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‘Forgive me your final grade’

After more than three decades of teaching, Furman education professor Paul Thomas still doesn’t enjoy the task of assigning his students a final grade. Now that the fall term is coming to an end at the university, Dr. Thomas wrote an open letter to his students explaining why he believes a grade should not be the ultimate embodiment of what they learned in the classroom during the past few months. The post, which originally appeared on Thomas’ blog, “The Becoming Radical,” was reprinted in the “Answer Sheet” of The Washington Post.

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Award-winning leap into the wild

For years, Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge has been a lightning rod for controversy, pitting environmentalists against proponents of drilling for oil. Is the refuge a barren wasteland or a fragile ecosystem? Joni Tevis wanted to see for herself, which led to a 5,000-word essay in Orion magazine. That, in turn, led to Tevis receiving a Pushcart Prize, a major literary award which honors the best poetry, short fiction, essays and other works that appear in small presses during the previous year. Read more in The Greenville News.

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Providing commentary on midterm elections

When South Carolina ETV provided live, election night coverage during the 2014 midterms, Furman political science professor Brent Nelsen and two Furman students, Courtney Thomas and Andrew Smith, monitored social media channels and provided commentary about the races. Thomas is a political science major, while Smith is double majoring in political science and economics. The ETV program was hosted by Charles Bierbauer, dean of mass communications and information services at the University of South Carolina, and featured other political experts from around the state. Watch the video.

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Weighing the costs of ‘improvement’

The city of Greenville is growing, and growing in ways that are heralded as beneficial—change for the better some say. But one question too often ignored, or perhaps simply not thought of at all, is whom does this growth benefit? Hayden Couvillion, a Furman senior with a double major in Political Science and Sustainability Science, attempts to answer that question in an op-ed for The Greenville News.

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The dreams you dare to dream

When singer and Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth appeared on NBC’s TODAY SHOW to promote her first live album and performed the classic “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” she was accompanied on piano by Furman graduate Mary-Mitchell Campbell. A 1996 Furman graduate, Campbell serves as Chenoweth’s musical director.

Campbell is a leading musical arranger and orchestrator in New York. She won a Drama Desk Award in 2007 for orchestrations for the revival of the Broadway musical “Company,” and was music director for the Broadway production of “The Addams Family.” She has served on the faculties of NYU, Boston College and Juilliard.

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Manhood and domestic violence

If individuals—and institutions like the National Football League—want to join the movement against domestic violence, they must learn what help is acceptable and what is not. They need to learn that offering to “get tough” with abusers is just about the worst idea possible. Those are the conclusions of Furman sociology professor Ken Kolb, who wrote an op-ed piece about domestic violence for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Kolb, who joined the Furman faculty in 2008, published a new book this fall, Moral Wages: The Emotional Dilemmas of Victim Advocacy and Counseling.

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Appeal of “The Hunger Games”

The latest installment of the “The Hunger Games” movies hits theaters this week. Why have the books and the films, which depict a bleak, totalitarian world where young people are pitted against one another in televised death matches, been so popular with young adults? Furman sociology professor Kyle Longest suggests that teens today tend to be more individualistic, and “The Hunger Games,” as opposed to the “Harry Potter” or the “Lord of the Rings” series, is a more individualistic type of series. Longest, whose research centers on teen development, was quoted in a Greenville News article about the opening of “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1.”

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Race matters in school discipline

According to Furman education professor Paul Thomas, school discipline and the U.S. judicial system have something in common. Males, specifically black males, suffer the brunt of punishment in schools and life because they are disproportionately targeted. In an op-ed for The State newspaper, Dr. Thomas writes that acknowledging that fact is not an avenue to ignoring bad behavior, but the first step toward seeking ways in which all students succeed in school and then in life.

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Gender not a barrier for leaders

Furman president Elizabeth Davis was the keynote speaker in November at the annual ATHENA Leadership Symposium in Greenville, which actively supports talented women in their efforts to assume leadership positions.  A noted scholar, teacher, author and administrator, President Davis told the audience that gender shouldn’t be a barrier for leaders and to “make sure you focus on the goal and not the obstacles and be sure not to create the obstacles yourself.”  Davis’ appearance at the ATHENA event was chronicled in the Upstate Business Journal.

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Where is U.S. foreign policy headed?

The recent midterm elections brought a clear defeat for the Democrats and a near-sweeping victory for the Republicans, who now control both chambers of Congress. But how will the new distribution of power in Washington affect President Barack Obama’s foreign policy for the next two years?  In an op-ed for The Greenville News, Furman political science professor Akan Malici writes that the most important challenges will be America’s relations with Russia and Iran, the perceived threat emanating from the so-called Islamic State (IS), and the U.S. positioning in the Arab-Israeli conflict.