Month: November 2014

Presenting at the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages

Presenting at the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages

 The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) called for papers for its annual Convention last spring, and I submitted a proposal about a project my friend and former colleague, Lori Wells, and I had been working on for almost two semesters. The title of our presentation was, Le Petit Prince: A Big Idea for a Small Liberal Arts Campus.

 This national conference met in San Antonio in November 2014, and when Lori, the French instructor at Schreiner University, and I received an acceptance via email, we were thrilled because our presentation would be a home game only about sixty miles from where I used to teach English and German for six years.

Lori and I launched a Big Idea on Schreiner University’s campus. We developed pedagogical concepts in our foreign language classrooms that focused on Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s international classic, Le Petit Prince. Moreover, we organized several events in the course of one academic year that included theme-based discussion and interpretations of the book. These events, such as a Stone Soup discussion group that was linked to the university’s Writing Center and Monday Night Fiction, the book club on campus, also reached out to students who were not in our respective classes and even included community members in general. Students organized discussion panels and engaged in creative writing projects, e.g. a tri-lingual script for a class video. We also shared an international video commentary with our colleagues at ACTFL and received highly interested questions and remarks about how to launch a Big Idea project like ours on a different campus.

The conference was impressive with almost 800 presentations that ranged from teaching literature to experimental pedagogical approaches in all kinds of foreign languages. Attending and presenting at a professional conference like this is a fantastic way to network and to meet new people. I was warmly encouraged to apply for a job after discussing pedagogy with some fellow German professors and reconnected with a dear friend of mine whom I had not seen since grad school about sixteen years ago. He is now teaching German at the College of Charleston and would like to organize a panel with me for next year’s Convention in San Diego. The ACTFL Convention offered me big opportunities for collaboration and was truly inspir10700499_10205614458783042_1806992830906728836_oIMG_3542 IMG_3547 IMG_3549ing.

I would like to sincerely thank Michigan Tech’s Humanities Department and Student Government for supporting my project and presentation by granting me funding for this trip. I return from The Lone Star State with a slight sunburn, a mind full of academic ideas and a stomach full of the best Tex Mex food.

At This Year’s SHOT Conference

Beatty ThumbnailThis blog post was written by Humanities PhD student Joel Beatty.

I am happy to report that I just returned from the annual conference for the Society for the History of Technology in Dearborn, MI. Our fellow RTC PhD candidate, Jessica Lauer, presented a paper, “A Hard Nut to Crack: Material Consciousness and the Nutcracker”, while I presented my paper titled: “Color, Culture, and Technology: A History of Indeterminacy.”

Michigan Tech was well represented at the SHOT conference with four faculty members and three graduate students attending in total (Dr. Steve Walton, Dr. Fred Quivik, Dr. Hugh Gorman, and PhD Student John Baeten from Social Sciences, and Dr. Bruce Seeley, Dean of Arts and Sciences).

Overall, the SHOT conference was a wonderful intellectual and career shaping experience. The conference venue was split between The Henry Autograph Hotel, The University of Michigan-Dearborn and The Henry Ford Museum, which added to the unique feel of this gathering. As a first timer to the conference, I was pleasantly surprised by what can be described as an invitational attitude towards graduate student members of SHOT. The society’s officers and the conference organizers go out of their way to seek new historical perspectives and graduate student researchers into the history of technology field. As a presenter, grad students are placed into a panel mixed established professors and other graduate students, and each panel is assigned an experienced commenter to facilitate discussion and synthesize all the presentations. Also, I was impressed by the  submission process to the conference, which required an acceptance of a proposal and then a draft of a conference paper submitted one month in advance of the conference. This process produces highly focused presentations and dynamic discussions, with some of the sessions lasting a full two hours in length. Beyond the presentations, graduate students are warmly welcome to special interest group luncheons within the society and made to feel welcome at all the conference mixers, banquets ect. The end result, for me, was a very positive experience and a more focused perspective on my research stemming from long discussions with detailed oriented historians.

I highly recommend grad students from the RTC program joining the Society for the History of Technology, and submitting a proposal to present. The perspectives we learn in this program on rhetoric, science, technology, culture and diversity in general are highly valued by historians, and the networks and relationships I have developed being part of this conference have been helpful for my academic interests and hold a lot of potential for the future.

Cheers, Joel Beatty

SHOT Website:

SHOT Annual Conference website:


Conference Mixer at the Henry Ford Museum


Plenary Speaker Dr. David Nye