Sixteen speakers explored issues of humanity ranging from diversity to language to the opioid epidemic at Bellarmine’s first TEDx event, “Who We Are: Past, Present, Future,” held March 1 in the Wyatt Hall Black Box Theater.
TEDxBellarmineU allowed the university to share the “amazing work” being done by Bellarmine students, faculty, staff and alumni, said Dr. Shawn Apostel, an assistant professor of communication and an event organizer. It also “enables Bellarmine to provide a platform to community leaders as well as those whose voices are seldom heard.”
A TEDx is an independently organized TED event. TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to ideas worth spreading, usually in the form of short, powerful talks of 18 minutes or fewer, delivered by leading thinkers and doers.
Published here are some excerpts from Bellarmine’s first TEDx.
To watch “Who We Are” in its entirety, or to submit a proposal for TEDx 2020, visit: www.bellarmine.edu/tedx.
A Case against a Diversity Course Requirement: A Holistic Alternative
By Dr. Hoon Choi, Theology Department
“As an Asian-American person, I often became a token—a token Asian. … I was asked to be a cover model for the admissions catalog at my undergraduate school. … because at the time the institution was not that diverse. And the rhetoric was, “Well, it serves a function. It allows the school to represent itself as diverse, so that people who look like me may be enticed or want to come to this school.” Well, I don’t think that’s effective. First of all, it’s a lie. Secondly, after 20 years since that time, that school has increased the demographic that I represent to a little bit more than 1 percent. It’s a lip service.
I think the diversity one-course requirement serves a similar function. A lip service. A form of tokenism. It implies it is something that you check off, get out of the way …. And having it as an elective, rather than as part of the requirement for history, English, math, whatever—that gives you the notion that somehow my issue, the issues of my people, will never be the center. It will always be the elective ….
There is a way we can do this more comprehensively and holistically. First, I think we should get rid of it. It’s not effective and to a degree, to me, it’s offensive. One requirement somehow makes you culturally competent? Get rid of it. However, I think we should encourage diversity. Get rid of it for the students, but require it for the teachers! Redo your syllabus! Bring diversity in all aspects of the curriculum. Not just one course, but every discipline. …
I know that science and math and STEM people are saying, ‘Well, that’s easy for you to say, theologian. You’re in humanities.’ I would say OK, even if it’s easy, humanities professors don’t do it, either. So let me present to you part of what I think is the solution.
If you are requiring history, and it doesn’t cover that Chinese-Americans built the infrastructure of this country, like the Transcontinental Railroad, or the fact there was a Japanese internment camp … it’s inadequate. The literary canon is pretty white—or at best, black and white. Include some of these [other] stories—not as a side note, but as part of the English requirement. … If you’re teaching art, include African-American artists who deal with social issues. It forces students and teachers to deal with social issues in this country. What if you taught geography without boundaries?… Decolonize our education system. …
Why is a theologian concerned with this? Because I believe celebrating the fullness of humanity gets us closer to God and to one another. Thomas Merton said we are already one, but we imagine we are not. Why? Because we are only concentrating on Eurocentric textbooks, Eurocentric authors and topics .…There is unity in diversity. If we celebrate diversity, and find commonality in that diversity, we celebrate the fullness of humanity, which gets us closer to God.”
Acupuncture’s Role in Combating the Opioid Epidemic
By Andrea Helton, Licensed Acupuncturist & Herbalist
“In Chinese medicine, there’s a concept called ‘Branch & Root.’ The branch is what we see; a manifestation of the imbalance. The root, however, is the actual cause of the branch imbalance and all other imbalances in the mind and body. When designing a treatment strategy, the ideal approach is to eliminate the branch while also getting to the root. In terms of the Opioid Epidemic, we need a solution that can also achieve this Branch & Root goal. It must successfully combat addiction (the branch) AND manage chronic pain (the root). The realization of this solution must first begin with a paradigm shift on how we view and treat pain, because right now, we’re looking at it all wrong.
Let’s look at the current model: ‘Bury Pain & Survive.’ In the current model, we begin with this principle: Pain is BAD. Full stop. Our only desire is to escape pain, even if that means only masking it or numbing it. Next, our society is addicted to quick fixes and magic pills. We don’t have the patience to wait for pain to heal because life is constantly throwing demands and stress in our faces; so we settle for escaping the sensation of pain ….
I am recommending a new model: ‘Heal & Thrive.’ This begins with how we view pain. In this model, pain is not the bad guy; it’s simply a messenger telling us something is off and requires attention. Let’s pretend pain is a smoke alarm,
and the cause of pain is a fire in the attack. When the smoke alarm goes off, you don’t disarm it and ignore the fire (aka the approach with the current model). No, you are relieved that your smoke alarm detected the fire, and now you can take
the steps to put it out! …
Once we’ve figured out what’s causing pain, we need to take steps to correct it; and yes, part of the short-term goals is to eliminate the sensation of pain, so we can go about our daily lives. The bigger goal, though, is to actually correct/ reverse the causes of pain and return to our natural state of balance.
The third step is ultimately taking back control over your body and living your life without pain, or at the very least, living with pain at a very manageable level and preventing debilitating flare-ups. The focus is on the healing process.… When we approach pain management this way, we maintain agency over our bodies, we become partners in health with our physicians, we actively participate in our healing, and ultimately, we become empowered.
So what systems fit this model? … I’m focusing on acupuncture because it’s an evidence-based and non-pharmaceutical approach for both pain management and addiction. It fits the bill for the current crisis.”
A Second Soul: Love as the World’s Lingua Franca
By Mary Wurtz, Bellarmine Junior
“To learn another person’s language is to step outside of yourself and into the soul of another. To learn someone else’s language is to meet that person exactly where they are. When I volunteer as a Spanish medical interpreter, or I speak to a professor in broken Korean, it’s my way of trying to show that although English is the dominant language in the United States, I do not expect others to change their ways of life or to forsake their culture to better convenience me. I want to join them in their own language, as they have worked to join me in mine, because within that cultural exchange, we become more wholly human. It’s hospitality to the “other.” It’s the least we can do.
The ancient Greeks had a word for what I’m talking about. That word is agape, which translates roughly to ‘pure self-gift’” It’s different from philia, brotherly love. It’s different from eros, selfish love. It’s the kind of love that gifts and expects nothing in return, not even mental acuity or a line on your résumé. It’s humble love. It’s welcoming love. It’s selfless love.
Digital interpretation technologies and common tongues like English and Mandarin facilitate trade and aid communication so that we are even more connected than we already were before. But learning another language, be it through classes, an app, or baptism by fire: This is not going away…. Taking the time to learn a language may feel old-school, but this is our future. Because love is our future. Our shared common language. The one that we never have to learn.”