Society

Students Learn about New Technologies Being Used to Study the Past

On March 28, the Archaeology Program and the Department of Classical Studies invited Ian Roy of Brandeis University to Wesleyan to discuss ways new technologies are used to study the past. Roy is the founding head of Brandeis MakerLab and director for research technology and innovation at Brandeis University’s library.

Object from the Wesleyan Anthropology Archeology Collections

Students learned how to use a portable Artec 3-D scanner to scan a vessel from the Wesleyan University Archaeology and Anthropology Collections.

Roy first visited the Archaeometry: How to Science the Heck out of Archaeology class taught by Andrew Koh, visiting assistant professor of archaeology. There, he demonstrated how to scan objects in 3-D using an Artec Space Spyder, a tool that uses structured light to capture incredibly high-resolution scans of objects. The class produced multiple models of artifacts, including a vessel that has since been posted to Sketchfab.

“What’s so amazing is that these are just quick versions made in only 15 minutes, without any post-processing and touch-ups,” said Kate Birney, assistant professor of classical studies, archaeology, and art history.

3 Student-Led Ventures Awarded PCSE Seed Grants

George Perez ’20

George Perez ’20 pitches his venture, Cardinal Kids, which provides affordable arts, technology and literacy programming to Middletown youth. Cardinals Kids was one of three projects awarded a Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship Seed Grant.

On March 2, Wesleyan students pitched their project ideas to a panel of judges at the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship (PCSE) Seed Grant finals. Of the six finalists who presented, three teams were awarded $5,000 seed grants to fund the launch of their social enterprise, program, organization or venture.

The winning projects address a compelling social problem, have a clear objective and data strategy, and have potential to produce a lasting and replicable impact. In addition to the project itself, judges based their decisions on the applicants’ passion, commitment, tenacity, leadership and personal integrity.

The 2018 Seed Grant recipients are:

Kai Williams ’20

Kai Williams ’20 pitches her organization, Eat at the Table Theatre Company.

Eat at the Table Theatre Company
Kai Williams ’20 and Emma Morgan Bennett
E.A.T.T. is a nonprofit theatre arts organization that is both founded, operated by and offers membership to actors of color under 22 years old. They will create theater opportunities for young actors of color in New York as a means of combating discriminatory and racist practices within the theater industry and to focus on developing and centering the work of marginalized artists.

Cardinal Kids (previously Middletown Green Youth Association),
George Perez ’20, Jessica Russell ’20, Jenny Chelmow ’19, Vera Benkoil ’18 and Katie Murray ’19
Cardinal Kids is a financially self-sustaining program that will bring affordable arts, tech and literacy programming to Middletown youth. The program will be a Monday through Friday after-school program taught by Wesleyan students.

Young Achievers Foundation Ghana
Ferdinand Quayson ’20, Derrick Dwamena (Michigan State University), Archibald Enninful (Yale University), Felix Agbavor (Drexel University) 
Young Achievers Foundation (YAF) Ghana is a student-run initiative which promotes access to higher education for students in Northern Ghana through scholarship workshops and innovative in-school mentorship programs.

The 2018 Seed Grant finalists are:

A Bridging Community Dinner (AB-CD) Project
Isobel McPhee ’19, Serene Murad ’18, Willa Schwarz ’19 and Shellae Versey (faculty fellow, College of the Environment; assistant professor, African American studies) 
AB-CD Project seeks to bridge communities through a simple concept—connecting with others through sharing meals. It provides the opportunity for refugees to build community relationships through communal dinners and to evaluate the project’s efficacy in helping refugee groups feel welcomed, build relationships and gather resources through community partnerships.

Kelly Acevedo ’20 speaks about Caput Productions.

Kelly Acevedo ’20 speaks about Caput Productions.

Caput Productions
Kelly Acevedo ’20 and Alex Vazquez (academic technology training specialist), with support from Asa Palmer ’18, Langston Lynch ’20 and Rachel Ellis Neyra (assistant professor of English)

Caput Productions will produce films that display the potential of South Central Los Angeles in spite of the “hood mentality” that so often prevents it from receiving needed resources. Their first film is “Sweet and Sour South Central Child.”

The Black Lady Theatre Summer Camp
Arline Pierre-Louis ’19
The Summer of Peace Theatre Camp, sponsored by the Black Lady Theatre, will expand arts education for students that are trapped in New York City’s school-to-prison pipeline.

A video recording of the pitches will soon be made available on the Patricelli Center website.

Gallarotti in The Conversation: Trump’s Protectionism Continues Long History of U.S. Rejection of Free Trade

Giulio Gallarotti

An article by Professor Giulio Gallarotti appeared in The Conversation. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Wesleyan faculty frequently publish articles based on their scholarship in The Conversation US, a nonprofit news organization with the tagline, “Academic rigor, journalistic flair.” In a recent article, Professor of Government Giulio Gallarotti debunks the myth that Trump’s protectionist tendencies fly in the face of America’s tradition of free trade. Gallarotti is also co-chair of the College of Social Studies and professor of environmental studies. Read his bio in The Conversation.

Trump’s Protectionism Continues Long History of U.S. Rejection of Free Trade

Free traders have vilified President Donald Trump as a pernicious protectionist because of policies such as hiking tariffs, abandoning the Trans-Pacific Partnership and saying he’s prepared to walk away from the North American Free Trade Agreement.

They fear his policies will hurt the U.S. economy by restricting access to foreign goods. But are these policies really so radically different from past administrations?

Absolutely not. The fact is the U.S. has never been a truly free trade country—one with virtually no barriers to trade with other nations—as some people seem to think. The idea that the U.S. ever was is a myth.

Campus Honors Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at Commemoration

On Feb. 15, the campus community gathered in Crowell Concert Hall to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This year, 2018, also marks the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s death. The commemoration included a keynote address, a vocal transcript of King's baccalaureate address at Wesleyan in 1965, songs, and a reception at Malcolm X House.

On Feb. 15, the campus community gathered in Crowell Concert Hall to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. HON ’64. This year, 2018, also marks the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s death. The commemoration included a keynote address, an audio recording of King’s baccalaureate address at Wesleyan in 1965, songs and a reception at Malcolm X House.

Kus’s Article Explores the Myths about Immigration’s Negative Impact on the Economy

Basak Kus

Basak Kus

Basak Kus, associate professor of sociology, is the author of “Blaming Immigrants for Economic Troubles,” published in Social Europe on Feb. 6.

In her article, Kus provides evidence that the inflow of immigrants contributes to U.S. economic growth and is not the cause of American workers’ plight. She discusses the arguments that immigration has suppressed wages, discouraged unions, and exerted fiscal pressure on the welfare state.

“It is argued immigrants make demands on the welfare state, while not paying enough taxes to cover the cost of the benefits they receive. This is not accurate,” she writes. “America’s welfare system is facing pressure; there is no dispute about that. However, immigration is not the cause. Non-citizens’ use of welfare benefits has declined significantly since the 1996 Welfare Reform…. At the same time, there is evidence that, in urban areas, immigrant households are paying taxes at nearly the same rate as native households.”

Minimum wage, she says, hasn’t changed since 2009.

“As of writing, the federal minimum wage is $7.25. According to EPI’s estimations, had the federal minimum wage kept pace with productivity it would be over $18 today. Tackling this issue alone would help improve the economic fortunes of working class folks…. If a country’s laws allow for a race to the bottom, then a race to the bottom there will be. Instead of reforming the policies that make this possible, instead of making use of distributive and redistributive channels to improve the lives of workers, some find it easier to blame the immigrants.”

Kus serves on the editorial boards of Socio-Economic Review and International Journal of Comparative Sociology.

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.

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.