Vive la France: Paris Liberated 75 Years Ago

Paris was freed from Nazi occupation 75 years ago on August 25, 1944. The Germans took over Paris on June 14, 1940, leading to France’s signing an armistice with Germany and a puppet government’s establishment in France. Gen. Charles de Gaulle continued to lead the Free French in resistance to German rule. The French 2nd Armored Division, formed in London at the end of 1943, arrived in Normandy in August 1944, and on the 19th, the French Resistance began its uprising against the Germans. Gen. Jacques-Philippe Leclerc led the Armored Division into the city, reaching its center shortly before midnight on the 24th. By the morning of Aug. 25, 1944, Paris was free.

Two Hope history professors can expertly speak about this momentous day and its after-effects.

Dr. Lauren Janes, associate professor of history, researches and writes about the history of French imperialism and French food history. She can especially address the importance of the French colonies and French colonial subjects to the Free French forces. Janes leads a May Term to Paris every year and teaches about modern French imperialism and French history in the 20th century.

Dr. Fred Johnson III, associate professor of history, teaches about modern European history, U.S. military history, and the history of U.S. foreign policy. He can especially address America’s WWII strategic bombing campaign, the complexities and challenges of the Grand Alliance against the Axis powers, and the U.S.’s involvement in D-Day and the liberation of Europe.

Addressing Summer Slide

Say “summer slide” and many parents may think of children using a fun piece of playground equipment. But for literacy experts, summer slide takes on a different, unwelcome definition. The phrase “summer slide” describes the decline in reading ability and other academic skills that can occur over the summer months when school isn’t in session.

Dr. Deborah Van Duinen in her Hope College office

Dr. Deborah Van Duinen, associate professor of English, is expertly equipped to offer recommendations to parents to help their children avoid summer slide. Van Duinen is a literacy advocate. She writes, teaches and speaks in the area of English education, disciplinary literacy, young adult literature and adolescent and boys’ literacy. Every year since 2014, Dr. Van Duinen has received a National Endowment for the Arts grant to direct The Big Read Lakeshore, a community-wide endeavor to broaden understanding and foster empathy through the reading of one common book. In 2016, she received the Michigan Reading Association’s Individual Literacy Award for her leadership of The Big Read and in English education.

Tree Love on Arbor Day

Hug a tree and plant one, too! It’s Arbor Day — a global holiday where communities are encouraged to plant trees — on the last Friday of April. The holiday originated in a village in Spain, Mondonedo, in 1594 and first was celebrated in America on April 10, 1872 in Nebraska. The commemorative day promotes tree planting as well as environmental awareness and responsibility.

Dr. K. Greg Murray, Dr. Kathy Winnett-Murray and Dr. Jianhua Li are Hope College biologists who have expert insights about a tree’s worth to our environment’s well-being.

Dr. K. Greg Murray and Dr. Kathy Winnett-Murray

Dr. Murray, the T. Elliot Weier Professor of Plant Science, has broad interests in community ecology and evolutionary biology, especially as they pertain to plant and animal interactions.  He and colleague Dr. Kathy Winnett-Murray, professor of biology, have also been tracking the ecological shifts in a West Michigan hemlock forest that is undergoing a potentially devastating insect infestation.

Dr. Jianhua Li

Dr. Li, associate professor of biology, uses data from anatomy, chemistry and molecular biology to study plant groups such as conifers, maples, lilacs and privets, and witch-hazels. He has written about The Tree of Life: China Project, for the Journal of Systematics and Evolution, a project that investigates the evolutionary biology of vascular plants in China. Li is also especially well-versed in Northern Hemisphere plant life, having served as a senior research scientist at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University for 10 years before coming to Hope.

Earth Day

Climate change. Oceanic garbage patches. Deforestation. Endangered species. Oh, the environmental woes we have in the only place we call home.

Let’s talk about creation care then, especially for Earth Day.

Earth Day is celebrated every April 22. First commemorated in 1970, Earth Day now includes events in more than 193 countries, which are coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network.

For Dr. Steven Bouma-Prediger, Earth Day is every day. He is the Leonard and Marjorie Maas Professor of Reformed Theology at Hope, and he oversees the environmental studies minor and chairs the Campus Sustainability Advisory Committee, also known as the Green Team.

As an environmental theologian and a strong proponent of sustainability efforts locally and nationally, Bouma-Prediger actually prefers the term “earthkeeping” since it implies that God and faith have been invited into ecological conversations. “Being a (earth)keeper, in the biblical sense, means being someone who serves and protects,” he says. He has written six books and numerous papers on the subject. He also annually teaches “Ecological Theology and Ethics” in the Adirondack Park of upstate New York.

IRS Tax Filing Deadline

April 15 marks the end of the 2018 tax filing season and is the final day to submit 2018 tax returns. For many, taxes are an unwanted chore made bittersweet by the promise of a refund. Or not. This year’s changes in the tax code have created headaches for taxpayers as unexpected payouts are being discovered by many.

Sheri Geddes, associate professor of accounting, primarily teaches individual taxation, corporate taxation, and managerial accounting at Hope. Her research interests are retirement preparation and financial literacy. Geddes is able to address the changes that have occurred for the 2018 tax filing season and how those changes affect individual taxpayers.

World Parkinson’s Day

April 11 is World Parkinson’s Day, dedicated to raising awareness and support for people who have the disease. Parkinson’s disease is a disorder of the central nervous system, with tremors being the most recognizable symptom. Over the years, researchers have found that dopamine acts as a messenger between Parkinson’s patients’ brain cells and enables them to complete everyday behaviors like moving, eating, and learning.

Dr. Leah Chase, associate professor of biology and chemistry, is one of those researchers conducting Parkinson’s disease investigations at the cellular level. In fact, looking into the brain’s biological and chemical flaws, especially as they pertain to Parkinson’s, has driven her neurological research agenda in Schaap Science Center for the past 15 years. She and her student research team made a first-time discovery about how dopaminergic brain cells naturally protect themselves against oxidative stress, a known problem in the cells of Parkinson’s sufferers. “Our research is the basic science needed in order for somebody, someday to fix the problem with a new drug,” Chase said.

March Madness Tips Off

March Madness — aka the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament — begins on March 17 with Selection Sunday and concludes April 8 with the Final Four. The women’s tournament coincides closely with those dates as well. Office bracket pools will begin and result in distracted co-workers as the “madness” encourages fans to root for expected winners while bemoaning busted brackets due to upsets and Cinderella stories. From a collegiate athletic viewpoint, “fortunes” rise and fall as teams either win or go home.

Dr. Chad Carlson, associate professor of kinesiology and director of general education

In 2017, Dr. Chad Carlson, associate professor of kinesiology and director of Hope’s general education program, published Making March Madness: The Early Years of the NCAA, NIT, and College Basketball Championship Tournaments, 1922-1951 (University of Arkansas Press). A collegiate basketball athlete himself, Carlson focuses his research on socio-cultural aspects of sport in the areas of philosophy and history of sport and their role in cultural trends. He is also especially interested in the connection between sports and Christianity, and in October 2019, he and Calvin College colleague Dr. Brian Bolt will direct the Second Global Congress on Sport and Christianity in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

World Hearing Day: March 3

On World Hearing Day — March 3 — the World Health Organization will draw attention to the importance of early identification and intervention for hearing loss. According to WHO, 466 million people have disabling hearing loss (432 million adults and 34 million children) around the world and that number continues to rise. And a recent study by Johns Hopkins University found that the number of Americans aged 20 and older who suffer from hearing loss will double over the next 43 years. Still, many people live with unidentified hearing loss, often failing to realize that they are missing out on certain sounds and words.

Dr. David Myers, professor of psychology

Dr. David Myers, professor of psychology, is the author of the book, A Quiet World: Living with Hearing Loss. In it, Myers writes of his personal experience with hearing loss, interspersed with information about the psychology of hearing and new hearing technologies. Myers is an advocate of Hearing Loop, an assistive listening system, and he recently wrote “Getting People with Hearing Loss in the Loop” for Perspectives on Psychological Science. He recently served four years as a representative of Americans with hearing loss on the advisory board of NIH’s National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.

And the Winner Is…

The 91st Annual Academy Awards, also known as the Oscars, will take centerstage on Sunday, February 24, in Hollywood, California. Deemed to be the highest honor given for artistic and technical merit in the film industry and popular for their extravagant ceremonies, the Oscars create a yearly buzz around the nominees and show. Most recently, the Academy has come under scrutiny for a lack of diversity and inclusion (#oscarssowhite), perceived overemphasis on independent films, and a mangled major presentation when LaLa Land was announced as the best picture of the year in 2017 when Moonlight was the actual winner.

Richard Smith, professor of theatre

For more than 40 years, Richard Smith, professor of theatre, has taught film studies at Hope College in his “Art of the Cinema” class. A specialist in scenography, Smith’s insights go beyond technical artistry as he can address trends, controversies and favorites when it comes to the Oscars such as,

  • How do certain actors and actresses, designers and directors, writers and craftspeople rise to the level of “best” in a certain category when so many films are released each year?
  • What happened to celebrating the “science” part of films? It is, after all, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences that bestows these awards.
  • Does this year’s more diverse nominee slate mean the Academy is on the right track toward more inclusion, or do they have more work to do?
  • Will the Academy make another attempt to save ratings and relevancy and rethink that “Best Popular Picture” category they proposed but reneged on in 2018?
  • And, why hasn’t Meryl Streep won seven Oscars after 21 nominations, instead of three? Or, why does Leonardo DiCaprio have 11 noms and just one win? And what about Spike Lee, who after 30 years directing notable films, finally received his first best director nomination for BlacKkKlansman? Hard luck? Politics? Or, is it really just an honor to be nominated?!

Random Acts of Kindness and the Superhero Effect

Practicing random acts of kindness is emotional nourishment and elevates both the giver’s and receiver’s psychological health. When we practice random acts of kindness, we just feel better about ourselves as do the recipients of our acts which then makes them more likely to be kind and helpful to other people, too. That’s the pay-it-forward effect, and it turns out viewing images of superheroes can actually contribute to it.

And what better time to think about helping, heroic or otherwise, than during Random Acts of Kindness Day on Sunday, February 17 and Random Acts of Kindness Week which begins Monday, February 18.

Dr. Daryl Van Tongeren, associate professor of psychology

New research by Dr. Daryl Van Tongeren, associate professor of psychology, several Hope College students, and colleague Dr. Jeffrey Green of Virginia Commonwealth University have found that when people are exposed to images of superheroes, they were more likely than others to engage in altruistic behavior. The findings of their study were recently published in Frontiers in Psychology, and it reveals that even subtle activation of superhero stimuli increases prosocial intentions and behavior.

Van Tongeren conducts research on the social motivation for meaning in life, the function and nature of religious beliefs, and the relationship-enhancing features of virtues, such as humility and forgiveness. His Meaning, Religion and Virtues Lab at Hope investigates why people search for meaning and how that search may, or may not, result in moral behavior.