Journal of Opinions, Ideas & Essays (JOIE)

Persistent link for this collection

The online journal, Journal of Opinions, Ideas & Essays (JOIE), sponsored by the University of Minnesota Retirees Association (UMRA), was established in 2013 by Professor emeritus, Martin Dworkin (Microbiology and Immunology). The journal is a collection of original articles intended for a general audience. The JOIE is not designed as an alternative to existing professional journals, but rather as a venue for articles that do not fit easily into conventional journals. These could include any of a variety of essays, such as experiences at the University or other life experiences, biographical sketches or tributes, matters of University interest or academic interest, comments on important issues, pedagogical matters, poems, hobbies, short stories or plays, book reviews, historical reviews, and for scientists, speculative hypotheses or essays on important scientific ideas. As an electronic journal, the JOIE features graphics and illustrations in ways that traditional journals often cannot accommodate, making it ideal for artistic or photographic essays. Please enjoy browsing our collection by using the search box below or click “view more” near the bottom of this page. JOIE publications are also accessible on browser searches such as Google and Bing. Article submissions are accepted from any member of the University of Minnesota community, active or retired.

Editor-in-Chief: Kristine M. Bettin, Neuroscience

Editorial Committee: Lynda Ellis, Laboratory Medicine and Pathology; Ed Griffin, Literature; Jan Hogan-Schiltgen, Family Social Science

Submission Instructions for Authors

To submit an item for publication in the JOIE, please send the document, prepared in Word or other similar format that allows conversion to a pdf, to Kris Bettin, Kris will be your contact at the JOIE and she will share your contribution with the editorial committee members, who will determine the suitability of the submission and review it for quality. Kris will return your submission, with any needed editing/formatting, in a timely manner and she will upload your finalized copy to the online journal. More detailed instructions for authors may be found here.

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Search within Journal of Opinions, Ideas & Essays (JOIE)


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 20 of 39
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    Places of Worship
    (Journal of Opinions, Ideas & Essays (JOIE), 2024-03) Finnegan, John
    This is a photographic presentation of “Places of Worship,” with an emphasis on the diversity of the human religious impulse from early to modern times. The video was presented to the UMRA Photography Club in March of 2024.
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    Who Built Our Capitol?
    (Journal of Opinions, Ideas & Essays (JOIE), 2013) Croce, Randy; University of Minnesota. Carlson School of Management. Labor Education Service
    "Who Built Our Capitol?" reveals the formerly untold story of the workers and contractors who constructed the Minnesota statehouse from 1896 to 1907. The program portrays not only tradespeople, but railroad, quarry, and other workers who provided materials for the building. The documentary relates the broader history of the structure, intertwined with the personal stories of the builders, including the six men who died during the construction. Living descendants of the workers, as well as historians, artisans, and architects, illuminate this history. The program was shot during the renovation of the Capitol, allowing views of architectural details and the construction process not ordinarily available. This footage, combined with archival photographs and music of the period, provide the documentary a compelling visual and auditory character.
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    The Farmer-Labor Movement: A Minnesota Story
    (Journal of Opinions, Ideas & Essays (JOIE), 2022-09-24) Croce, Randy; Kurhajec, Anna; O'Connell, Thomas
    The Farmer-Labor movement founded the most successful third-party in U.S. political history. This progressive movement elected candidates and advanced political change in Minnesota from 1917 until it merged with the Democrats in 1944, to form the DFL, the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party. The documentary portrays this history through the voices of Farmer-Labor leaders and their descendants, as well as contemporary historians and activists. Animated segments bring the personal stories of Farmer-Labor men and women to life, while songs from the period convey the spirit of the movement. The parallels between the show’s historic conflicts and contemporary issues are striking. The challenges the Farmer-Labor movement faced and its progressive legacy still resonate today.
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    One Woman’s Studies: The Far-Reaching Impact of Gayle Graham Yates, PhD (1940-2023)
    (Journal of Opinions, Ideas & Essays (JOIE), 2024-02-21) Knatterud, Mary; Knatterud, Mary
    In 1979, I was introduced to Dr. Gayle Graham Yates, the first full-time coordinator (and soon chair) of the up-and-coming WoSt (Women’s Studies) program. I found her to be an inspiring teacher, a gifted author, and a thoughtful mentor. Her wisdom and empathy, in and beyond the classroom, lived on in every aspect of my own academic career for nearly a half-century (and counting!), even though I only really interacted with her for a couple of years. But they were foundational years, intense and heady, for which I am forever grateful to her. I was deeply saddened to read of her death on April 27, 2023, at age 82.
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    My Experiences Living in a Politically Divided Country
    (Journal of Opinions, Ideas & Essays (JOIE), 2023-11-15) DeLong, Marilyn
    Growing up in a relatively small but sustainable university town has affected my ideology and influenced my thinking about politics. As I track my hometown, it has benefitted greatly from having in its midst a public research university that is actively engaged with the community. I can cite many examples of common goals that can be reached by fostering a good working relationship between that university and the surrounding community.
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    A Brief Overview: Humanity's Socio-Ecological Predicament and Unknown Future
    (Journal of Opinions, Ideas & Essays (JOIE), 2023-11-07) Ware, Clifton
    Ever since retiring in 2007 as a professor of voice, I’ve spent the last fifteen years transforming into a self-described socio-ecological philosopher and activist. Throughout the learning process, I’ve sought a big-picture, systemic understanding of our increasingly challenging human predicament; namely, how to address the harmful effects of multiple crises we’ve inflicted on our formerly pristine planet.
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    Retirement Stories
    (Journal of Opinions, Ideas & Essays (JOIE), 2023-04-19) Bettin, Kris; Allen, Gene; Boss, Pauline; Ellis, Lynda; Knatterud, Mary; Oberg, Toby; Prouty, Jo; Ware, Clifton
    Many of us enjoy hearing the stories of others. With that thought in mind, we invited UMRA members to share their stories of personal experiences during retirement via a short essay. We received a number of interesting and diverse stories that we have combined into this anthology. We wish to thank the authors for their thoughtful contributions to this collection: Gene Allen, My Retirement Story Pauline Boss, Ambiguous Loss Lynda Ellis, Have You Tried New Activities During Retirement? Anonymous, Retirement Mary Knatterud, When Every Weekday Suddenly Became a Snow Day Toby Oberg, My Transition to Retirement Jo Prouty, Metamorphosis Clifton Ware, My Life in Retirement The JOIE editorial committee: Kris Bettin, Lynda Ellis, Edward Griffin, Jan Hogan-Schiltgen, Mary Knatterud
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    College Athletics: Evolution of Structure and Control at the University of Minnesota 1893 - 1936
    (Journal of Opinions, Ideas & Essays (JOIE), 2022-07-26) Engstrand, Gary
    College athletics and its governance has a long, circuitous history. In its infancy, athletic activities at the University of Minnesota were governed solely by the student players. In 1893, the faculty gained control through membership in the Advisory Board of Athletic Control (renamed the Board of Control in 1894) and, later reinforced by Big Ten Conference rules, maintained that control for nearly three decades. Ultimately, in 1922, athletics and physical education were to be directed by professionals, while the faculty, through membership in the University Senate Committee on Intercollegiate Athletics (SCIA, established in 1912), retained a major voice in the management of athletics. In 1930, in response to a study of intercollegiate athletics by the Carnegie Foundation, SCIA powers were greatly reduced; a statement on “faculty control of athletics” was included in the updated SCIA constitution to demonstrate continued adherence of Minnesota to the rules of the Big Ten, but, in reality, control now “entailed institutional management review and administration.” This is the carefully researched story of the evolution of the control of athletics at the University of Minnesota, 1893 – 1936.
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    Stormwater Management: Rain Gardens to Bioretention Areas
    (Journal of Opinions, Ideas & Essays (JOIE), 2022-05-15) Ellis, Lynda; Bettin, Kris
    As a natural stormwater management system, rain gardens are increasing in popularity and are delineated by a number of different names, based on purpose and location. Rain gardens, or rainwater gardens, are generally residential and are located on a depression or downside of a slope. A rain garden collects stormwater and helps filter out pollutants. A larger, more complex rain garden is referred to as a bioretention facility, which treats stormwater before it is infiltrated or discharged. A third water management system, the bioswale (ditch) or bioslope (slope), moves stormwater from one area to another, in addition to filtering out sediment and pollutants.
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    Tracing the History of a Civil War Ancestor
    (Journal of Opinions, Ideas & Essays (JOIE), 2022-01-12) Craig, William J
    For Christmas 1952, my grandmother wrote a brief paragraph about her father, George E. Swift. She said he joined the Minnesota 3rd Regiment as a drummer boy at age 13 and ultimately became part of Sherman’s March to the Sea. After the war, he returned to Minnesota and became a druggist. This article documents the research involved in tracing, correcting, and expanding her 1952 story. George joined the Minnesota 3rd at Fort Snelling in 1861, but only informally. After the 3rd was captured in Murfreesboro, Kentucky, he jumped at the opportunity to formally join the Ohio 69th Regiment in Nashville. With that outfit, he was involved in many of the major campaigns of the war, ultimately joining them in the victorious Grand Review of the Armies in Washington, DC, in May 1865. He returned to Minneapolis, supported himself as a musician, then married, passed the pharmacy examination, and owned drugstores in Minneapolis and Robbinsdale. He helped found the all-veteran Morgan Drum Corps that led Minnesota delegations at events in Gettysburg and Washington, DC. He contributed to the community throughout his life, as documented in local newspaper stories. This article follows the flow of George Swift's life, while a wealth of footnotes document sources and provide additional notes about that life.
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    What is a Master Gardener?
    (Journal of Opinions, Ideas & Essays (JOIE), 2021-11-03) Ellis, Lynda
    For those of us who embrace digging holes, weeding, and watering, the Master Gardener program offered through the University of Minnesota Extension Service provides amateur horticulturists a way to learn, teach, and engage the community in gardening. Master Gardeners come from all walks of life and share gardening best practices that promote healthy landscapes, healthy foods and healthy lives. This article is an introduction to master gardening, with a brief history of the national and local programs, description of the steps toward becoming a Master Gardener, and a sampling of local Minnesota county activities.
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    The Long-Term Impact of a Summer Institute Course on Styles- and Strategies-Based Instruction
    (Journal of Opinions, Ideas & Essays (JOIE), 2021-06-01) Cohen, Andrew D
    This article reports on a study undertaken to explore the possible effects of a summer institute course aimed at encouraging participants to consider not just strategies for the teaching of languages, but also strategies that language learners might use to enhance their own learning. In addition, the course showcased the learners’ sensory, cognitive, and personality-related style preferences which influenced language learning outcomes. The 29 participants in the study had taken the course at some point during its more than two-decade trajectory. The findings from responses to a written survey and from oral interview data obtained from a subset of the respondents provided indications as to the ways in which such a course can have a lasting impact on the participants. The study is deemed of particular relevance to those who offer such summer courses, as well as to those who are looking for courses to take which may have the greatest payoff on their professional development.
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    A Tribute to the Incomparable John S. Najarian, MD (1927-2020)
    (Journal of Opinions, Ideas & Essays (JOIE), 2021-05-08) Knatterud, Mary E
    In this article, author Mary E. Knatterud, PhD, pays tribute to her incomparable longtime boss, transplant surgeon-scientist John S. Najarian, MD, who died at the age of 92 on August 31, 2020. The two worked together for several decades in the University of Minnesota Department of Surgery, which he chaired from July 1967 until February 1993. With deep affection and abiding respect, Knatterud describes his stellar academic background, internationally renowned career, and high-achieving yet genial style. She also showcases a cross-section of heartfelt comments (gathered by her, via email and/or phone, the sad week of his death) from colleagues in the workplace he built: Mary Jane Towle; Mary Dodds; Rainer W.G. Gruessner, MD; Barbara Elick, RN, BSN, MA; Henry Buchwald, MD, PhD; Catherine Statz, RN, MPH; and David A. Rothenberger, MD.
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    Impact of UMRA’s Professional Development Grants for Retirees Program
    (Journal of Opinions, Ideas & Essays (JOIE), 2021-04-04) Craig, William J
    Professional Development Grants for Retirees (PDGR) grants have been awarded by the University of Minnesota Retirees Association (UMRA) since 2009. PDGR has helped retirees continue their intellectual work and yielded significant benefits to both academia and society. This article is based on surveys of 38 individuals who received grants from 2014-2020. It documents the wide range of projects they undertook and the impact those projects had on those individuals and society. Projects ranged from history and art to medical and environmental topics. Results have improved individual lives, societal understanding, environmental quality, the reputation of the University of Minnesota, and the personal satisfaction of the retired grantee. Individual projects are briefly described, along with their results and impacts.
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    Poems and Photographs: Midwestern Hobbies Adjoin
    (Journal of Opinions, Ideas & Essays (JOIE), 2021-03-22) Bettin, Kristine
    I have collected and transcribed the poems of my great-aunt, Mary Anderson, for one reason: perhaps people will enjoy reading them. This world is suffering at the moment; there is a pandemic, businesses are closing, people are out of work and out of money, most of us are home-bound. We are all seeking solace in various places: some in literature, in music or in streaming movies, some are taking long walks, learning to cook, or starting new hobbies. An avid reader, I have found solace in Aunt Mary’s gentle, insightful and soothing poems.
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    The Northrop Auditorium Inscription (It was harder than you think.)
    (Journal of Opinions, Ideas & Essays (JOIE), 2021-03-04) Engstrand, Gary; Ramsay, John
    In January 1928, University of Minnesota President Coffman appointed a committee, chaired by Dean Guy Stanton Ford, to compose an inscription of 50 words for the façade of the new Northrop Memorial Auditorium. The committee did not begin meeting until February 1929 and labored for most of the year before producing an inscription acceptable to most of its members and President Coffman and approved by the Board of Regents. It was a quotation from Paul's Letter to the Philippians. But the individual responsible for having the inscription cut into the façade, the founding director of the University's School of Architecture, Professor F. M. Mann, refused to have the work done. Nothing happened for five years, in the midst of the Depression. In the spring of 1935 Vice President Middlebrook got the ball rolling again, and Mann brought in an inscription consultant who worked with the committee; they started over from scratch and deliberated at length again. There was finally agreement in May 1936.
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    How America Was Discovered
    (Journal of Opinions, Ideas & Essays (JOIE), 2021-02-24) Sanders, Ralph
    How certain are we that our famous European discoverers of America - the Columbuses, Vespuccis and their like - were actually the first discoverers of America? Claims for first discovery of America rightly belong to unnamed people in the prehistoric archaeological record. The arrival of Europeans in America stemmed from centuries of ever-widening circles of Atlantic sailing, led initially by Irish, Norse, and Basque mariners, ensuring that European discoveries of America were an inevitable outcome by the end of the 15th century. Early landfalls on the two American continents were piecemeal, guided significantly by the facts of global latitudes. Final popular accountings of who first discovered America in its diverse continental parts has been driven more by political interest than straightforward geographical and historical facts.
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    Sowing Seeds of Food Sovereignty: Reflections from Rosebud
    (Journal of Opinions, Ideas & Essays (JOIE), 2019-11) Bruce, Briana
    A pediatric resident physician who completed a clinical rotation on the Rosebud Indian Reservation explores the health challenges faced by the Sicangu Lakota Oyate. There are multiple upstream factors that impact the health of people living in Rosebud including access to healthcare, transportation, historical trauma, and health disparities. Access to affordable, healthy food options is also an issue on the reservation. Movements are taking hold in Rosebud in an effort to create more healthy, culturally appropriate, sustainable and accessible nutrition options by, and for, the Sicangu Lakota Oyate. The pediatric resident describes food sovereignty and grassroots initiatives on the reservation.
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    Unanswered Questions? Reflections of an Historical Sort on Library School Closures
    (Journal of Opinions, Ideas & Essays (JOIE), 2019-08-01) Johnson, Timothy J
    Between 1978 and 1994, sixteen American graduate programs in library/information science closed. The author reviewed library and historical literature for discussion, analysis, or interpretation of these closures. This examination revealed a nearly incessant and cantankerous call and response between and among library educators and historians that took place in the midst of these closings, extending into the early twenty-first century. It also demonstrated that library/information science practitioners and analysts suffered a kind of professional, systemic shock that made them unable to arrive at a definitive, analytical conclusion concerning fundamental conditions that ultimately resulted in closing nearly a third of the American Library Association’s accredited programs. At the same time, these discussions outlined and defined political, economic, educational, and social conditions relevant to the closures. When the dust finally settled, a clearer, if incomplete understanding emerged of external and internal causal factors contributing to these closings. A brief case study from the closing of the Library School at the University of Minnesota in 1985 is included to illustrate one of the overlooked internal factors within universities—the administrative location of a professional school of library education within the institution—that is a pivotal, defining factor in the history of these closures. This case study elucidates what library educators and historians discussed but never resolved: that each closure was a complex event, unique in some respects, but ultimately explicable when considered as part of a larger pattern, system or model. Ultimately, these “unanswered questions” should be considered input variables that may allow us the opportunity to examine contemporary conditions, make meaningful predictions, and steer the profession away from any prospect of foundering on the rocks of repeated mistakes.
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    Mr. Pepys, A Play in Two Acts
    (Journal of Opinions, Ideas & Essays (JOIE), 2017-05-12) Clawson, C. Caryle
    This play is a fictionalized presentation of singular events in the life of Samuel Pepys (1633-1703). Today Pepys is best known for his diary, which is valued by historians for its colorful descriptions of life in 17th century London, England. However, his diary, written in the first decade of his three-decade career in the office of the English Admiralty, was unknown in his lifetime. Later in his time at the Admiralty, during the reign of Charles II, Pepys was caught up in the political intrigues of a fictitious plot to assassinate the Monarch, a scheme that was known as the Popish Plot. He was falsely implicated in the murder of a prominent magistrate, accused of treason, removed from his Admiralty appointment, and imprisoned in the Tower of London under threat of his life. This play examines these events and how Pepys survived to became one of the most colorful and influential figures in England.