Lauren Rubenstein

Associate Manager of Media & Public Relations at Wesleyan University

Enrollment in Wesleyan MOOCs Surpasses 1 Million

Wesleyan, which was the first small liberal arts college focused on the undergraduate experience to offer MOOCs through Coursera, now has more than 1 million students enrolled in its courses.

Wesleyan, which was the first small liberal arts college focused on the undergraduate experience to offer MOOCs through Coursera, now has more than 1 million students enrolled in its courses.

Total enrollment in Wesleyan’s massive open online courses (MOOCs) recently surpassed 1 million students, as Wesleyan professors prepare to offer a new run of two film courses through Coursera in the coming months.

According to Jennifer Curran, director of continuing studies and Graduate Liberal Studies, enrollment is poised to continue growing in the lead-up to The Language of Hollywood: Storytelling, Sound, and Color, taught by Scott Higgins, associate professor and chair of film studies, beginning Feb. 2, and Marriage and the Movies: A History, taught by Jeanine Basinger, the Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, curator of the Cinema Archives, beginning May 18. A third course, Property and Liability: An Introduction to Law and Economics, taught by Richard Adelstein, the Woodhouse/Sysco Professor of Economics, is now being offered on-demand, meaning students can start and progress through the course on their own schedule. Additional courses are being converted to the on-demand format and will be available in the coming months.

Government, Legal Reform Leader Howard to Speak at Wesleyan Feb. 4

Phillip K. Howard will speak at Wesleyan on Feb. 4.

Phillip K. Howard will speak at Wesleyan on Feb. 4.

Phillip K. Howard, a leader of government and legal reform in America and author of The Rule of Nobody and The Death of Common Sense, will speak at Wesleyan on Feb. 4. His talk, titled, “Can American Government Be Fixed?” will be at 4:30 p.m. in PAC002.

Howard will argue that looking for new leaders is a fool’s errand until we restore their ability to lead. Modern government is structurally paralyzed by the accretion of dense bureaucracy. From the school house to the White House, people with responsibility find themselves mired in legal quicksand. An aging democracy is part of the problem — obsolete programs are defended by armies of special interests.

Howard's book, "The Rule of Nobody."

Howard’s book, The Rule of Nobody.

The main cause of paralysis, Howard will argue, is a public philosophy that law should not only set goals, but instruct people how to do things properly. The granularity of modern bureaucracy prevents everyone — officials and citizens alike–from taking responsibility. Public paralysis is one effect. An increasingly amoral culture is another. Instead of asking “What’s the right thing to do?” Americans are trained to ask “What does the rule require? ”

Howard’s 2010 TED Talk can be viewed here, and an appearance on The Daily Show in June 2014 can be viewed here. A complete bio is available here.

The talk is sponsored by the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life.


President Roth’s Book Cited in Exploration of Views of Liberal Education Over Time

Writing in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Dan Berrett traces the ongoing tension in American between visions of higher education “as a vehicle for intellectual development” and as a simple tool to prepare students for jobs. Citing Wesleyan President Michael S. Roth’s book, Beyond the University: Why Liberal Education MattersBerrett shows how the debate over the value of a liberal education has evolved from the days of the Founding Fathers to W.E.B. Du bois and Booker T. Washington to today.

“A farmer reading the classics or an industrial worker quoting Shakespeare was at one time an honorable character. Today’s news stories lament bartenders with chemistry degrees. ‘Where once these “incongruities” might have been hailed as signs of a healthy republic,’ Mr. Roth writes, ‘today they are more likely to be cited as examples of a “wasted”—nonmonetized—education.'”

Wesleyan to Re-open Wednesday, Jan. 28 at 7 a.m.

Update, Jan. 27 at 4 p.m.: The University will re-open Wednesday, Jan. 28 at 7 a.m., and scheduled classes and events are expected to resume. It will be cold and windy, and members of the Wesleyan community are asked to exercise extreme caution when outside on campus. Although the grounds crew is working to clear parking lots, snowy walkways may be difficult, so please wear appropriate shoes. A Middletown street parking ban may still be in effect; extra parking (and shuttle service) will be available at Long Lane. Report slippery conditions requiring immediate attention by calling work order control at 860-685-3400.

Original Story:

Due to the arrival of a major winter storm, Wesleyan will be closing at 6 p.m. today, Jan. 26, and will remain closed tomorrow, Jan. 27. All events and classes are cancelled during this time. Normal operations are expected to resume the morning of Wednesday, Jan. 28. There will be an update at 4 p.m. tomorrow confirming when on Wednesday the University will reopen.

Heavy snow and strong winds are expected for this evening, continuing into Tuesday. Only essential personnel should report to work during the storm, and all students are encouraged to remain in their residences as much as possible.

Usdan University Center will be open 8 a.m. – 11 p.m. today and tomorrow. Usdan Marketplace, Summerfields, Red & Black Café and WesWings will maintain regular service hours through dinner tonight. Other dining options will close at 5 p.m. today. There will be no late night dining tonight. The Usdan Marketplace and WesWings will be the only dining venues open on Tuesday – WesWings will be open regular hours, and the Marketplace will open for brunch 10 a.m.– 2 p.m. and dinner 5 – 8 p.m. Normal operations will resume in all locations on Wednesday.

Libraries will open at noon tomorrow, and the Freeman Athletic Center will be closed tomorrow.

At 6 p.m. today, most faculty/staff parking lots will close. Faculty and staff who have permits to park in these lots and who would like to remain on campus beyond the closing time, are asked to relocate their vehicles to the V Lot on Vine Street or to the 56 Hamlin Street parking lot (former Physical Plant building). Faculty and staff who are traveling out of town should park in the Vine Street parking lot as a courtesy to colleagues. Faculty and staff may call Public Safety for a ride to and from the Vine Street lot at night if necessary.

Members of the Wesleyan community should call Public Safety for help with storm-related matters at 860-685-2345. For emergencies, call 860-685-3333.

Astronomy Department Hosts Public Stargazing, Space Discovery Presentations

The Van Vleck Observatory on Foss Hill.

The Van Vleck Observatory on Foss Hill.

Beginning Feb. 4, Wesleyan’s Van Vleck Observatory will open to the public every Wednesday night, rain or shine, for presentations by faculty and students on the latest space-related discoveries, as well as a chance for everyone to view the sky through a telescope, weather permitting.

The program will start at 8 p.m. on Wednesdays. Presentations are intended to be accessible to visitors of all ages, although aimed primarily at high school level and above.

Wesleyan Honored with Carnegie Foundation’s Community Engagement Classification

Several Wesleyan faculty, staff and students participate in the Center for Community Partnerships' Center for Prison Education program, helping to enrich the lives of those who are systematically denied access to educational opportunities. The CPE is one way Wesleyan involves itself in the community.

Several Wesleyan faculty, staff and students participate in the Center for Community Partnerships’ Center for Prison Education program, helping to enrich the lives of those who are systematically denied access to educational opportunities. The CPE is one way Wesleyan engages with its local community.

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching has selected Wesleyan to receive its 2015 Community Engagement Classification.

“Wesleyan has always been a place where involvement with the world was important, but in the past decade or two we have truly become a much more ‘engaged university’ in many ways, and that’s good for everyone—students, faculty, staff and our community partners,” said Rob Rosenthal, director of the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life, the John E. Andrus Professor of Sociology. “This kind of recognition from our peers across the country reinforces our belief that we’re doing valuable work drawing together community and university.”

Grossman is Appointed Research Fellow, Journal Associate Editor

Richard Grossman

Richard Grossman

Professor of Economics Richard Grossman recently accepted two new posts. He was appointed to be a research fellow in the Economic History Program of the London-based Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR). Founded in 1983, CEPR’s mission is “to enhance the quality of economic policymaking within Europe and beyond, by fostering high quality, policy-relevant economic research, and disseminating it widely to decision-makers in the public and private sectors.” Grossman is one of only a few American research fellows at CEPR.

He was also recently appointed associate editor for socioeconomics, health policy and law of the journal Neurosurgery. See here for a bio of Grossman and other editors of the journal.

Eighth Annual Israeli Film Festival Begins Jan. 29

filmfestivalBeginning Jan. 29 and running through March 5, the Center for Jewish Studies will present the Eighth Annual Ring Family Wesleyan University Israeli Film Festival. Five contemporary Israeli films and one television show will be screened; each will be commented on by an expert, including a script writer, a film professor, a director, a critic and others.

All screenings are at 8 p.m. in the Goldsmith Family Cinema in the Center for Film Studies. Admission is free.

Below are a list of films, dates and speakers:

Jan. 29
Arab Labor, Season 2 of the TV show, commented on by Sayed Kashua, the scriptwriter of the show.

Grossman Discusses Gold Prices with China Daily

Professor of Economics Richard Grossman spoke to China Daily about gold price fluctuations in connection with the Chinese New Year and other annual celebrations. Many in the Chinese community purchase gold jewelry and other gifts to help celebrate the holiday.

“There does seem to be a seasonal element to consumer demand for gold in several countries. In China, demand increases in months leading up to the New Year. In India, it is said to increase during the holiday/wedding season, which runs from the end of September through January,” said Grossman.

But, he added, inflation, currency movements, and economic and political stability are “far more important factors” in gold price fluctuations than seasonal demands from China and India.

Wesleyan Community Invited to Explore the Future of Campus

Wesleyan is undertaking a semester-long exploration of the future of campus.  One of the major changes to campus over the last decade has been the construction of the Usdan University Center.

Wesleyan is undertaking a semester-long exploration of the future of campus. One of the major changes to campus over the last decade has been the construction of the Usdan University Center.

Beginning this month, Wesleyan will solicit input from all faculty, staff and students about how they use the physical spaces on campus, and how campus should be optimized in the future.

Wesleyan has engaged Sasaki Associates to assist with this semester-long exploration of campus’ evolution over the next 10 to 15 years. The end result will be a digital report containing a framework and principles with which to create a new master plan. The report will be shared with the campus community and presented to the Board of Trustees in May.

“Wesleyan takes pride in the distinctive residential learning experience it offers,” said President Michael Roth, “and we want to explore how campus should evolve to best support scholarship, creative practice and teaching.”

Jacobsen: Cuban Cigars Are Actually Better

Following the recent announcement that the U.S. will normalize ties with Cuba, bringing with it an opening for American visitors to bring home up to $100 in Cuban alcohol and tobacco products, Vox decided to investigate the question: Are Cuban cigars really better? The answer, according to a 2003 paper by Andrews Professor of Economics Joyce Jacobsen and other researchers, is yes.

According to the article:

[The researchers] collected Cigar Aficionado quality ratings and price data for 689 different cigars, and sought to identify determinants of both high prices and high ratings. They took into account a battery of subjective factors — did the Cigar Aficionado review describe the cigar as mild? as well built? as smooth? was it nutty or cocoa-y or creamy? — as well as national origins.

They found that the single most important determinant of both prices and ratings was whether or not the cigar originated from Cuba. Being from Cuba bumped up a cigar’s rating by 4.05 points on a 100-point scale, on average; by contrast, being described as “well built” only gained a cigar 1.28 points, and being “leathery” only resulted in a 1.87 point gain.

“The ability of the judges to identify the Cuba characteristic in a blind taste test suggests the presence of a unique Cuban flavor (or potentially another identifying characteristic like color or shape),” Freccia, Jacobsen, and Kilby conclude.

Jacobsen is also dean of the social sciences and director of global initiatives.

Michael Roth is “An Unusual President”

The Chronicle of Higher Education has published a major profile on President Michael S. Roth, highlighting the “unusual” ways in which he uses his post to engage in public debates on the problems facing higher education, and what he sees as its future.

“He seems to revel in the debates about the future of education, speaking especially sharply against what he sees as ill-considered technological fixes that, as he said to me in an interview, ‘aim at conformity over thinking.’ Now he’s published a book [Beyond the University: Why Liberal Education Matters] that examined the history of debates on the nature of higher education, and found that, while the details vary, we’ve been arguing about much the same thing for centuries,” writes David Perry ’95, an alumnus who had grown distant from Wesleyan before being drawn back by an alumni event featuring Roth on the topic “How to Destroy Higher Education.”

Perry writes, “In his writing, Roth seems to be trying to reshape the narrative of crisis and disruption in American higher education.” And while others have spoken out with similar views, “Roth has the power to actually effect change at one of America’s elite universities.”

Roth tells Perry about some of the changes coming to Wesleyan, including encouraging students to create a portfolio of work to show what they can do with their education, and making Wesleyan more accessible to a diverse population of students.