APU Partners with Foothill Transit to Benefit Commuters

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With a growing graduate student population and many undergraduate students who choose to commute, access to affordable and reliable transportation is vital to their success. To help meet this need, Azusa Pacific University is partnering with Foothill Transit to offer all students a Class Pass starting in fall 2019, allowing students to ride all Foothill Transit busses for free for the 2019-20 school year, then at a heavily discounted rate moving forward.

“A lot of students have inquired about discounts for public transportation,” said Rhianna Pierre, Director of Commuter Life. “This new partnership with Foothill Transit will benefit many students.”

Here is how the Class Pass cost and savings breakdown:

  • Free: the Class Pass will be free for all APU students during the 2019-20 school year. The Silver Streak pass, which runs from downtown Los Angeles to Montclair, is included at no additional charge.

  • After the 2019-20 school year, the Class Pass will be significantly discounted from the normal monthly pass rate. The Silver Streak will still be included for free.

  • Students can save more than $1,000 a year with the Class Pass.

“This is really reasonably priced for students and they should take full advantage of it,” Pierre said. The Class Pass is open to all students, not just commuters. Pierre said it can be especially convenient for freshmen, who usually don’t have cars on campus. Pierre conducted a survey of 134 APU students to gauge interest in the Class Pass. According to the survey, 29 percent of respondents said it would help them get to and from school every day; 83 percent said it would allow them to conveniently access LA and Pasadena for recreational use; 41 percent said it would allow them to get to their job or internship every day.

Pierre aims to make it easier for commuters to succeed at APU. “My goal is to constantly provide resources and opportunities so commuters feel like they’re seen and heard. We want to meet their needs and create an environment where all our students can thrive academically and feel supported.”

Students can sign up for their free Class Pass in the fall in the Cougar Dome. The pass is a sticker that goes on the Student ID. With the pass, students can travel to more than 25 cities around Southern California, including: Azusa, Glendora, Covina, West Covina, San Dimas, Pasadena, Los Angeles, Pomona, Hacienda Heights, Whittier, Claremont and Brea.

APU Undergrad Wins Prestigious Microbiology Fellowship

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Hannah Valencia ’20 sits in a lab room in the Segerstrom Science Center hunched over a flow cytometer, searching intently. She is getting paid to do something she loves—research. Valencia, a junior biology and honors humanities double major, was recently awarded a research fellowship from the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), enabling her to continue her research on “Determining the effects of Aspergillus sclerotiorum [a fungal species] on cell cycle progression in Drosophila[fruit fly] cells.” This prestigious fellowship provides Valencia with 10 weeks of funding over the summer. She will present her findings at the ASM Microbe conference next year in Chicago.

Valencia is the first APU student to receive this fellowship. She applied under the guidance of her principal investigator, Sarah Richart, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Biology and Chemistry. “This fellowship is very competitive. It’s a huge opportunity for Hannah. It speaks highly of her and of our department at APU,” Richart said. In addition to presenting at the conference next year, Valencia will attend an academy hosted by the ASM where she will learn about graduate schools and receive career advice from professionals in the industry.

“I was really shocked when I heard I got it,” Valencia said. “It was so unexpected but it made me really happy. It felt like all of my work was starting to pay off.” Valencia began her research on this topic last summer. She chose this subject after Richart discovered a new fungal strain, which infected a group of termites she was testing. Valencia asked Richart if she could use this fungus to determine how it affects cell growth in fruit flies. “The sky's the limit for students in terms of research projects,” Richart said. “I help them get started, but they have freedom in how the experiment is designed and how they’ll test their hypotheses.”

Valencia theorized this fungus would disrupt the cell cycle in insects. She uses a machine called a flow cytometer, which allows her to examine the components of individual cells. She labels nucleotides and measures fluorescence to determine cell growth. While this process might seem bewildering to most, Valencia looks forward to going to the lab each day. “Last summer, I would crank out eight-hour days in the lab. I was often the first in and the last to leave. The work was so captivating,” she said. Although she had a lot of fun, her work was often challenging. She had just completed her sophomore year and lacked lab experience. “I didn’t have a lot of upper division science classes under my belt. I still had much to learn. There was plenty of trial and error,” she said. “The process took longer than it should have, but the end result was gratifying.”

Richart guided Valencia through her research, but left some distance so she could learn on her own. When Valencia had a question, Richart encouraged her to use her resources and seek the answer herself. “That made it hard at first, but I really appreciate it now,” Valencia said. “I’ve integrated that mindset into other classes and it has really helped me improve as a student.”

Richart said the opportunity to do research as an undergraduate student is very rare. Many universities only allow graduate and postdoctoral students to conduct research. “That’s one of our distinct advantages,” she said. “When I did undergrad at a state school, I competed with 500 other students for 10 research spots. Hannah has the luxury to not go through that and get lots of experience in undergrad. That’s huge for her when she applies for grad school and for her career.”

Valencia is not sure what her future holds. For now, she focuses on her present scholarly opportunities. The Glendora High School graduate returns home from the lab each night and enjoys simply relaxing with her family. “Being a commuter, it’s nice to separate work life and home life. I love having home-cooked meals and just talking with my dad about my day,” she said. Valencia didn’t originally plan on attending APU, but she said she is very happy she’s here. “APU has been a really rewarding experience. The environment is enriching and all my professors are supportive. Research here has allowed me to grow in so many ways I never imagined.”

Building Leaders Through LEGO SERIOUS PLAY

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Wendi Dykes, Ph.D., plays with LEGO bricks every day. Dykes, an assistant professor in Azusa Pacific University’s Department of Leadership and Organizational Psychology, along with her colleagues Edgar Barron, Ed.D.Shawna Lafreniere, Ph.D.Jillian Gilbert, DSL.Susan Barton, M.A., are certified LEGO SERIOUS PLAY(LSP) facilitators who teach graduate students how to use LEGOs for something more than just making fun creations. Their innovative work recently garnered national attention from Fast Company's 2019 World Changing Ideas (WCI) Awards with an honorable mention in the Education category. More than 2,000 companies and organizations representing dozens of fields entered the WCI competition.

“LEGO SERIOUS PLAY is a tested methodology that helps organizations thrive,” Dykes said. “We’re using it to teach students organizational systems, organizational change structures, leadership development, team learning, team identity, and more.”

Prior to teaching at APU, Dykes worked at LEGOLAND California for 11 years as their director of organization development and training, where she received international honors for her programs and strategies. “I used LEGO as part of my workshops and training there, but it wasn’t until four years ago that I became certified as an LSP facilitator,” Dykes said. “I even used LEGO as part of my dissertation. I studied how LSP can increase creative confidence in individuals to help them solve complex challenges.”

This is exactly what Dykes does in her classes. “In the Organizational Systems: Theories of Change class this semester, we start the process of building an organizational system. We choose something the students all have in common. Then they each use LEGO to build a model of their own that represents this,” Dykes said. “We come together and share our creations and, in turn, we learn about each others’ unique perceptions. Next, we create a new, collaborative model. Every single person has to feel represented.”

Dykes said it is exciting to watch these graduate students work with LEGO, as individuals at first, then as a group. After they finish the collaborative model, they map out the bridges and barriers they may come across within the particular challenge. “It’s really eye opening for people,” she said. “The ultimate goal of this class is to understand how vast a system is, with all the subsystems within the larger organization. To visualize that is powerful. It’s fun, but it’s hard work. It’s also rewarding for me as a professor because I get to see students experience a deeper level of learning when they build something external from themselves.”

Initially, some students are uncomfortable with the idea of building with LEGOs because they were never fond of them as kids and don’t think they’re creative. Dykes said this doesn’t matter because LSP is not about being creative; it’s about building the muscle of creative confidence. “The important part is the process and the story that the individual attributes to the brick,” Dykes said. “Whatever you make in the world of LEGO, it’s right.”

In addition to teaching her students LSP, Dykes plans to bring the founder of LSP, Robert Rasmussen, to APU so students can learn from him firsthand and be certified as LSP facilitators. “They can go into organizations and use this tool they learned in class,” Dykes said.

When students graduate from APU’s Organizational Psychology program they will have the competence and confidence to begin consulting for organizations, whether internally in a human resources department, externally for their own company, or as part of a larger consulting firm. “We’re training students to go into organizations using skills and tools to make a major impact.”

APU Alumnus Connects Community Through Art

This article was originally published on APU’s website.

E. Trent Thompson ’17 glides his brush down the canvas slowly, deliberately. He is painting with love and with a goal. Each stroke tells a story and each painting connects his community in new and profound ways. Thompson, who graduated with a B.A. in cinematic arts and a minor in fine art, runs a creative agency and sells art at a collaborative workspace in Livermore, California. He discovered inspiration for his art on his way to the office, where he often passed by a homeless woman named Sydney who sat outside the building. “I would say hi and move on about my day,” he said. “Occasionally, I brought her lunch.” Over time, Thompson built a friendship with Sydney, which sparked an idea. He asked Sydney if he could take a picture of her to use for a painting. “I wanted to make her feel seen, to know that people care for her and wish they could help.” She said, “Yes,” and, in that moment, Pictures 4 People was born.

“This is a grassroots movement that aims to call attention to the needs of individuals in our community that we walk by everyday,” Thompson said. His Instagram account captures the stories behind his artwork. “Each painting is attributed to a specific cause, highlighted through the person and the art, to raise money for a community organization doing the groundwork to make the world a better place.” These nonprofits include a food kitchen, a homeless shelter, a special needs organization, and a ministry dedicated to helping victims of abuse.

“Painting ties into my faith directly,” he said. “I’m trying to love with actions instead of words, to focus on listening to their stories and planting seeds of hope as opposed to judging.”

Over the course of the last five months, he has met and painted portraits of six people, including four homeless individuals. Thompson uses acrylic and spray paint on canvas, a form he calls “urban contemporary” that lends a unique style to each piece.

He garners positive feedback from his portrait subjects and from the surrounding tri-valley community. Many people who view the paintings on Instagram ask if they can donate money or goods. Recently, Thompson collaborated with several local nonprofits to host an auction. More than 100 people attended. “We packed the house and sold all the paintings,” he said. “We raised nearly $8,000, all of which went to local nonprofits to assist the individuals.”

Three of those he painted attended the auction and connected with the people who bought their portraits. This successful outcome was more than he hoped for when he began the project, let alone when he graduated from APU just two years earlier. “APU helped me build confidence,” he said. “As an artist, I decided to try something unlike I had ever seen before.”

Thompson’s desire is to infuse compassion into the community through his paintings. “By purchasing a painting, we hope to fund community organizations and projects that will better the lives of our brothers and sisters in need,” he said. To view Trent’s art, visit his website.

APU Hosts Global Game Jam to Launch New Degree Program

Azusa Pacific University participated in the 11th Annual Global Game Jam (GGJ), an international gaming challenge which connects gamers from across the world to develop new games over a 48-hour time span. This year more than 47,000 people participated at 860 sites in 113 countries, making more than 9,000 games. APU hosted 19 game “jammers” from the Southern California region, including four APU students. These jammers collaborated for two days straight, fueled by free food and coffee, to create a total of four games which can be downloaded here. All games related to the theme this year, “What does home mean to you?” View a video from APU’s Global Game Jam event.

“The event was very successful,” said Tim Samoff, director of APU’s new Games and Interactive Media program. “Each team was comprised of a programmer, a writer, a designer, and an artist. They first talked about the theme and brainstormed ideas. Then they started writing the story, designing the characters and graphics, picking the style of the game, and choosing a game engine. All teams completed their games, which is a remarkable feat in just 48 hours.”

Samoff invited Chris Skaggs and John Bergquist from Soma Games, a video game company comprised of Christian developers based in Oregon, to present at the GGJ. Skaggs shared his story, including how he became involved in the industry and created his own company. They connected with gaming participants, including APU senior cinematic arts major Amy Lowery.

“It was an amazing networking opportunity and I’m planning on applying to work at Soma after I graduate in May,” she said.

Lowery served as a writer for her team to develop a game called Catalina, which focused on a stray kitten finding a home. Lowery has four years of experience in screenwriting, but this provided her with a unique challenge to enhance her skillset. Other members of her team worked on design, coding, and development. Lowery said her team continues to work on expanding the game.

“I’m surprised by how much we were able to do in only 48 hours,” she said. “I had so much fun. I learned a ton about what it actually takes to make a game, including the differences between writing for games and writing for film, about programming, design and development.”

Samoff said he was impressed by what the teams created in such a short time period. He said most professional games take at least two to three years to create, with a team of dozens or even hundreds.

The GGJ served as the official launch of APU’s new games and interactive media degree, which begins in the fall. The first of its kind among the 140 universities that comprise the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities, APU's program combines story and play, providing core competencies in the cultural, theoretical, artistic, and narrative aspects of game design and interactive media.

The GGJ covered several of these components that APU’s games and interactive media students will learn in depth. Samoff plans on hosting the GGJ annually on campus and is excited to see this event and the new program grow.

Animation Students Guest Host Annie Awards

When Tony Bancroft, director of APU’s Animation and Visual Effects program, went on stage with his team to accept the Best Animated Special Production Award for Mary Poppins Returns at the 46th Annual Annie Awards, 23 of his animation students cheered him on.

“It was extremely special to have my students in the audience with me. When my name was called, they were super excited, leaping to their feet and applauding,” he said. “Getting recognized by my peers in the animation industry is an honor, but being recognized by my students is exceptional. They represent the next generation of great animators.”

Bancroft was hired by former colleague Ken Duncan as part of a 12-member team of animators for Mary Poppins Returns. Reminiscent of the 1964 film, they created a 20-minute animated sequence of animals dancing with stars Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda.

These animals were created the old-fashioned way — hand drawn and two-dimensional. Bancroft said they relished the work because it brought them back to the days when they collaborated on various classics in the 90s, including Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, and Mulan.

Bancroft, who won an Annie Award for Outstanding Achievement in Directing in 1998 for Mulan, along with his co-director Barry Cook, described the Annies as the Oscars of the animation world.

“The Annies are the highest level award you can receive in animation. They’re sponsored by all the major studios,” he said. “Everybody gets dressed up; it’s a black tie event. It’s one of the only times us geeky animation people look like movie stars.”

Bancroft said the black tie element was the biggest challenge for his students. Some students called their parents the week before and asked them to send their old prom dresses so they would have something to wear to the ceremonies.

“They all had a ball,” Bancroft said. “For the first time, APU was the only school with guest hosts at the Annies. All of my students were invited to attend and every single one showed up.”

The students hosted animation celebrities ranging from voice actors like Holly Hunter (Elastigirl, The Incredibles), to directors like Pete Docter (Up, Monsters Inc., Inside Out) and Brad Bird (The Incredibles, Ratatouille). Students were assigned to a presenter and helped escort them down the red carpet, through the press area, and to the VIP after party.

Senior animation major Sandra Elhachem said she thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity.

“Attending the Annies was a fun and memorable experience. I met people in animation who were my childhood heroes and I learned more about the industry,” she said.

Volunteering served not only as a chance for students to meet their animation icons, but to network as well.

“I hope, more than anything, my students see that to make it in the animation industry, to shine for Christ in Hollywood, they need to be excellent at what they do,” Bancroft said.

He hopes all future APU animation students will meet their heroes and experience the Annies as a volunteer before one day taking the stage to accept an award of their own.

Churches Experience Growth Among Multiethnic Congregations

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It’s Sunday morning and the Monrovia High School auditorium fills up rapidly. Hundreds of people find their seats as the worship service begins. Traditional gospel music fills the air, followed by a contemporary Hillsong tune. With one glance around the room, the musical juxtaposition makes perfect sense. Fellowship Monrovia’s congregation is comprised of people from different cultures, ages, and racial backgrounds. While historically each of these people groups would attend a separate church and sing their own style of music, today, Fellowship is part of a growing national trend of diverse churches.

A recent Christianity Today article featured a new study by researchers at Baylor University, which found that one in five American Christians now belongs to a multiethnic church. According to the findings, the number of these churches tripled between 1998 and 2012. Evangelical and Pentecostal churches experienced the biggest increase.

Surrounded by the multicultural landscape that makes up Southern California, Fellowship Monrovia is led by senior pastor Albert Tate, who also serves as an Azusa Pacific University board memberMark Chase, head of life groups for Fellowship, works alongside Tate, and said the pastoral staff believes it is crucial for the church to reflect the surrounding communities it serves.

“Fellowship is leading the way,” said Chase. “We are truly a multiethnic, intergenerational church and we make sure that our worship and preaching styles are relevant to our members.” Chase believes this intentionality reminds church goers of the imago dei. “Whenever you see yourself, your culture, represented on stage or in the congregation, it helps you connect with God. You feel like ‘I too am created in the image of God.’ That's a central doctrine of Christianity,” he said.

APU campus pastor, Ta'Tyana Leonard agrees. “Being a minority, I've longed to see myself throughout scripture. I zone in on stories like the good Samaritan because I identify with them. As a minority Christian in American culture, I've tried so hard to find my place within the church,” she said. Leonard attends Mission Ebenezer Family Church in Carson. “My husband and I belong to a multiethnic church because we want to invite our friends from all over the world to come to our church and feel welcome. We thought it would be beneficial for our kids to have friends from different backgrounds as well.”

Leonard points to the origins of the church, and how the gentiles and Jews were trying to reconcile. “Before he ascends, Jesus gives the Great Commission, 'Therefore go out and make disciples of all the world,' (Matthew 28:19). The Church is based on different cultures coming together in Christ.” Leonard said that Ephesians chapter two is also imperative for understanding the church’s purpose, including evangelizing and gathering. Ephesians 2:19 says, “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household.”

Chase said this passage created a mandate for racial reconciliation. “Paul talks about how God reconciled the world back to himself through Christ. He tore down the dividing wall and curtain that stood between us. We no longer have race as our primary identifier, our race and ethnicity don’t go away, but as followers of Jesus we have a new primary identifier that has the power to bond us together, Christ.”

APU's campus pastors and the Office of Chapel Programs, offers events throughout the year to facilitate understanding and unity among the university community, including “Uncommon Conversations”. People gather together to talk about difficult topics including those related to race. Leonard said these discussion can mark the beginning of a reconciliation journey, which should continue at church. “If you think about the body of Christ, we have all these parts made up of people from different nations. We need each other.The body cannot function properly without all the parts working together,” she said.

Michael Mata, director of the M.A. in Transformational Urban Leadership program, affirmed that growth among multiethnic churches is a necessity. “This change is vital for churches to be a center of healing, hope, and cultivating a deep relationship with God. Our seminaries need to strive to create a multicultural experience so we can worship together,” he said.

Mata teaches at APU's Los Angeles Regional Site. He lives and attends church in Koreatown, where he serves as part of the pastoral team. His church, Los Angeles First Church of the Nazarene, is a perfect example of the trend. “My church originally started out as an English speaking church. Then we had a Korean language ministry form their own congregation, and then Spanish and Filipino. Slowly, we realized that we should all come together. For special services we gather to worship as one body, a foretaste of heaven to come,” Mata said. “We embrace our differences.”

Darling Library Hosts Navajo Code Talkers Exhibit

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The outcome of World War II may have been very different if it hadn’t been for the Navajo code talkers. These Navajo soldiers served as messengers and translators for the military through the U.S. Marine Corps. Before using the Navajo language as a code, U.S. military messages were frequently intercepted and decoded by the Japanese army. The code talkers’ impact was best seen at the Battle of Iwo Jima. Major Howard Connor had six Navajo code talkers working for him at all times during the battle where they sent and received more than 800 messages without error. According to an article from the CIA, Connor said, “Were it not for the Navajos, the Marines would never have taken Iwo Jima.” This summer, Azusa Pacific University’s Hugh and Hazel Darling Library hosts an exhibit dedicated to these heroic code talkers and local Native Americans. The exhibit includes two large displays and seven smaller cases, which also showcases Navajo and Gabrielino-Tongva art and culture.

David Landers, Ed. D., director of education and community outreach for University Libraries, said that a meeting with Glendora resident Lewis Yazzie sparked his interest in this little known part of history and served as an inspiration for this exhibit. Landers met Yazzie, who served a code talker between the Korean War and Vietnam War, at a Boy Scout ceremony last year. “I was so impressed learning of their contribution to our nation, that I invited him and a group of Navajo veterans to present at our annual event, History Day LA, in March,” Landers said. “Their story needs to be told.”

“All code talkers from World War II until Vietnam were told never to talk about their job. Their positions weren’t declassified until 1969. That's why many Americans are unaware of the significant role they played,” Landers said. “The Navajo people were on their own reservation and had no obligation to join the military, but they exhibited great loyalty to the U.S. and wanted to serve in any way they could. Some of the code talkers even lied about their age so they would be old enough to join the military.”

Hundreds of code talkers were trained at Camp Pendleton in San Diego and at an old military base in Long Beach. After their service, most returned to and remained in Southern California. “We have a large Navajo population compared to most of the country,” Landers said.

The smaller displays in Darling Library show various Navajo artifacts. These includes traditional rugs, blankets, woven baskets, art, and jewelry. Yazzie's wife, Marie, provided most of these artifacts, several of which were handmade by her aunt. Lazaro Arvizu, another contact from the Native American Veterans Association, made the Gabrielino-Tongva items. “We're celebrating their culture through their art,” Landers said.

Landers and Angela Ingalsbe, library coordinator to the dean's office, hosted a workshop on June 9 with Thomas Andrews, Ph. D., professor emeritus. Andrews spoke to a crowd of more than 30 local teachers about the California missions and how they affected Native American people. Ingalsbe said the library plans to host another workshop in August specifically dedicated to the code talkers. Possible guests include Yazzie, other members of the Navajo tribe, and, potentially one of the last living original code talkers from WWII.

Darling Library is open during the summer on Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. - 7 p.m., Friday from 10 a.m - 4 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. It is closed on Sundays. The Navajo code talker exhibit will remain on display until September when a new exhibit on the life and work of Madeleine L'Engle will be showcased.

New Interdisciplinary Major Offers Customizable Approach to Education

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Azusa Pacific University offers more than 60 undergraduate majors for students to choose, ranging from accounting to youth ministries. The vast majority of APU students find that one of these majors meets their interests and will pave the way to a successful career. For some students, finding a major that aligns with their future goals is more challenging. APU’s Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies, housed in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, provides a solution.

Launched fall 2017, the interdisciplinary studies major allows students to combine classes from two or three programs to create their own degree. “Offering alternate pathways enables students to design their own education,” said Jeffrey Boian, M.A., program director. “A student may say, 'I love APU and I know what I want to do for a living, but I don't see a degree that's going to get me there.' This program helps students chart a course to their future job.”

The interdisciplinary program is different than majoring in one field and minoring in another. “Students who have multiple majors or minors are well studied in those areas. In contrast, this major focuses on the intersection of each area,” Boian said. “For example, an interdisciplinary studies major could choose to study biology and English if they plan to write about medicine.”

Boian pointed to several students who have designed unique combinations to suit their career plans. One student wants to be a general manager for a baseball team, so he combines business, communication studies, and psychology. Another is studying marketing, graphic design, and English because she wants to be a creative art director. “The sky's the limit with this program,” Boian said. “If you can dream of a career and articulate why combining a couple majors makes sense, there's a high likelihood we can make that a reality for you.”

Ryan Hartwig, Ph. D., chair of the Department of Communication Studies, helped spearhead the major. “We envisioned a program that would meet the unique needs of certain students and to respond to the changing trends in higher education. With the key outcome of employability in mind, this program encourages students to explore what they want to do, and then helps them create a way to prepare for their career,” said Hartwig.

“A lot of APU faculty use an interdisciplinary teaching approach, so there’s excitement surrounding this new way to serve our students,” Hartwig said. “Every other week I read an article in Inside Higher Ed or The Chronicle of Higher Education that highlights this trend.” Hartwig refers to this growing enthusiasm for tailor-made education as the Chipotle effect. “Everyone customizes their own meal at Chipotle and that's happening in higher education too.”

Sophomore Adia Middleton combines international relations, sociology, and social work for her interdisciplinary major. She finds the freedom of crafting a major empowering and plans to pursue a career in social entrepreneurship after she graduates. “I selected coursework to give me a broad platform for graduate school and beyond,” Middleton said.

The interdisciplinary studies major comprises 54 units, including an 18-unit vocational development core and 36 units of courses in two or three disciplinary areas of at least 12 units each. The core includes an internship and a capstone to prepare students for their careers. For more information on the Interdisciplinary Studies program, visit here or contact Jeff Boian:

Ancient Sculpture of Biblical King Discovered in Israel Draws Global Interest

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Also of note, this was originally published as a news release and was picked up internationally by over 300 outlets, reaching over 600 million people. In addition, note that this was a team project, with the original news release being written by Nate K Foster.

The latest artifact unearthed from Azusa Pacific University’s archeological excavation site with Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Tel Abel Beth Maacah has triggered a flood of news stories capturing the imagination of more than half a billion people around the globe, with the number of articles and interested parties continuing to grow. The identity of a 3,000-year-old miniature sculpted head of a king intrigues scholars and the public alike. Currently on display at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, the head rotates slowly on a motorized base, enabling visitors to view its details and ponder its mysterious origin.

According to Robert Mullins, Ph.D., lead archeologist at Abel Beth Maacah and chair and professor in Azusa Pacific’s Department of Biblical and Religious Studies, the head measures 2.2 x 2 inches and has carefully executed features, including glossy black tresses combed back from a headband painted in yellow and black and a manicured beard. The figure’s almond-shaped eyes and pupils are lined in black and the pursed lips give him a look that is part pensive, part stern. The glazed surface is tinted light green due to the addition of copper to the quartz paste. Its elegant style indicates that the man was a distinguished person, likely a king. By all appearances, the head seems to have broken off from the body of a figurine that stood 8-10 inches high.

“Despite the head’s small and innocuous appearance, it provides us with a unique opportunity to gaze into the eyes of a famous person from the past, a past enshrined in the Book of Ages,” said Mullins. “Given the head was found in a city that sat on the border of three different ancient kingdoms, we do not know whether it depicts the likes of King Ahab of Israel, King Hazael of Aram-Damascus, or King Ethbaal of Tyre, rulers known from the Bible and other sources. The head represents a royal enigma.”

Back in July 2017, high up on the summit of Abel Beth Maacah, Mullins and his team were excavating the remains of what could be an ancient citadel from the time of the Israelite kings. One room contained evidence of metallurgical activity. Another yielded an elaborately decorated Phoenician storage vessel. In the easternmost room, Mario Tobia, an engineering student from Jerusalem, picked up a small two-inch square “dirt clod” that encased this mysterious head.

The Israel Museum held a special ceremony in May featuring a presentation on the head and its discovery by Naama Yahalom-Mack, Ph.D., of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. A more detailed article about the head and the current excavations at Abel Beth Maacah will appear in the June issue of the professional journal, Near Eastern Archaeology.

The ancient city of Abel Beth Maacah, mentioned several times in the Hebrew Bible, has yielded other exciting discoveries from the 13 th century BC, including a silver hoard that contained silver earrings and ignots, and a stone seal depicting a ritual dance.

The 2018 summer dig season at Abel Beth Maacah begins June 24. The excavation site is licensed by the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority. This joint excavation is now in its sixth year.

Related links:

Read the Live Science article.

Read the Associated Press article.

Watch the film featuring Robert Mullins, Ph.D., and the Abel Beth Maacah Excavation Project.