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Vantage Point

For each installment of “Vantage Point,” a question is posed to a group of IUP faculty members, and their responses are shared here. The question for this issue:

What major motion picture do you think has done the most, intentionally or unintentionally, to raise awareness of or promote interest in your field?

Stephanie Caulder, Music

Mr. Holland’s Opus

Mr. Holland’s Opus (1995) stands out to me. While it has a feel-good ending and skillfully describes the power of music and the importance of music education, the movie also addresses the perennial problem of music programs being a primary target of administrators who are looking for ways to combat budget problems. Sadly, little has changed 20 years later. Also, unlike the tyrannical conductor and teacher in the recent movie Whiplash (2014), Mr. Holland demonstrates that music teachers can inspire and maintain high expectations without having to berate and shame. This is what I consider a successful career and how I would like to be remembered!

Daniel Lee, Criminology

Dead Man Walking

Many films have created awareness of criminological issues, and it is difficult to narrow this to one selection. The Silence of the Lambs (1991) has been credited with showing women in important and demanding criminal justice professions, but one film that stands out to me is Dead Man Walking (1995). The portrayal of the lead character makes it easy to hate the evil crimes that were committed, and that wraps the viewer up in hating the criminal, too. The film leads many viewers to recognize that even the worst of the worst offenders might have redeeming qualities. A film like that challenges us to consider if we can punish offenders humanely.

Raymond Pavloski, Psychology

The Matrix Trilogy

The Matrix (1999), The Matrix Reloaded (2003), and The Matrix Revolutions (2003) depict a future in which humans mentally participate in a virtual reality that they mistake for a world outside their brains. Many students are shocked to learn that this concept describes everyday perception. The brain receives the same type of electrochemical signals from every sense organ, and these signals modulate electrical and chemical patterns in complex networks of neurons. The qualities of experience that we refer to as properties of the world outside our brains arise in concert with these complex patterns. I often refer to these movies in order to help students understand perception as a natural phenomenon and to demystify the functions of sensory prostheses such as cochlear and retinal implants.

Theresa Smith, Religious Studies

The Passion of the Christ

The Passion of the Christ (2004), directed by Mel Gibson, probably has had the biggest impact, raising awareness of positive and negative assessments of Christianity and of religion in general. The director’s intentions aside, the effect on audiences was a highly emotional one, with many people reacting against the extreme violence of the film and more embracing the cinematic immersion in the suffering of Jesus. In discussing this hugely polarizing film, supporters and detractors debated the difficult questions the film raised: biblical versus historical veracity, the responsibility of interpretations of the passion narrative in the promotion of anti-Semitism, the concept of redemptive suffering, and the larger question in all religions—faith versus disbelief.

Ramesh Soni, Management

Gung Ho

Though a comedy, Gung Ho (1986) was perhaps the first movie that featured globalization. Around that time, it was becoming clear that the high-paying, unskilled jobs could not be sustained or taken for granted in the USA. The expression, popular in the business practitioners’ literature then, was “automate, emigrate, or evaporate.” What has happened in the ensuing 29 years is an unimaginable level of globalization. China has transformed itself into a manufacturing hub. When adjusted for purchasing power parity (PPP), three of the four largest economies are now located in Asia: China, India, and Japan. The world has become flat.

More from the Summer 2015 Issue of IUP Magazine

One Molecular Step

One Molecular Step

Physics professor Greg Kenning developed a technology, only atoms thick, that measures perishability of foods and other products.



A hotel under construction next to the Kovalchick Complex is expected to boost IUP’s already hefty economic impact on the region and state.

Message from the President

IUP and the Research Institute’s new mentoring program matches up more seasoned faculty members with those who want to reach higher in their sponsored research activities.

Namedroppers | Achievements | Mentors

Photo Gallery | Milestone Generosity | Letters to the Editor

Web Exclusives

Photo Galleries: The Oak Grove and Thomas Sutton Hall

Smart Support

An app Ryan Brannon developed with other students uses a game-like approach to target addiction in teens and young adults.

Ascent to the Summit

In spite of falling short in the national championship game, the men’s basketball team savored a mountaintop view few ever behold.

Distinguished Alumni Awards

Seven recipients were honored in April with Distinguished Alumni Awards at a gala sponsored by the IUP Alumni Association.