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Monthly Archive for December, 2012

More than 110 students enrolled in the hands-on course Applied Data Analysis (QAC 201) presented research at the Quantitative Analysis Center’s Student Poster Session on Dec. 12 in Beckham Hall. The poster session served as the course’s final exam. More than 35 guests who use and teach applied statistics, attended the Quantitative Analysis Center’s Student Poster Session to speak with students and judge the posters. Several of the guest judges were alumni.

The interdisciplinary course QAC 201, taught by Lisa Dierker, professor of psychology, provides experience in data management and applied statistics. Students develop skills in several aspects of the research process including generating testable hypotheses based on extant data; conducting a literature review and evaluating the content of scientific literature; preparing data for analysis; selecting and conducting descriptive analyses; and presenting research findings.

The QAC’s Student Poster Session provided an opportunity for students to share their work with each other, and interact with outside experts. Photos of the event are below:

 

Rehan Mehta '14 speaks to guest judge Larry Vitulano, a clinical psychologist and associate clinical professor of psychology at the Yale School of Medicine.

Rehan Mehta ’14 speaks to guest judge Larry Vitulano, a clinical psychologist and associate clinical professor of psychology at the Yale School of Medicine. Mehta’s research is titled, “The Association between Adolescent Aggression And Religiosity.”

Phabinly "Phabs" Gabriel '13 presented his research on "The Relationship between Televised Media and Violent Behaviors."

Phabinly “Phabs” Gabriel ’13 presented his research on “The Relationship between Televised Media and Violent Behaviors.”

Lauren Seo '14 speaks to a guest judge about her research on "The Association between Major Depression and Smoking in Pregnant Women."

Lauren Seo ’14 speaks to a guest judge about her research on “The Association between Major Depression and Smoking in Pregnant Women.”

Mfundi Makama '14 shares his poster on "Attendance of Counseling Services among Different Occupations."

Mfundi Makama ’14 shares his poster on “Attendance of Counseling Services among Different Occupations.”

Leslie Egno '14 presented her QAC research on "The Association between Substance Use and Suicide Attempts among Adolescents."

Leslie Egno ’14 presented her QAC research on “The Association between Substance Use and Suicide Attempts among Adolescents.”

Shirley Deng '14 shared her current research on "Association between Self-image, Goals and Expectations and Academic Achievement."

Shirley Deng ’14 shared her current research on “Association between Self-image, Goals and Expectations and Academic Achievement.”

For more information on the Quantitative Analysis Center, visit the website, or contact Emmanuel Kaparakis, director of centers for advanced computing in the QAC.

Chloe Holden '15, Samantha Santaniello '13, Sophie Duncan '13 and Michael Dorsey, fellow of the College of the Environment, visiting professor of environmental studies, participated in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Doha, Qatar.

Chloe Holden ’15, Samantha Santaniello ’13, Sophie Duncan ’13 and Michael Dorsey, fellow of the College of the Environment, visiting professor of environmental studies, participated in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Doha, Qatar.

Three Wesleyan students joined hundreds of climate change activists from around the world to strategize with fellow youth, discuss climate change policy, engage with delegates and participate in a climate change march during the 18th Conference of the Parties (COP18) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Doha, Qatar.

The convention began Nov. 26. Sophie Duncan ’13, Samantha Santaniello ’13 and Chloe Holden ’15, accompanied by Michael Dorsey, fellow of the College of the Environment, visiting professor of environmental studies, obtained entry badges and jumped right into a panel discussion on equitable climate policies with representatives from the Third World Network.

“We were initially struck by the variety of people at the conference center, from young people much like us to VIP diplomats from different countries and generations, all of whom seem anxious to get started and work hard for the interests they represent,” Holden said.

Although youth participants were not able to participate directly in negotiations, the Wesleyan students quickly teamed up with about 150 youth delegates from around the world. Many youth represented civil society organizations including Climate Justice Now, Earth in Brackets, the Arab Youth Society, the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition, Climate Action Network, the Taiwan Youth Climate Coalition and the global youth constituency YOUNGO.

“After attending a YOUNGO meeting and conversations with a few students, I realized that this conference is an opportunity for we, the youth, to exchange ideas and strategies with activists, delegates, (more…)

In May 2010, the Board of Trustees adopted “Wesleyan 2020″ as a fundamental tool for strategic decision making at Wesleyan. Designed to be flexible, this framework for planning will assist the university in making decisions about the allocation of resources in the next five to 10 years. It reflects the input of faculty, trustees, staff, alumni and students and begins with an introduction that gives a sense of some of the recent achievements that have shaped the Wesleyan of today.

Each fall, Wesleyan President Michael S. Roth sends an update on the university’s progress in meeting the goals set out in the Wesleyan 2020 framework. The updated report is online here. The update is organized under the rubric of Wesleyan’s three overarching goals: Energize Wesleyan’s distinctive educational experience; Enhance recognition of Wesleyan as an extraordinary institution; Work within a sustainable economic model while retaining core values.

In an all-campus e-mail on Dec. 6, President Roth wrote:

“Over the last 12 months we undertook a major self-study as part of the regional Accreditation process. I don’t explicitly discuss that process in the update, but I can say we were very pleased with the first response of the Accreditation Committee that came to campus. We will be releasing the official Accreditation materials when they are available in 2013.

Over the last year we have been involved in extensive (and sometimes intense) discussions with faculty, students, alumni and staff about our present operations and our plans for the future. This is as it should be. Receiving the most attention so far is the change in how we will budget for financial aid (leaving us about 90 percent need blind), and in this update I review the rationale for the change. Affordability, accessibility, and financial aid are key challenges for Wesleyan, and in the fundraising campaign we are launching, financial aid endowment (complemented by gifts to current scholarships through the Wesleyan Fund) is our highest priority.”

President Roth invites the campus community to comment on the 2020 plan on his blog.

Fifteen seniors joined Phi Beta Kappa honor society on Dec. 5. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

Fifteen seniors joined Phi Beta Kappa honor society on Dec. 5. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

Fifteen students from the Class of 2013 were elected to early-decision membership in Phi Beta Kappa during an initiation ceremony Dec. 5. Phi Beta Kappa is the oldest surviving Greek letter society in America, dating back to 1776.

Sociology major Evan Okun accepts his Phi Beta Kappa papers from Class Dean Louise Brown, PBK chapter secretary and marshall. Okun teaches a class at the juvenile detention in Middletown, which examines literary technique and societal inequality through rap songs.

Sociology major Evan Okun ’13 accepts his Phi Beta Kappa membership papers from Dean Louise Brown, PBK chapter secretary and marshall. Okun teaches a class at the juvenile detention in Middletown, which examines literary technique and societal inequality through rap songs.

The organization’s Greek initials signify the motto, “Love of learning is the guide of life.”To be elected, a student must first have been nominated by his or her major department. He or she also must have demonstrated curricular breadth by having met the General Education Expectations, and have achieved a grade-point average of 93 percent. Members of the Fall 2012 class all have GPAs of 94.48 percent or above.

Sally Bachner, president of the Connecticut Gamma Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa and associate professor of English, said for students elected in the fall, it is an especially exacting selection process and the election is an extremely prestigious one, because admittance is based on a student’s performance at Wesleyan only through their junior year.

“The students gathered here today represent a broad range of learning and commitment to excellence in a major, in some cases two or more majors, or a major that combines several disciplines,” she said, during the initiation ceremony. “These new members’ accomplishments during their years at Wesleyan should be a source of pride to themselves and to their families.”

Bachner was joined by the chapter’s vice president Anna Shusterman, assistant professor of psychology; chapter treasurer Steven Horst, chair and professor of philosophy; chapter secretary and marshall Louise Brown, dean for academic advancement/dean for the Class of 2013; and chapter historian Lorna Scott, assistant to the vice president for student affairs.

The elected students and their majors are:

Benjamin Abravanel, English and psychology; Evan Baum, chemistry; Julianne Edwards, biology, molecular biology and biochemistry, Science In Society; Scott Greene, chemistry; (more…)

(Story contributed by Jim H. Smith)

Victoria Smolkin-Rothrock

Its official name was the Century 21 Exhibition, but it was better known as the Seattle World Fair, and it seemed to be an unambiguous statement about America’s aspirations for its future. Boasting a futuristic monorail and an iconic Space Needle whose elevators were piloted by female attendants wearing excessive blue eye shadow and costumes out of a Hollywood sci-fi feature, it came to hold totemic significance for a nation whose philosophical differences with the Soviet Union were being sorted out against the majestic backdrop of outer space.

One of the first visitors to the 1962 fair was Soviet cosmonaut German Titov, the second Soviet man in space after Yuri Gagarin, the youngest spaceman (a record that stands to this day), and the first to orbit the Earth repeatedly. In his homeland Titov was nothing less than a demi-God.

During a news conference in Seattle, Titov was asked whether his adventures in the cosmos had altered his worldview. “Up to our first orbital flight by Yuri Gagarin no God helped build our rocket,” said the cosmonaut, who perceived the subtext of the question. “The rocket was made by our people. I don’t believe in God. I believe in man, his strength, his possibilities and his reason.”

It was, says Victoria Smolkin-Rothrock, assistant professor of history, assistant professor of Russian and Eastern European studies, a statement that bespoke the essence of the Soviet Union’s long, strange struggle to supplant traditional religions throughout the empire with “scientific atheism.” If it provoked an outcry across America, well, that was Titov’s intent.

During the 1960s, as Smolkin-Rothrock notes, Titov and his fellow cosmonauts “were the public face of Communism on the world stage, and their triumphs and charisma put forward a confident image of a Communist state that could solve all problems and answer all questions, material and spiritual.”

On Oct. 18, Smolkin-Rothrock delivered this year’s prestigious Sherman Emerging Scholar Lecture at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. Her address, which began with the Titov story, offered an analysis of Communism’s little-known efforts to manage the collective spiritual life of the Soviet people. (more…)

This semester, Rick Elphick is teaching a sophomore history tutorial on "The Emergence of Modern Europe" and "The History of Southern Africa."

This semester, Rick Elphick is teaching a sophomore history tutorial on “The Emergence of Modern Europe” and “The History of Southern Africa.”

In this edition of The Wesleyan Connection, we ask “5 Questions” of Richard “Rick” Elphick, professor of history and co-chair of the College of Social Studies. Elphick is the author of The Equality of Believers: Protestant Missionaries and the Racial Politics of South Africa, published by the University of Virginia Press in September 2012.

Q: What do you think is the main message, or the main achievement, of your new book?

A: For decades, historians of South Africa have struggled to trace how a white minority, starting in the 1650s, established a system of stark inequality among the races in the region. My book attempts to reconfigure the history of South Africa by interweaving the pressures toward inequality, which are now fairly well understood, with an account of the pressures toward racial equality. These pressures, I argue, were rooted chiefly in the proclamation of the equality of all persons before God, a message brought to South Africa by Christian missionaries. My story begins with the first missionary in 1737, and ends in 1960.

Q: Do you give the missionaries credit for the eventual overthrow of white rule and apartheid in the 1990s?

A: Not really. I do give credit to the mission schools, where black leaders, almost all of them devout Christians, acquired a belief in racial equality that inspired their resistance to oppression. I also emphasize how Christian doctrine ate away at the conscience of some white South Africans. But, as for the missionaries themselves, many appear in my book as deeply conflicted between their theoretical ideals and their fear of confronting the white power structure. And many showed a lack of confidence in blacks that bordered on racism.

Q: You also say that missionaries helped create the apartheid ideology?

A: Many writers have tried to find a link between religion and the doctrine of radical racial separation known as apartheid. In my view, however, they have looked in the wrong places. I trace the origins of the doctrine to missionary leaders of the Dutch Reformed Church. (more…)

Dana Pellegrino '12 is the Civic Engagement Fellow for the Center for Community Partnerships and the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Dana Pellegrino ’12 is the Civic Engagement Fellow for the Center for Community Partnerships and the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Q: Dana, you’re Wesleyan’s first Civic Engagement Fellow. How do you describe your role?

A: As the Civic Engagement Fellow, I focus on promoting civic engagement throughout the entire university, with students, faculty and staff. While the focus may be broad, I mainly work with two specific centers: the Center for Community Partnerships, under Director Cathy Lechowicz, and the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship, under Director Paul Gagnon. At CCP, I’m primarily involved in informing students about the many opportunities for immediate impact here in Middletown, and in assisting student coordinators of the Office of Community Service’s programs. We’re also developing ideas for tapping into other networks and social media platforms to increase awareness and communication among CCP, students, and the Middletown community. With the Patricelli Center, I help students with more global-minded engagement, including opportunities for grants, workshops in entrepreneurial skills, and networking with alumni. Both offices offer an incredible amount of resources.

Q: What are some recent ways you’re helping Wesleyan students become “civically engaged?”

A: Just before Thanksgiving, my director, Cathy, and I rounded up students from all different groups on campus — fraternities, athletic teams, program houses — to assist in the Middletown Community Thanksgiving Project. Students came by throughout the day to help assemble Thanksgiving Dinner baskets for over 500 families in our community. Not only were Wesleyan students presented with the opportunity to civically engage in combatting food insecurity, (more…)

Professor Vera Schwarcz will spend her holiday vacation working with Volunteers for Israel.

Professor Vera Schwarcz will spend her holiday vacation working with Volunteers for Israel.

After visiting Israel several times to lecture about Chinese and Jewish history, Vera Schwarcz, the Mansfield Freeman Professor of East Asian Studies, professor of history, decided to do something different during her next trip abroad.

“I wanted to let go of the ‘specialness’ of my training and skills and do something more basic, something more grounded and more urgently needed at the moment,” she says.

On Dec. 16, Schwarcz will begin a two week service trip with “Volunteers for Israel,” a 30-year-old program that promotes solidarity and goodwill among Israelis, American Jews, and other friends of Israel. Since 1982, more than 30,000 American civilians have joined Volunteers for Israel and signed on as short-term volunteers doing noncombatant civilian work with the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) on bases throughout Israel.

Schwarcz and her fellow volunteers may pack medical supplies, refurbish electronic equipment, repair machinery, and perform logistic assignments wherever they are needed.

Watching Israeli civilians cower in bomb shelters during ‘Pillar of Defense’ convinced Schwarcz that she must help with her own two hands.

“This a moment in time, when I can help Israel without a Ph.D. in Chinese history,” she says. ” What is needed are good will and the desire to rebuild the one and only democracy in the Middle East.”

Zully Adler '11 was nominated for the Marshall Scholarship by Wesleyan’s International Scholarships Committee.

Zully Adler ’11 was nominated for the Marshall Scholarship by Wesleyan’s International Scholarships Committee.

History major Solomon “Zully” Adler ’11 has been named a Marshall Scholar for 2013-14, an honor that will allow him to study toward a graduate degree at a British university. He is Wesleyan’s eighth Marshall Scholar, and the first since 1996.

The Marshall Scholarship was founded in 1953 in honor of U.S. Secretary of State George C. Marshall to commemorate the humane ideals of the Marshall Plan (the American program to help European economies rebuild after the end of World War II). Each year, up to 40 intellectually distinguished young American scholars are selected to receive full financing of a graduate degree at a U.K. institution in any field of study. More information on the program is available here.

Adler was nominated for the Marshall Scholarship by Wesleyan’s International Scholarships Committee, and President Michael S. Roth signed a letter of institutional endorsement. Professor of Art David Schorr and Adler’s thesis advisor, Jennifer Tucker, associate professor of history and science in society, wrote letters of recommendation for him.

Adler studied printmaking, typography and graphic design with Schorr as well as serving as his teaching apprentice. Schorr said, “Zully’s abilities as an artist and designer were commensurate with his intellectual gifts, and in fact, his ability to make his own complex ideas visual was his great gift. His work was challenging and always witty, and though not a studio major, he and his roommate had a two-person show in Usdan of their work in printmaking and typography.”

According to Tucker, the History Department awarded Adler the Dutcher Prize in recognition of his outstanding performance as a history major. Adler’s excellent honors thesis, “‘I Belong to Every Country’: John James Audubon and the Multivalence of National Identity,” received high honors in the History Department with a grade of A+, and has drawn attention from scholars of the history of science and art.

Adler says Tucker, who was a Marshall Scholar herself at the University of Cambridge in 1988, suggested he apply for the scholarship based on his interest in researching the United Kingdom. “I was fascinated by British print culture in the 19th century and its many transformations—from letterpress to engraving, to lithography, and finally the offset rotary press. I also had a particular affinity for the British Arts and Crafts Movement,” he says. “The Marshall was the perfect opportunity to explore these histories through interdisciplinary practice.”

Adler’s studies in the U.K. will begin in Fall 2013. The Marshall Scholarship is granted before applicants are officially accepted by the individual universities. Adler’s preference is to first earn a one-year Master of Studies in Art History and Visual Culture at Oxford University. There, he intends to write a short dissertation on William Morris, the Kelmscott Press, and the nexus of independent print and commercial reproduction in the late 19th century. In his second year, he hopes to study at the Glasgow School of Art and earn a Master of Research in Creative Practices. This program explores how academic research informs studio practice/creative production.

Zully Adler performs with Suweiai Bopu (Soviet Pop) in Beijing, China during his Watson Fellowship in January.

Zully Adler performs with Suweiai Bopu (Soviet Pop) in Beijing, China during his Watson Fellowship in January.

Ultimately, Adler says, these programs will prepare him to earn a Ph.D. in History. He plans to pursue an academic post that will allow him to study Modernism in Visual Culture and teach history in a hands-on manner. “If everything goes my way, I will be able to fold curatorial and editorial practice into my academic work,” he says.

Adler, who hails from Los Angles, Calif., applied for the Marshall Scholarship while traveling around the world through a year-long Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, which ended in August. During this year, Adler researched independent and sustainability approaches to community art and music, and collaborated with DIY music labels (specifically, cassette-based labels) and musicians in nearly 40 cities across 15 countries. In each location, he lived with a local artist and worked with a local “collective,” who shared their space and equipment with him. (Read more about Adler’s Watson Fellowship in this Wesleyan Connection article.)

“My work included collaborating on new releases of local music, organizing collaborative concerts, and recording with various musicians. I took part in several panel discussions on new approaches to independent music,” Adler says.

Adler traces his academic pursuits back to his relationships with Wesleyan faculty. “I owe so much to my mentors and instructors, who prompted my fascination with Morris, my addiction to print, and my love of research,” he says. Specifically, “Professor Joseph Siry’s course of Modern European Architecture introduced me to the work at theory of William Morris, John Ruskin, and the whole British Arts and Crafts Movement. Professor David Schorr’s course on Typography was the foundation for my interest in the craft of print. He opened my eyes to the world of design; a visual code that permeates our everyday lives. My academic advisor, Professor Magda Teter, encouraged my study of books. Her courses on Jewish History and the History of the Book gave new life to old tomes. My thesis advisor, Jennifer Tucker, proved to me that Visual Culture is a worthy pursuit. She fostered my appetite for Victorian England and the 19th century in general. And working with Suzy Taraba in Wesleyan’s Special Collections proved how exciting and rewarding archival research can be. All I needed were some great people to help me out.”

#THISISWHY

Sara Molyneaux ’77

Sara Molyneaux ’77

Sara Molyneaux ’77 was recently elected first female chair of the Trustees of the Conservation Law Foundation (CFL), a nonprofit environmental protection agency for New England.

Molyneaux, who has served on the board since 1998, succeeds Michael Moskow, chair since 2002, and is only the fifth board chair for the 46-year-old organization. In her new capacity, she will help CFL tackle local environmental challenges, such as the impact of recent storms, reducing transportation emissions and building livable cities, creating sustainable food systems and fisheries, and addressing the issue of water pollution in the region.

Molyneaux, described as a “passionate environmental steward” by CLF President John Kassel, was formerly a research chemist for both the Department of Energy and in private industry, working on biomass-to-energy projects, specifically converting agricultural wastes and seaweeds into bio-diesel. She is active in environmental issues, especially land conservation, in her hometown of Dover, Mass. Her projects with the town include mandated recycling, an integrated pest management program for mosquito control, a regional Land Bank home rule petition, and the purchase Wylde Woods.

Molyneaux also serves on the boards of the Upper Charles Conservation Land Trust, Inc., and the Dover Land Conservation Trust. Currently, she is working in conjunction with the CLF to further nutrient pollution abatement in the southern embayments of Cape Cod.

Book co-edited by John Whitmore '62.

Book co-edited by John Whitmore ’62.

John Whitmore ’62 has co-edited Sources of Vietnamese Tradition (Columbia University Press), a fascinating guide to 2,000 years of Vietnamese history and a comprehensive overview of the society and state of Vietnam. Well-chosen selections deal with key figures, issues, and events, and they create a thematic portrait of the country’s developing territory, politics, culture and relations with neighbors. The volume explores Vietnam’s remarkable independence in the face of Chinese and other external pressures while it recognizes the complexity of the Vietnamese experience over the years.

The anthology begins with selections that cover more than a millennium of Chinese dominance over Vietnam (111 B.C.E.–939 C.E.) and follows with texts that illuminate four centuries of independence ensured by the Ly, Tran and Ho dynasties (1009–1407). The earlier cultivation of Buddhism and Southeast Asian political practices by the monarchy gave way to two centuries of Confucian influence and bureaucratic governance (1407–1600), based on Chinese models, and three centuries of political competition between the north and the south, resolving in the latter’s favor (1600–1885).

The book’s final sections cover the colonial era and the modern age, and selections recount the ravages of war and the creation of a united, independent Vietnam in 1975. Each chapter includes readings that relate to the views, customs, outside influences on, and religious and philosophical beliefs of a rapidly changing people and culture.

Whitmore is a research associate at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, University of Michigan, and a specialist on premodern Vietnamese and Southeast Asian history. He has taught at Yale University, the University of Virginia and the University of California-Los Angeles.

Matthew Rahaim ’00

In Musicking Bodies: Gesture and Voice in Hindistani Music (Wesleyan University Press), Matthew Rahaim ’00 studies the role of the body in Indian vocal music. Indian vocalists have long traced intricate shapes with their hands while improvising melody. Although every vocalist has an idiosyncratic gestural style, students inherit ways of shaping melodic space from their teachers, and the motion of the hand and voice are always intimately connected.

Book by Matthew Rahaim ’00

Musicking Bodies is among the first extended studies of the relationship between gesture and melody. Rahaim draws on years of vocal training, ethnography, and close analysis to examine the ways in which hand gesture is used alongside vocalization to manifest melody as dynamic, three-dimensional shapes. The book builds on insights of phenomenology, Indian and Western music theory, and cultural studies to illuminate not only the performance of gesture, but its implications for the transmission of culture, the conception of melody, and the very nature of the musicking body. Several helpful illustrations and photographs have been included in the publication.

Rahaim is an assistant professor of ethnomusicology at the University of Minnesota. He was a music major at Wesleyan and received his MA and Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley.

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