu) will handle all of that, and more. It will not only include registration, bill pay, and registration, but also Sakai, e-mail, Qualtrics, and other features. And by the time you are reading this, the new Portal will be your only option. So the sooner you become acquainted, the better.

It all started with an e-mail; or rather, several thousand e-mails. In response to student, staff, and faculty complaints about the constant barrage of e-mails landing in their inboxes, the Office of Information Technology decided it was time to harness internal CGU communications.

The primary method for controlling communication in the new Portal is the community opt-in option. Once in Portal, you can opt in or out of different communities. You will then receive messages only from the groups you opted in to (all students are default members of their college, department, and university communities). So if you want to know what the Career Center is up to but not the drama club; have an interest in the Graduate Student Council but not the Pilates meet-up, just set your preferences accordingly. And if you change your mind and decide you actually are interested in something you had previously opted out of, you can always change your preferences.

The idea behind “communities” is that members and administrators from these groups can send intra-group messages without needing to e-mail blast the nearly 3,000 people on the CGU listserve each time the tuba quartet is having rehearsal. But since your Portal messages and your regular CGU e-mail are not linked, it is imperative to check both, and often, lest you miss departmental deadlines or worse, free dinner opportunities.

To get started with the new MyCGU Portal, sign in to mycampus. cgu.edu using your current login information. For a tutorial, select “help” and then “tutorial.” And if you have questions, e-mail helpdesk@cgu.edu.

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GSC Travel Awards Get Professional Development Off the Ground

CGU is known for the conference-attending, paper-giving, competition-entering students that make the school so proud. But along with the sheen of prestige and a 30-page CV, academic and professional productivity can be expensive (at least until our intellectual prowess begins to pay for itself). To help offset the costs of travel, the Graduate Student Council (GSC) implemented its semiannual Travel Award competition . . . and suddenly that conference in Paris is looking a lot more attractive. With an annual allocation of $20,000 devoted to subsidizing student travel, the GSC began the award competition to encourage more students to gain professional experience in their fields. Awards are given on merit (as opposed to financial need because, let’s face it, that’s a pretty even playing field) and students can apply for an award for participation in an event that falls into one of three categories: presentation in competitions, conferences, symposiums, or art exhibits; participation in research in the student’s field of study; and participation in a professional development event (such as training, a workshop, or a conference) pertinent to the student’s field.

Every academic year the GSC has two Travel Award competitions. Since the GSC needs proof that a student actually attended an event and paid for it, the awards are given retroactively. For the fall award period, events need to have occurred between March 16-October 14, 2013. The deadline for submission is Friday, November 1, 2013 at 11:59 p.m.

Recipients of the GSC Travel Awards are selected based on an essay that convincingly argues for the academic significance of the event, long- and short-term professional development, and significance to CGU. The full application includes a less-than-convenient checklist of paperwork and signatures, to which painstaking attention should be paid, as qualified candidates have been (and will be) disqualified for a missing signature or cover page

Awards are generally between $100-$300, enough to offset somewhere between a few tanks of gas and a roundtrip plane ticket. However, the Presidential Award, an additional $500 to the top awardee, can make a substantial dent in a trip to, say, Hawaii (“professional development?” Ok, if you say so).

By this spring, the GSC hopes to begin advanced payments to help students without the cashflow to subsdizie their own travel and wait for reimbursment (See page 5 for more details). For more information, including application materials, visit the travel award webpage at www.cgu.edu/travelawards.

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PhD in Paper Pushing


PhD in Paper Pushing

Over the summer the registrar’s office casually let us know about “substantial” changes to the dissertation process. In case you missed it amid the flurry of other e-mails we receive, please proceed as follows: 1) DON’T FREAK OUT! You’re trusted Pedant is here to help, and 2) read on.

Among the changes and new requirements, students must now have their dissertation proposals signed by all members of the committee (as well as any changes to the proposal and new degree completion status forms); the defense must be announced to the campus by the registrar’s office at least one week prior; new requirements have been set for the time period between the approval of the proposal and the dissertation; and separate approvals are required for the dissertation defense and the dissertation itself. While this may just seem like more paper pushing, it behooves all doctoral students to stay up to speed on even the minutest of changes, as they can make or break your right to graduate.

On a side note, the e-mail pointed out that these changes had been previously announces in the “What’s New?” (for student) web page at www.cgu.edu/pages/10338.asp. Though the current writer has never heard of this webpage, much less frequented it for updates that directly pertain to her academic progress, let it be duly noted that it would seem that CGU student should be going there early and often.

 

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Minority Report

Minority Mentor HouseWhile the percentage of minority students that compose our student body is growing, campus diversity and the resources to support it are still works in progress.

According to the results of CGU’s 2012 student-climate survey, only 65.3 percent of students agreed that CGU has a climate supportive of diversity; when separated by ethnicity, the numbers are even lower.
As fortune would have it, this sobering news was released around the times CGU hired a new Minority Mentor Program (MMP) director, Aracely Torres.

Torres brings to CGU 10 years experience working with underrepresented-minority students, most recently having served as the interim assistant dean of students for Chicano Latino Student Affairs (CLSA) for the Claremont Consortium.

Established in 1994, MMP was developed to improve the retention of underrepresented-minority students by having more advanced students provide mentorship and create a sense of community for African American, Latino, Native American, and Asian students, as well as students with disabilities and anyone else who identifies as minority, like first-generation college students. While still rooted in the idea of mentorship, the program has since expanded to include events and workshops for underrepresented students and the CGU-student community at large, from career and professionalization workshops to presentations on “Impostor Syndrome” and wine and cheese socials. But for the past year and a half the MMP program has not been administered. Torres aims to bring it back to life.

“There will definitely be a lot of changes taking place within MMP,” said Torres. “I want this program to be vibrant and well known. This is not just about ‘minority students,’ this is about creating equitable opportunities and ensuring that all students have the opportunity to be successful academically and personally.”

Along with an open house and events throughout the year, one of the first changes is a newly designated multicultural house located on Dartmouth just south of Foothill, an all-inclusive space open to all CGU students.
“The events taking place within MMP and at the multicultural house will allow students to learn from each other. While we are empowering students who identify as members of underrepresented communities, we will also create opportunities for students who don’t identify as such to learn about privilege and how that privilege can be used in a positive manner,” said Torres.

While the revitalization of MMP is one of the most visible aspects of CGU’s move towards more diversity, enhancing CGU to better serve underrepresented-minority students has been in the works for a while. Along with hiring a new MMP director, President Freund established a council last fall to address diversity issues at the student and faculty level, the overall climate at CGU, and to create curricular and co-curricular support for all CGU students.

“At the beginning of the fall semester, each of the schools will write a diversity plan,” said Alana Olschwang, director of the Office of Institutional Effectiveness. “The plans will address their faculty hiring strategies and outlines of the diversity-related courses, expertise, research, and resources by program; the current time-to-degree rates of underrepresented and other students (and a plan to bring them in line, if they are not already); and efforts to monitor climate at the school, addressing differences across student groups.”

This fall, CGU’s student body will be comprised of 16.4 percent international students, 6 percent African American, 13.4 per cent Hispanic (4 percent higher than last year), and 9.4 percent Asian (data specific to CGU is currently not available for other minorities or students with disabilities, but according to the National Health Interview Survey, an estimated 15 percent of non-institutionalized people in the United States are disabled). These numbers are lower among faculty. But along with increasing diversity among the student population creating a more diverse faculty is another area of active focus.

In 2005, CGU put diversity at the heart of its mission statement, a move to make it part of the university’s DNA. Now, CGU is entering a more active phase:

“This means we must not only collect reliable data but we must also create metrics that can measure our progress, success, and failures,’ wrote President Freund in her summer letter on the President’s Diversity Council. “Excellence in research and teaching is at the core of this university, and, as history and the present have shown, can only be achieved when all members of our community have the opportunity to succeed.”

 

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GSC Update

As the leaves begin to change in the city of trees and PhDs, the new Graduate Student Council administration promises some changes, too.

Among other things, The GSC is planning for a strategic partnership with the Career Center. This kicks off with a professional-development workshop on September ninth at 4:00 p.m. in Des Combes Quad. “The goal is to help connect students with their current career interest and long-term professional goals,” said Stephen Ward, GSC president.

Students can also look forward to a “State of the Student” address in October wherein Ward will let students know about upcoming events and plans that the GSC is concocting in their weekly meetings (we’re hoping for a polyjuice potion, but no promises).

Finally, while graduate school is not necessarily known as a bastion of athletic prowess, the GSC hopes to plan a sporting event that would partner with other colleges (co-ed Quidditch, anyone?)

Perhaps the most important change on the agenda for the year is the redesign of the travel awards. Instead of being retroactive, which they currently are, the council hopes to start making advanced payments for students hoping to travel for academic conferences, research, etc. by this spring. However—there are a few snags that make this more difficult than it sounds.

According to Ward, “One of the impediments we are looking to offset is the current tax code on awards. If a student is employed, their travel award is taxed as if they are an employee. If a student is not employed, they are granted the total amount without any taxes withheld. We want to do the best we can to offset any disparities.”

Furthermore, the GSC hopes to add a transdiscplinary aspect to the award that will help to encourage CGU’s mission and goals for crossing disciplinary lines.

Like in previous years, the GSC will also be partnering with the writing center for a workshop on writing travel award applications. It will outline tips and tricks for receiving funding for professional research and development (like conferences) that take you to far-off lands (like Los Angeles or Timbuktu). Oh, the places you’ll go!

To get involved with the GSC, visit their website at www.cgu.edu/gsc or connect with them on facebook at facebook.com/GSCCGU. The GSC is also always looking for volunteers as well as college representatives and delegates. To contact the GSC, e-mail gsc@cgu.edu.

 

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Hagel's Hopes for Nip/Tuck

Take it from someone who knows: With backgrounds in building aesthetics, college cafeterias, food logistics, and eating three square meals a day, CGU positive psychology MA student Josh Penman knows that Hagelbarger’s could use a leg up.

It all started when he toured CGU in the summer of 2012. To put it delicately, “Hagelbarger’s was not what I expected from the oldest graduate-only university in the country,” Penman lamented.

Along with other CGU students, including past president of the GSC Shelby Hamm, Penman developed a survey asking students about their priorities for Hagelbarger’s and what they wanted to see improved.

While the surveys have been submitted and there is still much analysis to be done before CGU can move forward on revamping the menu or renovating the building, the committee could still use feedback and student participation. Penman developed a site where students can suggest ideas and take the survey at bit.ly/cgufood. But to get straight to the source, the Hagelbarger’s suggestion box is there for a reason, and if you can’t eat a salad without baby greens or think there should be a smoothie bar, let the staff know. After all, they are some of the hardest-working and most amenable people on campus; and that is one thing we hope never changes.

 

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Across and Beyond: Transdisciplinarity

TransdisciplineTo those uninitiated into the world of academic jargon, “transdisciplinary studies” (T-studies) can seem like little more than a buzzword (an empty signifier, if you will). But the concept has a long history—in academe at large and at CGU—and your trusty Pedant is here to clarify the concept and keep you abreast of how it applies to your academic career.

To understand transdisciplinarity it is first necessary to understand disciplinarity, or how the university has organized the professional creation of knowledge for the past century.

The 45-year period between 1870-1915 was marked by major shifts in how labor was organized. One of the major shifts was the “professionalization of occupations,” meaning that an individual could no longer inherit a position, but had to earn the proper credentials. While this shift would democratize the workforce, it was more tied to the industrial-age focus on productivity: By requiring mastery, one’s field of expertise was drastically narrowed, and they could then produce more and better work in their highly specialized area.

In the university, this put the production of research at the center of higher education. Now, say, a historian could no longer publish articles about art or politics; she had to stay in her area of expertise. While the university was somewhat freewheeling prior to the industrial revolution (indeed, early naturalists wrote papers on philosophy) the monoliths of specialized knowledge we know today took shape alongside the labor revolution.

But in the 1970s there was a backlash against disciplinarity. Many thought that it privileged tradition over change and did not allow for diversity; that academic departmental silos were impeding the progress of knowledge, not aiding it.  Thus, according to Louis Menand, author of The Marketplace of Ideas: Reform and Resistance in the American University, was interdisciplinarity born: “It [held] the promise of a kid of unification of knowledge (scientists and humanists speaking the same language, for example), and even that it is mildly transgressive—that it can refresh old paradigms and . . . generate radically new perspectives and ideas.”

Along with and following this movement towards “interdisciplinarity,” which is defined by the academic process by which a subject is studied from different disciplinary perspectives, came “multidisciplinarity,” “cross-disciplinarity,” and “transdisciplinarity.”

In its purest form, the “trans” in transdisciplinary refers not just to “across” the disciplines but “across and beyond.” It is “problem-based,” meaning that far from being rooted in one specific academic discipline or methodology, it uses several—and sometimes novel—methodologies to answer questions too complex for any one discipline to tackle on its own.

“At CGU, we see transdisciplinarity as a way of thinking that is a necessary response to the complex problems arising out of globalization and specialization,” said Patricia Easton, vice provost for academic planning and chair of the transdisciplinary advising committee. “Transdisciplinary thinkers must be free to follow a problem across disciplinary boundaries; they must be open to collaboration and innovation, drawing on the concepts and methods of other disciplines and creating new approaches to problems; and they must ask how their creation of knowledge impacts our understanding of humanity’s most thorny problems.”

For example, the interdisciplinary field of African-American studies draws from art, literature, history, politics, religion, sociology, and other fields to understand the broad and complex experiences of African Americans (generally speaking, any department with the word “studies” in its name is interdisciplinary).

Since 2005, T-studies has been a theme around which CGU bases its endeavors, with the stated goal of the program being to “produce students with opportunities to engage in high-level discourse, research, and inquiry with colleagues from different fields.”  But the 2012 preparatory review written by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), the governing body directly responsible for university accreditation, found the T-studies at CGU was received ambivalently, at best.

“On one hand, a number of students passionately asserted that they came to CGU precisely because of T-studies . . . . On the other, a number of students resented having to pay for a T-course that they did not believe served their academic goals,” read the report. “Further, some students and faculty felt that a number of courses that should count as transdisciplinary did not and that inclusion was based more on technicalities than substance.”

In response to the WASC report, CGU is marking the 2013-14 school year a transition year for T-studies. The transition year will include a series of T-courses each semester including summer; a (forthcoming) community in the campus Portal* for transdisciplinary resources; a T-studies house; the implementation of a faculty advisory committee; and the hiring of a director of T-studies.

“This transitional year is critical for forming the vision and shape of the program going forward. It is my hope that whatever form the T-program takes, it will be a signature program for CGU,” said Easton.

One of the biggest changes to immediately impact students is the temporary suspension of the reading/working group awards. The transdisciplinary advisory committee will know in early spring whether the transdisciplinary dissertation award will continue. The transdisciplinary dissertation award is a competitive grant of $10,000 given to select PhD students working on a transdisciplinary dissertation; the reading/working group awards were small grants of $500 given to groups of three or more students representing at least two schools and three disciplines to undertake study of a transdisciplinary topic.

The faculty advisory committee invites students to get involved during the transition year by sharing ideas in the transdisciplinary community in the student Portal at www.mycampus.cgu.edu. For questions and comments, e-mail transdisciplinary@cgu.edu.

* See “Portal”

 

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La Flâneuse


La Flaneuseby Sharone Williams — writer, editor, loafer, PhD candidate in English
Flâneuse, French: 1) a city wanderer; 2) one who strolls about aimlessly; 3) a shopper with no intent to buy; an intellectual parasite.

As part of the Pedant’s mission to enhance student life, La Flâneuse features goings-on about town outside of the moated ivory tower that is CGU. This month: Fitness Club.

Some people think of January first as the day of new beginnings, a chance to reassess and start fresh.  But you, me, Jordan Baker from The Great Gatsby, and pretty much all of academia know the truth: life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.

We might still be a couple of months away from crisp weather around here, but the fact remains that we’re facing the start of a new academic year. Somehow, each fall, we manage to put the agonies and ecstasies of the previous year under the water. Somehow, we emerge from August with heads unbowed and the fresh sheen of enthusiasm that comes from our infatuation with the idea of having Stacks of New Books to Read! before we’ve faced the reality that we have STACKS OF NEW BOOKS TO READ.

I don’t know about you, but when a new school year stretches out all shiny and clean in front of me, I like to set goals. Resolutions, if you prefer. Some of them are little things, like Renew  Link+ books on time this year, and Work on practicing that positive self-talk. But I have larger goals too, like Make healthier choices and Stay sane through grad school and post-grad-school and life and Don’t go up any more pants sizes from lying on my bed procrastinating and eating sliced cheese straight from the package. Maybe you can relate. And maybe you’ll be excited when I tell you that I think I’ve found a way to work on all of those big goals at once.

Yes, my friends, I’m talking about the CGU Fitness and Wellness Club. Maybe you already know all about it, in which case you should stop reading this instant and stampede down to the CMS track, where you can do bleacher sets until the rest of us get there.  Everyone else, read on.

The first rule of Fitness Club is you do not make jokes comparing it to Fight Club. (Ok, maybe just one joke.) It was founded in 2012 by Fiona Grant and Mark Anthony Hughes, both PhD students in the School of Social Science, Policy & Evaluation. Their goal was to create a fun community that focuses on helping members make healthy choices which will stick with them long after the grad school grind is over. Fiona was nice enough to let me camp out in the glorious air conditioning in her office and pepper her with questions, so I’ve got all the relevant details right here.

What kinds of things does the Fitness Club offer? I’m so glad you asked. The main events are the group workouts, which take place three times per week, either at the Honnold Library Quad or the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps track, which is on the north side of Sixth Street between Claremont Boulevard and Mills Avenue. While each workout is different, they generally follow a boot camp pattern, with warm-up and stretching followed by a circuit workout where each person rotates from station to station every few minutes. The stations include a mix of cardio and resistance exercises, so you might do jumping jacks at one station and pushups at the next one. The workouts end with a short fitness game and then some cool-down exercises. One of the best parts? They’re open to the community: students, faculty, staff, families, friends, frenemies, arch-nemeses, heroes, you name it. You might even find yourself jump-roping next to President Freund, who’s rumored to attend when she has the chance.

There’s also an affiliated yoga class that meets at Claremont Memorial Park on Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. and Fridays at 8:30 a.m. Intrepid Editor Rachel and I took this class over the summer, and it was one of my favorite fitness things I’ve done in a long time. There were a handful of people there, some students and some members of the Claremont community. The yoga instructor, Lisette, was skilled, supportive, and patient, giving step-by-step demonstrations of the poses we weren’t familiar with and providing easier modifications when we needed them. My yoga knowledge is in the low-intermediate range, and I felt like the class was at a medium-comfortable pace—I went home feeling exhilarated, but I was also sore the next day. If you’re brand new to yoga, you may want to have a talk with Lisette beforehand so you have a better idea of what to expect.

This was my first time doing yoga outdoors, and the open greenness of the park made for a lovely, if unpredictable, experience. Looking up at the movement of leaves during mat work and lying in savasana (the final resting pose) with the sounds of birds, traffic, and playing children all around us, we were both separate from and part of the life of the park. And I want to tell you, if you’ve never tried to balance on one leg while a wiry, hairy fellow sings and does hula hoop tricks in your sight line, your inner stillness skills probably have not been tested to their limits.

Besides the various group workouts, the Fitness and Wellness Club acts as a kind of umbrella organization for other specialized groups. Want to play a pick-up basketball game or go for a hike? Learn Bollywood dance? Improve your golf, disc golf, ping pong, softball, soccer, yoga, or tennis skills? Go horseback riding or running? Your people are here, and you can contact them through the Fitness and Wellness Club Facebook page or on the community page on the new MyCGU Portal. The club also hosts social activities throughout the semester, including classes on nutrition and healthy cooking, hikes, and paintballing, and they’re compiling a community cookbook for healthy eating.

The official activity schedule for the fall semester hasn’t been announced yet because Fiona and Mark are waiting for your input! Yes, you, you charming, clever thing. Hop on over to Facebook or fitness community page on the new student Portal (see “Portal,” page two) and fill out the survey to tell them what you’d like to be doing. Chances are, they can make it happen, or give you the tools you need to be able to take the lead. And if you have any questions, you can always email the ever-helpful Fiona at fitness@cgu.edu.

Hey. There are plenty of reasons to exercise. It’s good for your brain, according to a recent University of Maryland School of Public Health study.  It lowers anxiety, a thing which I’ve heard some grad students deal with from time to time (if by “from time to time” you mean “all of every day and every night ever”) according to a recent study published in the Journal of Neuroscience.  It can fight depression, another thing grad students deal with but don’t talk about as much (as asserted in a 1981 Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School).  Apparently, it’s also good for your body, which it turns out is connected to that big, beautiful brain of yours. I could quote you a million, billion studies, but look: If we were sufficiently convinced by those studies, we’d all be exercising this minute. Let me give you a practical perspective: right now, you’re making a major financial investment into training your mind to do its best possible work, which is far more likely to happen when you aren’t overworked or battling anxiety or feeling isolated or never peeling your eyeballs away from that statistical analysis program. You might feel like you don’t have the time or energy, but there are nice short-term and long-term upsides here.

To the people who feel intimidated by the idea of fitness activities in public because you hate the way you look in workout clothes or are worried you won’t be able to keep up, I say, come and give it a try, just once. If you hate it, no one will ever make you come back, but I think you’ll find that the community is welcoming and encouraging. There are people with a wide range of fitness levels and commitments, and the circuit structure of the workouts means that everyone can work at their own pace while still being able to feel like part of the group.

If you’re doing it right, you’ll get sweaty, and if you’re as clumsy as me, you’ll probably look silly at times. But you might also laugh, and make a new friend, and end up with those happy endorphins zooming around your brain that can make you feel like the world’s a little rosier. I call that a win.

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