Lauren Rubenstein

Associate Manager of Media & Public Relations at Wesleyan University

Olin Library Presents Panel on Digital Privacy and Government, April 11

libraryeventOn April 11,  Wesleyan’s Olin Memorial Library will host “All Your Reading Habits Belong to Us: Digital Privacy and our Government: Catching Up with the Connecticut Four” in honor of National Library Week. The event, presented by the Friends of the Wesleyan Library, will take place 7-8:30 p.m. in the Smith Reading Room, with a reception to follow.

In 2005, the FBI, under the auspices of the USA PATRIOT Act, tried to access patron information from Connecticut libraries and issued a gag order on the librarians about the demand. The librarians, all executive members of the Connecticut non-profit cooperative Library Connection, and known in the press as the “Connecticut Four,” spent over a year fighting the order, and were successful in getting the FBI to withdraw.

Now, over a decade later, the Connecticut Four are speaking out again as new efforts are afoot to expand the FBI’s ability to require libraries to hand over private information in the absence of a judge’s order. This event celebrates all libraries’ continued fight for both access of material and the right to privacy. Two members of the Connecticut Four, Barbara Bailey and Peter Chase, will participate in a discussion with Dan Cherubin, Wesleyan University Librarian, on the history of the case, what’s changed and, in regards to our newly elected government, what we need to watch.

Barbara Bailey is director of the Welles-Turner Memorial Library in Glastonbury, Conn. She is a former president and current board member of the Library Connection, a non-profit cooperative of 30 public and academic libraries, which share an integrated library system (CONNECT) and other technological innovations. Peter Chase was director of the Plainville (Conn.) Public Library from 1981-2015. He was vice president of Library Connection in 2005 and is also the former chairman of the Connecticut Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Committee. Both Bailey and Chase received the Paul Howard Award for Courage from the American Library Association.

The event will also feature announcement of the winners of the Friends of the Wesleyan Library Undergraduate Research prize. The candidate projects were evaluated based on the use of Wesleyan’s library collections and resources, evidence of learning about research techniques and the information-gathering process itself, and the quality of writing and research.

Kahindi ’18 Named Campus Compact Newman Civic Fellow

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Claudia Kahindi ’18

Claudia Kahindi ’18 has been named a 2017 Newman Civic Fellow by Campus Compact, a non-profit organization working to advance the public purposes of higher education. She joins a distinguished group of 273 community-committed students, all nominated by college presidents or chancellors, from across the Campus Compact network of schools in this one-year fellowship.

The Newman Civic Fellowship is supported by the KPMG Foundation and Newman’s Own Foundation. It honors the late Frank Newman, one of Campus Compact’s founders and a tireless advocate for civic engagement in higher education.

“Leadership everywhere is going through a crisis. Social justice issues and polarisation continue to escalate. I am therefore privileged to have received this fellowship, because it will nurture and develop my leadership skills, and hence enable me to be part of the solution,” said Kahindi. “I believe it’s my civic duty to learn values that will make me a better person and a better leader in the future. I am so excited because this is another step towards my leadership and activism journey.”

During the fellowship year, Kahindi will have access to a variety of virtual and in-person learning and networking opportunities, including a national conference of Newman Civic Fellows in November in Boston. Fellows meet quarterly with a designated mentor, and also have pathways to exclusive scholarship and post-graduate opportunities. The 2017 cohort is the first to participate in a completely re-designed fellowship experience emphasizing personal, professional and civic growth.

Royer Finds Climate Could Soon Hit a State Unseen in 50 Million Years

Dana Royer

Dana Royer

New climate research by Dana Royer, professor and chair of earth and environmental sciences, finds that current carbon dioxide levels are unprecedented in human history and, if they continue on this trajectory “the atmosphere could reach a state unseen in 50 million years” by mid-century, according to an article in Salon.

The carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere today are ones that likely haven’t been reached in 3 million years. But if human activities keep committing carbon dioxide to the atmosphere at current rates, scientists will have to look a lot deeper into the past for a similar period. The closest analog to the mid-century atmosphere we’re creating would be a period roughly 50 million years ago known as the Eocene, a period when the world was completely different than the present due to extreme heat and oceans that covered a wide swath of currently dry land.

“The early Eocene was much warmer than today: global mean surface temperature was at least 10°C (18°F) warmer than today,” Dana Royer, a paleoclimate researcher at Wesleyan University who co-authored the new research, said. “There was little-to-no permanent ice. Palms and crocodiles inhabited the Canadian Arctic.”

Royer’s paper was published April 4 in Nature Communications and widely covered in the mainstream press. The implications, writes Salon, “are some of the starkest reminders yet that humanity faces a major choice to curtail carbon pollution or risk pushing the climate outside the bounds that have allowed civilization to thrive.”

According to an article in U.S. News & World Report:

 CO2 levels in the atmosphere have varied over millions of years. But fossil fuel use in the last 150 years has boosted levels from 280 parts per million (ppm) before industrialization to nearly 405 ppm in 2016, according to the researchers.

If people don’t halt rising CO2 levels and burn all available fossil fuels, CO2 levels could reach 2,000 ppm by the year 2250, the researchers said. CO2 and other gases act like a blanket, preventing heat from escaping into space. That’s known as the greenhouse effect, the researchers explained.

But the researchers note that CO2 levels are not the only factor in climate change; changes in the amount of incoming light also have an affect, and nuclear reactions in stars like the sun have made them brighter over time. Royer says this interplay is important:

“Up to now it’s been a puzzle as to why, despite the sun’s output having increased slowly over time, scant evidence exists for any similar long-term warming of the climate. Our finding of little change in the net climate forcing offers an explanation for why Earth’s climate has remained relatively stable, and within the bounds suitable for life all this time.”

Royer also is professor of environmental studies, professor of integrative sciences. See more coverage in Science Daily and International Business Times.

Former EPA Chief Headlines Campus Sustainability Conference

alliance-logo-300x233On March 31, Wesleyan hosted #BeTheChange, Connecticut’s annual Campus Sustainability Conference, featuring former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency head Gina McCarthy as the keynote speaker. Organized by the Connecticut Alliance for Campus Sustainability, the theme of the day-long conference was “Engagement and Empowerment around Climate Change: Fostering Inspiration and Action at the Local Level.”

About 150 students, staff and faculty from the state’s public and private colleges attended the conference, which also included workshop sessions on climate and sustainability action; empowerment on campus; engaging in state policy and legislation; engaging in community and municipal action; and engaging at the grassroots level. Several community members, business representatives and government representatives also attended.

McCarthy was appointed EPA chief in 2013 by former President Barack Obama. One landmark of her four-year tenure occurred in 2015 when she signed the Clean Power Plan, setting the first national standards for reducing carbon emissions produced by power plants. Under McCarthy’s direction, the EPA also made strides in curbing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening chemical safety regulations, and protecting water resources.

Gottschalk Featured in CBS Special ‘Faith in America’

Peter Gottschalk

Peter Gottschalk

Peter Gottschalk, professor of religion, professor of science in society, was featured in a CBS special on March 28, “Faith in America: A History.” The program covered a history of Catholic, Jewish and Muslim intolerance in the U.S.

“The very understanding of who is acceptable in American society goes to the very heart of who Americans are, and who Americans can be,”said Gottschalk in his opening appearance. “So issues like excluding immigrants based on a religion test, which is against various laws in our country, not only threaten those who would like to come to the United States, but it threatens those who are within the United States”

“We find that folks like Thomas Jefferson and others were quite clear that there was going to be no discrimination whatsoever, and he very clearly stated that we need to be welcoming of Jews, gentiles, Gentoos, which is actually a word for Hindus, and Muslims. So just absolutely no interest whatsoever in any kind of delimiting notion of who can be American based on religion.”

Today, Muslims face the biggest threat from discrimination. Said Gottschalk, “This current president has capitalized on a nativist sentiment… As we saw in the 1920s, there’s concern about immigrants coming in, taking our jobs, and displacing our values and often not looking like us. So the nativism often has a racial premise as well as a religious premise.”

Gottschalk also is director of the Office of Faculty Career Development.

Wesleyan Hunger Banquet to Be Held April 12

Fred Ayers helps a patron gather a ration of food at Amazing Grace. The pantry serves an estimated 3,000 individuals, or 1, 075 households each month.

Fred Ayers ’17 helps a patron gather a ration of food at Amazing Grace. The pantry serves an estimated 3,000 individuals, or 1, 075 households each month. Ayres also leads the Hunger and Homelessness group at Wesleyan.

On April 12, the Hunger and Homelessness student group in the Office of Community Service will once again host the Wesleyan Hunger Banquet, an interactive simulation of global poverty rates. Attendees are placed into an income bracket at random and then provided a seating arrangement and meal indicative of that income level.

The event will take place in Woodhead Lounge from 5-7 p.m. Anthony Hatch, assistant professor of sociology, assistant professor of science in society, assistant professor of African American studies, will serve as MC, and Ron Krom of St. Vincent de Paul will speak at the event.

“The Wesleyan Hunger Banquet is a simulation of the magnitude of global poverty and hunger that allows attendees to visualize and grasp its severity,” said Fred Ayres ’17, who leads the Hunger and Homelessness group and is involved in organizing the banquet. “Through sharing a meal with others, attendees will also learn about the misperceptions and solutions that surround income inequality. Students involved in current initiatives to ameliorate hunger and homelessness will share how others can get involved.”

Tickets will be sold in Usdan University Center April 7-12, and can also be purchased at the door. No RSVP is required. Proceeds will be donated to Amazing Grace Food Pantry, and the group aims to raise over $500.

Wilkins, Alumni Author Paper on Consequences of Perceived Anti-Male Bias

Clara Wilkins, assistant professor of psychology, has studied perceptions of discrimination against whites and other groups who hold positions of relative advantage in society—such as heterosexuals and men—since she was a graduate student at the University of Washington. She became became interested in the topic of perceptions of bias against high status groups after hearing Glenn Beck call president Barack Obama racist. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Clara Wilkins

Men in the U.S. today increasingly believe themselves to be victims of gender discrimination, and there are a record number of recent lawsuits claiming anti-male bias. In a study published in March in Psychology of Men and MasculinityAssistant Professor of Psychology Clara Wilkins and her co-authors assess the consequences of these perceptions of anti-male bias. Are men who perceive discrimination more likely to discriminate against women? How do beliefs about societal order affect men’s evaluations of men and women?

The article is co-authored by former post-doctoral fellow Joseph Wellman, now an assistant professor at California State University–San Bernardino, Erika Flavin ’14, and Juliana Manrique ’15, MA ’16.

In a blog post on the study, the authors write:

Traditionally men have had higher status than women in the U.S.; they have been better educated, more likely to be employed, and have tended to earn more than women with the same job and qualifications. People vary in the extent to which they believe that this particular ordering of society is fair and the way things should be. Some believe this type of inequality is legitimate, while others believe it should change. We expected that men who believed men should have higher status in society would be most upset about the thought that men now experience discrimination, and that they would react by favoring men over equally-qualified women. This effort would be a way to reestablish men’s perceived rightful place in society.

They conducted two studies to test this prediction. In the first, male participants read an article about increasing bias against men or another group, and then were asked to evaluate the résumé of a man or woman as part of an ostensibly unrelated study. The résumés were identical except for the name and gender. The researchers found that men who believe the social hierarchy is fair tended to give more negative evaluations of the female candidate relative to the male candidate after reading about bias against men. They also showed less desire to help the female candidate. The same effect wasn’t seen after male participants read about bias against an unrelated group. The researchers conclude that beliefs about the legitimacy of the hierarchy and perceptions of bias against men together seemed to disadvantage women.

In a second study, the researchers manipulated participants’ beliefs about society’s fairness by having them create sentences by unscrambling strings of randomly ordered words that suggested system legitimacy. For example, they created sentences like “effort leads to prosperity” – which makes people believe that hard work in society is rewarded. Or, they unscrambled other words to create neutral sentences unrelated to society. Unscrambling system-legitimizing sentences caused participates to believe the social structure is legitimate, and in turn, caused those primed to perceive discrimination against men to more negatively evaluate female targets. They also reported being less willing to help the female targets than male targets.

The researchers gave participants an opportunity to provide feedback on how to improve targets’ resumes. Those primed with beliefs that the social structure is legitimate reacted to perceiving bias against men by providing more constructive feedback to male targets than female targets. They write that these findings are striking, as the resumes were identical – only the names varied.

This research suggests that men who believe that men should be high-status in society react to perceiving bias against men by engaging in efforts to maintain men’s position of power. These individuals may be unaware that they favor their own group or disadvantage women; they may simply perceive that they are righting a perceived wrong. However, this explanation was not supported by other research results. When the researchers primed men to perceive discrimination against women, they did not react by favoring women over men. It seems as though they are uniquely concerned about maintaining their own group’s position in society, they write.

The researchers conclude that when high-status individuals perceive increasing bias against their group, those who endorse the legitimacy of the social hierarchy may perpetuate social disparities. Thus, if men increasingly perceive discrimination against their group, they may be more inclined to discriminate against women and provide other men with an extra boost. They recommend adopting hiring and evaluation processes that mask gender to prevent these potentially deleterious effects of perceiving bias against men.

Read the complete research article here.

Loui, Guetta ’17 Author Paper on Brain Connections Between Sound, Taste

Psyche Loui

Psyche Loui

Assistant Professor of Psychology Psyche Loui and Rachel Guetta ’17 are the authors of a new paper exploring how people form associations between sound and taste. The article, titled, “When Music is Salty: The Crossmodal Associations Between Sound and Taste,” was published March 29 in the journal PLoS One.

Scientists know that music can be evaluated as sweet, sour, salty or bitter, depending on features in its composition such as pitch, articulation, or brightness. For example, higher pitches are often thought of as sweet or sour, and lower pitches associated with bitterness.

While previous research has studied this general area, Loui and Guetta implemented four experiments to explore if, and to what extent, humans form associations between complex sounds and complex tastes, and what mechanisms might underlie these associations. One experiment, conducted with 50 Wesleyan undergraduates, involved making matches between recordings of an original violin composition and four different flavors of custom-made chocolate ganache. Whereas past studies have used simpler auditory and gustatory stimuli (such as isolated pitches, or basic taste samples of flavored beverage solutions), “both violin music and chocolate ganache are categories of complex stimuli that enable fine-grained perceptual discrimination,” the researchers explain.

Loui and Guetta write, “Our findings suggest that perhaps everyone, to some extent, has the capacity to form mappings between auditory and gustatory modalities.” They found that individuals with musical training were no more accurate in their sound-taste associations.

The findings also support the idea that the pleasantness associated with each auditory and gustatory stimulus is a mediating factor in creating these sound-taste associations. That is, individual participants were likely to associate those music clips they found most pleasant with those chocolate samples that they enjoyed the most.

These findings may have applications for “food businesses and restaurant entrepreneurs in marketing products and optimizing consumer experience, capitalizing on emotional congruency between sound and taste.” For example, cafes might choose certain music to enhance their coffee flavors, and the taste of beer might be affected by music being played at the bar.

Loui also is assistant professor of neuroscience and behavior, assistant professor of integrative sciences.

 

 

Brumberg ’17 Wins Princeton in Latin America Fellowship

Hilary Brumberg ’17 waters gypsy broccoli seedlings inside a new greenhouse at Long Lane Organic Farm on April 14. The greenhouse, funded by Wesleyan's Green Fund, allows the student farmers to grow plants earlier in the growing season. The seedlings will be transplanted into the farm once warm weather stabilizes. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Hilary Brumberg ’17, who volunteers at Wesleyan’s Long Lane Farm, recently received a Princeton in Latin America Fellowship to develop an environmental education program in Costa Rica. She’s pictured here watering gypsy broccoli seedlings inside the organic farm’s greenhouse.

Hilary Brumberg ’17, who volunteers at Wesleyan’s Long Lane Farm, recently received a Princeton in Latin America Fellowship to develop an environmental education program in Costa Rica.

As a Princeton in Latin America Fellow (PiLA), Hilary Brumberg ’17 will spend next year working at Osa Conservation in Costa Rica developing a river conservation and environmental education program.

Brumberg is double majoring in earth and environmental sciences (E&ES) and Hispanic literatures and cultures. She’s also working on the environmental studies certificate.

PiLA matches highly qualified and motivated recent college graduates with partner organizations engaged in socially responsible development projects in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Students at Wesleyan, in Madrid Collaborate through Teleconferencing

On March 28, the Spanish 258 class, taught by Antonio Gonzalez, professor of Spanish, interacted with a class at at Charles III University in Madrid, Spain over videoconferencing. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

On March 28, the Spanish 258 class, taught by Antonio Gonzalez, professor of Spanish, interacted with a class at at Charles III University in Spain over videoconferencing. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

This semester, students in Antonio Gonzalez’s Spanish 258, “The Intercultural Stage: Migration and the Performing Arts in the Hispanic World” have been experiencing what they study. With the assistance of a videoconferencing system, the Wesleyan students are “joined” in the classroom periodically by a group of students studying at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (Charles III University in Madrid, Spain).

Gonzalez, professor of Spanish, co-teaches the course with his colleague in Spain, Julio Checa. Checa also works on modern/contemporary Spanish theater and performance, and the two have collaborated on various scholarly projects over the years. They previously ran the trans-Atlantic teaching project in spring 2014 using Skype, which Gonzalez said was much more rudimentary than the videoconferencing technology available now.

As director of the Center for Global Studies, Gonzalez was deeply involved in planning for the Fisk Hall renovation project, which included choosing the video conferencing system installed in the new telepresence classrooms.

Brown ’19 to Address Gender Inequality as Davis Projects for Peace Grant Recipient

Jamaica native Shantelle Brown ’19 is the recipient of a Davis Projects for Peace grant. She will return to Jamaica this summer to help 24 high schoolers become "truly aware of their power as change makers, proud of their individuality, and believe that their dreams are attainable." (Photo by Olivia Drake) 

Jamaica native Shantelle Brown ’19 is the recipient of a Davis Projects for Peace grant. She will return to Jamaica this summer to help 24 high schoolers become “truly aware of their power as change makers, proud of their individuality, and believe that their dreams are attainable.” (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Shantelle Brown ’19 has been awarded a Davis Projects for Peace grant for her summer project, Sisters for Empowerment & Equality (SEE), which aims to address gender inequality in Jamaican culture through an art-based mentorship program for girls age 13 to 16.

Brown’s project is one of 120 initiatives selected for a Davis Projects for Peace grant, each receiving $10,000 for implementation during the summer of 2017. In 2007, Projects for Peace was the vision of philanthropist Kathryn W. Davis on the occasion of her 100th birthday to motivate tomorrow’s promising leaders by challenging them to find ways to “prepare for peace.” More information is available here.

SEE is geared toward the creation of a supportive community that will encourage girls from low-income or rural communities (where gender discrimination and violence are most prevalent) to pursue their dreams. SEE will take the form of high school societies, monitored and maintained by mentors as well as school administrators, in which students will pursue art-based projects that promote a positive relationship with the community.

“We hope to challenge gender stereotypes and create a platform from which girls can shine, through: mentorship, creative expression, and community outreach,” states the project proposal.

Yohe Joins Conn. Governor to Oppose Environmental Program Cuts

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Gary Yohe

Gary Yohe, the Huffington Foundation Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies, joined Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy at a press conference March 22 at the Connecticut Science Center to speak out against major cuts to environmental programs proposed by President Donald Trump.

“As a scholar with more than three decades of experience studying climate change, I fear our new president is on a course to reverse this progress with extremely dangerous consequences,” Yohe said at the event, according to The Hartford Courant.

Yohe was a senior member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)—which received a share of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize—from the early 1990s through 2014. He is past-vice chair of the National Climate Assessment Development and Advisory Committee for the Obama Administration; the Assessment was released by the White House in 2014.

Yohe contrasted progress made against climate change by former President Barack Obama to the approach taken by Trump.

“By way of stark contrast, President Trump does not even have a science advisor,” Yohe said. “His administration has attacked climate science, and it has announced its intention to abandon any initiative designed to ameliorate climate risk in any way.”

Yohe also was interviewed by Fox CT, and his comments were featured in stories on WTNH and CT News Junkie.