College of Arts & Sciences

College of Arts & Sciences

What's News

  Socrates and Basketball
  American Sign Language Introduced
  The Farm Project is Buzzing
  Design Meets the Inner City
  Exploring Tolkien
  A Nod to Western Civilization
  Milestones: Faculty Promotions and Retirements


But How is Socrates' Jump Shot?

In the locker room, suiting up for practice on a warm August afternoon, members of the Husky basketball team were engaged in a rousing discussion. The subject? Socrates.

Yes, really.

Team members had just come from a class on the Greek philosopher, held in their meeting room across the hall. The class was part of a five-credit course created specifically for the basketball team, taught by James Clauss, professor of classics and director of the UW Honors Program. The inspiration for the course was the basketball team’s 11-day trip to Greece in September, during which they were scheduled to play five games against professional basketball teams. Clauss held classes before, during, and after the trip.

  Child looking at bones
James Clauss, center, visits the Acropolis with Husky basketball team members Quincy Pondexter (left) and Joel Smith..

“A lot of our teams get the opportunity to do international trips,” says Kim Durand, associate athletic director for student development. “We thought it would be so great to add an educational component.”

Clauss, an avid basketball fan with considerable experience leading study abroad programs, was both thrilled and apprehensive about joining the team on the tour. “I did not know how the student athletes would respond to a topic as seemingly rarefied and uncool as Greek philosophy,” says Clauss, “but they rose to the occasion and, what is more, they even seemed genuinely accepting of my participation on the trip.”

Clauss was also impressed by the team’s willingness to delve into the study of Socrates. First he had the students read Plato’s Apology, in which Socrates argues that an unexamined life is not worth living. Then they read Euthyphro, in which the Socratic method—the endless asking of probing questions—is introduced.

“After reading both books, the students commented that Socrates may have been an honorable man, but he was too in-your-face. He was unrelenting,” says Clauss. “They saw both sides of him with tremendous clarity. I was thrilled because they understood the material as well as, if not better than, other classes I have taught. That excellent athletes cannot be excellent students is, for want of a better word, a myth!”

During their time in Greece, the group met several more times, working around the team’s game schedule and various organized tours. Upon their return to Seattle, classes continued. By this time, the students were attempting their own Socratic dialogues on such issues as the nature of piety and happiness.

For their final project, the students merged the Socratic method and new technology. Working in pairs, they attempted a Socratic dialogue on a topic of their own choosing, using instant messaging on their computer. It’s a technique Clauss has tried with a friend and found both enlightening and challenging. “It caused me to be much more thoughtful in my responses,” says Clauss, “and I ended up with conclusions I wouldn’t have anticipated because the process of instant messaging allowed the conversation to slow down.”

Clauss hopes that exposure to Socratic dialogue will have a lasting impact on his students. “My goal was to introduce them to a mode of thinking that will remain with them for the rest of their lives,” says Clauss, who describes the class as “one of the most rewarding teaching experiences I’ve ever had.”

And the students’ response? Clauss smiles as he recalls how one basketball player, participating in a Socratic dialogue, blurted out in surprise, “Oh my God! I’m a philosopher!”


American Sign Language Introduced

UW students interested in studying American Sign Langauge have had to look elsewhere for courses—until now. As of Autumn Quarter 2007, the UW Department of Linguistics is offering a course in American Sign Language (ASL), with a full-time lecturer teaching two sections of ASL each quarter.

“Linguistics is a natural home for ASL,” says Julia Herschensohn, professor and chair of the Department of Linguistics. Herschensohn points out that the department has previously offered a course on the structure of sign language—focusing on ASL’s linguistic properties—and several students have completed ASL-related dissertations.

Herschensohn credits Richard Ladner, a UW computer science professor and adjunct professor of linguistics whose parents were deaf, with spearheading the effort to offer ASL courses at the UW. “It has been a personal mission of his,” she says. “He’s really been the force behind this.”

The ASL courses are being funded by the Provost’s Office and the College of Arts and Sciences, with additional program support from The Norcliffe Foundation and Ladner.
The response from students has been overwhelming. The two sections of ASL offered during Autumn Quarter—each limited to 22 students—filled immediately, with more than 300 students on the waiting list.

In addition to the ASL course, an Introduction to Deaf Studies course will be offered during Spring Quarter 2008. ASL is not a prerequisite for that class, which will include guest lecturers from the deaf community.

“Students are hungry for these classes,” says Herschensohn. “There has been a real need for this.”


The Farm Project is Buzzing

By university standards, the newest residence hall on campus is pretty small, but those living there don’t seem to mind. They are honeybees, enlisted to assist in a student farm project, through which students are growing a variety of urban crops on about one-quarter of an acre near the Botany Greenhouse.

Kids look at an animal skeleton with a UW student.  
Evan Sugden, dressed in protective gear, works iwth bees he established in a hive on campus this summer. Photo by Mary Levin.  

Evan Sugden, a UW Department of Biology lecturer, placed the hive in the southern part of the main campus during the summer. The bees are essential for pollinating fruit-producing plants, and help students understand one of the important steps in food production.

“This way students can do more than study biology from a textbook,” says Sugden, who supplies bees to fruit and almond growers.

Alan Trimble, also a biology lecturer, leads the student farm project, which aims to make up for what Trimble considers woeful gaps in the students’ knowledge. The project involves about 135 students, most of them undergraduates.

“Many of them don’t know where their food comes from,” Trimble says. “Unless it is wrapped in plastic with a label on it, they have a hard time identifying the plants that they depend on for food.”

Trimble adds that the farm project also offers students important lessons in sustainability. If he had his way, the vast expanses of UW lawns would become models for sustainable urban agriculture.

“Most of the people in the world live in urban areas, and many of those areas have small-scale agriculture blended throughout, growing on rooftops or in median strips,” he explains, adding that producing more food locally would greatly reduce associated transportation costs and carbon emissions.

The students in the farm project are gradually carrying the sustainability message beyond the campus, but Trimble would like to see the UW become a leader in teaching sustainable practices to students and advocating those practices to the larger population.

“My dream in this is that the 800 to 900 acres that the campus comprises could be turned into a large farm space that can feed a lot of students,” he says.

The article above is excerpted from a story published in the July 5, 2007 issue of University Week.


Design Meets the Inner City

Growing up in Richmond, California, Maurice Woods (‘95, ‘05) wanted out. And the way out, he thought, was through sports or music. “In my neighborhood we didn’t know many other options,” he says.

Woods, now a successful graphic designer, wants inner city kids to see design as another option. So he created the Inneract Project, a summer program for inner city youth, offered through the School of Art.

Adult visitors discuss bones with student volunteers.
  Maurice Woods looks on as a student tries his hand at a design challenge on the first day of the Inneract Project. Photo by Christopher Ozubko.

When he arrived at the UW as a freshman, Woods would have seemed an unlikely candidate to create such a program. A gifted athlete with the height to match (he’s 6’10”), Woods nabbed a basketball scholarship and envisioned a career in the NBA. But after a rocky start on the Husky basketball team, he realized he needed a backup plan.

“When I realized I might not make it to the NBA, I didn’t know what to do,” Woods recalls. “I was kind of stuck.” Woods had always enjoyed art, so his mother suggested that he try a design course. “I took one class and just loved it,” he says. “It just felt natural to me.”

Despite frequent road trips with the Husky basketball team, Woods was determined to succeed. He frequently completed design assignments in his hotel room at 2 a.m., while his roommate slept.

“What was so memorable about Mo was that he was playing basketball all the time but he was the first one in class and the first one to put his work on the wall [to be critiqued],” says Christopher Ozubko, UW professor of design and director of the School of Art. “He really wanted this and worked hard. He had so much discipline.”

After graduating, Woods played basketball professionally in Europe for seven years, freelancing for design firms during the summer. After retiring from basketball in 2001, he worked as a designer for two years. He then returned to the UW for a master’s degree in visual communication design, where he dreamed up the Inneract Project.

Woods was taking a course in which students were asked to find a way to use design to change the world. He began thinking about the community in which he was raised, and “it started to build from that,” he recalls. “The idea was to expose inner city kids to design. I wrote a proposal, and my professor, Annabelle Gould, encouraged me to see if it could be realized.”

Through his connections as a community center basketball coach, Woods was able to secure a community center location for Inneract. He planned the curriculum and taught the program to students ages 10 to 16, creating design assignments that “got the students thinking about how to solve things visually.” The group also met with designers at Adobe, Starbucks, and other companies. Impressed with the program, Ozubko invited Woods to offer it at the School of Art the following summer.

Kids look at an animal skeleton with a UW student.  
Inneract participants work on a project.  

Since earning his MFA degree in 2005, Woods has returned to San Francisco but remains intent on continuing the Inneract Project. He and Ozubko redesigned the program so that UW Design graduate students could teach it. Tom Futrell, Cassie Klinger, and Tojo Andrianarivo volunteered their time in 2007. Woods flew to Seattle to discuss Inneract with them and to speak with participants on the program’s first day; he made a second visit to attend a culminating exhibit of the participants’ work at the Jacob Lawrence Gallery.

“When Mo talks to these kids about design and why it is important that they consider it as an option, he is so passionate about it,” says Ozubko. “He’s got them. He is really a great ambassador for design.”

Woods is currently developing an Inneract Project for the San Francisco Bay area. “I’m expecting that this program will eventually be national,” says Woods. “That’s my goal.”


Exploring Tolkien

Adult visitors discuss bones with student volunteers.
  Robin Stacey. Photo by Mary Levin.

Robin Stacey first read J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings as a teenager. Years later, as a professor of history, she created an honors course about Tolkien, using his works to explore the use of myth to understand challenges we face in the modern world. The course earned accolades from students and colleagues and was soon added to the regular curriculum. It remains a consistently popular offering.

Now the public will have an opportunity to hear Stacey discuss Tolkien as she presents “J.R.R. Tolkien: The Storyteller’s Story,” a five-part lecture series offered by the College of Arts and Sciences and the UW Alumni Association. The series begins January 15, 2008.

“The lectures will represent subjects covered in the class,” says Stacey. “We’ll be looking at Tolkien in an historical context, including how his own life influenced his work.”

In addition to being a novelist, Tolkien was an Oxford University professor who taught medieval languages and literature. His fascination with language and all things medieval figured prominently in his writing.

“It was Tolkien’s love of language that got him started as a writer,” says Stacey. “What became Middle Earth, the setting of Lord of the Rings, had its origins in his habit of inventing complex language systems for which he then felt compelled to construct entire new worlds and populations.”

As a medievalist, Tolkien was also inspired by the northern mythologies of early England, Scandinavia, and the Celtic lands—stories inhabited by heroes and monsters. But in his own work, those classic tales of heroism are tempered by his experience as a soldier in World War I, which included the loss of two of his best friends.

Tolkien was also a devout Catholic. Although religion is not addressed directly in his novels, says Stacey, his works are “influenced deeply by his faith and questions of good and evil. One of the great things about Tolkien’s work is that nothing is simple. That is part of what people are moved by in his stories.”

Undergraduates enrolled in Stacey’s Tolkien course must read many of his books before the course even begins. There is no such requirement for the lecture series, but Stacey does recommend some familiarity with Tolkien’s work.

“I hope those attending will have at least seen the Lord of the Rings movies,” she says. “If they have read the books, the lectures will mean more to them.”

Registration for the lecture series opens on December 1. For more details, visit uwalum.com on or after December 1.


A Nod to Western Civilization

A $2.4 million gift from Jerry Hanauer is welcome news for Western Civilization scholars at the UW.

Hanauer, who had previously funded a faculty fellowship in history, has now established the Joff Hanauer Endowment for Excellence in Western Civilization, in memory of his son. The endowment provides support for faculty and graduate students teaching and pursuing scholarly work in Western Civilization.

Hanauer’s interest in the tenets of Western Civilization is personal as well as scholarly. His family has its roots in Europe; Jerry was born in Germany and moved to Liechtenstein with his family in 1935. Before long they moved again—this time to Seattle—where they purchased Pacific Coast Feather Company. The Hanauer family has continued to maintain ownership of the company, and under Jerry’s leadership, from 1972 to 1999, it became the largest basic bedding company in North America.

The Joff Hanauer Endowment for Excellence will fund two professorships and several graduate student fellows (Joff Hanauer Fellows), creating a community of Western Civilization scholars. The holder of one professorship will meet regularly with the fellows to foster intellectual collaboration and provide guidance; the other Joff Hanauer Professor will teach an annual undergraduate Honors course on Western Civilization and find ways to link honors students with the Joff Hanauer Fellows.

“With its emphasis on bringing together faculty and graduate students with a shared focus on Western Civilization, this endowment will benefit a wide range of scholars,” says Ron Irving, interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “This generous gift will have a major impact in the College.” usee him being governor of the State of Washington. Or a senator. I see him being a public servant in the purest and most positive way.”


Milestones: Faculty Promotions and Retirements

Congratulations to A&S faculty who have received promotions since Autumn 2006. They are listed here with their new titles. Promotion to Associate Professor carries tenure.

American Ethnic Studies: Gail Nomura, Associate Professor
Anthropology: Ann Anagnost, Professor; Janelle Taylor, Associate Professor
Art: Philip Govedare, Professor
Asian Languages and Literature: Paul Atkins, Associate Professor; Sohee Kim, Senior Lecturer
Astronomy: Ana Larson, Senior Lecturer; Toby Smith, Senior Lecturer
Biology: Helen Buttemer, Senior Lecturer; Alison Crowe, Senior Lecturer; Susan Moore, Affliliate Professor
Communication: David Domke, Professor: John Gastil, Professor: Malcolm Parks, Professor
Dance: Mark Haim, Senior Artist in Residence; Jennifer Salk, Associate Professor
Earth and Space Sciences: Jaakko Putkonen, Research Associate Professor; Gerard Roe, Associate Professor
Economics: Fahad Khalil, Professor; Eric Zivot, Professor
English: Robert Abrams, Professor; Jessica Burstein, Associate Professor
Geography: Michael Brown, Professor; Craig Jeffrey, Associate Professor (joint with
Jackson School of International Studies)
Germanics: Richard Block, Associate Professor
History: Linda Nash, Associate Professor
Jackson School of International Studies: Patrick Christie, Associate Professor
(joint with Marine Affairs); Angelina Godoy, Associate Professor (joint with Law, Societies, and Justice)
Mathematics: Isabella Novik, Associate Professor
Music: Thomas Collier, Associate Professor
Near Eastern Languages and Civilization: Selim Sirri Kuru, Associate Professor
Philosophy: Ronald Moore, Professor; Angela Smith, Associate Professor
Physics: David Cobden, Associate Professor; Paula Heron, Professor; Dam Son, Professor
Political Science: Rachel Cichowski, Associate Professor (joint with Law, Societies, and Justice); Aseem Prakash, Professor; Gary Segura, Professor
Psychology: Randall Kyes, Research Professor; Jeanette Norris, Affiliate Associate Professor; Lee Osterhout, Professor; Yuichi Shoda, Professor
Scandinavian Studies: Christine Ingebritsen, Professor; Andrew Nestingen, Associate Professor
Sociology: Becky Pettit, Associate Professor
Speech and Hearing Sciences: Truman Coggins, Professor; Robert Miller, Senior Lecturer; Laura Sargent, Senior Lecturer
Statistics: Tilmann Gneiting, Professor; Marina Meila, Associate Professor; Thomas Richardson, Professor

The following faculty have retired since Autumn 2006. Other retirements may be pending.

Eric Adelberger, Physics
Manfred Bansleben, Germanics
Arnold Bendich, Biology
Julian Besag, Statistics
Anatol Brodsky, Chemistry
Robert Carpenter, Speech and Hearing
Gary Christian, Chemistry
Gerald Eck, Anthropology
Jurgen Klausenburger, Linguistics
Alvin L. Kwiram, Chemistry
Charles Keyes, Anthropology and Jackson School of International Studies
Stephen Malone, Earth and Space Sciences
Steve Monk, Mathematics
Kim Nguyen, Asian Languages and Literature
Richard Parks, Economics
Lynn Riddiford, Biology
Sievert Rohwer, Burke Museum and Biology
Millie Russell, Biology
J. Michael Schurr, Chemistry
Robert Shulman, English
Kurt Snover, Physics
James Truman, Biology
John Walter, American Ethnic Studies
John Wingfield, Biology

Return to Table of Contents, Autumn 2007