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The First Word

Have you spent time with a three year old lately?  Three year olds have a wonderful curiosity about everything.  They are always willing to jump in and try something new.  And they are always excited to learn about the world around them.  Plus, they have this delightful sense of self that allows them to be creative and fun without abandon. Full story >>

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From the President

The power of natural curiosity cannot be underestimated. As children, we unleash our inquisitiveness as we ask questions without giving serious thought to possible answers. This seemingly random inquiry can be associated with immature thinking and thus, is sometimes dismissed. An unfortunate consequence is that we may downplay and disinherit curiosity, resulting in characteristics of a less-than-vigorous mind — to turn Samuel Johnson’s quote slightly. Full story >> 

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Campus News

Discover the latest news from around Drury’s Springfield campus and locations throughout Missouri with Drury Lane News. Campus updates include the university’s latest awards & accolades, student updates, athletics news and more.

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Department News

Awards, accolades, updates and events from Drury’s academic and administrative departments.

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humanities-3-4-inverseBy Jann Holland

Humanities: is it declining or more relevant than ever? The longstanding debate – over 40 years in the making – regarding the state of the humanities has been reignited due to this summer’s flurry of reports. Let’s explore the facts and fiction.

On June 18, 2013, a 61-page report called “The Heart of the Matter” was delivered on Capitol Hill. Led by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and produced by the Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences, the report addresses concerns regarding the “dramatic” decline in the percentage of humanities degrees conferred since its peak in 1966.

Earlier in June, Harvard University released its own trio of reports that reveal and analyze the downward trend they’ve experienced in the arts and humanities. The report also provides evidence of decline at other universities such as Princeton and Yale. The third report in Harvard’s series titled “Mapping the Future,” outlines an action plan for modernizing how the humanities’ traditions are integrated into the Harvard curriculum. The June 6, 2013 issue of the Harvard Gazettestates, “After studying data that goes back decades, ‘Mapping the Future’ acknowledged that art and philosophy are ‘where the meanings are,’ but increasingly where the undergraduates are not.”

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By Dr. Gregory Ojakangas

We are living in a remarkable time in history – when the accumulated knowledge of the entire human race can be accessed with the touch of a button on a mobile phone or computer.  Furthermore, because of NASA’s commitment to openness, we are able to observe, at our leisure, the surfaces of alien worlds such as Mars within seconds of when NASA receives the images from deep space, at the same time as the scientists and engineers who have dedicated their entire careers to space exploration are seeing them.  This, to me, is marvelous.

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Drury is a place where students come to learn, but the growth isn’t intended to end there. While Drury’s primary focus is on teaching, the university also places focus on its commitment to liberal learning and community engagement. Students are encouraged —often required—to engage with each other, faculty and staff, the community, and the world around them.

According to a study by Indiana State University on college faculty’s role in student learning and engagement, students report being more engaged when faculty and staff at the university they’re attending use active or collaborative learning, involve the students in experiences and emphasize higher-order cognitive activities. Liberal arts universities like Drury use these methods of education to show students how to think for themselves rather than telling them what to think. This level of student engagement helps students learn that material in class. But engaged students are also committed to their own learning experiences. They are not passively taking in information; rather, they learn to actively assimilate it into their lives. Engaged students are also more likely to actively participate in lifelong learning opportunities after graduation.

Benefits of lifelong learning include better conversations with peers, keeping up with our changing society, honing skills and developing new ones, being open to opposing points of view, and a natural passion for more learning.

In this edition of our “300 Words” essay series, a faculty member, a current student, and an alumnus share what curiosity, wonder and a love of learning mean to them and how that can determine the course their careers, art or studies take.

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It takes a wide range of people to make our day-to-day lives work. Even our commutes might be directly or indirectly influenced by hundreds of people—from the computer scientists who program the bus schedules to the community planners who help guide the flow of traffic. Almost everyone is a problem solver in some capacity, and each person plays a role, creating the weave in our societal fabric. Often we ignore those nuances that have an indirect impact on our lives, but this is at the expense of a deeper understanding of the world around us.

Though their roles are incredibly diverse, five Drury faculty and two alumni share how they solve problems in their careers, satisfying our curiosity when we ask, “How does it work?”

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bill-mckieBy Cassy Cochrun ’10

Bill McKie, a 79-year-old first-year student in Drury’s Master of Arts in studio art and theory (MART) program, knows a thing or two about starting something new. Originally a student at the University of Nebraska, the fine arts major received a fellowship at the University of Illinois after he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1958. But Illinois didn’t agree with him.

“All of the art there was the same. You had to make what they wanted you to make,” he says, also citing many student teachers and a general lack of face time with professors. So he returned to Nebraska, where he worked as a draftsman and technical illustrator for the state government.

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officeBy Cassy Cochrun ’10

Step inside Dr. Steve Mullins’ office inside the Breech School of Business for an interactive tour. Discover why an elephant, Dilbert, and the Economic Commandments all reside inside.

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Where Are They Now?

Elise Winn Pollard ’06

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Elise Winn Pollard ’06 has been writing nearly her whole life. It started when she made a booklet at around seven years old. Now, after graduating from Drury with majors in English and writing and minors in design arts and global studies, Elise is a published author. This year, she won the Iowa Review Fiction Award for her story “Honey Moon.”

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In my virtual newspaper this morning, five bright and passionate people from across the country debated the causes of the “creativity crisis.” Is it valid to conclude that we’re becoming less creative? If so, what are the implications for our future, economic and otherwise?

I’m glad that we appear to be waking up to the importance of these questions. I’m reminded of Sir Kenneth Robinson’s arguments that schools, as often configured, stifle creativity. His books, viral TED talks, and captivating diagrams make a powerful case for insisting on the inclusion of the arts at every level of education. I’m happy to endorse that as part of the solution, but I think there’s a prerequisite that all of these arguments overlook: as teachers, do we do enough to cultivate the aesthetic of wonder? Do we encourage, recognize and value those who, when faced with new things, respond with awe and appreciation for the marvelous? Or, using wonder in its other sense, do we provide the space for students who, truly intrigued by what they’re learning, immediately turn to puzzling out the reasons, or connecting it with other things within their experience?

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