Internet Accountability

Internet accountability Lock Screen

Internet Accountability

by Dr. Sharon Short
I was shocked and horrified recently to learn that a highly esteemed academic colleague of mine had been arrested. Ripples of damage continue to spread to the institutions where he taught; the professional associations to which he belonged; the publishers of his writings; and students, faculty, administrators, and friends with whom he worked. If he is convicted, his career will be destroyed and his reputation ruined. Much is still unknown and the legal processes have barely begun, but even in these early stages it appears that illicit internet use brought about this dreadful downfall.
This tragedy serves as a sobering reminder that not one of us is immune to the insidious lure of sin. If “the last person on earth” whom we would expect to commit a particular crime is found entangled in it, then we too could fall. Therefore we must all be aggressively intentional about avoiding even the appearance of evil and about building reliable warning and accountability structures into our lives.
Specifically with regard to online practices, many of us are still far too naïve about the potential dangers of internet involvement and about the addictions that can result. We might think that we are safe because we are perusing sites and sending messages from the seclusion of our own homes or offices. The reality of course is that, in spite of all those “privacy policies,” the internet is anything but private. It quite literally is a worldwide web through which anyone in the whole wide world can potentially find out what any other person has been up to. The obvious application is to never view, post, download, “like,” or forward anything that we would not be equally willing to print in a newspaper, preach from a pulpit, paint on a billboard, or publish in a book, nor to say or do anything via the internet that we would not want anyone else in the whole world to know about. Recognizing the internet for the totally public information-sharing forum that it is will go a long ways toward deterring usage that could lead to immoral or illegal behaviors.
Many of us are also unaware of the excellent safeguards that are currently available. It is possible to install software on our personal and work computers that records and reports to our designated accountability partners every image we view and every word we write. The prudent move of voluntarily submitting to internet accountability and surveillance software now—well before we encounter any actual temptation—could spare us, our families, and our associates incalculable grief in the future.

Waiting (for an Academic Position)

Waiting (for an academic position) Bond Chapel university of Chicago

Waiting (for an Academic Position)

by Steve Huerd

Within the pages of Scripture, we find many saints who had to wait upon God to fulfill their life calling.
 
The Wonder of Waiting.  Abraham had to wait for a son, Joseph had to wait to see how his dreams would be fulfilled, Moses required forty years of preparation, Caleb finally conquered Hebron after waiting forty years for an entire unbelieving generation to die in the wilderness, and the list goes on and on.  Waiting is one of God’s primary tools he uses to shape us into the kind of men and women he desires us to be.  God often gives us dreams, aspirations, and desires of what he wants to do through us to bless others.  It is during these years of waiting where God builds Christ’s character in us (Rom. 8:29) through sifting and pruning us (John 15:1-5) that we might truly know him and become even more fruitful.

The world and many who wish us well continually tell us, “You must do this and that” to get to where you want to go.  You need to complete your education, be published, attend the right types of academic communities, intentionally build strategic relationships, and so forth in order to make yourself the best candidate you can be possibly be.  Granted, there must be a balance between the waiting and preparing oneself, and these two need not be separate entities (though often it seems that even with the best of human preparation, there remain long seasons of just waiting upon God)  


Tony Stolzfus, who serves as a professional pastor’s ministry coach claims:
In God’s economy, the power of your ministry is a function of the depth of your processing. In other words, the more deeply Jesus’ character gets worked into you, the more you have to give. The more years God has to sift you and refine you and prune you for greater growth, the more potential you have for world-changing impact.”
 
The Divine Perspective About Our Academic Careers.  The biblical examples mentioned above along with particular verses seem to affirm these truths.  For example, the Psalmist declares, “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain” (Psalm 127:1-2)  David also claims “And in thy book, they were all written, the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.”  Paul states that, “We are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works which God has prepared beforehand” (Eph. 2:10).  These and other verses surely affirm that God has prepared a specific place for us to accomplish the good works he has prepared for us.  God sovereignly works on both ends, both for those seeking academic positions and for those seeking to fulfill them, to accomplish his agenda with the person of his choosing.
Often we fret and worry, becoming impatient with God and demanding for him to grant us the position we feel we deserve.  Yet even in waiting, there is danger as Stoltzfus states, “It is so easy to end up resisting the very thing that will take us where we want to go! We are protesting and squirming and trying to get out from under the knife, while God in his mercy is saying, ‘If I let you go now, you will never become what you are capable of becoming.’ If we truly demand release, God will honor our request and let us go forward into a shallow shadow of our call, but He is in no hurry to release us from the wilderness.”
 
Pondering upon these thoughts causes me to rethink my perspective and relax knowing that a loving God is working behind the scenes in ways I can’t see.  It causes me to read again Andrew Murray’s classic book entitled “Waiting Upon God,” while journaling my thoughts and prayers.I find that I have to continually remind myself of this perspective time and time again when I become anxious and insecure.  When I do trust in him, I can take one day at a time, experiencing the peace he promises in Phil. 4:6-7.  I want to yield myself fully to the Master Surgeon, giving him full access to all areas of my life letting him take the time he needs to shape me into the professor that I believe he is calling me to be.

The Best Courses Always Include… (Part One)

Best courses Light Bulb

The Best Courses Always Include… (Part One)

By Steve Huerd
It’s the most wonderful feeling as a speaker or teacher when someone comes up to you after you’ve finished speaking and says, “I felt like God was directly speaking to me through what you said.  It’s like you were just talking to me.”  These affirmations provide the speaker with assurance that God is using them in people’s lives through their teaching.
If our purpose as Christian educators is to teach to change lives so that we might present everyone mature in Christ (Col. 1:28), then this dynamic interaction must occur somewhere in the teaching process.  When it occurs and the light bulb comes on, a glorious thing transpires in the student’s mind and life as the Holy Spirit uses our words and life to create change in the learner.
Having sat under many Godly men and women educators during my twelve years of graduate school, I’ve noticed that the best courses always included professors making the material especially applicable to my life.
For example, while I was taking a course called Human Growth and Development at Talbot School of Theology, party of Biola University’s graduate school, I had no idea there was a scholarly area entitled “Faith Development.”  At that time, I had spent roughly twenty years investing in people to help them in their faith development as a practitioner and I was shocked to learn that scholars had been researching my life’s work!  I was so thrilled at this discovery, and grateful to my professor, Dr. Jonathan Kim, of Talbot School of Theology, for his teaching, that I devoted my dissertation to the subject of spiritual development in youth.
It was Dr. David Clark, now provost of Bethel University, whose unique and simple way of presenting his arguments in the apologetics course I took from him years ago enabled me to share these arguments with hundreds of students over the years.  Or Dr. Walter Kaiser, Old Testament Scholar and former president of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, whose love and passion for the Old Testament inspired me to read and love the Old Testament every year in my devotions.  It can even be as simple as sharing from your own life as Dr. Klaus Issler, professor of Christian Education and Theology at Talbot School of Theology, often did in our Philosophical Issues class causing me to rethink my own presuppositions and see Jesus in new ways.
While there is certainly not just one way to make material applicable to student’s lives, it seems all the best courses include professors who somehow have figured out how to make that happen.  Whether through their teaching methods, their insights, personal examples, relationships, etc., they always find a way to connect their subject matter to their students’ lives.

Student Needs: Recognizing the Needs of Your Students

Recognizing the Needs of Your Students

Recognizing the Needs of Your Students

by Timothy Howe
Student needs are important.  Students bring a lot into the classroom other than books and ideas. They come into the classroom with a whole host of issues with which they are dealing. This is part of life. Each one of us approaches our job affected by  a variety of factors – our mood, recent news we have received, physical illness or tiredness, concerns, etc. Students are the same way. Part of the maturation process requires them learning to deal with various struggles while performing at an acceptable level. Yet, as educators, we can help them in to learn this process to great degree. We do so through a combination of demonstrating compassion while holding them accountable to their work. A large part of the educator’s task is recognizing what are the real needs of the student versus plain old laziness or apathy.
Classroom: When students are first entering into the classroom is a good time to assess how they are doing. The look on their face, their body motions, their interactions with other students and their preoccupation with objects not associated with the class (such as cell phone) can all be good indicators as to whether or not there is something with the student beyond what meets the eye. Furthermore, interaction within the classroom with the professor or other students can give more clues. How a student responds to question – does she give quick, short answers when normally she is full of ideas, or is he hostile when normally he is pleasant – can reveal what is going on internally. Since, everyone has a bad day or feels “blah” from time to time, this might not set off alarm bells initially. However, the repetition of such behavior can communicate that a student is in need of assistance.
Silence Speaks Loudly: Most people do not want to communicate their problems. They hold them in and put a mask on for the world around them. One way that people communicate their difficulties is precisely when they do not speak out. When a student seems to shut out others and avoid communication, this is a good time to pay attention to what might be going on in his or her life.
Anxiety Affects Performance: A sure sign that a student has had a need develop is a drop in performance. Anxiety affects performance. When a normally well-performing student suddenly starts to perform poorly, this should be a hint that something is not right. It might be as simple as not understanding the assignments, an easy thing to fix. It is likely to be a lot more complex.
What concern is the student’s problem to the professor? So if a student is having a problem, is that a concern of the professor. People go into education to improve the lives of others. This is done primarily through helping others to grasp knew levels of understanding. It is also accomplished through experience. So, yes, it is a concern of the professor if the professor wants to be a real influence in the life of the student. Learning takes place in so much more than the imparting of factual data. Students learn much from professors they perceive as caring about them. Learning will be enhanced when these problem areas are no longer in the way.
So, how to help?
Face the problem head on: People often times will avoid a problem and hope that it goes away rather than deal with it. This strategy rarely works. If a professor suspects that a student is struggling with a need that is of direct bearing on the course, a good approach usually is to communicate directly with that student about the suspicion in a sensitive fashion. If the need is classroom related, the student might feel relieved to get the issue in the open. If the issue turns out to be non-classroom related, but it still affects the classroom, then the professor is able to get the student the best help available.
Over-communicate: The professor should not assume that one try to communicate about the problem will be sufficient. Neither should there be an expectation that once a problem is diagnosed that it is fixed. Intentional follow-up is necessary and this includes clearing up any missed assignments or completion of material agreed upon to get the student back on track. The professor will need to over-communicate to be sure that the student is back on the right track.
Encourage: Students can become overwhelmed and think that they are too far behind or incapable of doing the work. An encouraging word of a professor carries a lot of weight in such a situation. Professors can take on a mentoring role to not only help the student through the course, but also through life. Many students still refer to past professor’s as mentors in their lives years after the last course they took with him or her.
Resolve the Need: Where it is possible, help the student to resolve the need, not just become aware of it. Their seems to be a tendency to analyze a situation and not do much more than explain it. Real problems need real solutions. If a professor is able to help a student chart the course to solving a real problems, the professor has just passed along one of life’s most important skills.

Biology PHD: Where Will It Take You?

The great danger of seeking advanced degrees is not planning for one’s academic career options far enough in advance, prior to graduation.
Of the 16,000 Biology Ph.D. students entering programs each year, over 1/3 will not complete.  The average Biology Ph.D. requires 7 years to complete.
Of those who do graduate, 7/10 will enter a post-doc program. Sadly, over 30% of all graduates will be forced to do two or more post-doc programs, all because of the lack of academic positions available.

Study by Jessica Polka
Study by Jessica Polka

There are positions available, but the market is tight and requires savvy approaches to help graduates gain a strategic position search advantage. Earning a degree and assuming one will beat the odds just isn’t realistic.
The best advice?
Invest in your education and career at the same time.  Don’t wait until you complete your program.
 
 
Sources:
Original Article by Jessica Polka on ASCB.org
1 – Science Careers Annual Postdoc Survey (2012)
2 – doi:10.1038/472276a
3 – Sauermann & Roach 2012 PLOS ONE; DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0036307
Unless otherwise noted, NIH Biomedical Workforce Working Group (2012).
 

The Ire of Doctoral Students at Mizzou

The Missouri University state college system intersects at Columbia, Missouri– which is better known as Mizzou, home to the popular Mizzou Tigers and a host of associated college traditions.
But despite the tranquil campus and rolling lawns, Vimal Patel reports a growing unrest among its graduate students, including doctoral students, over their treatment and remuneration, among other issues.

A handful of students launched a type of movement through the agency of a graduate rights forum, resulting in two weeks of protests and administrative activism.  The graduate students report the temporary loss of their university health-insurance subsidies, the lack of student housing for grad students, and incredibly modest stipends paid out for fellowships to grad assistants: a mere $12,000 annually.
These challenges echo similar situations faced by doctoral students everywhere.  Because of the staggering lack of academic positions available compared to the volume of graduates, newly-minted doctors often take refuge in graduate fellowships such as those at Mizzou.  The situation isn’t likely to change soon, as university funding issues, student debt, and challenges in higher education and the Department of Education indicate there is no end in sight.
As such, the best advice for doctoral students and graduates is to invest more heavily in themselves and the professional aspects of their career preparation.  Doing so will provide better odds in identifying and landing the relatively small number of academic positions that do exist.  What is happening at Mizzou is a microcosm of the broader crisis, and students are realizing it is up to them to become activists for their own plight.  Included in these actions should be proactively preparing for their careers– and not only challenging budget-strapped administrations with little wiggle room.  The solution is certainly both-and… not “either-or.”
If you’re a graduate student or one on a grad fellowship, take control by investing in yourself… not only raging at the machine.
 
Sources:
Original Full Article by Vimal Patal
Image courtesy of Missouri Times
 
 

Why the Best Hire May Not Be the Best Hire

Best Hire
Overview: Given the choice between a job candidate with a perfect resume and one who has fought through difficulty, human resources executive Regina Hartley always gives the “Scrapper” a chance. As someone who grew up with adversity, Hartley knows that those who flourish in the darkest of spaces are empowered with the grit to persist in an ever-changing workplace. “Choose the underestimated contender, whose secret weapons are passion and purpose,” she says. “Hire the Scrapper.”

Why the Best Hire May Not Be the Best Hire

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