In this recurring feature in The Wesleyan Connection, we highlight some of the latest news stories about Wesleyan and our alumni.
Wesleyan in the News
1. The Washington Post: “How One College Is Helping Students Get Engaged in Elections—and, No, It’s Not Political”
President Michael Roth writes about Wesleyan’s initiative to engage students meaningfully in work in the public sphere ahead of the 2020 elections, and calls on other colleges and universities to do the same. He writes: “Now is the time for higher education leaders to commit their institutions to find their own paths for promoting student involvement in the 2020 elections. This kind of direct participation in civic life provides an educational benefit that will help students develop skills for lifelong active citizenship; participants will gain organizational skills, learn to engage productively with others with whom they disagree and learn about themselves.”
2. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education: “Nicole Stanton Will Be the Next Provost at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut”
Professor of Dance Nicole Stanton will begin her new role as Wesleyan’s 12th provost and vice president for academic affairs on May 15. She joined Wesleyan in 2007 as associate professor of dance, and currently serves as dean of the Arts and Humanities.
3. Universe Today: “The Surprising Possibility That There Are Still Active Volcanoes on Venus”
Martha Gilmore, George I. Seney Professor of Geology, professor of earth and environmental sciences, was part of a team of scientists that recently found evidence of present-day volcanic activity on Venus, making it the only planet in the solar system (other than its “sister planet” Earth) to have active volcanoes. “These results certainly bolster the case for Venus being volcanically active, but could also have implications for our understanding of the interior dynamics of terrestrial planets (like Earth and Mars) in general.”
Jennifer Calienes, who began Jan. 13 as interim director of Wesleyan’s Center for the Arts, comes to Wesleyan with two decades of experience in nonprofit arts management. Most recently, she served as interim deputy director at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. As a national arts consultant, she has worked with clients including Urban Bush Women, the New England Foundation for the Arts, AXIS Dance Company, and the National Center for Choreography at the University of Akron.
Reuters reports on the Wesleyan Media Project’s latest research. The project, which is directed by Associate Professor of Government Erika Franklin Fowler, found that President Donald Trump’s campaign has aired more than 4,500 television ads, costing over $4.4 million, focused on impeachment since October 1. Republican groups are also funding ads attacking Democratic members of the House over their support for the impeachment investigation.
6. The Hill: “There Is No Plan B on Climate Change”
Gary Yohe, the Huffington Foundation Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies, Emeritus, is co-author of this op-ed that argues, in response to critics of the Paris Climate Accord, that there is no “Plan B” to the agreement. Instead, Yohe and his colleagues offer suggestions to move the current plan along. They advocate for “increas[ing] efforts to heighten public awareness of the hard-won insights from the natural sciences.” This involves understanding why some people refuse to accept the realities of climate change, or to do anything to lessen its impacts.
7. San Francisco Classical Voice: “Tyshawn Sorey Keeps His Ears and Imagination Open”
“Sorey isn’t ‘a musician’ or ‘a composer,’ he is a man listening, chasing sounds, riding rhythms, swept forward on a perpetual, moving sonic and visual wavelength,” begins this profile of Assistant Professor of Music Tyshawn Sorey MA ’11, written in connection with his upcoming appearance Jan. 24 in SF Performances’ Pivot Series. Sorey shares what he’s listening to right now (nature), discusses how he balances being a composer and a musician, offers his approach to improvisation, and more.
Associate Professor of Government Sonali Chakravarti is interviewed in connection with her new book, Radical Enfranchisement in the Jury Room and Public Life. On her inspiration for writing the book, she says, “The fact that evading jury duty can be the basis of a reliable punchline is part of why I wrote this book. Serving as a juror is the most politically and legally powerful role many of us will ever have. We are given the responsibility to make sure that the enforcement of the law is consistent with our democratic ideals and many of us don’t take up the challenge. Especially given the political climate we live in, it doesn’t make sense to avoid jury duty or to make fun of it as only a burdensome task.”
9. Big Think: “How to Criticize, From a Critic”
Distinguished Professor of Film Criticism Anthony O. (A.O.) Scott, the New York Times’ chief film critic, offers advice on how to be more constructive in one’s criticism—from avoiding overused and empty adjectives to making readers read to the end to find out his opinion.
Alumni in the News
1. The Iris: Behind the Scenes at the Getty: “Lyle Ashton Harris [’88] on Self-Portraiture and Making Man and Woman #1, 1987”
In a Q&A, Caitlin Shamberg asks Harris to consider Man and Woman #1, 1987, from today’s context. She notes the history of this piece of work: “The photograph, which Harris made as part of his thesis project at Wesleyan University after switching his major from economics to photography, is a youthful portrait of the artist and a college friend. And while it raises questions about gender, sexuality, and race, Harris also says it foregrounds the power of play and self-fashioning.”
2. Independent: “Ram Dass [Richard Alpert MA ’54]: Spiritual Seeker Who Brought Eastern Mysticism to the Masses”
“Ram Dass, who has died aged 88, was a popular author and white-robed apostle of Eastern mysticism who began his transcendental journey more than 50 years ago as the right-hand disciple of the psychedelic-drug advocate Timothy Leary,” wrote Bart Barnes, who noted that the author of Be Here Now was born Richard Alpert and earned a bachelor’s from Tufts University and a master’s degree in psychology from Wesleyan. After receiving a doctorate from Stanford, he began teaching at Harvard, where he met Leary.
3. Strand Books: “Pen Out Loud: Saidiya Hartman [’84, Hon. ’19] with Leslie Jamison”
This event at the Strand Book Store in New York City, scheduled for Jan. 29, features 2019 MacArthur “Genius Grant” Fellow Hartman to celebrate the paperback release of her book, Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments. She will read from her work and be in conversation with Jamison.
Number one on this list by Dory Jackson is Feldstein’s education: “After attending Harvard-Westlake School during her grade school years, Feldstein went on to attend Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. The sociology major graduated from the liberal arts college in 2015.”
4. NPR.org: “Fees Could Go Up for Historical Family Records”
Host David Greene interviews genealogist Renee Carl ’91 about the increase in fees proposed by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services for copies of its records. Carl argues against this, noting: “These records represent the history of 20th-century immigration in our country. Our immigrant ancestors paid and filed fees when they filled out the forms in the first place. If these records were transferred over to the National Archives, they would be available for research, and these records would then be held in a place that’s used to handling records all the time, not in an agency that focuses on immigration and naturalization.”
5. The New York Journal: “Chatting with Bestselling Author Tejas Desai [’03 ] About His Breakout Novel The Brotherhood”
Desai’s The Brotherhood hit the bestseller list on Amazon. “With Niral Solanke, a private investigator, [Desai] created a protagonist that is both compelling and complicated and a book that hits all the sweet spots.” In the interview, Desai reveals that the third volume of the Brotherhood Chronicle, The Dance Towards Death, will be released in September 2020.