The Columbia Chronicle

College captures history

By LauraNalin

October 26, 2009

Imagine it’s the year 2040. Students are lining up to discover what is inside the time capsule buried in the 30-year-old Media Production Center.  Inside, articles from 2010 Columbia students paint a portrait of what life was like at Columbia at the time.On Feb. 5, 2010, Columbia will celebrate the opening of the new Media Production Center with a ribbon cutting ceremony, along with the placement of a time capsule that will be s...

Three departments team up for Creative Nonfiction Week

By CiaraShook

October 19, 2009

Pulitzer Prize finalist and local Chicago writer Luis Alberto Urrea will speak to students, faculty, staff and the public for Columbia’s ninth annual Creative Nonfiction Week.Creative Nonfiction Week will have various activities and events that stress the importance and relevance of the broad literature genre  in a modern society.Creative Nonfiction Week, Oct. 19 - 23, will feature lectures, conversations and readings by faculty members and students, as well as guests such as Urrea, Laurie Lindeen, Chris Rose and John D’Agata.Sam Weller, assistant fiction writing professor and project coordinator of Creative Nonfiction Week, said the week is a unique collaboration among the English, Fiction Writing and Journalism Departments.“It’s a cool example of how three departments can team up to make an event better for all of our students, which at the end of the day is our goal here,” Weller said.Weller joined forces with Jenny Boully of the English Department and Teresa Puente of the Journalism Department to organize the weeklong event.Weller said that from his perspective in the Fiction Writing Department, Creative Nonfiction Week shows that the bedrock of creative nonfiction is storytelling and those techniques extend from the fiction writer, novelist and the short-story writer.“As a professor in [fiction writing], I want to make those connections for my students,” Weller said.Boully said creative nonfiction is becoming popular again because more interesting nonfiction books and essays are being published.“It’s now becoming sexier and has been getting more attention,” Boully said. “I think that’s in large part to the more interesting nonfiction books and essays that are being published.”Puente said a lot of writing forms fit in the creative nonfiction genre, such as the personal essay, travel writing, blogging and memoirs.“There are so many different styles of writing and sometimes it’s hard to define them as just one,” Puente said. “[Creative Nonfiction Week] is a phenomenal opportunity for students to hear some of the best creative nonfiction writers in the country.”Urrea, who will give a keynote speech the evening of Oct. 19, has published books about border and immigration issues including Nobody’s Son: Notes from an American Life and The Devil’s Highway: A True Story.“At a time when immigration is such an important issue in this country, we thought that he would be a really good speaker to highlight this year,” Puente said.The Journalism Department will bring in Chris Rose, a columnist for the New Orleans Times-Picayune newspaper. He is one of the leading voices on the American tragedy of Hurricane Katrina, Weller said.The Fiction Writing Department welcomes memoirist Laurie Lindeen, who released Petal Pusher: A Rock and Roll Cinderella Story in 2007, which is about the Twin Cities’ alternative music scene of the 1980s.John D’Agata, a writer who has recreated the essay in relationship to poetry, comes to Columbia for the English portion of Creative Nonfiction Week.“He’s a leading voice in terms of the future of the American essay as it were,” Weller said. D’Agata will speak in the Ferguson Auditorium of the Alexandroff Campus Center, 600 S. Michigan Ave., Oct. 22 at 6:30 p.m.Student and faculty writers will be giving readings for Creative Nonfiction Week. The student readings are Oct. 19 at 3:30 p.m. and include writers Nicole Faust, Sophia Ulmer, Kristen Fiore, Jon Gugala, Lisa Cisneros and Thomas Pardee. The faculty readings are Oct. 21 at 3:30 p.m. and include writers Aviya Kushner, Lisa Schlesinger and Yolanda Joe.A closing reception and readings from South Loop Review: Creative Nonfiction will be Oct. 23 at 3:30 p.m. in the Quincy Wong Center for Artistic Expression on the first floor of the Wabash Campus Building, 623 S. Wabash Ave.Most Creative Nonfiction events will be held in Film Row Cinema, located on the eighth floor of the Conaway Center at 1104 S. Wabash Ave., unless otherwise mentioned.

Annual exhibit finds new home

By LauraNalin

October 19, 2009

The Portfolio Center debuted this year’s annual Albert P. Weisman exhibit in The Arcade, the college’s new gallery, located in the 618 S. Michigan Ave. building on the second floor.The exhibition,  which was held on Oct. 12, has been a Columbia tradition for the past 35 years, and is an opportunity for undergraduate and recent alumni to showcase their work from October through December.  Weisman applicants submit their e...

How we believe what we believe

By The Columbia Chronicle

October 19, 2009

When fact and faith conflict, how do we move forward?  We usually don’t.A much-cited Oct. 2006 Time magazine poll showed that 64 percent of Americans would “hold on to what their religion teaches,” even in the face of scientific evidence.  In the 1980s, two Arizona State physics faculty showed that students didn’t learn from physics labs thatcontradicted their day-to-day experience. “As a rule, students held firm to mistaken beliefs, even when confronted with phenomena that contradicted those beliefs.” And we all have a friend who just knows the moon landings  were faked.One particularly troubling, but common belief is that pharmaceutical companies and public health officials are hiding the fact that vaccines cause autism, a conspiracy theory that many cling to,  despite mountains of data showing no connection between the two (and no convincing evidence to the contrary).But there are anecdotes, lots of them. You don’t have to look very hard to find empathetic stories from grief-wrought parents claiming that the MMR vaccine—or mercury, or formaldehyde, take your pick—changed their child.  Or, as Jenny McCarthy puts it, “The light left his eyes.”The fact that autism’s most visible signs occur in the same period when children receive the bulk of their life-saving vaccines becomes,  for these parents, evidence of cause rather than what scientists rightly call correlation.  This conspiracy theory survives the strongest kinds of repudiation.It turns out that Andrew Wakefield, the British doctor who first published reports suggesting the link between autism and vaccines, faked data for his article, which he wrote on behalf of lawyers hoping to sue the vaccine manufacturers. When scientists removed the supposed cause of the epidemic, thimerosal, autism rates continued rising. Then conspiracists shifted their claims—it must be something else in the vaccines.  Even as preventable diseases like measles and whooping cough make a comeback and study after study fails to find any credible evidence of harm, anti-vaccination forces continue spreading the same misinformation.I’m interested in the way these beliefs endure. Why do we cling to faith in the face of controverting facts? Perhaps it’s because we often perceive faith as fact. Everyone has strong vested interests with the debate over vaccines. Most of the anti-vaccine advocates innocently, but wholeheartedly believe their arguments; we on the other side hold our views just as deeply. When humans strongly believe something, we no longer distinguish it from fact. We believe in both God and ice cream.But the secret at the heart of theEnlightenment was a shift in that faith,  away from faith in facts toward faith in method.  To “believe” in science is not to believe that the Earth is round, that Neil Armstrong walked on the moon or that we came from monkeys. It’s to believe in shared facts, verifiable evidence and the most convincing explanation of these.It’s strange to espouse a faith in a system that could shift worldviews overnight, but I take comfort in it. We’re a species who looked into the heavens, and by the shifting of the stars above, we came to better understand our place in the universe. Then we turned those telescopes inward to discover entire universes inside.We have only been able to do that because we understand that we interpret what we see, hear and experience, and that our interpretation can be wrong. We’re at our best when we put faith not in a specific view of the world, but in how we know which view to believe.Brendan Riley is an Assistant Professor of English who teaches writing, new media and popular culture courses. He has faith in facts.

Lucky Plush infuses technology with dance

By CiaraShook

October 19, 2009

Lucky Plush Productions, a contemporary dance ensemble, is coming to the Dance Center to debut “Punk Yankees,” an one-night show celebrating the company’s decade of performance.The Dance Center, located at 1306 S. Michigan Ave., is currently working with Lucky Plush to bring an interactive quality to the show, which debuts Oct. 22. The show will have laptops, and directors said they hope live Tweets will be worked int...

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. speaks at Greentown conference

By The Columbia Chronicle

October 19, 2009

By: Ivana Susic,Contributing writerEnvironmental advocate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.,  the founder of the water quality advocacy group Riverkeeper, was just one of many speakers at this year’s “GreenTown: The Future of Community” conference encouraging businesses and individuals to take more steps to improve the environment through lifestyle choices.On Oct. 15, Columbia hosted the two-day conference that brought togethe...

Lerman’s future in question

By BenitaZepeda

October 19, 2009

Mystery surrounds the status of Zafra Lerman, longtime head of Columbia’s Institute for Science Education and Science Communication, as an unverified report circulated on campus last week that the internationally known chemist and teacher is no longer employed by the school.No one in the college administration would discuss the matter with The Chronicle,  even to directly address the question of whether or not she still w...

Event attempts to reform environment laws

By LauraNalin

October 19, 2009

Columbia’s recycling program will participate in an international campaign focusing on possible solutions to the current climate crisis on Oct. 24, the International Day of Climate Change.The organization has worked dilligently throughout the years to make sure the campus has adequate recycling bins for both paper and plastic and has been planning this event for quite some time. The Chicago event will be held in the Cona...

Award-winning author, professor shares his success

By LauraNalin

October 19, 2009

Once a month, The Chronicle profiles people on campus who are doing interesting or important things.We’re always watching for faculty, staff and students with a story to tell. Here’s someone you should know.Fiction writing professor and award-winning author Joe Meno has written five novels, two short stories and still finds time to spend with his family.  Meno, who earned both his undergraduate and graduate degrees fro...

Multicultural Affairs to host fashion show

By CiaraShook

October 12, 2009

Multicultural Affairs will present “Kaleidoscope,” their second fashion show fundraiser, which will showcase designs from around the world this Friday.“Kaleidoscope” will show Columbia’s diverse cultures by featuring unique fashions from around campus and as far away as Tokyo.  All of the proceeds from this event will go to Chicago Cultural Alliance,  a nonprofit consortium working to build an understanding of c...

Columbia faculty, students remember Carol Ann Stowe

By LauraNalin

October 12, 2009

Carol Ann Stowe was an innovative, one-of-a-kind leader of the Early Childhood Education program at Columbia for the past 16 years. Considered by her family to be a devoted mother and exceptional teacher, her colleagues refer to her as the “matriarch” of their tight-knit working community.Stowe died Sunday, Oct. 4 at the age of 57. She is survived by her husband, who was her high school sweetheart, three daughters and t...

College lawsuit pending

By BenitaZepeda

October 12, 2009

On Oct. 5, former Columbia faculty member Suriyha H. Smiley filed a civil lawsuit against the college after she was terminated for allegedly making an anti-Semitic comment to astudent.  She alleges the college subjected her to racial discrimination, which ledto her termination.Smiley, who was a part-time faculty member in the Radio Department for more than 14 years, allegedly told one of her students, “I should have kn...

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