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Westminster College Professor Attends Amish Conference

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

NEW WILMINGTON, Pa. - Dr. Kristin Park, Westminster College professor of sociology and chair of the department, attended the conference "Amish America: Plain Technology in a Cyber World" June 5-8 at Elizabethtown College.

The conference was attended by and featured presentations by educators, filmmakers and writers from around the globe, as well as health care providers, extension educators, former Amish members and members of the Plain community. 

Sessions focused on agricultural issues, business ownership, gender relations, media exploitation and health care delivery in Amish communities, and research and teaching issues around Amish studies.  Additional plenaries focused on the recent appeal of Amish romance novels, on the Bergholz, Ohio, beard-cutting case and trial, and on Amish contributions to medical research.  

"The conference vastly increased my knowledge of contemporary issues experienced by a wide variety of Amish settlements.  I also learned of many resources for teaching Amish studies," Park said. "One highlight for me was a tour of Amish farms, manufacturing operations and retail shops in the Lancaster area.  The Lancaster Amish are relatively change-minded in both their adoption of technology and their degree of interaction with non-Amish.  Especially interesting was our tour of an aquaponics farm that grows organic lettuce for Whole Foods Market.  I also had the privilege and deeply-moving experience of hearing Amish singing. I felt the singing connected me to centuries of Amish history and the martyrdom of the singers' ancestors."

While at the conference, Park made contacts for a Westminster criminal justice major whose emerging senior capstone project focuses on rural police officers' interactions with the Amish within their jurisdictions.    

Park, who joined the Westminster faculty in 1993, earned an undergraduate degree from Colgate University and master's certificate in Latin American studies, master's degree, and Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

Contact Park at (724) 946-7251 or email for additional information.

Dr. Kristin Park, professor of sociology and chair of the department