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THEME 2: Ideas and Ideologies as Frontiers
THEME 2 IDEAS and IDEOLOGIES as FRONTIERS What frontiers of thought shape the world? Any quest begins with an idea or an idea about an idea that is believed to be truth but suspected by some to be false. The idea itself is a quest for truth, but myths may be mistaken for truths. Surely, Darwin, Freud, Sun Tzu, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Marx never anticipated the dialogues their ideas -- or truths -- would generate. When does the thought as a frontier become a colonization of mind? Ideas are transactional for all involved: explorer and the discovered. Quoting W. B. Yeats, Salman Rushdie beckons, " `In dreams begin responsibilities.' The way we see the world affects the world we see...In dreams begin irresponsibilities, too." (Step Across This Line, Part Two, 364-375). Rushdie's words are also ideas to HONORS IN ACTION be explored, questioned and shaped by other ideas, and the result SAFE FOR SUCCESS can be revolutionary. OVERVIEW "Safe for Success" began with the chapter's desire to explore EXPLORE MORE! the debate about same-sex marriage legislation and what ideas Asimov, Isaac. (1960). "Those Crazy Ideas." The Magazine of shaped beliefs and laws/rules regarding same-sex marriage. Fantasy and Science Fiction. After research and discussion with college and community Asimov attempts an explanation and an exploration of the term "crazy leaders, the chapter decided to promote the acceptance and ideas," making readers pause and think about creativity and the criteria success of LGBTQ students on campus, in the community and necessary for crazy ideas: "a broad education," "intelligence," possibly the state and region. "intuition," "courage" and "luck." PREPARATION Halberstam, Jack J. (2012). Gaga Feminism: Sex, Gender, and the SELECTION OF THEME After exploring possibilities with many of End of Normal. the themes in the Honors Program Guide, we selected Theme 2: Halberstam examines the transformation of gender roles with Lady Ideas and Ideologies. Issues like same-sex marriages and voting Gaga at the center of his pursuit, arguing that she symbolizes a new privileges were popular among students. We were initially kind of feminism -- one interested in "unbecoming women" -- and interested in Political Economy; but, given the amount of that by transcending the traditional borders of gender identity, she informal discussion about same-sex marriage in particular, mem- shatters them. bers wanted to propose some questions and formalize the con- versation about the ideas and ideologies that have shaped beliefs Kupperman, Joel J. (2001). Classic Asian Philosophy: A Guide to and laws regarding same-sex marriage. the Essential Texts. Author of many canonical texts in this subject area, Kupperman provides DEVELOP RESEARCH QUESTIONS a readable introduction to important works and authors of the genre: _ What ideas or beliefs influence people's beliefs that same-sex The Upanishads, The Dammapada, The Bhagavad Gita, The Bezels of marriage should be legal? Wisdom, The Tao Te Ching, The Zhuangzi, Confucius and Mensius. _ What laws or rules are in place in the state, community and campus regarding same-sex relationships? [Topic]: A Very Short Introduction. 2002-2014. _ How many college students identify with LGBTQ The "Very Short Introduction" series, written by scholars in the topic's communities, and how do those laws and or rules affect them? field and published by Oxford University Press, gives readers a basic Do they enjoy the same rights as other students? understanding of just about anything, whether it be Islam, Medieval Britain, Modern Japan, Particle Physics -- even a short introduction to ACADEMIC RESEARCH Members began by researching the Everything and Nothing. Each text is well researched and documented. history of LGBTQ and the context for those ideologies. We researched state and federal government documents to For more sources related to this theme, go to ptk.org/honors. understand what laws were in place regarding same-sex marriage.
Other members worked with social sciences faculty to create a reliable _ Team members, with help of advisors and social sciences faculty, online survey to be administered to the college's student population created a survey and worked with the college's public relations office to obtain some statistics about ideas regarding same-sex marriage and to distribute then share on the college's Facebook page. rights of LGBTQ students. Members also met with a world religions _ Team members met with faculty to discuss training options and instructor to learn what religious beliefs were most influential in scheduling preferences. shaping ideas and effecting laws/rules involving same-sex couples. _ Working with the college's public relations office, we designed door Those members also met with political science, history and sociology decor and name badges to identify staff who had completed our instructors to gather a list of recommended texts to read on the topic. training program. ANALYSIS AND CONCLUSIONS Textual research revealed: 1) most COLLABORATION religious texts contained some terminology regarding relations or _ Local religious community leaders agreed to provide the marriages between a man and a woman, and those that were most chapter with information regarding religious beliefs and specific were often cited as reasons not to legalize same-sex marriages; same-sex marriage. 2) historically, some cultures approved of same-sex relationships; _ Faculty and staff participated in the "Safe for Success" training 3) there are definite economic benefits for same-sex couples and the sessions, and several staff members promoted the training as a communities that supported them; 4) state law was not in accordance professional development option. with federal law; and 5) definitions of words and their usage can change _ College and community representatives agreed to participate in over time -- that language is socially constructed. the training to share their stories. The survey helped determine the climate on campus regarding _ Local therapists specializing in LGBTQ issues and several instructors same-sex marriage. Eighty-three percent of students believed that agreed to serve as consultants during the training sessions. same-sex marriage should be legal. Ten percent believed it should not, _ Team members created a presentation for their regional convention and seven percent had no opinion. Of those who believed same-sex to share their project with fellow Phi Theta Kappa members. marriage should not be legal, the majority cited religious reasons, and a small number defined marriage as only between a man and a woman. ACTION Based on research, meetings with the college's administration, Those who held the idea that same-sex marriage should be legal were and understanding of state and federal law, the chapter decided the asked approximately how long they held to that idea (had they always best course of action was to ensure ideas about LGBTQ students be believed or had they changed their minds about legalization of same- addressed by professionals who could properly train faculty and staff, sex marriage), and what might have influenced their opinions. using the research and other resources the chapter had collected and put into the manual. Eight lunch sessions served as opportunities for DETERMINATION OF ACTION Members supported forming a panel training faculty and staff about the challenges LGBTQ students face, discussion about the topic, inviting instructors from the campus and the best ways to help them succeed based on personal accounts by other colleges (including those teaching psychology, sociology, history, students, and how current state legislation regarding same-sex political science and religion) along with local religious leaders to marriage was not in accordance with federal law. discuss the topic in an open campus/community forum. The college administration, however, felt that such a discussion would be too REFLECTION emotionally charged and encouraged the chapter to come up with a EVALUATION Though the initial project direction changed, it still plan of action to help students in the LGBTQ community. We provided an avenue for the discussion of ideas about same-sex determined that the chapter should begin with voluntary faculty and marriage and other LGBTQ community issues. Faculty found staff training to assist students in the LGBTQ community by making training informative and felt better equipped to make LGBTQ students them feel safe and ensuring a climate of trust, confidentiality and comfortable and successful while at the college. A few admitted to safety. We worked with Student Services to create training sessions that misconceptions they had about LGBTQ people. Another said the could count as professional development and an online manual for training answered some questions that he or she had been too faculty and staff. "Safe for Success" was born. embarrassed to ask. The students in those teachers' classes were also asked to complete an online survey. More than 800 respondents said LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT Members participated in a workshop they felt it was important that students could easily identify supportive conducted by faculty and the local religious community to gain faculty and staff. A small portion (76 students) felt that LGBTQ students knowledge of key texts with which to begin research. Although the were receiving special attention. The administration was pleased with project ended up heading in a different direction than the chapter the feedback and agreed to continue to offer the training and helped anticipated, the research was still valuable for training. Members the chapter propose to the state's Board of Community Colleges that worked with library staff to find current government documents all of the state's community colleges offer a similar training to faculty regarding same-sex marriage. Team members invited the Vice and staff as professional development. Many members were President of Student Services to conduct a workshop at which the surprised to find out that some instructors did not support the training. Honors in Action team developed a proposal for the State Board of In hindsight, they realized that they never surveyed the faculty but Community Colleges, suggesting implementation of statewide training also realized that some frontiers are too frightening or risky for some for all faculty and staff. people to explore. IMPLEMENTATION FUTURE IMPLICATIONS The college will continue to offer training to LEADERSHIP ROLES faculty and staff. A new student organization for LGBTQ students was _ Members read and analyzed textual sources and conducted formed. Members feel it is one more way to make certain all students personal interviews on campus and in the community. have safe avenues for college completion and professional success.