Campus News & Events

Professor Emeritus Morton Briggs Dies at Age 90

Pictured are Kay and Morton Briggs. Briggs, professor emeritus of romance languages and literatures, died Sept. 25. He worked at Wesleyan for 42 years.
Posted 10/01/05

Morton W. Briggs, a Wesleyan faculty member for over 40 years, died Sept. 25 at Middlesex Health Care Center at the age of 90.

Born in 1915 in Millbrook, N.Y., he was graduated from Cornell University in 1937. He studied at the Sorbonne in Paris and obtained master’s (1939) and doctoral (1944) degrees from Harvard University.

He joined the Wesleyan faculty in 1943 and attained the position of professor of romance languages in 1956 with a specialty in French language and literature.  He held this position until his retirement in 1985 at which time he became professor emeritus.  He was twice director of the university’s program in Paris and just this spring was honored by a former student with the creation of the Morton W. and Kathryn I. Briggs Endowed Wesleyan Scholarship.

Morton served Wesleyan in numerous ways during his long and distinguished career, including chairman of the Master of Arts in Teaching Program, director of the Honors College for two decades (1966-85), chairman of the Educational Studies Program (1973-1985), acting director of the Graduate Liberal Studies Program and he was Wesleyan’s delegate to Phi Beta Kappa’s governing body, the Triennial Council, for many years. He was executive secretary of the University, secretary of the faculty, and secretary of the Academic Council.

Morton was a proud of the Middletown community and served it well. He was active in the Middlesex County United Way (board of directors, campaign chairman 1965, president 1967), the Middlesex Chapter of the American Red Cross (board of directors and chairman 1966-68), the Middletown Rotary Club (board of directors and treasurer) and The Church of the Holy Trinity.

His statewide activities included chairmanship from 1963–72 of the Foreign Language Advisory Committee for the state Department of Education.  He was also a member of the board of directors of the Connecticut Council of Language Teachers.

Morton is survived by his wife of more than 60 years, Kathryn (Kay) of Middletown; their children, Christopher of Marlborough, N.H.; Kirk of Vineyard Haven, Mass.; and Kate Holmes of Grand Junction, Colo.; five grandchildren; one sister, Elinor Sutherland of Millbrook, N.Y., and many nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 8,  11 a.m., at Holy Trinity Church in Middletown.

Memorial contributions may be made to the American Red Cross hurricane relief funds.

Wesleyan’s Board Chair to Kick off First Fridays

Posted 10/01/05
James van Benschoten Dresser, ’63, P’93, chairman of Wesleyan’s Board of Trustees, will be among the kick-off speakers of a new “First Friday” series being sponsored by the Center for Community Partnerships. The event is open to the Wesleyan community and will be held from 4 to 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 7 at 167 High Street.

The series will feature presentations on the first Friday of every month and has been created by the Center for Community Partnerships for members of the Wesleyan and Middletown communities who are interested in town-gown collaborations.

Dresser’s talk, titled “If These Walls Could Talk: A Century of Town Meets Gown in the van Benschoten House,” will focus on the history of the house at 167 High Street, which is the current location of the Center for Community Partnerships, but which used to be the home of Dresser’s grandfather, who was also a professor of Classics at Wesleyan and a long-time Middletown resident. Suzy Taraba, University Archivist and Head of Special Collections, will present a companion presentation after Dresser’s talk that will focuses on the recent history of the building.

Admission to the event is free.

 
By David Pesci, director of Media Relations

Gruen Researches Empathy, Ethics and Chimpanzees, Philosophically

At top, Lori Gruen, associate professor of philosophy, explains “The Chimp Project” from her office in Russell House. She and  Hughes Fellow Shayla Silver-Balbus ’06 (pictured at left) studied chimpanzees in Ohio this summer.
Posted 10/01/05
Lori Gruen spent this past summer with curious students of an unsuspecting kind – chimpanzees named Emma and Harper. Gruen, an associate professor of philosophy and co-chair of the Wesleyan Feminism, Gender and Sexuality Studies Department, formally known as the Women’s Studies Department, studied the chimpanzees at the Ohio State University Chimpanzee Center where she continues to gather information for an upcoming book on empathy.

“By exploring our attitudes and relationships with chimpanzees we can enhance our capacity to empathize with different others and get a glimpse at how empathy might have evolved,” says Gruen.

Gruen’s book will focus on, among others topics, chimpanzee history, sign language skills, comparative cognition and emotional and ethical intelligence. Gruen plans to continue working on the new book during her upcoming spring sabbatical.

“This is an opportunity for me to move away from practicing pure philosophy,” she says. “This is a feature of being engaged in the world.”

Whether in the field with chimpanzees or in the classroom with students, Gruen’s academic work always involves ethics. In her classes, one of which includes the popular “Reproduction in the 21st Century,” she asks that her students challenge their life choices.

Co-taught with Laura Grabel, professor of biology and Fisk Professor of Natural Sciences, “Reproduction in the 21st Century,” focuses on such hot button issues as the ethics of cloning, stem cell research, infertility, contraception and abortion. Offered for the first time last year, the class is again at it 65 student capacity. Gruen says an additional 130 students were on the waiting list. Grabel says that a previous incarnation of the class was taught without a real ethics component and that Gruen’s insights have brought a whole perspective to the scientific information that’s presented.

“Lori has brought that missing piece to the course, Grabel says. “She can teach the rich intellectual history of the philosophical field of ethics and teach students how to apply these concepts to crafting strong ethical arguments relevant to reproductive issues ranging from cloning to abortion.”

Much like in “Reproduction in the 21st Century,” whose subject matter often attracts the local and national media, Gruen longed to weave ethics into other classes across campus. This past summer she helped launch Wesleyan’s Ethics in Society Project, a similar program to the one she launched at Stanford University before coming to Wesleyan in 2000. The project awards Ethical Reasoning Capability Summer Development Grants to six Wesleyan professors who are responsible for incorporating ethics into their undergraduate curriculums.

The grant recipients for this year include: Christina Crosby, English for a course “Questions of Embodiment”; Norman Danner, Computer Science for “Cryptography”; Indira Karamcheti, English for “Postcolonial Literature”; Elizabeth McAlister, Religion for “Christianity and Globalization”; Sheila Mullen, Less Commonly Taught Languages for “American Sign Language and Current Issues” and Suzanne O’Connell, Earth &Environmental Science for “Introduction to Environmental Science”.

The Ethics in Society Project grants will be available to Wesleyan faculty again at the beginning of spring semester as well. For more information, visit www.wesleyan.edu/ethics.

“Wesleyan’s commitment to interdisciplinary work is great for students and myself as a scholar,” says Gruen. “It’s important to be able to think deeply and broadly about challenging issues. My students always want to learn how to respond to the world around them, all while keeping ethics in mind.”

 
By Laura Perillo, associate director of Media Relations

“The Making of Ferocious Beauty: Genome” Kicks off Dance Residency at the CFA

Liz Lerman of the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange, discusses “The Making of Ferocious Beauty: Genome,” the first in a series of lectures addressing the implications of genetic research. (Photo by Lex Leifheit)
Posted 10/01/05
The year 2003 marked a major milestone in human genomics: the completion of the sequencing of the human genome. With that milestone came a seemingly endless number of possibilities, and the challenge of understanding their consequences.

“Where do we as individuals and where do we as a society draw the line, and who should do the line drawing?” asked Kathy Hudson, director of the Genetics and Public Policy Center at the Johns Hopkins University, addressing an audience of 120 students, Wesleyan faculty and greater Middletown community members in the CFA Cinema on Sept. 20.

Hudson, joined by Founding Artistic Director Liz Lerman of the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange and Associate Professor of Philosophy Lori Gruen, launched a discussion titled “The Making of Ferocious Beauty: Genome,” the first in a series of lectures addressing the implications of genetic research as part of the Dance Exchange’s year-long residency at Wesleyan. For the past three years, the Center for the Arts and Wesleyan Faculty have partnered with Lerman to plan the most comprehensive residency ever undertaken by a dance company at Wesleyan. This partnership has resulted in Wesleyan serving as lead commissioner of Genome, which will premiere at the CFA on Feb. 3, 2006.

“There’s a long list of partners to thank,” CFA Director Pamela Tatge commented as she individually acknowledged the people and organizations who have supported the Genome residency.

Hudson also acknowledged a vast number of people, those who contributed to the gene sequencing project as it ramped up in the late 90s, describing the genome itself as “three billion chemical letters.”

Working off a display of images ranging from a fertilized egg being “sampled,” to a comic strip, Hudson raised questions about the implications for medicine (illnesses detected early, prescriptions based on genetic makeup), equality (out of three billion, only three million chemical letters differ from person to person), justice (corporations blaming “bad genes” for afflictions such as carpal tunnel syndrome) and reproduction.

Liz Lerman opened her part of the dialogue by stating the advantage of artists in exploring the nature of scientific advances.

“We get to expand the nature of what might be real or not real, true or not true,” Lerman said.

She added that working on Ferocious Beauty: Genome has been a process of building trust with scientists, learning from them and finding ways in which they can exchange ideas.
One scientist who contributed to Genome is Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology Laurel Appel. Lerman shared an anecdote where she and one of the dancers, dressed as “father of genetics” Gregor Mendel, visited Appel’s laboratory. Appel, recognizing the character Mendel, began to update him on the advances of science since his heyday in the mid-1800s.

Audience questions focused mainly on aspects of genetic research they would like to see explored through dance. Lerman did not go into great detail about the premiere, reminding them that the show is still in development, but described her vision of the structure in two parts. Act one will depict ways to understand the science. Act two will explore topics such as identity and ancestry, aging and death, and the quest for genetic “perfection” as it relates to research funding and profit motives.

The premiere of Ferocious Beauty: Genome will be on Feb. 3 and 4, 2006. Tickets are available now by calling the University Box Office at 860-685-3355. Free Genome-related events include “Challenging Nature: Biotechnology in a Spiritual World,” a lecture by Lee M. Silver, professor of Molecular Biology and Public Affairs at Princeton University at 8 p.m. Oct. 11 in the CFA Cinema, and “The Double Helix: Law and Science Co-constructing Race,” a talk by Pilar Ossorio, assistant professor of Law and Bioethics at the University of Wisconsin at 8 p.m. Nov. 10 in the CFA Cinema.

 
By Lex Leifheit, press and marketing coordinator for the Center for the Arts

Wesleyan Reaches Out to Students, Citizens Displaced by Hurricane

Posted 09/09/05
Wesleyan University will offer Connecticut residents enrolled at colleges and universities in areas stricken by Hurricane Katrina the opportunity to take fall semester classes at Wesleyan, and Wesleyan students, faculty and staff have begun to coordinate other efforts for relief opportunities.

The university has reached out to students from Connecticut who attend colleges in areas affected by the storm. These students may apply for status as visiting students and enroll in classes on a space-available basis. Wesleyan will work with families to ensure that their total costs do not exceed their existing commitments to the schools in which they had been enrolled.

To date two students have accepted the offer and several more are working their way through the application process.

The deadline to register was Sept. 12. Admission decisions were made on a rolling basis. Students will need to enroll by Monday, Sept. 19, since Wesleyan classes will be in their third week.

Campus housing is nearly full, so most visiting students will be expected to commute. The University will assign what housing is available to students from outside commuting distance.

Students in the program will have their courses posted to an official Wesleyan transcript, which will be made available to them upon their request.

Some students may want to consider options other than enrolling in classes. Students who wish to speak with an adviser about either community service or internship possibilities may call Wesleyan’s Career Resources Center (www.wesleyan.edu/crc/) at 860-685-2180.

Katrina occurred before students returned to campus from summer break but already the Wesleyan community has begun to respond. Numerous faculty, staff, and students have reported making contributions of cash and supplies to The Red Cross and other charity organization. A candlelight vigil on Sept. 8 drew more than 150 people. A benefit party for people of color affected by Hurricane Katrina was held at Malcolm X House on Sept. 9 and student groups met Sept. 12 to discuss further efforts.

“This is an initial response to a tragic and uncertain situation,” says Wesleyan President Doug Bennet. “It is also an important moment for the educational community to come together to help these students.”

 
By David Pesci, director of Media Relations

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle at Wesleyan

Posted 09/09/05
The University Recycling Committee has implemented a new campus-wide recycling system.

Mixed paper, glass, metal, plastic, corrugated cardboard, batteries, printer cartridges and even old furniture can now be collected and recycled.

“Recycling is required by law in Connecticut, and is the obligation of every member of the Wesleyan community,” says Bill Nelligan, the Wesleyan recycling coordinator and associate director of Environmental Health and Safety. “We hope that the Wesleyan community will join this effort to make Wesleyan a leader in waste reduction and environmental responsibility.”

Nelligan says recycling saves resources, energy, reduces pollution, cuts generation of greenhouse gases and reduces disposal costs.

Members of the University Recycling Committee worked for a year on the project, ordering new recycle bins, labels, creating brochures and designing a Wesleyan Recycles Web site, http://www.wesleyan.edu/recycling. The site provides answers to frequently asked questions, a guide to reducing and reusing items, recycling tips and links to the National Recycling Coalition and the City of Middletown’s recycling information. A detailed list of what can and cannot be recycled at Wesleyan is posted on this site.

Committee members are currently distributing recycling containers at departments and residences campus-wide. Custodians will be responsible for removing recycling materials from the hallways and trash rooms and place them in the appropriate outdoor container.

Nelligan test-trialed the new recycle bins in Physical Plant. He placed the bins under staff people’s desks.

“It took 30 days for one office person to fill a trash two-thirds of the way full. Everything else he would haven thrown away was recyclable,” Nelligan says. “Recycling is definitely working at Physical Plant, and we’re hoping it can work campus-wide.”

Ninety-five-gallon recycling bins have been scattered in 30 locations around campus.

Major recycling categories are mixed paper, glass/metal/plastic and corrugated cardboard.

Paper products that can be recycled include white/colored paper, envelopes, manila folders, carbonless office forms, newspapers, magazines, hardback/paperback books, junk mail and corrugated cardboard.

Glass/metal/plastic items that can be recycled include plastic containers, glass jars, bottles, beverage cans, milk and juice boxes, aluminum food containers and clean aluminum foil are recyclable.

Paper, cardboard and glass/metal/plastic bins are available at locations around campus.

Styrofoam, batteries, florescent bulbs, computers and electronic equipment, printer cartridges, motor oil, scrap metal and even old dorm furniture and mattresses also can be recycled. For more information on where to drop these items off at, visit http://www.wesleyan.edu/recycling/where-category.html.

To order a bin, or for additional information, visit the Wesleyan Recycles Web site at or call 860-685-2771. For pick up call 860-685-3400 or e-mail recycling@wesleyan.edu.

 
By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

100 Expected at Alumni and Parent Volunteer Weekend

Makaela Kingsley ’98, associate director of Alumni Relations, Ciaran Escoffery ’00 and Roxanne Williams ’98 share a laugh during a previous Alumni and Parent Volunteer Weekend at Wesleyan.
 
Posted 09/09/05

When Karen and Michael Haley sent their son, John ‘07, to Wesleyan in 2004, they were anxious to learn more about the community in which he would be spending the next four years.

That year, they attended an Alumni and Parent Volunteer Weekend. They not only became informed, they became involved.

“We were so impressed that weekend with how cordially we were welcomed and made to feel a part of the Wesleyan community, that we decided to become parent volunteers,” Michael Haley says. “Our son is our one and only and it has always been our pleasure to participate in his activities.”

The Haleys will return to campus Sept. 23-24 to attend another Alumni and Parent Volunteer Weekend. They are among more than 100 registered for the informational event.

“Alumni and Parent Volunteer Weekend is designed to better inform both new and experienced volunteers about all the exciting things that are happening here, and give us a chance to thank our volunteers for the time and talents they give to Wesleyan,” says Gemma Ebstein, director of Alumni and Parent Relations.

During the course of the weekend, volunteers have the option of attending Wesleyan Annual Fund (WAF) and other Alumni Association meetings, as well as special programs with Wesleyan President Doug Bennet, Vice President for University Relations Barbara Jan Wilson and Board of Trustees chairman Jim Dresser ’63. Jack Mitchell ’61, CEO and chairman of Mitchells of Westport, Conn. and Richards of Greenwich, Conn. and author of Hug Your Customers, The Proven Way to Personalize Sales and Achieve Astounding Results, is this year’s keynote speaker.

Two special classes, “Parent Volunteering 101” and “Electronic Tools and Resources for Alumni and Parent Volunteers” will be offered. In addition, attendees will receive a tour of the new Fauver Residence Halls.

Since attending the first volunteer weekend, the Haleys have twice assisted at WESeminars; volunteered for Spring and Fall calling; spoke at two WestFest Parent-To-Parent Seminars; volunteered at a swimming championship, and twice volunteered to assist with moving-in day. This year they will become members of the WESeminar Committee and the Executive Committee of the Parents’ Council.

“Since my son so much enjoys being on campus with his friends, he only comes home for school holidays, so being on campus gives us an excuse to occasionally have lunch or dinner with him,” Karen Haley says. “More importantly, we also get to meet other parents whose students are facing the same experiences and challenges as John and have the opportunity to exchange practical information and ideas with them.”

The Wesleyan Annual Fund National Committee, WESeminar Committee, Parents Council Executive Committee, Nominating Subcommittee, Alumni Association Executive Committee, and several 2006 Reunion Committees will hold meeting during the weekend.

Wesleyan has approximately 3,401 active volunteers and always welcomes more.

Makaela Kingsley ’98, associate director of Alumni Relations, urges guests who have never volunteered to attend this event. She guarantees they’ll leave with a volunteer assignment.

“Some volunteers help with a single event or project a year, while others chair a club or committee and give their time to Wesleyan every week,” Kingsley says. “But each and every one of them is important. They are the nuts and bolts behind planning events, raising funds and building Wesleyan’s reputation.”

The weekend is free of charge and financial assistance is available to help with travel and accommodations for those who need it. Volunteers are welcome to bring guests, spouses and children.

Shuttles will be available to transport guests between campus and the Inn at Middletown, where several of the sessions will take place, throughout the weekend.

For more information or to register for Alumni and Parent Volunteer Weekend, contact Kingsley at mjkingsley@wesleyan.edu or call 860-685-3836, or Camille Dolansky, assistant director of Parent Programs at cdolansky@wesleyan.edu or call 860-685-3756.

Additional information on volunteering opportunities can be found at http://www.wesleyan.edu/alumni/volunteers or at http://www.wesleyan.edu/parents/volunteer/.

 
By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Wes-HAUL Volunteers Help Make the Move

 

At top, Wes-Haul volunteers Daniel Rubin ’06 and Hanako Moondance ’06 carry a refrigerator into freshman Jennifer Bunin’s room in the Fauver Field Residence during Arrival Day Aug. 29. At right, Ian Renner ’08 helps carry students’ belongings into Clark Hall.

 
Posted 09/09/05
U-HAUL? Not here. Leave that up to Wes-HAUL, a team of volunteers that welcomed new students to campus. They unloaded cars, carried belongings, directed traffic and answered questions during students’ Arrival Day Aug. 29.

Wes-HAUL started five years ago as a small University Relations initiative and has evolved into a cross-university effort. More than 35 volunteers, including Wesleyan staff members, five spouses and kids of staff members, Diversity Peer Educators, and members of the football team, participated this year. All volunteers received a Wes-HAUL t-shirt, breakfast and lunch.

“This year, everyone worked so hard and was genuinely welcoming despite the hot and humid day,” says Makaela Kingsley ’98, associate director of Alumni Relations and secretary of the Alumni Association. “I love being part of the team and I look forward to continuing this tradition in the years to come.”

Wes-HAUL volunteer Ian Renner ’08 manned Clark Hall, where lived during his freshman year. By 10:30 a.m. he had already moved in two mattress covers and two car loads worth of student belongings.

“I’m enjoying meeting and welcoming the freshmen,” he says, during a break. “It’s good to see the new people moving in the hall.”

Daniel and Louise Walunis of Cleveland, Ohio appreciated the Wes-HAUL help when moving their daughter, Valerie ’09 into her residence.

“Before I could even park the car and return, they had moved everything in,” Daniel Walunis says. “The helpers made the transition very smooth. It was well managed.”

Christine Colfer, administrative assistant for Regional Programs and Networks volunteered for Wes-HAUL, a “once a year opportunity” to meet new students and parents. Her husband, Daniel Colfer, a Public Safety officer, and their daughter Haynie, 12, were also on hand to help.

“Being a staff member, I don’t get to get out much and see the kids and the dorms,” Christine Colfer says from the Fauver Field Residences. “And they give you lunch and a t-shirt. What could be better?”

Kiersten Haynie liked what she saw, too.

“I want to come to Wesleyan someday,” Haynie says. “It seems like a good place to go to school.”

Anyone who would like to volunteer next year can call 860-685-3836 or e-mail mjkingsley@wesleyan.edu.

 
By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Wesleyan Observes Constitution Day

Posted 09/09/05, Updated 09.16.05

We The People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessing of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this, Constitution for the United States of America. –Preamble to the U.S. Constitution
 

We The People of Wesleyan University observed Constitution Day with a series of events Sept. 15-16.
 
Wesleyan’s observance is part of a nation-wide observance the U.S. Department of Education has mandated for all educational programs in all federally funded institutions. President George W. Bush signed into law on Dec. 8, 2004, Public Law 108-447, which established Sept.17th as Constitution Day. Wesleyan will celebrate it on Sept. 15-16.

Barbara Jones, university librarian, coordinated the events (see sidebar).
 
Libraries, Jones says, are under a great deal of pressure in regard to protecting the constitutional rights of library users.
 
“The Wesleyan University Library is dedicated to providing its users access to information expressing a variety of points of view, including those views that some of us might find despicable,” she says. “We are also dedicated to protecting the privacy of library users, so that in their search for knowledge, nobody is looking over their shoulder.”
 
Along with the events at Wesleyan, General Tommy Franks lead the U.S. Constitution’s Preamble at 2 p.m. Sept. 16 on radio, television and via www.constitutionday.com. The celebration ended with bells ringing across America led from the Carillon on the grounds of the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge, Penn. where George Washington fought the Revolutionary War.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Honor the Day

Wesleyan honored Constitution Day Sept. 15-16 with a series of events.

Thursday, Sept. 15

Noon –  Discussion by Paul Finkelman, professor of law at the University of Tulsa held an informal discussion with Wesleyan’s new Pre-Law Society. Kim Kubat, assistant director of the Career Resource Center organized the event. Olin Library’s Develin Room.

1 p.m. – Neely Bruce, professor of music, performed Bill of Rights followed by an announcement of the formation of Wesleyan’s new Pre-Law Society. Olin Library Lobby.

4 p.m. – Discussion on the Separation of Church and State by Paul Finkelman, professor of Law at University of Tulsa. Modest reception followed. Olin Library’s Smith Reading Room.

Friday, Sept. 16

Noon – Neely Bruce performed “Bill of Rights” with more than two dozen singers. Memorial Chapel. This is the first of the new Friday lunch-time concert series co-sponsored by the Music Department and the Center for the Arts.

A Technological “Academic Commons” for Liberal Arts Colleges

Academic Commons, a Web site developed by two Wesleyan staff members and a staff member from Alma College launched in August.
 
Posted 09/09/05
Colleagues from liberal arts colleges interested in technology-related issues can read original articles on the topic, share their own ideas and even collaborate with their peers on a Web site launched this month called Academic Commons (http://www.academiccommons.org).

The site offers a forum for investigating and defining the role that technology can play in liberal arts education.

The idea for the project came out of a series of meetings that took place at the Center of Inquiry in the Liberal Arts at Wabash College. Michael Roy, director of Academic Computing Services and Digital Projects, and John Ottenhoff of Alma College spearheaded the project. Jennifer Curran, functional project manager for Wesleyan’s EPortfolio, is the publication’s managing editor.

Roy says the intent was to create a space where faculty, technologists, librarians and other stakeholders in the academic enterprise could think critically about the impact of technology on liberal education.

“There are many other venues for talking about technology and education more generally, and there are plenty of opportunities for technologists to talk with other technologists, and librarians with other librarians, and so forth, but we did not find any other space that looks at this particular niche,” Roy says.

Academic Commons publishes essays, reviews, interviews, showcases of innovative uses of technology and vignettes that critically examine technology uses in the classroom. The first edition features essays on copyright issues, using technology in learning to speak the language of film and the dangers of ”just-in-time” education. The site offers links to a variety of interesting teaching, learning and technology projects.

The Web site also has built-in collaboration software to encourage people to use the space to work together on projects.

Roy and Curran foresee building a genuine community of like-minded people all working in this specialized territory.

“We are all wrestling with the complex and evolving relationships among technology, new media, and liberal arts education,” Curran says. “Technology challenges higher education professionals to think beyond conventional notions of the liberal arts and to broaden their understanding of what it means to be ‘liberally educated.’ Our hope is that our counterparts at institutions of higher education across the country will find this space useful in their efforts to explore these ideas and to take an active part in shaping the relationship between technology and liberal arts education.”

 
By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Creativity Topic of Shasha Seminar

Posted 09/09/05
Accessing creativity will be the topic of discussion during the fourth annual Shasha Seminar for Human Concerns Oct. 6-8 at Wesleyan.

“The Shasha Seminar is a wonderful example of Wesleyan’s commitment to lifelong learning,” says Linda Secord, director of alumni education. “We expect this year’s discussion of creativity to be stimulating, giving participants newly informed perspectives that they will take with them as they return to their personal and professional lives.”

Through a series of seminars and hands-on workshops, alumni, parents and friends will expand their understanding of the creative process and its impact on human endeavors.

Past seminars have explored a wide range of issues, from global conflict to ethics to the environment. This year, experts will lead sessions on topics such as “Creativity as Collaboration,” “Scientific Genius and Creativity,” “The Power of the Arts to Change Lives,” “Breaking Rules, Making Rules,” and “Creativity in the Workplace.”

Attendees also can take workshops in Javanese Gamelan, African drumming, drawing, writing, and behavioral study of human speech and birdsong.

“The interaction among participants is always spirited and rich with ideas,” Secord says.

Howard Gardner P ’91, P ’98, the John H. and Elisabeth A. Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at Harvard University is this year’s keynote speaker.

Seminars speakers include:

Abraham Adzenyah, M.A. ’79, adjunct professor of music at Wesleyan; Ramon Alos Sanchez, a graduate student in film direction at the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia in Rome, Italy; Julie Burstein ’80, executive producer of Studio 360 at WNYC Radio in New York; John Frazer, professor of art, emeritus at Wesleyan; Anne Greene, adjunct professor of English at Wesleyan, director of Writing Programs, and director of the Wesleyan Writers Conference.

Also John Kirn, associate professor of biology and associate professor of neuroscience and behavior and chair of the Neuroscience and Behavior Program at Wesleyan; Liz Lerman, founding artistic director of Liz Lerman Dance Exchange; Ricardo Morris, director of the Green Street Arts Center; Janice Naegele, associate professor of biology, and associate professor of neuroscience and behavior at Wesleyan; John Paoletti, the William R. Kenan Professor of the Humanities, professor of art history, and director of the new museum project at Wesleyan.

Also Nick Rabkin P’08, executive director of the Center for Arts Policy at Columbia College Chicago; Alan Robinson, a faculty member at Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and Sumarsam, M.A. ’76, chair and adjunct professor of music at Wesleyan.

Endowed by James Shasha ’50, the Shasha Seminar supports lifelong learning and encourages participants to expand their knowledge and perspectives on significant issues.

The cost is $250 per person.

For more information or to register, contact Kathy Macko at kmacko@wesleyan.edu or 860-685-2737. The Shasha Seminar Web site is: http://www.wesleyan.edu/shasha.

 
By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

When Ill, These Caterpillars Acquire a Taste for Medicinal Plants

Michael Singer, assistant professor of biology, discovered that the wolly bear caterpillar, Grammia geneura, ingests medicinal plants when sick.
 
Posted 08/17/05
When tiger moth caterpillars get a bug, they do what a lot of us do – ingest some medicine and hope it provides a cure.

These findings by co-investigators Michael Singer, assistant professor of biology, and Elizabeth Bernays, regents professor emerita of entomology at the University of Arizona, appear in the July 27 issue of Nature.

During a study of the caterpillars of two types of tiger moths, known as Grammia geneura and Estigmene acrea, Singer and Bernays observed that when the caterpillars were besieged by potentially deadly parasites, they underwent a chemical change that affected their taste sensing cells. The result: the infected caterpillars suddenly acquired a taste for plants that contained compounds – iridoid glycosides and pyrrolizidine alkaloids. When plants containing these compounds are ingested by the caterpillars the parasites die, often before they could inflict mortal harm on the caterpillars from within.

Singer and Bernays noted that the taste for these medicinal components was heightened in the infected caterpillars while remaining unchanged in uninfected caterpillars.

“In essence, contracting the parasites actually triggers a chemical reaction inside the caterpillars that makes them more disposed to eating the very plants that may help them get rid of these deadly organisms,” Singer says. “The parasites are actually setting in motion a process that may lead to their own demise, provided the caterpillars can get to the right type of plants in time.”

Singer adds that this type of chemical “taste change” that gravitates the caterpillars toward medicinal foods has not been observed in other caterpillars, but is likely to occur as in other animals that are known to self-medicate, including some primates.
 

By David Pesci, director of Media Relations