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2011 Senior thesis predicted MLB contract issue

December 1, 2016
Harry Raymond, founder of an on-line app to explore beers, wines and spirits, skateboards through the Colgate University Thought Into Action Incubator, located on Utica Street in downtown Hamilton, NY.

Harry Raymond ’11 worked for a summer in Hamilton, N.Y., developing a mobile app with assistance from the Colgate Entrepreneurs Fund.

Five years ago, on the cusp of a Major League Baseball (MLB) players’ strike, two Colgate students, Harry Raymond ’11 and Ethan Levitt ’11, along with Professor Ken Segall, explored what they determined to be a broken MLB free agency system. That work was published by the Baseball Hall of Fame and was presented at the annual MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference.

This week, as MLB and the Players Union narrowly avoided what could have been the first strike in 20 years, one of the main issues of contention was the free-agency issue that Raymond and Levitt brought to light in 2011.

“We wrote a paper on reducing draft pick compensation for signing another team’s free agent,” said Raymond. “Using regression analysis to compare the value of draft picks vs. free agents, we urged the commissioner to change the system, because owners would stop signing free agents because draft picks were more valuable.”

According to FoxSports.com, a verbal agreement was made between the two sides with less than four hours left in the contract Wednesday night. Part of that agreement reportedly includes penalties for signing certain free agents to influence a team’s draft order and a hard cap on annual bonus pools for drafted international players.

“It’s pretty cool to see your work hit the mainstream,” Raymond said.

Raymond, a Colgate Thought Into Action volunteer mentor and a past recipient of start-up capital from the Entrepreneurs Fund, has founded a number of businesses including SwigHQ and DrinkEasy. Levitt continues his study of baseball, working as an analyst for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Related Links:
Upwardly mobile Scene feature
TIA mentorship
Harry Raymond’s thesis
Ethan Levitt’s thesis


Professors Holm and Taye talk Zika

November 30, 2016
Zika 3D model

Zika virus, 3D illustration

When confronted with government warnings and media headlines about a new global health threat, it’s best to speak directly to those in the know. Before heading home for Thanksgiving break, students and faculty had the chance to discuss the Zika virus outbreak with biology professors Geoff Holm and Bineyam Taye.

During the November 14 conference, sponsored by the Shaw Wellness Center and Global Health Initiative, Holm drew on his experience as a virologist to describe Zika’s structure and behavior.

“Zika is a plus-strand RNA virus, which means it has one strand of RNA that functions as its genome.” Holm said.

In this way, the pathogen — which is often spread by animals and insects — resembles Yellow Fever virus, Dengue Fever, and West Nile. In behavior, Zika is similar to a Xerox, relying on its unwitting host to help it replicate and export itself to other cells.

“Understanding these replication mechanisms is the purview of basic virology,” said Holm. “We try to identify targets for therapeutic intervention so that we can potentially stop the virus from replicating within the host cell.”

Zika has garnered widespread attention in recent years due to a rare syndrome response called Microcephaly, which is a birth defect that Holm defined as decreased head volume and brain size with consequent central nervous system disabilities.

Symptoms of the virus are mild and may include conjunctivitis, joint pain, fever, and rash. These usually clear up within a few days.

Because 90 percent of Zika cases are asymptomatic, men and women may transmit the virus sexually without knowing they’re infected, posing a risk to pregnant women and women who may become pregnant.

Epidemiologist Taye noted that there have been more than 4,000 cases of Zika recorded nationwide as of November 2016, and more than 600 cases in New York City alone.

“To date, the only cases in New York State are in people who acquired the virus while traveling to Zika-affected areas, or through sexual transmission from someone who had traveled to those areas,” Taye said. “However, the possibility of local transmission through mosquitos remains the biggest public health concern.”

Related:
Professor Holm and CPN panelists on cancer immunotherapy


Socrates returns to life in the Ho Tung Visualization Lab

November 10, 2016

 

socrates_1a

Some say that the death of a great philosopher in Colgate’s Ho Tung Visualization Lab on October 27 was a miscarriage of justice and a stain on Athenian democracy. Socrates’ suicide, reenacted on the Vis Lab’s domed screen by actor H.C. Selkirk, didn’t require the response of law enforcement, but it did draw a crowd of spectators.

Students dressed in the garb of ancient Greece ushered faculty, staff, and friends into the intimate theater on the Robert H.N. Ho Science Center’s fourth floor. The lights went down, and the audience was transported through time into the agora in Athens, digitally reconstructed during the past two years by Colgate University and Hamilton Central School students under the guidance of Vis Lab director Joseph Eakin.

The film, Socrates on Death Row, used live action and a voiceover by Professor Alan Cooper to tell the tale of one of Athens’ most famous citizens, who was a font of notable quotes, a deep thinker who never published. We know of Socrates’ philosophy and his eponymous method of Q&A through the writings of Plato and Xenophon. Relying on those texts, Professor Robert Garland drafted the script for the show, which he considers a prequel of sorts to his Murder on the Ides.

socrates_2

Through Garland’s words, we hear of Socrates’ service in the Athenian army during the Peloponnesian War against the hated Spartans and their allies. We learn of his sympathy for nobles who would rather take government out of the hands of the hoi polloi. Socrates goes on trial for corrupting the youth and defends himself against his prosecutors, mostly by asking questions that make them look like fools. When the jury finds him guilty, he baits them into ordering his execution in an effort to prove the folly of their judicial system. We stand beside Socrates as he downs his dram of hemlock and sighs his last breath.

Thanks to Garland, Eakin, and their collaborators, the death of a classical hero demonstrates the life and vitality of Colgate’s interdisciplinary approach to liberal arts education.

“This is a new way of bringing the classics to a wider audience,” Garland said. “It’s not remote. In the Vis Lab, you see this great thing above you, and it really pulls you into it. I want to show that classics is exciting, gripping, and that it can engage you.”

Joe Eakin and his student staff are no strangers to the silver-blue screen. They have produced four full-length planetarium shows as well as flybys of the Grand Canyon, Rome, Mexico’s Teotihuacan, and other locales. They have supported courses in sociology and anthropology, Native American studies, geography, geology, biology, chemistry, art and art history, physics, and astronomy. Under a blanket of virtual stars, classes travel back in time and view the constellations as they would have appeared over now-ancient civilizations.

“It brings these cultures to life when you can show what it was really like to be there,” Eakin said. “It’s great to read the stories, but when we can combine the words with the visual elements, we bring the humanities into the digital world — we give students a completely new perspective and hopefully a better understanding of the content.”

The Ho Tung Visualization Lab, made possible by a gift from Robert Ho ’56, offers a variety of shows open to the public. Visit their website for details. 


Colgate @ Grace Hopper 2016

November 8, 2016

hopper_2

Six members of the Colgate University computer science department recently traveled to Houston, TX, to participate in the 2016 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. Students Lauren Henske ’20, Zoila Rodriguez ’18, Stephanie Tortora ’17, and Bria Vicenti ’17 and professors Aaron Gember-Jacobson and Madeline E. Smith were among nearly 15,000 attendees at the conference this year.


New research may change how world measures greenhouse gas emission

November 7, 2016
New research finds greenhouse gas emission measurement to be off by 12 to 23 percent

New research finds greenhouse gas emissions from wastewater plants may be underestimated by 13 to 23 percent. (Photo by Christine und Hagen Graf, Creative Commons)

It turns out that everyone may have been measuring carbon emissions incorrectly all along. But not in a good way.

New research led by Colgate Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies and Physics Linda Tseng, published this week in the journal Environmental Science and Technology and reported in Scientific American, identified an overlooked source of greenhouse gas emission — from wastewater treatment — that may increase current greenhouse gas emission estimates from that sector by 13 to 23 percent.

The international body that recommends guidelines for greenhouse gas emissions accounting does not currently include wastewater treatment plant carbon dioxide emissions because they are considered to be from natural biological sources that are carbon neutral. Tseng, along with colleagues from the University of California–Irvine and the University of Melbourne, found that a fraction of wastewater emissions actually has fossil origin (produced from petroleum) due to the household use of man-made synthetic detergents and soaps.

“We hope this study would promote efforts to quantify greenhouse gas emissions more accurately, matching the increasing global interests to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Tseng. “The results of this research should be seen as an opportunity to reduce and sequester emissions from wastewater treatment, and could help wastewater treatment facilities meet their emission goals.”

Visit Scientific American for more information, or go to the journal Environmental Science & Technology to download the original journal article.


Professor Rebecca Shiner featured in New York Magazine article on presidential temperament

October 17, 2016
A photo of Colgate's Olin Hall, were Rebecca Shiner is based

Professor Shiner and psychology department are in Olin Hall

When New York Magazine planned an article on presidential temperament, they went to psychology professor Rebecca Shiner, the editor of the Handbook of Temperament for her thoughts on the subject.

The article is titled “What Is ‘Presidential Temperament,’ Anyway?” and it analyzes the history, science — and political implications — of temperament.

Temperament is an issue in this election because, during the first debate, Donald Trump suggested his “winning temperament” was his biggest asset, yet many people have asked whether his temperament makes him unsuitable for the Presidency.

The author of the New York Magazine piece, Drake Baer, thinks temperament isn’t a new consideration in U.S. Presidential elections: “The discussion of ‘presidential temperament’ is long (it goes back to the country’s founding) and weird (because the political usage doesn’t match up with the scientific understanding, except when it does).”

Drawing on her research on personality development, Shiner offers insights into how temperament is expressed and its role in shaping life outcomes. The Handbook of Temperament considers “… the pivotal role of temperament in parent-child interactions, attachment, peer relationships, and the development of adolescent and adult personality and psychopathology.”

As the 2016 election comes to a close, the expertise of Colgate professors continues to inform students and the media.

Read the full article at New York Magazine.

Related:

Colgate to open first of four residential learning communities
Ciccone Commons
Department of Psychology


Colgate media panel explores future of journalism

October 6, 2016
The Colgate Media and Communications in the 21st Century was one of several inauguration-week events.

Members of the Media in the 21st Century panel talk to a crowd in Olin Hall, September 30. (Photo by Gerard Gaskin)

When asked to talk a bit about the thought process that goes on behind closed doors at some of the nation’s most elite media organizations, CBS 60 Minutes Executive Producer Jeff Fager ’77 summed it all up in a single sentence: “We try to shed light in dark places.”

Read more


Art, psychology, and the environment: Professor Turner explores the connection

October 5, 2016
shutterstock_web

It’s estimated that 50,000 pieces of plastic are floating in each square mile of the world’s oceans. Photo by Rich Carey (Shutterstock)

Does seeing an image of plastic bags floating in the ocean influence people to be more environmentally friendly? That’s what Bob Turner, professor of economics and environmental studies, hopes to find out with his new research.

In Turner’s study, participants are asked a set of questions designed by psychologists that assesses their opinions on the state of the environment’s health. Next, one group is shown an artistic image of a whale, accompanied by text explaining that the whale image is comprised of 50,000 plastic bags, equal to the estimated number of pieces of floating plastic in a square mile of the world’s oceans. Other groups see different combinations of image and/or text. Sometimes, a photograph of bags in the ocean replaces the whale image. Afterward, all participants answered a subset of the initial survey questions and questions on their beliefs about plastic bag pollution.

Professor Bob Turner (Photo by Mark DiOrio)

Professor Bob Turner (Photo by Mark DiOrio)

Although the study is ongoing, so far, Turner has found that those who are shown either one of the images and/or the text become more pro-environment. “It’s an open question whether environmental art, by itself, has an impact, but clearly information seems to matter,” he said. “I’m hoping the research will narrow down the ways, and, in what circumstances, the art has an impact.”

Turner first started thinking about the effects of art on people’s thoughts about the environment during a 2008 visit to Colgate by the Canary Project, which produces art and media about ecological issues. But it wasn’t until several years later when Turner was invited to speak at a scientific communication conference that he decided to pursue it further.

In the fall of 2014, Turner designed a new a scientific perspectives class, called Environmental Activism, Science, and the Arts. Through working with students in the class, which discussed art, psychology, statistics, and the environment, Turner modified his study to this current iteration. Students from that class worked with him on the design of his survey instrument.

When he came to Colgate in 1983, Turner was purely an economist, and the environment was hardly on his radar, but now he teaches both subjects. “I married into a family that hiked in the Rockies every summer,” he said. “[While in] the national parks out there, I realized there were interesting economic questions associated with them.” He then helped expand the Environmental Studies Program to include environmental economics and has continued to conduct research about national parks in addition to his recent work about environmental art.


Peter Balakian reads from his Pulitzer Prize-winning text during Living Writers event

September 30, 2016
Peter Balakian is seated a table teaching an English class in Lathrop Hall

Peter Balakian teaches an advanced writing class at Colgate. (Photo by Andrew Daddio)

Living Writers — one of Colgate’s most popular courses, both on campus and in the wider Colgate community — featured Pulitzer Prize-winning professor Peter Balakian as part of inauguration week festivities at Colgate.

Balakian, the Donald M. and Constance H. Rebar Professor in humanities, professor of English, and director of creative writing at Colgate, won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for Ozone Journal, a collection of poems.

Here is a replay of his reading and talk.


Balakian is also the inaugural poet and will be featured at the inauguration ceremony today, September 30, at 4:30 p.m. The ceremony will be streamed at Colgate.edu and archived at Colgate.edu/inauguration.

Read more about Balakian’s Pulitzer victory.

Balakian is the fourth Living Writer in the 10-week online experience. People can still join for free and watch videos, listen to podcasts, and relive the Livestream events with the writers who have already appeared. There are deep discussion threads about Balakian and the other authors that involve students, faculty, and the Colgate community.

 


Cultivating Community Leaders: From the Local to the Global

September 29, 2016

In an ecosystem of leadership, one seeks justice, mercy, dignity, empathy, and beauty. One listens and shares, partners and serves, and immerses oneself in the community. These were the themes — and the tangible advice — discussed by a slate of people who have dedicated their careers to doing good works at Cultivating Community Leaders: From the Local to the Global.

Moderator Ellen Percy Kraly, William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Geography and former director of Colgate’s Upstate Institute, asked the panelists to share their personal experiences and inspirations in building community locally, regionally, nationally, and globally. This was the second Colgate In Discussion event in honor of Brian W. Casey’s inauguration as the university’s 17th president.

Kraly also asked the panelists to share their perspectives on how to best cultivate and promote leadership on Colgate’s campus in the future.

“Push students to think deeply, to talk about their experiences and share it with someone else,” said Ayanna K. Williams ’08, a healthcare policy professional at The Lewin Group who noted that the foundation for her passion for public service was created at Colgate. “Why was it meaningful? How did it shape you?” Williams helped to write the selection criteria and charter for the National Abolition Hall of Fame in nearby Peterboro, N.Y., as an Upstate Institute Summer Fellow. She also traveled the world through study abroad, where she could engage with communities.

The other panelists included Roger Ferlo ’73, president of the Bexley Seabury Episcopal Center for Learning & Discipleship; Mark Golden H’14, CEO of Golden Artist Colors in nearby New Berlin, N.Y.; Peter A. Dunn, president of the Central New York Community Foundation; Katie Redford ’90, co-founder and director of EarthRights International; and Jo Kroes Randell ’91, director of development, Sustain for Life.

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For complete coverage of Inauguration Week visit colgate.edu/inauguration.


Looking ahead to inauguration day and back at Colgate University’s history

September 28, 2016

inauguration_blog

This Friday, Colgate inaugurates Brian W. Casey as its 17th president. A full slate of special inauguration-week events kicked off yesterday with a panel discussion focused on Colgate’s historical roots. Participants then turned to the question of how the university’s long journey from Baptist seminary to modern liberal arts institution may inform its path forward.

“We have certain markings that make us distinct, and I would argue that we embrace those things,” said Casey, whose scholarship has focused on the history of American higher education. Referencing Colgate’s dynamic Liberal Arts Core Curriculum, Division I athletics, and relatively large student body, Casey said, “That’s what makes us unique.”

The panel conversation, titled Colgate’s History: Reflections on the Past and Future, featured Casey as well as Roy D. and Margaret B. Wooster Professor of the Classics Robert Garland; NEH Professor of the Humanities Mel Watkins ’62; Assistant Professor of History and Bicentennial Fellow Jennifer Hull; and James Allen Smith ’70, director of research, Rockefeller Archive Center and author of the forthcoming book on the history of Colgate University. The panel was moderated by Jill Harsin, professor of history and chair of Colgate’s Bicentennial Committee.

Visit colgate.edu/inauguration for a full schedule of events leading up to inauguration day. Friday’s ceremony will be held at 4:30 p.m. in Memorial Chapel. Those unable to attend are invited to watch the celebration live at colgate.edu.


New agreement launches Singapore exchange program

June 24, 2016
A new agreement between Colgate University and the Naitonal University of Singapore will create new off-campus study options in 2017.

Representatives from Colgate University and the National University of Singapore sign a memorandum of understanding creating a new student exchange program in 2017. (photo by Alice Verdin-Speer)

Students looking for a dynamic off-campus experience that also allows them to engage in scientific research will have more options in 2017, thanks to a new agreement between Colgate University and the National University of Singapore (NUS).

After more than a year of exploration and development, representatives of Colgate and the NUS signed a memorandum of understanding June 7, creating a new exchange program to benefit students from both institutions, and to act as a catalyst for future faculty collaboration.

The agreement affords new research options for students in the departments of mathematics, computer science, biology, chemistry, and physics & astronomy. Jason Meyers, associate professor of biology, will lead the first group of Colgate students to Singapore in the fall of 2017, but unlike other full-semester study groups, Meyers will accompany students for just a few weeks before returning to campus in Hamilton, N.Y., to teach.

In the spring, NUS students, already acquainted  with students from Colgate, will then come to Hamilton, N.Y., to take courses, conduct research, and experience the liberal arts.

“We really wanted to build on the successful National Institutes of Health program in Washington, D.C., in which students take two courses and independent research for credit,” said Nicole Simpson, professor of economics and associate dean of the faculty for international initiatives. “Undergraduate research isn’t common at large institutions internationally, so there was a short list of places that are rigorous and strong in the sciences, but that also applaud undergraduate research.”

Simpson said that, because NUS has existing relationships with Yale and Cornell universities, their faculty and administrators are already familiar with the liberal arts, and their curriculum has rigorous standards akin to Colgate’s.

The new partnership was developed, in part, thanks to Ed ’62, P’10 and Robin Lampert P’10, whose generosity supported the founding of the Lampert Institute for Civic and Global Affairs at Colgate. The Lamperts have made a $2.5 million commitment to internationalization, and they also offered to match additional gifts of $500,000 up to $2.5 million for international initiatives.

NUS Professor Roger Tan, vice dean and faculty of science, education and special duties, said he hopes this new endeavor will create more opportunities for cooperation in the future between the two institutions of learning.

“[NUS] students will certainly benefit from your broad-based liberal arts education,” Tan said during a visit to Colgate earlier this month. “I hope we give them an unforgettable experience.”

Professor Damhnait McHugh, Colgate natural sciences and mathematics division director, said that when she visited NUS with Meyers, Simpson and four other faculty in the natural sciences on their fact-finding mission this past January, it became abundantly clear that the university had extensive support systems and a strong commitment to welcoming international students.

“We want our students to really make the most of their social and cultural experience as well, and we hope for international faculty collaborations to develop in the coming years,” McHugh said. “We are very excited about the possibilities.”

Related:
Off-campus study
Lampert Institute for Civic and Global Affairs
Colgate Study Groups


Spotlight shines on great teaching at Colgate

May 9, 2016
Professor Rhonda Levine and interim dean of the faculty Constance Harsh stand together at a podium holding the Jerome Balmuth Award

Rhonda Levine (left), professor of sociology, receives the Balmuth Award from Constance Harsh, interim dean of the faculty and provost. (Photo by Alice Virden-Speer)

Colgate students spend four years of their lives engaging daily with some of the world’s brightest, most enthusiastic scholars. Faculty are at the heart of the academic experience, and in a world where undergraduates live the liberal arts, those bonds often extend beyond the boundaries of a classroom or the margins of a syllabus.

This week, the Colgate Scene paid tribute to the university’s dedicated teachers by publishing letters that former students have written home to Hamilton, thanking their professors for having profoundly touched their lives.

Via e-mail and hand-written notes, they, “revealed that their professors oftentimes helped to make the seemingly impossible possible: think in new ways, finish a thesis, determine a career path,” wrote Scene managing editor Aleta Mayne.

One of those letters was addressed to Rhonda Levine, professor of sociology and recipient of the 2016 Jerome Balmuth Award for Distinguished Teaching. The Balmuth Award was established by Mark Siegel ’73 in tribute to a pivotal professor who shaped his own Colgate experience and in recognition of the importance of teaching to the intellectual and personal development of undergraduates.

During her 34 years on the faculty, Levine has helped thousands of students realize the importance of what they do, say, think, and feel. And because of her expertise in the critical role of social class in stratification, labor politics, and race relations, she has found her office to be one of the most diverse meeting places on campus.

Portrait of professors Levine and Balmuth

Sociology professor Rhonda Levine with Balmuth Award namesake Jerome Balmuth, Harry Emerson Fosdick Professor of philosophy and religion, emeritus. (Photo by Alice Virden-Speer)

“Professor Levine is an extraordinary teacher, concerned not merely with the knowledge, thoughts, and attitudes of her students but with their very souls, their values, and qualities of character,” said award namesake Jerome Balmuth, Harry Emerson Fosdick Professor of philosophy and religion emeritus.

Levine always wanted to be a professor, she told the colleagues, alumni, and students who gathered for the celebration. It was even listed as her most likely occupation in her high school yearbook. She earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology from Michigan State University, her MA from McGill University, and her PhD from SUNY Binghamton. Before arriving at Colgate in 1982, she held teaching posts at Bowdoin College and Hobart and William Smith Colleges.

“Teaching at Colgate has been more rewarding than I ever could have imagined. Every semester has been an adventure,” Levine said. “I never know who’s going to show up in my office to talk about something we’ve been reading in class and how it might relate to something happening in their own lives.”

Deborah Fox Rush ’86 was one of those who benefited from Levine’s mentorship. On a special tumblr site established to honor Levine’s career, Rush wrote, “My entire legal career has dealt with the issues of poverty and class inequality and its impact on defendants in the criminal justice system. The lessons I learned in [Professor Levine’s] courses clearly started me on a path to my lifelong career.”

Noting the outpouring of gratitude by Levine’s students, Interim President Jill Harsin said, “What they are all saying is ‘she made a difference in my life; she made me feel as if what I did matters.’”

Looking ahead to the ongoing role of great teachers in Colgate’s third century, Levine said, “As we seek to be an even more diverse Colgate, I hope that we do not lose sight of the equally diverse methods of reaching our students and challenging them to be productive citizens of this increasingly complicated world in which we live.”

Related links:
Colgate Scene online
Celebrating Rhonda Levine
Why we should read Plato — Jerry Balmuth


Syllabus: “Horror” and the American Horror Film

April 25, 2016
Campus at night

Photo by Andrew Daddio

Editor’s note: Wondering what’s happening in the classroom at Colgate? Here’s a real-time glimpse into academic life on campus — a syllabus from a course underway this semester.

FMST 352 “Horror” and the American Horror Film
Kevin Wynter, visiting assistant professor of Film & Media Studies
TR 2:45–4:00, 105 Little Hall

Course description:

This course examines some the key factors that have contributed to the horror genre’s capacity to maintain its continued viability in popular culture across a wide range of media including graphic novels, video art, and interactive gaming.

Beginning with the modern period of the American horror film and then expanding beyond its physical and ideological borders, this course is designed to encourage students to challenge the ideas that have become associated with the term “horror,” and to consider whether some other term or terms may be better suited to describe the types of feelings horror films and related forms of media actually inspire.

The following questions will be considered: What is horror? Do horror-genre films truly inspire horror or are we, as participants, moved by some other affect or response? Is it possible to locate cinematic representations of horror and its experience outside of the horror genre?

Readings:

Course readings include Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen, Mark Seltzer’s Serial Killers: Death and Life in America’s Wound Culture, and various articles.

Key assignments/activities:

Coursework includes keeping a nightmare journal, in which students are asked to describe an “especially potent nightmare” that they have had and to consider it in relation to horror films screened in class. The class also requires students to present on class readings and write a short essay about Watchmen. The final paper, meant to take into account all that was explored over the course of semester, has the option of taking the shape of a video essay.

Class format:

In addition to weekly meetings, there is a film screening on Thursday nights, 7–10 p.m. Students are expected to complete all reading assignments and come to class prepared to raise points of interest or difficulty. Attendance and class participation are crucial and will be taken into consideration when calculating the final grade.

The professor says:

After taking this course, you will never look at horror movies the same way. One of the learning goals I propose is to try to distinguish feelings of terror from feelings of horror, and to interrogate how horror movies really make us feel. What students soon come to learn is that the feeling of horror is not confined to the genre conventions they have become familiar with, but can be found with more intensity in films outside of the horror genre.

Related links:
Zombie film Here Alone by Rod Blackhurst ’02 takes home Tribeca’s Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature


Syllabus: Silent Warfare

April 21, 2016
Persson Hall

Photo by Andrew Daddio

Editor’s note: Wondering what’s happening in the classroom at Colgate? Here’s a real-time glimpse into academic life on campus — a syllabus from a course underway this semester.

POSC 390 Silent Warfare: Intelligence Analysis and Statecraft
Danielle Lupton, Assistant Professor of Political Science
MW 1:20-2:35, Persson 133

Course Description:
This course introduces students to the complex and crucial process of obtaining, analyzing, and producing intelligence in the making of American foreign policy. We cover subjects including problems with the structure of the intelligence community, covert action, psychological and bureaucratic constraints on analysts and policy makers, and how the intelligence community has responded to key threats. This course also explores the ethical issues raised by intelligence gathering, such as the use of enhanced interrogation techniques, the role of whistleblowers, and accountability of the intelligence community.

Key assignments/activities:
There are three central written assignments. The first is an analysis of an intelligence agency, where students identify challenges facing an agency and provide solutions. The second is an active learning assignment in which students conduct research on themselves based on publicly available data and write a report regarding the ethics of open-source intelligence based on their findings. The final paper for this course is an in-depth investigation into a major intelligence failure, its causes, and ways to prevent such failures in the future.

Readings:
The main text will be Intelligence: From Secrets to Policy (6th Edition) by Mark Lowenthal.

The professor says:
“Students will gain a deeper understanding of the inter-workings of foreign policy by analyzing the value of information and how it supports the policy process. We engage with critical issues that affect not only policy makers, but also each of us as individuals, such as the use of drones to combat terrorism, the rise of increased domestic surveillance, and the ethics of enhanced interrogation techniques.

“In class, we focus our discussion on dissecting problems facing the intelligence community as well as providing solutions to those problems. Using this problem-based approach, students can apply the skills developed through course discussions and written work to any area of analysis in the future.”


From the Colgate Scene: Poetry and memory with Pulitzer Prize winner Peter Balakian

April 19, 2016
Illustration by Joe Ciardiello

Illustration by Joe Ciardiello

With a pair of new books out in 2015 — one a collection of his essays; the other, new poems — poet and English professor Peter Balakian unpacks, among other things, how language can, in his words, “ingest” the violence of history. The author of the New York Times–bestselling The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America’s Response and the prizewinning memoir Black Dog of Fate, Balakian has been called “the American conscience of the Armenian Genocide.” Last spring, he was invited to read and lecture at more than a dozen universities and made various media appearances including CNN and NPR’s All Things Considered in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the 1915 slaughter of Armenians by the Turkish government. He received the 2012 Alice and Clifford Spendlove Prize in Social Justice, Diplomacy and Tolerance.

Excerpts from Vise and Shadow: Essays on the Lyric Imagination, Poetry, Art, and Culture trace his writerly sensibilities — first, their roots, and second, on the notion of poetry itself. Two poems from Ozone Journal, winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize, embody that expression.


Balakian wins Pulitzer Prize

April 18, 2016
Professor Peter Balakian teaches a class

Peter Balakian, the Donald M. and Constance H. Rebar Professor in humanities, professor of English, and director of creative writing at Colgate. (Photo by Andrew Daddio)

Peter Balakian, the Donald M. and Constance H. Rebar Professor in humanities, professor of English, and director of creative writing at Colgate, has won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for Ozone Journal, his collection of poems published last year by University of Chicago Press.

In making the announcement, the Pulitzer committee cited the collection’s title poem, which takes readers back to 2009 when Balakian worked to exhume the bodies of Armenian genocide victims, buried for generations in the desert of Syria. “In the dynamic, sensual language of these poems, we are reminded that the history of atrocity, trauma, and forgetting is both global and ancient,” the committee wrote, “but we are reminded, too, of the beauty and richness of culture and the resilience of love.”

“All of Peter’s work is marked by a profound ethical concern and an appreciation for how the past indelibly marks the present,” said English professor Constance Harsh, interim dean of the faculty and provost.

The Pulitzer Prize is the latest — and highest — praise for Balakian’s extensive writings. The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America’s Response, a New York Times Notable Book and Best Seller, earned the 2005 Raphael Lemkin Prize. Black Dog of Fate, voted best book of the year by the New York Times, the LA Times, and Publisher’s Weekly, won the PEN/Martha Albrand Prize for the Art of the Memoir. His translation of Grigoris Balakian’s Armenian Golgotha: A Memoir of the Armenian Genocide 1915–1918 was a Washington Post book of the year.

“As a historian myself, I’ve always admired Peter’s ability to capture the past and make it immediate to our present concerns,” said Interim President Jill Harsin.

For more from Balakian on poetry and memory, read his feature article in the autumn 2015 Colgate Scene.


National Geographic Society awards grant to Professor Mike Loranty

April 11, 2016
Professor Mike Loranty (left) conducts research in Alaska with a student. Photo by Sarah Hewitt

Professor Mike Loranty (left) conducts research in Alaska with a student. Photo by Sarah Hewitt

The National Geographic Society’s Committee for Research and Exploration has awarded Assistant Professor of Geography Mike Loranty a grant for his project “Disentangling Tree and Shrub Phenology in Siberian Taiga Ecosystems.”

The funding will cover Loranty’s travel to the Northeast Scientific Station in Chersky, Russia, where he will monitor the timing — or phenology — of leaf emergence in the spring and senescence in the fall for trees and shrubs.

Loranty will look specifically for recent effects of global warming on the timing of leaf emergence and the duration of the growing season in forests with varying amounts of tree cover.

Growing season length has a substantial impact on vegetation’s influence on the global climate. The growing season time period can significantly alter atmospheric carbon, water, and energy dynamics.

While satellites are frequently used to monitor the canopy phenology of dense forests with constant tree cover, lower tree density makes it difficult to determine any differences in phenology between trees and shrubs in open forests remotely.

These disparities are important for understanding the responses of ecosystems to continued climate change. So Loranty will attempt to quantify the differences in canopy phenology for trees and shrubs — “disentangling” them — using near surface optical measurements, vegetation inventories, and satellite images.

The results of this study will improve understanding of the ways in which Siberian larch forests will respond to global climate in the future.

Read more about Loranty’s research and his recent expedition across the Alaskan tundra with Team Viper in the winter issue of the Colgate Scene.


Professors showcase work in on-campus exhibition

April 6, 2016
Corden steel sculpture by Colgate Professor DeWitt Godfrey

Luttel, a steel cylinder sculpture by Professor DeWitt Godfrey. Photo by Mark Williams

With varying styles, materials, and scales, the work of Colgate’s studio art professors has filled Clifford Gallery — giving visitors a glimpse at what they do outside of the classroom. Read more


Debating drone usage

April 5, 2016
MQ-9 Reaper drone flying over Afghanistan

The MQ-9 Reaper (U.S. Air Force Photo / Lt. Col. Leslie Pratt)

On March 21, more than 200 students, faculty, and community members gathered at the Palace Theater to discuss Drone Warfare: The Implications for Upstate New York. Valerie Morkevicius, assistant professor of political science, and Jacob Mundy, assistant professor of peace and conflict studies, organized the event. Presenters represented a breadth of ideologies on the topic.

The event specifically focused on drone warfare within the context of Syracuse’s Air National Guard base. Syracuse’s Hancock Field is home to the 174th Attack Wing. Pilots at this base remotely operate MQ-9 Reaper drones that fly over Afghanistan for the purpose of surveillance and intelligence. Officials state that fewer than 10 percent of missions involve combat.

Read more


Colgate’s Picker Institute funds four new projects

March 23, 2016
Professor Tim McCay

Tim McCay, professor of biology and environmental studies, teaches a course in zoology. McCay is one of several Colgate professors receiving funding from the Picker Interdisciplinary Science Institute. (Photo by Lorenzo Ciniglio)

Colgate’s Picker Interdisciplinary Science Institute continues its mission of supporting innovative research with four new grants for 2016. The special funding is designed to help bring together Colgate faculty with outside researchers from around the world in an effort to open new areas of study, and to find creative ways to tackle existing problems.

Read more


Prof. Chad Sparber testifies before U.S. Senate subcommittee

March 8, 2016
Professor Chad Sparber sits at a table while giving testimony to the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest

Economics professor Chad Sparber testifies before the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest (Photo by Renee Bouchard)

Chad Sparber, associate professor of economics, testified before the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest on Thursday, February 25.

During the hearing, Sparber discussed the significance of foreign-born STEM workers on native-born job opportunities and the role that the H-1B Visa program has had on technology development and job creation in the United States.

Here are some key quotes from his testimony:

The rise in foreign STEM employment between 1990 and 2010 increased the inflation-adjusted wage growth rate of college-educated natives by about 3.7 percentage points above what it otherwise would have been.

Twenty-five percent of high-tech companies founded between 1995 and 2005 had at least one immigrant founder. Over 40 percent of companies in the Fortune 500 in 2010 were founded by an immigrant or the child of an immigrant.

The bottom line is that the H-1B story is inseparable from the technology story, and there are only three broad policy alternatives: allow H-1B workers into the country to produce skilled work here; keep skilled workers out of the country and import technology from abroad; or close our borders to both skilled workers and technology.

Read more


Primary analysis: nonverbal communication in the 2016 presidential race

March 7, 2016

With candidates knitting their brows, pouting, barking at hecklers, making sweeping hand gestures, and wearing high-heeled boots, the 2016 primary season is a true wild west show.

“I’ve never seen an election quite like this one, where stage presence has meant so much,” said Colgate University Professor of Psychology Carrie Keating. “So what are the elements that draw us to certain leaders?”

Keating, an expert on nonverbal communication in politics, answers this question and many others in a new series of videos, analyzing the appearance and behavior of America’s 2016 presidential frontrunners.


Kraly receives honorary doctorate from Australia’s Curtin University

March 3, 2016
Professor Ellen Kraly stands on the commencement stage with Curtin University Chancellor Mr. Colin Beckett and Vice-Chancellor Professor Deborah Terry

Professor Ellen Kraly (left) with Curtin University Chancellor Mr. Colin Beckett and Vice-Chancellor Professor Deborah Terry (Photo courtesy Curtin University)

The journey of a hundred artworks begins with a single person.

Ellen Percy Kraly, William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of geography and environmental studies, has been awarded an honorary doctorate by Australia’s Curtin University in recognition of her efforts to repatriate an invaluable collection of Noongar aboriginal art to its home Down Under.

Read more


The history department takes over Twitter

February 19, 2016

On Monday, February 15, the Department of History took over the official Colgate University Twitter feed.

Led by students Warren Dennis ’16 and Kristy Saldana ’18, the department posted about faculty, students, and alumni — they even threw in a little history of Colgate.

“It was very nerve-racking at first,” said Saldana. “But once we started hearing so much positive feedback from students on campus and the engagement of people on Twitter, it made this an amazing experience.”

Dennis live-tweeted a senior seminar, wherein the class discussed Kirsten Weld’s book, Paper Cadavers. Weld replied:

 

See the entire day below.