Faculty

A tale of two forests: MU prof reflects on forest regeneration in honor of Earth Day

No Comments » Written on April 18th, 2016 by
Categories: Events, Faculty, Press Releases

Dr. Keith Swenson, professor of natural sciences, shares some fascinating thoughts on forest regeneration in honor of Earth Day, celebrated nationally on April 22.

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There still seems to be a common understanding within some circles that Earth Day and Christians don’t mix. Is this perception flawed? Let’s consider two of our great western forests.

I remember when Mount St. Helens blew. That was 36 years ago. Our family was on the Oregon coast that beautiful Sunday morning, so we didn’t witness the initial blast. But as we drove home to Portland later in the day, we saw an eruption plume rising 60,000 feet over the volcano. Later we began to learn the full extent of that day’s eruptive activity and its effects on people, landscapes and the region as a whole.

Certainly the great forest surrounding Mount St. Helens did not escape the volcanic maelstrom. Instead of producing an upward column of ash, St. Helens’ first salvo surprisingly was sideways, directly over the forest to the north. This oven-hot “stonewind,” as it was called, spread outward, producing a fan-shaped area of destruction, later named the “blast zone.” In the space of only three minutes, 230 square miles of old-growth and plantation forest was “disturbed” (to use the language of ecology) to an extreme degree. Days later, scientists observing the monotonous gray desolation, exuded dire predictions concerning the forest’s return to life. Many called it a “sterile landscape,” predicting it would be at least decades before significant recovery occurred.

But a surprise awaited! The forest began recovering from its destruction much more rapidly than prophesied. Within three years, 90% of the forest’s plant species were back and much of the animal life as well. It appeared that the forest ecosystem was equipped with mechanisms enabling it to rapidly react to cataclysmic disturbance. In ecology, an ecosystem’s ability to respond to a disturbance is termed “resilience,” and the blast zone forest at Mount St. Helens proved itself to be highly resilient.

But is an ecosystem’s resilience bounded by limits? Can humans, for example, do whatever they wish — or think best — to a forest, assured that it will bounce back? Could a forest be highly resilient and yet somewhat fragile at the same time? Let’s consider a second forest.

In 1910, a seminal event catapulted the U.S. Forest Service into national prominence. That event was a great wildfire in the northern Rockies of Montana and Idaho, usually referred to simply as the “fire of 1910,” or the “big burn.” In the span of 48 hours, three million acres of prime western white pine forest was incinerated, along with human lives and property, including the mining town of Wallace, Idaho. The fire was so monstrous that it got the attention of the nation. Something had to be done to protect our forests from fire. That job fell to the fledgling Forest Service, which over the better part of the twentieth century attempted to prevent forest fires – with some measure of success. Fires on the public lands of the West were markedly contained, but at what cost?

Through careful scientific study, much more has been learned about forest fire in more recent years. For many forests, fire is as essential for their health as good soil and adequate rain. Periodic fires control the buildup of brush and other forest fuels, provide a needed pulse of nutrients into the soil and enables certain tree species, including Douglas-fir, to regenerate. Oregon State University forest ecologist David Perry puts it this way: “We now know that fire played a crucial ecological role in these systems, and its removal set in motion a chain of events that wrecked the health of forests throughout the region, increasing their susceptibility to insects and pathogens, and making them vulnerable to fires that are much more destructive (and difficult to control) than we fought to exclude.”

So, on this Earth Day, how should we view our relationship to our forests that are sufficiently resilient to rebound, but fragile enough to degrade from decades of fire suppression? The Bible provides some guidance.  First, it tells us that the “earth is the Lord’s” (Psalm 24:1). He created it, and He owns it. But to our first parents (and to all mankind) God gave dominion over His creation – a mandate to “rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air . . .  and over all the creatures that move along the ground” (Genesis 1:26). It’s clear now that Christians and Earth Day do mix. But how are we supposed to successfully rule over the fish of the sea (like Pacific Salmon), the birds of the air (Osprey) and creatures that move along the ground (Red-legged Frogs) today when all these creatures are dependent on healthy Northwest forests?

Dave Perry suggests the following: “Avoiding similar disasters in the future will take more than good intentions (those early foresters had the best of intentions); it will require knowledge” (emphasis mine). I see an implicit requirement in God’s dominion mandate to scientifically study the creation He’s given us (such as forest ecosystems) in order to understand it and thereby successfully manage it for His glory – and the benefit of mankind. We will never do that perfectly, but we can do it better.

EDITOR NOTE:

  • “Mount St. Helens” is always written with an abbreviation for “saint.” The Baron of St. Helens, for whom the mountain is named, is said to have been so humble he never wanted “saint” in his title spelled out.
  • Reference on the Dave Perry quotes:  David A. Perry, Forest Ecosystems (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994), p.9

Seminary students selected third year in a row for internships at Oxford

Comments Off Written on March 30th, 2016 by
Categories: Events, Faculty, Programs, Seminary, Students

The polished halls of Oxford University have been steeped in centuries’ worth of scholarly culture. Their crevices contain manuscripts, statues, engravings and echoes of the past. What better place for world-renowned biblical experts and students to gather?

For the third year in a row, a handful of Multnomah seminary students has been selected to attend the Logos Conference, a two-week internship in June sponsored by the Scholars Initiative. Any students who have worked on Scholars Initiative projects are invited to apply to the workshop. Scholars from more than 60 schools in North America submit applications, but only 30 students are chosen for the trip.

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 ‘Shocked and overjoyed’

Oxford3_blogChad Woodward had his eyes on Oxford ever since his classmate Daniel Somboonsiri was selected two years ago. “It was a goal I’d set for myself,” Woodward says. “I was on the edge of my seat waiting, and when I heard I was chosen, I felt validated as a Hebrew scholar.”

Alyssa Schmidt is equally enthusiastic. “I’m really excited to be around people who are passionate about God’s word, and to have so much opportunity for learning within two short weeks,” she says.

Ruben Alvarado received his invitation two weeks later than his classmates. He thought he hadn’t made it in. When he finally heard the news, he was ecstatic. “I couldn’t sleep that night,” he says. “I was shocked and overjoyed.”

 ‘Engaging and exploring’

Biblical Languages Chair Dr. Karl Kutz encouraged Woodward, Alvarado and Schmidt to apply for the intership. “We really enjoy our students and are proud of them,” he says. Kutz will join his students at Oxford for three days of the conference.

The conference schedule is packed with activity. There will be excursions to Winchester Abbey and Tyndale House, evensong services at Christ Cathedral, lectures from renowned scholars, tours to the Bodlian and Parker Libraries, and discussions around pots of tea. Guests will even be lodging in an ivy-cloaked Victorian house up the lane.

“This seminar is helpful for two reasons,” Kutz says. “First, students will be able build friendships with peers in the same position. Second, they will be exposed to key scholars who have figured out what it’s like to live as a Christian in the academic world.”

Dr. Rebekah Josberger, who teaches Hebrew at Multnomah, is thrilled to see how her students will grow through this opportunity. “Learning isn’t about ‘arriving’ and knowing everything,” she says. “It’s about engaging, asking questions and exploring. This all happens at the conference.”

Needless to say, this environment of exploration will boost the future careers of attendees. “It’s continued exposure to what I love and enjoy,” Woodward says. “It will bring my studies to a different level.”

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 ‘A community of excellent teachers’

All three students are brimming with praise for the quality of Multnomah’s Hebrew program. “Our professors have created a program that’s different,” says Schmidt. “It’s not just classes, but a community of excellent teachers.”

Kutz prioritizes time with his students during the trip. While other professors wander off on their own adventures, he joins his group in a pub to discuss the highlights of the conference.

“The Hebrew community is a family,” says Woodward. “It’s not just instructive; professors take an active role in our lives and come alongside us as friends.”

Alvarado wholeheartedly concurs. “It’s been the experience of a lifetime to study under Dr. Kutz and Dr. Josberger,” he says. “They teach us the language and teach us how to live life.”

Although the two weeks are crammed with scholastics, MU students are also looking forward to sightseeing. Schmidt will be stopping by Paris on her way home. Alvarado will visit several of London’s tourist attractions like the British Museum, the Tower of London and the National Gallery.

Woodward is planning to take full advantage of the international experience. It’s his 10th wedding anniversary, and he just bought a plane ticket for his wife so they can explore England together after the conference. “It will be a good balance between work and play,” he says. Cheers to that.

MU to launch biology program in fall 2016

Comments Off Written on March 15th, 2016 by
Categories: Faculty, Programs

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Multnomah University’s new biology program will open the door to an array of career options for students who are serious about faith and science.

The four-year program will offer a major and a minor, along with an optional emphasis in science education for those considering a career in secondary education. In addition to core classes, students will explore non-science disciplines and interdisciplinary courses to broaden their scope of education. This will provide a smooth transition into a chosen occupation, or into graduate or professional health schools.

“I’m excited that our students will be able to prepare for graduate studies in medical, dental and veterinary doctoral programs,” says Admissions Counselor Becca Ovall. “MU students are passionate about serving others, and this program opens up new avenues to do so in the health field.”

Dr. Daniel Scalberg, Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, couldn’t agree more. “God gave humans the custodial care of creation,” he says. “We need to task people to take care of it.”

The interactive courses will allow students to explore their interests down to the molecular level, while devoted faculty will provide insight for potential careers and give students the in-depth knowledge they need to excel as professionals in their chosen fields. The combination of lab research and biblical and theological studies will complement the integration of faith and learning in the arts and sciences tradition.

“There doesn’t need to be a war between faith and science,” says Scalberg. “Rather, there should be a partnership in knowing about and worshipping the Creator.”

Ovall concurs. “Our biology program will include a depth of faith integration that’s hard to find elsewhere,” she says.  “Because our students complete a substantive core of Bible and theology courses, they’ll bring a level of biblical competence to their studies that will broaden their understanding of biology.”

This integration is something that motivates Dr. Sarah Gall, who will join Multnomah faculty on June 1 as associate professor of biology. “I think deeply about my faith and how to conduct scientific research to the glory of God,” she says. “I look forward to working at a university that encourages students to contemplate how their faith and vocation can be integrated coherently.”

Gall, who received her Ph.D. in Molecular Cell Biology from Washington University School of Medicine, will be teaching a number of biology subjects at MU, including microbiology, anatomy and physiology, genetics, immunology, human biology, and senior student biology research. She says she’s looking forward to joining an institution that takes integration of faith and learning seriously.

The reaction to the announcement of the biology major has been very positive. “So far, there has been an overwhelming influx of response,” says Admissions Counselor Ashley Sikorski. “We’re fielding phone calls, applications and emails from students who are reaching out to us since they heard the news. By making biology available, we can prepare the next generation of Christian doctors and scientists with a rigorous core of solid values and applicable skills for the workplace.”

MU launches online version of MA in Global Development and Justice program

Comments Off Written on February 11th, 2016 by
Categories: Faculty, Missions, Programs

Multnomah University has launched an online version of the Master of Arts in Global Development and Justice (MAGDJ) program. The 18-month program will kick off with two weeks in Rwanda, where students will take their first two courses, embark on study tours and connect with practitioners. All subsequent courses will be taken online, and students will take two eight-week courses at a time.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to be face to face with students at the beginning of the program,” says MAGDJ Director Dr. Greg Burch. “This contextual residency will provide time for cohort members to get to know one another and begin developing the community we envision for the online portion of this educational experience.”

Burch proposed the blended program so students who weren’t able to join MU’s on-campus cohorts could still earn the MAGDJ degree. “The blended program allows for us to pull in students from around the globe who are passionate about global justice and community development,” he says. “We hope to create a strong community as we wrestle together with complex issues that need carefully crafted solutions to bring lasting transformation.”

The first cohort is set to begin in July 2016. Burch is hoping for a good turnout. Things are looking promising: The new program has already sparked interest across the globe. “We’ve received inquiries about the blended program from practitioners in Colombia, India, Kenya, Rwanda and Lebanon,” says Burch. “They see the possibilities for acquiring a new set of skills that will take them to new heights.”

Burch says one of the main benefits prospective students recognize is that they don’t need to leave their work or family. “It can be difficult for global leaders to move to the U.S. or even to a new state,” he says. “This program allows them to stay where they are, keep a flexible schedule, and direct their research in very practical ways for their career and ministry.”

In the years ahead, Burch envisions the new program contributing to MU’s global campus by including students in developing nations. “With the help of Multnomah donors, we anticipate having a significant participation of underrepresented groups in this program,” he says. “We believe it will be necessary to provide significant scholarships, and we’re praying the Lord will provide for students who don’t have the economic means to pay.”

As the program continues to mature, Burch foresees adding contextual residency locations in Asia and Latin America.

To learn more about this program, visit multnomah.edu/blendedMAGDJ, or you can contact Dr. Greg Burch at gburch@multnomah.edu.

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Photo/Jonathan Isensee

Students reflect on blessings, thank MU givers

Comments Off Written on November 6th, 2015 by
Categories: Faculty, Financial Aid, Students

As Thanksgiving approaches, we're taking time to remember all the blessings God has given us over the past year, including his amazing work through Multnomah givers.

At our recent Day of Thanks event, students signed a massive card dedicated to the Multnomah family members who generously donate their resources so men and women from around the world can receive a timeless education that equips them for careers in service to Jesus.

Thank you to all our wonderful givers! Your gifts really do change lives.

MAC students launch advocacy project, help transitioning foster children

Students in the MAC program’s Spiritual Integration and Social Concern class are living what they’re learning. The soon-to-be counselors recently completed an advocacy project on behalf of Oregon foster kids.

It began with Professor Chris Cleaver’s desire to create an opportunity for his students to experience real advocacy, an adventure that would take them outside of their lectures and textbooks.

“I’m trying to communicate the role of counselors, the role of advocacy, and then have my students practice those skills,” he says. “Why not actually make someone’s life better while we’re  learning how to make someone’s life better?”

Once the students collaborated on the project, they chose to serve foster kids. With only weeks to make a difference, they quickly identified a need that continuously popped up during their research: Although there are many resources for young adults phasing out of the foster care system into independence, many of these resources are outdated or inaccessible.

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“Foster kids can stay in the system up until they’re 23 if they go to college,” says Cleaver. But many have no idea this is an option. “Having current resources and knowing how to take advantage of all those resources can help foster kids avoid pitfalls,” he says.

The students set out to change that by creating multiple brochures with updated information helpful to foster kids moving out of the system. Then they passed them around to various agencies in Multnomah County.

MAC student Sarah Kumm was thrilled to be fulfilling this need with her classmates, and she was encouraged by the feedback they received from social workers. “Everyone I talked to said new resources are huge on their hearts,” she says. “Foster agencies do an amazing job, but they just don’t have time to improve all their resources.”

The project became more than just a grade or a deadline once the students saw how much their effort benefited the kids. “It reminds me of how much is going on in the world and the services that are needed,” says Kumm. “Culturally, we became more sensitive to people we were unfamiliar with. Listening and being there and supporting is what God has called us to do.”

Cleaver agrees. “I very much believe that Jesus is an advocate, and we as Christians are following him in that advocacy.”

Free documentary screening, discussion of “Professor Norman Cornett” November 2

Comments Off Written on October 9th, 2015 by
Categories: Events, Faculty, Media

New Wine, New Wineskins at Multnomah University is proud to host a public screening/discussion of the documentary “Professor Norman Cornett: Since when do we divorce the right answer from an honest answer?” on November 2, 2015.

About Professor Norman Cornett

NormanCornett_blogProfessor Cornett is a specialist in theology and culture, particularly theology and the arts. He developed a method of teaching which he calls, “dialogic, ” that uniquely engages students’ creativity. He lost his job at McGill University over the impact of this methodology, and his former students rallied around him.

The documentary

Professor Cornett’s innovative views on learning are portrayed in “Professor Norman Cornett,” a documentary by Alanis Obomsawin, one of Canada’s most distinguished filmmakers. The National Film Board of Canada released the film in 2009, and it now screens in universities throughout North America and Europe. Immediately after the showing at MU, Professor Cornett will lead a “dialogic” discussion with audience members, fielding questions and speaking about his unique vision for education.

Date

Monday, November 2, 2015

Time

4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Where

The Multnomah University campus, classroom L101

Cost

THIS EVENT IS FREE and OPEN to the public, including all MU students, staff and faculty.

More about Professor Cornett

A graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, where he earned a BA with distinction in history, Norman Cornett came of age amidst the counterculture fervor of the ’60s. He completed a PhD. in church history at McGill University, going on to teach there for 15 years as a lecturer in the Faculty of Religious Studies. Employing creative learning methods, he used his courses to address complex issues ranging from palliative care and jazz improvisation to First Nations history and Afghanistan. Professor Cornett lives in Québec, Canada. Learn more about him on his website.

Founder Dr. Mitchell’s radio program still airing across the US and beyond

Comments Off Written on September 30th, 2015 by
Categories: Alumni, Faculty, Theology

One of Multnomah's beloved founders, Dr. John G. Mitchell, used to host a popular radio show called "Know Your Bible Hour," which was later changed to "The Unchanging Word." This wonderful program is still airing on radio stations across the US — and even around the world. Tune in to one of the following stations for a refreshing time of devotion:

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KKPZ    AM1330                 Thursdays 6:00 p.m.       Portland Oregon

KIAM     AM630                  Sunday 10:30 a.m.         State of Alaska

KYAF    FM94.7                 Sunday 8:30 a.m.             Firebaugh, California

KYKN    AM1430                Sunday 8:30 a.m.           Salem, Oregon

KYKN     AM1430                M-F 12:00 a.m.              Salem, Oregon

KAJC    FM90.1                 M-F  5:30 a.m.               Independence, Oregon

KDPT    FM102.9              Sunday 8:30 a.m.            Dos Palos, California

KKJC    FM93.5                 M-F  10:00 a.m.              McMinnville,Oregon

KTRW     FM530               M-F    11:00 a.m.              Spokane, Washington

KGDN     FM101.3             M-F   11:00 a.m.                Walla Walla, Washington

KTBI     AM810                     M-F 11:00 a.m.            Wenatchee/Moses Lake, Washington

KTAC    FM93.9               M-F   11:00 a.m.               Moses Lake, Washington

KYAK    AM930                 M-F   11:00 a.m.             Yakima, Washington

KSPO     FM106.5             M-F    11:00 a.m.           Spokane, Washington

KBGN    AM1060                 M-F     10:30 a.m.          Caldwell, Idaho

kccsonline.net (internet)    Sunday-Saturday     5:30am, 11:30am, 11:30pm

ACN.CC (internet)            M-F  11:00 a.m.

Watch our new global studies major video

The global studies program equips students for a deep commitment to understanding and engaging in the global issues affecting our world today.

"You don't have to wait to put things into practice...this program connects you with people working in cross-cultural settings right now," says global studies major Kevin Perry. "It's all about understanding other peoples' worldviews and understanding how I can love them better through understanding their cultural context."

New scholarship named after beloved professor

Multnomah University is adding a new scholarship named after Distinguished Professor Emeritus David Needham, who taught at MU for 44 years. The David C. Needham Scholarship is being made possible by a generous donation from two Multnomah alumni — a married couple who wish to remain anonymous.

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A heart for missions

The couple, who met at Multnomah in the 1960s, was struck by Needham’s humble style of teaching and tender heart for students. They have a deep appreciation for the friendship they’ve cultured with Needham and his wife Mary Jo for the past 45 years. By providing a scholarship under Needham’s name, they hope to celebrate their former teacher while blessing current students who feel called to missionary work.

“We are pleased to be giving this scholarship to students who have a heart for missions, particularly unreached peoples and East Africa,” they said.

After serving as missionaries in the Mexicali Valley for 15 years, the couple began developing ministries in Tanzania and East Africa — an adventure they have been committed to for the past 20 years.

Transforming forces in the world

Needham was thrilled to receive the news of the scholarship. “I was happily amazed when I heard about it,” he said. “This scholarship is helping MU fulfill its mission — equipping students to become transforming forces in the world.”

The price of a college education is high, Needham added, but he thinks the new scholarship will be a big encouragement to students who want to serve.

“I hope that Multnomah will accomplish its goal of teaching them to live the Christian life and share it with others,” he said. “I hope that they will have the proficiency to share the Gospel with people around the world, and I hope that this scholarship will continue to grow year by year.”

A gift from David Needham

Since Needham’s retirement from Multnomah in 2008, he has kept busy teaching adult classes at his church and writing. He has published four books, including “Close To His Majesty,” which he is offering to the Multnomah community for free.

In lieu of payment, we invite you to consider giving a gift to a student through the David C. Needham Scholarship. Visit our donation page to contribute any amount you choose.

Download your free copy of “Close To His Majesty.”