Students have the option of studying either "The Language of Nature" or "The Nature of Language" among a class of no more than ten students and under the instruction of a Covenant College professor.
The Language of Nature: How Do Plants & Animals Communicate?
Have you ever walked in the forest and thought it was unbearably quiet, but with some stillness you noticed a chorus of bird and insect songs? To us these sounds are foreign. (Some are convinced they are beautiful, others not so much.) To the creatures that produce them, they represent a necessary component of daily life. In fact, much of what we see and hear in nature is masterfully effective communication; we just aren't the intended recipients.
This course is a survey of plant and animal communication, with an emphasis on field-based methods and foundations in scientific inquiry. Students will gain experience in interpreting and identifying communication from plants, birds, bats, and insects and form a basis for understanding the multi-modality of communication in nature.
The Nature of Language: Who Talks Funny?
No two people speak in exactly the same way. There are differences in pronunciation, vocabulary, word meaning, grammar rules, and more. In fact, not only do different people speak differently, but even individual people change the way they speak in different contexts.
This course focuses on the social aspects of language variation and analyzes how we use language to help express our identities and interpret the identities of others. Throughout the course, we will pay special attention to the ways that language intersects with a variety of social categories like gender, ethnicity, age, socio-economic status, and religion.
Participants in Covenant College's 2018 Summer Institute will study under the teaching of Professors Heath Garris and Nola Stephens in classes limited to ten students each.
Heath Garris, PhD
Dr. Heath Garris will teach “The Language of Nature.” Dr. Garris is an assistant professor of biology at Covenant College, as well as curator and advocate for the Covenant College BioInventory. He holds a PhD in integrated bioscience from the University of Akron and is passionate about teaching environmental science to Covenant students. He believes that environmental stewardship is a calling worthy of Christ’s followers who are earnestly seeking to be His agents in the redemption of all creation. In his research, he addresses questions that require ecological knowledge to solve long-term challenges for creation.
Nola Stephens, PhD
Dr. Nola Stephens will teach "The Nature of Language." Dr. Stephens is an associate professor of linguistics at Covenant College, as well as the faculty advisor for the Covenant College Linguistics Club and Speech & Debate Society. She holds a PhD from Stanford University. While fascinated by many aspects of human language, she is most interested in the areas of child language development, psycholinguistics, lexical semantics, and sociolinguistics. She is particularly interested in understanding how religious beliefs and doctrinal commitments influence Christians' language attitudes, as well as how beliefs about language influence how Christians view God and their fellow image bearers.