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   Brock, Caroline. 2013. “What Do College Students Have to Learn from the Amish?”  Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 1(2):69-89. What Do College Students Have to Learn from the Amish? Caroline Brock  1 Department of Rural Sociology University of Missouri-Columbia Abstract This paper presents the results of a survey of college courses taught on the Amish. It is based on a series of interviews with instructors at other institutions of higher learning whose courses focus on the Amish, an examination of their syllabi, and analysis of student writing from the course I teach at the University of Missouri-Columbia. The survey was designed to ascertain the goals of  professors who teach a class about the Amish and how they best achieve their course objectives. Secondly, the survey explored what attracts college students to a course about the Amish, and what prior knowledge, and preconceptions they bring with them. My survey found that all  professors relate themes and values about the Amish to the lives of college students, but there are subtle differences in how these connections are expressed by instructors in the classroom through various course activities. This paper should serve as a resource for people who want to incorporate information about the Amish in their college-level courses. 2 Keywords Amish, teaching, education, college courses, ethno-religious groups, Anabaptists  70 Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 1(2), 2013 Introduction It seems strange and perhaps ironic to design college-level courses on a Christian minority who is opposed to education beyond the eighth grade. Yet many students are attracted to courses about the Amish. Amish faith and culture has informed college classrooms in a diverse range of disciplines and institutions of higher learning of every size, from small Mennonite colleges to large state universities (Loewen 2003). This paper had its beginnings with a conference workshop at the  Amish in America Conference  in June 2013 (see http://www.etown.edu/centers/young-center/amish-conference-thurs-abstracts.aspx) where participants gathered to discuss teaching resources and methods for their classes that cover the Amish. This article was a follow-up and more channeled effort to gather insights from instructors who are currently teaching an Amish-centered class. Methods I began with those participants I met at the conference, and then employed snowball sampling to identify additional college-level instructors to participate in my survey. Semi-structured interviews were conducted over the phone in July 2013 and the conversations were approximately 45 to 90 minutes in length. Syllabi from all participants were also collected and reviewed. The case study at the end of the paper focuses on my course, “Amish Community” (Rural Sociology 1150) at the University of Missouri-Columbia, which I taught during the spring 2013 term. It included a survey of students in the class as well as some analysis of student writing assignments. The study was approved by the Institutional Review Board (Human Subjects) at University of Missouri-Columbia. Findings Teaching about the Amish in a College Course Amish courses are taught by professors from a wide range of academic backgrounds (Table 1). Although there was a significant fraction of courses which were offered by professors with backgrounds in sociology, rural sociology, and anthropology, there were also a number of courses in history and German. There were also courses offered by professors with backgrounds in English, Biblical, and religious studies, and economic geography. Some of the professors taught with a particular disciplinary background, but the class was listed under a different department than the professor’s home department, which reflects the interdisciplinary nature of Amish studies. In fact, the interdisciplinary appeal of many Amish courses was one of its best assets, according to some professors. For example, Susan Trollinger actually takes advantage of this by asking the  “ students to study the writing of scholars from various disciplines and to try to notice the distinctive writing conventions of their discipline.” She asks students to “consider what sort of evidence a biblical scholar like David Weaver Zercher” utilizes versus “the sort of  Brock: College Students 71 Table 1: University Courses about the Amish: An Overview 3 Instructor Institution Department/Academic Unit Anderson, Cory The Ohio State University Rural sociology Brock, Caroline University of Missouri Rural sociology Brown, Joshua University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire German Dewalt, Mark Withrop University Education Donnermeyer, Joseph The Ohio State University Rural sociology Johnson-Weiner, Karen State Univ. of New York—Potsdam Anthropology Kanagy, Conrad Elizabethtown College Sociology & anthropology Kraybill, Donald Elizabethtown College Sociology Martin, Willard Penn State University German McConnell, David College of Wooster Sociology and anthropology  Nolt, Steven Goshen College History Reschly, Steven Truman State University History Stevick, Richard Messiah College Psychology Trollinger, Susan University of Dayton English Weaver-Zercher, David Messiah College Biblical and religious studies Amish Focus for Part of a Class Carter, Max Guilford College Religion /campus ministry Louden, Mark University of Wisconsin-Madison German Mast, Gerald Bluffton University Communications Park, Kristin Westminster College Sociology & criminal justice Webb, Nigel Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, South Africa Economic geography evidence a sociologist like Donald Kraybill uses” versus “a historian like Steven Nolt.” She feels “it is all about getting [students] to be able to see that writing for one discourse community [discipline] is different in certain ways from writing for another.”   The courses generally focus on Old Order Amish rather than other kinds of Anabaptists. This trend of focusing on Old Order Amish is common in other academic studies as well as in the  popular media. In this way, the other kinds of Amish, plus Mennonites and Hutterites, do not get covered as much. However, some of the classes made a point of covering other special religious groups. For example, Willard Martin and Mark Louden cover different kinds of Pennsylvania Dutch groups, so their scope is much broader. As can be observed in Table 1, there is a diversity of courses offered focusing on the Amish. Although the courses listed here have been offered in the past six years, they are not necessarily taught either each semester or even annually. Pennsylvania has the most Amish scholars teaching courses related to the Amish, as 30% of the courses are offered there, and Ohio is close behind with a quarter of the courses. Two courses are offered each in Wisconsin,  72 Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 1(2), 2013 Missouri, and North Carolina, so that 10% of the courses are offered in each of these states. Indiana, New York, and South Africa each have one course offering. While most college courses on the Amish have six to 30 students, Penn State has a course with about 90 students, while the University of Missouri at Columbia has two courses of 60 students every semester. The states with the most Amish people are Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Wisconsin, New York, Michigan, and Missouri respectively (Donnermeyer, Anderson and Cooksey 2013). The student demand for Amish courses is likely elevated in states with higher Amish populations  because students may be more curious and there may be practical reasons why it would be useful for many students to know something about Amish people who are their neighbors. However, the number of students taking Amish courses is not totally in line with this population distribution. For example, Indiana has the third highest Amish population of any state in the United States, yet Steven Nolt teaches the only course offered by a university in the Hoosier state, and even then, he has not taught it for a few years. One may wonder why there are not more courses that address the Amish at Mennonite and Brethren colleges, which could increase course offerings even more in states like Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Although this paper cannot address this question directly, Gerald Mast at Bluffton University offered an idea that may shed some light on the issue. He stated: …some Mennonite colleges (like Bluffton) have taught Amish history and culture typically as part of their mission to teach Mennonite students about their faith and heritage; hence Amish studies is embedded in Mennonite studies for the most part at Mennonite colleges. In this way, Amish Studies may be embedded in a larger class about Mennonites, such as in the “Mennonite History and Thought” class at Bluffton or the class titled “History of Mennonites in America” offered by Steven Nolt at Goshen College. However, Mast further explains, as Mennonite colleges seek to expand their “student bodies beyond Mennonite students, it probably seems counterintuitive to expand into Amish studies” as this may not fit into the agenda of non-Mennonite students. Mennonite colleges have historical libraries and journals which further the  pursuit of knowledge of Anabaptist-Mennonite history and theology. However, the relationship of the Mennonites to their own distinct Mennonite background is evolving (Brandt 1994). In addition, Mennonites who live around the Amish and/or who have direct personal experience with the Amish faith and/or connections to ex-Amish people may have a more critical view of the Amish because of their own negative experiences. For example, some of the students may have parents or grandparents who were Amish at one time. A number of the instructors who teach a course on the Amish have some kind of Mennonite connection, even at the secular schools. Their backgrounds ranged from plain Anabaptist connections (e.g. ex-Old Order Mennonites and a practicing Beachy Amish-

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