Foundation Award for Service

Dr. James Baumlin

Dr. James Baumlin

English
College of Arts and Letters

I. Philosophy of Service

Service has a ripple effect, resonating outward from the classroom to the campus to the community and beyond. Conducted under the aegis of the MSU CASL program, service-learning serves to energize students: more than learn, they do their discipline out in the world beyond the classroom. Service assignments encourage students to combine their energies and talents, turning them collectively into a force for change. Our individual talents are magnified when working as a team. Sharing a common goal, students have strength beyond their knowing: they can knock down obstacles, straighten paths, solve problems, enlighten and inspire. There is nothing more gratifying than gathering and unleashing this collective force. It belongs to the students—to their youth (relative to my own older age), to their sense of justice, to their capacities for empathy and belonging. I aim, typically, to give students a communitarian assignment, support them intellectually, hone their tools for the tasks at hand, and then get out of the way. I trust students, above all: collectively, they have never failed themselves, or their disciplines, or the community.

II. Examples of service including service to University, discipline and community

I have mentored students in research and writing projects that yielded book-length publications, including Living Ozarks: The Ecology and Culture of a Natural Place (2018) and 1964/2014: America Then and Now. Models of Citizen-Scholarship from the Missouri State University First-Year Writing Program (2018).

Within my academic discipline, I have served the South-Central Renaissance Conference as President, Secretary-Treasurer, Program Chair, and co-editor of its 40th Anniversary volume (2014), Explorations in Renaissance Culture.

Communitarian projects that my students have pursued—many under the aegis of the MSU CASL Office—have served numerous clients, including the Springfield Arts Council; Great Circle (previously The Boys & Girls Town of Missouri); The American Red Cross; Springfield Parenting/Life Skills Center; Seasons Hospice and Maranatha Village; Springfield Regional Opera; the Springfield-Greene County Park Board Chess Club; Dickerson Park Zoo; The History Museum on the Square; The Kitchen, Inc.; Rare Breed Youth Drop-In Center; House of Hope Ministries; Freeway Ministries; and The Messiah Project, Inc.

III. Future Commitment to Service

I continue to mentor students in research and writing projects, the latest being contributions to TechnOzarks: Essays on Technology, Regional Economy, and Culture (2019), a publication forthcoming from the Ozarks Studies Institute.
My students will be contributing to a series of local histories (titles and publication dates TBA). I will continue to collaborate with faculty in Music, Art and Design, and Theatre and Dance in performances on and off campus to benefit a variety of clients and causes. And I will continue to promote, write scripts for, and perform in a variety of regional arts groups, some faith-based.

IV. Topics related to service for which you are available for presentations and/or consultations (e.g., public affairs, relationship of service to teaching, and relationship of service to research).

Place-based writing and editing for publication; promoting empathy, social justice, and ecology through the Arts; the role of local archives in teaching research; the creation of community through writing.