Lauren Rubenstein

Associate Manager of Media & Public Relations at Wesleyan University

Yohe Reappointed to NYC Climate Change Panel

Gary Yohe has been reappointed to the New York City Panel on Climate Change.

Gary Yohe has been reappointed to the New York City Panel on Climate Change.

Gary Yohe, the Huffington Foundation Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies, was reappointed by Mayor Bill DeBlasio to the third New York City Panel on Climate Change on June 30.

Yohe and 18 other experts are tasked with ensuring that the best available climate science continues to inform the city’s resiliency planning. The panel will build on reports by previous panels, and will “look at climate risks through the lens of inequality at a neighborhood scale, as well as focus on ways to enhance coordination of mitigation and resiliency across the entire New York metropolitan region,” according to a press release from the Mayor’s Office.

The panel is an independent body that advises the city on climate risks and resiliency using the best available data. The panel’s report, to be released in 2016, will look at topics including regional climate projections focused on extreme events; community-based assessment of adaptation and equity; critical infrastructure systems, with a focus on interdependent transportation and energy systems in the greater New York City region; expanded climate resiliency indicators and monitoring system; and enhanced mapping protocols. The panel’s second report, released in Feb. 2015, can be read here.

Yohe also is professor of economics, professor of environmental studies.

Wesleyan’s Center for Prison Education Featured on ‘Where We Live’

WNPR’s “Where We Live” explored college prison programs, a dwindling resource that has been shown to be one of the most effective ways to prevent recidivism, in a conversation featuring Dara Young, program manager for Wesleyan’s Center for Prison Education, and Michael McAlear, associate professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, who teaches in the program.

Young was asked why teaching the liberal arts is effective in prison programs.

“The type of thinking that we hope to encourage through a liberal arts education is particularly important when we’re talking about people who are incarcerated,” said Young. “We regularly hear from our students that the experience of taking liberal arts classes is just transformative. When you expose people to new ideas, to new ways to thinking about the world, it helps them to understand how they got to where they got, and what the mistakes were that they made along the way that helped them to reach this point in their life. I think it also helps them understand what the opportunities are for them to change and to become different, so when they are released, […] they come out as better people than they were when they started.”

Mehr-Muska, Ottaviano ’17 Discuss Interfaith Relations at Wesleyan

University Protestant Chaplain Tracy Mehr-Muska and Lydia Ottaviano ’17 were interviewed on the WESU 88.1 FM show “Reasonably Catholic” about a new interfaith organization on campus that is working to build ties between the various faith traditions.

Ottaviano is a member of the new interfaith council, which planned the first Faith Shadowing Week this spring. During the week of April 19, students attended regularly scheduled meetings of various religious and spiritual groups other than their own, including several Christian fellowship group meetings and bible studies, Shabbat services, Buddhist Faith Fellowship, Wesleyan Mindfulness Group, Quaker Meeting, Catholic Mass, Muslim Jumma Prayers and Vespers. The week concluded with a campus-wide interfaith dinner that was attended by about 30 students

“It really came from a genuine interest on the part of the students,” said Mehr-Muska said of the interfaith council’s planning.


Ottaviano explained that while the council had originally intended to pair up students of different faith traditions, the high degree of interest in Faith Shadowing Week led them to change that plan. Instead, students in small groups attended events held by different faith traditions. This helped students learn about and get comfortable with the unfamiliar traditions.

“Those who were able to participate and attend events other than their own really found it enjoyable and enlightening, in that they were able to learn and appreciate a little more about their own traditions just by experiencing those of others faiths,” said Ottaviano. She also got some new ideas by observing meetings of other faith communities.


“I think that the sense of community is really what bubbled to the top” for students visiting other faith communities, said Mehr-Muska. She said the week allowed the students to identify and celebrate common ground.

Read more about the Faith Shadowing Week here.


President Roth Discusses the History of Freud’s Couch

Seventy-five years after Sigmund Freud’s death, the father of psychoanalysis’ couch has remained a powerful symbol in our culture. The public radio show 99% Invisible interviewed President Michael Roth, a Freud historian, for an episode exploring the history and cultural significance of Freud’s couch.

Freud, and others of his time, used a couch as part of hypnosis–a cutting edge but controversial treatment. One of Freud’s patients, a wealthy woman named Franny Moser who was struggling from multiple ailments, proved difficult to hypnotize.

“He wasn’t a very good hypnotist. He was kind of a clumsy hypnotist,” explained Roth. “Freud would say, ‘You’re getting sleepy, you’re getting sleepy,’ and she’d say, ‘No I’m not! I’m not sleepy at all.'” Instead of getting sleepy, Moser would talk. At first, Freud tried to interrupt her with his theories, but she insisted on talking.

Then, Roth said, Freud realized that if he just let patients talk and didn’t say anything, they would let down their defenses, revealing their unconscious.

“This is the moment when the pre-Freudian Freud becomes the Freudian Freud,” Roth said. These new techniques and theories for therapy would come to be called psychoanalysis.

“The couch, especially Freud’s couch, it came to symbolize an invitation to open your mind, to let someone see inside,” Roth said. “It’s a reminder that we have the ability to reveal ourselves. And it’s irresistible, right? It’s like a magic carpet. I can get on the couch and suddenly I’ll say things that reveal what I really love…when my whole life I’ve been pretending to love other things.”

Greenwald ’16 Honored for Study of ‘Street Boys’ in Nepal

Michael Greenwald '16 speaking with a street boy who had approached him at Pashupatinath Temple.

Michael Greenwald ’16 spoke with a “street boy” who had approached him at Pashupatinath Temple. For an independent study project, Greenwald observed more than 150 boys age 5-16, and conducted interviews of NGO affiliates and former street boys.


An independent study project by Michael Greenwald ’16 was chosen as one of two winners of the 2015 SIT Study Abroad Undergraduate Research Award.

The project, titled, “Cracks in the Pavement: The Street Boys of Kathmandu,” was one of more than 2,000 independent study projects (ISPs) completed over the past three semesters, and among 20 nominated for the award. SIT has additionally nominated Greenwald’s project for the prestigious Forum on Education Abroad’s 2015 Undergraduate Research Award.

Grossman Presents Papers in Switzerland, Norway

The economic crisis that led to the recent recession is only one of the reasons Grossman decided to write Unsettled Account. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

Richard Grossman

Richard Grossman, professor of economics, recently presented a talk titled, “An historical perspective on regulatory competition versus cooperation: the view from economics” at the third annual Conference of the University Research Priority Program. The conference, held June 1-2 at the University of Zurich Institute of Law, was titled, “International Aspects of Financial Regulation: Competition vs. Coordination.”

Grossman’s talk focused on cross-border cooperation between international bank regulators in the wake of the U.S. subprime and European debt crises—an effort to enhance banking stability. Examples include the Basel capital accords and European Stability Mechanism. Grossman put these into historical context by looking at episodes of cooperation—and competition—between federal and state regulators in the U.S. during the 19th and early 20th centuries. He presented evidence on several episodes in which state and federal regulators loosened regulations to help banks under their supervision gain a competitive advantage over banks in neighboring jurisdictions. Although cooperation is feasible in some areas of regulation, Grossman argued that regulators will always be inclined to compete—that is, favor their own banks at the expense of others.

On June 20, Grossman presented a paper at the Third CERP Economic History Symposium, held at Norges Bank, Norway’s central bank, in Oslo.

The paper, co-authored by Grossman and Masami Imai, professor of economics, professor of East Asian studies, is titled “Taking the Lord’s Name in Vain: The Impact of Connected Directors on 19th Century British Banks.

The paper utilizes data on the presence of prominent individuals—that is, those with political (e.g., Members of Parliament) and aristocratic titles (e.g., lords) — on the boards of directors of English and Welsh banks from 1879-1909 to investigate whether the appointment of well-connected directors enhanced equity value for bank shareholders.

Their analysis of panel data shows that the appointment of connected directors did not increase equity returns (as measured by the capital gain plus dividend yield on bank shares), but rather that the appointment of MPs to directorships had negative effects on bank equity returns.

Jody Sperling ’92 Performing ‘Dancing in the Arctic’ in NYC, June 20-21

Choreographer Jody Sperling '92 traveled to the Arctic Ocean to create her dance pieces on climate change. (Photo by Pierre Coupel)

Choreographer Jody Sperling ’92 traveled to the Arctic Ocean to create her dance pieces on climate change. (Photo by Pierre Coupel)

Jody Sperling ’92 will present a dance performance, Bringing the Arctic Home, at the JCC in Manhattan on June 20-21. The event includes the premier of Ice Cycle, a collaboration with Alaskan-born composer Matthew Burtner, a specialist in the music of snow and ice. The weekend features three performances, a kids’ workshop, and two climate-themed panel discussions.

Tickets and more information are available here. See the Bulletin at Wesconnect for Sperling’s posting about this event, and to get her special discount code for the Wesleyan community.

Read more about Sperling in this story in the Wesleyan magazine.

Ulysse Reflects on Violence Against Blacks in Charleston, Dominican Republic

In a blog post on Africa is a CountryProfessor of Anthropology Gina Athena Ulysse reflects on two horrific stories in the news: the mass deportation of thousands of migrant workers and their families of Haitian background from the Dominican Republic, and the killing of nine people in the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C.

The “ethnic purging” taking place in the Dominican Republic, writes Ulysse, “is a rejection of a certain kind of Black. Blackness that is too African.”

She continues:

Despite our somatic plurality and the color gradations we encompass, Haiti and Haitians have always been portrayed and understood as that kind of Black. A Blackness of a particular kind that, truth be re-told, radically changed the world. It was an avant-garde Blackness that not only pulled off a successful slave revolution, which caused the disorder of all things colonial, but also brought the sanctity of whiteness into question. The Haitian Revolution disrupted the notion that Freedom (with a capital F) was the sole domain of whites or those close to whiteness. Indeed, the value ascribed to those Black Lives continue to deteriorate. Moreover, those among us who are visibly marked with that Blackness have had to continually dissuade folks that we are not genetically coded to be their property or the help.

Ulysse writes that the attack on the Charleston church is “not unrelated” to the situation in the Dominican Republic. “Being Black, these days, means living in constant state of siege…There are no safe spaces for that Black. Nine people were killed in their place of worship. An act of terrorism that must be named. Their killer sat in a pew for an hour before extinguishing their Black Lives.”

Yohe: Pope’s Encyclical on Climate Change ‘Quite Likely a Game-Changer’

Gary Yohe, the Huffington Foundation Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies, wrote in The Hartford Courant about Pope Francis’ encyclical on climate change–“a very valuable and much needed injection of morality into the scientific and economic discussions on climate change — it is quite likely a game-changer.”

While scientists, economists and other professionals have long made a case for taking action to reduce emissions and mitigate the effects of climate change, Yohe writes, “The pope’s encyclical adds a moral dimension to this case with nearly 200 pages of inspiring text about man’s pollution and the immorality of emissions. He notes that the Bible tells humans, as early as the first chapter of Genesis, that they have a stewardship obligation to the planet. The Bible also commands us to protect the least among us — the poorest who lack the means to provide for themselves. These are the people, the world over, who will be most heavily impacted by climate change — the poor, the very young, the elderly and infirm — especially if they live near a coastline. Working from there, as the leader of a billion Catholics, the pope provides theological justification that we are behaving immorally by continuing to avoid reducing emissions.”

Yohe concludes:

I must admit, at this point, that declaring something a sin is way above my pay grade. What I can say from my scientific and faith perspective is this: Putting human beings, their societies and communities, and aspects of nature unnecessarily at risk by ignoring science on the basis of ideology, business interest, or ill-informed and unyielding denial is morally irresponsible — especially for elected officials.

I believe that the pope’s encyclical confirms this perspective not only for more than 1 billion Catholics around the world and across this country, but also for the billions of others from multiple faiths who take seriously their stewardship obligations to the planet and its inhabitants.

Yohe is also professor and chair of economics, professor of environmental studies.

Kolcio Attends White House Event, Presents Research in Ukraine

Katja Kolcio, associate professor of dance, writes about the role dance organizations played in developing dance as an academic discipline in her new book. Ph.D programs in dance, for example, were not available in the 1950s and 60s. (Photo by Stefan Weinberger '10)

Katja Kolcio

Katja Kolcio, associate professor of dance, associate professor of environmental studies, was invited to attend White House Ethnic Day on June 2. The event brought together about 160 leaders from various ethnic communities for a discussion on immigration reform and foreign policy. The foreign policy discussion dealt predominantly with Ukraine, Kolcio’s area of interest.

The event was attended by White House representatives including Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to President Barack Obama; Cecilia Munoz, director of the White House Foreign Domestic Council; Felicia Escobar, special assistant to the president for immigration policy; Manar Waheed, deputy director for immigration policy; Michael Carpenter, special advisor to the vice president for Europe and Eurasia; and Celeste Wallander, special assistant to the president and senior director, Russia and Central Asia, National Security Council.

The discussion was preceded by a reception on Capitol Hill on June 1 with members of Congress.

In June and July, Kolcio will travel to Ukraine to present her research on somatic theory—which is premised on body-mind integration—and lead workshops in somatic practice geared toward the issues of displacement and PTSD. She has been invited by three different non-profit groups of mental health professionals and specialists in PTSD, a combination of psychiatrists, therapists, social workers and clergy, who assembled to address the increasing incidence of trauma and displacement due to the unexpected Russian invasion and annexation of Crimea and subsequent fighting on the border between Ukaine and Russia.

Learn more about Kolcio in this video.

Alumni, Parents Host Summer Sendoffs for Students Around the Globe

Students at a sendoff in Washington, D.C. in July 2014.

Students at a sendoff in Washington, D.C. in July 2014.

Alumni, students, their families, faculty and staff are invited to attend Wesleyan’s Summer Sendoff gatherings, happening around the globe throughout the summer. Generously hosted by alumni and parents, these casual receptions are the perfect opportunity to welcome Wesleyan’s newest students and their families to the community.

Sendoffs will be held in the following locations this summer: Washington, D.C., June 25; Denver, July 14; Chicago, July 19; San Francisco, July 19; Beijing, July 26; Mamaroneck, N.Y., July 30; Seattle, Aug. 1; Seoul, Aug. 1; West Hartford, Conn., Aug. 4; Boston, Aug. 6; Atlanta, Ga., Aug. 11; Nashville, Tenn., Aug. 13; New York City, Aug. 18; Philadelphia, Aug. 20; and Los Angeles, date to be determined.

For more information, including registration, visit the Summer Sendoff website.

Watch a video about Summer Sendoffs here, and see a photo album of 2014 Summer Sendoffs here.

The Chronicle Checks in on Wesleyan’s Three-Year Degree Program

With the first official cohort of students following a three-year path a BA having graduating this spring, The Chronicle of Higher Education checked in on the program, which was first announced in 2012. Fifteen of Wesleyan’s 799 graduates last month finished their degrees in six semesters.

While a few students have always graduated early, the university announced in 2012 that it would provide support for students who wanted graduate in three years, which could reduce the price of a degree by about 20 percent.

“I just wanted to make the three-year path more visible and more normal,” President Michael Roth told the Chronicle. While he expects the program to continue to grow as it becomes more visible, he said it’s not for everyone. “I don’t think a ton of people will want to do it, because they like being here.”

The university began offering summer courses in 2010, and winter courses in 2014 at a reduced rate to help students earn credits at an accelerated rate. Most students pursuing the three-year degree also bring in Advanced Placement credits from high school, and take extra courses during the regular school year.

The Chronicle interviewed Holly Everett ’15, a molecular biology and biochemistry major, who graduated with her original class but took a year off in the middle to conduct research outside of Wesleyan. Also featured was Tian Qiao, an international student from China who graduated in three years with two majors and a minor. In addition to his course work, he was chair of the Chinese Cultural Committee, performed with the Chinese Musical Ensemble, and worked two jobs on campus.

Read the full article here (available to on-campus visitors, and those with a subscription to the Chronicle of Higher Education).