History Professor Explains Why We Celebrate July Fourth

Independence Day

slater-s

Sandy Slater, Associate Professor in the Department of History

By: Sandy Slater

As representatives from the far flung thirteen colonies gathered in Philadelphia during the Second Continental Congress, the summer heat blazed outside.   Inside the stiflingly warm room, men argued in 1776 about the legitimacy of independence from Great Britain and many expressed their loyalty to the crown, fearing British military reprisal. These arguments were not new, nor were they especially interesting to most of those who assembled.  And yet despite this, the disagreeing parties consented to form a committee to draft a document severing American ties from Britain.  Five very different men, including Thomas Jefferson, a young representative from Virginia most notable for his literary achievement in the form of the Notes on the State of Virginia, John Adams, the bulwark for independence and representative from Massachusetts who annoyed literally everyone with his energy and adamancy, and also Dr. Benjamin Franklin, well advanced in years and the most famous American in the world at the time, served in an advisory capacity.  The other two members, Robert Livingston from New York and Roger Sherman from Connecticut, long ignored or forgotten as members, also served, but with less distinction, often excusing themselves from discussions for various family needs.  Thomas Jefferson, lovesick and missing his new wife, lamented that the drafting of this document kept him in Philadelphia and away from his beloved home, Monticello.  Over the course the summer, Thomas Jefferson, a Virginian and southerner (an important fact given many southern loyalist sentiments and fears for the demise of slavery), labored unimpressively until his wife arrived in Philadelphia to join him.  Inspired, shall we say, he took up the quill pen and wrote.  The document he produced appeared before the Second Continental Congress and was not without fault, which Jefferson took quite personally, and angrily scratched out notes and amendments, keeping careful tabs of his original document.  On July 2, 1776, the agreed upon the declaration was more than a statement of independence.  The document included a scathing indictment of the inadequacies of King George III and the British crown, accusing the King of a multitude of crimes against his people.  Treason, indeed.    The document appeared with all signatures on the Fourth of July, initially creating both public celebration and fear.  The war which began the year earlier as shots rang out in Lexington and Concord was now indefinite.  Poorly supplied military troops, little money, and few allies incited somberness among both the supporters of independence and those in opposition.  No one knew the outcome and it didn’t look good for the new nation.

flag-fireworks

In the years during and after the American Revolution, the Fourth of July came to symbolize the moment of American independence from Britain, but also served as a statement of unity; it was the first document of the new American nation, no longer colonies, but free.  The cultural institution and practices began in earnest in 1777 and continue to this day.  Feasts and celebrations began in 1777 in Philadelphia, even including fireworks.  Thirteen shots were fired in honor of the holiday in various parts of America.  The first official holiday following the creation of the United States of America in 1789, in 1791 Congress declared the 4th of July as Independence Day, conveniently forgetting that the document actually went into effect two days earlier.  It didn’t matter.  The document came to the people on the 4th and it became the people’s document.  In 1826, 50 years to the day, both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams lay dying.  Separated by distance, but united in both their cause for liberty and their enduring friendship, the two men seemed to be waiting for something.  As the bells rang out to celebrate Independence Day, both men slipped away, the last of the founding fathers.  Both lived long enough to see the nation thrive and endure.   The sentimental nature of the date of their deaths was not lost on the general population who mourned their passing with great displays.  In the decades that followed their deaths people enjoyed an emotional and cultural detachment from the miseries that accompanied the American Revolution, the dangers of execution for treason, and the many years spent in anxiety, not knowing if the colonies would win the war.  Instead, we remember the glories, freedom, and celebrate in ways that overshadow the true purpose of the historical moment.  This year in particular, when faced with hatefulness or despair, let’s remember that our nation grew from similar pains and arguments around the nature of freedom.  And in our hearts, let’s affirm freedom for ALL Americans and remember the necessity of fighting and defending liberty, a war not forgotten, a war not yet finished.

Posted in Publications | Leave a comment

Dean’s Fund Awarded to Students for Summer Internship Opportunities

img_9821

Marktplatz of Bremen, picture from Abigail’s travel blog

Abigail Asper brought her research interests to Germany this summer. The psychology major was granted a research internship at the University of Bremen assisting the head of and team within the University’s Institute of Psychology and Cognition Research with data and various laboratory tasks. The project she assisted focused on developmental changes in brain wave patterns through adolescence. The experiment — with participants ranging from 13 to 23, in order to study the transition from adolescence to young adulthood — allowed measurement of brain waves during a multi-process task (sensory and cognitive) and thus allows the researcher to study how different brain regions interact with each other. “Adolescence is a period of rapid neurobiological and behavior change,” psychology prof. Mike Ruscio says. “Understanding how brain waves change during this period, aims to elucidate these changes.”

The Dean’s Fund recipient notes that the internship furthered her personal goals of exploring multiple fields of psychology and experiencing foreign culture. “It’s humbling to come to a foreign country and have to re-learn everything,” she writes in her blog post.  

Read Abigail’s travel blog here: https://abigailasper.wordpress.com 

Constance Johnson, a history major, didn’t have to go far this summer to gain valuable experience interning at the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture. The Center, located in historic downtown Charleston, allowed Constance to assist with transcribing archival documents.  As a recipient of the HSS Dean’s Excellence Fund, she writes, “This scholarship gave me the opportunity to gain the experience of becoming a well-learned historian. I know that everything comes at a cost and as a young single mother of two, I am accustomed to lacking the funds necessary to supplement my ambition.” Constance hopes to tie her love of academia and history together once she graduates.

The Avery Center Building Photo: http://avery.cofc.edu/

The Avery Center building
Photo: http://avery.cofc.edu/

Posted in Publications | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Students Funded by HSS Dean’s Fund to Travel Abroad in the Summer

The summer experience for any College of Charleston student is different. Students are scattered throughout the state, the country, and even the nation taking classes and internships, visiting areas on vacation, or just laying low at home before the fall semester begins. For these seven students, the HSS Dean’s Excellence Fund gave them high-impact learning experiences that will help transform their academic experience. Dean Jerry Hale states: “We don’t want a student to be denied a life-changing opportunity for lack of financial support.” Thanks to our donors, the School was able to fund these students.

Religious studies major funded to do humanitarian work in Ghana.

Julie Hudson volunteered for the Dolly Foundation, a registered non-profit organization, which improves the lives of orphans and underprivileged women and children by providing food, clothing, shelter, and education and by teaching entrepreneurial skills. Before Julie left for her trip she said, “My goal would be to help these women and children, while gaining hands-on experience in international, non-profit humanitarian work–the field in which I plan to build my career.”

Lennon Wall

Nia with fellow classmates in front of the John Lennon wall in Prague.

Nia (left) in Poland learning the language and culture with a cooking class

Nia Strothers (left) in Poland learning the language and culture with a cooking class

Communication major funded to go on CofC study abroad in Czech Republic and Poland.

Nia Strothers joined two Department of Communication faculty and a group of students for two weeks in Prague, Czech Republic and two weeks in Krakow, Poland where she visited Terezin and Auschwitz/Birkenau concentration camps; the Wieliczka Salt Mine; Prague and Wawel castles, cathedrals and synagogues.

Psychology students awarded to travel to Cambodia and Vietnam.

Emily Beck and Carley Stanley joined Department of Psychology prof. Jen Wright to study classes titled “The Developing Child – The Role of Culture and Community” and “Emerging from Violence.” Emily writes, “This scholarship allowed me to gain exposure to an entirely different country and culture where I was able to further my knowledge about psychological needs in an underdeveloped country.” Thanks to the funding, Emily called this trip “a once in a lifetime experience.”

English and arts management student awarded for her CofC study abroad trip to Spoleto, Italy – Charleston’s sister city.

Happy to be here

Ashley De Peri with fellow classmates in Spoleto, Italy

“I believe studying abroad is vital to experiencing a truly liberal arts education that is immersive and well-rounded,” Ashley De Peri wrote before her trip. This program, hosted by English department faculty Dr. John Bruns and Mr. Bret Lott, allowed Ashley and her fellow students to write and study literature, as well as to meet with artists and writers living in the city. Students and faculty shared meals, held readings, and spent quiet time writing and reading.

CofC study abroad program in Russia – the perfect opportunity for this anthropology major and Russian Studies minor.

Kathleen Holden studied abroad in Russia to learn more about the application of anthropology in business, specifically her interest in the cultural and economic effects of hosting the World Cup. Saransk, the location of the CofC program, will be one of the Russian cities that will host the World Cup in 2018. Kathleen conducted interviews from the people of Saransk to learn how they are preparing for the big event. She noted, “The independent study allowed me to gain experience in the field and use the tools taught to anthropology students, as well as actively use my Russian.” “This opportunity,” she says, “helped me gain valuable, firsthand experience that will assist me down the road in both my academic and professional careers.”

Communication major goes on multidesitination CofC summer abroad trip to Austria, Germany, and Italy. 

Laura Cergol was able to study in Europe this summer – something she had never done before, let alone leave the country – with faculty in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences.  “This is my first time out of the country and I am looking forward to studying intercultural communication and gender issues while actually immersed in a different culture,” she wrote before her trip. This program gave Laura and her fellow classmates exposure to three different communities, which allows for significant cross-cultural comparison and analysis.

Read about two students who received funding for internship opportunities: One in Charleston, one in Germany.

Posted in Publications | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Master’s Student Funded to Travel to Africa for Research on Tropical Plant Medicine

By: Sarah Meyers, Environmental Studies master’s program

Sarah Meyers  was awarded student travel money from the HSS Dean’s Excellence Fund to attend a conference in Tanzania on tropical plant medicine this past spring. Read about Sarah’s experience attending the seminar, specifically her newest knowledge of the benefits of plant medicine and the policy surrounding these drugs.

images

Artemisia annua

This April I had the opportunity to attend a seminar in Tanzania on tropical plant medicine. The seminar covered a few dozen plants but focused on Artemisia annua, a plant used for the treatment and prevention of malaria. Artemisia annua is an annual shrub native to Asia with the active compound Artemisinin, the compound used in ACT (artemisinin combination therapy) malaria treatments. Artemisia annua has been used for malaria treatment for over 2000 years and unlike the synthesized ACT pill approved in 1993, the plant will always be effective as a malaria treatment. This is particularly important since reports of incipient resistance to artemisinin derivatives have recently been reported in French Guiana, Senegal, and Asia, and it is expected that within 7-10 years the ACT treatment will be ineffective here in Africa. Thus, by promoting the use of Artemisia Annua I am promoting knowledge about and the ability to treat and prevent oneself against malaria for years to come.

Malaria is endemic in Ghana and due to the high cost of the ACT treatment many people do not use the treatment properly or at all; which can hasten the time until parasite resistance to the medicine. Artemisia annua can be grown in Ghana, and if prepared properly the tea is 98% effective in treating uncomplicated malaria and taken once a week is 55% effective at preventing malaria. Artemisia annua has also been shown to increase CD4 cell count and therefore is being promoted for HIV+ people. It is because of the sustainability and effectiveness of this plant that I am now trying to introduce this plant to the traditional healers and the clinic in my community.

BAI_6707

Participants and sisters from the ANAMED seminar

Attending this seminar also allowed me to talk with policy makers and academics about the future of traditional medicine and what they see as necessary for the continued survival of traditional medicine. For my thesis I want to document the changes that traditional healers are making to their practices and this seminar allowed me to see and discuss some of the major changes going on throughout Africa. One of theses changes is the incorporation of more effective non-native species, such as Artemisia annua. I am so thankful and appreciative to the College of Charleston for the opportunity to attend this seminar and gain further insight into plant medicine and the policy surrounding it.

Below is a piece that Sarah wrote for the PC Ghana newsletter:

I see that a small girl, Rosalin, is sick with malaria again. I ask if she went to the clinic in town and her mom informs me that they are out of the antimalarials again. Last year I watched her get malaria at least 4 times, sending her to the hospital twice. Her mom will let her rest and see if she gets better sans medicine. It is estimated that fewer than 20% of children with malaria in endemic areas are treated in formal health-care settings (Hopkins et al., 2007). Many of us live in small communities where people either don’t have access to antimalarials or don’t have the money to buy them. To improve access to antimalarials, the WHO is promoting HMM (home-based malaria management) as a major strategy for Africa.

Currently the most effective anti-malarial is artemisinin, which is extracted from the leaves of Artemisia annua. A 2000 study by Hirt and Lindsey following 254 patients found Artemisia annua tea to be 93% effective at treating Plasmodium falciparum malaria with a 13% recurrence rate after 1 month. Artemisia Annua has been used for malaria treatment for over 2000 years and unlike the synthesized ACT pill approved in 1993, the plant will always be effective as a malaria treatment and is a natural ACT, with 10 antimalarial properties and 14 analgesic properties.

Artemisia Annua has been used for malaria treatment for over 2000 years and unlike the synthesized ACT pill approved in 1993, the plant will always be effective as a malaria treatment. This is particularly important since reports of incipient resistance to artemisinin derivatives have recently been reported in French Guiana, Senegal, and Asia, and it is expected that within 7-10 years the ACT treatment will be ineffective here in Africa. Artemisia annua is sustainability at its finest, by promoting the use of Artemisia Annua I am promoting knowledge about and the ability to treat and prevent oneself against malaria. I carefully measure out the dosage and prepare the tea for Rosalin, explaining the directions to her mother. The next day her fever is gone. Now, 2 weeks later she’s still healthy, her mother wants to grow the plant, and I’m teaching more and more people how to use and grow this plant.

Posted in Publications | Comments Off

Recent Alumnus Follows Passion for Social Justice

“I hope to pursue a job in law enforcement; this is something I am very passionate about and see as a great avenue for social change.”

These were the words Robbie Roberts ’14 wrote for his HSS Scholars award poster in May, 2014, just weeks before commencement. In a recent College of Charleston Magazine article, Robbie is described as “a friend of the homeless”– a true advocate. He doesn’t feel pity, he feels compassion for those in need, which, he explains, is much more powerful. Now, he works full-time to do just that.

photo

Robbie Roberts ’14, Urban Studies

Robbie’s passion for social justice landed him a job working for the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice as a Job Developer. This position gives Robbie the opportunity to change the lives of troubled youth — those who’ve spent time in jail or are on probation. He helps those who truly want to change their path in life by helping them secure employment.

How did your urban studies classes and professors help prepare you for your current position?

My urban studies classes did two very important things for me. First, they helped further develop my passion for social justice and gave me more of an understanding as to what I needed to be successful in my current position. Secondly, my classes equipped me to deal with the challenges I will be facing in my position.

Can you describe a normal day in your position

A normal day will consist of me traveling and visiting county directors that are located in my region. I have 10-11 counties I manage and will continue to meet with them often. In the near future, I may go and teach job skills classes to a group of youth at one of our job centers. After teaching classes, I will drive back thru my counties and meet with the business community and talk about partnering with them to help secure employment for my clients. The days fluctuate and travel is a huge part of my day, as well as constant communication with my clients.

What projects are you currently working on?
I am currently working on getting to know all of the county directors and probation officers throughout the Lowcountry region. I am also working on partnering with the banking community to have bankers teach financial literacy classes at our after-school centers.

What advice would you give current students?
Run very hard after your dreams. Do not do something because it’s what the world tells you to do. Do what sets your heart on fire because that is what will change lives. Also, never run from the challenges that stand in your way; run right in the middle of adversity because that is where you will thrive.

Posted in Publications | Tagged , , , | Comments Off