September 2017

At Home in the College Bubble

This week’s blog post is written by Bryan Corbaz, a junior studying political science at TU — and the youngest member of this year’s research seminar.

Endless muted music videos on repeat from 7am until 7pm; the same happy faces of students from across the country on parade throughout the day; senseless news about celebrity discords and petty arguments. Such is the norm for students who dine at the cafeteria at the University of Tulsa. One thing that used to be part of this norm were a handful of students reading a newspaper. However, this is no longer the case as newspapers have become the latest casualty in the search for a pleasurable college experience.

Living on a college campus, it is easy to become engulfed within the bubble of the university. As knowledge and learning have slowly become secondary to the college experience, many schools have begun to focus their attentions on becoming aesthetically pleasing. The college campus has transformed from a center of academic debate to a center of enjoyment.

From MTVU being on most screens in the cafeteria to t-shirt after t-shirt being handed out at every school sponsored event, it seems that knowledge has become a commodity. To sell the product, schools must be nice and polished; no jagged edges and little regard for real world problems. The imperative of being challenged in one’s beliefs has ceded precedent to the desire for a “good time.” Is a small yellow piece of cloth bearing a university logo more important than the possibility of reading about the world outside of the college bubble? This does not seem to be the case as non-collegiate publications are no longer offered on campus.

For most students, college is a home away from home. It is a homeland wherein students can learn about themselves and prepare for their future career. However, like any good homeland, college should not simply be a place to relax and enjoy oneself. Home is also about development and learning. It provides people with the challenges necessary to becoming a fuller person. It is the setting where people face opposition and adversity, but also the place where they learn to overcome such challenges. It must not be forgotten that although home should be a safe place, it is also a place that is safe to learn, change, and grow. College campuses today have become a less successful home in which students can develop. Nowadays, college has become increasingly synonymous with having a good time and making memories with friends. Although these aspects are an inherent part of home, colleges are failing in their duty to push people to face and overcome obstacles. The college bubble is detrimental to students in the long term as it is charged only with being comfortable. Students are now more than ever entrapped within a home that fails to provide opportunities to grow intellectually and be challenged.

Oklahoma Center for the Humanities at TU Announces 2017-18 Fellows

The Oklahoma Center for the Humanities at The University of Tulsa has announced its annual class of fellows for the 2017-18 academic year. The 10 individuals selected from applications submitted earlier this year include TU faculty and students as well as members of the Tulsa community. They are engaged in wide-ranging creative and research activities surrounding the idea of Homelands – a topic the center will explore through lectures, symposia, public debates, readings, writing, films, and exhibitions.

The faculty fellows include: Elizabeth McCormick, Associate Clinical Professor and Associate Dean for Experiential Learning at the TU College of Law; Lara Foley, Assistant Provost for Global Education and Director of Global Scholars at the University of Tulsa; Justin Owen Rawlins, Assistant Professor of Media Studies and Film Studies at The University of Tulsa; Keija Parssinen, Assistant Professor of English at the University of Tulsa; and Jeff Van Hanken, an Associate Professor in the Film Studies program at the University of Tulsa.

They will be joined by two students: Bryan Corbaz, a junior studying political science here at TU and Seungho Lee, a Ph.D. student of English at the University of Tulsa.

The center also has named three public fellows: Kristi Eaton, an independent journalist and author of The Main Streets of Oklahoma (2014); Danielle Carlotti-Smith, a writer and scholar who focuses on French and Francophone literature; and James Brandon McGirk, author of A Grand Theory of Everything (2015) and American Outlaws (2014).

For more information about the fellows and their work, please visit https://humanities.utulsa.edu/research/fellows/

 

 

 

Work as Haven

Each week throughout the fall semester, the Research Fellows at the Oklahoma Center for the Humanities will share some part of their work on this year’s theme, Homelands.  We begin with Dr. Lara Foley, Assistant Provost for Global Education and Director of TU’s Global Scholars program.

In graduate school, I read a book called The Time Bind: When Work Becomes Home and Home Becomes Work by sociologist Arlie Hochschild. At the time, I did not have children and could not imagine how people could feel more at home at work than they did where they actually lived. I’ve always loved my work and been comfortable in my office, but how could it ever be better than the place where you go to trade your uncomfortable clothes for yoga pants and a hoodie so you can eat junk food while watching mindless, but highly entertaining television? Then I had kids: two boys, who are now four and seven. And Monday morning at eight o’clock, when I sit alone in my office, is the most peaceful and relaxing moment of my week.

What could possibly make people feel more at home at work? For me, after a long, loud, chaotic weekend of living room wrestling matches, epic meltdowns and endless questions that have no answers, I long for the quiet and solitude of my office. Hochschild spent three years interviewing and observing employees of a Fortune 500 company. She noted the reversal of the “home as haven in a heartless world (work)” model to be evident among all levels of employees, among women and men, and among those who were married and who were single. Hochschild notes that people often felt more appreciated at work than at home, that they enjoyed seeing their friends, and that the problems that needed to be solved at work were more practical, with well articulated, achievable outcomes than, say, my kids’ insistence that we need to have a swimming pool in our kitchen.

A more recent study (Damaske, Smyth, and Zawadzki 2014) seeks to empirically test this “work as haven” hypothesis. Researchers measured self-reports of happiness and stress at work and at home as well as cortisol levels ( chemical measure of stress) of participants while at home and at work. The study’s findings support the “work as haven” hypothesis. Overall, participants had lower cortisol levels (indicating lower stress) at work than at home. This finding was stronger for those with lower incomes and for those with no children at home. Interestingly, there was a contradiction between participants’ self-reported feelings of stress and their cortisol levels, with participants reporting higher subjective feelings of stress on workdays than on non-workdays. As for self-reports of happiness, women were significantly happier at work than at home, while men reported slightly higher levels of happiness at home.The finding that people with no children in the home had lower cortisol levels at work than people with children at home was surprising to the researchers (and to me). Age of children in the home was not included in the analysis, nor was the difference between mothers and fathers. Also, I wonder if parents may have different self-reports than what their cortisol levels reveal? The study authors did not address this.

Maybe I’m very happy on Monday morning to be sitting quietly in my clean office, drinking coffee while someone else has to listen to my kids complain about how the color blue hurts their toes, but my cortisol level tells the story that I know at some point this week, likely today, I will forget to sign a permission slip, turn in a report to my boss that has a dinosaur battling a robot drawn on the front in red marker, and get a call from the school asking me to pick up a sick kid who will then end up clinging to me like a monkey while I give welcoming remarks to a group of Azerbaijani government officials. I wish someone had taken a picture that day!

Works Cited

Damaske, Sarah, Joshua M. Smyth, and Matthew Zawadzki. 2014. “Has work replaced home as haven? Re-examining Arlie Hochschild’s Time Bind proposition with objective stress data.” Social Science and Medicine 115:130-138.

Hochschild, Arlie. 1997. The Time Bind: When Work Becomes Home and Home Becomes Work. New York: Metropolitan Books.