Profiles

Individual page profiles for each faculty & staff
Kiowa Bower

"My experience of Big History has been truly inspiring, as I’ve always had a deep curiosity about the universe and have sought a comprehensive understanding of the world around me. Big History provides a framework that unifies diverse disciplines into one narrative, full of meaning and grounded in evidence. Its themes of emergence and complexity point to the significance of human cultural evolution and the responsibility we hold as our power and influence on the planet continue to grow. Humanity faces many challenges in the near future; however, there is a real opportunity for our species to both prosper and be in harmony with the biosphere. I believe that human consciousness, combined with our capacity for collective learning, gives us the ability to effectively address the issues confronting us."

Cynthia Brown

"Everything makes more sense when seen from the perspective of cosmic evolution and Big History. It gives the most nearly accurate account we have of how the universe works. I love teaching from this perspective because many students also find the same power of clarification in this story."

Thomas Burke

"Big History has become a scaffold for our students' undergraduate experience. Teaching students in their first year and later in literature courses, cultural studies courses, and culminating thesis, I observe students using the Big History framework in making connections across ideas and disciplines. A third-year student contextualizes a work of literature using concepts learned in first-year Big History. Cultural Studies culminating theses are informed by ideas emanating from cosmology and biology, disciplines explored during the First Year Experience. The utility of Big History for students goes well beyond the first year."

James Cunningham

"The teaching of Big History has been very rewarding to me personally. Because Big History is interdisciplinary, it requires from those of us who teach it to explore topics outside our areas of expertise. For example, I’m a biologist and have learned to teach history and writing. This has been both challenging and exciting for me. Much of the excitement I have felt comes from the in-depth collaboration I have had with my History and English colleagues who have helped me learn how to teach those subjects. Through the Big History, course we model for our students two important skills: lifelong learning as well as collaboration."

Lindsey Dean

"As a modern creation story, Big History situates us to engage in humanity's perennial attempt to understand our place in the cosmos by looking at the big questions through a new lens: What does it mean to be human, not only in relation to our biological past, but within the context of a vast, expanding, and accelerating universe? What can we learn about the capacity to flourish by exploring our evolutionary heritage? How can we utilize our cognitive and cultural resources as we assume responsibility for the future of our species? Might the narrative of Big History serve as a foundation for a transcultural and transgenerational ethics? Being in dialogue with students and faculty about the questions arising from the 13.8-billion-year story of the universe is as fascinating as the history grounding First Year Experience is big."

Debbie Daunt

"What a rare privilege it is to guide and encourage students to explore the basic questions of the universe. As a practicing nurse, I am often confronted with the questions of ethics, morality, morbidity and mortality. Now, as part of the Big History faculty, I get to explore these questions in a cosmic arena. I look forward to changing lives, not only at bedside, but by expanding minds of first-year students through Big History."

Judy Halebsky

"With Big History the world around us is new again. As I look at Ocean Beach, I can imagine how the coastline has changed over hundreds of thousands of years. It’s a wonderful study that connects our lives with natural and human history. It is also great material for creative writing."

Jennifer Lucko

"Studying Big History with my fellow faculty members at the Big History Summer Institute was an encounter with the sublime. My hope is that first-year students at Dominican will be awed by the conditions of possibility that allow for human existence as they contemplate the implications of the Big History narrative for the future of our planet. I believe that encouraging students to grapple with the big questions of Big History allows them an opportunity to reflect on the meaning of a Dominican education for their own lives."

Julianne Maurseth

"When we examine global trade through the lens of Big History, our human nature is revealed in striking ways. Complex issues we face today on a global scale are often rooted in business assumptions, laws, and practices of prior centuries. Big History enables a perspective to sort unexamined and potentially harmful business assumptions from characteristics that made trade an ancient human phenomenon promoting cross-cultural learning across vast regions – as it does today. Seeing our present world through new eyes is a powerful benefit of Big History. It can lead to the kinds of breakthroughs many businesses crave and to sustainable business designs our world needs."

J. Daniel May

"No matter what subject I've taught, I've always seen the importance in making connections to other topics, bringing in bits of history, archaeology, hard science—whatever I thought could put the course into a larger context. Big History is as large a context as I could wish for, the ultimate opportunity to connect the dots and see the whole picture."

Philip Novak

"By virtue of recent stunning advances across the sciences, human beings of all times and places now have a single origin story—recognized and accepted wherever scientific evidence and rationality are valued. It changes everything, placing all our cultures, our arts, our religions, and indeed all human activity in a new light. Big History is nothing less than the careful telling of this new story, and teaching it is nothing less than participating in the cultural re-coding of our species. It is hard to imagine a more crucial element of the general education of the world’s current and future generations than this."

Nnekay FitzClarke-Weaver

"Learning skills that will not only help students adjust to the academic levels of college, but also help them connect theories, practices, and subjects across disciplines makes Big History crucial for all incoming college students."

Marianne Rogoff

“The Big History narrative includes as much knowledge about what is not known as about what is. This fact is the guiding concept behind my course, Big Literature through the Lens of Big History. Where science leaves off, literature steps in to keep posing questions, along with its cousins, philosophy, religion, psychology, and the arts, which rely on realms of imagination and faith as much as on logic and proof to move toward answers.”

Leslie Ross

"Big History is such an exciting and colorful experience! It represents an amazing journey through the known and the unknown. How humans have expressed their perceptions of this in the visual arts through the ages provides endlessly intriguing materials for my students—and for me, too."

Richard Simon

"As a species, we have a whole host of existential problems that many of us are entirely unprepared to understand, let alone to solve. Among them are global warming due to greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels; the drastic changes in our climate system that increased global heat retention causes and which have already begun to unfold; acidification of oceans; mass extinctions; shortages of water, soil, food, and energy resources; and an ever-expanding global population. Big History is a beginning, a means of providing some foundational knowledge of how the actual world actually works, and a sense of the recurring patterns in the vast sweep of existence, from the cosmic to the atomic. With this understanding at the root of their education, our students will be well-prepared to not only lead in finding solutions, but also prosper from that leadership."

Craig Singleton

"Big History... from the very beginning until now... in two semesters. Quite an undertaking don't you think? My part is viewing (and listening and experiencing) with you the music of Big History... also quite an undertaking. But we will give our best effort to dealing with the science, the beginnings, the development, and the meaning of music in the context of Big History. The Big History program at Dominican is stimulating, thought-provoking, and challenging. The journey we will take together is good and necessary, and it will influence us long beyond our experiences in our study together. Can't wait."

Lynn Sondag

"For a creative practitioner, the Big History story encompasses a wealth of fascinating content that completely nourishes our curiosity and imagination. Ultimately, the exploration expands upon the power of collective learning and helps us discover ways we can connect, communicate, and design for the future."

Harlan Stelmach

"Big History forces me to struggle with all the goals of liberal education: bodies of knowledge; formation; responsibility; and community. I am humbled by the scope of the material, the challenge to my identity, the overwhelming sense of responsibility for our planet, and the wonder of my interdependence with all of life. Therefore, I am a co-learner with my students, not an expert. I join them in the journey to seek meaning in the story of the universe."

Cynthia Taylor

"I find teaching Big History liberating! Traditional history courses never teach or speculate about the future—only about the past. That is what I was always taught to do as an American History teacher; but teaching Big History encourages me to teach history on such large scales of time and space that my students and I are encouraged to ponder the near, distant, and remote futures and the important role we play now in caring for this wonderful planet Earth—a very special place in our universe. The more I know about the universe, the more liberated I become."

Neal Wolfe

"Big History is valuable in a 21st-century liberal education because—as impossible a task as it is to construct any history truthfully, especially the history of the universe—if the universe began as a point the size of an atom, everything that is was implicit in the very beginning, including us and every other thing. It is the story of who and what we really are."