Summer College

2015 Summer College - June 25-28, 2015 - “If nature is your teacher, your soul will awaken.”  ― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Join alumni, parents and friends for Summer College on the Whitman College campus as we take a look at “nature” from a liberal arts perspective. Summer College includes intellectually challenging classes, lively discussions and outdoor exploration, and this year the Alumni Office has partnered with the Environmental Studies department. Faculty members from the following departments will participate: Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, Geology and the Humanities. In addition special guest Chris Davidson ’66 from Boise, Idaho, will share his passion for cataloging the world’s flora; we will spend time at the Johnston Wilderness Campus, a 27-acre compound located on upper Mill Creek in the Blue Mountains; and, weather permitting, we will view the night sky through telescopes perched on top of the Hall of Science.

Summer College kicks off with an opening reception at Baker Center, home of the Whitman College Alumni Association. Our keynote speaker is Don Snow, Sr. Lecturer of Environmental Humanities & General Studies, who will give an overview of Whitman’s popular Environmental Studies program. Morning lectures, optional afternoon activities and optional group dinners round out the program.

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Thursday Opening Session:

Building the Compleat Environmentalist: Whitman Environmental Studies and the Liberal Arts Tradition
Don Snow, Senior Lecturer of Environmental Humanities and General Studies
Perhaps the most fundamental idea in the liberal arts tradition is indisciplinarity. While the modern liberal arts student is usually required to select a major, she or he is also strongly encouraged to study the widest possible array of disciplines spanning the humanities, the arts, the sciences, and the social sciences. Interestingly, many environmental studies programs in the U.S. have evolved over the years in similar fashion. Many of them now include all of the major divisions of higher education. Whitman’s E.S. Program is a national leader in that regard. It seeks to prepare what a latter-day Izaak Walton might call The Compleat Environmentalist – an environmentally-conscious citizen equipped to navigate all aspects of environmental discovery, thought, and action. In this address, Don Snow will touch upon the rise and development of academic environmental studies programs in the U.S. with an emphasis on the unique and unusual qualities of the Whitman program. With Semester in the West and the recent development of the Environmental Humanities major, Whitman E.S. is a groundbreaking program and a model for others to follow.

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Friday and Saturday presentations include:

Associate Professor of Astronomy Andrea Dobson, '82
There’s methane on Mars, an ocean under the ice of Europa, 1500 confirmed exoplanets and counting. Life here on Earth is found in some rather extreme environments, locales not too wildly different from others we are finding in our solar system and beyond. We will consider briefly the evidence that some of these extraterrestrial environments could sustain life; how we might detect that life, if it exists; and the latest discoveries in the search for Earth-like planets elsewhere in the Galaxy. Acquiring a digital record of all the world’s flowering plant families and their habitats and fitting this into a triptych
Chris Davidson ’66, Ph.D.
About 12 years ago, my wife, Sharon Christoph, and I embarked on a quest to document all the families of flowering plants in the wild by doing a diagnostic set of images for a sample of genera and species within each family. We have visited many important high-diversity habitats including the mountains of Viet Nam, lowland moist forest of West Africa, miombo of East Africa, the karst hills of Thailand, remote cloud forest and Amazonian forest in Peru, fynbos of South Africa, rain forest and páramo of Ecuador, the Caucasus in Georgia, and Madagascar, to mention a few. Additionally, the development of molecular systematics has made it possible to document the DNA of these families, and we are doing so in a context slightly different from that of many other researchers, namely that we can do all the families in one synthesis. With a colleague at the British Museum we are using recent improvements in gene sequencing, fossil calibration and reconstructions of paleo-environments to develop an account of why these families are where they are today. And specifically, we are working on the pepper family to create a functional systematic internal structure and ultimately to figure out evolutionary and biogeographical relationships among neotropical, paleotropical and African (including Madagascar) species. Our website, (FotW) features 177,000 images from all continents and 43 countries

The Geology of Your Backyard
Nick Bader, Assistant Professor of Geology
Geologists work in all kinds of places, from active volcanoes to ice sheets to the seafloor. But you don't have to travel the globe to enjoy geology; wherever you are standing, the past, present, and future are right at your feet, if you look closely. In this class, we will examine some of the slow geologic processes happening all around you and learn to recognize their telltale signs.

Environmental Success Stories: Major pollution problems that we have solved and how our past successes empower us for the future
Frank M. Dunnivant, Professor of Chemistry
In recent years, society has been bombarded with negative 'doom and gloom' stories about our future. But our future is not fixed and in fact our environmental problems are relatively easy to fix. In this hour, we will discuss several examples of environmental disasters that we have faced over the past century (and more), yet we have overcome each of these global threats because of public outcry and technological solutions. Topics include our current and upcoming global access to clean water and sanitation, the removal of toxic metals such as lead and mercury from our environment, and our successful efforts to eliminate acid rain and ozone depleting chemicals in our atmosphere. These past major environmental successes give us hope in the final topic, a discussion of how to halt climate change.

Darwin’s Paintbrush: The science of ‘evo-devo’ behind the monkeyflower’s blush
Arielle Cooley, Assistant Professor of Biology
In this class we explore the pigments that color flowers and fruit, and some of the evolutionary stories behind them. Along the way I will introduce you to the lovely Chilean monkeyflower, and talk about how evolutionary and developmental (‘evo-devo’) research in my lab at Whitman strives to answer some of the big questions about the molecular mechanisms that generate biodiversity.

Looking like Goethe
Emily Jones, Assistant Professor of German Studies and Environmental Humanities
As a celebrated author, philosopher, artist, and scientist, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is one of the central figures in German cultural history. We will look at texts and images developed by Goethe during his long career, focusing on his preoccupations with both nature and vision. We will discuss ways of looking at nature that follow Goethe's example and reflect our contemporary environmental vision.

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Optional Dinners:

Friday evening locavore dinner on the Whitman College campus
Evening presentation “Our Wonderful Blues: A Short History of Everything”
Delbert Hutchison, Associate Professor of Biology
Everyone has a Place. Mine is the Blue Mountain region and getting to know everything about it is a lifelong, health-inducing pursuit. During this hour, we will travel through time beginning 400Mya to the present to discuss how these rugged mountains were built and how the plants, animals, and peoples came to live on and affect them to the present day. It is a fascinating story, just like the one that applies to your Place, where ever that may be.

After dark (and weather permitting) Andrea Dobson ’82, associate professor of astronomy, will provide an opportunity to view the night sky through telescopes located on the roof of the Hall of Science.

Saturday Evening Barbecue at the Johnston Wilderness campus
Post- dinner exercise the “Council of All Beings”
Professor of Geology and Environmental Studies Bob Carson
The Council of All Beings is a series of re-Earthing rituals created by John Seed and Joanna Macy to help end the sense of alienation from the living Earth that many of us feel. This workshop will renew the spirit and vision of those who serve the Earth and connect participants with deep sources of joy and inspiration. Through interactive exercises, we will practice letting go of the socially constructed, isolated self and come home to our interexistence with all forms of life.

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Optional afternoon activities include:

Friday afternoon

Option 1: Letting Go and Getting to Know a Plant
Delbert Hutchison, Associate Professor of Biology
Each and every organism around us has a 3.5 billion year history. It is utterly unique and worth getting to know. During this afternoon, we will venture into the surrounding beauty of our valley where we will disconnect from time and stress and plug into that world of natural history. You will sit with plants, take time to observe them and make notes on their features and habitats. We will rummage through field guides to find key descriptions to identify them and then make notes, both on the plants and your experiences. This kind of journal keeping is a wonderful way to connect with Nature and can bring joy and rejuvenation whenever and wherever you may be, even years after the experience.

Option 2: The Art of Serving a Bowl of Tea
Ron Takemoto, Assistant Professor of Foreign Languages and Literature – Japanese
We will celebrate how nature helps us sense seasonal changes and transitions. We will watch flowers as they “live” in front of us, listen to water boiling, taste the sweets of the season, appreciate the fragrance of incense, feel the texture of tea bowls, and allow ourselves to quietly enjoy fleeting moments that can transform how we appreciate nature and people who play an important role in our lives. Professor Akira Takemoto, Director of the Program in Asian Studies, has been practicing the art of serving tea in the Yabunouchi tradition since 1976. The Whitman College tea room, which opened in the fall of 2009, remembers the tea rooms at the Yabunouchi residence where Professor Takemoto began his training. This will be an opportunity to see Professor Takemoto serve sweets and a bowl of tea to a guest; but it will also be a chance for participants to receive Japanese sweets and tea, and then to serve a friend by “whisking” tea called matcha in tea bowls that belong to the Whitman College, Takemoto Collection of Tea utensils.

Saturday afternoon

News Bulletin: Henry David Thoreau invents the modern environmental movement!
Don Snow, Senior Lecturer of Environmental Humanities and General Studies
Julia Ireland, Associate Professor of Philosophy
The enigmatic Thoreau has invited more misinformation than the old Politboro and the last two American presidential administrations combined. Thoreau was not a hermit, not a misanthrope, not a social outcast, not a hypochondriac, and he was definitely not Annie Dillard, Edward Abbey, Terry Tempest Williams or any number of contemporary writers with whom he has been favorably compared. But one oft-cited truth about him does stand out, for reasons that evade the claimants: Thoreau did conceive the modern environmental movement, or at least important portions of it. In a messy bundle of writings which were never published until 1972 – and then remained largely unnoticed until 2000 – Thoreau, around 1860, spelled out a series of eight key “environmental ideas” that did not come to fruition until the 20th century. In this discussion, we will spend some time with Thoreau’s little-known essay “Huckleberries,” seeking to discover what was on his mind when, for once, he began to think in terms of concrete social policies.

Watershed Walk Along Mill Creek
Kevin Scribner '75, Salmon-Safe agricultural outreach, Columbia Basin
Kevin will lead an easy hike along the banks of Mill Creek through the Johnston Wilderness Campus, discussing salmon restoration and watershed protection efforts.

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Housing Information:

Plans include optional housing in Douglas Hall and on-campus meals. For those preferring the convenience of a hotel room, rooms are being held at the Hampton Inn & Suites (when you call ask for rooms being held for Whitman’s Summer College), 1531 Kelly Place, Walla Walla, WA 99362, (509) 525-1398. Rooms start at $104 for a king suite and include a full breakfast. Rooms will be held until May 25, 2015, after which we cannot guarantee availability or price.

Register ONLINE.

To request a printed registration form, email or call the Alumni Office at (509) 527-5167 or (800) 835-9448, ext. 1.

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Check out all the fun we had last year!
2014 Summer College - In Vino Veritas

Photo Slide Shows of 2014 Summer College Events
(best viewed on computer screen)

Opening Night
Sensory Evaluation Session
Vineyard Tour and Tasting
Food and Wine Pairing
Paul Gregutt Locavore Dinner
L'Ecole Vertical Tasting
Bicycle Winery Tour
Northstar Blending Experience
Mark Anderson Foundry Dinner
Myles Anderson Blind Tasting


Summer College Group Photo

2014 Summer College Group Photo

In Vino Veritas
2014 Summer College
June 25-28, 2014

Row 1: Mary Jo Stroh ’84 parent, Susan Erickson, Mark Odegard ’95, Kara Odegard, Michael Martin, Gordon Govens, Sue Griffith ’02 parent, Dana Caldart ’76, Wanda Tegnell Scott ’75, Jim Scott ’75 (kneeling), Kirstin Boyer ’88 (beside Wanda), Nancy Esterly (in front of Kristin), Daniel Esterly ’78, Rick Johnson, Peggy Johnson.

Row 2: Jim Stroh ’84 parent, Lindsey Erickson, Sharon Hopkins ’14 parent, Eugenie Ihle ’17 parent, Cindy Deshler ’17 parent, Peter Griffin ‘09, Brenna Willott ’98, Alice Hausner Hammond ’71, Patricia Shelton Stratton Heasler ’75, Laurence Ernst.

Row 3: Leah Bruhn ’17 parent, Nathan Ihle ’82 and ’17 parent, Sandy McClinton ’68, Tad Deshler ’17 parent, Jacqueline Bailey Kluksdahl ’56, Marsha Warner, Tricia Espedel ’14 parent (far right).

Row 4: Jonathan Bruhn ’17 parent, Rhoda Toulouse, Dominick Toulouse ’76, Barbara Sweany McClinton ’69, Guiseppe Cane, Peggy Nelson, Evans Van Buren ’70, John Sims ’14 parent.

Not pictured: Robin Clarke ’15 parent, Duncan Clarke ’15 parent, Kynda Curtis ’93, Henry ’61 and Patricia Forrest Huntsman ’61, Rich Wallis, Izaak Wierman.