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Linda Saborío

Linda Saborío, NIU Professor of Foreign Languages and Literatures, began her term as Executive Secretary of University Council and President of Faculty Senate this summer.

During the spring semester, Faculty Senate officially nominated – and University Council officially elected – Saborío to the position. Her term officially began July 1, though she has worked hard since her election to begin her transition into the role.

The University Council has the power to establish educational and academic policies of the university and provide input on related matters, including advising the president and the vice presidents on policies affecting the quality of student life on campus. The Faculty Senate serves as the official voice of the NIU faculty and as the representative liaison body between the faculty and the University Council, the president of the university, the executive vice president and provost, other vice presidents with respect to their responsibilities affecting the faculty, and the Board of Trustees.

Saborío said she will advocate to ensure faculty representation and participation in shared governance procedures and policy development.

“NIU continues to face numerous challenges, and I understand fully that much is at stake,” she said. “In response, I would encourage input from faculty, staff, and students across traditional disciplinary divisions so that we can find innovative solutions and move NIU forward. With strong leadership and powerful ideas from within, I believe that we can tackle issues in a purposeful manner and build NIU into one of the foremost, leading institutions.”

Saborío replaces Greg Long, Professor of Allied Health and Communication Disorders, who recently retired from the university. The position is a one-year elected term, and Long served two consecutive terms.

Saborío earned her M.A. and Ph.D. in Spanish from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She earned her B.A. from University of California at Irvine in Comparative Literature and Spanish. Her research interests include Latina/o and Mexican theater, culture studies, performance studies, and borderlands literature and art.

Date posted: August 23, 2017 | Author: | Comments Off on Saborío named Executive Secretary of University Council and President of Faculty Senate

Categories: Accolades Centerpiece Faculty & Staff

NIU will kick off its Diversity Dialogues Series this fall with a documentary screening and discussion with Emmy-director Julie Winokur. The series, which began in 2016, aims to reinforce the university’s commitment to creating a rich learning environment and encouraging people to talk openly about diversity topics. Events are free and open to the public.

The series is organized by the Office of Academic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and this fall series is co-sponsored by the Asian American Center, DREAM Action NIU, First- and Second-Year Experience and the Presidential Commission on Persons with Disabilities.

Vernese Edghill-Walden, Chief Diversity Officer and Senior Associate Vice President for Academic Diversity, said she hopes that this year, the series continues to engage with previous participants but also reaches further across campus and the community.

“I hope faculty, staff, students and the community members who have come to our dialogue series in the past will continue to come, and that they will engage new faculty, staff, students and community members that may not have been part of them before,” she said.

Edghill-Walden said the goal of the series is to expose audiences to new perspectives that challenge their world view.

“I would like for people to walk away not just being able to listen and hear people and appreciate different perspectives, but actually commit to doing something differently that will help others learn about diversity.”

Julie Winokur

Julie Winokur
September 28, 6 p.m.
Altgeld Auditorium                

Kicking off the series this year is Emmy-nominated director Julie Winokur with a discussion of her documentary, Bring it to the Table. The documentary chronicles her personal journey where she invited people to discuss the roots of their political beliefs. A workshop and discussion with Winokur will follow the screening.

In preparation for Winokur’s visit to NIU, the university is inviting the community to watch a screening of the documentary immediately following the Unity March, which begins at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 19.

Randy Caspersen

Randy Caspersen
October 4, 6 p.m.
Carl Sandburg Auditorium

NIU Department of Communication Assistant Professor Randy Caspersen recently won Best Documentary at the Los Angeles Diversity Film Festival for his documentary, “Go Penguins!” which follows the creation of a Broadway-style show featuring a cast of children and young adults with disabilities. The piece illustrates how the arts can help see others for their abilities rather than their limitations. Following the screening there will be a Q&A featuring Caspersen, representatives from the local Penguin Project chapter and other special guests.

Jennine Capó Crucet

Jennine Capó Crucet
October 17, 6:30 p.m.
Carl Sandburg Auditorium

Jennine Capó Crucet, author of NIU’s current Common Reading Experience selection, Make Your Home among Strangers, will visit NIU to talk about the book. Social Justice, equitable access to education, immigration, activism, diversity, identity, relationships, and familial obligation are themes found throughout this candid fiction story about leaving and finding home. Crucet currently works as an Assistant Professor in English and Ethnic Studies at University of Nebraska at Lincoln.

Ju Hong

Ju Hong
November 14, 5 p.m.
Carl Sandburg Auditorium

Ju Hong, a recent University of California, Berkeley graduate shares his story as one of the millions of undocumented immigrants living in America today. Halmoni, which means grandmother in Korean, is a documentary that follows the 24-yearold immigrant activist and his struggle to understand his own identity and familial responsibility as he travels back to South Korea to reunite with his grandmother who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. After 13 years of separation from his family, Hong discovers, in their reunion, that being undocumented is not just a label to define one’s immigration status; it is an integral part of one’s identity.

For more information about the series, go to:



Date posted: August 23, 2017 | Author: | Comments Off on Fall Diversity Dialogues Series announced

Categories: Alumni Centerpiece Communiversity Events Faculty & Staff Students Uncategorized

Staying healthy is getting easier – and more affordable – at NIU.

After more than three decades of providing independent programs and services in separate and shared facilities, the College of Education’s FIT Program and Recreation and Wellness (formerly Campus Recreation) have merged to become FITwell.

Memberships are available now at

The move capitalizes on synergies and expertise from both departments by combining resources, boosting efficiency, streamlining membership processes and reducing confusion caused by two programs.

It also creates engaged learning experiences for students in the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education, thanks to the Recreation and Wellness (RecWell) staff who are eager to serve as mentors.

“We hope that we empower and inspire people to pursue a healthy lifestyle,” RecWell Director Sandi Carlisle said. “Our primary reason for merging is to create a unified message to the campus and local community that active participation in health and wellness activities should be a life priority.”

Faculty, staff and community members who join FITwell will enjoy accessible, convenient and versatile offerings and amenities that help create and maintain healthy and happy lifestyles.

Workout facilities include the Student Recreation Center, the Chick Evans Field House, the Outdoor Rec Sports Complex, Anderson Hall Fitness Room and Pool, the Gabel Hall Fitness Room, the New Residence Hall Fitness Room and the Gilbert Hall Fitness Room.

They also will benefit from a highly economical membership fee – with a payroll deduction option – that is less expensive than those charged by other universities or private fitness clubs.

“Although our primary focus is on students, we also serve faculty, staff and community members,” Carlisle said. “We really have not concentrated on these members’ needs enough.”

Chad McEvoy, chair of the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education, calls Carlisle’s partnership proposal “a great opportunity for a cross-campus collaboration.”

“Many of our faculty and staff are dealing with challenging financial situations, so we set FITwell prices at a very competitive and affordable level,” McEvoy said. “FITwell represents a way for faculty, staff and community members to improve their fitness and wellness, and to gain the advantage of the programming and facilities have offered separately for one low price.”

The FIT program long has provided outstanding and convenient exercise opportunities along with scientifically based health and fitness education.

FIT also serves the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education through educational experiences for undergraduate and graduate students; that mission will remain intact and expand, McEvoy said. Director Vicky Books will continue to teach in the department while she stays involved with the operation and logistics of FITwell.

NIU students should not experience a negative impact from faculty, staff and community thanks to FITwell’s expanded number of sites and hours of operations, Carlisle said.

“During morning and afternoons, it is not that busy, and we have space for all members to use our facilities. We will monitor use of programs and services, and will respond to any issues that may arise,” she said.

“We typically are not incurring any additional costs by offering these memberships to faculty, staff and the community. As we generate additional revenue through memberships, our hope is to reduce user fees that students pay when they participate in a variety of RecWell programs.”

Campus Recreation members will enjoy the same benefits as before, including a free equipment orientation, a free personal training orientation, a free nutrition consultation and access to group fitness classes.

Meanwhile, the merger provides all members (including students) with access to locker and towel service, as available, without an additional fee.

Date posted: August 23, 2017 | Author: | Comments Off on Fitness programs merge, improve access to wellness

Categories: Centerpiece Faculty & Staff Uncategorized

Huskies on and off campus will be rewarded for displaying their pride on Fridays this year, as campus officials plan to give everyone another reason to celebrate the most popular day of the week.

The effort – dubbed Red and Black Fridays – kicks off on Sept. 1, which also happens to mark the first home football game for the NIU Huskies. That date also falls on National College Colors Day, which is observed annually across the country by encouraging fans to wear their college team’s colors or university apparel.

Kelly Wesener-Michael, Associate Vice President of Student Affairs, is part of a committee comprised of departments from all across campus who are helping to organize the Red and Black Fridays effort.

“There’s really no better place to be and to work on Fridays than a college campus, and we’re excited to have an official excuse to spread Huskie spirit through Red and Black Fridays,” she said. “This is what we are all about. We have so many great and exciting things going on, so it’s the perfect timing to spark and share enthusiasm.”

The #HuskiePride campaign can be followed on social media too, where every NIU Huskie, no matter where they are in the world, is encouraged to wear red and black on Fridays to show school spirit. Taylor Hayden, NIU Director of Social Media, said Huskie fans can tag photos showing off their school spirit on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook with #HuskiePride and #CollegeColors for a chance to be featured on NIU’s homepage and NIU official social media accounts.

“If you’re not already following NIU on social media, this is the time to do it because there will be giveaways on campus on Friday, September 1, announced on social media,” she said.

Brad Hoey, Marketing and Communications Special Projects Coordinator, said the NIU Athletics Marketing and Game Experience Office is working with partners across the university on the Red and Black Fridays initiative. He said the occurrence of the Huskie football home opener falling on College Colors Day is a “terrific coincidence.”

Hoey said NIU is offering several discount packages to alumni, community partners and residents for the Sept. 1 “Blackout” opener, including a three-game tickets mini plan that includes tickets to the Boston College game, Ball State on November 9 and Western Michigan on November 15. Victor E. Huskie will also be roaming campus on Sept. 1, and throughout the fall semester.

Those who want to participate in Red and Black Fridays but who need to infuse their wardrobe with more things NIU Huskie can find discounts available at Huskie Books and Gear, located in the Holmes Student Center. The shop is offering 30 percent off all NIU insignia items on August 31 and Sept. 1.

Organizers plan to hand out NIU T-shirts, snacks and prizes across campus on Sept. 1. Other divisions across campus are encouraging their various faculty, staff, board members and alumni to participate.

Here are ways to participate:

On social media:

Fans can tag photos showing off their school spirit on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook with #HuskiePride and #CollegeColors for a chance to be featured on NIU’s homepage and NIU official social media accounts. Here are the accounts to follow for updates about where to get freebies:

Fans can continue tagging their photos throughout the year with #HuskiePride for a chance to be featured on the homepage and NIU social media accounts.

Participants can also show their #HuskiePride on Facebook by adding an NIU frame to their profile picture, and can also download an NIU cover photo. To add an NIU frame to your profile photo, select “update profile photo,” add frame, search for NIU, select the frame you like and then select “use as profile picture.”

If you’re not on Facebook, you can still proclaim your love of NIU on your other social media accounts with an NIU profile photo.

Attend a game:

Admission to all NIU athletics events is free to NIU students with a valid NIU One Card. Additional information on NIU football season ticket packages is available here.

Besides football, NIU Athletics is supporting its other fall sports programs through various campus and community promotions throughout fall. The home opener for Volleyball and Men’s Soccer is on move-in day, Friday, August 25.

Purchase gear:

Huskie Books and Gear, located in the Holmes Student Center, is offering 30 percent off all NIU insignia items on August 31 and Sept. 1. Check out some of the gear available:





Date posted: August 23, 2017 | Author: | Comments Off on Show your #HuskiePride on Red and Black Fridays

Categories: Alumni Centerpiece Community Events Faculty & Staff Parents Prospective Students Students Uncategorized

The NIU School of Allied Health and Communicative Disorders (AHCD) is coordinating a support group for caregivers of children (0-22 years old) with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) at the NIU Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic. This support group will provide caregivers a place to discuss their personal experiences and hear presentations from speakers on topics ranging from educational, legal, medical, mental, transitional and adaptive challenges for families of children with ASD.

The support group meets on the second Thursday of each month at 3100 Sycamore Rd., DeKalb, IL 60115 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.  The next meeting is scheduled for September 14, 2017.

Guest presenter Kristina Tejeda, MS, BCBA, an Applied Behavior Analyst at By Your Side – Autism Therapy Services, will be available to answer questions and present on how she uses ABA strategies to address challenging behavior and promote behaviors that help improve the quality of life at school and in home settings.

Refreshments will be served. Childcare and activities will be provided for all of the caregivers’ children so feel free to bring the whole family.

If you have questions, visit, call 815-310-5696 or email Danai Fannin, PhD, CCC-SLP at [email protected].

Date posted: August 20, 2017 | Author: | Comments Off on Monthly autism caregiver support group begins September 14

Categories: Community Faculty & Staff Homepage Parents Students

The College of Engineering and Engineering Technology is saddened by the loss of Professor Vincent McGinn, 71, of DeKalb. Dr. McGinn passed away on Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017.

Dr. McGinn had an extraordinary reputation among his peers and students alike for possessing a sharp mind and a superb grasp of the theoretical and design aspects of electrical engineering. An expert in electromagnetics, Dr. McGinn joined the Department of Electrical Engineering in 1996 as professor and department chair. He brought significant experience in design, research and teaching to NIU, with expertise in aircraft and spacecraft electronics, microelectronics, microwaves, electro-optics and photo electronics. He was instrumental in developing CEET’s first course in electromagnetic compatibility through a grant from IEEE. He also led the Workshop for Scientists Helping America, sponsored by DARPA, in 2002. That same year he was recognized by the NAACP with the Outstanding Educator award.

Dr. McGinn was a retired lieutenant colonel in the United States Air Force. He maintained a lifelong interest in aircraft and avionics, and was looking forward to flying helicopters while on sabbatical this fall. He also had an interest in amateur radio and in restoring antique shortwave radios. He was a graduate of New York University PolyTech, the University of Southern California and Penn State University.

Visitation will be on Monday, Aug. 21 from 4 until 8 p.m. at Butala Funeral Home, 1405 DeKalb Ave. in Sycamore. A funeral Mass will be held at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 22 at St. Mary Catholic Church in DeKalb, followed by burial at Fairview Cemetery in DeKalb.

To view his full obituary, visit

Date posted: August 18, 2017 | Author: | Comments Off on College of Engineering and Engineering Technology Remembers Professor Vincent P.  McGinn

Categories: Faculty & Staff Homepage

Yosue Perez

An NIU accounting major spent his summer researching and creating a database and web site that he hopes will help immigrants find access to health care. The son of immigrants from Mexico, Yosue Perez, 21, was born in Chicago and is currently a junior. He said the project started out as summer research and quickly evolved into something that might hopefully make the lives easier of others who grew up like him.

He created the project as part of the Summer Research Opportunities Program coordinated by the Office of Student Engagement and Experiential Learning (OSEEL). Through the program, Perez was matched with Dr. Beatrix Hoffman, Associate Professor of History, to research resources for primary care available to immigrants.

“As I gathered more information, I realized there were a lot of articles on the topic, but nothing was put in a way that was easy to understand, so I thought that creating a web site that was straightforward with the information would make it easier for people to understand my research,” he explained.

Spencer Janis, SROP Student Coordinator, said he sees Perez’s project as an example of how NIU students can make a big impact through their academic work.  Janis said Perez’s project was one of 10 in SROP this summer.

“They are tackling a variety research questions, hypothesis, and contributing incredibly to their respective disciplines,” he said.

Janis said when he read Perez’s work and saw his web site, he felt inspired.

“I realized that Yosue’s work could be incredibly beneficial for immigrants,” he said.

For his research project, Perez created an online resource that compiles a list – complete with a map – of facilities and organizations where immigrants have access to health care in Illinois. Perez said he did this as a way to potentially address the health care needs of the nearly 11 million immigrants across the country.

“At first I did not really think building a web site would play such a role in my overall project,” he said, explaining he initially started building the site as a way to organize and understand his own research material. He said Janis helped him to see how the site was beneficial for others as well, and so his efforts toward building the web site grew.

“I hope that the web site can make is easier for immigrants to know that there are resources available that will provide primary care to them,” he said.

Perez said being the son of immigrants – his parents moved here from Mexico 22 years ago – has shaped who he is in ways that he is only beginning to understand. He recalls watching his parents struggle to support his family, which was especially difficult since they did not have a college education.

“Growing up in an immigrant family made me realize that I am lucky to have been born in a country that provides better opportunities,” he said. “My parents made a big deal about school so I naturally developed into a more serious and focused child.”

Perez said he learned this summer that he can make an impact through research.

“I never realized that I can make a change in these kinds of things, because I always thought that it would take more than one person to achieve something,” he said. “The SROP program taught me that it is possible to make a change, if I work hard enough and really believe in the project.”

Janis said Perez’s work is exactly what SROP hopes to make possible.

“Science should strive just as hard to making the world a better place as it does toward the pursuit of discovery, and Yosue’s work exemplifies both,” Janis said.

To see Perez’s project, visit





Date posted: August 16, 2017 | Author: | Comments Off on Student’s research improves immigrants’ access to healthcare

Categories: Centerpiece Community Engagement Faculty & Staff First-Generation Humanities Research Students Uncategorized

Kendra Nenia didn’t originally plan to teach about bugs. But Nenia and her co-teacher Denise Fenn noticed that the two- and three-year-olds in their classroom at NIU Campus Child Care (CCC) were fascinated by insects and spiders, so she followed this interest. The result—a six-week learning project titled “Discovering the World of Insects on the Playground”—is currently featured on the statewide education website Illinois Projects in Practice.

Illinois Projects in Practice—part of the Illinois Early Learning Project funded by the state board of education—provides support, resources and information for teachers and others interested in implementing project based learning for preschool children. Nenia’s project is one of just 16 chosen to model the project approach for educators throughout the state.

Nenia says of the honor, “This is a very exciting opportunity for me. I love having the opportunity to share a glimpse of what I do everyday for the children and families here at Campus Child Care.” CCC Director Kristin Schulz adds, “I am so proud of the work we do at Campus Child Care and that Kendra had the courage to share her work so publicly. For the study to be featured on the site is so validating to us as a center.”

Nenia has worked in the field of Early Childhood Education for 24 years. Schulz describes Nenia as “one of our veteran staff members” who has explored a variety of trends in education “through years of professional development and continued exposure to best practice with an emphasis on play based curriculum delivery.” In Nenia’s words, “I have seen the most learning take place with the children when I use play as the foundation.”

CCC Assistant Director Amy Lofthouse has helped to encourage project based learning at Campus Child Care. “Project based learning demonstrates a natural approach to experiences that create a love for learning,” she says. “Oftentimes the adults are learning alongside the children in a shared learning experience. As the project unfolds, the excitement builds for both the children and the teachers, making the learning more meaningful.”

During the six-week project, the children learned very basic knowledge about insects—number of legs, where they are found, how they are to be handled, and what arachnids and insects can offer humans. But perhaps more importantly, the children learned to express curiosity, to notice the insects around them, and to see that insects can be beautiful, cool and interesting.

Nenia says one of the benefits of focusing on bugs was to learn to slow down, watch and listen. “More questions and learning happened through observations than anything else during this study. When I slowed down and watched or listened, so did the children.”

In Lofthouse’s words, “In today’s society, children are often rushed, and aren’t given the opportunity to play for long periods of uninterrupted time.  Project based learning allows the children to have the opportunity to learn while experiencing topics of interest to them in a play-based manner.”

With questions or for more information contact [email protected] or call 815-753-0125.

Date posted: August 14, 2017 | Author: | Comments Off on Discovering Insects on the Playground: NIU Campus Child Care featured by Illinois Early Learning Project

Categories: Accolades Centerpiece Community Faculty & Staff Students

A participant celebrates with her family at the 2016-17 Universidad para Padres completion ceremony.

Latino parents in the DeKalb and Sycamore school districts are invited to participate in “Universidad para Padres,” or “Parent University,” a free community outreach program that empowers mothers, fathers and even grandparents to take active roles in their own personal growth and their children’s academic success.

Sessions will take place at DeKalb High School from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday evenings during the 2017-18 school year and will cover a variety of topics, ranging from bilingual options in the local K-12 education system to health promotion, household finances, personal and leadership development, parenting styles and the college application process. Childcare will be provided for children (4-13 years old) while their parents are in class.

Rocio, a participant from the 2016-17 school year said, “Parent University has motivated me to believe that our children can become a better version of ourselves. It has put in our hands knowledge and resources that—if we learn how to take advantage of them—will make us, as immigrants, not only persons with stronger self-confidence, but also a stronger community.”

Parent University is sponsored by the Regional P-20 Network, a collaborative organization based at NIU which includes 13 community colleges and 30 school districts. This pilot program is part of the P-20 Network’s efforts to build community support for improvements in college and career readiness.

Those who are interested in participating or would like to have more information visit and contact program coordinator Susana DasNeves at [email protected] or 815-753-1420.

Das Neves will host an informational session on Thursday, August 17th, at the DeKalb Public Library, 7-8 p.m. in the Bilder Family Meeting Room. Interested parents can complete an enrollment application to be part of Universidad para Padres.

Date posted: August 14, 2017 | Author: | Comments Off on Latino parents in DeKalb and Sycamore invited to “Universidad para Padres”

Categories: Centerpiece Community Faculty & Staff First-Generation Parents Prospective Students Students

First- and Second-Year Experience is hosting a Mentor Fair on September 5 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in MLK Commons. The purpose of this Fair is to allow students to connect with mentors and mentor programs after they’ve arrived on campus for the fall.

If you coordinate a mentor program, you’re invited to host a table to recruit new mentors/mentees, share information about your program, highlight opportunities within your program, and connect with students. We want to spotlight the amazing opportunities our students have to serve as mentors and be mentored at NIU.

If you are interested in participating, please email [email protected] with the name of the program and contact information for who will be staffing the table no later than 8/18.

If you have any questions about the event or your participation, please don’t hesitate to contact us at 815-753-0028 or [email protected][email protected].

Date posted: August 13, 2017 | Author: | Comments Off on First- and Second-Year Experience Mentor Fair scheduled for September 5

Categories: Faculty & Staff Homepage Students

Fall 2017 registration at the NIU Community School of the Arts is now open!

For families in need of tuition assistance, need-based scholarship applications are due Friday August 18. Call the CSA office for more information, pick up an application at Music Building Room 132, or find information by visiting the Community School of the Arts website.

Learn to play a new musical instrument, or brush up your skills by taking private music lessons – register by August 22 and start lessons the week of August 28!

Guitar and piano group classes for adults and for kids make learning music more fun – register by August 22 for classes that begin in late August and early September!

Toddlers ages 1 – 5 have fun in Prelude and Development classes – register by August 22 and bring your kids for their first music classes starting Saturday August 26.

Ukulele and Steelpan ensembles, Suzuki instruction and Art Express “Saturday School” for kids all start new fall sessions soon!

Call the CSA for more information at 815-753-1450, and visit our website for complete details and to register.

Date posted: August 13, 2017 | Author: | Comments Off on Register now for Community School of the Arts – music lessons, classes, ensembles and more!

Categories: Arts Community Faculty & Staff Homepage Parents Students

Speaker Richard Cooler wearing a t-shirt celebrating the total eclipse of 1995, which he observed in Cambodia. Both the t-shirt and the silver betel boxes he holds depict Rahu swallowing the sun.

Residents in the northern Illinois region will be able to see a rare solar eclipse on August 21, 2017, during mid-day. To celebrate this unique event, NIU STEM Café will host “Solar Eclipse: When the Dragon Swallowed the Sun” from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Two Brothers Roundhouse, 205 N. Broadway in Aurora.

Richard Cooler, NIU Professor Emeritus of Art History and Southeast Asian Studies, and archaeoastronomist Christopher Davis, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Illinois at Chicago, will share explanations of the solar eclipse from mythologies and scientific reports in ancient cultures. Ryan Hibbett of the NIU Department of English will read a short selection from an essay by Annie Dillard, Total Eclipse. Her imagery will provide a view of the eclipse for those who do not have the opportunity to see it during the day. The event is free and open to the public. Food will be available for purchase from Two Brothers Roundhouse.

Cooler—an expert on the art of Southeast Asia—will share the story of Rahu, the god of the eclipse of the sun and moon, and discuss Rahu’s importance in Cambodia. According to Cambodian tradition, periodically Rahu sneaks up on and swallows the sun or moon, causing a solar or lunar eclipse. A shape-shifter who can also make himself invisible, Rahu is a powerful figure in Cambodia, where he has appeared in temples and other art since at least the eleventh century. Cooler has been interested in the god Rahu since the 1970s, when he traveled as a special exchange scholar in Burma and Cambodia. His interest grew when he was present for a total eclipse of the sun in Cambodia in 1995.

Two silver betel boxes from Cambodia depicting the god Rahu swallowing the sun.

Cooler wants the audience to consider how disruptive a solar eclipse would have seemed to agrarian people before modern science. He says, “Humans have always anthropomorphized the marvelous and the overwhelming. This is a way of making sense of a startling natural phenomenon.”

Davis—whose research focuses on archaeoastronomy and pictographic rock art on the banks of the Amazon River in Brazil—will discuss how ancient cultures responded to solar eclipses in their beliefs and myths. Davis says the audience might be surprised to learn that “ancient people as early as 13,000 years ago—near the end of the Ice Age—used art to record the position of the sun, and possibly the moon, on the horizon. Cultures who began to keep track of these movements had a significant clue to indicate that it was the moon, moving invisibly during the day, that could sometimes cross the path of the sun to cause an eclipse.”

Davis continues, “Cultures, or even members within a culture, that did not keep track of the sun and moon commonly held superstitious beliefs and had peculiar rituals during an eclipse. But some cultures, or skywatchers that were often chiefs or priests within those cultures, probably knew what caused eclipses and could possibly even predict the next one. This type of knowledge was sometimes exploited to garner prestige and power for the skywatcher by amazing the masses with their predictions.”

This event is part of NIU STEM Outreach’s series of monthly STEM Cafés, which are free and open to the public. The STEM Café series is just one of the many engaging events STEM Outreach hosts to increase public awareness of the critical role that STEM fields play in our everyday lives. For more information, call (815) 753-4751 or email [email protected].

Date posted: August 8, 2017 | Author: | Comments Off on When the Dragon Swallowed the Sun –  STEM Café, August 21, 2017

Categories: Centerpiece Community Events Faculty & Staff Parents Prospective Students Students