Q: For those who don’t know you, how long have you worked here, and what’s your position at Milligan?
A: I’ve worked here since 1999, and I’m a professor of psychology and director of undergraduate research.
Q: What is the Rise Above Conference?
A: The Rise Above Conference is a conference for graduates and undergraduates who have been doing mentored research, and it’s an opportunity for them to showcase that research in an easy campus forum.
Q: How did you come up with the sustainability theme?
A: There really wasn’t a process. It really came out of discussions we had the previous year about wanting speakers related to sustainability as a topic for chapel and convo. We had one in the spring of 2017, and we thought that was pretty interesting, and that prompted us to think about how it would’ve been really neat to have had a theme for last year’s conference — it’s too late for that — so we decided, well, we’ll just slip in? And make that the theme for next year. It was a sort of starting ground for this idea. It’s our first year having a theme for the conference. And we just went with the first theme that kind of inspired us in the first place.
Q: How can students incorporate the theme?
A: Any discipline, any topic that relates to any aspect of sustainability, would be welcome. We’ll be doing a special call for papers in that conference, and we’ll have prizes for the top three projects, graduate or undergraduate, that fit that theme in any kind of broad sense. Dr. Heather Hoover, associate professor of English and composition and director of writing, is on our committee and was aware of the theme and talked about using that in Comp 211, so those students will have papers that already fit the theme. Some faculty are using it in their classes. For example, I’m using it in my research business class. They all have to have research experiments that relate in some way to environmental psychology or sustainability. And I believe that Jim Dahlman, professor of communications and faculty advisor to The Stampede, is also doing something with it through The Stampede. We just encourage faculty to think about whether any of their classes would fit with this theme and how they might want to encourage students to work on projects that would make them eligible for this special call.
Q: Why do you think sustainability is important to research?
A: Well (laughs), it’s pretty much in the news, you think about it from a purely environmental standpoint, and we hear about it all the time. But I think it goes beyond that. I think when there’s any kind of economic downturn, everybody that has any kind of program or service is thinking how they can sustain their program, their people, their activities, with less money, fewer resources. It’s really about sustaining in any area or any realm, not just about recycling or global warming; it goes beyond that. I just think that it’s a relevant topic to any organization that is trying to figure out how to stay relevant and how to continue to serve its mission with the resources that they have.
Q: Anything else?
A: I don’t know when your next article is coming out, but Norman Wirzba is coming next Tuesday. He’s the speaker we invited in light of this theme. He’s going to be talking about food and faith on his Tuesday night lecture. He’s specifically very interested in this topic or idea of sustainability. We’re trying to tie together other events on campus that are relevant to this.