Subscribe to The College Blog feed The College Blog
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Updated: 1 hour 42 min ago

11 College classes to take online

Thu, 05/21/2020 - 11:06

Want to expand your knowledge, gain new skills, and earn class credits you need from the comfort of your home? From European goddesses and witches, fanfiction, and earthquakes to global careers, Spanish language for business, and journeys through East Asian art history, our online course listing for Fall 2020 offers something for everyone. Get started by checking out these 11 online College classes you can take during the fall semester! 

HIST 320 History – From Goddesses to Witches: Premodern Europe

Ideas and attitudes about women — from their roles in society to their very nature — have dramatically shifted throughout history. Gain an in-depth understanding of women’s spirituality, goddess-worship, symbols of women, and women’s roles in religious societies within Europe from 30,000 B.C.E. to the 16th century Protestant Reformation by taking HIST 320.

This course examines the social, cultural, and political contexts of women’s spirituality and their relations to gender relations in Europe from about 30,000 B.C.E. to the 16th century Protestant Reformation. Lectures move both chronologically and topically, covering such subjects as goddess-worshiping cultures, women’s roles in Christian and Jewish societies, symbols of women, and male attitudes toward women. Students will be able to participate in weekly discussions of primary and secondary source readings about women. (Same as WGSS 320.) Satisfies: Goal 1 Outcome 1 (GE11), Goal 3 Arts and Humanities (GE3H), H Humanities (H), HT Historical Studies PC (HT)

ATMO 220 Atmospheric Science – Unusual Weather

Curious about the science behind unusual weather phenomena? Explore the underlying principles at work in extreme weather events like tornados, hurricanes, and blizzards, as well as the effects of air pollution and human alteration of the atmosphere, in ATMO 220.

An introductory lecture course which surveys the general principles and techniques of atmospheric science and illustrates their application through discussions of natural but unusual weather phenomena such as blizzards, hurricanes, tornados, and chinooks, of the effects of air pollution on weather, and of intentional human alteration of the atmosphere. Satisfies: Goal 1 Outcome 1 (GE11), Goal 3 Natural Sciences (GE3N), N Natural Science (N), NE Earth Sciences PC (NE)

SPAN 448 Spanish – Spanish Language & Culture for Business

In today’s globalized world, it’s more important than ever to have a grasp on the relationship between business and language, communication skills, and social and cultural context. In SPAN 448, non-native Spanish speakers will develop analytical and communication skills for international business and professional life. 

Cultural studies approach to contemporary Spanish American societies for students with an interest in business. Explores how individuals from Spanish American countries negotiate their place in a new cultural context, and how different groups in Spanish America perceive business (negocios). Readings include selections from literature, history, journalism, social analysis, and popular culture. Exercises help non-native speakers develop analytical skills as well as vocabulary and communication skills related to international business and professional life. Conducted in Spanish. Prerequisite: SPAN 323, or SPAN 324 and SPAN 328, or SPAN 325, or consent of instructor. A grade of B- or higher in SPAN 323, 324 or 325 is strongly recommended for students enrolling in this course. Satisfies: Foreign Language Proficiency (FP), H Humanities (H)

ENGL 329 English – Topics in Forms and Genres: Fanfiction

Are you a fanfiction fanatic? Whether you’re a fanfic newcomer or totally unfamiliar with it, taking ENGL 329 will expand your knowledge of the genre that’s “taking over the world” by examining questions like: What is fanfiction in the first place? What does it do? And who is it for? 

An introductory study of a selected topic focused on a literary or rhetorical form or genre (e.g., Lyric Poetry, Captivity Narratives, Genre Theory). May be repeated for credit as the topic changes. Prerequisite: Prior completion of the KU Core Written Communication requirement. Recommended: Prior completion of one 200-level English course. Satisfies: H Humanities (H)

GIST 585 Global & International Studies – Transnational Terrorism

Transnational terrorism has shaped our lives and everyday activities in ways that are largely second nature now — screenings at airports and concert venues, video surveillance on neighborhood streets, and ramped up physical security anywhere masses of people gather. But terrorism, and efforts to prevent terrorism, are complex, ever-evolving issues. In GIST 585, you’ll explore the evolution of terrorism from the French Revolution to modern day, its causes and consequences, and scholarly conservations around terrorism.

The course provides a study of the patterns of transnational terrorism. First, it introduces students to the analytical study of terrorism. The course traces the evolution of terrorism, from the French Revolution to the modern day era. It also covers how scholarship defines, conceptualizes, and measures terrorism. The second goal is to introduce students to key scholarly debates within the literature. Some of the example questions we ask are: are democracies more vulnerable to terrorism? Does globalization render states open to being attacked by transnational actors? Is torture warranted as an effective counterterrorism tactic? The readings draw on empirical scholarship on the causes and consequences of transnational terrorism. (Same as POLS 582.) Prerequisite: Sophomore level or consent of instructor. Satisfies: S Social Science (S)

GEOL 171 Geology – Earthquakes & Natural Disasters

Are you fascinated by nature’s most awe-inspiring, terrifying, and spectacular moments? In GEOL 171, you’ll gain a new appreciation for the processes and impacts of catastrophic natural events including volcanic eruptions, meteorite impacts, and earthquakes.

Addresses the subject of natural disasters with concentration on earthquake effects and their mitigation. Briefly treats volcanic eruptions, tidal waves, floods, global warming, severe weather, and catastrophic meteorite impacts from the perspective of geological and human significance. Provides a basic background into earth-science processes. Satisfies: Goal 3 Natural Sciences (GE3N), N Natural Science (N), NE Earth Sciences PC (NE)

AAAS 106 African & African-American Studies – The Black Experience in the Americas

In AAAS 106, you’ll trace the history of African peoples in the U.S.A. and Caribbean and Latin America. By studying works of literature and music, social and political development, economics, and demography, you’ll make new discoveries and gain insight into the black experience in the Americas up to and during the nineteenth century.

An interdisciplinary study of the history of the African peoples of the New World, relating their cultures and institutions to the African background and to their peculiar New World experiences up to and including the nineteenth century. While the main emphasis is on the U.S.A., attention is also paid to the Caribbean and Latin America. Approaches include demography, economics, social and political developments, literature, and music. (Same as HIST 109.) Satisfies: Goal 4 Outcome 1 (AE41), H Humanities (H), HT Historical Studies PC (HT), World Culture (W)

HA 166 History of Art – The Visual Arts of East Asia

Take a journey through East Asia from your own home by exploring the region’s artistic works. In HA 166, you’ll look at works of art from China, Korea, and Japan, study their significance and purposes, and learn to identity a variety of art styles. You’ll also build your artistic vocabulary by analyzing, writing about, and discussing art in East Asian cultures. 

This course examines major forms of artistic expression in China, Korea, and Japan. Discussions introduce basic art concepts, the themes and purposes of art, and different art styles in East Asia from ancient times to the present. Students develop critical skills through analyzing, writing about, and talking about art and East Asian cultures. Students also learn about important museums in North America and Asia. No prior knowledge of art history or East Asia expected. Not open to students with credit in HA 165. Satisfies: Goal 4 Outcome 2 (AE42), Goal 3 Arts and Humanities (GE3H), World Culture (W)

ANTH 484 Anthropology – Magic, Science, and Religion

It’d be difficult to overstate the importance of religious belief in shaping the philosophies, cultures, and histories of societies across the globe. In ANTH 484, you’ll focus on religion and systems of value and belief in non-Western cultures. Through comparative study, you’ll expand your knowledge of the similarities, differences, and influences of religious beliefs across cultures. 

A comparative study of religion and systems of value and belief in non-Western cultures. Satisfies: Goal 4 Outcome 2 (AE42), Goal 3 Social Sciences (GE3S), NW Non-Western Culture (NW), S Social Science (S), World Culture (W)

LA&S 485 Liberal Arts & Sciences – Global Career Management

If you’re considering a career that requires cross-cultural communication and a solid knowledge of the global economy — which applies to positions in just about every corner of today’s business world— LA&S 485 is the class for you! In this course, you’ll build new communication and analytical skills that will help give you a competitive edge in today’s global job market.

This global career development course studies the theories of cross-cultural communication and analyzes the global economy to help students apply these concepts to their own lifelong career management. Furthermore, the course builds upon the international experiences students are having at KU and also allows any student to gain lifelong knowledge and skills to be successful in a global job search or career transition, by assisting them to articulate their skills and value through a cross-cultural perspective to potential employers. Prerequisite: Students must be sophomore standing or above. Satisfies: BGS Career Course (BGSC), U Undesignated elective (U)

PSYC 465 Psychology – Stereotypes & Prejudice Across Cultures

The destructive power of stereotypes and prejudice — whether directed toward groups of people for their gender, racial, or cultural identities, class or economic status, or any other factors — is evident through the study of societies around the world and their histories. But where do these beliefs come from? Why do people hold them, and what leads people to revise their attitudes? In PSYC 465, you’ll examine stereotypes and prejudice across cultures through a psychological lens.

This course covers a variety of theoretical views concerning the origins of stereotypes and the factors that maintain them, as well as how and when the revision of such beliefs take place. Analysis of various stereotypes (including gender and race) and the experience of prejudice across a variety of cultural contexts is examined. Many difficult social issues are discussed in depth. Prerequisite: PSYC 360 or PSYC 361; or consent of instructor. Satisfies: S Social Science (S)

For more information, check out KU’s schedule of classes. Ready to discuss options? College of Liberal Arts & Sciences majors can schedule an appointment with their advisors at

Camila Ordóñez Vargas launches campaign to support Colombian community during the pandemic

Wed, 05/06/2020 - 16:04

When Camila Ordóñez Vargas, a political science and economics double-major, traveled to spend spring break with her family in her home country of Colombia, she never imagined that she would be unable to return to finish her junior year in Lawrence. Now facing this unexpected new reality, she’s finding ways to help alleviate the impact of the crisis in Colombia as the country grapples with social and economic uncertainties.

On April 2, Vargas posted a music video on YouTube to raise funds to provide 5,000 lunches to the volunteers, nurses, doctors, and low-income citizens in her home town of Barranquilla. To build on the momentum sparked by the video, which has been viewed more than 2,000 times, she launched the LOCOMBIA campaign, which she describes as “the home of dreamers who not only believe but also work for a better tomorrow… the origin of the wit and creativity that characterizes us, Colombians, where the joy of our culture is born.”

Please walk us through your experience of traveling to Colombia over spring break. How did events unfold from your perspective as the novel coronavirus spread worldwide?

I came to Barranquilla, my hometown, to spend spring break with my family and meet with politicians and government entities to work toward my thesis on food security in Colombia, never expecting that a pandemic would impede me from returning to KU to finish my junior year.

Volunteers handing out meals to children and vulnerable community members.

The first COVID-19 case in Colombia was diagnosed on March 5th, and the national government has imposed preventive measures evolving from voluntary self-isolation to mandatory quarantine. I’ve been in quarantine for 40+ days and the stay-at-home order has been extended until May 11, but elders (70+ and older), are required to stay at home until June, at least. Additionally, there are no domestic or international flights until June, and only banks, hospitals, pharmacies, and groceries are open.

Tell us about your initiative, LOCOMBIA. Where did the idea come from, and what do you hope to achieve through the campaign?

Since the first day I started self-isolation, I have not stopped thinking about how low-income families have not been able to make ends meet and bring food to their tables as they subsist on their day-to-day functions, which have been interrupted by the stay-at-home orders. I came up with the idea to do a music video to provide lunches for the needy and unemployed “Barranquilleros” during this difficult time.

“Odio X Amor” (Love for Hate) is the song that sparks this journey by evoking that love defeats hate. I contacted and brought together 20+ voices to sing that “it’s time to change,” to be kind, to be better, and to unite to beat this crisis. This video gave life to #AmorXLOCOMBIA (Love for LOCOMBIA) to motivate people to show compassion and altruism for those who need it. I founded LOCOMBIA to establish the Colombia that I aspire to perceive and live in. LOCOMBIA is the home of dreamers who not only believe but also work for a better tomorrow. It is the origin of the wit and creativity that characterizes us, where the joy of our culture is born.

I hope to provide food for the families in need with every dollar that is donated. I have been in contact with multinational brands to request their assistance to feed the poorest neighborhoods in my region.

LOCOMBIA’s upcoming project is a fashion collection that pays tribute to “Nuestra Gente” (Our People), the hard-working men and women who live off the goods they sell on a day-to-day basis. This collection of shirts will be up for sale with national and international shipping soon.  

I aim to show how Colombians, from the tastiest coffee to billboard music hits, put our hearts to everything we do. Every campaign that LOCOMBIA launches, will aim to show the potential and talent that distinguishes Colombians. LOCOMBIA can be found on social media on Instagram and Facebook with the handle @amorxlocombia.

How do you apply lessons or skills you’ve gained in your majors to the campaign?

I chose to major in economics and political science to satisfy my interest to not only learn the financial and legislative methods that make up the world, but also to develop a multidisciplinary point of view structured by firm ideals and current events.

Diving into the political economy has opened my eyes to the cruel reality and socioeconomic injustice that most Colombians face. With a poor education system, a lack of a food policy or food aid program, and an informal economy amounting to roughly 50% of the total population, I aspire to close the large gaps that obstruct the creation of new opportunities for all.

Do you have any advice for others who want to help provide relief during the COVID-19 pandemic?

The current COVID-19 circumstances are an opportunity to raise awareness to assist the underprivileged, as we, college students, can contribute our knowledge thanks to all the opportunities we have had. In the case of LOCOMBIA, every single donation makes a difference, as every dollar counts, literally. $1 USD = 1 lunch and $ 8 USD = 1 food basket. All US Donations can be done at Venmo @amorxlocombia

What would you tell your freshman self?

Regardless of how confusing or difficult the journey may seem, nothing will prevent you from following your true passions, for they go in line with your ambitions.

What motivates you?

Believing that I will be able to improve people’s lives through my career has always been my greatest motivation. Being able to apply what I learn to help the vulnerable population is, and has always been, the leading motivation in all my academic and extracurricular decisions.

What do you want to do when you graduate?

I dream of applying my academic, extracurricular, and professional experience to improve the quality of life and boost economic mobility in underprivileged populations.

Are there any other comments you’d like to share?

I am also launching an online volunteering program to provide English tutoring to the juniors and seniors in a public high school in my region. All students, faculty, and staff are more than welcome to support this cause by providing 45 minutes to an hour to tutor 2 – 4 students at a time through online meetings. All volunteers will receive an official certificate recognizing their time and effort. Anyone can e-mail me if interested at

Be like Camila. Make an impact. For more information, explore the Department of Political Science and the Department of Economics at the University of Kansas. Learn more about our students’ research on the College Blog.

Hawks to Watch: Kelly Houghteling, Deputy Town Administrator

Thu, 04/30/2020 - 12:51
Why Kelly’s a Hawk to Watch:

Kelly Houghteling is always up for an adventure. When she’s off the clock, you can expect to find her outdoors hiking, biking, and fly-fishing in the Rocky Mountains, which she calls home. She even made the trek up to the summit of Africa’s highest mountain, Mt. Kilimanjaro, which stands at 19,341 feet above sea level, once during a trip to Tanzania.

The KU alum has approached her professional journeys with a similar sense of exploration and curiosity. From the time she arrived on Mount Oread as an undergraduate in 2008, Kelly knew she wanted to make her mark by giving back. Now, after earning both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the College, she’s on to new adventures, fulfilling her ambitions through public service and leadership in local government as Deputy Town Administrator at the town of Wellington, Colorado and president of the League of Women in Government.

In Kelly’s line of work, each day holds new experiences, unpredictable obstacles, and a fair share of hardships. But to those with the patience, understanding, and grit to roll with the punches and take challenges as they come, the rewards can hardly be overstated. Learn about Kelly’s path to public service, and see what she had to say about leading with empathy, what she hopes to be doing ten years (hopefully it’ll include celebrating a KU basketball national championship), and the importance of writing thank you notes. Discover what makes Kelly a Hawk to Watch.

Tell us in a sentence or two what you do for a living:

As the Deputy Town Administrator, I make a daily impact in the community through the efficient delivery of public services and help to operationalize the council’s vision for the future. I also serve as the President of the League of Women in Government, a group dedicated to moving the needle forward on the number of women serving in leadership positions in local government.

How did you end up doing what you do? Was there a certain moment when things came together? Or was it a longer journey?

I entered KU with a desire to give back to the community, but unsure how to make that into a career. As a liberal arts student, I was able to explore different interests and develop my critical thinking skills. It wasn’t until graduate school and my internship with the City of Fort Collins when I knew local government was the right career path.

How did your KU degree prepare you for your current job?

The KU MPA program gave me direction on how to put my passion into practice and gave me a strong support network with alumni across the country. Public service is an honorable career for people gritty enough to accept its challenges.

What do you feel is your biggest achievement so far?

Being named the Colorado City/County Manager Association Assistant Manager of the year was very special. I was recognized for my leading role on several large projects in Windsor, most notably the establishment of the $3.3 million Railroad Quiet Zone throughout the community as well as the construction of a $14 million public works facility. I was also recognized for my work as the Chair of Colorado Women Leading Government and helping to launch the state’s first conference.

What’s your lowest career moment and how did you pick yourself up and move on?

There are many hard days in public service. I’ve witnessed the flooding of my community, a major downtown fire that destroyed a historic building, and the horrific accident that killed a child during a town parade. On the worst days, we must band together as a community to provide support, grieve, ask for help, and fill the gaps of loss with love. 

Where do you hope to be in 10 years?

I hope to be leading an outstanding municipal organization as the city manager, giving back to the profession, and celebrating a KU men’s and women’s basketball national championship!

What do you know now that you wish you could tell your 18-year-old self?

Be patient with yourself. You don’t need to have the answers to life’s big questions yet.

What’s your best career pro-tip?

Lead with empathy, take on tasks outside of your comfort zone, and write thank you notes.

What do you do after you’ve clocked out?

Living in the Rockies, I spend my time on the weekends fly-fishing, biking, hiking, and reading.

What is a fun fact about you that surprises people?

I summited Mt. Kilimanjaro!

Be like Kelly. Find your adventure. For more information, visit the Department of Sociology, the Institute for Leadership Studies, and the School of Public Affairs and Administration at the University of Kansas. Also visit the town of Wellington, Colorado and the League of Women in Government. And meet more Hawks to Watch.

Hawks to Watch are disrupters. They’re poised for greatness, inspiring their colleagues and excelling in their professions. Basically, they’re killing it. Having recently graduated, they are just starting to leave their mark and we can’t wait to see how their story unfolds. These Jayhawks span all industries including business, non-profits, tech, healthcare, media, law and the arts. 

Habitat: Explore KU’s Max Kade Center

Mon, 04/27/2020 - 13:01

Ever wonder what’s in the stone house nestled on the northwest corner of campus? The newest episode of Habitat has the answer. Watch as we explore the interior of the Max Kade Center for German-American Studies. As part of the German Studies Department, the Center provides a link to German immigration to America and Kansas. See this hidden gem now!

For more information, explore the the Max Kade Center, the German Studies Department and the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences.

Jayhawks flock to Iowa ahead of 2020 caucuses

Thu, 04/23/2020 - 10:50

Though it may feel like a lifetime ago now in April 2020, the caucuses in Iowa – and the subsequent political fallout from the state’s vote-counting fiasco that once dominated headlines – took place just 11 weeks ago. Only two months before the spread of COVID-19 became the center of collective national attention in the U.S., political rivals across the ideological spectrum journeyed to the Midwest with their teams for a marathon of non-stop campaigning, hand-shaking, and rallies in an all-hands-on-deck final push to amplify their messages and ultimately find a path to victory.

As the events unfolded in the Hawkeye State, back when the democratic race seemed to be anyone’s game, three research teams of undergraduate and graduate students, along with their faculty advisors, from the University of Kansas, South Florida State University, and the University of Alabama went out in the field to see how candidates’ messages were playing with caucus goers.

To learn more, we caught up with KU students Lynzee Flores, a second year Ph.D. student studying political communication; Sophia Dominguez-Heithoff, a senior majoring in political science with a minor in global & international studies; and Brandon Boyce, a senior majoring in communication studies, who explained how they conducted their research and how their findings could reveal insights about the current political mood in the U.S. and American voters’ preferences, biases, and hopes for the country’s future.

How did you conduct your research, and what did you want to find out?

Lynzee Flores: This research was conducted by 3 research teams consisting of faculty, graduate and undergraduate students from 3 universities: University of Kansas, South Florida State University, and the University of Alabama. We collected data through online and paper surveys being distributed in the waiting lines of each democratic candidates’ rally. The survey consisted of approximately 15 questions ranging in different political communication measures such as: political bias, attitudes towards candidates, political communication messaging preferences and demographics.

What were your responsibilities during the trip?

Brandon Boyce: We were all tasked with getting caucus goers to fill out a survey, either on paper or by scanning a Qualtrics link that would allow them to take it on their mobile phones.

Sophia Dominguez-Heithoff: My responsibilities during the trip were to get people to fill out or survey. We each had our own iPad and we also had paper copies. We also had to take a class on how to conduct research using human subjects.

Lynzee Flores: I was in more of an administrative and supervisory role, assisting the primary investigator, Dr. Ashley Muddiman, with the logistics of the trip. (i.e. distribution of research materials to undergraduates, navigation to and from rallies, point of contact for questions from undergraduate researchers, etc.)

What was your favorite part of the trip?

Brandon Boyce: My personal favorite part of the trip was attending the caucus. I find that having people actually influencing others and getting people to sway to their side is a fundamental part of democracy and for the first time in my life, I think I truly witnessed something that gave me hope that partisan politics can be overcame in U.S. democracy.

Sophia Dominguez-Heithoff: My favorite part of the trip was going to all of the rallies. Specifically, I liked seeing the different dynamics for the candidates. Yang’s rally was particularly lively, and Warren’s had a lot of intelligent questions, Bernie’s felt very uncivil as the crowd booed Hillary Clinton when she was mentioned.

Lynzee Flores: My favorite part of this trip was being able to participate in the political rallies. I have never been to a campaign event and to be able to see every democratic presidential candidate in person was an awesome opportunity for me to help make my decision going into 2020 general election.

What did you gain from the experience that will be valuable to you in the future?

Brandon Boyce: I think the ability to approach people is always important as well as the ability to understand what the survey and how to relay that to potential survey-takers. I also find that the coding process of inputting the data is extremely valuable.

Sophia Dominguez-Heithoff: I gained insight on who I want to vote for in the midterms. Also, I learned how draining it is to work for a campaign. The staffers were going a mile a minute and it appeared invigorating.

Lynzee Flores: As a graduate student, being able to be behind the scenes of the research process was a really valuable opportunity for me to see how the work is actually done. I will be able to refer to the challenges and successes of this project in the future when I conduct a study of my own one day.

How had the classes you’d taken at KU, and in your major/minor or program of study prepared you for the experience?

Brandon Boyce: I think both of Dr. Muddiman’s courses were important for different reasons on this trip. Her campaigns course is fantastic and helped to prepare me with speaking to caucus goers, while her COMS 335 course helped prepare me for data input and the ability to understand what survey questions are asking.

Sophia Dominguez-Heithoff: POLS 521 – Mass Media and Politics taught by Professor Muddiman prepared me the most for this research trip. We learned a lot about the systems that we witnessed, and it was also interesting as I was interviewed a couple times because of the giant media presence at the event, I felt a part of the topics that I had learned about the semester prior.

What do you plan to do after graduation?

Brandon Boyce: I am pursuing graduate programs in political communication and rhetoric.

Sophia Dominguez-Heithoff: I will be attending law school at the University of Southern California.

Lynzee Flores: Ultimately, I want to do public service in my career. Options could look like working at the government level as a data analyst, Foreign Service officer or politician. Another option would be to stay in academics and pursue a teaching career. I just like to help others.

Give a shout-out to someone to a prof, advisor or someone else who has been influential during your time at KU:

Brandon Boyce: Both Dr. Muddiman and Dr. McDonald have been extremely helpful to me throughout my time at KU and have both been crucial to my pursuit of higher education!

Sophia Dominguez-Heithoff: Dr. Mary Klayder has been instrumental in shaping my worldview and she has helped me to navigate where my talents can best serve our changing world.

Lynzee Flores: Dr. Muddiman, thank you for your constant support and belief in me as a young researcher!

What advice would you give student at KU who want to conduct research that involves fieldwork?

Brandon Boyce: Find faculty that has the same interest in you and work with them! Show that you care about the same topics and try to find common ground to do research.

Sophia Dominguez-Heithoff: Talk with your professors! They all have projects that they are passionate about. Maybe you learn about something new or you can have the opportunity to strengthen a topic you are already passionate about.

Lynzee Flores: Do it! It might seem overwhelming but that means it will be worth it. Having a field research experience gives you a completely different perspective than participating in the actual event that you are observing. You never know what you might learn!

What motivates you?

Brandon Boyce: My personal motivation comes from a drive to learn. I think that knowledge is extremely powerful and the ability to better myself through learning has been a common theme throughout my life.

Sophia Dominguez-Heithoff: My family motivates me. I am a first-generation immigrant of Mexico and I am always proud of where I have come from. Further, I am very proud to be an American and I seek to go in to public service law in the future to pay it forward.

Lynzee Flores: God’s plan for my life. I never would have expected to follow this educational path for myself but God has lead me to the opportunities and people here at KU for a reason.

For more information, explore the Department of Political Science, the Department of Communication Studies, and the Center for Global & International Studies at the University of Kansas. Learn more about our students’ research on the College Blog.

Unwinding: Yoonmi Nam on exploring time and sustainability through printmaking

Wed, 04/22/2020 - 12:58

Inspiration can come from anywhere. For professor of visual art Yoonmi Nam, her inspiration came from looking at the relationship between items we buy and the containers that house them. Hear Professor Nam discuss her work, finding time to exercise creative muscles, mentoring students remotely, and more on the latest episode of Unwinding.

Unwinding is a podcast that tells the human stories driving the minds and talents of the University of Kansas. In each episode we sit down with KU researchers to chat about what they’re working on, why they’re passionate about it, why it matters, and what makes them tick as humans. The conversation explores the fascinations and motivations that produce new discoveries.

Unwinding is a production by KU’s College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. The College of Liberal Arts & Sciences is the heart of KU. It’s home to more than 50 departments, programs and centers, offering more than 100 majors, minors and certificates. A collaborative and creative community, the College is committed to making the world better through inquiry and research.

Strength in numbers: KU community joins forces to limit coronavirus’ spread

Mon, 04/20/2020 - 14:51

Everywhere you look, Jayhawks are coming together and rising to today’s challenges. As the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is felt across U.S. and the world, students, alumni, faculty, and staff from the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences are bringing their expertise to the frontlines and supporting vulnerable populations, applying their diverse talents in labs, hospitals, non-profits, kitchens, essential businesses, and even their own home work spaces to address the spread of the novel coronavirus and provide relief within our communities. There’s strength in numbers, and if there’s one thing we know to be true, it’s that incredible things happen when Jayhawks come together with a common goal. Here are just a few examples of incredible work that’s being done by members of our community in the Heart of KU.

Alum helps develop coronavirus test at Johns Hopkins to increase speed of results

Heba Mostafa (front) and Karen Carroll. Photo credit: Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Heba Mostafa, who earned her doctorate in microbiology from KU in 2014, helped develop a new test for the novel coronavirus as part of a research team at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, where she serves as the director of the molecular virology lab and an assistant professor of pathology. Results from the test currently take 24 hours, but Mostafa and her team aim to cut the wait time to “as little as three hours,” CBS News reports.

Alum leads efforts to feed Douglas County communities

As the effects of the contagion continue to ripple across communities, food banks are doing their best to keep up with increased demand. At Just Food, located just northeast of 11th and Haskell in Lawrence, College alumna Elizabeth Keever, who graduated with a bachelor’s in political science in 2011, and her team of staff and volunteers are banding together to combat food insecurity in Douglas County one meal at a time, as they do year-round. Learn more about Keever, who works as the director of the non-profit, and the crucial ways that Just Food is reducing hunger in Douglas County in our Hawks to Watch profile from 2019.

Student-led campaign seeks to provide aid for workers on the frontlines in Colombia

When Camila Ordóñez Vargas, a political science and economics double-major, traveled to spend spring break with her family in her home country of Colombia, she never imagined that she would be unable to return to finish her junior year in Lawrence. Now facing this unexpected new reality, she’s finding ways to help alleviate the impact of the crisis in Colombia as the country grapples with social and economic uncertainties.

On April 2, Vargas posted a music video on YouTube to raise funds to provide 5,000 lunches to the volunteers, nurses, doctors, and low-income citizens in her home town of Barranquilla. To build on the momentum sparked by the video, which has been viewed more than 2,000 times, she then launched the LOCOMBIA campaign, which she describes as “the home of dreamers who not only believe but also work for a better tomorrow… the origin of the wit and creativity that characterizes us, Colombians, where the joy of our culture is born.”

KU’s Create program donates fabric to volunteers

Grace Brunner (left) and Josh Ng (right). Photo credit: KU Center for Community Outreach.

And in Lawrence, KU students are combining efforts in their communities. As directors of the KU Center for Community Outreach’s Create program, College students Josh Ng, a senior studying human biology and Spanish, and Grace Brunner, a junior studying English and political science, are leading the organization’s efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19 by giving away fabric to volunteers who want to make and donate face masks. For more information about how you can get involved with Create’s volunteer work, visit this page.

Departments come together to donate supplies

Photo credit: Scott Hefty, professor of Molecular Biosciences at KU.

In March, KU researchers from the following departments joined forces to help fight the spread of the novel coronavirus by donating supplies for testing: Anthropology, the Biodiversity Institute & Natural History Museum, Chemistry, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Environmental Engineering, Health, Sport & Exercise Sciences, Kansas Biological Survey, Molecular Biosciences, Pharmacology & Toxicology, and Physics & Astronomy. By Monday, March 23, they had gathered approximately 20,000 columns that can be used to test samples, the Lawrence Journal-World reported.

The widespread community support from KU departments showed no signs of letting us as we moved into mid-April. On April 9, the Department of Chemistry donated 200 boxes of gloves and 50 splash goggles to Heartland Community Health Center in Lawrence and 450 boxes of gloves to Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health to aid their response to COVID-19. The next day, on April 10, the university’s Public Safety Office loaded up trucks of personal protective equipment donated by the Department of Molecular Biosciences and delivered the supplies to Lawrence Douglas County Public Health.

Coronavirus expert informs the public about risks of COVID-19

Anthony Fehr, an assistant professor in the KU Department of Molecular Biosciences, has been studying coronaviruses for more than eight years. From the early stages of the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan, Fehr has been keeping a busy schedule of interviews and speaking engagements, helping inform the public about the virus’ nature and preventative measures to curb its spread. In February, he was included in a panel of health experts discussing “Coronavirus: Fact vs. Fiction” in front of an audience at Marvin Hall, and as the novel virus has rapidly spread throughout the United States he’s been interviewed by a wide range of media outlets about the shocking speed of the contagion, the federal government’s response to the crisis, and what to expect next.

Linguistics staff member sews face masks for community

Corinna Johnson (left) and her mother, DeLois Hussli (right) with their homemade face masks.

Healthcare providers, first responders, and essential workers across the U.S. are facing a shortage of supplies, including limited access to protective gear like face masks. To help the heroes on the frontlines of the pandemic, as well as other individuals for whom supplies are not readily available, Corinna Johnson, an office manager and academic administrative professional in the Department of Linguistics, is doing her part by fashioning cloth masks for “anyone and everyone who requests them – “essential workers, nurses, doctors, lawyers, at risk individuals, families, students, delivery drivers, professors, teachers,” and anybody else in need.

At first, Johnson was sewing masks on her own, but after receiving an enthusiastic response to a post on her Facebook page, her mother, DeLois Hussli, came to her rescue and starting sewing as well. “There was no way we were going to turn anyone away,” Johnson said. “That just isn’t how our family operates.”

So far, the mother-daughter team have donated over 350 masks and are still going strong. Johnson even keeps a stash in her purse just in case she runs into anyone in need during a trip to the grocery store. As she sees it, any action one can take to help flatten the curve is worthwhile right now. “Even though as a country we are social distancing and in isolation, we need to find ways to come together and help each other through this tough time. I simply wanted to try to help in some small way.”

Paying it forward with baked goods

And in the College dean’s office, administrative affairs coordinator Jill Mignacca has been lifting spirits during the pandemic through food. In April, she baked almost 400 muffins and rolls for two organizations that provide services for the homeless and survivors of domestic abuse, causes that have a strong personal connection for Mignacca. “Just over ten years ago, I left an abusive husband,” she said. “The first few months I didn’t have a permanent address, often didn’t have money for groceries.” But during those tough times, she was able to rely on the kindness of a group of close friends. “I was incredibly fortunate,” she continued. “Honestly, just trying to pay that kindness forward. I can’t ever repay my friends for what they did for me, but will sure spend the rest of my days trying.”

From all of us in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, thank you! For the latest news, visit the College’s Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information page.