Superhumanists! HSP Faculty Train You for the Tokyo Olympics

Robert Stephan, Kimberly Jones, Kristy Slominski, Suzanne Panferov Reese, Robert Côté, Benjamin Jens, Caleb Simmons, Yuxuf Abana, Fabian Alfie, Daisy Vargas, Ken McAllister
Thursday 7 PM - 8:30 PM (AZ Time)
July 22, 2021

Superhumanists! HSP Faculty Train You for the Tokyo Olympics

7 PM - 8:30 PM (AZ Time)
July 22, 2021




FREE - Registration Required

Did you know that the Olympic rings logo—designed by Frenchman Pierre de Coubertin—includes at least one color from every national flag in the world? Or that three countries—Sweden, Austria, and Japan—have all selected athletes in their 70s to represent them in past Olympic games? Or that this year’s Olympic medals have been manufactured from more than 79,000 tons of recycled electronic devices donated by Japanese citizens? The Olympics is perhaps the world’s most beloved international, intercultural, and multilingual event, making it a treasure trove of facts and stories about the human experience on both personal and grand scales. Spend 90 minutes with HSP’s team of gold-medal instructors, each of whom will share with students a few key insights about the people, places, cultures, and languages that will make this summer’s Olympic games particularly memorable. 

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Meet Your Professor

Assistant Professor
Department of Religious Studies and Classics

Rob Stephan is an archaeologist by training and has taught in the University of Arizona’s Department of Religious Studies and Classics since 2016. Rob's research interests focus on how the material remains of the past can inform us about the economic performance of pre-modern societies. What cultural factors lead to improvements in economic well-being? How does socio-political development correlate with per capita material wealth? During the course of his studies, Rob has worked on archaeological excavations in Italy, Cyprus, Britain, Armenia, and the American Southwest. His current project uses archaeological survey to look at southern Sicily from prehistory through the medieval period. Rob teaches courses on classical history and civilization, classical mythology, the reception of classics in the modern world, ancient sport and spectacle, and the Greco-Roman economy. In his free time he mentors and tutors students in a variety of subjects.

Vice Dean
College of Humanities, Department of East Asian Studies

Kimberly Jones is Vice Dean for Academic Affairs in the College of Humanities and a Professor of East Asian Studies. A sociolinguist who specializes in second language acquisition and teaching and in Japanese sociolinguistics, she is particularly interested in how the analysis of naturally occurring talk can inform language pedagogy, and in children’s language acquisition, attrition, and code-switching. For the last 10 years, she has been a consultant for both College Board and Educational Testing Service, working on curriculum and test development for the Advanced Placement Japanese program.

Assistant Professor
Department of Religious Studies and Classics

Kristy Slominski (Ph.D. in Religious Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara) specializes in the interaction of religion, science, and health in U.S. history; the history of sex education in the United States; and the impact of religion on U.S. public health discourses. Her current book project, Teaching Moral Sex: An American Religious History of Sex Education (under contract with Oxford University Press), examines religious contributions to public sex education from the late nineteenth century to the present, especially around issues of sexually transmitted diseases. Before joining the faculty at the University of Arizona, she taught at the University of Mississippi and Georgia State University and served on the Board of Directors for the American Academy of Religion.

Associate Specialist
Public and Applied Humanities

Suzanne Panferov Reese completed her graduate studies at Ohio State University, earning both a PhD and MA in Foreign and Second Language Education and an MA in Russian Literature. Dr. Panferov Reese’s research focuses on language program administration, professional development, teacher training, pedagogy, and literacy acquisition. She has published on topics ranging from teachers transitioning into professional leadership roles, ESL program marketing, and parental support for K-12 ELL students. She has presented in numerous countries on issues of professionalizing and empowering teachers, professional development, leadership, and teaching methodologies. In 2009, she participated in a Fulbright Administrator Exchange in Jalisco, Mexico.

Center Director
Center for English as a Second Language

Robert Côté has a background in English as a Second Language as well as meteorology. He began his career in education more than 25 years ago as an ESL instructor for Literacy Volunteers of America. Since then, he has worked as an administrator, teacher trainer, classroom instructor, and advisor in universities, community colleges, adult education centers, and public high schools around the world including Florida, Mexico, Spain, the UAE, China, and Colombia. He is also an English Language Specialist for the State Department, primarily involved in academic writing and academic integrity projects in Russia and Ukraine. Finally, he has served as an editor for LINGUIST List and Arab World English Journal, and he volunteers as a Big in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters Mentor 2.0 Program.

Assistant Professor

Benjamin Jens received his Ph.D. in Slavic Languages and Literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His main area of research is 19th-century Russian literature – especially the works of Fyodor Dostoevsky – with a focus on the relationship between literature, discourse, and Eastern Orthodoxy. He also has research interests in Eastern European cinema, science fiction, and cultural ties between the Western Balkans and Russia. Dr. Jens is also the director of the Arizona in Russia study abroad program in Moscow, Russia.

Associate Professor
Department of Religious Studies and Classics

CALEB SIMMONS is Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Classics. He has published on religion in South Asia, especially Hinduism: Devotional Sovereignty: Kingship and Religion in India, The Navarātri Festival in South Asia, and Nine Nights of the Goddess (coeditor and contributor). He is currently working on ecological issues and sacred geography in India, South Asian diaspora communities, and material and popular cultures stemming from globalization.


  • Ted and Shirley Taubeneck Superior Teaching Award
Africana Studies Program

Yuxuf Abana, a published poet, writer, musician, and soccer player was born in Ghana, West Africa where he earned a triple major Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature, Philosophy, and History. He later moved to Iowa State University, and the University of Arizona, where he graduated with a MA in English, and a Ph. D in 19th Century British Romanticism & Its Implication In The Africana Experience. He is also a graduate of the School of Theory & Criticism at Cornell University. Dr. Abana's research interests are Teaching College Writing, Theories of Slave Writing, Race & Literary Theory, Jazz, Blues and the Africana Experience, The Africana Novel and the Western World, and is currently developing a manuscript on the concept of realism in reading Africana literature. Dr. Abana, in addition to his academic commitments, serves on the Board of the Dancing In The Streets Dance Company (a performance company for underprivileged and handicapped kids), and serves as a cook, once a month, for the Primavera Men's Homeless Shelter in South Tucson.

Department of French and Italian

FABIAN ALFIE received his Ph.D. in Italian from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, with a specialization in the Middle Ages. He has published extensively on medieval Italian literature and has given numerous talks on Dante. He has received two Superior Teaching Awards from the Humanities Seminars Program, as well as a Distinguished Teaching Award from the College of Humanities.      

  • Ted and Shirley Taubeneck Superior Teaching Award
Assistant Professor
Department of Religious Studies and Classics

Dr. Daisy Vargas (Ph.D. in History, University of California, Riverside; M.A. in Religious Studies, University of Denver) specializes in Catholicism in the Americas; race, ethnicity, and religion in the United States; and Latina/o religion. Her current project, Mexican Religion on Trial: Race, Religion, and the Law in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands, traces the history of Mexican religion, race, and the law from the nineteenth century into the contemporary moment, positioning current legal debates about Mexican religion within a larger history of anti-Mexican and anti-Catholic attitudes in the United States. She has served as an ethnographic field research for the Institute for the Study of Immigration and Religion since 2012. In 2017, she was awarded a Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation. Dr. Vargas serves as co-chair of the Latina/o and Latin American Religion section for the American Academy of Religion-Western Region, and as a steering committee member for the Religions in the Latina/o Americas unit for the American Academy of Religion at the national level.

Professor and Associate Dean of Research and Program Innovation
College of Humanities

Ken McAllister is Professor and Associate Dean of Research and Program Innovation in the College of Humanities. A scholar of popular culture, Ken has published on topics ranging from bagpipe music and magic shows to video games and alien languages. He is also an avid collector and taster of uisge beatha and other regional spirits from around the world. He specializes in digital humanities, rhetorics of technology, and computer game studies. He has authored or co-authored six books, three edited collections, and dozens of articles and book chapters on media history, theory, and analysis. In his role as Co-Director of the Learning Games Initiative Research Archive--one of the largest publicly accessible collections of computer games and related material in the world--he has also published and lectured widely on the politics and processes of digital artifact archiving and preservation.


This course will be offered ONLINE ONLY
Classes will be live streamed during the time and dates specified in the course details section above. Instructions about how to access the course online will be sent to all enrolled students before the course begins.

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