Lauren Rubenstein

Associate Manager of Media & Public Relations at Wesleyan University

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.

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.

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. President Michael Roth publishes op-eds in The Washington Post titled, “We can’t let cynics ruin college,” and “What is college for? (Hint: It’s not just about getting in.).” He also sat for an “On Leadership” interview with The Chronicle of Higher Education.

2. The Conversation: “The dangerous belief that white people are under attack”

Assistant Professor of Psychology Clara Wilkins writes about her research on perceptions of reverse discrimination in light of recent societal trends.

3. Marketplace: “Here comes the tax bill marketing”

Associate Professor of Government Erika Franklin Fowler, co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project, is interviewed about the proliferation of advertising campaigns focused on the federal tax reform law after its passage.

4. Hartford Courant: “President Trump Takes Page from P.T. Barnum’s Book”

Jennifer Tucker, associate professor of history and chair of feminist, gender, and sexuality studies, writes about the legacy of circus creator Phineas T. Barnum in connection with the recent release of the film about his life. Tucker is also associate professor of environmental studies, associate professor of science in society.

5. Association for Psychological Science: “Playing to Chronotype”

Assistant Professor of Psychology Royette Tavernier is interviewed about her research on the topic of sleep.

Recent Alumni News
1. TheNetworkJournal.com: Majora Carter [’88, Hon. ’13]: Social Entrepreneur

This profile of the founder of Sustainable South Bronx details her newest venture, StartUp Box #SouthBronx, “a tech social enterprise designed to help residents of low-income communities participate in the tech economy.”

2. SFGate.com: 5 Lessons You Can Learn from Uber Chief Brand Officer Bozoma Saint John [’99] [Also: Entrepreneur.com, RealwiseRealestate.com, Uncova]

Saint John offers common sense and inspirational keys that she says have helped her in business and in her personal life.

3. BroadwayWorld.com: Eugene O’Neill Theater Center Will Honor Lin-Manuel Miranda [’02] with Monte Cristo Award! [Also:TheHollywoodTimes.net, CTNow.com]

4. Jewish Journal: Hello, Beanie: Feldstein [’15] Having a Moment With ‘Dolly’ and ‘Lady Bird’

In this profile, Feldstein discusses her roles in two award-winning productions, one on Broadway, one on screen and now in theaters. She tells writer Ryan Torok, “I loved Lady Bird so much because it [drew on] a much more vulnerable side of me than I was asked to bring forward [previously]. I was so nervous and excited to tap into that side of myself, after doing things more strictly comedic.”

5. TalkingBizNews.com: Reuters Names Five Global Industry Editors; including Jonathan Weber ’82

Weber, now based in Singapore, was previously West Coast bureau chief and later named technology editor. Reuters credits him for their “strong coverage of cybersecurity,” which “helped build the U.S. tech team into a competitive force.”

6. BostonGlobe.com: Lisa Chedekel [’82], 57, an Esteemed, Intrepid Journalist [Also: Courant.com]

After Chedekel’s death on Jan. 12, 2018, Vinny Vella of the Hartford Courant wrote of her career: “Chedekel had been a member of a team of Courant reporters who won the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news coverage of the deadly shooting rampage at the Connecticut Lottery Corp. . . . ‘Lisa was a fearless reporter and elegant writer,’ said John Ferraro, a Courant editor who worked closely with Chedekel. ‘She searched for truth wherever it led. She was an advocate for the powerless and a thorn in the side of the powerful.’”

 

Wesleyan to Offer Second Annual ‘Hamilton Prize for Creativity’ to Recognize Outstanding Written Work by an Incoming Student

For a second consecutive year, Wesleyan will offer a four-year, full-tuition scholarship worth as much as $200,000 to the incoming student who submits a creative written work judged to best reflect the originality, artistry and dynamism embodied by the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical Hamilton.

Submissions are due Jan. 1, 2018, the regular decision application deadline for Wesleyan’s Class of 2022. Learn more on this website.

The prize was established to honor alumni Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, Hon. ’15 and Thomas Kail ’99, who created and directed the hit broadway musical Hamilton. In 2016-17, the inaugural year of the Hamilton Prize, Wesleyan received over 600 creative entries, ranging from short stories to slam poetry, from screenplays to songs. The prize was awarded to Audrey Pratt of Needham, Mass., for her short piece of fiction titled, “Thorns, Black and White.” Read more about Pratt in the Wesleyan magazine and in The Boston Globe.

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. WNPR’s Where We Live: “A Life with Food Allergies and Intolerances”

Associate Dean for Student Academic Resources Laura Patey is a guest on the show to talk about how Wesleyan works with and supports students and other community members with food allergies. Patey comes in around 40 minutes.

2. The Middletown Press: “Colleague Picks Up Mantle of Late Wesleyan Professor’s 20-Year Book Project on South African Hometown Under Apartheid”

Professor of History, Emeritus Richard Elphick completed an unfinished book by his late colleague, historian, author and Wesleyan professor Jeffrey Butler.

3. The New York Times: “Book Review: Weird Christmas”

Amy Bloom ’75, the Shapiro-Silverberg Professor of Creative Writing, reviews Christmas: A Biography by Judith Flanders.

4. Connecticut Magazine: “Book Club”

Wesleyan University Press is featured on page 17-18.

5. WUNC: “Why Learning Is So Much Bigger Than School”

Steve Stemler, associate professor of psychology, discusses how the purpose of school in our country has evolved over time. He comes in around 11 minutes.

Recent Alumni News

  1. Variety: “Grammy Nominations 2018: Complete List

A number of categories included work by Wesleyan alumni:

Best Musical Theater Album: Dear Evan Hansen is co-produced by Pete Ganbarg ’88; Hello, Dolly! includes cast member Beanie Feldstein ’15 as Minnie Fay.

Best Recording Package: Singer-songwriter Jonathan Colton’s Solid State, by art director Gail Marowitz ’81

Best Song Written For Visual Media: “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana by Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02.

Best Compilation Soundtrack For Visual MediaMoana: The Songs, (Various artists—including Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02).

2. CT Now—“Write Stuff: Beverly Daniel Tatum [’75, HON ’15, P’04] to Speak at Hartford Seminary”

The author of Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations About Race (initially published in 1997 and revised for its 20th anniversary) was the featured speaker for Hartford Seminary’s Michael Rion Lecture on Thursday, Dec. 7. Tatum, who is president emerita of Spelman College and a clinical psychologist and racial identity expert, earned a master’s from Hartford Seminary in 2000. She spoke on “Listening to the Still, Small Voice: The Call To Lead.”

3. Tablet Magazine: “Cartooning’s Jewish Je Ne Sais Quoi: An Interview with Jason Adam Katzenstein [’13]

Cartoonist and illustrator of the graphic novel, Camp Midnight (Image Comics, 2016), Katzenstein is a regular contributor to the New Yorker, as well as a member of the Brooklyn-based band Wet Leather.

In a broad-ranging interview that begins with Katzenstein discussing his favorite fictional representation of his hometown, Los Angeles, he traces his childhood love of comics, noting, “There’s a kind of Jewish je ne sais quoi about a lot of the comics I grew up with.”

4. Refinery29: The 67%: “Please Stop Complimenting Me on My Body” by Beanie Feldstein ’15

The actor, who currently is in the Broadway production of Bette Midler’s Hello, Dolly! as well as the newly released feature film Lady Bird, asks the readers to consider the inappropriate nature of remarking on someone’s appearance—even with ostensibly positive comments. “All I am saying is I don’t want anyone to feel that a change in appearance is an open invitation to comment on someone’s body — even if they believe they are being kind,” she says.

5. MusicInSF: “Q&A: Overcoats”—JJ Mitchell ’15 and Hana Elion ’15;

Nylon: “A Guide To All The Brooklyn Bands You Should Be Listening To Right Now” (number 15 in the slideshow); and

m.axs.com“Interview: Overcoats Break Down Their Electro-Folk Sound

The Overcoats, duo JJ Mitchell ’15 and Hana Elion ’15, have been touring and writing new music. They’ve been highlighted recently in a number of media outlets, discussing their history (beginning at Wesleyan) and songwriting technique. See information on their January tour schedule:

 

 

 

 

Wesleyan in the News

In this issue of The Wesleyan Connection, we introduce a new feature highlighting some of the latest stories in the media about Wesleyan and our many illustrious alumni.

Recent Wesleyan News

The Hartford Courant:

“Chelsea Manning Draws Crowd at Wesleyan, Talks of Community, Resistance”

On Nov. 15, the former intelligence analyst convicted of leaking hundreds of thousands of military documents to WikiLeaks, who is now an activist for gay and transgender rights, spoke to a packed room at Wesleyan in a conversation moderated by Associate Professor Margot Weiss.

2. Boston Review: “An Autobiography of Captivity”

In the Language of My Captor by Shane McCrae, published by Wesleyan University Press, is reviewed. The book was a finalist for the National Book Award this month.

3. The Hartford Courant: “Wesleyan Gets Federal Funding to Strengthen Upward Bound in Middletown”

A new $2.5 million federal grant over five years allows Wesleyan to expand its Upward Bound Math-Science program to help local disadvantaged students gain access to a college education.

4. The Atlantic: “How Racial Data Gets ‘Cleaned’ in the U.S. Census”

This article by Associate Professor of Sociology Robyn Autry explores the messy question of race in the U.S. Census, and how it gets “cleaned.”

5. USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism: “As Trump Guts ACA’s Ad Budget, a Tour of the Evidence on How Advertising Affects Insurance Sign-Ups”

Erika Franklin Fowler, associate professor of government and co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project, and Sarah Gollust ’01 share WMP research findings on the impact of this year’s shorter health insurance enrollment period, and drastically reduced advertising, outreach and enrollment assistance budget.

Recent Alumni News

1. Los Angeles Times: “Alexander Chee [’89] on the Life, Work and Loss of his Mentor, Kit Reed

Alexander Chee ’89, a critic at large for the Los Angeles Times is the award-winning author of The Queen of the Night and Edinburgh and a professor at Dartmouth College. In this essay, he recalls the importance of his advanced fiction class with the late Kit Reed as “my first time for so many things” and traces their friendship— her influence on his writing and his admiration for her—throughout her lifetime. Wesleyan Writer-in-Residence Kit Reed died Sept. 24, 2017, in Los Angeles.

2. Vanity Fair: “Ben Platt and Beanie Feldstein [’15], the High-School “Soul Mates” Who Made It to Broadway Together

Beanie Feldstein ’15, who majored in sociology at Wesleyan, has been garnering rave reviews for her roles in Lady Bird, with Saoirse Ronan (currently in theaters) and Hello, Dolly!, with Bette Midler on Broadway. Feldstein’s high school pal, Ben Platt was on Broadway until recently, earning rave reviews for the starring role in Dear Evan Hansen—and the two discuss their friendship, as well as past, present, and future projects.

3.New England News Collaborative; NEXT podcast: Episode 69 “Home Again,” featuring Dar Williams ’89.

In this New England-focused podcast, broadcast on public radio stations, John Dankosky interviews Dar Williams ’89, on her book, What I Found in a Thousand Towns: A Traveling Musicians Guide to Rebuilding America’s Communities, emphasizing her theory that “positive proximity”—people working together on projects that improve their community and provide a meeting place—are at the heart of regrowth in old post-industrial towns.

4. Chicago Tribune: “Pilotlight, a New Shared Kitchen, to Open in Former Le Cordon Bleu School

Nick Devane ’13, Pilotlight CEO and co-founder, describes the new shared-kitchen venture, saying, “Our mission was always to empower anyone to start a food business and create community through food.” Pilotlight will also provide access to mentors and classes to help its members grow their own businesses.

5. Huffington Post: In an article titled “PTSD—Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder,” author Dr. Sudip Bose, MD, quotes Sebastian Junger ’84

Noting that journalist Sebastian Junger “covered war for almost 20 years,” contributing writer Sudip Bose, MD, FACEP, FAAEM, refers to Junger’s TED Talk for an expert’s perspective in examining the role that brotherhood plays in helping veterans cope with high-risk situations—and why our divided society makes it difficult to return to civilian life. Junger is most recently the author of Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging (Twelve, May 24, 2016).

 

Yohe Speaks on Climate Change at Local Community Center

Gary Yohe spoke about climate change at the Glastonbury Riverfront Community Center on Nov. 15.

Gary Yohe spoke about climate change at the Glastonbury Riverfront Community Center on Nov. 15.

On Nov. 15, Gary Yohe, the Huffington Foundation Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies, delivered a talk on climate change at the Glastonbury (Conn.) Riverfront Community Center. It was sponsored by the Land Heritage Coalition of Glastonbury, Inc.— a non-profit corporation whose mission is to support farming, open space preservation, and water and wetlands protection—as its annual educational initiative.

“As part of our mission, we feel it important to help folks in Connecticut understand the issue of climate change, what the local impacts are, and what we can do in this state,” explained David Ahlgren, LHC co-president. “There’s a lot of hype, spin, misunderstanding, and politics around this very important issue. We’re planning a series of events on this topic, and are starting off with Dr. Yohe, who is eminently equipped to help us understand the science and sift out the spin.”

In the talk, which was free and open to the public, Yohe brought his expertise to address climate change from a scientific perspective, and took questions from the audience.

Yohe Examines Impact of the Newly Released Climate Science Report

Gary Yohe

Gary Yohe, the Huffington Foundation Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies, writes in The Conversation about the recently published Climate Science Special Report. While he, like many others, had feared that the Trump White House would reject the report, instead, he writes, “last week’s release was like trick-or-treating on Halloween and coming to a house with a bowl of candy at the door but no one home.”

Student-Athletes Raise Awareness, Funds for Men’s Health in Movember

The Men's Crew Team showing off their mustaches-in-progress to raise awareness for men's health issues in support of the Movember Foundation.

The Men’s Crew Team showing off their mustaches-in-progress to raise awareness for men’s health issues in support of the Movember Foundation.

This month, Wesleyan students, many affiliated with athletic teams, are raising awareness and raising funds for men’s health through the Movember Foundation. According to its website, the Foundation is the only charity tackling men’s health on a global level, with a focus on addressing prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide prevention. It has funded over 1,200 men’s health projects in 21 countries.

Wesleyan has had an official Campus Representative with the Foundation for the past four years. This year Luke Forsthoefel ’20, a member of Men’s Crew team, is the Campus Representative for all of Wesleyan.

“The issue of men’s health is especially important to me because I think in a lot of ways there are societal norms and expectations put on men that can make it difficult for those who need help to get it,” he said. “There is a certain stigma around men asking for help and support when they need it, which is why I think it is so important to get people of all genders involved in helping men break this stigma.”

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. 

First Things First Introduces First-Generation Students to Wesleyan, Each Other

The first cohort of students to complete the First Things First pre-orientation program in fall 2016.

The first cohort of students to complete the First Things First pre-orientation program in fall 2016.

As a first-generation college student from Scottsdale, Ariz., Caroline Liu ’18 is always aware of the many “nuanced and small ways in which my life experience differs from my peers.” These differences can be especially visible and discouraging during high-stress moments in the semester.

For example, she said, students often talk about having their parents read over their school work.

“As a first-generation American and low-income student, I don’t have the privilege to discuss any of my academics with my parents, much less have them check over my more theoretical work. They neither have the English language capacity nor the time, between working multiple jobs, for me to even consider them as a resource in that way,” said Liu, who is double majoring in computer science and feminist, gender and sexuality studies. While searching for internships and jobs, Liu is also not able to rely on her parents for assistance with reviewing resumes and cover letters, and providing references and connections to job opportunities.

Kilgard Explains Why Scientists Are So Excited About Observing Merging Neutron Stars

The Van Vleck Observatory on Foss Hill.

Writing in The Conversation, Roy Kilgard, research associate professor of astronomy, explains the significance of an exciting new discovery in astronomy. For the first time, astrophysicists have observed merging neutron stars using LIGO (the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) and the Virgo interferometer.

Kilgard writes:

This news may confirm a longstanding theory: that some gamma-ray bursts (GRBs for short), which are among the most energetic, luminous events in the universe, are the result of merging neutron stars. And it is in the crucible of these mergers that most heavy elements may be forged. Researchers can’t produce anything like the temperatures or pressures of neutron stars in a laboratory, so observation of these exotic objects provides a way to test what happens to matter at such extremes.

Astronomers are excited because for the first time they have gravitational waves and light signals stemming from the same event. These truly independent measurements are separate avenues that together add to the physical understanding of the neutron star merger.