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Funny... I don't feel dead! If you've forgotten JMC - You weren't there!

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What courses at JMC had a particular impact on you? Why?


Social Psychology - it personally impacted me, and led to my involvement in social change in the non-profit sector today.

Independent study - Astrophysics, Altered States of Consciousness, and the study of "Urban" Housing in East Lansing my senior year*.

*Urban housing later became my Field of Study 11 years later for my MPA from San Francisco State. It is what I do for a living now in Santa Rosa, California.

- David Brigode (Student: 1969 - 1973)


The science fiction class by Glenn Wright and Leonard Isaacs was particularly appealing; both for the intensive reading schedule and paper writing, but also for the insights into contemporary themes incorporated into sci-fi as literature. The organic gardening class by Ed Vandervelde both provided training and knowledge of gardening that I still use today. It also reawakened my interest in earth science, which resulted in my later career choices.

- Paul M. Buehrle (Student: 1969 - 1973)


I believe that my language courses have had a lasting impact on my life. I continue to work at the language, and I travel to France as often as I possibly can. In many ways it has become a second home to me. Learning another language just opened me up to such a much larger world than I could have realized in any other manner. It emboldened me to lead a more independent and resourceful life than had I not pursued a language. Succeeding in taking two years of a language in one year showed me that I could do anything that I set my mind to do in life. Surviving in another country with a newly acquired language without the use of my native language taught me to be adaptable, and to accept change as a positive force in life, rather than a negative in life.

- Dennis Hall (Student: 1965 - 1969)


'Myth, Ritual and Drama' continues to inhabit my dreams. 'Freud Meets Darwin on a Golden Bough' (not sure about that title) was good preparation for grad school in literature. 'In the Bright Existence.' 'The Numbers Game.' I could go on.

The two things that I remember best about courses like "Myth Ritual and Drama" are the interdisciplinary approach and the do-reflect pattern that has been such a staple in my life since JMC. Almost nothing about the 20th Century is resolvable using single discipline methods, and I believe my willingness to approach issues and problems from several perspectives had made my life better.

"In the Bright Existence" taught me how to work with others. Whatever our differences (personal, professional, otherwise) we put them aside when we raised the curtain. That lesson has served me well.

"Freud meets Darwin on a Golden Bough" again speaks to an interdisciplinary, eclectic approach to knowledge. That is still my natural approach to new material.

"The Numbers Game," despite a fairly clear bias against understanding the world from statistics, taught me about how to read stats and how people often use them to distort reality.

- Mark Harris (Student: 1973 - 1977)


"Myth, Ritual, and Drama", team-taught by Sears Eldredge, Glenn Wright, and somebody else, from psychology I believe..., was unquestionably the best course I've ever taken anywhere. It broadened and deepened my entire experience of life, and of literature, and religion, and what we're doing here. I still learn from it to this day... I have little "aha!" experiences hearkening back to something that came up in that class.

- Steve (Taggart) Johgart (Student: 1973 - 1975)


I&E. Especially the Journal which I still have and is a source of embarrassment and pride.

- Leonard Kaufmann (Student: 1967 - 1969)


The language requirement very definitely led to my major (French) and my experience teaching in a French school in Africa.

It was a very different era, and I was more focused as an undergraduate on "finding myself" rather than developing a career competency. For this reason, the philosophy and religion courses were very important to me: Paul Hurrell’s courses entitled "Philosophical Problems of Religious Belief" and "Existentialism," Fred Graham’s course in "20th Century Theology." I remember my very first classroom experience as a freshman from a small town in Michigan was George Joyaux’s course in "20th Century French Literature." What an introductory eye-opener to the reality that there are many ways of thinking! At first I was shocked, and then I was almost joyously overwhelmed.

- Carl Koivuniemi (Student: 1965 - 1969)


Dynamics of Underprivileged Communities (Cade); Crane's American University Novel, and a course on Woodrow Wilson and after (I can't recall the teacher's name on that one).

- Suzanne Levy (Student: 1965 - 1969)


I & E, and Spanish. In the former, I learned more about writing than elsewhere. In the latter, I learned that choosing Spanish as a possible major (in advance of college) was foolish.

- William McGarvey (Student: 1966 - 1971)


Don't recall any particular course; really got a lot out of each of them as they were so eye-opening to a kid from Texas who was educated in a small town more focused on football than education.

- Joe Milkes (Student: 1967 - 1971)


See above comments on teaching.

- Pamela Oestreicher (JMC faculty: 1976 - 1978)


Glenn Wright’s literature courses and Harold Johnson’s course that included simulation games.

Why? Glenn’s courses were very difficult for me, as I mentioned I felt out of my league with the writers and students of literature that I was in class with. He helped me look at literature in a whole new way, how not to read just for content, but also for style. He was also one of those people who just really seemed to be intrigued by me for reasons I couldn’t quite fathom (I think it had something to do with my interest in show dogs) Harold’s class just really made me think about why people do what they do, how organizations work, stuff that intrigues me to this day.

- Cleo Parker (Student: 1974 - 1978)


Freshman Russian had me dreaming in Russian within the first six weeks. Thirty-seven years later I occasionally dream in Russian, and I still recall significant chunks of dialogues, songs and poetry.

The Alex Butler architecture appreciation course I mentioned earlier has enabled me to enjoy and critique buildings of every kind all over the world. It has been a constant source of joy, amusement and occasional annoyance.

World Power and Mass Society taught by Dr. Charles Hirschfeld in the fall of 1966 led me to the collected works of Theodore Roosevelt in the MSU Library. To gather information for a paper on the Bull Moose Party platform I had to slit open the pages of one of the volumes; in all the years it had been on the shelves I was the first to read it.

I traveled to the Soviet Union in the summer of 1967 for my foreign study experience. It provided the foundation for a twenty-year career in the armed forces.

Politics 68 - team taught by Dr. Harold Johnson, Dr. Milt Powell and graduate student Marc Asch - was probably one of the last interesting political conventions held in this country.

Dr. Sandra Warden’s course on human sexuality was a brave attempt at providing a basis for understanding a facet of life that was not receiving much rational consideration in those days.

- Charles K. Roberts (Student: 1966 - 1970)


History courses. This is when I first began to understand my place in history, in the world. This is when I first learned about primary sources, and how the story of the world is filtered by each writer who publishes history. I was given responsibility to define my own course of research and to define the path I would use to investigate history.

- Nancy R. Shaffer (Student: 1972 - 1975)


Joel Aronoff’s use of Maslow in having us write our own Utopias. It caused me to reexamine every role and aspect of my culture of origin, and is part of the reason for my moral outrage at injustice and willingness to leap into political combat using ideas and the written word.

- Deborah Sirotkin Butler (JMC Student: 1966 - 1970)


Martin Benjamin’s moral philosophy course was the single largest step toward my eventual career in philosophy of law, and had a huge impact on how I make moral choices.

R. Glenn Wright and Lenny Isaacs, in courses taught singly and together, had a big impact on my becoming an interdisciplinary scholar by showing me how it could be done well, and by showing how much fun it is to trace interconnections between literature, the natural sciences, and the social sciences.

- John Stick (Student: 1971 - 1975)


I enjoyed the Inquiry and Expression classes from freshman year. I found the task of studying a topic or a movie or a message, and then evaluating it or applying it to my life or current events to be not only interesting, but also invigorating. I also enjoyed some of the science and religion classes I took. They helped me to broaden my life’s experiences, to go from the country girl life to take a look at the rest of the world, how things look to others, and then make new decisions and directions based on new input.

- Darlene Swartz-Hubsky (Student: 1969 - 1973)


As I mentioned above, the multi-disciplinary courses were very important to me because they taught me critical thinking skills that I still use every day.

One thing JMC did a lot of was have two professors with different backgrounds teach one class from two perspectives, showing where their two fields intersected. There was a class on religion and psychology taught by professors of religion and psychology. There was a course on science and politics, taught by a physicist and a political scientist. There were others.

What I got from these classes was an ability to see and make connections between fields that most people think are entirely separate. This is a skill that continues to amaze my colleagues at work. I just shrug and say, that’s the way I was taught to think at JMC. …

Another aspect of JMC that was important was that the classes were at an advanced level and made no distinction between freshman and senior level classes. Persons from all four years could be in a class. There were no freshman survey classes. You were thrown in off the deep end and expected to do the work and learn. It was a challenge at the time, but it was a great preparation for life and a career. You had to be a highly motivated self-starter to flourish at JMC. That was important.

- Robert Walter (Student: 1969 - 1974)


General comments:

It's fair to say the JMC courses' general form had the main pedagogical impact on me. The 'heuristic learning' paradigm essentially threw us undergrads into upper-division / graduate - style seminars where we had to 'sink or swim' in getting up to speed on background materials and disciplinary basics. By focusing on specific topics (as opposed to 'Intro to X'), the courses held my interest enough to make me work.

Some JMC courses had impacts above and beyond those they had on the participating students. The multidisciplinary 8 credit seminar on Science Fiction created by Leonard Isaacs (Nat Sci) and Glenn Wright (Lit) established a basis for bringing the Clarion Writers Workshop to MSU. The multidisciplinary 8 credit 'Environment Project' course (cf. below) generated data and documentation directly employed in justifying and negotiating major changes in the Snyder-Phillips residential environment (e.g., the first coeducational residence arrangements on the MSU campus).


Specific courses that really impacted me:

'Environment Project' : Spring 1970 . This was a participatory action-oriented course led by architect Tom Jaeger of Chicago. It was an 8-credit double course (interdisciplinary between humanities and social science). Jaeger organized us into 4 teams - each focused on one aspect of the JMC college 'environment' (e.g., educational program, physical facilities, etc.). Each team worked independently to research and analyze its topical area, reporting back to Jaeger each week. He drove us hard. The project's main product - a massive document entitled The Environment Report - was the main piece of evidence submitted in negotiating significant changes in Snyder-Phillips administration and organization. We literally researched, analyzed, and re-engineered our own college in one term. The project skills I learned in that course have served me well ever since. More importantly, that course taught me to 'try'…

Genetics / Genetic Engineering: 1971 or 1972. This was a topical course in JMC Nat Sci taught by Leonard Isaacs. We reviewed the field of genetics, including a detailed review of scientific work. This set the basis for discussing the prospects for genetics in medicine and in society generally. We were literally studying genetic engineering 25 years before 'genomics' became a household word. This course was an eye-opener. It illustrated how the topical course format, employed by a dedicated teacher wanting to interrelate multiple disciplines, could 'educate' students far more than a simple lecture course could.

Inquiry and Expression: Freshman year. The ability to analyze and write about the focal topics, then cross-critique everyone's work in a small group environment, really helped me learn the sort of research and writing skills for which I'm valued today. (Cf. my comments on Question 11)

- Randy Whitaker (Student: 1969 - 1973)


Believe it or not the one course that had the most impact on me was a kind of music recognition course taught by Barbara Ward. In the class we had to listen to tapes of different classical composers and learn to recognize who had written pieces that were played back to us in class. This was something that was very difficult for me at first. I remember going to the music library or whatever it was in one of the basements of Phillips or Snyder and listening for hours to those tapes, and actually got to the point where I could recognize every piece of music. It was one of the biggest accomplishments that I ever think I had in JMC, and I'm sure it helped make music one of my biggest joys in life. I had a couple of courses from Glenn Wright on analyzing short stories, and that had a big impact on me. It just kind of opened my eyes to how accomplished some of these writers really are.

- Larry Wickett (Student: 1965 - 1969; ongoing JMC experience til 1976)

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