'Identity and the Academy: Embracing Change' lecture Feb. 16 at Luther College

Is self-actualization a uniquely human process or do systems, such as academic institutions, follow a similar path? From their respective disciplines of chemistry and social work, Luther professors Brad Chamberlain and Britt Rhodes will discuss what they see changing and remaining the same in their lives, disciplines and institution.

The lecture, titled "Identity and the Academy: Embracing Change," will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 16, in the Recital Hall of the Center for Faith and Life on the Luther campus. A reception will follow in Qualley Lounge.

Both the lecture and the reception are open to the public with no charge for admission.     

The lecture will address this year's Paideia Texts and Issues theme, "Impermanence: Embracing Change." Questions about meaning and purpose are at the heart of every human being and have multiple biological, social, psychological and spiritual influences. A central question for any individual is, "Who am I becoming?" Liberal arts colleges have a historic mission of supporting the development of the individual while cultivating leaders for the common good. While knowledge and skills respond to external pressures to prepare students for jobs, the being and becoming domain requires equal attention.

Like individuals, institutions also have identities and are continually evolving in response to demands and changes in the external environment. Faculty, students and staff are undergoing transformative changes within an institution that is also transforming and responding to external pressures. What do these changes mean for the individual, community and institution?

Chamberlain has been a professor of chemistry at Luther since 2001, teaching courses and laboratories primarily in organic chemistry. During January Term, he co-leads a course in Tanzania where students explore the tensions between conservation efforts and pastoralist cultures. His collaborative scholarly work with students at Luther focuses on the development of sustainable polymers, especially plant-derived plastics that biodegrade in the environment.

Chamberlain holds a bachelor's degree from Gustavus Adolphus College and a doctoral degree in inorganic chemistry from the University of Minnesota.

Rhodes has been a professor in the social work program since 2002 teaching courses on human behavior, crisis intervention, interpersonal violence and social work practice. During January Term, Rhodes leads a course in Northern Ireland in which students explore the challenges and potential of grassroots peace building, with special attention to issues of identity, culture, and memory and the principles of forgiveness, mercy, justice and peace. Her current scholarly work focuses on trauma-informed care and contemplative pedagogy. 

Rhodes earned a bachelor's degree from Luther College and a Master of Social Work degree from Augsburg College.

The final presenter in the 2015-16 Paideia Texts and Issues series is Laura Peterson, Luther associate professor of environmental studies and chemistry. Peterson will deliver the lecture "Back to the Future: Understanding the Anthropocene" at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 15, in the Center for Faith and Life Recital Hall.

A national liberal arts college with an enrollment of 2,400, Luther offers an academic curriculum that leads to the Bachelor of Arts degree in more than 60 majors and pre-professional programs. For more information about Luther visit the college's website: http://www.luther.edu.

Britt Rhodes
Bradley Chamberlain