Whether I am physically making a journey to the AGLSP Annual Conference in Saratoga Springs, NY, attending the Land Ethics Leadership Training session in Baraboo, Wisconsin, or hearing about our student’s geographical/intellectual journeys, I feel truly lucky to experience these explorations via DePaul’s MALS and IDS Programs. Our students continue to take advantage of DePaul’s wide-ranging Study Abroad options, several have begun their dissertations, and we continue to draw students from around the US and beyond to our programs. In fact, one of our graduating IDS students, Dana Turner, has been invited to present her culminating project at The American University in Paris. Another student, Laura McLaughlin, was featured on “190 North” in connection with her “Glass Rooster” business. And we have the largest graduating class we’ve had in several years. This past academic year acted as a “room addition” to my awareness of what’s going on in the world, and like our students, I feel that my consciousness has been happily expanded.
This past October, MALS/IDS Director David Gitomer and I travelled to Saratoga Springs, NY for the annual Association of Graduate Liberal Studies Programs (AGLSP, http://www.aglsp.org/) meeting. The conference was centered around the theme of water and its critical role in our 21st century ability to thrive/survive in every way. This meeting brings together directors and students from MALS programs throughout the US and Canada for intensive presentations and workshops. We shared best practices, and learned about the geology, sociology, and economy of cultures that consciously (or not) rely on and care for the water supplies that allow us to thrive.
Earlier last summer, I participated in the Aldo Leopold Center’s Land Ethics Leadership Program in Baraboo, WI (https://www.aldoleopold.org/Programs/lel.shtml). For two days, international participants explored literature, art, history and science to learn new ways of creating conversation and extending awareness of the way humans and nature interact. In addition to leadership exercises, we bent our backs to the task of removing non-native species from the center’s prairie tracts, shared organic locavore cuisine, and learned to do what Leopold did best: we learned to listen. In my urban/suburban daily activities, I rarely get a chance to quiet the chatter, and after a bit of a struggle, I felt the luxury of becoming truly quiet.
Participants of Land Ethics training were granted licensing permission to show the 2011 documentary Green Fire, which chronicles the life and work of Aldo Leopold. MALS/IDS shared the bounty, and on Nov. 7, offered an across-the-discipline screening of the film followed by lively discussion. We coordinated the screening with Adult Student Services and the Alumni Association. Guests joined us from the Chicago Wetlands Management Project, Loyola University, the Peggy Notebaart Nature Museum. DePaul’s LAS Assistant Dean of Students, Randy Honold, MALS student Jeff Tangel, and MALS/IDS Program Assistant Joe Andrukaitis (MA NMA, 2011) led the post-screening discussion of the film and Leopold’s landmark work, A Sand County Almanac. The event dovetailed nicely Randy Honold’s Winter Quarter course, MLS 409, Environment and Society.
We don’t have to look far to find exciting connectivity within and beyond the DePaul community. The problems facing our world are complex and the minds best suited to solve many of those problems will be those which can creatively draw from many disciplines. MALS and IDS programs provide portals that foster connectivity between academic, professional and personal worlds.
Article by Susan Jacobs, MALS/IDS Associate Director