Campus News & Events

Students Learn to Translate Academic Knowledge for Public in Calderwood Seminars

In Andy Szegedy-Maszak’s Calderwood seminar, Classical Studies Today, nine juniors and seniors learn to translate weekly academic readings into writing that can be understood and appreciated by various audiences.

In Andy Szegedy-Maszak’s Calderwood seminar, Classical Studies Today, nine juniors and seniors learn to translate weekly academic readings into writing that can be understood and appreciated by various audiences.

When President Michael Roth speaks about the purpose of college, he frequently boils it down to three key things: students should find what they love to do, get better at it, and learn to share what they love with others. This semester, Wesleyan is adding to its curriculum to help students develop this third critical skill.

Wesleyan recently received a 3-1/2 year grant for over $600,000 to pilot on campus the Calderwood Seminars, which train students in translating complex arguments and professional jargon from their academic disciplines into writing that can be understood and appreciated by the general public. The seminars, developed by Professor David Lindauer at Wellesley College in 2013, have proven valuable for students in life beyond college. The program’s pedagogical approach has been successfully adapted across many different disciplines.

Students Study Theater in Chile over Winter Session (with Photo Gallery)

The THEA 357: Space and Materiality class traveled to Santiago, Chile, in January.

During Winter Session, 14 Wesleyan students studied live, site-based theater performances in Santiago, Chile.

The course, THEA 357: Space and Materiality, was taught by Marcela Oteíza, assistant professor of theater, and took place during the Festival Internacional Santiago a Mil (FITAM), the most renowned theater festival in Santiago. This was the first abroad course offered by Winter Session.

“It was a wonderful experience for students and myself; particularly, to be able to share in situ with them the social and cultural history of Santiago within the framework of the festival,” Oteíza said. “Students learned about performance and reception theories, while participating in the performances and activities that the festival had to offer.”

Twenty students applied for the two-week intensive course, of which Oteíza was able to take 14, including sophomores, juniors and seniors. Half were theater majors, but the group also included anthropology, English, Spanish, biology, mathematics and American studies majors.

Wesleyan in the News

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.

2. Newsweek: “Putin Keeps His Foot Firmly Pressed on Europe’s Windpipe”

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

1. Talking Biz News: “WSJ hires Parish as editor of Future of Everything

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.

2. NPR.org: For One Family, Contract Work Means ‘Feast Or Famine’ As Income Varies

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 WorldSarah 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.

 

 

Sustainability Workshop Sparks Discussions, New Ideas

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):

The event's faculty panel offered information on ways they've approached sustainability issues within their own curriculum. Panelists included Tony Hatch, associate professor of Science in Society, associate professor of African American studies, associate professor of sociology; Jan Naegele, the Alan M. Dachs Professor of Science, professor of biology, professor of neuroscience and behavior; and Elise Springer, Chair and associate professor of philosophy, associate professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies.

The event’s faculty panel offered information on ways they’ve approached sustainability issues within their own curriculum. Panelists included past Sustainability Across the Curriculum participants Tony Hatch, associate professor of science in society, associate professor of African American studies, associate professor of sociology; Jan Naegele, the Alan M. Dachs Professor of Science, professor of biology, professor of neuroscience and behavior; and Elise Springer, chair and associate professor of philosophy, associate professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies. Hatch noted he had pursued the subject of sustainability in terms of biomonitoring—that is, what elements are now in the human body that were not found there in previous eras. Naegele spoke about adding a module to the course on brain development that considered the effect of neurotoxins on that process. And Springer noted that sustainability is not a goal that can be fully achieved, but a genre of critique that evolves as we understand the ecological complexity of our practices.

At right, Jennifer Kleindienst, Wesleyan’s sustainability director, facilitates a group discussion. (Rachael Barlow, associate director for assessment, is at left.)

Ying Jia Tan, assistant professor of history, whose research focuses on the history of energy in modern China, participated in the brainstorming session.

Rachael Barlow, Wesleyan’s first associate director of assessment, who teaches the courses associated with the university’s new integrative learning project, also joined the seminar as a facilitator, offering examples of sustainability courses designed at other institutions that have proven successful.

Facilitator Suzanne O’Connell (right), professor of earth and environmental sciences and an early adapter to introducing sustainability concepts in her classes, shares teaching techniques that she has found effective in approaching the topic.

John Cooley, who has taught The Art of Academic Writing: The Environmental Movement in American History, raised questions on the seemingly inevitable temporal lag between when companies put a product on the market, scientists discover its harmful attributes and regulators then try to catch up, setting restrictions on the use of the product. (Paula Blue, instructional technologist at CPI, is at left.)

Constance Leidy (right), associate professor of mathematics, noted that she found it important to help students visualize extremely large numbers in order to contemplate the effects of exponential growth in population versus available resources. (From left to right, Suzanne O’Connell, professor of earth and environmental science; Peggy Carey Best, director of service learning and visiting assistant professor of sociology; and William Johnston, professor of history, East Asian studies, science in society, and environmental studies.

Ford Foundation Supports Wesleyan’s Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance

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.

Research by Service-Learning Class Published in Archaeological Society Bulletin

Papers by Professor J. Kehaulani Kauanui and four of her former students are published in the most recent issue of the Bulletin of the Archaeological Society of Connecticut.

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.”

Wesleyan Media Project Research Informing Work in Government, Private Sector

Erika Franklin Fowler is co-director of The Wesleyan Media Project.

Erika Franklin Fowler is co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project.

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.

Lori Gruen in The Conversation: How Should We Decide What to Do?

Lori Gruen

Lori Gruen

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 doGruen 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? 

How many times do we wonder, “What’s the right thing 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.

Leverage Language Skills with Free Mango Platform

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.”

Student-Athletes Teach Sport Clinic for Girls

Several local grade-school children learned about the game of tennis during a sports clinic for girls held Jan. 27 in the Freeman Athletic Center. Wesleyan student-athletes and coaches taught the clinic.

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. 

Liseo, Hardigg ’90 Share WESU Connection Spanning 3 Decades

Francaccio (Franco Liseo) co-hosts a show of Italian music on WESU 88.1 FM with Lucilla Caminito, who Skypes in from Italy. (Photos of Francaccio by Cynthia Rockwell)

 

For two hours every Saturday—and any early morning or late night shift available—Middletown resident Franco Liseo fills the airwaves of WESU 88.1 FM, with Italian music. His specialty is the sounds from the ’60s and ’70s; “Love songs,” he says. “When I left Italy, I left with the music”—and he’s been doing this for 30 years.

The Saturday show is special; he broadcasts with a co-host, the daughter of a childhood friend, Lucilla Caminito, who Skypes in from Melilli. These shows feature contemporary music that Caminito chooses and sends to Liseo—whose DJ name is “Francaccio”—via the internet, YouTube or on a CD. “She’s prepared for this music; it’s more rap sounds now, the new generation,” he says.

Between songs, the two talk on air in rapid-fire Italian, smiling always and laughing frequently—never with a script—until it’s time for Francaccio to announce, “WESU Middletown,” and push the buttons for another song for their listeners throughout Connecticut and in his native Italy. Then he relaxes, continuing a conversation in Italian with Lucilla and in English with any visitor to the Broad Street location above Red and Black Café.

“Right here,” he says, opening his arms wide to encompass the whole studio. “I am home; the radio is me; I’m in paradise.”

Students Use Mapping Skills to Collaborate with Community Partner

Earth and environmental sciences major Jackie Buskop '19 collects field data along a hiking trail in Connecticut. (Photo by Melissa Luna)

Earth and environmental sciences major Jackie Buskop ’19 collects field data along a hiking trail in Connecticut while working on a class project. (Photo by Melissa Luna)

Last fall, 19 students enrolled in the Earth and Environmental Sciences 280 course, Introduction to GIS, assisted a local organization while learning data analysis skills.

At the start of the semester, the class teamed up with community partner Emma Kravet, education director at the Connecticut Forest & Park Association (CFPA). Kravet expressed a need for a mapping tool that shows the location of schools and other community resources near the CFPA’s blue-blazed hiking trail system. If such a map existed, she could facilitate more meaningful connections to schools and organizations near the trails.

The class broke into five thematic groups to address the CFPA’s needs: recreation, environment, trail access, educational opportunities and public history.

Students first learned about GIS (geographic information systems) and ways they could capture, organize, store, edit, analyze and display spatial and geographic data.