Campus News & Events

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.

Nominate Faculty for the 2018 Binswanger Prize

John Finn, Mary-Jane Rubenstein and Andrea Roberts and are the recipients of the 2017 Binswanger Prizes for Excellence in Teaching. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Last year Wesleyan President Michael Roth honored (from left) John Finn, professor of government; Mary-Jane Rubenstein, professor of religion; and Andrea Roberts, associate professor of the practice, chemistry, with Binswanger Prizes for Excellence in Teaching during the 185th Commencement Ceremony on May 28, 2017.
Nominations are now open for 2018 recipients.


Recognize the Wesleyan faculty who have had a lasting impact on your academic and personal development by nominating them for the 2018 Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching!

Juniors, seniors, graduate students and Graduates of the Last Decade (GOLD) are invited to nominate up to three professors for 2018 Binswanger Prizes, which will be awarded during Wesleyan’s Commencement Ceremony on May 27.

The deadline for nominations is Feb. 12, 2018. NOMINATE NOW.

The Binswanger Prize is made possible by gifts from the family of the late Frank Binswanger Sr. Hon. ’85 and underscores Wesleyan’s commitment to its scholar-teachers who are responsible for the university’s distinctive approach to liberal arts education.

Current faculty who have taught at Wesleyan for at least 10 years are eligible. Previous recipients are excluded for a period of 12 years after which they become eligible once again. Recipients are chosen by a selection committee of faculty and members of the Alumni Association Executive Committee.

The criteria for selecting the recipients is excellence in teaching, as exemplified by commitment to the classroom and student accomplishment, intellectual demands placed on students, lucidity and passion. Recommendations may be based on any of the types of teaching that are done at the university including, but not limited to, teaching in lecture courses, seminars, laboratories, creative and performance-based courses, research tutorials and other individual and group tutorials at the undergraduate and graduate level.


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

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

3. Eugene O’Neill Theater Center Will Honor Lin-Manuel Miranda [’02] with Monte Cristo Award! [,]

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. 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. Lisa Chedekel [’82], 57, an Esteemed, Intrepid Journalist [Also:]

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.’”


Contemporary Physics Class Takes Virtual Tour of World’s Largest Particle Accelerator

Foss Professor of Physics Tom Morgan (right) and his contemporary physics class enjoy a morning “virtual visit” to the CERN laboratory in Geneva, via Skype, with images of the Hadron Collider projected on a screen in Exley along with real-time conversations with physicists working there.

On Dec. 11, Foss Professor of Physics Tom Morgan invited his class, Introduction to Contemporary Physics, to join him in Exley Science Center for a virtual visit to the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator, located in Geneva. With Senior Instructional Media Specialist Heric Flores-Rueda projecting images on a classroom screen through video conferencing, Morgan’s students enjoyed a real-time view of the CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) laboratory and an on-screen peek inside the collider. Physicist Steven Goldfarb—a member of the team that discovered the Higgs Boson Particle—led the tour, explaining the experiments underway, as well as offering a question/answer period.

This course, a sophomore-level gateway to the physics major, is new to the department in this format, said Morgan, and slated to become part of the curriculum, due to its popularity. This semester five seniors, six juniors, six sophomores, and what Morgan calls “one lucky first-year student”—admitted after an interview—make up the class.

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.

McNair Program Receives Refunding, Will Continue to Support Underrepresented Students

Wesleyan McNair fellows Eduardo Centeno ’18, Lorena Fernandez ’18 and Daniel Lee ’18 gather at the 25th Annual Ronald E. McNair Scholars Symposium at the University of California – Berkeley in July 2017 with Carl McNair, pictured second from left. Carl McNair is the brother of the program’s namesake, Ronald McNair.

This semester, Wesleyan’s Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program, which assists students from underrepresented groups in preparing for, entering and progressing successfully through post-graduate education, received a five-year renewal grant from the U.S Department of Education. Wesleyan’s program will receive $232,265 annually, for a total award of $1,161,325. The federal money is supplemented with an additional $50,000 per year from the President.

Since 2007, the program has supported 135 students all of whom were first-generation college and low-income and/or from groups underrepresented in graduate school. The program provides research opportunities and funding, mentoring, graduate school admissions assistance and academic support to students planning to pursue PhDs and focuses on students in STEM.

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“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: