May. 17, 2013 by Lauren Rubenstein
A story in The Nation about the ever-growing power of SuperPACs to influence elections cites an analysis by Assistant Professor of Government and Wesleyan Media Project co-director Erika Franklin Fowler and Wesleyan Media Project co-director Travis Ridout of Washington State University about the extreme negativity employed by SuperPACs in advertising. While 64 percent of all ads aired during the 2012 presidential race were negative, a staggering 85 percent of ads aired by outside groups were negative, and only 5 percent were positive, Fowler and Ridout found.
“It’s going to be the case that the more super PACs invest in elections, the more negative those elections will be,” said Michael Franz, the third co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project. “They’re the ones doing the dirty work.”
May. 16, 2013 by Lauren Rubenstein
In a story for PBS Newshour, James Greenwood, research associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, disputes a newly published finding by other scientists that water on the moon originated on the planet Earth, and was transferred during a massive collision 4.5 billion years ago. Comparing the specific proportions of hydrogen isotopes to deuterium isotopes in water found on the moon and the Earth, Greenwood argues that it’s not a close enough match to conclusively proof that the water on the moon is terrestrial. Instead, he maintains that the water arrived later, and probably from a comet.
“They are arguing that they have the same source of water and the source survived the impact event without changing the isotope signature,” Greenwood said. “It’s still similar to cometary water.”
And given the isotopic ranges we currently have for comets, they’re pretty close to Earth’s water, he added. “If comets have a deuterium to hydrogen ratio the same as the Earth’s oceans, then comets could have delivered all the water.”
Greenwood is also visiting assistant professor of earth & environmental sciences and interim faculty director of the McNair Program.
The New York Times called upon Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies Jeanine Basinger, who recently published a book on marriage movies, to comment on a new film called, “Fill the Void.” Set in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Israel, the film “weaves the intimate particulars of Hasidic life into the more conventional marriage plot, a Hollywood staple,” according to the article.
“The Orthodox community is maintaining the form of the marriage film because it is maintaining a former form of social intercourse,” said Basinger.
“It comes down to issues that are recognizable to anyone who’s ever been in a relationship,” Basinger said. The challenge, she added, is to “find the little action that explains the bigger meaning.”
The Hartford Business Journal featured Wesleyan in a story about Connecticut colleges’ efforts to make Commencement weekends, which bring thousands of visitors to campus, more environmentally friendly. At Reunion & Commencement Weekend May 23-26, Wesleyan will provide guests with reusable water bottles, which can be filled at two student-designed portable water filtration dispensers. There also will be staff and volunteers on hand to help separate waste into trash, recycling and composting bins.
Just as the ’60s were the Age of Anxiety, the ’70s the Age of Malaise, and the late ’80s and ’90s the Age of Depression, Charles Barber, visiting assistant professor of psychology, visiting writer, has diagnosed the current American generation with post-traumatic stress disorder. Beginning with the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks up through the tragedies in Newtown and at the Boston Marathon within the past year, the last decade has been filled with traumatic experiences affecting each of us, to one degree or another. Writing in Salon, Barber explores the consequences of “the medicalization of trauma.”
President Michael S. Roth writes in The Wall Street Journal about his experience teaching a MOOC, “The Modern and the Post-Modern,” on Coursera. Though he was at first “awe-struck by the number and variety of students” enrolled in his online class, communication between students on message boards, Facebook and a “Google Hangout” video chat made the class seem less massive.
He concluded: “Teaching this MOOC has shown me that online courses will be increasingly viable and valuable learning options for those who can’t make their way to campuses. Taking a course online is clearly not the same thing as integrating study with residential experience, but it is a powerful mode of learning that is already enriching millions of lives across the globe.”
Apr. 29, 2013 by Lauren Rubenstein
In an essay in The Chronicle of Higher Education, President Michael S. Roth reflects on his experience teaching a massive open online course, called, “The Modern and the Postmodern,” on Coursera. The course might have been labeled, “course least likely to become a MOOC,” he writes, yet, “I was intrigued, though, by the prospect of sharing my class with a large, international group of people who wanted to study.”
Apr. 29, 2013 by Lauren Rubenstein
As state and national leaders debate the merit and feasibility of expanding pre-kindergarten programs–widely considered instrumental in leveling the playing field for lower-income children starting school–Assistant Professor of Psychology Anna Shusterman wrote an op-ed in The Hartford Courant about a summer pilot program launched last year in Middletown, which could be a model for the nation. This intensive, research-based program gave 13 children a measurable boost in kindergarten readiness in just five weeks on a shoestring budget.
Apr. 26, 2013 by Lauren Rubenstein
Gina Ulysse, associate professor of anthropology, associate professor of African American Studies, director of the Center for African American Studies, wrote on The Huffington Post about anthropologist Paul Stoller, winner of this year’s prestigious Retzius medal for scientific contributions to anthropology. Ulysse interviewed Stoller about why anthropology–which has a gotten a bad rap recently as a being of low value in the job marketplace–still matters.
Stoller responded: “I’m not sure how anthropology fits into the contemporary market economy. But I do know that if we don’t pay heed to what anthropological knowledge can teach us, it impoverishes social life and social relations, making us less able to find a measure of well-being in life, less able to be comfortable in our skins.”
Apr. 25, 2013 by Lauren Rubenstein
Martha Gilmore, associate professor and chair of Earth & Environmental Sciences, was a guest on The Colin McEnroe Show on WNPR public radio. Gilmore and Prof. Jennifer Tucker teach a course at Wesleyan on the history of Mars study and exploration.