Guest speakers provide students with unique opportunities in Prof. Weinschenk’s class

Dr. Ashok Rai (CEO of Prevea Health; Chancellor’s Council of Trustees member) visited Associate Prof. Aaron Weinschenk’s (Political Science) Congress class to guest lecture on his testimony before Congress last year. He also talked about the importance of advocacy and lobbying, ways to re-think the American healthcare system and health issues facing Wisconsin like the opioid crisis. Students were able to ask questions for about an hour after some opening remarks from Dr. Rai. He is the third speaker in Associate Prof. Aaron Weinschenk’s line-up of guests in this class this year, with a former member of Congress and a current state representative having visited in the past. Through these speakers, students have gotten a wide range of perspectives on legislative politics in the United States and were provided with the unique opportunity to interact with a major CEO, former member of Congress and state legislator all in one class.


In-Bum Chun speaks on U.S.-Korea Alliance

Former Lieutenant General of the Republic of Korea (ROK) Army, In-Bum Chun, along with U.S. Congressman Reid Ribble, will be speaking from 12:45 to 2 p.m. Monday, Oct. 3 in the Christie Theatre of the University Union, UW-Green Bay. Chun was a distinguished member of the ROK Army for 35 years until his recent retirement. He has accumulated more than 50 awards for his service to country and work toward international peace including a Presidential Citation and Bronze Star from the U.S. military. The presentation by these two leaders will cover security challenges in East Asia and the importance of the alliance between the United States and Korea. It will be followed by a Q&A session moderated by UWGB Prof. Yunsun Huh. This event is free and open to the public.

‘Mock Law Class’ comes to MAC hall, next week 

Know anyone thinking about becoming a lawyer? Would they be interested in learning about what a law school class might be like? Prof. Jerry Organ of the University of St. Thomas School of Law will be hosting a Mock Law Class next Thursday (Nov. 19) from 5:30 – 7 p.m. in MAC 107. The class will be conducted just like one of Prof. Organ’s Property classes and will focus on a Missouri case dealing with the issue of adverse possession. He’ll also allow time to discuss the improving employment situation for law school graduates, and answer any questions. Those interested in attending should RSVP to Kris Coulter, assistant professor of Democracy and Justice Studies to receive the reading materials.

Spude is featured speaker on Veterans Day 

Staff Sgt. Jared Spude — you might recall his selection as the Outstanding Student from among his May 2015 graduating class of roughly 1,000 students — is being featured again, this time as the primary speaker at the 2015 Veterans Day Reception at 4 p.m. Wednesday (Nov. 11) in the Union’s Phoenix Room. Fellow veterans Elaina Koltz and Lou LeCalsey will also deliver brief remarks. Open to all.

Flax Project: ‘Fiber is not for the weak’

A sizeable campus and community audience learned more Tuesday (Nov. 3) about a hands-on history and art project that is teaching UW-Green Bay students the facts about an industrial-strength plant that shaped life in the ancient and medieval world.

“The Flax Project” was the topic of UW-Green Bay Profs. Heidi Sherman and Alison Gates in a slide-illustrated presentation offered as part of the After Thoughts series at the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts.

Historian Sherman and textile artist Gates talked about their efforts since 2011 to perfect the ancient art and practice of turning flax into linen by growing a fiber crop and processing the harvest on a college campus. Although they have planted successful crops each year with teams of new students from History, Art and several other majors, it has never been easy. Especially the processing.

“In the Middle Ages, it was called ‘the agony of the flax,’” Sherman told the audience.
“Fiber is not for the weak,” Gates said. She drew a laugh when she described “scutching,” one of the steps in the process, “as basically just whacking the hell out of the fiber.”

The interdisciplinary work by Sherman and Gates grew out of earlier research at UW-Green Bay suggesting linen made from flax was a history-changing development for societies including the ancient Greeks, who used it to construct lightweight, virtually impenetrable battle armor.

Sherman described her work as “experiential archeology.” She has led student travel trips to Russia where they worked with 1,000-year-old tools and learned that the arduous task of creating linen was something that frequently demanded the communal cooperation of entire villages.

Lessons learned there only amplify the experiences students encounter in harvesting and processing the plants from UW-Green Bay’s small, central-campus plots. Students learn about “rippling” seed bolls from the fiber tips, which must be done before the flax is laid in water to rett (to soak and separate the fiber from the stem) followed by breaking the stem into short segments, scutching to extracting the fibers and “heckling” (combing) the flax before it is spun and woven for use.

Sherman says her history students — relatively few of whom will be professional, Ph.D. historians but many of whom will go on to teach K-12 history or serve as historical interpreters — will occasionally offer up a good-natured grumble if crop-pulling day is hot, or when the harvested flax fibers soaking in children’s wading pools emit powerfully pungent odors. Mostly, though, the students are big fans.

“They love this,” Sherman said. “It’s a way to learn history by getting your hands dirty.”
Gates said that, over the course of the “Flax Project,” she has been learning right alongside her Introduction to Textile students. A trained artist, she said had never much paid attention to the history of textile art created before the first decade or so of the 1900s. The quality of Sherman’s medieval scholarship on flax and linen and the people who worked those materials drew her into the topic, Gates said.

The idea of “growing our own arts supplies here on campus,” was another plus, Gates said. (It became even more appealing when the UWGB Medieval Dye Garden succeeded in growing plants historically used for their ability to yield naturally occurring red, blue and yellow dye for the linen.)

The biggest breakthrough for fiber and textile artists on campus, however, came with the acquisition of a 21st century Hollander beater. Based on a 17th century design, it’s basically an industrial blender that’s “a two-gallon version of what’s in every local paper mill,” Gates said.
As a final result, art students are honing their artisanal skills in creating high-grade linen paper and fine art from material grown at the heart of campus.

(The vivid green flax stands and their pretty blue flowers add visual interest to the decorative planters on the rooftop plaza atop the Student Services Building.)

While linen paper is being created now, production of linen fabric from the Flax Project isn’t likely any time soon, the presenters indicated in response to audience questions. The reasons involve limitations of time, resources and machinery. It was noted that the Vikings are said to have needed seven years to hand-make a single sail of linen, with eight or more “spinners” needed to feed one loom.

UW-Green Bay Dean of Professional Studies Sue Mattison introduced the presentation by noting that Sherman and Gates have presented at national and international conferences. Eva Andersson Strand, one of the world’s leading specialists on Viking-age textile production, visited UW-Green Bay last fall for workshops with faculty and students. Additionally, Mattison noted that Sherman’s hands-on experience with the Flax Project has persuaded some scholars to reexamine long-held notions about the tools and processes used to make early linen fabric.

Photos by student intern Kayla Erma, Office of Marketing and University Communication

Friday’s NAS Seminar: Illinois researcher (and UWGB grad) talks rivers

The Natural and Applied Sciences seminar series resumes this Friday (Nov. 6) with the presentation “Often too much but sometimes too little: Phosphorus and dissolved oxygen in Illinois streams and rivers.” Featured speaker Mike Machesky will begin his talk at 3:30 p.m. in Room 301 of the Environmental Sciences Building. Machesky is a 1976 UW-Green Bay graduate in Science and Environmental Change who went on to earn his UW-Madison Ph.D. in water chemistry. He has spent most of his career with the Illinois State Water Survey, an applied research unit of the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. Machesky will describe his team’s effort to continuously monitor dissolved oxygen at over 500 wadeable stream sites throughout Illinois — a modeling study that confirmed the factors responsible for a massive fish kill along the Rock River below Rockford in June 2009. He will also discuss the difficulty of tracking and isolating phosphorous-related impacts. The 3:30 p.m. talk is free and open to the public, as is the preceding 3 p.m. reception with Machesky in ES 317.

Reminder: Hmong perspective on public health, tonight

Chua Xiong, director of the Brown County Department of Public Health, will speak about public health issues and the Hmong community today (Nov 2) from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in MAC Hall Room 223. She is the first Hmong public health director in the state. The talk is sponsored by the Hmong Studies Center.

Photo: Petri, Obey, Genrich visit Weinschenk class

Assistant Prof. Aaron Weinschenk’s UW-Green Bay class in Public Policy heard first-hand Monday from two veterans of the Washington, D.C., political scene in former U.S. Reps. Tom Petri (R) and David Obey (D). The two were making their first stop as part of their Civic Participation Lecture Series. State Rep. Eric Genrich, D-Green Bay, was also in attendance. For a photo.

Faculty note: Voelker talks teaching at North Carolina university

Historian David Voelker, associate professor of Humanistic Studies, spent time earlier this month on the campus of High Point University, a private, nationally recognized liberal arts institution in High Point, N.C., where he gave an invited talk and led a faculty development workshop on the scholarship of teaching and learning. Voelker, a co-director of the UW System’s statewide teaching development program, chose the title “Backward Design for Student Learning” for his talk emphasizing the value of prioritizing student mastery of course content over the notion of “covering” as much ground as possible. He expanded on the concept in his workshop titled “Rethinking Content Coverage,” in which he argued the case for moving beyond the pedagogy of coverage toward an intentional pedagogy of understanding, thinking, and application.