by Cynthia Rockwell •
In this recurring feature in The Wesleyan Connection, we highlight some of the latest news stories about Wesleyan and our alumni.
Recent Wesleyan News
1. Science Magazine: “India Plans Tricky and Unprecedented Landing Near Moon’s South Pole”
James Greenwood, assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences, comments on India’s plans to unleash a rover into previously unexplored territory near the moon’s south pole.
Matthew Finkel ’18 writes that Moscow will likely be able to leverage its enormous energy exports to project soft power in Eastern Europe for years to come.
3. Electric Lit: “7 Books by Women that We Should Not Forget”
Amy Bloom, the Shapiro-Silverberg Professor of Creative Writing, reviews seven exceptional books by women writers.
4. New Haven Register: “New Haven Composer Tyshawn Sorey Named to USA Fellowship”
Assistant Professor of Music Tyshawn Sorey MA ’11 wins a spot in the annual fellowship class of 45 artists and collaboratives across the country, receiving a $50,000 grant.
5. The Wesleyan Argus: “A Body in Fukushima Beautifully Re-Creates a Painful History”
New work from the A Body in Fukushima project by dancer/performer Eiko Otake, Menakka and Essel Bailey ’66 Distinguished Visiting Scholar in the College of the Environment, and photographer William Johnston is on view now through Feb. 15 at the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery at Wesleyan.
6. The Middletown Press: “Wesleyan University Earns Ford Foundation Grants, Which Will Increase Scope of Performance Center”
Wesleyan’s Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance has been awarded three grants from the Ford Foundation, which will allow it to advance diversity among participants and amplify its impact on the field of performance.
Recent Alumni News
Mike Miller, senior editor for features and WSJ Weekend, announced that Stan Parish ’06 joined the WSJ staff as editor of the Future of Everything franchise. “His high journalistic standards, creativity, and mastery of magazine presentation have been instrumental in building FOE into a powerful new Wall Street Journal brand, now also encompassing a successful podcast and a live festival scheduled for May in New York,” Miller said in an announcement.
In this series on the rise of the contract worker, NPR business reporter Jim Zarroli turns to Diana Farrell ’87, president of JPMorgan Chase Institute, which has studied the U.S. workforce, to give context to the numbers.
3. Rolling Stone: MGMT’s Pop Adventure: How Duo Bounced Back 11 Years After Debut;
Andrew VanWyngarden ’05 and Ben Goldwasser ’05, the pair who are MGMT, talk about the making of Little Dark Age, their newest LP.
4. Broadway World: Sarah Burgess’ Kings Begins Previews at the Public Theater, 1/30
Previews began on Tuesday, Jan. 30, for the world premiere of Kings, written by Sarah Burgess and directed by Thomas Kail ’99. The play, scheduled to run through March 25, is billed as “a scathingly funny new play about the people at the heart of our democracy.” Previously, Burgess and Kail collaborated on her award-winning play, Dry Powder.
by Cynthia Rockwell •
Sustainability Across the Curriculum, a Jan. 23 workshop organized by Wesleyan’s Sustainability Office and the Center for Pedagogical Innovation, provided faculty and instructors with the opportunity to discover ways to integrate sustainability into a variety of courses across academic disciplines.
The workshop featured a panel highlighting work by faculty who participated in the first year of Sustainability Across the Curriculum and had integrated sustainability into their own courses, followed by small-group sessions offering brainstorming opportunities. The focus of the SATC program is to amend an existing course to include sustainability, explained Jennifer Kleindienst, Wesleyan’s sustainability director, “The groups were divided into individuals who are early in this journey (not sure where to start) and those with an idea but looking to clarify details.” Kleindienst was there to facilitate discussions, along with Professor of Earth and Environmental Science Suzanne O’Connell, faculty coordinator for Sustainability Across the Curriculum, and assistant Ori Tannenbaum ’20.
O’Connell reports that involvement in this initiative has broadened her understanding of sustainability: “I now see it as an intricate network of ideas and actions that reaches almost every facet of life and society.”
Kleindienst heard a key phrase several times: “‘I never thought of doing it that way!’ It’s my job to get people to say that about what they do in the classroom and in daily life.”
She notes that the full program includes this workshop along with four seminars later in the semester, and then course integration over the next year. Following that, the faculty cohort reconvenes to discuss their experiences. Kleindienst invites the community to view the program website or contact her or Suzanne O’Connell with questions or for further information.
Photos of the workshop are below (photos by Cynthia Rockwell):
by Cynthia Rockwell •
Kyla Donnelly Pearce ’08, a government major at Wesleyan with a certificate in international relations, is now senior director of the LoveYourBrain yoga program, an outgrowth of the work her husband and the Pearce family are doing for those who suffer from traumatic brain injury. Their journey began after snowboarder Kevin Pearce, Kyla’s brother-in-law, was injured in a training accident in Utah on Dec. 31, 2009, as he prepared for the Olympic trials. The previous year he had won three medals at the 2008 Winter X Games XII in Aspen, Colo. He spent the first six months of 2010 in rehabilitation hospitals with brother Adam (Kyla’s spouse) at his side, before returning home to Vermont to continue healing.
Kyla Pearce’s interest in yoga has become an integral part of that healing.
“I vividly remember being in Dharamsala, India, with my 200-hour yoga teacher training program nearly completed—when I received an excited call from Adam. Kevin, he said, was finding a sense of peace, accomplishment and vitality in yoga and meditation that were unavailable elsewhere,” she recalls.
When she returned, she saw it for herself. “I noticed that he loved the feeling of accomplishment from engaging with what he deemed a fitting challenge (be it focusing his mind in meditation or holding a strength-building yoga posture), instead of assessing his progress based on some medical benchmark. When he practiced yoga, he no longer felt defined by his injury.
“The LoveYourBrain yoga program grew out of the need that my husband, Adam Pearce, saw for supporting his brother—and others affected by TBI—in the healing process.”
While it admittedly seems a circuitous path—from government major to therapeutic yoga instructor, Pearce notes it is actually more linked than it might appear. At Wesleyan, she was on a premed track with a clear goal:
“I wanted to be at the helm of delivering women’s health care services, specifically maternal health and family planning, in underserved communities abroad,” she says, noting her undergraduate interest in international relations. As for yoga during that period, she sporadically showed up in the basement of the Butterfield dorms, where her friend taught a yoga class. Pearce still keeps one track of her life back on her original health-care goals, completing an MPH at Dartmouth with a focus on women’s health. She is now midway through a doctorate there, investigating the quality of abortion care in the United States. On the other track, yoga has come into prominence.
by Olivia Drake •
Wesleyan’s Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance (ICPP) received a two-year, $150,000 grant from the Ford Foundation.
The award will support a new leadership fellowship program; three curatorial mini-intensives for prospective students; and two global curatorial forums designed to bring an international perspective to the discussion and dissemination of best practices and forge a global network of performing arts curators. This funding will further ICPP’s efforts to advance diversity among participants and to amplify the graduate program’s impact on the field of performance.
“The Ford Foundation funding allows ICPP to support diverse perspectives in the field of performance curation, both in our student body and as our students advance professionally,” said Sarah Curran, director of the Center for the Arts and managing director of ICPP. “We are also grateful for the opportunity to create a global platform for curatorial exchange.”
“This support from the Ford Foundation allows ICPP to amplify a visible and inclusive path into the program and equitable opportunities as our students, in their second year, pursue leadership positions in the field,” said Samuel Miller ’75, director and co-founder of ICPP.
by Olivia Drake •
Four former students who enrolled in the service-learning course AMST 250: Decolonizing Indigenous Middletown: Native Histories of the Wangunk Indian People—taught in fall 2015—are now co-authors of articles published in the Bulletin of the Archaeological Society of Connecticut, No. 79, 2017.
Iryelis Lopez ’17, Tiana Quinones ’17, Abigail Cunniff ’17 and Yael Horowitz ’17 partnered with the Middlesex County Historical Society and spent their semester examining 17th- and 18th-century Middletown records that focused on the Algonquian peoples of the lower Connecticut River known as Wangunks. The Wangunks lived near the Connecticut River primarily in present-day Middletown and Portland, Conn.
In February 2016, self-selected students presented their class research papers to the broader Middletown community at an event held at Russell Library called, “Searching for Indigenous Middletown.” The gathering was organized by course instructor J. Kehaulani Kauanui. Kauanui is professor of American studies, professor of anthropology, chair of the American Studies Department and director of the Center for the Americas.
The Bulletin‘s editor, Lucianne Lavin, was in attendance and heard the students’ presentations. Lavin, who also directs the American Indian Studies Institute in Washington, Conn., later invited the young researchers to have their papers published in the Bulletin.
In addition to being published in the Bulletin, research by the students resulted in the first Wikipedia entry on the Wangunk.
The published papers include “Town Bills of Middletown: Material Histories of Settler Colonialism and Indigenous Erasure” by Yael Horowitz ’17; “Decolonizing Indigenous Middletown” by Iryelis Lopez ’17 and Tiana Quinones ’17; and “Militia, Security, and Smallpox in Middletown Settler Society as Related to the Wangunk People (1754–1785)” by Abigail Cunniff ’17.
The special issue contains five other pieces that emerged from an event Kauanui organized in December 2015 on campus at the Russell House, including “Challenging Settler Colonialism in the Recovery of Wangunk Tribal History” by Kauanui; “Pre-Colonial History of the Wangunk” by Lucianne Lavin; “A Brief History of the Wangunk Reservation” by Timothy Ives; “Indigenous Middletown: Settler Colonial and Wangunk Tribal History” by Reginald Bacon; and “Growing Up Wangunk” by Gary O’Neil.
Kauanui has since retooled the course as a “First Year Initiative” class that was taught last semester as a seminar for first-year students, called “Indigenous Middletown.” Besides focusing on the sparsely documented history of the Wangunk, students are introduced to the fields of settler colonial studies, the rapidly transforming field of critical indigenous studies, along with Native American history and historiography addressing southern New England. “And perhaps most importantly,” Kauanui says, “they learn that the Wangunk people continue to live into the 21st century.”
by Olivia Drake •
Norman Shapiro, the Distinguished Professor of Literary Translation, is the editor and translator of Fables of Town and Country, published by Black Widow Press in October 2017. Fables of Town and Country is the English version of poet-novelist Pierre Coran’s Fables des Villes et des Champs.
Supported by a grant from the Belgian Ministry of Culture, Fables of Town and Country is the second of three works by Coran that Shapiro is translating. The first was Fables in a Modern Key in 2014, and the third, Rhymamusings is scheduled to appear in 2019. Coran, Shapiro explains, “is a whimsical octogenarian celebrated throughout his native Belgium as a preeminent ‘children’s poet’—though only, in truth, for the most precocious of children!”
The 200-page book is illustrated in full color by Olga Pastuchiv.
Shapiro also is Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres de la République Française and a member of the Academy of American Poets.
by Lauren Rubenstein •
The Wesleyan Media Project’s research is resonating in our nation’s capital and beyond.
Associate Professor of Government Erika Franklin Fowler, together with a team of Wesleyan students and colleagues at several institutions across the United States, conducts research on campaign advertising and health media, which is informing work in government, nonprofits and the private sector.
In January, the Bipartisan Policy Center released a major report, The State of Campaign Finance in the U.S., which relied heavily on data and research from the Wesleyan Media Project. The task force that developed the report, led by a Stanford law professor and top lawyers from both parties, intended for it to “lay the groundwork for a common, bipartisan understanding of how Citizens United shaped the campaign finance landscape with an eye toward any possible future reforms,” said Fowler. It is likely to be used by policymakers and legislators.
A WMP report on outside group activity including dark money trends, co-authored with the Center for Responsive Politics, is also available on the Bipartisan Policy Center website.
by Lauren Rubenstein •
Wesleyan faculty frequently publish articles based on their scholarship in The Conversation US, a nonprofit news organization with the tagline, “Academic rigor, journalistic flair.” Lori Gruen, the William Griffin Professor of Philosophy, has written a piece explaining how philosophers determine what is the right, or ethical, thing to do. Gruen also is professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, professor of science in society, and coordinator of animal studies. Read her bio in The Conversation.
How should we decide what to do?
Most of us are faced with ethical decisions on a regular basis. Some are relatively minor—perhaps your cousin makes a new recipe and it really doesn’t taste good, and you have to decide whether to tell the truth or a little white lie so as not to hurt her feelings.
Others are weightier—should you blow the whistle when you discover that your co-worker is behaving in ways that could jeopardize everyone at your workplace? Should you forego a relaxing vacation and instead donate the money to a worthy cause?
For thousands of years, philosophers have debated how to answer ethical questions, large and small. There are a few approaches that have withstood the test of time.
Doing the most good
One approach, which we often use in our day-to-day lives even if we aren’t aware that it is a type of ethical deliberation, is to figure out what the consequences of our actions might be and then determine if one course of action or another will lead to better outcomes. In the policy context, this is often referred to as a cost-benefit analysis.
by Olivia Drake •
by Bill Holder •
Care to brush up on your French? Learn Japanese? Or perhaps acquire a language that isn’t commonly taught at colleges, such as Danish?
Wesleyan is offering alumni and members of the on-campus community free access to the Mango Languages platform, says Antonio Gonzalez, professor of Spanish and director of the Fries Center for Global Studies. The platform provides high-quality online instruction in 72 languages, with an excellent blend of conversational language and cultural study. Gonzalez says that reception of Mango as a teaching and learning tool “has been very positive on campus” and that it is an attractive means for expanding the scope of Wesleyan’s language instruction.
“It’s crucial in any society for people to have intimate knowledge of different areas of the world, and not just in economically strong countries such as China,” he says. “An understanding of languages and cultures in Africa, Latin America and South Asia, for example, is essential in today’s interconnected world.”
by Olivia Drake •
On Jan. 27, the Athletic Department hosted its third annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day celebration at the Freeman Athletic Center.
As part of the celebration, more than 50 female Wesleyan student-athletes and coaches led a sports clinic for local grade-school children. Seventy-three girls participated in seven sports sessions on softball, field hockey, tennis, lacrosse, crew, volleyball and soccer.