Friday, December 07, 2007

Dr. Johnson gets a DAAD

Dr. Molly Johnson has won a Faculty Research Visit Grant from the German Academic Exchange Service/DAAD. Germany’s “Fulbright Commission,” so to speak, will sponsor her travel to Germany for two months in Summer 2008 to continue research on her new project on “Collective Living, Social Experimentation, and Cultural Critique in Postwar West Berlin.” Funding from the UAH Humanities Center allowed Dr. Johnson to begin her research on this project last summer.

Dr. Johnson studies how counter-culture West Berliners in the late 1960s shared a critique of bourgeois society, mass consumption, and the nuclear family. They organized communes, squatters’ communities, automobile colonies, and collective apartment communities (Wohngemeinschaften). Examining the ideals of the communards, she situates their experiments within the history of utopian socialist movements of the early nineteenth century and communal practices that emerged internationally in the late Sixties.

Dr. Johnson stays busy. Over the next two months, she will complete final revisions to her book manuscript, Training Socialist Citizens: Sports and the State in East Germany, under contract with the Studies in Central European Histories Series with Brill Academic Publishers. Congratulations Dr. Johnson!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Student Leaders Reflect on First Semester of PASS

Veronica Ferreira and Sarah Fisher have completed the first semester as student leaders in UAH's new Peer-Assisted Study Sessions, or PASS, sponsored by the Academic Resource Center. They led study sessions to help students do better in class assignments, tests, and research in Dr. Waring's sections of Western Civilization. Although the results from the final exams have yet to be tabulated, Dr. Waring found that students who attended the sessions on average scored about a grade level higher than those who did not. Sarah enjoyed the sessions, remarking that the PASS program was "a great way for students to learn new material." Veronica said of PASS that "For me, it has been a great experience. It feels wonderful to have a student come to you who is so excited about grades. I've even learned a few new study strategies in my efforts to help others."

Based on this early success, the History Department, working with the Academic Resource Center, will expand its participation in the program in Spring 2008. In World History classes, Veronica will work with Dr. Molly Johnson, and Sarah will team with Dr. Christine Sears. Craig Noneman, a new session leader, will work with Dr. Waring in Western Civilization.

After 40 Years, Johanna Shields Teaches her Final Class

Professor Johanna Shields, who came to UAH in 1967, taught her last class this fall. She retired some years ago but helped the department by continuing to teach a couple classes on the Old South. She said she enjoyed teaching but missed seeing student development from their first year to their senior seminar and participating in the evolution of the department. Johanna reflected on the major changes she witnessed on campus over her career. She recalled that in 1967 a single room in Morton Hall housed the library. Now, Johanna expressed excitement at the incredible access to on-line resources and information. With all the data, students have so many more research opportunities, but have to learn "the illusory character of knowledge on-line" and investigate beyond the false completeness yielded by search engines. Looking back on her career, Johanna expressed satisfaction about several accomplishments. She was proud of her efforts to help found the Humanities Center, which provides funding for humanities research and programs. But most of all, Johanna expressed pride for "teaching good people" through all her years. The department will miss Dr. Shields as a colleague in learning and wishes her the best in a well-deserved retirement.

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