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Linfield College
- Linfield College
Program for Liberal Arts and Civic Engagement

PLACE Faculty Fellows

PLACE Faculty Fellows commit to creating an innovative, interdisciplinary learning experience for their students during their year as fellows. They propose projects and/or campus and community activities related to the year's theme. Faculty Fellows also engage in discussions of the theme and their teaching efforts as a learning community of their own. The participation of Faculty Fellows brings PLACE to life across departments and across campuses, and makes possible the exploration of our theme from multiple perspectives.

Patrick Cottrell is Associate Professor of Political Science at Linfield College in McMinnville, OR. Patrick received his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2007. His research and teaching interests include global governance and international institutions, American foreign policy, international security, leadership, political change, and the politics of international sport. He has published two books and a range of peer reviewed articles in journals including International Organization and the European Journal of International Affairs.

In the Fall of 2017, Patrick’s course on “Current Debates on US Foreign Policy” will engage the campus community with public debates on issues related to civic engagement and digital citizenship. In the Spring, Patrick will be teaching a PLACE-related course that explores the relationship between leadership and social change in a diverse and interconnected world. As part of this seminar, PLACE Student Fellows and other members will have the opportunity to participate in workshops and apply their skills through practica.

Dimitri Kelly is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Linfield College. Professor Kelly received his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2013. His research focuses on citizens’ connection to politics with emphasis on the intermediary role of the media and the effects of increasing the diversity of political information available to society.

In the Fall of 2017, Professor Kelly will be teaching a PLACE-related course on Politics and Inequality, which will explore ways that political and social inequities contribute to inequalities in citizens’ political participation and government’s responsiveness. In Spring 2018, Professor Kelly will be teaching a course on Political Communication. This course will explore the ways in which citizens are connected to government through communication, with emphasis on digital mediums, and encourage students to critically consider their own orientation towards political communication and how to be active, engaged, and critical participants in the public conversation.

Christian Millichap is an assistant professor in Mathematics. He has undergraduate degrees in both mathematics and philosophy from Dickinson College, and he received his Ph.D. from Temple University in 2015. Millichap’s research focuses on low-dimensional topology, hyperbolic geometry, and knot theory. In particular, he is interested in understanding the geometry and topology of knot complements (the area surrounding a knot in three-dimensional space). Millichap is also interested in implementing and analyzing non-traditional grading structures, such as mastery-based grading, in his calculus courses.

In the spring semester of 2018, Professor Millichap will be teaching a course on cryptology, the science of making and breaking codes and ciphers. This course will not only hit on the mathematics used to both make and break ciphers, but also, will analyze how cryptology has played a key role in major historical events, discuss ethical issues centered around cryptology, and examine how cryptology has been used in art & literature. This interdisciplinary cryptology course will tie in with the PLACE theme, “The Digital Citizen,” by addressing issues related to freedom of speech and privacy rights. In addition, a major component of this class will be a project where students will have the opportunity to dive into an interdisciplinary topic of interest, with possibilities ranging from creating a piece of art that features cryptological puzzles, running a debate on public policies affected by encryption standards, or developing and analyzing a new cipher. Students will then share their projects at the Linfield College Student Symposium in May and through other appropriate public forums.

Jennifer Williams is an assistant professor in Religious Studies. She did her undergraduate degree at Southwestern University and both her Masters and Ph.D. at Vanderbilt University. Her research interests include women and gender studies, feminist interpretations of the Bible, narrative and literary approaches to the Hebrew Bible and Wisdom Literature. Her recent work has focused on narrative ambiguity, liminality and identity-formation through the construction and dissolution of families in the book of Judges.

Project Title: “Digital Pen Pals: Practicing Digital Citizenship through Online Interreligious Dialogue”

In the fall of 2017, students in the course RELS 111: Judaism, Christianity and Islam will explore the opportunities and complexities inherent in connecting and facilitating dialogue with people across geographic locations and religious traditions. Linfield students taking this course will become “digital pen pals” with partnering Muslim students from a different institution. By using online forums during the course of the semester, Linfield students will get to know their partnering students, share what they are learning in class, ask questions about religion, religious freedom, the practice of religion, and seek a better understanding of Jewish, Christian and Muslim relations today. At the end of the semester, the class, hopefully with participation from the partnering students and institution, will host a final event for the Linfield community to share what they have learned.

Tom Mertes is the Competitive Scholarship Advisor and Director of Arts and Humanities in Action program. He also teaches classes in INQS and the History Department. He is the editor and co-author of A Movement of Movements: Is Another World Really Possible? (Verso 2004).

Course Description:
In the fall of 2017, students in INQS 125, “What is a Good Citizen?” (T-TH 1:05-2:45), will explore the many conceptualizations of citizenship. Thus, they will define, develop, and debate what is digital citizenship. They will consider the use of electronic social media to organize citizens for civil action on the local, state, federal, and international levels. Likewise, we will consider how to seek out the best forms of information so that citizens can take decisions based on solid analysis. As a research essay assignment (10+ pages), students will investigate and make an argument on a movement that has largely been waged, organized, or disseminated via the web, such as but not limited to: DemocracyOS, Tea Party, Make America Great Again, Human Rights Watch,, Black Lives Matter, one of the Arab Spring Movements,, Voto Latino, Via Campesina. With student consent, we can archive the essays.

Speaker Events:
I will consult Fulbright Outreach Fund for the list of international speakers to locate a relevant visiting scholar (annul list posted in early October). The visiting scholar is available for 1-4 days for a variety of activities. Depending on the scholar, they might be able to give a lecture, participate in a roundtable that would compare ideas on citizenship between their home nation and the US, teach a class, and meet individually with students and faculty. I would plan on a visit in November or February/March.

John Syring is an associate professor in the biology department with degrees from the University of Michigan and Oregon State University. His research focuses broadly on plant evolution with an emphasis on population genetics and the process of speciation.

Chad Tillberg is an associate professor in the biology department with degrees from the University of Kansas and the University of Colorado. His research examines the behavior and ecology of terrestrial invertebrates. He is particularly interested in the role of omnivory in food web interactions, and the effect of non-native species in the communities they invade.

Speaker event:
I am bringing Dr. Suzanne Simard, Professor at the University of British Columbia, to discuss her research on northwest forest ecology. Dr. Simard discovered that individual forest trees are enmeshed in a broader network of physical connections and material exchanges, mediated by fungal hyphae in the soil; this is an interesting analogy to the digital ecosystem created by individual citizens and their network connections to other individuals and entities. Dr. Simard’s visit is co-sponsored by the Jane Claire Dirks-Edmunds speaker fund.

Course Description:
In the Fall, 2017, semester, Dr. Tillberg’s Principles of Ecology class will consider how different forms of digital media affect people’s understanding and acceptance of the science behind ecological issues relevant to human and societal health. Specific examples where these ideas will be explored are in relation to climate change, human population growth and migration, and public health and immunization.

Susan Sivek is an associate professor in the mass communications department with degrees from the University of Texas at Austin and Trinity University. She is the magazine industry correspondent for PBS MediaShift, where she writes about the transition to the digital age. She also publishes on a wide variety of media topics on her online blog,, and is a frequent contributor to academic journals and conferences. Sivek has been a freelance writer for magazines and websites. Her research and teaching focus on social media and journalism, magazine journalism, multimedia communication and political communication.

David Sumner is associate professor of English and environmental studies. He teaches courses in American Literature, philosophy and literature, American nature writing, and Western American Literature. He also directs Linfield’s writing program and oversees the Linfield writing center. Professor Sumner has published in the fields of American literature, literature and the environment, rhetoric, and writing pedagogy. He has also published a series of interviews with contemporary nature writers such as Terry Tempest Williams, Barry Lopez, and David Quammen. His most recent article—co-written with Lisa Weidman—looks at the use of the term “ecoterrorism” in current media. He is currently working on a book about fire-lookout literature. When not teaching or writing, Professor Sumner likes to wander the wild places of the West with his wife Heidi and his three children, Penn, Camilla, and Silas, and his fly rod.

Beth West is an assistant professor and Teaching and Online Learning Librarian. She did her undergraduate work in English at Southeastern Louisiana University and has graduate degrees in English and library science from the University of New Orleans and Louisiana State University respectively. Her teaching in the library focuses on information literacy, including building research skills and learning to think critically about information sources, to a variety of classes at all levels. Her research focuses on how academic libraries can best support students who are living with mental health struggles and learning differences.

In 2017-2018, Beth will be working with INQS faculty to incorporate PLACE into the information literacy instruction embedded in INQS courses, focusing on how being able to parse and assess information that can change in an instant is vital to modern day citizenship.

In spring of 2018, Beth will coordinate a display and speaker event that focuses on digital citizenship, diversity, and protest. The display titled “Being Seen; Being Heard” will focus on social media’s documentation of recent traditional protests such as the Women’s March on Washington and #BlackLivesMatter protests. The culmination of this project will be a speaker event from Dr. Regina Bradley, assistant professor of English and African Diaspora Studies at Kennesaw State University. Dr. Bradley is an alumna Nasir Jones HipHop Fellow (Harvard University, Spring 2016), whose expertise and research interests include 20th and 21sy Century African American Literature, hip hop culture, race and the contemporary U.S. South, and sound studies.