October 21, 2011
Purdue, Mission of Discovery

“Our mission is first and foremost one of discovery, as we expand knowledge about the global human condition, promote aesthetic awareness and expression, and deepen understanding of the world’s most compelling ideas.” – Purdue University College of Liberal Arts Strategic Plan

This month’s Spotlight turns to recent initiatives in the College of Liberal Arts (CLA) at Purdue University. Indiana Humanities has helped to support some of the College’s outreach programs, including a symposium on one of the most famous episodes in Indiana’s Native American history.

Wiping Away the Tears: The Battle of Tippecanoe in History and Memory

In recognition of the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Tippecanoe, Purdue is inviting scholars, local residents, representatives of government agencies and Native American communities and others to share their knowledge at a three-day symposium. Scheduled for Nov. 3-5, 2011, the event is free and open to the public.

Prof. H. Kory Cooper, who, along with Prof. Dawn Marsh, organized the symposium, says that the underlying purpose is to place the events of 1811 in historical perspective and consider how sites related to the Battle can be best interpreted for today’s visitors. The views of Native American groups with an ancestral connection to the sites will be sought, in particular.

Suzan Harjo, Cheyenne Muscogee and a Founding Trustee of the National Museum of the American Indian, will give the keynote speech. Sponsors include the Departments of History and Anthropology and Purdue’s Native American Educational & Cultural Center, with support from Indiana Humanities and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Brian Lamb School of Communication

Brian Lamb

This year, the Department of Communication celebrated its 60th anniversary and became the Brian Lamb School of Communication, a unit of the College of Liberal Arts. Lamb, C-SPAN’s founder, chairman and CEO, is a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the National Humanities Medal, among other honors.

A Purdue alumnus who has remained deeply involved in the work of the department, Lamb selected Purdue Research Park as the home of the C-SPAN Archives, which records, stores and makes accessible every C-SPAN program aired since 1987. In addition, communication majors from Purdue have interned at C-SPAN in Washington, D.C.

Activities at the Brian Lamb School of Communication range from a research study on bike commuting to support of Project Impact, a forum series leading up to the 2012 Presidential election. The series will feature panels such as the Oct. 27 forum on immigration policy in the wake of the Great Recession with Roberto Suro, director of the Tomás Rivera Policy Institute, Ambassador Carolyn Curiel and Prof. James McCann.

The Confucius Institute

Yilin Liao demonstrates calligraphy at a local elementary school during China Night

The College of Liberal Arts and its faculty participate in a number of interdisciplinary programs. One dynamic example is the Confucius Institute at Purdue, which promotes and facilitates Chinese language learning and cultural study. Established in 2006, it was the first Confucius Institute in the State of Indiana and the first to target the language and culture of international business and global engineering. The Institute is led by Dr. Wei Hong, Professor of Applied Linguistics in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures.

Faculty from China and night classes for the community are among the benefits of the Confucius Institute, which has a formal partnership with Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Last month, the university sent its symphony orchestra to perform at Purdue in conjunction with the China-US Sustainability Symposium.

THINK Magazine

An enjoyable outreach effort of the CLA is THINK magazine, which we at Indiana Humanities (with our “Think Read Talk” tagline) applaud. A printed version comes out in the spring, but quarterly updates offer even more rich content and interesting pieces, all available online.

For example, Flattening the Globe tells about Prof. Margie Berns and her research into  World Englishes. Countries around the world face a dilemma – should they promote English, and thereby give their citizens access to global business, science and technology? Or should they discourage the use of English and so protect their national language and culture? Prof. Shaun Hughes, who teaches colonial literature in English, wonders whether it is even possible to halt a language that has taken on a life of its own, carried along by the Internet and its proliferation of English language websites, videos, and email.

Wilke Research Internships

Prof. Ian Lindsay, Department of Anthropology, working in his lab with Wilke intern Nicholas Davis

Through a new program, undergraduates at Purdue can now receive funding to assist liberal arts professors with their research. The Margo Katherine Wilke Undergraduate Research Internship program is designed to foster awareness of advanced research and graduate education. Students receive a stipend and 1 or more credits, plus the opportunity to take part in a year-end Undergraduate Research Forum and Poster Session. Projects currently offering research opportunities for interns include studies of media representations of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama and a comparison of the vocabulary in foreign language textbooks with that of common speech in French, German and Spanish.

Thank you to Dean Irwin Weiser and to Associate Dean for Administration Barbara Hart Dixon for her assistance with this Spotlight.

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