Lauren Rubenstein

Associate Manager of Media & Public Relations at Wesleyan University

Documenting Delusion in Indonesia

In an op-ed published in The Jakarta Post, Ronald Jenkins, professor of theater, writes about a disturbing new documentary in which “gangsters” responsible for mass murders in 1965-66 reenact their crimes as they remember them. This film, Jenkins writes, “reveals the links between the human capacity for self-delusion and cinema’s ability to reedit the past into comforting fantasy.”

Local Donors Step Up to Save College Prep Program

The Hartford Courant has published a feature story about Wesleyan’s Student College Success Program, which helps prepare students who are the first generation in their families to apply to college. The program, formerly known as Upward Bound, lost its federal funding this year for the first time in 45 years, but AT&T and other local businesses and organizations have donated money to run a program offering many of the same services.

The announcement was also covered in The Middletown Press and Middletown Patch.

Puzzled by the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize

Writing for The Moscow TimesPeter Rutland, Colin and Nancy Campbell Professor in Global Issues and Democratic Thought, professor of government, professor of Russian and Eastern European studies, explores whether the European Union deserves the recently awarded Nobel Peace Prize.

Study Suggests Sun Provides Water to the Moon

James Greenwood, research associate professor of earth and environmental sciences and interim faculty director of the McNair Program, spoke to Earth Magazine about new evidence that the lunar surface is rich with water, and that much of that water comes from the sun. Researchers from the University of Tennessee were able to determine that the sun is the source of lunar water by showing that there is no deuterium, a heavier isotope of hydrogen, in the water. Greenwood says that deuterium values as low as the ones found are “only consistent with solar wind implantation,” though he points out that there are still other reservoirs of water on the moon.

Basinger Featured in 2012 Women’s Impact Report

Jeanine Basinger, Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, Chair of Film Studies, was profiled in Variety magazine’s special feature edition, “Women’s Impact Report 2012.” In the profile, Basinger discusses her typical work work; the often-underestimated number of hours that college professors dedicate to their jobs; her secrets to work-life balance; and why she doesn’t carry a cell phone.

Obama Still Dominates Advertising in Key States

Despite early predictions that Republicans would dominate the airwaves this election cycle, the latest Wesleyan Media Project study found Obama holding an advertising advantage in 14 of 15 top markets in key swing states. Las Vegas was the only exception, in which pro-Romney ads outnumbered pro-Obama ads.

The study, which also contained analysis of overall ad volume, negativity, and ad spending in Congressional and Senate races, was covered by a number of major news outlets. These included NPR’s All Things Considered, The New York Times, Politico, Bloomberg, Reuters, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, ABC News, The Guardian, and USA Today, among others.

Follow the Wesleyan Media Project on Twitter.

 

Libor must be scrapped–not fixed

In an interview with Law360, Professor of Economics Richard Grossman said recently proposed reforms to the London Interbank Offered Rate (Libor) following a rigging scandal are insufficient to prevent  future tampering with the rate. Instead, he says, Libor should be scrapped and replaced with a new, market-based rate to prevent cheating.

Read more here.

Basinger Reviews Biography of Actor Dana Andrews

The Wall Street Journal recently published a review by Jeanine Basinger, chair of film studies and Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, of, “Hollywood Enigma: Dana Andrews,” a new biography of the actor. Basinger considers why Andrews, who had a long career as a leading man in film, has been relegated to a “second tier” of actors, seldom listed among the legendary male stars of the studio system.

Wesleyan to Offer Free Online Courses through Coursera Partnership

Wesleyan is the first small liberal arts college focused on the undergraduate experience to partner with Coursera.

Wesleyan is the first small liberal arts college focused on the undergraduate experience to partner with Coursera.

Wesleyan announced on Sept. 19 a new partnership with Coursera, a company offering the public access to free online courses from top colleges and universities. Wesleyan was one of 17 new institutions to sign on this month, and is the very first liberal arts institution focused on the undergraduate experience to do so. Other partners among Coursera’s 33 participants include Stanford, Princeton and Brown; public research universities such as the University of Florida; and specialized schools such as Berklee College of Music.

Coursera was founded by two Stanford University professors seeking to expand educational opportunities through technology. Since its launch in January, Coursera has enrolled more than 1.3 million students, and now offers more than 200 MOOCs—or “massive open online courses”—some of which attract tens of thousands of students.

“As a school dedicated to teaching and scholarship, Wesleyan is pleased to be joining Coursera’s impressive initiative to provide intellectual challenge and reward to anyone with the desire to learn,” says President Michael S. Roth. “Liberal education cultivates freedom through lifelong learning, and American universities now have a great, unprecedented opportunity to promote freedom worldwide by sharing great teaching.”

Students move through Coursera classes at their own pace, watch videos of lectures by world-class professors, complete online interactive exercises and test understanding of concepts. Classes span the humanities, social sciences, math, science, medicine, business, music, computer science and more.

The recent announcement of Coursera’s expansion drew attention from many national news outlets, including The New York Times and The Chronicle of Higher Education.

In an interview with The Hartford Courant, Roth explained, “This is really about taking the education available to a few students at selective schools and making a version of it, not the same thing, but making a version of it available to millions.”

In a post on his blog, Roth elaborated on the thinking behind Wesleyan’s partnership with Coursera:

“The idea that Wesleyan will be offering free, massive online classes will strike some as paradoxical. We are a small university at which almost three quarters of the courses are taught in an interactive, seminar style. How is that related to online learning? In important respects the classes offered through Coursera are very different from the ones we teach here in Middletown. Our residential liberal arts education depends on the ongoing interaction of students with one another and with faculty. MOOCs encourage interaction of a different sort: through social media and chat rooms.

“Nonetheless, we want to understand better how students learn in these contexts, precisely because they are so different from our own. And we think it is simply a good thing to share versions of our classes with the wider world. The Wes educational experience does not scale up — but we can make available online adaptations of our classes so that those with a desire to learn have access to some of what we have to teach.”

Lisa Dierker, professor of psychology, will teach the online course, “Passion Driven Statistics.”

Alumni, parents and anyone else who wants a taste of the Wesleyan educational experience can visit coursera.org/Wesleyan to view current course offerings. Roth himself will offer a course, “The Modern and the Postmodern,” beginning Feb. 1, 2013. Other courses to be offered initially by Wesleyan professors include “Property and Liability: An Introduction to Law and Economics,” by Richard Adelstein, the Woodhouse/Sysco Professor of Economics, chair of economics; “Passion Driven Statistics,” by Lisa Dierker, professor of psychology; “The Ancient Greeks,” by Andrew Szegedy-Maszak, the Jane A. Seney Professor of Greek, professor of classical studies; “The Language of Hollywood: Storytelling, Sound and Color,” by Scott Higgins, associate professor of film studies; and “Social Psychology,” by Scott Plous, professor of psychology. The courses range from five to seven weeks in length.

After one day of posting, 10,000 individuals had signed up to take Wesleyan Coursera courses.

Whitford ’81 Speaks to Film Students, Alumni

Actor Bradley Whitford ’81 and Jeanine Basinger, Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies and chair of film studies. (Photo by Cynthia Rockwell)

Actor Bradley Whitford ’81 and Jeanine Basinger, Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies and chair of film studies. (Photo by Cynthia Rockwell)

Speaking in the Center for Film Studies on Sept. 24, actor Bradley Whitford ’81 shared wisdom on subjects ranging from show business to politics to dealing with the insecurity inherent in being an actor.

Whitford addressed an audience of film and theater majors, prospective majors and alumni. Best known for his role as Josh Lyman on The West Wing, Whitford was recently elected to Wesleyan’s Board of Trustees. He has also had starring roles in the shows Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and The Good Guys. Recently, he co-starred in a film, “Cabin in the Woods,” written by Joss Whedon ’87.

In introducing Whitford, Jeanine Basinger, the Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies and chair of film studies, highlighted a few lesser-known facts about the actor: In 2007, he was honored by the Alliance for Justice for his political involvement. (Basinger pointed out this interest in the wider world outside the arts marks him as a typical Wesleyan product). He is the father of three children, a certified yoga teacher, and is deeply committed to his juicer.

“You’re at a really amazing place at an amazing time in your life, reaping the gifts of an amazing woman who has created something out of nothing that is renowned worldwide,” Whitford told the students, speaking of Basinger and Wesleyan’s film program. He pointed to the remarkable number of Wesleyan alumni who go on to careers in Hollywood, a crowd that is jokingly referred to as “the Wesleyan Mafia.”

Juhasz’s Study Ties Word Processing Speed to Sensory Experience

Assistant Professor Barbara Juhasz is interested in understanding how words produce a certain sensory experience when read.

Assistant Professor Barbara Juhasz is interested in understanding how words produce a certain sensory experience when read.

 

Read the following words in your head:

Incense

Lemon

Kick

Though it may be happening on a subconscious level, all these words share an important feature: They all evoke a sensation or perceptual experience in the mind of the reader. Incense brings to mind a particular scent; lemon, a tart taste in the mouth; and kick activates a part of the brain responsible for motor behavior. Research suggests that these mental reactions occur very quickly—within fractions of a second—after reading a word.

In the Eye Movement and Reading Lab at Wesleyan, Barbara Juhasz, assistant professor of psychology, assistant professor of neuroscience and behavior, studies how readers recognize, understand and catalogue words in their mental dictionaries. Since 2006, when she first arrived at Wesleyan, Juhasz has been interested in understanding how words produce a certain sensory experience when read.

Wesleyan to Co-sponsor 4th Annual Middletown International Film Festival

“Common Ground 2012,” the 4th annual Middletown International Film Festival, kicks off Oct. 11 with a screening of  My Voice (Nha Fala), a 2002 film in Portuguese directed by Flora Gomes. The film will be shown at 7 p.m. at Wesleyan’s Film Studies Department.

Five more films from around the world will be aired as part of the festival. They are:

Thursday, Oct. 18 at Russell Library
Seraphine (French, 2008)
Directed by Martin Provost

Thursday, Oct. 25 at Russell Library
The Concert (Russian, 2009)
Directed by Radu Mihaileanu

Thursday, Nov. 1 at Wesleyan Film Studies
Poetry (Korean, 2010)
Directed by Chang-dong Lee

Thursday, Nov. 8 at Wesleyan Film Studies
Dancing Dreams (German, 2010)
Directed by Rainer Hoffman

Thursday, Nov. 15 at Russell Library
As It Is In Heaven (Swedish, 2004)
Directed by Kay Pollak

All screenings begin at 7 p.m., and are free and open to the public.

The festival is supported by a grant from the Middletown Commission on the Arts, as well as Friends of the Russell Library, gener8or communications/Moving Pictures, the Haddad Family, and many individuals. It is co-sponsored by Wesleyan, Middlesex Community College and Russell Library.

For more information, visit the Russell Library’s website.