Tag: John Sterling

Professor lectures on ‘Democracy in America’

Guest speaker Dr. Raymond Hain presented the Antigone lecture March 10, focusing on Alexis de Tocqueville’s novel, Democracy in America.

Tocqueville wrote the book in 1835 after his visit to America.

“His book is the best book ever written about democracy. And probably the best book ever written about America,” Hain said.

His lecture consisted of selected passages from the book, as well as discussion upon its themes and Tocqueville’s philosophy as it relates to democracy and human nature.

“Tocqueville argues that the mores [customs] of a people are more fundamental than its flaws. The mores, customs, habits, the whole intellectual state of a people, as Tocqueville says, involve the messy business of real life, whereas the laws of people are the precise and clear rules,” Hain said.

He focused on several points, including “What is it that democracy must be taught? What is it that Tocqueville thinks you and I, and all citizens must learn if democracy is to deliver on its promises?”

Twice during his lecture, Hain paused to ask the audience if they had served for their local government in anyway. One person in the crowd raised their hand.

“Self-government teaches us how to be independent, but Tocqueville thought that democracy must also teach its citizens to be dependent. One of Tocqueville’s most startling examples in this regard is the American jury system…serving on juries shapes the character of those who serve,” Hain said.

He quoted a passage from Tocqueville saying, “The jury instills in all classes a respect for judicial decisions and the idea of law. Remove those two things and love of independence becomes a destructive passion. The jury teaches men the practice of equity. Each man, in judging his neighbor, thinks that he may in turn be judged.”

“This is remarkable commentary on how jury duty helps shape democratic citizens. In short, it gives them some of the habits of the judge and of the legal profession. Habits of good and careful judgment, of willing self-sacrifice for the sake of society, and of respect for the rule of law,” Hain said.

He asked the audience if any had ever been called to report for jury duty. Several hands went up. Hain asked how many of them had actually served on a jury. All but one of those hands went down.

Hain is an assistant professor of philosophy at Providence College in Rhode Island.

Dr. Donald Prudlo, associate professor of ancient and medieval history at JSU, said this was the last Antigone lecture of the year, but he hopes to see them continue in the future.

John Sterling
Staff Reporter

Antigone Lecture: Civility and society

Dr. Paul Beezley,  Associate Professor of History at JSU, gave his lecture “Civility and Civil Society” on Thursday, November 19, in room 101 of Merrill Hall.
This was the second Antigone Lecture on campus, part of an ongoing series of lectures focused on the exploration of civil society throughout history. Beezley focused on the question of “What is a civil society?” Much was made of the decline of civil society, particularly over the last century.
“[My goal] is to provoke people to think, maybe to question some of their beliefs. And to challenge, particularly the students here, to take charge of their own lives and of the society that they create,” Beezley said.
“It’s an opinion piece. My thoughts and my opinions on these two questions, rather than being a traditional historical lecture…there will be no dates, and there will be no quiz at the end.”
Beezley explained that civility requires agreement on common principles. “Certainly in my mind, paramount is respect for one’s self and others. We treat each other the way we wish to be treated,” he said. This could be civility on a personal level, but he stated society as a whole requires more than just trust.
“To have a civil society, you must have trust. Trust in your community, in society, before civility may be obtained. Trust and a commitment to core, fundamental beliefs, the few things we can agree upon,” he said.
Beezley mentioned personal accountability as another important function of a civil society; he explained how personal accountability and responsibility are basic tenets.
“When you’re allowed to set your own bedtime, you have to be reasonable and responsible… That was the sign of maturity, self-mastery. That you could control your baser emotions, that you could overcome your instincts to do the right thing,” he said.
Beezley said that today’s society is living backwards. To him, everything has become political, and society is now set upon its own self-gratification. “Indeed the whole idea if it feels good, do it…This is the antithesis to the idea of self-restraint….the danger always is that you go too far, you take things too far.”
According to Beezley, the effort to politicize everything divides us, drives us into separate camps. “Where are we when our political leaders see each other as deep enemies? Can you have a civil society where one part of the society is out to destroy the other?”
So how do we come back? “A focus on optimism, stepping away from the idea that ‘things have always been this way, so why do anything?’ A focus on being something meaningful rather than focusing on seeming to be something. Look for substance and reward substance,” Beezley said. He suggested we should learn to reward those who accomplish something of actual substance, especially if it benefits the community and society at large; learn to fail gracefully and to learn from those failures, and to accept obligations to one’s self and the community. He also emphasized not to focus only on what rights are entitled to us, and through these things to effect change in society.
Beezley is a cultural historian with a focus in late 19th and early 20th century America. Along with being an instructor, he is also a member of the Faculty Senate.

John Sterling
Staff Reporter

JSU hopeful to work with Indian University

Geophysics, its meaning and application, was the focus of a lecture given by Dr. S.K.G. Krishnamacharyulu on the 11th floor of JSU’s Houston Cole Library on November 13.
Geophysics is the study of the Earth using quantitative physical methods. What that really means is studying what’s beneath the ground using various different kinds of equipment.
It involves using tools such as ground penetrating radar, electromagnets and several others.
“[Krishna] just came from presenting a paper to the Geological Society of America, and was kind enough to come here and give a talk at the university,” said Dr. Joe Morgan of JSU’s Physical & Earth Sciences Department.
An introductory lecture for non-geophysicists, the focus of Krishna’s lecture was on what exactly geophysics is and what it is used for. He also presented several of his own case studies, explaining some of what has been done, and continues to be done in the field.
But that wasn’t the only thing unveiled at Krishna’s presentation. Currently, JSU and Swami Ramanand Teerth Marathwada University in India, the institution that Krishna calls home, are working on their own exchange of information.
“We have a memorandum understanding already in place between the two universities. Which means that we want to work, but now we have to figure out what mechanism we’re going to use, how we’re going to fund it, things of that sort,” Morgan said.
“When Dr. Joe came to SRTM University as a Fulbright Fellow, he stayed around six months there teaching our students electrical information systems. Then the idea came to us, why not go for an exchange? And we are processing it,” Krishna said.
“For Jacksonville State, it’ll be similar to a program that’s already in place, we have the Wuhan, with China, Exchange Program. And we’re hoping that it’s going to develop into some sort of program like that. With faculty exchanges and international research back and forth between the two universities, as well as student exchanges,” Morgan said.
“Yeah, if the opportunity comes [to teach at JSU], and it’s there, I’d love to teach,” Krishna said.
Krishnamacharyulu is the Department Director of the Physical and Earth Sciences Department at SRTM University in Nanded, India. He has 24 years of experience in the field of geophysics.
He has authored 27 peer-reviewed journal articles, presented academic papers at more than 40 conferences, has authored and co-authored books, and has guided numerous Ph.D dissertations.

John Sterling
Staff Reporter

Biology provides hands-on opportunities for students

Diversity is an important word, especially in biology. From biodiversity to diversity in fields of study, it’s an often overlooked aspect of what makes biology important. But at Jacksonville State, diversity isn’t just an idea, it’s a goal.

“We have a broadly trained group of people with a lot of different interests, and there’s enough overlap that what one person doesn’t quite cover, another person might pick up…And that wasn’t a conscious effort, but it’s worked out really well. So you’ll see a lot more collaboration amongst the faculty here than you’ll see at other schools,” said Dr. George Cline, Herpetologist and professor of biology.

“That’s the nice thing, we all have our own specializations…I don’t have to look the world over if I hit a brick wall. “It’s nice to know that all I have to do is walk down the hall and there’s going to be someone there that can collaborate on that project with me,” said Dr. Michael Burns, professor of anatomy and paleontology.

“Faculty being willing to work not just with other students, but with faculty, is great. You don’t oftentimes have that in other areas. When people see us at regional and national meetings, and when they see our students and what we’re doing, we stand out from that sample,” said Dr. James Rayburn, associate professor of biology.

The biology department is dedicated to giving its students the best education it can, through field work, collaboration, and through personal work with individual students.

It provides diverse facilities that allow a broad range of research topics, in the lab and in the field, along with the diverse array of specialties amongst the faculty.

“Compared to these big research schools, for undergraduates the experience is very, very different. You go to these kinds of places and start taking classes, you’re going to need a pair of binoculars to see your teacher who’s 300 feet away from you in a classroom full of hundreds of people. Here if you have a class of 80 or so people that’s a big class…For the undergraduates, you have a lot more close contact with the faculty, it’s a different experience,”said Dr. Roger Sauterer, cell biologist and professor of biology.

“The professors are always out there doing stuff with the students, it’s just how we work here,” Rayburn said.

“I’ll put our very best students against the very best from anywhere and they will do well. They will compete. Our kids sometimes don’t understand that. They feel ‘Oh, it’s only JSU’. No, it’s not only JSU. It’s what you bring to JSU, your unique talents, how can we make you better. And our faculty are committed to that,” Cline said.

“We’re slowly getting to the point where they’re starting to see that, they’re start-ing to see the recognition that ‘We can do that, you know, I’m as good as they are, I’m better than they are.’ We’re getting there,” Cline said.

John Sterling
Staff Reporter

SGA hosts Family Day with various activities

It was time to come home this past weekend. The annual Homecoming weekend saw the return of students’ families and various alumni to Jacksonville State University, for the game, for the annual parade, and to revisit old memories.

“[It’s] very surreal. Makes you think back on some very fond memories. You don’t think too much on that after you graduate,” said Brigadier General Timothy Daugherty, ROTC Alumni of the Year.

Events kicked off at 9 a.m. with the annual Family Day event, a gathering of attractions and entertainment on the lawn of the Theron Montgomery Building. The Homecoming Parade, tailgating and the JSU home game were also held later that morning.

“It’s awesome, a really great thing for the kids,” said Carol Stokesberry.

Stokesberry was accompanied by her daughter, Reece, who was holding a freshly minted teddy bear. Nearby, children and parents dashed in between cover as they tried to take each other out in laser tag.

Other booths included sand art, caricature artists, wax hand molds, and a small assembly line churning out ready-made teddy bears. Lines twisted in odd angles as everyone tried to fetch themselves a bear, a caricature or some other bit of art to remember the occasion.

“This is a very exciting time. It’s great to see alumni come home and old friends. It’s a time to renew,” said Student Government Advisor Debbie Taylor.

JSU’s fraternities and sororities banded together to create their own interpretations for this year’s float theme, Halloween inspired settings built around “Curse the Colonels.”

“I like to see something that is absent the rest of the year, alumni engaging with students. That’s what stands out to me,” said SGA Chief Justice Andrew York.

“It’s great. Good for the school, to see how it affects not just students but their families,” said Braden Couch of the Freshman Forum.

The Marching Southerners brought up the rear of the parade before heading to the stadium for the home game against the East Kentucky Colonels, while others headed to Dillon Field for tailgating and pre-game celebrations. Family Day ended at one with kickoff, but the keepsakes, experiences, and memories endure.

Homecoming is something like there and back again, and it will be again next year.

John Sterling
Staff Reporter