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Faculty Research Reshapes Curriculum
05.29.12 |
Many faculty members become professors because of a shared love of teaching and research – it is expected that professors spend time imparting their knowledge to their students while continuing their own professional inquiry on various research projects. LVC faculty members are no exception, and 13 professors have received funding from the College’s Faculty Research and Development Grants program to further their studies.

Dr. Noelle Vahanian, associate professor of philosophy, received funding from that grant program in 2011–2012 to support her research of the Armenian identity and the impact of the Armenian genocide in the early 1900s. Armenia is a former republic of the Soviet Union. Her research will directly impact the LVC curriculum, specifically by further globalizing the religion and philosophy department, and by reshaping the course, "The Holocaust: A Case Study."

“The course is currently focused on a case study of the Jewish genocide by Nazi Germany,” Vahanian said. “My research demonstrates that genocide is a human tragedy. It’s easy to distance oneself from genocide by thinking that the Jewish genocide was a singular event. It is not so easy when you consider multiple case studies.”

Vahanian’s research considers the greater question of Armenian identity – most native Armenians live in diaspora around the world. She wonders if they have assimilated the identities of their new “homes” or if they have retained their former identity. The three million Armenians living in the country are facing a different kind of identity crisis. Armenia is a land-locked, highly contested country, and its most famous landmark, Mount Ararat (at right), symbolized its national identity. The Turkey-Armenia-Iran-Azerbaijan borders have been redrawn multiple times in the past century, and today Mount Ararat sits at a near-quadripoint of those countries, but within Turkey’s borders. Thus, the Armenian’s claim to fame is no longer their own.

These factors have led Vahanian to rethink identity without relying on traditional markers. “The Turkish national identity triggered the Armenian genocide, so identity can be very dangerous and lead to massacre.”

Ultimately Vahanian hopes that her research will help her students to reshape their thinking. “Most people have a notion that the Jewish holocaust was extraordinary because they are not aware of other genocides to compare it to. This innocence and naiveté seems like the right reaction morally, but it accidentally blinds us to other genocides ongoing or committed throughout history.”

The 2012-2013 research grant recipients include:
- Jim Broussard, professor of history, conducting “Ronald Reagan: A Biography” research work in Dixon, Ill. and Simi Valley, Calif.
- Carmen Garcia-Armero, assistant professor of Spanish, conducting a conference presentation, “Eternal Narcissistic Dreams” at the International Congress of the Hispanic Association of the Humanities in Madrid, Spain.
- Marianne Goodfellow, associate professor of sociology, conducting “Women in Industry: Examination of the Seminal Work of Edith Abbott” research in Chicago, Ill.
Gary Grieve-Carlson, professor of English and director of the General Education Program, publishing permission to reprint parts of poems under copyright protection for a the book “Poems Containing History: 20th Century’s Engagement with the Past.”
- Noel Hubler, professor of religion and philosophy, conducting a conference presentation, “Plato, the Stoics, and the Theory of Psychic Motions” at the International Society of Neoplatonic Studies in Cagliari, Italy.
- Mark Mecham, chair and Clark and Edna Carmean Distinguished Professor of Music, conducting “Surveying Best Practices in Choral Music Education” research at the University of Southern California, St. Olaf College (Minnesota), and Florida State University.
- Jeff Robbins, chair of religion and philosophy, associate professor of religion, and director of the American studies program, conducting research at the NEH Summer Institute: “Networks and Knowledge: Synthesis and Innovation in the Muslim-Christian-Jewish Medieval Mediterranean” in Barcelona, Spain, and invitation to address the Cátedra de Filosofia Contemporánea research group at the University of Barcelona.
- Kathleen Tacelosky, chair of the languages department and associate professor of Spanish, conducting “The Language of Transnational Students in Mexico” research in Puebla, Mexico.
- Bob Valgenti, assistant professor of philosophy and director of the Colloquium, conducting “Conceptual Metabolism: Eating, Thinking, and the Transformation of Philosophy” research in Turin, Italy and Barcelona, Spain, and a conference presentation “Terroir and the Terror of Soil Addiction,” at the Italian Food: Fact & Fiction conference in Perugia, Italy. He will also serve as a panelist at the Association for the Study of Food and Society Conference at New York University.

The 2012-2013 development grant recipients include:
- Sharon Arnold, chair and associate professor of sociology, attending the National Instructor Training Institute for Criminal Justice in Philadelphia.
- Philip Benesch, associate professor of political science, completing his LLM Advanced Law Degree at the University of London.
- Hannes Dietrich, professor of music, attending the Institute for Early Music on Modern Instruments in Washington, D.C.
- Gabriela McEvoy, assistant professor of Spanish, attending the Teaching Professor Conference, in Washington, D.C.

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