By Matthew A. Jonassaint
Whether you’re a plumber or a business executive, Dr. Michael Minch believes you should have an interest war, hunger, peace, and democracy. Of course, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and lose focus when one sees the problems we face today. That’s where Dr. Minch steps in to give students from all majors and backgrounds a practical approach to finding solutions to those problems.
He is the director of the Peace and Justice Studies program, which “has graduated nine students with the minor and four of which are in graduate programs across the country. That’s something we should be proud of.” He describes his role in the program as both intellectually and morally energizing, but also believes it is a privilege to teach. Dr. Minch would like to see the program eventually offer more opportunities for students to work on peacemaking and conflict resolution in the field by traveling to various regions around the world such as Haiti, India, Tanzania, Ireland and countries in the Middle East.—
In addition to being one of the most knowledgeable professors here, he is also one of the most approachable. His classes are rigorous but always rewarding, and when he’s not enjoying a break at the Smokehouse restaurant a few blocks from campus or practicing music, he’s focused on making students conscious and capable of finding human solutions to basic human problems.
Years ago in the San Fransisco Bay area, punk music was not yet on the cultural radar and a select few had a larger project to rethink the configuration of society and create new spaces where stories could be shared. Out of that background, Dr. John Goshert is now teaching English classes where students are introduced to critical ways of looking at American culture and history through contemporary literature.
Dr. Goshert chooses to teach English literature, in part, because he believes that storytelling is able to enable access to historical and cultural knowledge which may seem inert or unapproachable on the surface. “History is more than a set of facts and information. It’s the way that you can bring the significance of those facts to life.”
His classes are intellectually stimulating and part of being in any of his classes is asking questions that usually have no easy answers. For Dr. Goshert, however, sometimes just challenging conventional information by asking questions is a good step. One thing is for sure: you will have a much better grasp on current social issues like race, gender and culture after a class with Goshert.
“Even if there isn’t a keen understanding of American history, or even an interest, that’s reason enough to learn.”
“Poetry is propaganda,” says English professor Dr. Laura Hamblin with a smile. “And that’s good news.”
Hamblin is involved in producing a documentary detailing her interviews with Iraqi women in refugee camps in Jordan (due out sometime next year) as well as various humanitarian aid interests, but her main focus for right now is her poetry and literature classes. Hamblin knows that the world is filled with many problems, but the only way to solve those problems is with human solutions. The best way she knows how to do that is with poetry and creative writing.
“Poetry is the best way to express the human condition because poetry is the most honest language. You don’t write poetry to just sell it to get popular. Most language is used as a means to an end, but poetry is both a means and an end.” Finding one’s spiritual voice is crucial to understanding the larger problems throughout the globe, and also key to resonating with others in our condition. The solutions to most global concerns, Hamblin believes, can and will be found this way. “Some people think, ‘Ho hum, Jesus will come and fix everything.” She thinks this is unproductive and far less important than developing one’s own voice.