Community Conference 2013: The Art of Happiness

logo for Alverno Community ConferenceGuest Keynote Speaker, Dr. Parker Palmer

Friday, October 4

Join the entire Alverno community in exploring “happiness” through the lens of different disciplines and approaches. Our annual community conference invites faculty, staff, students and community members to share current research around a central, interdisciplinary theme. Twenty-eight different topics will be explored during three sessions; the day also includes hands-on art activities and a culminating “Happy Hour” of music-making. This conference is open to the campus and the public at large.




Conference Schedule

Friday, October 4, 2013

7:45 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. ---- Registration in the Rotunda
8:15 - 8:30 a.m. ---- Welcome in the Sr. Joel Read Conference Center
8:45 - 10:00 a.m. ---- Session I (FULL)
10:15 - 11:30 a.m. ---- Session II (FULL)
11:40 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. ---- Keynote: Dr. Parker Palmer in Pitman Theatre
12:30 - 1:30 p.m. ---- Lunch (on your own)
1:00 – 1:20 p.m. ---- Lunch Keynote: Peg Rauschenberger
1:30 - 2:45 p.m.  ---- Session III (FULL)
1:30 - 3:30 p.m. ---- Art Activities in The Commons (see details)
3:30 - 5:30 p.m.  ---- "Happy" Hour in The Mug (see details)

Homecoming activities begin! Check the Homecoming Schedule for the full weekend line-up.

Registration Information
NOTE: PRE-REGISTRATION IS NOW CLOSED. You may register on-site to attend the Keynote with Dr. Palmer and the afternoon art activities. Please visit the Reigstration table in the Rotunda of the Sr. Joel Read Center between 7:45 - 11:15 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 4.

Alverno Faculty, Staff, Students and Alums are FREE.

General Public: $15

For additional Conference information, please call 414-382-6177, or email


Keynote with Dr. Parker Palmer

Best known as the author of such books as Let Your Life Speak, The Courage to Teach, A Hidden Wholeness, and Healing the Heart of Democracy, Parker J. Palmer is founder and photograph of author Parker J. PalmerSenior Partner of the Center for Courage & Renewal. A world-renowned writer, speaker and activist, Palmer holds a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California at Berkeley, along with ten honorary doctorates, two Distinguished Achievement Awards from the National Educational Press Association, and an Award of Excellence from the Associated Church Press. In 2010, Palmer was given the William Rainey Harper Award whose previous recipients include Margaret Mead, Elie Wiesel, and Paolo Freire. In 2011, he was named an Utne Reader Visionary, one of "25 people who are changing your world."

In preparation for Parker's visit to Alverno, the community is encouraged to read his pamphlet, "The Politics of the Brokenhearted," available here.


Session Topic Descriptions

SESSION I: 8:45 – 10:00 a.m. -- THIS SESSION IS NOW FULL

(SESSION IS FULL)  11 - Art and Happiness
– Need an experience that offers an antidote to fatigue and an opportunity to rejuvenate? Art and its' connection to feelings of excitement, joy and mystery are emphasized in this hands-on workshop as you explore art's connection to your personal feelings of happiness. Please join us; no previous art experience is necessary, just an open mind and heart.  Presenters: Michele Burnie and Rosemary Pearson, Arts & Communication

(SESSION IS FULL)  12 - Creative Intentions: Kinesthetic Happiness
– This session is an exploration of individual and collaborative creativity. Using tools from visual art, music, theater and movement you will actively / interactively respond to the opportunities within kinesthetic happiness. Presenter: Kathryn Gilbert, Dance & Theater

(SESSION IS FULL)  13 - Echoes of Happiness: What the Indigenous Can Teach Us
– Explore how life in a non-market capitalist society, the predominant form of human living for millennia, sustains contentment and happiness. The vestiges of this life are with us today in the 500 million indigenous people around the world, so we will take a look at some examples of how they live.  Presenter: John Savagian, History

(SESSION IS FULL)  14 - Health, Food, and Happiness
– Examining people’s relationships with food speaks to their beliefs, passions, knowledge and assumptions, personality traits and social ties. We know certain dietary habits contribute to lack of health and well-being, yet health guidelines are often contradictory. Comfort foods are often the fallback under stress. Come for a look at some of these contradictions and enjoy a healthy conversation about food and happiness. Presenters: Elizabeth Palmer and Students, Psychology

(SESSION IS FULL)  15 - Happiness? Is it All in Your Brain?
– How do we study emotions? What are the new insights researchers are discovering to help us understand ourselves better—such as, how does sleep help us regulate our emotions? In this session, we will explore the neuro-physiological processes involved in happiness and emotional regulation. Presenter: Mikki Ray, Psychology

(SESSION IS FULL)  16 - Bringing Happiness into Your Decision-Making
– Examine models for considering the role of happiness in decision-making. You are encouraged to bring a decision you are currently working on to see where happiness (or lack of happiness) might influence your choices. Presenters: Justin LaManna, Steven Dunn, Marcia Mentkowski and Tracy Thompson, Valuing in Decision-Making Ability Department

(SESSION IS FULL)  17 - Gross Domestic Product or Gross Domestic Happiness?
– A panel of students from International Economics will facilitate a discussion surrounding the questions: (1) Does rising GDP make us happy? (2) Can we measure happiness at the macroeconomic level? and (3) What does happiness have to do with the economy?  Presenters: Zohreh Emami, Business and Students from International Economics

(SESSION IS FULL)  18 - Forgiveness:  A Gift of Joy
– Learn how forgiveness as an act can lead the forgiver and the forgiven to joy. You will: discuss forgiveness; share experiences of receiving and giving forgiveness; and write poems related to forgiveness or create a collage that illustrates forgiveness. Presenters: Pamela Lucas and Students, Education

(SESSION IS FULL)  19 - The Happiness Journey – Flourishing in Today’s World
– The Happiness Journey introduces you to the Science of Happiness. “Our brains are not built to make us happy; they’re built to help us survive.” Learn scientific concepts to help you develop awareness of your own physiological reactions to everyday situations. Several practical strategies will be introduced to provide options for change and to develop your potential to flourish. Presenters: Jan Cera and Colleen Hickmann, Hapacus, Inc. 


SESSION II: 10:15 - 11:30 a.m. -- THIS SESSION IS NOW FULL

(SESSION IS FULL)  20 - Finding Happiness in Milwaukee: PechaKucha Presentations
– PechaKucha, meaning “chit chat” in Japanese, are structured presentations that require participants to use only 20 images that are visible for 20 seconds each. Join the HUM150 students in exploring the ways that “place” can have an impact on the ways they experience happiness in Milwaukee. Presenters: Jodi Eastberg, History and HUM150 Students

(SESSION IS FULL)  21 - Finding Authentic Happiness
– Most people think that becoming “happy” is an end point based on acquiring a set of culturally constructed needs (e.g., a romantic relationship, high income, and/or prestige). Drawing on recent research in psychology on happiness and personal well-being, we will discuss the importance of belongingness, giving back to others, engaging in fulfilling activities, and connecting one’s values to one’s actions.  Presenters: Jessica Brumm-Larson, Brenda Kilpatrick and Student Facilitators Melanie Amini-Hajibashi and Jasmine Conway, Psychology

(SESSION IS FULL)  22 - Fulfillment through Authentic Leadership
– Using the Authentic Leadership approach by Bill George (2003), explore the characteristics and qualities of authentic leadership and how to become such a leader. This strategy relies heavily on understanding one’s values, purpose and passion.  You will then employ Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements: Be Impeccable with Your Word; Don’t Take Anything Personally; Don’t Make Assumptions; and, Always Do Your Best.  Presenter: Christina Garza-Nelson, Community Leadership and Development

(SESSION IS FULL)  23 - Staying on the Happy Side of the Stress Tipping Point
 – This interactive session will involve an understanding of the physiology of stress, its benefits and disadvantages, as well as approaches to making stress manageable. Presenters: Colleen Barnett and Sue Mente, Communication Ability and Instructional Services

(SESSION IS FULL)  24 - Roots of Equity, Health and Happiness: Examining the Mental Health Potential of Milwaukee’s Food Justice Movement through a Community Psychology LensLearn about basic concepts of food justice and equity by examining the principles of food security, accessibility and sovereignty through a trauma-informed framework applied to chronically stressed communities. You will receive an overview of Milwaukee’s diverse and vibrant food justice movement, focusing specifically on community interventions and research potential connecting food access and mental health.  Presenter: Kristin Nelson, Graduate Student, Community Psychology

(SESSION IS FULL) 25 - The Heart Aroused: Poetry, Mindfulness and the Preservation of the Soul in Corporate America
– Author David Whyte shows how the language of prophecy, poetry and enlightenment give voice to the most creative—yet hidden—desires. Learn the best way to respond to the current call for creativity in organizational life by overcoming habitual fear and reticence and bringing full, passionate, creative human souls, with all their urgencies and unnamed longings, right inside the office. Presenters: Jim Henderson, Business and panel of Students/Alumnae

(SESSION IS FULL)  26 - Happiness in K-12 Schools: The Joy Factor
– Explore issues of climate, culture and curriculum in K-12 schools, and gain an understanding that learning at its best is a joyful experience. You will probe your own experience of joyful learning; develop a set of questions to use in analysis of learning environments; and identify resources for contributing to making schools more joyful places. Presenters: Mary Diez & Bill Hughes, Education

(SESSION IS FULL)  27 - How to Keep Your Spirits Up When Your Health is Down
– Learn tips to keep smiling when you are going through a difficult period. Information on laughter and endorphins and how they can improve your health will be shared. You will gain an understanding of the physiologic benefits of laughter and discuss strategies to increase happiness and laugh! Presenter: Penny Alt-Gehrman, Nursing

(SESSION IS FULL)  28 - Blind-sided by the Bright Side: The Endless Pursuit of Happiness
– Based on the book, Bright-sided: How the Endless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America by Barbara Ehrenreich, you will learn how healthy realism and natural skepticism can lead us to further scientific knowledge through problem-solving, critical thinking and observation.  Presenters: Teresa Bear, Kim Skerven and Students, Psychology

(SESSION IS FULL)  29 - Music as a Prompt for Happiness
Explore the ways in which music may serve to elucidate this pursuit of self-awareness. At the outset, musical examples will amplify common experiences where both classical and popular music serve as agents of various types of happiness. The primary focus of remaining musical examples will dialogically explore the question of music’s ability to resonate with or even prompt our most profound happiness: the meaning of our lives. Presenter: Michael Kamenski, Music


(SESSION IS FULL)  30 - Gifts of Nature: How Nature Can Inspire Happiness, Awe and Wonder
– Explore our connection with nature and discover how closer ties to nature can bring about happiness through finding a daily dose of nature in our hectic world. Look for—and appreciate—the beauty, surprises and humility that can come with accepting the daily gifts of nature. In small groups or individually you will visit nearby parks, streams and natural areas on campus. You are encouraged to bring cameras, GPS devices or other materials such as notebooks or sketchbooks to write down thoughts, verse and feelings, and to make sketches of what you see.  Presenter: Jenny Johanson, Environmental Sciences 

(SESSION IS FULL)  31 - Can We Measure Peace and Happiness?
– Engage in active discussion on a variety of ways that are being used by nations, non-governmental and intergovernmental organizations around the world to measure peace, stability and justice. How are measures like the happiness index, the gender equality index, the government and business corruption index, and the global peace index constructed, and can these measures really help us to determine which nations are happier, more equitable across genders, less corrupt and more peaceful? What steps do they suggest that we should take to work toward a more peaceful world? Presenters: Donna Engelmann, Philosophy and Students from HUM150 

(SESSION IS FULL)  32 - Joyful Music-Making for All: Garage Bands & Other Accessible Ensembles
– Using oral history and photos about what amateur musicians find of value by playing in neighborhood garage bands (Milwaukee Garage Bands: Generations of Grassroots Rock), presenters will share fundamental ideas about how creative flow and musical togetherness are experienced while learning to play the most basic rock music with others. The session will include a hands-on music segment where you learn accessible rhythms and chord progressions used by beginning rock musicians that allow anyone to be part of a jam session! Presenters: Diane Knight, Peter Roller and Music Therapy Students, Music

(SESSION IS FULL)  33 - Want to Be Happier?  Stay in the Moment!
– This session will be based on research that is presented in a TED talk by Matt Killingsworth, “Want to be happier? Stay in the moment.”  You will watch and discuss the video, which outlines research on mindfulness and happiness. Then explore some basic mindfulness principles and practices.  Presenters: Henry Boeh & Kim Skerven, Psychology 

(SESSION IS FULL)  34 - Uchinanchu-Okinawans and Happiness
– Okinawa, a Pacific Island off the southeast coast of Japan, is a small island that has significant historical prominence as a strategic military location. Boasting the healthiest and longest living people on the planet, it has received international attention regarding the Okinawan diet, demeanor and mortality rate. In this session you will learn about the culture of Okinawa and how the Okinawan people use their community connections to be the happiest people on the earth. Presenter: Patricia Takamine, Graduate Student, Community Psychology

(SESSION IS FULL)  35 - Passion with a Purpose!
– Learn how individuals can take their personal passion and put that energy towards their success and happiness in both life and career. You will read and discuss the poem, “The Passion of Life,” and engage in several discussions to help bring out your passions in life. Through small group work you will develop a basic strategic plan for turning your passions into purpose in your life. Presenter: Carol Vollmer Pope, Business

(SESSION IS FULL)  36 - Happiness in a World of Bullies and Bystanders
– Explore the principles of becoming happier despite the potential to face bullies and bystanders in the workplace. Lateral violence is a hot topic and it appears in a variety of work and school settings. In fact, it is said that “Nurses Eat Their Young.” Nursing isn’t the only profession that faces this phenomenon. Discover ways to stop living as the “working wounded.” Presenter: Julie Jutrzonka, Nursing

(SESSION IS FULL)  37 - The Heart of Democracy: The Pursuit of Happiness
– Join us to encircle Parker Palmer’s Healing the Heart of Democracy: The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit (2011).  Experience a conversation that balances Palmer’s Five Habits as he summarizes chutzpah and humility. You will gain a greater understanding of—and appreciation for—the communal dimensions of happiness. Presenters: Celia Jackson & Patricia Jensen, Civility Project

(SESSION IS FULL)  38 - Puppy Love: Petting One’s Way to Happiness
– Stories will be shared of pets and their power to transform. Celebrate these miraculous creatures that possess power to impart happiness to residents of hospitals and nursing homes; to bring physical, emotional and psychological healing to those who are suffering; and to save lives of humans and animals alike. You are encouraged to bring stories and pictures of beloved pets.  Presenter: Connie Popp, Campus Ministry

(SESSION IS FULL)  39 - Finding Peace and Contentment in Frantic Times
– There are deep wellsprings of peace and contentment inside all of us and they are just waiting to be released from the chaotic lifestyles we have crafted for ourselves. Engage in a series of simple research-based mindfulness practices that can easily be incorporated into your daily life to help relieve stress, anxiety and unhappiness. When practiced regularly, mindfulness can help you to see the world with greater clarity and compassion. Dress comfortably and be ready for some gentle movement. Presenters: Nan Flaherty & Susan Solvang, Growing Minds 

(SESSION IS FULL)  40 - Happiness Is: Gender Freedom and the Body – Join us for a discussion led by students from Women’s and Gender Studies exploring issues related to gender identity and the body. What does it mean to be comfortable in the body? How do gender identity and social pressure play a role?  Presenters: Amy Shapiro, Philosophy, Women’s and Gender Studies Program and WGS Students: Breanne Pemberton, Lydia Gresham, and Jamie Jalovec

Please note:
The schedule of Session Topics may change without notice. We apologize for any inconvenience.


Art Activities

The Big Photo

Be a part of a gigantic photograph series which will be an on-going project for the next two years. Single portraits or partners!
Stop by Commons anytime between 1:45 - 3:30 p.m.

Presenters: Lynda Sommers , Chris Renstrom, Jerry Dutscheck and the Media Hub staff

Finger Painting 101

Revive your childhood memories! No equipment needed; just bring your hands and get ready to play. Brushes and gloves will be provided for those who are a bit squeamish. Stop by Commons anytime between 1:45 - 3:30 p.m.

Presenters: Lynda Sommers and Kate Weishaar

Empty Bowls Project

Create a Ceramic Bowl to donate to this community project—you make the bowl, we’ll glaze them! No experience needed; a demonstration will be given at the beginning of each session. We will supply the clay, you supply the creativity.

Space is limited for Empty Bowls
; you must be pre-registered.

Session I: 1:30 - 2:15 p.m.  -- FULL
Session II: 2:30 - 3:15 p.m.

Presenters: Lynda Sommers, Michele Burnie and student Julia Bohlmann


"Happy Hour"

3:30 - 5:15 p.m. in The Mug

Celebrate happiness with music and movement! Join us in The Mug for performances from Peter Roller (guitarist and author of Milwaukee Garage Bands), Chris Miota (vocalist) and Adekola Adedapo (interactive song & dance). Then share your talents—or applaud your friends—with Open Mic.