Archive for July, 2011

Alumnus Update: Kris Heiderich, Teaching in Uganda

0 Commentsby   |  07.26.11  |  Student Spotlight

Kris Heiderich grew up in Brazil, where his parents have been missionaries for thirty years. Attending international schools K-12 (with one disorienting year in the U.S. during the 8th grade), Kris learned to love education, travel, and diverse community—but he didn’t know how those things would continue to play out in his own life.

"We are all kind of in the same boat, and we have an easy time communicating," says Kris of himself and his students at Heritage.

ACU was fortunate to be Kris’s home for college. He enrolled in 2006, and he says the school was an easy place to transition and find a sense of home. After his first year, he realized he wanted to join the English department, crediting his choice to the top-tier faculty and his lifelong passion for language arts.

While building his expertise in writing and literature, Kris also joined the education department to earn his teaching certification. By the time he graduated in May 2010, he was poised to take the world by storm as a dedicated and well-rounded teacher, following the example of his own teachers in Brazil.

“Once I graduated from ACU, I sent out my resume to schools around the world and also in Texas,” Kris says. But with high levels of uncertainty surrounding employment for Texas teachers, “I began to pray for direction about starting off my career abroad. In the last few weeks of summer, I received an email from Heritage International School in Kampala, Uganda. Two weeks later, I was starting my first day of school in Uganda!

“I am thankful to the ACU English department for how much they prepared me for the real world. The faculty is not only bright, but also very sincere in their approach to education. Not many other people I know left their undergraduate program knowing they had life-long mentors available to them back at college, but at ACU, I feel that I have support even now as I trek around Eastern Africa.”

At Heritage International School, about fifty percent of Kris’s students are Ugandan and the rest are international. “It feels great,” he reports. “We are all kind of in the same boat, and we have an easy time communicating.” Kris is returning to Heritage for his second year of teaching this fall. We look forward to hearing more updates soon.

The Republic of Uganda's National Flag

*We always love to hear from our graduates! If you have an update for us and your ACU English peers, drop us an email, and we’ll post details to the blog. For the next few months, you can email those details to Heidi Nobles at (And in the future, you can email those to our administrative coordinator, just as soon as that person joins us!)

ACU Faculty Work Together on Faith, Science, and the Arts

0 Commentsby   |  07.15.11  |  Faculty Spotlight

Fast Take: ACU professors in English, Theater, and Physics partnered this spring on an exciting project to promote interdisciplinary conversation—an important opportunity for both faculty and students.

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For more than thirty years, the Christian Scholars’ Conference has hosted faculty from Christian colleges and universities across the country, welcoming rich conversations and important scholarship that those faculty members carry back with them to their classrooms. This year, the conference took place at Pepperdine University, themed around The Path of Discovery: Science, Theology, and the Academy. Keynote speakers included renowned physicist and theologian John Polkinghorne and Francis Collins of the Human Genome Project and the National Institutes of Health (and even the Colbert Report).

ACU faculty from across the campus presented on panels and participated in discussions that considered critical issues in contemporary science related to their disciplines—everything from theology to music to theater to, yes, literature.

Nancy Shankle, associate dean for the College of Arts and Sciences, chaired a panel of five other faculty members from ACU and beyond: Matt Hearn and Kim Reed of Lipscomb University, Lisa Siefker Bailey of Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus, and Dawne Swearingen and Heidi Nobles of ACU. The panel, “The Uncertainty Principle: Teaching Michael Frayn’s Copenhagen,” promoted discussion of how faculty had engaged principles of physics in various non-science classrooms.

Nancy Shankle, Dawne Swearingen, and Heidi Nobles

To prepare for the conference, faculty members spent the spring 2011 semester teaching science-based courses in literature, writing, and theater. All the classes taught the play Copenhagen, a historical “what if?” drama playing with the science and metaphor of quantum physics in the WWII era.

At ACU, Dawne Swearingen and Heidi Nobles partnered to teach the play. Swearingen’s advanced directing students spent the early part of their semester directing scenes from the play for film and live performance; they then presented original and fascinating interpretations to Nobles’ first-year composition students. Nobles’ students grappled with the foundational elements of the play, including genre, characterization, and metaphor; many ended up writing research papers on issues related to nuclear physics and memory, two key elements in the play. A guest presentation from physics professor Paul Morris helped both groups of students better understand the intricacies Frayn works with in the drama.

The panel itself was the first time the faculty members were all able to sit down and discuss their experiences together. They compared successes and challenges and questions for the future. All emphasized the invigorating nature of taking on outside subject matter in their classrooms. Science and the arts are too often kept separate, but bringing them together allows for new grounding and energy in both.

The field of science writing itself is a rich one for students to explore in terms of career options. Schools like Johns Hopkins and MIT offer master’s degrees in science writing, and the job opportunities for strong writers who also know science well are fascinating—writers and editors are needed for scientific journals, research agencies, medical groups, and more. Based on job projections for the coming years (which reflect high needs for people working in the sciences, including in roles such as teacher and technical writer), students in the arts who also have facility in science should take seriously these interdisciplinary possibilities.

This panel opened up new opportunities for students and faculty to recognize those significant intersections, and we hope the work of the past few months will promote further scholarship from faculty and a new sense of possibility for students.

Internship Opportunity

0 Commentsby   |  07.14.11  |  Career Planning & Information, Job & Volunteer Opportunities

The ACU Press seeks an unpaid intern to assist with the production and publishing of books.  This person should have an inherent interest in learning the varied tasks associated with textual production, from responding to content and communicating with authors to proofreading and document formatting.  Working alongside current staff, this intern will gain firsthand knowledge and experience of the publishing business, benefits of which will stretch into his or her professional and/or academic future.

For more information, or to apply, contact Robyn Burwell at 674-2761 or