Faculty Research Forum Held at Mount Union College

April 06, 2010

The Faculty Research Forum was held on Thursday, November 29 in Room 100 of Tolerton and Hood Hall at Mount Union College.

Dr. Richard F. Giese, president of the College, provided opening remarks and Dr. John Kirchmeyer, professor of computer science and information systems served as moderator for the evening. Kirchmeyer first introduced Dr. Richard Dutson, professor of political science and associate dean of the College who presented 'CSI (Computer Simulation, International), A Computer-assisted Simulation Game.' He began working on this project during his sabbatical over seven years ago.

Dutson became involved with Simulation Gaming in the late 1980s, when Global War Game 90 was released. Working with CSI allows for four scenarios, including current and Potential Crisis, involving the decline of a superpower such as the United States; Hot Peace, involving terrorism and anarchy in the context of culture clashes and South Central, involving the ongoing conflict in the middle east.

By participating in Simulation Gaming, students gain hands-on experience and can put into operation theories that have been taught in the classroom. Dutson explained some of these to be 'foreign policy, American character and exceptionalism, American democracy and international system theories.' Students also have the ability to organize into country teams and have different leadership roles. These roles could range from Head of State to domestic advisors. Dutson concluded by reminding the audience that the objective of this type of Gaming was not to win, but for students to learn more about the theories and how decisions made affect others.

Next Dr. James Klayder, associate professor of computer science and information systems presented 'How to Build a Second Life.' Second Life is a 3D multi-user virtual world in which societies can build their own worlds and live in them. Klayder described Second Life as a phenomenon that 'will change our lives more profoundly than the World Wide Web.'

The Department of Computer Science and Information Systems currently rents a space in Second Life, and students and faculty can access this virtual world from anywhere on campus. Activities included in this virtual world are visiting museums, interacting with other users from around the world and buying items, to name just a few. Second Life is also intricately connected to the Internet and items around this world can act as portals to web pages.

The third and final presenter, Dr. Nicole Johnson, assistant professor of philosophy and religious studies presented 'Living Nonviolently in a Not-So-Nonviolent World: Peace-making in the United Methodist Church.' During the presentation, Johnson described her personal journey back to her faith and her observations of rather contradicting views the United Methodist Church had on concepts such as war and peace. In researching this idea, she carefully examined how the Book of Discipline, the United Methodist Church's main book of teachings, changed when republished every four years. She found varying differences with the ideas of war and peace, and sought out individuals who were very involved with the church. She set about interviewing persons of different ages, genders and races about their ideas of nonviolence. Johnson found that the interviewees thought nonviolence was 'central to the Christian faith, dynamic and comprehensive.'

She also asked about how they would practice nonviolence and received responses including 'through prayer and related practices, importance of community and practices of direct political action.' Johnson concluded that she found that most people learned nonviolence from experiences outside of the church, however, many of them felt that the way to work back to a nonviolent stance on all ideas was from inside their faith.

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