Steinberg ’16 Works for Diversity…Hummingbird Diversity

I recently learned that Hannah Steinberg’s ’16 work was recognized with the School for Field Studies’ Distinguished Student award. Hannah’s research project in the Spring 2014 semester, Effect of artificial feeders on hummingbird diversity and level of interactions in Monteverde, Costa Rica, was part of an ongoing study of the ecology of hummingbirds in the cloud forests of Costa Rica, and more specifically, the various effects of artificial hummingbird feeders on their ecology.

While the use of artificial hummingbird feeders is a popular method to attract the birds for human enjoyment and to draw visitors to ecotourist destinations, Steinberg’s research illustrated a direct impact of the use of feeders on hummingbird diversity. You can read more about Hannah’s work here.

Each year, The School for Field Studies honors its most exceptional students with Distinguished Student Researcher Awards for their important contributions in environmental research. Outcomes of these Directed Research (DR) projects provide information and recommendations to community members and other stakeholders on critical, local environmental issues.

Students are nominated by SFS faculty based on their demonstrated sophistication in research design, field work, reporting, and their contribution to the Center’s 5YRP. The SFS award also recognizes the student’s leadership exhibited while working with a team of student and faculty researchers in the field.

Congratulations, Hannah! #ThisIsWhy

Year End Thanks

Dear friends,

As 2014 comes to a close, I want to express my gratitude for all the contributions to our extraordinary university. Students, alumni, their families, staff, and faculty – we all learn from one another, teach one another. There have been more than a few challenges over the last twelve months, and many, many achievements. In a world of tension and acrimony, our community has modeled the aspiration for greater inclusion, equity, creativity and purpose. There is much work to be done, and we will do it together. The boldness, rigor and practical idealism of a Wesleyan education are evident in the talent, dedication and compassion of our students, alumni, faculty, and staff. THIS IS WHY we face the future with such hope and such confidence.

With thanks, I wish you and yours health, peace, and love in 2015.

Thoughts on Future of Education as a New Year Begins

In conjunction with the publication of Beyond the University: Why Liberal Education Matters, I’ve been having conversations with groups around the country on the future of higher education. We will continue these conversations with an event in Memorial Chapel at Wesleyan on the evening of February 3.

The assault on education has been brutal in many parts of the world — especially education for girls and women. In our own country, the effort to deny a broad, contextual education to large segments of the population is a symptom of growing economic inequality — not a viable response to it. People are afraid of education when they want to defend the status quo, or so I argued in this brief talk at the Social Good Summit in New York.

Later in the fall semester, Ruth Simmons HON ’10 and I had a public conversation at the Chicago Humanities Festival. Dr. Simmons is the former president of Smith College and Brown University, and she offers a stirring defense of the value of a college education.

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Education makes sense when you believe in empowerment through learning. Education makes sense when you believe that inquiry and communication can lead to positive change in the world.

Now more than ever, liberal education is our cause. THIS IS WHY.

Black Lives Matter March

We are preparing for finals, writing exams, grading them…. These are important things. But all around the country people are speaking out against the outrageous injustices that people of color face on a regular basis. We must acknowledge these issues. The time to speak out is now.

The following notice appeared on the faculty list-serve tonight.

On Monday, December 8th, at 3 pm, students of Wesleyan University will be marching in response to the police brutality and systemic racism that led to the deaths of Mike Brown, Eric Garner, and countless other people of color in recent times. The state must be held accountable for the prejudicial treatment of these individuals. Our movement must start from the ground-up. I am emailing you to ask for your support and solidarity, and invite you to march alongside us students for this cause. We will be gathering at Exley Science Center at 265 Church St.

At Wesleyan we affirm that we are an institution that values boldness, rigor and practical idealism. One doesn’t have to be an idealist to recognize that change is necessary, and that we must demand it.

Join us. This is Why.

 

Sam Friedman and Friends Making Beautiful Music

Had the great pleasure today to hear Sam Friedman’s ’13 concert, “Just Breathe” at Russell House. Sam was joined by Howe Pearson ’12, Derek Frank ’15, Zack Rosen ’11 and vocalist Jackie Soro ’14 (Sam Wagner, who hung out here without picking up a diploma, joined on drums). From blues to more experimental polyrhythms, Sam led a magical hour of music.

 

Singer Jackie Soro '14
Singer Jackie Soro ’14

I first met Sam when he played piano at our holiday parties in the President’s House. His astonishing senior recital was a display of harmonica virtuosity and musical imagination. These were on display today. His teacher (and wonderful jazz musician) Noah Baerman wrote, “Wesleyan isn’t thought of as a place to get an undergraduate education that directly relates to a performance career in music. However, the resources are vast for someone with the right mix of discipline and broad-mindedness. The poster-boy for this in recent years is Sam Friedman, a multi-instrumentalist and multi-genre powerhouse.”

From now until the end of the semester there will be several opportunities to hear and watch amazing performances. I can’t write about most of them, but I am so glad they are happening.

THIS IS WHY.

Sam Friedman '13 breathes music
Sam Friedman ’13 breathes music
Sam Friedman '13 plays the blues
Sam Friedman ’13 plays the blues

Great Wes Day at the Game

It was a wonderful day for football at Corwin Stadium, for our last game of the season. By tradition, we play Trinity College to end the season, and for many years they have made us end on a somber note. Not today! In another exciting game, the Cardinals were victorious, besting their opponents by a point. I took photos with the intrepid cheer leaders, the volleyball team, and began dreaming of spring as the softball team sold raffles. But the fall season ended pretty well today. Here are a few pics (feel free to send me more!):

Wes seniors and families
Wes seniors before the game
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After the game
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Seniors and Final Score
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Coach Mike Whalen
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Team Sings Fight Song

Bruce Corwin, Wesleyan’s biggest fan, is in Los Angeles recovering from a transplant…. but glued to the game on his computer. His son tells me he took this photo just as Justin Sanchez saved the victory with a great tackle with time running down.

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THIS IS WHY.

 

 

Discussing Liberal Education in Texas

I write this from Dallas, where last night Kari, Ed Heffernan ’84 and I discussed liberal education with about 30 Wesleyans. There were alumni from the last few years, from 60 years ago — and a high school senior who told us that Wes is his “dream school.” Ed is here explaining why his big data company, Alliance Data Systems, looks for well-rounded students who can contribute to his enterprise over the long haul (they just hired a bunch of Wes grads).Wesleyan DallasEarlier in the day I met with a group of high school teachers, administrators and guidance counselors in Dallas. They had great questions about the importance of a liberal education, and I was particularly impressed by the student journalists from the Greenhill School.

On Wednesday I was in Houston, where Michelle Lyn ’84, P’12,’15, Rusty Hardin ’64 and I spoke with a group of dedicated Wes folks about how liberal education has informed our lives. Michelle is a doctor working in pediatric medicine, married to a Wes alum, with two kids who have gone here. She talked about the importance of a broad education for the work she does and for her life in her community. Rusty gave a full-throated defense of a liberal education allowing one to experiment with tolerance and curiosity.

Tolerance and a delight in inquiry and ambiguity — that’s a pretty good prescription for learning. I saw all that when Dan Routman P’16 gave me a tour of the Nasher Sculpture Collection. Here I joined a group of kids trying out the super cool chairs by designer Thomas Heatherwick.

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Wesleyan Media Project

For the past several years, Professor Erika Franklin Fowler has been conducting sophisticated research with her students on American electoral politics. This isn’t surprising; Prof. Fowler is in the Government Department, after all. Like many of her colleagues in that distinguished group, her work has reverberations far beyond campus. In this election cycle, journalists across the country are using analysis from the Wesleyan Media Project. Directed by Prof. Fowler with colleagues from Bowdoin College and Washington State University, the Wesleyan Media Project conducts quantitative and qualitative research to understand more fully the role of spending in races across the country. As the Knight Foundation puts it, “by tracking this data year by year, the project is establishing a reference point that journalists, scholars and citizens can rely on to trace the root of campaign funding and hold officials more accountable.”

More than 20 student researchers are providing real time analysis of spending patterns at a time when many are trying to hide campaign donations. In Sunday’s New York Times, for example the WMP’s work was cited in an article exploring how Democratic donors are coordinating their efforts on a few key messages while G.O.P. spending is far more diffuse. The goals of the WMP are as simple as they are important: “to develop a definitive database that tracks all advertising by source (corporation, union, interest group, party, or candidate), and to enhance the ability of scholars, citizens, and journalists to hold government accountable by providing public information on how special interests are attempting to influence American democracy in general and political campaigns in particular.”

Prof. Fowler was recently interviewed in or quoted on MSNBC, PBS Newshour, Wisconsin Public Radio, WNPR’s “Where We Live”, International Business Times, and Fox CT, among others. Other highlights include stories in the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and USA Today.

This is engaged learning at its best! Stay tuned for more research from the Wesleyan Media Project on Oct 13. THIS IS WHY.

 

 

Cardinals (and other Birds)

As students were packing up their rooms, distributing good-bye hugs and posting final papers to Moodle, I had the great pleasure of meeting Oliver James ’14. Professor Barry Chernoff, the founding director of the College of the Environment, brought him by to show me the wonderful work Oliver did on his senior thesis.

Oliver James '14, Prez, Barry Chernoff

Oliver has many interests, and as a senior he wanted to combine his study of the environment with his interest in birds. How to represent the many birds he sees on campus? Oliver learned the great art of watercolor and used his observational skills to produce A Field Guide to Birds of Wesleyan. Artist, scientist, environmentalist? Why choose? THIS IS WHY.

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