Do you miss the thrill of learning about an intriguing topic from a knowledgeable professor? Look no further! With the help of wonderful Pacific University professors we have compiled some resources and reading lists so you too can learn about thought-provoking topics they are passionate about.
How Christmas was First Understood
Most people celebrate holidays because they are a tradition with value and meaning to them. Holidays like Christmas are a way for us to come together with families and friends, but we might not always understand what we are celebrating. Rev. Dr. Chuck Currie '91, university chaplain, director of the Center for Peace and Spirituality and assistant professor of religious studies at Pacific University uses historical criticism to delve into the origins of Christmas from an academic perspective. He dissects the holiday in hopes of learning how we came to understand the holiday today and compare it to the way the early Christian church understood it.
- How Christmas Was First Understood with Rev. Dr. Chuck Currie (audio)
- Embracing the Work of Christmas by Rev. Dr. Chuck Currie (article)
- The First Christmas: What The Gospels Really Teach About Jesus's Birth by Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan (book)
- Books of the Bible including: Paul, Mark, Matthew, Luke and John (book)
Why Trump Won: Sociological Perspectives
Sociologists have spent a lot of time trying to understand how the decisions that we make are informed not just by rationality, but also by our emotions. This is no different in our decisions in political races. Alumna and Sociology Professor Jaye Cee Whitehead '00 explains how difficult it is to empathize and understand the viewpoints of other when our communities and even our media is so politically segregated. In a special video presentation, she examines President Trump's journey to the White House using a sociological lens. To learn more about sociological concepts like collective effervescence, feeling rules, othering and the patriarchical bargain, take a look at the resources below.
- Why Trump Won: Sociological Perspectives (video)
- The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois (book)
- Strangers in their Own Land by Arlie Russell Hochschild (book)
- The Elementary Forms of Religious Life by Emile Durkheim (book)
Most common economic models think of people as rational with perfect self control and able to perfectly calculate the best choices for themselves. But we're not robots. When we go to the grocery store we buy those candy bars they place near the checkout line. Not because it is in our self interest, but mostly because they were strategically placed. This is where the emerging field of Behavioral Economics comes in. Professor Phil Ruder suggested some readings for those who want to learn more about this intriguing combination of psychology and economics.
- Britain's Ministry of Nudges by Katrin Bennhold (New York Times article)
- Nobel in Economics is Awarded to Richard Thaler bu Binyamin Appelbaum (New York Times article)
- The Making of Richard Thaler's Economics Nobel by John Cassidy (New Yorker article)
- Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces that Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely (book)
- Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness by Richard H. Thaler and Cass Sunstein (book)
- Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics by Richard H. Thaler (book)
The Human Gut Microbiome
The human body has trillions of cells, but only about 1/10th of those cells are actually human. The rest are microbes that live in and on our bodies, and collectively they’re called the “human microbiome,” and we couldn’t survive without them. They make vitamins for us, help us digest food, and battle disease-causing microbes, and they may influence our behavior, particularly in what and how much we eat. However, disturbances to the gut microbiome, perhaps through antibiotic overuse, have been associated with obesity, asthma and autism. Understanding how a body’s microbiome is unbalanced or not functioning optimally may help lead to new and unusual treatments such as use of probiotics, prebiotics and fecal transplants. Professor Lisa Sardinia explains more about The Human Gut Microbiome in a special video presentation. For some extra context, check out the resources below.
- The Human Gut Microbiome by Professor Lisa Sardinia (video)
- Missing Microbes: How the Overuse of Antibiotics is Fueling Our Modern Plagues by Martin J. Blaser (book)
- An Epidemic of Absence: A New Way of Understanding Allergies and Autoimmune Diseases by Moises Velasquez-Manoff (book)
- Some of My Best Friends Are Germs by Michael Pollan (New York Times Sunday Magazine article)
A Political History of the Olympics
Do you have any memories of remarkable athletic feats from the Olympic Games? Perhaps Usain Bolt’s world-class dashes down the track? How about acts of Olympian dissent, like when at the 1968 Olympics John Carlos and Tommie Smith thrust their black-gloved fists into the Mexico City sky while Peter Norman stood by on the medal stand in solidarity? Such moments hold amazing power, etching themselves deep in our minds. There are many unforgettable Olympic performances that ripple with import beyond the sphere of sports. Very few are as close to this subject as Professor Jules Boykoff, a former Olympic athlete and expert in U.S. politics, the politics of sports, mass-media politics, social movements, the suppression of dissent, and environmental politics.
- An Olympic Death by Manuel Valdez Montalban (book)
- Olympic Athletes Must Exercise Their Right to Speak Beyond Their Sport by Laurence Halsted (The Guardian article)
- A Bid for a Better Olympics by Jules Boykoff (New York Times article)
- Activism and the Olympics: Dissent at the Games in Vancouver and London by Jules Boykoff (book)
- Celebration Capitalism and the Olympic Games by Jules Boykoff (book)