Feed on

Lots of good stuff in the new issue of Wesleyan magazine. Charles Salas’ essay on pedagogical innovation makes clear that at Wes there is a great tradition of wanting “to create as much space as possible for humane interactions among faculty and students.” Going back to the creation of interdisciplinary colleges created in the 1950s under President Victor Butterfield, Salas shows how the Wesleyan campus has been a fertile ground for experimenting to create the most effective forms of liberal education.

I was particularly interested in the section of the article on Project Based Learning (PBL). Salas gives an account of how Profs. Michael Weir and Ruth Johnson in Biology have developed new strategies for teaching aimed at improving learning and reducing attrition in the sciences, and he talks with Prof. Jan Naegele about support for this kind of work at Wesleyan:

Project-based Learning (PBL) is also at the heart of Professor Psyche Loui’s courses in psychology. Her Advanced Research Methods Course in Auditory Cognitive Neuroscience is entirely PBL. After reviewing the latest studies in auditory cognitive neuroscience—especially with respect to speech and music—students design and implement their own group project. One such project, using music to help people with epilepsy, led to a publication. So did a project looking at how rhythm affects the way music and language are processed in the brain. Loui remembers with some amusement and not a little fondness when one student (a rapper, she discovered) started rapping in the middle of class discussion to demonstrate a point. She loves it when students apply scientific insights to their own life. And she and her students are not the only ones to love that. Last month the Imagination Institute at the University of Pennsylvania awarded Loui a $200,000 grant to use brain studies to explore the mental trajectories of aesthetic imagination and creativity in jazz improvisation.

Wesleyan’s mission statement describes the education it seeks to offer as “characterized by boldness, rigor, and practical idealism.” The word “boldness” is meant to signal openness to pedagogical innovation, and the term “practical idealism” points to the ability of students to translate what they learn in addressing real world problems, be it creating an online community for amputees or music that helps epileptics. Wesleyan is interested in doing more with PBL, which often results in greater engagement on the part of students, deeper understanding of concepts, and improved collaborative and communications skills.

“In biology, computer science, mathematics, and physics,” notes Naegele, “PBL is also encouraging the participation of more women and minority students.” Major national foundations, impressed with what the university has been doing so far, have proved eager to help, awarding Wesleyan with grants to promote (and assess) PBL across the curriculum. This includes support for pedagogical workshops and either course relief or course overload pay for faculty who want to create PBL courses.

Whether in Project Based work, interdisciplinary colleges or blended learning with flipped classrooms, pedagogical innovation is alive and well at Wesleyan!


A few days ago,Wesleyan trustee (and my classmate) Irma Gonzalez forwarded me a moving essay by another board member, Al Young ’88. It was recently published in the Detroit News. Given that his subject is so close to many of our own campus’s conversations, I asked him if I might reprint his piece here.

Al is the Arthur F. Thurnau Professor and Department Chair in the Department of African and Afro-American Studies at the University of Michigan. His fields of study are culture and knowledge; race, ethnicity and immigration, and social psychology.

Photo: Bryan Mitchell / Special to The Detroit News)

Al Young and sons

My late father and I really began to hit it off during my teenage years. Prior to that I struggled to understand him. As a child, a relative told me a story about how my father as a young man had hoped to be a parent of daughters because his own stepfather had convinced him that boys were just too much trouble. My father’s firstborn was a girl, and I, as his second and last child, sometimes thought that my birth somehow let him down.

I do not recall ever talking to him about this, but I also never thought much about the matter after turning 16. It was then that I felt like I truly made sense to my dad, as he did to me. I began feeling that I wasn’t so bad after all. Truthfully, I never was. This was much unlike some of the guys I grew up with in New York City’s East Harlem, where there seemed to be no shortage of young black and brown men in trouble. I never experienced their kind of trouble, and at age 16, I began feeling that whatever insecurities I had about being my dad’s son were replaced by the euphoric feeling that he was happy to have me in his life.

My father was a college-educated professional, so the poverty surrounding our family in East Harlem was never brought into our household. Instead, my teenage years were spent getting to know my father and his social worlds. Among other things he taught me that anything he achieved was within my grasp, but he also let me know that at any point in time I could be underestimated and prejudged because I am a black man.

I experienced integrated schooling since the first grade. My parents had more resources than many of our neighbors, so going to school in this Caucasian environment was counterbalanced by returning home to East Harlem — a social world full of struggling Latinos and African-Americans. I learned to navigate race by moving between these social worlds (what we today call code-switching). Through elementary and high school I had white friends and black friends, and I was one of few who regularly engaged people on each side of the divide.

As a child of the 1970s and ’80s, the rules of engagement were clear. Black boys had their ways of talking to each other, and black and white boys never ventured into the terrain of black-on-black conversation. Occasionally some of my white friends took an interest in the emerging phenomenon called hip-hop, but most struggled to understand why any group would want to rhyme about themselves over tracks of music made by somebody else. The parties in high school were never really integrated. In my all-male Catholic high school, the black boys attended the one party a year hosted by the black student organization. The other parties were not on our calendar as the two racially distinct worlds got along side-by-side, in the lunchroom, classroom, practice field, and the stands.

Three decades later, I am the parent of two boys, teaching at the University of Michigan and living in Ann Arbor. My goal has been to create the same quality of relationship with my boys that I experienced with my dad. A well-respected family sociologist once told me that I could never live with my children the way I lived with my father. Her comment encouraged me to think about how East Harlem of the 1970s and 1980s was not at all like the Ann Arbor of the 21st century. As I raise my family, I am reminded of this all the time.

My oldest son is nearly 17. His peer group includes young men of various races and ethnicities. In fact, he has rarely experienced racially distinct social circles. He has grown up hearing the N-word not as an intentionally derogatory term but as part of Hip Hop culture. It seems that every young person listens to Hip Hop today, and popular culture offers no grounds for making racial distinctions. Today, race talk happens exclusively at home for my sons rather than with friends as it did back then. The discussions my wife and I have with him and his 12-year-old brother about race often seem to me to be suited for children of the 1980s.

To be fair, my sons understand that race matters. We talk about the public responses to President Barack Obama in ways that make it clear that they realize that it does. Yet, I long for them to understand why race matters. After all, they have never had to divide their life experiences in the same way as I did. My boys understand the civil rights movement not as a time in which the adults in their lives fought for social justice (as I recall thinking in the 70s and 80s), but as an historic moment of some time ago — a part of history just like slavery.

Today they don’t have to talk about race. Social media allows them to non-verbally access all kinds of people and situations that can be all about race. And none require face-to-face interactive skills that had to be employed in the past. Today talk among youth is facilitated by technology, which allows so much to be shared with so many, all without anyone having to actually talk to anybody. Hence, young people can claim to know so much about other people and their life situations without ever having to directly confront them or their issues.

And that makes me nervous. I am nervous not because I doubt the ability of my sons to become who they want to be in the future. I am nervous because, like any parent, I worry about that which I am hopeful for, but cannot control, which is their future. More importantly, as a black man and father I am nervous because I am still trying to figure out the racial rules that they abide by when so much of the game seems the same.

Black males can be killed for walking down the street (Trayvon Martin), arguing with the police (Michael Brown) or face-down on the platform of a municipal train station (Oscar Grant), yet theirs is a single social world with no public space to retreat and reflect. The only space is at home with mom and dad, neither of whom can figure out why so many youth today so casually use the N-word, and why our boys sometimes act like their fates are so common with others when so much happens to us that does not happen to them.

I tell my oldest son (and my youngest more so in recent years), that the internet cannot give you all you need to know about interacting with police, whether in small towns or large cities. My son is quite knowledgeable of local laws and policies (another by-product of the internet), but this does not substitute for knowing how to act in public, I warn. And despite what the law says, I tell him that associating with people in trouble means that you will be in trouble as well if the police are around.

Because he weighs 215 pounds and wears a size 14 shoe, I warn him that not everyone, certainly not some police, will necessarily see him as the boy he is. I tell him that although he has a way to go to be a man, he must know right now that others will think of him and act toward him as a man, and what the law says may not matter for how such others may respond to him in the mall, after the concert or the game, or on the street.

The streets of Ann Arbor may strike many as innocent, but my son goes to concerts in Detroit, visits relatives in New York City and loves to vacation in Chicago. Those streets demand that a young black male know not just the law, but how easily he can be seen as unlawful in the eyes of others. This insight cannot be garnered through social media, and it seems to have no place in his peer group discussions.

Consequently, I strive to tell him that the power of race is such that what people do, especially in moments of uncertainty and confusion, may not correspond with his idea of proper conduct. Hence, he cannot always assume that people will think of him as a proper young man, irrespective of how he thinks about and conducts himself. I tell him and his brother that just because there may be less talk about race today, whether because people have decided that it’s just not right to talk about or because they do not talk much at all because they are texting, that at any point in time, in any place, race may make all the difference for what happens to them and why.

Professor Alford Young, Wesleyan Class of 1988

Today (Saturday, Sept 26th) is the opening of Wesleyan’s football season, Middletown Day, and an opportunity to thank veterans for their service.

Much of the action will take place around Andrus Field. Family activities will run from 11 a.m.­–2:30 p.m. and will include a bounce house, a face painter, a balloon artist, live music and free popcorn. Other food will be on sale. There also will be a Resource Fair with informational booths from campus and community organizations, located in the Huss Courtyard behind Usdan University Center.

Beginning at 12:30 p.m., Wesleyan Football will play Middlebury College on Andrus Field. The Middletown Police Bagpipe Association will lead veterans in attendance onto the field for recognition. The halftime show will feature a performance by the Middletown High School Marching Band.

Wesleyan will host veterans from the greater Middletown community, as well as veterans from our staff, faculty, student body and alumni.

Other athletic contests taking place that day include Women’s Soccer vs. Bates at 11 a.m. on Jackson Field; Women’s Field Hockey vs. Bates at 11 a.m. on Smith Field; Women’s Volleyball vs. U.S. Coast Guard Academy at noon in the Freeman Athletic Center’s Silloway Gymnasium; and Men’s Soccer vs. Bates at 2:30 p.m. on Jackson Field.

It should be a great day for our community, a great day to be a Cardinal!


This afternoon, Provost Joyce Jacobsen, Vice-President Antonio Farias and I sent the following message to the student newspaper The Argus. Along with other faculty and staff, I am happy to discuss these issues with members of the campus community in the coming days and weeks.


Many students turned out for a powerful panel discussion on the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement earlier this week. The panelists underscored issues of structural racism in general and police brutality in particular. Earlier in the week The Argus published an op-ed that questioned whether “the [BLM] movement itself [is] actually achieving anything positive? Does it have the potential for positive change?” Many students took strong exception to the article; it was meant to be a provocative piece. Some students not only have expressed their disagreement with the op-ed but have demanded apologies, a retraction and have even harassed the author and the newspaper’s editors. Some are claiming that the op-ed was less speech than action: it caused harm and made people of color feel unsafe.

Debates can raise intense emotions, but that doesn’t mean that we should demand ideological conformity because people are made uncomfortable. As members of a university community, we always have the right to respond with our own opinions, but there is no right not to be offended. We certainly have no right to harass people because we don’t like their views. Censorship diminishes true diversity of thinking; vigorous debate enlivens and instructs.

In the long run, Wesleyan will be a much more caring and inspiring community when we can tolerate strong disagreements. Through our differences we can learn from one another.


Michael Roth, President

Joyce Jacobsen, Provost

Antonio Farias, Vice-President for Equity and Inclusion


*9/20/15: Edited to reflect that the piece in The Argus was an op-ed, not a Wespeak.

This week I sent the following message asking for ideas on how we can address the refugee crisis to Wesleyan students, faculty and alumni. I have been in touch with other university presidents about collaborating in this regard. Some have asked “why this issue?” Others wonder if it is the “university’s business” to try to crowd source ideas on political/social issues. This is a momentous human tragedy unfolding around the world, and I  have hopes that tapping into the ideas of our community (and other university groups) will, at a minimum, raise awareness about it, and, perhaps, result in some concrete, practical actions. Wesleyan has had a long commitment to “the good of the world,” to use Wilbur Fisk’s words, and not just to ourselves. Let’s see what we can do!

Please send your ideas to: ideas@wesleyan.edu


Many of us have been horrified by images of thousands of refugees from Syria (and elsewhere) struggling to make their way to safety. Some governments are beginning to welcome thousands displaced by war and violence, while others actively discourage asylum seekers. I have been particularly appalled by the actions and rhetoric of xenophobic leaders (and would-be leaders) bringing fascistic hatred back to public life. But what can we do about it?

My wife (and COL professor) Kari Weil and I began talking about what positive actions we at universities might take, and she suggested I turn to the Wes community for ideas. I raised the issue at the first faculty meeting of the year. What can we do about this refugee crisis? As a university, a place devoted to learning and building community, what can we do to lend a hand in this terrible time? There will be panels and teach-ins—formal and informal. Should our role also be one of advocacy, or should we try to find ways to sponsor a group of people who need asylum? Should we focus on educating our own folks about these issues, or should we make more direct interventions (perhaps with other schools)? What other ideas do you have?

We can certainly petition the White House to dramatically increase the numbers of Syrian refugees being allowed into the United States. President Obama could make a “Presidential Determination” to increase the 2015 number of 70,000 refugees to 200,000 for 2016 and prioritize receiving 100,000 Syrian refugees within this number. We can donate to organizations assisting the most vulnerable of those seeking asylum. We can work with Middletown towards becoming a “Welcoming City,” or establish internships for students who want to help. Ideas like these have come in from alumni, students and faculty members, and I want to collect suggestions from all sectors of the Wesleyan community. I am also writing to other university leaders to see if they might do something similar and how we might pool our ideas. Perhaps we can come up with actions that will actually help on the ground. In any case, we are sure to learn a lot about a vital issue in the process.

Please send in your ideas to ideas@wesleyan.edu and stay tuned for other ways to participate as we think together about how we can respond to this acute crisis. I’ll share suggestions I get with Professor Rob Rosenthal, director of the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life, and talk with faculty, staff and student representatives about how we might proceed. I’ll consult with alumni working in the field and report back on this topic on my blog and in newsletters later this semester.

Being horrified is not enough. Our mission statement evokes “practical idealism.” Let’s live up to it!

I received word last night, the beginning of the celebration of Rosh Hashanah, that Carl Schorske had died peacefully in New Jersey. I signed up for Carl’s Vienna seminar during my first year in college in the spring of 1976. He was a visitor at the Center for the Humanities, having taught at Wesleyan in the 1950s before moving on to UC Berkeley and Princeton. I would later learn that he regarded that earlier time at Wes as the “decisive intellectual experience” of his life. I became his student again at Princeton, studying intellectual history and completing my dissertation with him in 1983. When I was inaugurated as president of Wesleyan in 2007, it was Carl who introduced me.

Carl was the great historian of anti-historical thinking. In his masterwork, Fin de Siècle Vienna: Politics and Culture, he explored “the historical genesis of modern cultural consciousness, with its deliberate rejection of  history.” In beautifully written essays, he “performed” historical thinking even as he showed a deep appreciation for the culture makers who rejected the past as a reservoir of meaning. His Vienna book not only won the Pulitzer Prize, it became a touchstone for anyone interested in the intersection of the political and the cultural under the pressure of changing times. A collection of essays in his honor, Rediscovering History: Culture, Politics and the Psyche, begins to show the range of his influence across the social sciences and humanities.

Carl was an extraordinary teacher —  erudite, humane and sensitive to the different ways that students learned. He was an activist, a scholar and a pedagogue. These aspects of his personality all seemed to work together in his intellectual practice as a scholar-teacher. When he was teaching a subject he was deeply engaged with as a scholar, he said he “was really cooking with gas.” He took culture seriously, and he took enormous pleasure in it, too. That seriousness and capacity for pleasure was something that his students were so fortunate to share in.

Carl E. Schorske, 1915-2015

Carl E. Schorske, 1915-2015

Just a few years ago I interviewed Carl about his interest in Freud, and throughout our afternoon together he kept returning to his love of music — of listening to it and making it. I published a summary of our conversation here, and ended my essay with the following:

In the intensely experimental intellectual community of Wesleyan in the 1950s, the hothouse of political passions of Berkeley in the 1960s, or the more measured scholarly interdisciplinarity of the seventies and eighties in Princeton, music remained an elemental part of Schorske’s life and work. He continued to play in string quartets with friends, and in recent years, he told me, his singing voice has returned. He took pleasure in showing me a program of lieder that Schorske had recently performed with some neighbors in his retirement community. As I persisted in asking about the importance of Freud in his life and work, about the friendly, collaborative exploration of the psychological that he began in the 1950s with Herbert Marcuse and Norman O. Brown, my teacher kept reminding me about the centrality of music to his understanding of culture. If you cannot shake the higher powers, to recall Freud’s quotation of Virgil in the epigraph to The Interpretation of Dreams, you may stir up the depths. Music was always a route to those depths for Schorske.

And teaching seemed to be an arena in which Schorske balanced Geistigkeit and Sinnlichkeit, ideas and aesthetics, intellection and action. I remember well the “optional evening class” on Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde when I felt myself opening to an experience of music that was totally new to me. The connections to politics, psychology and culture only added to the powerful aesthetic pleasure of the encounter. There was nothing passive or counter-political in this teaching. The “natural respect” that Schorske generated from students and colleagues, the affection that was perfectly compatible with criticism, provided a political education by example. The solidarity in inquiry and the shared experience of the power of the arts—these were great gifts to his students, especially those of us who went on to be teachers ourselves.

Those of us fortunate enough to study with Schorske at Wesleyan, Berkeley or Princeton, experienced his “cooking with gas,” his extraordinarily energetic balance of the scholar and teacher, the intellectual and the activist. Whether it was in the 19th century intellectual history survey course, or in smaller seminars dealing with architecture, archaism or the arts, the passion he brought to the material ignited the interests and imaginations of his students. These were often moments of political engagement, but they were always mediated through a care for and attention to the texture and meaning of historical material. Under his guidance, history wasn’t just an inert substance waiting for students to get interested in it. We learned from Carl Schorske how to ignite the past in order to create meaning for the present.

At a time when some imagine that education can take place without strong, caring teachers, it is good to remember a supremely gifted scholar who was devoted to the adventurous, empowering learning of his students. Carl Schorske’s memory will long be a blessing to his family and friends, and to his many students (and our students, too).

This review appeared in last Sunday’s Washington Post. Since Prof. Snyder’s book is getting a lot of attention in the press this week, I thought I’d post the review here as well.

Black Earth
The Holocaust as History and Warning
By Timothy Snyder

Tim Duggan Books. 462 pp. $30

The title Timothy Snyder gives to the introduction of “Black Earth” is “Hitler’s World.” That’s his signal that the dictator’s ideology is essential for grasping the history of Nazi efforts to eliminate Jews from the planet. Although this may seem like common sense, many recent historians of the Holocaust have placed their emphasis on structural elements — economic, geopolitical, bureaucratic — reluctant to hinge so much on a single individual’s obsessive, paranoid ravings. In “Bloodlands” (2010), Snyder showed the ways in which Hitler and Stalin led regimes responsible for the conflagration that consumed 14 million people, and now in “Black Earth,” he zeroes in on the German dictator’s beliefs as the spark.

In “Black Earth,” we are reminded that for Hitler, Jews were the explanation for everything that went wrong. The health of the human race was dependent, he shrieked, on protecting it from Jewish pollution. There was talk among Nazis and others of isolating the malignancy — maybe shipping Jews to Madagascar would work. But Hitler decided that there was a greater purpose to the military conflict he had launched initially just for “room to live.” And that was the ultimate extermination of the Jews. His Final Solution.

The Führer’s worldview inspired Germans to become “entrepreneurs of violence”; he needed innovative techniques for mass murder to kill not only Jews but also the many other enemies blocking Germany’s historical destiny. By destroying a variety of European states, Germany created conditions of lawlessness that legitimized unthinkable atrocities. Ordinary men (mostly men) killed people — even little children — at close range and then returned to their regular routines. Some needed more alcohol to get by, but get by they did. They rounded up men, women and children, shot them in the head or the neck, piled up the corpses, covered them with dirt and then went home to their families.

“Black Earth” explains how this became possible — and it took much more than ideological fury. Destruction of political structures and social norms was necessary. Snyder does not focus on Auschwitz, though he does devote a gruesome chapter to how the death camp has come to stand for the Holocaust more generally. He wants readers to understand that millions were killed by tens of thousands of Germans and their collaborators before anyone was deported to a camp to be gassed. “Hundreds of thousands of Germans witnessed the killings, and millions of Germans on the eastern front knew about them,” he writes. “German homes were enriched, millions of times over, by plunder from the murdered Jews.”

Snyder insists that shooting people over pits was the first and most important of the Nazi techniques of mass killing. How was it possible that “people not that different from us murdered people not very different from us”? Some historians stress that anti-Semitism was the core motivating factor, noting age-old Jew hatred in the areas of Eastern Europe where most of the killings took place. Snyder argues vehemently against this, showing there is no correlation between supposed levels of anti-Semitism and the levels of killing during the war.

He finds instead that the intensity of killings correlates with the degree of political destruction a state suffers. The places where the survival rates of Jews were the lowest were those countries that had been first occupied by the Soviets and then reoccupied by the Nazis. This “double occupation” destroyed civil society and the rule of law, and in this emptiness the German forces created a “special kind of politics” through which individuals could show their allegiance to the new order by killing Jews. “Only through politics,” Snyder writes, “could people be brought to do what the Germans could not do on their own: physically eliminate large numbers of Jews in a very brief period of time.”

Again and again he shows that depriving Jews of citizenship, making them stateless, was key to their mass murder. In countries where some state power remained (like Denmark), survival rates for Jews were much higher than in countries (like Estonia) where the double occupation destroyed local laws. “Wherever the state had been destroyed,” Snyder writes, “almost all of the Jews were murdered.”

The strength of Snyder’s book lies in his elucidating the importance of politics and the state in understanding the Holocaust. He is less effective in evoking the experience of victims or the dynamics of rescue, collaboration and survival. Saul Friedlander’s “Nazi Germany and the Jews” remains the crucial book for integrating these dimensions into a historical understanding of the period.

While “Black Earth” opens with “Hitler’s World,” its conclusion is titled “Our World.” Alas, Snyder is on much surer ground when dealing with the past than with our present. It is an unfortunate distraction when he devotes a few sentences to contemporary China’s need for food, to climate change, to the American invasion of Iraq. And his hyperbolic assertion that “understanding the Holocaust is our chance, perhaps our last one, to preserve humanity” is, to put it gently, unearned.

He is right, however, to believe that his historical account has a vital contemporary lesson, the “warning” in the book’s subtitle. He notes the “common American error . . . to believe that freedom is the absence of state authority,” and he argues effectively against both the left- and right-wing versions of this error. The failure to recognize that it is the state and the rule of law that make modern life possible, he argues, creates conditions for new cycles of horrific violence. Of course, strong states can also initiate these cycles.

“Defending states and rights is impossible . . . if no one learns from the past or believes in the future,” Snyder concludes. It’s a testament to his intellectual and moral resources that he can so deeply contemplate this horrific past in ways that strengthen his commitment to building a future based on law, rights and citizenship.

Let’s Make Some Music!

I’m excited for The Mash — Wesleyan’s annual music festival. The weather is yucky, but the organizers have found dry places so you can catch some great music at the venues listed below. I’m also getting stage fright about performing with the Smokin Lillies at Crowell at 5 p.m. We play some pretty great rock ‘n roll , so I hope plenty of Wesleyans will be there.

Here’s a list of the performers and venues:

Usdan University Center, First Floor

2-2:20 p.m.: Gee-rre

2:30-2:50 p.m.: Locus – One man with psychedelic textures and experimental beats.

3-3:20 p.m.: Jal & Locus – Your grandma’s favorite rapper.

3:30-3:50 p.m.: Mom – A funky band full of post-pubescent mystery rock.

4-4:20 p.m.: Quasimodal – Wesleyan’s oldest co-ed A cappella group.

4:30-4:50 p.m.: Sneaky Sugars – A band. Plays indie rock music. Girl plays lead guitar. It’s cool.

Crowell Concert Hall

2-2:20 p.m.: Rui Barbosa – 3 man jamband playing funk, rock, and jazz. If it gets proggy, It’s probably Jonah.

2:30-2:50 p.m.: Old Soles – Just a couple gals that love harmonies and attempt to make acoustic arrangements.

3-3:20 p.m.: Matt Chilton – A conglomeration of instruments that somehow gained sentience.

3:30-3:50 p.m.: Veeblefetzer – Wesleyan’s finest Klezmer ensemble.

4-4:20 p.m.: SAD – We’ll make you cry and remind you of being 16.

4:30-4:50 p.m.: Swipe Right – A band with nothing to lose.

5-5:20 p.m.: Smokin’ Lillies – Featuring Dean for Academic Advancement and the Class of 2017, and Adjunct Lecturer in Government Louise Brown; John E. Andrus Professor of Sociology and Director of the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life Rob Rosenthal; Luanne Benshimol; Evan Glass; Paul Horton; and special guest Wesleyan President Michael S. Roth on keyboards.

5:30-5:50 p.m.: 5 Guys – Five men. Or five dudes. Five boys. They’re Ethan, Angus, Nick, Delaine, and Leo.

6-6:20 p.m.: Chef – Cookin’ and servin up the hottest jams in the central CT region. Listen on BandCamp

6:30-7:30 p.m.: The Rooks – A transplant from the Wesleyan University music scene, the band has spent the last three years making noise across New York City and the greater Northeast. Featuring Garth Taylor ’12 on lead vocals; Spencer Hattendorf ’12 on vocals, saxophone, and percussion; Nate Mondschein ’12 on drums and percussion; Grahm Richman ’11 on guitar; Louis Russo ’11 on bass, and Gabe Gordon ’11 on keyboards.

Patricelli ’92 Theater

2-2:20 p.m.: Ari & Arian

2:30-2:50 p.m.: Lo-Qi – Rap duo here to denounce corporate oppression.

3-3:20 p.m.: Kari Wild

3:30-3:50 p.m.: Savage – A solo performance by Anna Savage

4-4:20 p.m.: Sloopy Coos Canyon – Pretty happy stuff about sometimes sad things.

4:30-4:50 p.m.: Slavei – Devoted to bringing beautiful and inspiring music of Europe, the Balkans, and Caucasus Georgia to Wesleyan.

Bands are subject to change.

Campus Planning Framework

Last spring Sasaki Associates & Eastley+Partners worked with student, faculty, staff and alumni groups to develop guidelines for campus planning. After much brainstorming, conversation and analysis, they presented a report detailing five main principles:

1. Synergy of Residential and Academic Experience

How can we create spaces that tie academic work to campus learning more broadly?


2. Network of Informal Learning Spaces

How can we enhance the idiosyncratic spaces in which serendipitous encounters lead to deep learning?


3. Spectrum of Formal Learning Spaces

How can faculty and students collaborate in creating places on campus appropriate to the new ways we teach and learn most effectively?


4. Transparency of Indoor/Outdoor Spaces

How can we plan for spaces that weave a more seamless connection between the interior and exterior landscapes?


5. Engagement Local and Global

 How can the principles of sustainability and stewardship lead to more productive engagement for the Wesleyan community in Middletown and beyond?

You can find a link to the executive summary of the report here. Thanks to the Facilities Committee and all the other Wesleyans who contributed to this effort. Over the course of this year we will begin to plan for campus improvements guided by this work.

It’s an exciting time of year. Classes are just getting underway, and new students are getting to know the campus while many others are reconnecting with friends and teachers. Even though I’m the kind of person can easily get used to the rhythms of summertime, I just love the beginning of the school year. Tonight I met my philosophy and film class. After all these years, I still had butterflies just before class…

After we went over the syllabus, we watched two short films that deal with people displaced from their homes and their communities, often with the most awful consequences. When we watched the chilling images, I am sure lots of us were thinking about contemporary refugees fleeing Syria and other places of poverty, oppression and gruesome murder.

Many of us have been horrified by the response to the thousands of refugees struggling to get into Europe. I have been particularly appalled by the actions and rhetoric of xenophobic leaders who are bringing fascistic hatred back to public life. But what can we do about it?

Over the weekend Kari and I were talking about what we at universities might do, and we thought it would be an important question to put to our Wesleyan community. What can we do about this refugee crisis? As a university, a place devoted to learning and building community, what can we do to lend a hand in this terrible time? Should our role be one of advocacy, or should we try to find ways to sponsor a group of people who need asylum? Should we step out as a single institution, or work with other colleges and universities? What other ideas do you have?

I want to collect your suggestions and to talk about them with folks from different parts of the Wesleyan community. Perhaps we can come up with actions that will help, and we are sure to learn some things in the process.

Please send in your thoughts (either to this blog comment or to presoffice@wesleyan.edu) and stay tuned for other ways to participate as we think together about how we can respond to this acute crisis. I’ll share suggestions I get with Professor Rob Rosenthal, director of the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life, and talk with faculty, staff and student representatives about how we might proceed. I’ll write again on this topic within the month.

Our mission statement evokes “practical idealism.” Let’s live up to it!

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