Society

Rutland Speaks at Gaidar Forum in Moscow

Panelist Peter Rutland is the Colin and Nancy Campbell Professor in Global Issues and Democratic Thought, professor of government, professor of Russian and Eastern European studies and tutor in the College of Social Studies.

Colin and Nancy Campbell Professor in Global Issues and Democratic Thought Peter Rutland was invited to speak at a forum held in Moscow this past week.

Peter Rutland, the Colin and Nancy Campbell Professor in Global Issues and Democratic Thought, recently spoke on a panel of political economy experts at The Gaidar Forum 2018, held at the Presidential Academy of Economics and Public Administration in Moscow. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev gave the keynote address at the forum.

“How can Russia get onto a more knowledge-intensive, non–resource-based economic sustainable growth path? How can it escape from the middle income trap?” asks Rutland in his talk.

“You could look across the continent to China,” which has been amazingly successful in recent years, he says.

Russian companies do not invest at the same level as their rivals in other countries, Rutland argues, citing weak property rights, excessive role of the state and weak competition as critical reasons.

Former Curator Feller Expert on Jewish Philosophy, Museum Studies

Yaniv Feller joined the faculty in 2017. He’s teaching religion courses this spring.

Yaniv Feller is the Jeremy Zwelling Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies and assistant professor of religion. Feller specializes in Jewish philosophy, Jewish-Christian relations, post-Holocaust theology, material culture and museum studies. His current book project is titled “Leo Baeck and the Tradition of Dialogical Apologetics.” Prior to Wesleyan, Feller worked as an exhibition curator for the new permanent exhibition project at the Jewish Museum Berlin.

In this Q&A, Feller speaks about his time working at a renowned Jewish museum, the importance of incorporating the lives and histories of objects into his courses and woodworking. 

Q: You just joined the faculty at Wesleyan this year. What are you enjoying and how would you characterize your new academic home?

A: It is hard to believe that a semester has already passed—time flies by when you are having fun! Reflecting on the last couple of months, I realize that Wesleyan is indeed everything I hoped it to be: it is a passionate community of learners, and this is true of faculty and students alike. I obviously heard about how smart and engaged people at Wesleyan are, and it was a pleasure to discover that sometimes, positive reputation is more than justified.

Q: What courses are you teaching this spring?

A: I am teaching RELI 203, Jews and Judaism, and RELI 213, Refugees and Exiles: Religion in the Diaspora.

Q: Do you have a favorite course? (Or is that like asking a parent about a favorite child?) Is there one that seems particularly well received or apropos?

A: It IS a bit like asking for a favorite child. I like them all! I like to teach classes that examine Jewish history and philosophy as a springboard for larger theoretical questions, or ones that ask the theoretical questions through a series of case studies. Perhaps most relevant this semester is “Refugees and Exiles” in which we will examine contemporary discussions on refugees in light of philosophical, literary and historical perspectives. What do narratives about the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple, for example, have to teach us about today? More than you might suspect.

Government Faculty, Recent Alumni, Co-Author Articles

Two Government Department faculty recently co-authored scholarly articles with recent Wesleyan undergraduates.

Chloe Rinehart ’14 and James McGuire, chair and professor of government, are the co-authors of “Obstacles to Takeup: Ecuador’s Conditional Cash Transfer Program, the Bono de Desarrollo Humano,” published in World Development in September 2017.

Rinehart and McGuire examined factors that keep impoverished people from benefiting from the social assistance programs for which they are legally eligible. Taking the case of Ecuador’s Bono de Desarrollo Humano (BDH), a U.S. $50 monthly cash transfer to families in the poorest 40 percent of the income distribution, they used field research in Ecuador to identify potential obstacles to program takeup, and Ecuador’s 2013-14 Living Standards Measurement Survey to explore which of these potential obstacles were critical deterrents. The quantitative analysis of these survey data showed that compliance costs, like travel to enrollment and payment sites, and psychological costs, including stigma and distrust of government, each had a significant deterrent effect on BDH takeup. 

Hallie Lecture Focuses on Ancient Greece and Beyond

On Oct. 25, the College of Letters welcomed Greek political philosophy expert Melissa Lane to campus to deliver the 24th annual Philip Hallie Lecture. Lane spoke on "Office and Accountability in Ancient Greece and Beyond." Lane is the Class of 1943 Professor of Politics at Princeton University, where she is also director of the University Center for Human Values, and an associated faculty member in the Departments of Classics and of Philosophy. Previously she taught in the Faculty of History at the University of Cambridge, after receiving there an M.Phil. and PhD in philosophy.

On Oct. 25, the College of Letters welcomed Greek political philosophy expert Melissa Lane to campus to deliver the 24th annual Philip Hallie Lecture. Lane spoke on “Office and Accountability in Ancient Greece and Beyond.” Lane is the Class of 1943 Professor of Politics at Princeton University, where she is also director of the University Center for Human Values, and an associated faculty member in the Departments of Classics and of Philosophy. Previously she taught in the Faculty of History at the University of Cambridge, after receiving there an M.Phil. and PhD in philosophy.

Jacobsen Speaks at Event on the Economics of Misogyny

Joyce Jacobsen, third from left, with other economists at the Center for American Progress event.

Joyce Jacobsen, third from left, with other economists at the Center for American Progress event. (Photo courtesy of the Center for American Progress)

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Joyce Jacobsen spoke at an event on Sept. 29 at the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C. The event was on the topic, The Economics of Misogyny. Jacobsen spoke on the topic of feminist economics in conversation with Judith Warner, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. A video recording of the event can be seen here.

Jacobsen also is the Andrews Professor of Economics.

Hornstein Authors New Article in ‘China Economic Review’

Abigail Hornstein

Abigail Hornstein

Associate Professor of Economics Abigail Hornstein’s article, “Words vs. actions: International variation in the propensity to fulfill investment pledges in China,” was published in the journal China Economic Review in July 2017.

Hornstein studied whether companies from certain countries were more likely than others to fulfill investment pledges. On average, she found that firms fulfilled about 59 percent of their pledges within two years. This number was lower for firms in countries with greater uncertainty avoidance, power distance, and egalitarianism; and higher for those in countries that are more traditional. She also found that popular attitudes toward China did not affect the likelihood of fulfilling investment pledges.

Smolkin Discusses Soviet Atheism on BBC

Victoria Smolkin

Assistant Professor of History Victoria Smolkin was recently a guest on BBC Radio 4’s “Beyond Belief” to discuss Soviet state atheism.

Smolkin said that Lenin’s conviction that banishing religion was necessary to create a revolutionary society was right ideologically, but wrong politically.

“If they wanted to stay in power, they needed to accommodate religion, and they understood that,” she said. “However, if they wanted to build a Communist society, ultimately religion had to go.”

Paper by Dancey, Masand ’15 Focuses on Congress’s Response to Deaths

Logan Dancey, assistant professor of government, and Jasmine Masand ‘15 are the co-authors of “Race and Representation on Twitter: Members of Congress’ Responses to the Deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner,” published in Politics, Groups, and Identities in July 2017.

This paper investigates the public responses of members of Congress to the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner and the subsequent protests and grand jury decisions. To do so, the authors examined members’ engagement with the issue on Twitter, which became a platform for public protest with such hashtags as #BlackLivesMatter and #ICantBreathe.

“We find that a member’s race is a more robust predictor of their engagement on the issue than is the member’s partisanship or the partisan and racial demographics of their district,” Dancey explained. “By showing that descriptive representation may overwhelm more traditional notions of district-based representation in responses to a racially charged issue, we further highlight the role descriptive representation in Congress plays in ensuring that the diversity of voices coming out of Congress reflects the diversity of voices in the public at large.”

Haddad Calls for Development of Volunteer Force to Respond to Natural Disasters

Mary Alice Haddad

Mary Alice Haddad

Amid the devastation wrought by recent storms, Professor of Government Mary Alice Haddad calls in The Hartford Courant for people everywhere to be better prepared to respond to natural disasters.

When the next storm hits our area, she writes, “It will not be professional first-responders but rather our neighbors who will be the ones handing our child to safety, lifting our dog from his perch atop the garage or helping our grandmother stay warm. America needs to build up its civil society infrastructure. We are known for our volunteerism, our generosity and our big hearts. We now need to organize that volunteer spirit a bit more thoughtfully in ways that can respond well when disaster strikes.”

Scholars Discuss Digital Methods in Research and Teaching

Faculty and students from Wesleyan, Binghamton University, Marlboro College, the University of Illinois and Exeter University participated in a two-day workshop titled "From Theory to Practice: Digital Methods in Research and Teaching" Sept. 7-8 in Allbritton Hall.

Faculty and students from Wesleyan, Binghamton University, Marlboro College, the University of Illinois and Exeter University participated in a two-day workshop titled “From Theory to Practice: Digital Methods in Research and Teaching” Sept. 7-8 at the Allbritton Center.

A new collaborative research hub, supported by Wesleyan’s Quantitative Analysis Center, provides faculty and students with the tools to prepare, analyze and disseminate information on movement, travel and communication in easily-accessible formats.

The Traveler’s Lab, developed by faculty members Gary Shaw, Jesse Torgerson and Adam Franklin-Lyons at Marlboro College, connects the faculty with each others’ projects, but also with students who are interested in an interdisciplinary approach to historical research.

Angle Awarded NEH Grant to Fund Innovative Philosophy Teaching Institute

Stephen Angle

Stephen Angle

On Aug. 2, Stephen Angle, the Mansfield Freeman Professor of East Asian Studies, professor of philosophy, together with colleagues at Notre Dame and Fordham, received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to support a two-week NEH Summer Institute for college and university faculty focusing on the idea of teaching “Philosophy as a Way of Life.” Twenty-five faculty from around the country will be invited.

The award—worth $137,045—is part of the NEH’s recent $39.3 million in grants for 245 humanities projects across the country.

The “Reviving Philosophy as a Way of Life: A NEH Summer Institute for College and University Teachers” will be held at Wesleyan July 9-20, 2018.