Gordon in the News: last updated 12/12/2008

Sharks, Soundbites and Service: Gordon Students Complete Variety of Class Projects As Semester Ends

By Jo Kadlecek

This week communication arts senior Chris Peters will discuss his screenplay SHARK, as Kristen Schaertel, also a senior, premieres her television broadcast of a Gordon alumna, challenging conventional soundbites. Last week recreation and leisure studies students debuted an exercise video that starred developmentally disabled adults at a center in Lynn. And next week during final exams, biology students will monitor research projects while social work students review their field experiences.

As the 2008-2009 Gordon College fall semester comes to an end, students across disciplines are wrapping up a variety of academic projects and practical research. With 76 courses offered in fine arts, 106 in humanities, 92 in natural sciences, 95 in social sciences and 82 in education--451 in all--students and professors alike are putting the finishing touches on four months worth of academic rigor and scholarly effort.

For Peters and Schaertel the work is the culmination of four years of study. They are part of Media, Ethics and Culture, a class that requires senior communication arts students to conclude their Gordon careers with final capstone presentations for the public. So on Thursday, December 11, from 6-10 p.m. in the Barrington Center for the Arts, this year's senior presentations will explore everything from event planning and symbolism in advertising to original documentary films and feature writing.

"Our senior thesis showcase helps friends and family get a sense of what our majors have been learning and creating through their study of communication arts. Continuing students get inspired about ways they can focus and develop their remaining time in the major," said Rini Cobbey, associate professor and Communication Arts Department chair. "And graduating seniors pull together the skills, ideas and values they've been building in projects that help them transition from the classroom to the world of professional communication. "

But not all seniors will be making public presentations this semester. Many--such as those in biology, philosophy, youth ministries, art or music--are preparing now for May theses by monitoring specific research projects or rehearsing musical scores. Chemistry seniors give four talks throughout the year in their senior seminar class: one on a public research paper; one on their own research; one expounding upon a lab; and their final talk exploring the integration of science and faith.  

"The talks--which take place every Monday night, all year long--are really guided discussions intended to be informative and enjoyable," said Emily Jarvis, assistant professor of chemistry.  

Other students across majors have also completed a unique blend of assignments. For example, Val Gin, associate professor of recreation and leisure studies, directed students in her Recreation for Special Needs course to partner with Bridgewell Center in Lynn, which serves developmentally disabled adults. The students created an exercise video starring clients from the center and showed the video at a red carpet screening last week, complete with feather boas and popcorn.

Though each discipline requires a wide variety of academic assignments each semester, other unique examples from this fall included history students in Jennifer Hevelone-Harper's medieval pilgrimage seminar who presented public talks on mystics and martyrs; Paul Brink's American National Politics class who read the Constitution aloud; and Elaine Phillips' Old Testament History, Literature and Theology class who, during the presidential election, wrote papers on leadership traits they found in Proverbs. Some seniors from Judith Oleson's Social Work Field Practicum promoted sustainable agriculture within the nonprofit Food Project in Lynn.

As Cobbey said, "Showcasing final projects provides an opportunity for the community to celebrate learning, creativity and commitment to applying their education and gifts in service beyond Gordon." 


Gordon College is a Christian college of the liberal arts and sciences on Boston's North Shore. The College offers majors in 37 fields and has graduate programs in education and music education. Leading the way in Christian college merit, Gordon is nationally ranked for its excellence in academics and its role in character building. These achievements recognize Gordon as one of the nation's top Christian colleges.