Message from Interim Associate Dean, Becky Jo Gesteland

How Do We Connect?

On my Sunday walk with the dogs I encounter a variety of people: a resident of the apartment complex who sits in his wheelchair enjoying a smoke and expectorating loudly; some young executives in khakis carrying their clubs to the golf course; a pair of elderly couples who make their way toward the pickle ball courts; four soccer teams playing spirited matches; several families dressed in their Sunday best who drive or walk to church. Two girls giggle as Bubba walks by then come forward to pet him. I introduce him, say hello. Then they run back to their mother. We come close without touching. My dogs reach out beyond my circle of comfort to approach strangers, to say hello. They pull to the extent of their leashes seeking physical and olfactory contact. We humans cross paths, avoiding eye contact, barely acknowledging each other’s passing.

But what if we don’t have furry animals to connect us to other people? Perhaps we share something on Facebook, read a good book, travel to another country, or write letters to the editor. We turn to those ways of speaking, writing, and communicating that connect us to other human beings. In short, we reach toward the Humanities.

The mission of The Telitha E. Lindquist College of Arts & Humanities (CAH) is to teach “students to excel as they seek, understand, question and express complexities critical to the experience of being human as represented in languages, literature, communication, and visual and performing arts.” We teach students how to analyze and interpret the world and express themselves critically and creatively. Specifically, our students
  1. Navigate our increasingly digital world, sorting through our information overload, and re-connecting us to what really matters
As E.O. Wilson, an American biologist so eloquently puts it, we are “drowning in information while starving for wisdom” (Starving for Wisdom). Students in CAH learn how to make meaning of all this random information.

2. Pursue a wide range of disciplines and post-graduate programs

Our students go into law, medicine, technical writing, public relations, translation, media, website design, and so on. Higher Education increasingly values the preparation offered by humanities degrees, for example, A Top Medical School Revamps Requirements To Lure English Majors.
  1. Become moral thinkers and engaged citizens
Weber State University goes a step beyond and puts coursework into action through community-engaged learning (CEL). Many CAH faculty members teach CEL-designated classes that involve a community service project as part of the course requirement. The Center for Community-Engaged Learning (CCEL) aims to “engage students, faculty and staff members in service, democratic engagement, and community research to promote civic participation, build community capacity, and enhance the educational process.”

As part of CCEL, the Engaged Learning Series (ELS) offers a university-wide series of events designed to engage students, faculty, staff, and community in discussion, debate, dialogue, learning, and action around an issue of public concern. For 2015-2016, the series aims to raise awareness, improve personal behavior, and increase public engagement around the issue of “waste.” The first event, Confetti & Distress/Honey & Suspicion, features Sacramento sculptor Elisabeth Higgins O’Connor who makes waste into art. Please join us for the opening reception on Friday, September 11, at 7 p.m. in The Mary Elizabeth Dee Shaw Gallery. Then explore campus, enlarge your view and enact change on the ELS website.

I encourage you to attend Lindquist College of Arts & Humanities events and share your experiences on our college Facebook, Twitter and YouTube channels. Together we can re-connect and rediscover our humanity.

Becky Jo Gesteland
Associate Dean
Telitha E. Lindquist College of Arts & Humanities