K-Plan Game-Changers

A game-changer is an idea whose advent and adoption shifts something in a “before-and-after” manner that could be described as tectonic. Think, for instance the asteroid that ended the age of dinosaurs. Or, says Michelle Fanroy ’88, think Kalamazoo College.

In her Homecoming 2018 lecture, “Game-Changers: Liberal Arts Traits That Make Organizations Great,” Fanroy—a worldwide expert in corporate leadership and mentorship development—describes the game-changer traits cultivated in students by their K-Plan experiences and the particular campus culture of Kalamazoo College. She explores an “all-star” foursome of K-Plan game-changer traits and even touches on five “honorable mentions.”

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“I teach, therefore I take.” The 2018 Lucasse Lecture

The only piece of advice Kalamazoo College Senior Instructor of Economics Chuck Stull received before his first teaching job in graduate school was to erase a blackboard using vertical strokes. That’s not much prep for a teacher whose faculty colleagues recently awarded K’s highest teaching honor: the 2018 Lucasse Lectureship. Professor Stull made up for that early dearth of advice by inventing his own pedagogical approaches (simple, specific, and surprising) that open insights into complicated subject matter. How does he invent? By combining ideas from different sources—art, card playing, tango dancing (“I teach, therefore I steal”)—in order to illuminate economics. Always, always experiment, he advised in his delightful acceptance lecture. Then count on some failures, which will be as important as the successes. After all, few things are as vital to sustained good teaching than putting yourself in situations that allow you to remember: 1) what it’s like to not know, and 2) the subsequent pure joy of your mind reshaping itself to learn.

The K-Plan Roots of Achievement and Fulfillment

The Honorable Gerald E. Rosen ’73, retired federal judge and the chief mediator of the Detroit bankruptcy case in 2015, describes the vital role of the K-Plan to his career path and life. For Rosen, the liberal arts, K’s emphasis on off-campus experiences, and his participation in Hornet tennis inspired confidence, nurtured independence and initiative, and provided a network of mentors and opportunities—wellsprings he often taps as lawyer, judge, professor, public servant, and, most fundamentally, empathetic critical thinker.

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The Importance of Practicing Mindfulness in a World Becoming a Screen

Classmates (2007) Karman Kent and Matt Thieleman share insights about the vital role of mindfulness (being conscious of what’s going on RIGHT NOW) to self-awareness, empathy and leadership; and, in turn, the importance of self-awareness, empathy and effective leadership to productive (and pleasing) work and a fulfilling life. Matt works with businesses; Karman with college students. Their connection underscores the relationship between Kalamazoo College networks and the collaborative ways vulnerable individuals (which includes us all) can make a difference in the world.


Do you want to hear more about mindfulness? Watch Matt Thieleman’s TEDx Talk from September 8, 2018 on Why the World Needs Mindful Leaders.

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Infinite Variety

Associate Professor of Music (and director of the Kalamazoo Philharmonia) Andrew Koehler shows that the countless possibilities of musical expression and mood share a common source and beautiful unity composed of a mere twelve notes. Composers, often in homage to pre-existing material (a few notes in a specific sequence, for example) build infinite variations and whole new worlds of feeling to which lifelong students like Koehler devote entire lifetimes of study and passion.Audio Button

Political Genocide

John Dugas, Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership Associate Professor of Political Science, describes the attempt in Colombia, beginning in the mid-1980s, to “murder” an entire political group—the leftist, legal, legitimate and electorally successful political party, Union Patriótica (UP)—by means of the systematic targeted killing of more than 3,000 of its members. In response, UP survivors have successfully advocated for the criminalization of “political genocide,” thereby giving to the world a unique legal instrument to help prevent human rights abuses, to pursue justice and legal redress, and to hold perpetrators of the crime accountable. This little known story carries implications that stretch far beyond Colombia’s borders, because peace anywhere depends on peoples’ confidence to take part in political processes without fear of extermination.Audio Button

Scholar’s Sweet Spot

Applied anthropologist (and Professor of Anthropology) Kiran Cunningham ’83 designs and implements research that yields an immediately tangible result: people gain more control of the trajectories of their lives. Such work works best when it involves students at K and abroad. Welcome to the “scholar’s sweet spot,” those projects that lead to meaningful social change, integrate multiple strands of the scholarly self, connect to classroom teaching, allow for student involvement, and require collaboration with a diverse group of incredible colleagues. Cunningham’s work with Uganda’s Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment and with the city government of Kalamazoo has led to a collaboration of communities—as well as students—to help ensure that public policy works for people on two continents.Audio Button

War Memories

Imagine an important story videotaped in one language and simultaneously translated into another. Such an advance would more broadly open to the world the oral history of the world. Assistant Professor of Japanese Noriko Sugimori describes the scholarly collaboration that, using and adding to an archive of videotaped World War II memories of elderly Japanese, applied a new technology to create the world’s first bilingual, synchronized translation and indexing process. Oral history is now more widely open to cross-cultural academic explorations, and Sugimori and her K students played a vital role in that access.Audio Button


Social Justice Science

Who gets to do science? To whom will accrue its benefits, or costs? What happens to scientific data? What does it mean to do—and teach—science in a socially just way? These are questions that have informed the work of Professor of Chemistry Regina Stevens-Truss for the past five years. She shares her discoveries regarding the intersection of and distinction between ethics, civic engagement, and social justice in science.audio button

More Eyes and New Eyes

The Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership Assistant Professor of English Shanna Salinas elucidates two key ways to incorporate diversity into the United States literary canon. Diversity can be enhanced by expanding the canon to include more authors of color and various ethnic backgrounds and by reconsidering from different perspectives the works that have a long tradition of inclusion in the canon. In her remarks (“Mexico in the U.S. Literary Canon”) Salinas focuses on the latter, specifically the way a Chicano critical framework opens entirely new realms of meaning in The Awakening, a novel by American writer Kate Chopin published in 1899 and set in Reconstruction-era New Orleans.Audio Button