Monthly Archives: September 2010

Wesleyan Media Project: Political Ad Buys Up $220 Mil.

The first data analysis released by the Wesleyan Media Project is making national news. The findings, reported by BusinessWeek, among other outlets, indicate that spending on political ads has increased by $220 million over the 2008 campaign cycle. Some of the increases are a result of senate races in more populous states than in 2008, including California, New York, and Florida. However the recent Supreme Court ruling in the ‘Citizens United’ case allowing more special interest and union money to flow into the campaigns has had an effect, with political action groups and unions coming in as top 10 spenders, some in a less than transparent manner.

“We are seeing evidence of changing tactics as groups seek shelter in the rules for nonprofits that allow such organizations to withhold their donor names,” said Erika Fowler, assistant professor of government and director of the Wesleyan Media Project.

The full results and data can be found at the Wesleyan Media Project’s site. The Wesleyan Media Project is a nonpartisan initiative that operates with grant support from The Knight Foundation, The Sunlight Foundation and Wesleyan University.

Tully on Personalizing the Library Experience

In a recent story in Inside Higher Ed, Patricia Tully, University Librarian, discusses the efforts of her and the library staff to create a more personalized experience for undergraduates using Wesleyan’s libraries. This is part of a concerted effort by several universities in response to the gap technology has created between students and librarians. “The important thing for the library is that students know the library has not just books but also familiar-looking people who know their names and want to help them.”

Swinehart on Dolan’s ‘Fur, Fortune, and Empire’

In a review for The Washington Post, Kirk Swinehart, assistant professor of history, reviews the new book by Eric Jay Dolan, Fur, Fortune, and Empire: The Epic History of the Fur Trade in America. Swinehart says that the fur trade has been rendered a bland footnote by most historians but it was and remains one of the most vibrant and complex industries in the world. In his book, Dolan gives new life to the study of the fur trade in America and around the world, and adds the colors and textures that have long been missing in all but the most esoteric discussions of the fur industry’s history. “The result is easily the finest tale of the trade in recent memory,” Swinehart writes. “A crisply written tale unburdened by excessive detail or homespun provincialism.”

Wesleyan Media Project Launched, Will Analyze Political Ads

Erika Franklin Fowler, assistant professor of government, director, Wesleyan Media Project.

Wesleyan University is launching the Wesleyan Media Project, a non-partisan initiative designed to perform comprehensive tracking and analysis of federal and state political advertisements by candidates, parties and special interest groups. The project launches at the onset of a political election season poised to break advertising records.

Throughout the course of the 2010 election cycle, the Wesleyan Media Project will provide real-time, public information on the content and targeting of advertising in federal election campaigns across the country. In light of the Supreme Court’s recent Citizens United decision, the Project will also provide systematic evidence on the extent of corporate and union spending. It will include details on which entities are doing the spending and which candidates are benefiting from these investments.

The data will include precise information, including the date, time, market, station and program on which each ad aired,

Degiovanni Honored for His Latin-American Scholarly Book

Fernando Degiovanni

Fernando Degiovanni, associate professor of romance languages and literatures, associate professor of Latin American studies, was awarded the prestigious Alfredo Roggiano Prize for his Los textos de la patria: Nacionalismo, politicas culturales y canon en Argentina (2007). This prize is awarded every three years by the International Institute of Ibero-American Literature to the author of an outstanding scholarly book on any phase of Latin American literature or culture.

The International Institute of Ibero-American Literature is the oldest association of scholars devoted the study of Latin American literature and culture in the United States.

Gottschalk on Perceptions of Islam in the News Media

In a guest blog for The Washington Post‘s “On FaithPeter Gottschalk, chair and professor of religion, discusses how even esteemed media outlets like The New York Times continue to intentionally or not promote the dangerous perception that Islam equals extremism.

Lehman ’81 Is New Publisher for Twelve Book Imprint

Susan Lehman ’81

Susan Lehman ’81, a communications executive, editor and lawyer, is the new publisher and editor-in-chief of Twelve, a small and respected imprint of Grand Central Publishing. She has worked over the years as media strategist, writer and editor in the realms of magazines, law, television and newspapers. She served as as an editor at Riverhead Books from 2003–2004.

Twelve has published 39 titles, 19 of which have made The New York Times best-seller list, including God Is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens and War by Sebastian Junger ’84.

In a recent article in The New York Times, Lehman said she hoped to publish books that are “superbly written, have moral clarity, maybe journalistic rigor.”

New Academic Partnership, Fellowship Advances Animal Studies

Lori Gruen (left) and Kari Weil

Wesleyan University and the Animals and Society Institute (ASI) have formed a partnership and will offer the “ASI-WAS Human-Animal Studies Summer Fellowship” in 2011 through Wesleyan’s recently-launched College of the Environment.

The ASI-WAS Human-Animal Studies Summer Fellowship marks the launch of Wesleyan Animal Studies (WAS), which will advance the rapidly growing field of Animal Studies and foster scholarship on human-animal relations from a variety of disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives.

The fellowship will be hosted by Wesleyan faculty Lori Gruen and Kari Weil. Gruen is chair and associate professor of philosophy, associate professor of environmental studies, associate professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies at Wesleyan, and author of  Ethics and Animals: An Introduction (Cambridge, Feb. 2011). Weil is a visiting professor of letters at Wesleyan, and author of Thinking Animals: An Introduction (Columbia, 2011).

The ASI’s Human-Animal Studies Fellowship Program was started in 2007 by its executive director,

WESU 88.1 FM Upgrade Allows Station to Reach 1M Listeners

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After three years of engineering, implementing structural and electrical upgrades, and navigating the FCC, Wesleyan’s listener supported community radio station WESU 88.1FM, is now broadcasting at a newly assigned power of 6,000 watts of effective radiated power (ERP).

WESU 88.1 FM station general manager Ben Michael stands by the station’s 30-year-old transmitter housed in the penthouse of Exley Science Center. The instrument was recalibrated to transmit 6,000 watts of effective radiated power (ERP) through a new antenna, allowing the station to broadcast into southern Massachusetts. For the past three decades, the station only produced 1,500 watts of ERP. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

“This is a major milestone for WESU since we have been broadcasting at a power of 1,500 watts for the past three decades,” explains station general manager Ben Michael. “This ‘once in a generation’ power upgrade makes our radio signal available to twice as many potential listeners in Connecticut and Massachusetts.”

Michael estimates the potential listening audience of close to 1 million within their protected contour.

In April 2008, the FCC granted WESU a construction permit to make preparations to quadruple their output power. The Community Health Center provided funding for the design and construction of the station’s new directional antenna and much of the legal and engineering work necessary for the upgrade.

Partner station WSHU in Fairfield, Conn. donated a 1960s vintage Gates transmitter as a backup unit to WESU’s 30 year old Harris transmitter which was recalibrated to pump out the power needed to transmit 6,000 watts ERP through their new antenna. WSHU’s engineering team provided all of the transmitter and tower work with the assistance of Ben Michael and support from Wesleyan physical plant staff.

The transmitter and other electrical equipment is housed in Exley Science Center’s penthouse, and the copper,

5 Questions With . . . Government’s Erika Franklin Fowler

Erika Franklin Fowler is assistant professor of government. (Photo by Emily Brackman '11)

The issue we ask “5 Questions” of Assistant Professor of Government Erika Franklin Fowler, the director of the newly-launched Wesleyan Media Project, a non-partisan initiative designed to perform comprehensive tracking and analysis of federal and state political advertisements by candidates, parties and special interest groups in every media market in the nation.

Q: What can you tell us about the Wesleyan Media Project?

A: The Wesleyan Media Project will provide nonpartisan, publicly-available, real-time tracking and analysis of all political ads aired on television across the U.S. during the 2010 election campaign. It’s a collaborative effort lead by me and two colleagues, Professor Mike Franz at Bowdoin College and Professor Travis Ridout at Washington State University, which builds on the technology provided by Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group (CMAG).

Wesleyan Offers 4 New Certificate Programs

This fall, students have the opportunity to work towards one of four certificates, in addition to their degree.

The new certificate programs include South Asian Studies; Middle Eastern Studies; Writing; and Social, Cultural and Critical Theory.

“These are outstanding endeavors by the faculty to keep the curriculum fresh and innovative, and to help students study across the disciplines but with a road map for curricular coherence,” says Karen Anderson, associate provost.

South Asian Studies Certificate
Wesleyan already offers courses and resources for all students interested in studying the cultures of Bangladesh,

Beveridge Honored at Biophysics Retreat

David Beveridge, the Joshua Boger University Professor of the Sciences and Mathematics., professor of chemistry, was honored at Wesleyan University’s 11th Annual Molecular Biophysics and Biological Chemistry Retreat Sept. 23. Beveridge came to Wesleyan about 30 years ago to develop a program in molecular biophysics within the Department of Chemistry. He studies how the structure, dynamic and solvation of nucleic acids and proteins influence binding and recognition. Pictured is Wesleyan President Michael Roth with Beveridge at the retreat.