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Honor students inducted; Kearns on the 'periphery'

by Clarence B. Smith, staff writer


HPU’s 2005 Spring Honors Brunch, held April 3 at the Hale Koa Hotel in Waikiki, witnessed the induction of 221 students into 16 honor societies. After a keynote address by Dr. John Kearns, associate dean for General Education, and an abundance of fine food, each society conducted an initiation ceremony welcoming new members and presenting certificates and cords or medallions. (For photos of each society group, see pages 4-5.)

Click above for more photos


Kearns presented an energetic talk about the periphery—things that don’t seem central to our lives, such as Lydian, an extinct Indo-European language, and how knowing about it could save us someday.

Kearns began with an anecdote from a movie about a failed Mars expedition, The Red Planet. Algebra, of little interest to the astronauts, who used calculus and other higher mathematical forms, was the key to their survival on Mars.

Historically, items that are on the periphery of our interests, often save lives, Kearns said. “King Candaules [of Lydia] had the periphery come crashing down on him in 678 BC,” Kearns continued. “He was an excellent ruler; he expanded Lydia’s power and influence, and he had a stunningly beautiful wife. Which is what got him into trouble.”

Candaules valued validation, according to Kearns; he wanted people to know just how beautiful his wife was, so he forced one of his servants, Gyges, to sneak into the queen’s bedchamber and watch her changing clothes. She caught him, of course, and offered him an ultimatum: kill the king and take his place or be killed on the spot. Gyges killed the king, married the queen, and assumed the throne.

“Candaules forgot to pay attention to the periphery,” Kearns said. “If we compare him to a university student, Candaules majored in kingship but forgot to take courses in important peripheral matters.”

For example, Kearns said, he could take Dr. Fung’s cultural anthropology class, where he would learn about cultures where nudity was perceived as shameful, and where a violent response to breaking a taboo is normal. Or he might take Dr. Lierheimer’s class, which examines sex, gender, and history. Then he’d have an insight into women’s perspective, and he’d understand that the queen was not a commodity to be objectified.

“Things Candaules thought were peripheral.” Kearns continued, “bit him in the ‘okole, and his central life — the qualities that made him a good king — couldn’t save him.”

“Where do you find the periphery?” Kearns concluded. “In your general education courses, of course!”



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