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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.


Professor Catherine Cardelús featured in Nature.com article

February 11, 2016
Catherine Cardelús "A Lab in the Canopy"

Catherine Cardelus “A Lab in the Canopy”

Colgate Associate Professor of Biology Catherine Cardelús was featured recently in a Nature.com article called “Fieldwork: Extreme research.”

Nature.com talks about the literal and metaphorical heights to which Cardelús must climb in order to pursue her investigations. According to the article, “[it] requires climbing up ropes while battling jungle heat and fending off biting insects. On each climb, she lugs a heavy pack filled with sample-collecting tags and bags, tape measures, notebooks, walkie-talkies, water, lunch, and other supplies for days of work that can keep her in the trees for up to seven hours at a time.”

Due to the unpredictable nature of the work that Cardelús does in the canopy, “you constantly have to be open to the possibility that you can’t do what you need to do,” she told Nature.com.

To find out more about Cardelús and her research, check out the Colgate Scene feature “A Lab in the Canopy,” written by Sarah Hewitt.

Related:
Catherine Cardelús receives interdisciplinary grant
Catherine Cardelús bio
Research opportunities in Biology
Working with Dolphins in the Florida Keys


Colgate joins Beckman Scholars Program

January 21, 2016
Student stands at a lab table, reading notes in Wynn Hall

Photo by Andrew Daddio

Colgate University has been named as a Beckman Scholars Program institutional award recipient for 2016.

The grant, totaling $104,000, will provide multi-year research funding for students majoring in biology or chemistry. Colgate joins a distinguished list of universities that received the award from the Irvine, Calif.–based Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation in 2016 — it includes Emory, Vanderbilt, and the University of Chicago among others.

“We are delighted to have been selected,” said Damhnait McHugh, Raab Family Chair and Professor of biology; director of the division of natural sciences and mathematics. “It offers our top students unparalleled opportunities to engage in extended scholarship.”

Read more


Shining light on atmospheric chemistry

December 17, 2015
Ephraim Woods, associate professor of chemistry, looking at a paper with a student (photo by Lorenzo Ciniglio)

Ephraim Woods, associate professor of chemistry (photo by Lorenzo Ciniglio)

Deep in the forest, the same chemicals that give pine trees their smell might have a powerful effect on climate change.

Sunlight can convert those naturally occurring molecules into secondary organic aerosol (SOA) particles with the potential to change local cloud cover and rainfall patterns. SOAs also help to determine how much sunlight reaches Earth and how much longwave radiation escapes.

Professor Ephraim Woods, chemistry department chair, is training high-powered lasers on aerosols to see if molecules like pinene, limonene, and isoprene can form SOA with the sun’s help. Backed by a $285,500 grant from the National Science Foundation, Woods and his student research team measure the lifetime of the short-lived chemical species that spark these reactions, as well as how much particulate organic matter they create. The goal is to determine which conditions promote the formation of SOA particles.

Read more


Urban Sociology goes to New York City

December 11, 2015
People standing outside on a street, waiting for a punk show to begin at ABC No Rio (Photo by Chandler Wood)

Waiting for a punk show to begin at ABC No Rio (Photo by Chandler Wood ’17)

The following post was submitted by Professor Kim Creasap, and published on the Sociology and Anthropology blog.

On October 24, 2015, 16 students in SOC 305: Urban Sociology and I traveled to the Lower East Side of Manhattan to conduct mini-ethnographies of various places and spaces in the neighborhood. An important site of New York City history and contemporary urban change, the Lower East Side offered us an incredible range of locations and communities to illustrate course themes.

Read more


Penny Lane’s new film NUTS! to premiere at Sundance

December 7, 2015
animation from the movie NUTS! showing Dr. John Romulus Brinkley, an eccentric genius who built an empire in Depression-era America with a goat testicle impotence cure

NUTS!, from assistant professor Penny Lane, will premiere at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival

NUTS!, a new documentary film by assistant professor of art and art history Penny Lane, will premiere at next month’s Sundance Film Festival. NUTS! tells the story of John Romulus Brinkley, who, in 1917, offered a cure for impotence by transplanting goat testicles.

“Sundance is by far the premiere venue to launch an American independent feature film,” Lane said. “I was overjoyed by the invitation, and I am really excited to see how the audience there responds to the film.”

The New York Times, citing the festival’s lineup guide, reports, “In keeping with a recent trend in documentary filmmaking, nontraditional, sometimes controversial storytelling techniques will be on full display [at Sundance] … The director Penny Lane, for instance, uses animated re-enactments and ‘one seriously unreliable narrator’ to trace the ‘mostly true’ story of a man who found success selling a goat-testicle impotence cure.”

Portrait of Penny Lane

Penny Lane

Lane’s previous credits include Our Nixon, a documentary featuring home movies shot by President Richard Nixon’s aides, and The Voyagers, a short film about “two small spacecraft, an epic journey, taking risks, and falling in love. Also Carl Sagan.” Lane traveled the hemisphere in search of background information for NUTS! Her expeditions — and the film itself — were funded by the New York State Council on the Arts, Creative Capital, the Tribeca Film Institute, the Colgate University Research Council, and a successful $80,000 Kickstarter campaign.

“A campaign like that has the added effect of creating a small but enthusiastic army of fans who feel like they were in it ‘from the beginning.,’” Lane said.

Find out more at brinkleyfilm.com and, in the weeks ahead, on the Sundance Film Festival website.


$500,000 NSF grant funds sacred forest research in Ethiopia

November 30, 2015
A sacred forest rises from farmland in Ethiopia

A view of a sacred forest in Ethiopia’s northern highlands (photo by Peter Klepeis)

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded $500,000 in funding to an interdisciplinary team of Colgate faculty, led by Associate Professor of Biology Catherine Cardelús, to continue investigating the status and conservation of sacred forests in Ethiopia’s northern highlands.

Christian Orthodox churches emerged in Ethiopia some 800 years ago. Today, thousands of these sites protect some of the region’s last remaining native forests, which stand out in a landscape otherwise dominated by agriculture and rangeland. Sacred forests have survived in spite of changes in societies and the ways in which humans use their land.

“Priests, monks, school children, and others are constantly walking and working in these forests, using them for everything from worshipping to schooling,” Cardelús said. “I hope to learn from those who already use ecosystems sustainably and leverage their methods to help others.”

To that end, Cardelús has tapped colleagues at Colgate and beyond to conduct an interdisciplinary study that will determine the current ecological health of the forests as well as changes in their structure and the perceptions of nearby populations over time.

She is joined on the project by Peter Scull, associate professor of geography; Peter Klepeis, professor of geography and geography department chair; and Carrie Woods, former visiting professor at Colgate, now visiting professor of biology at the University of Puget Sound. The team has also hired two scholars — Ethiopia historian Izabela Orlowska and Alemayehu Wassie, a forester and Christian Orthodox Tewahido Church priest — to operate full-time in country.

Read more


Interim Provost Constance Harsh invited to White House roundtable

November 21, 2015
Sustainability at Colgate University

Colgate’s sustainability efforts recognized by White House

On November 19, Interim Dean of the Faculty and Provost Constance Harsh participated in a roundtable discussion at the White House to take part in launching the American Campuses Act on Climate day of action.

“It was very good to witness the serious purpose that animated the participants,” Harsh said after the event. “Students have a real sense of urgency about this. Higher education has an important role to play here.”

Harsh joined a select group of higher education presidents, other campus and business leaders, as well as high-ranking government officials, including EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Karen Florini of the State Department, at the White House event.

Colgate has a nationally renowned commitment to sustainability. On Wednesday, Interim President Jill Harsin reiterated our commitment to sustainability in a letter to the White House. Specifically, Colgate’s commitments include:

  • Achieving carbon neutrality by 2019, our bicentennial
  • Making carbon neutrality and sustainability a part of the curriculum and other educational experiences for all students
  • Incorporating sustainable practices in all campus planning and building design from inception to implementation
  • Achieving a minimum of LEED Silver standards for all new construction and major renovations
  • Enhancing teaching and learning, creating long-term economic resiliency, building and restoring robust ecological systems, and supporting a healthier and more just society

“I am proud that Colgate is one of the higher education leaders in confronting climate change, particularly in our pledge to achieve carbon neutrality by 2019,” said Harsh.

Colgate also participated in the #ActOnCampus hashtag on Twitter, showing some of our sustainability successes.


A perspective on the importance of Community Reads

October 26, 2015
Photo by Andrew Daddio

Professor Jeff Bary – photo by Andrew Daddio

(Editor’s note: the following commentary is from Professor Jeff Bary on Colgate Community Reads. Kiese Laymon, whose book was an integral part of the program, will be on campus on October 27 at 7:30 p.m. in the Memorial Chapel.)

In September 2014, Colgate students occupied the university’s administration building for 100 hours. They demanded a Colgate for All and offered a list of 21 points that they wanted the university to address in an attempt to improve the situation for students who felt marginalized because of race, gender identity, or socio-economic status.

In the spring of 2015, as the administration continued to address those 21 points, faculty and staff debated about whether or not we should scrap Colgate’s summer book program. Some feared that students didn’t read the book and that we only talked about it in some pseudo-meaningful way for 60 minutes during orientation. We were either missing a golden opportunity or doing something we shouldn’t be doing.

I am a believer in the golden opportunity. Discontinuing the program was especially disconcerting to me in the light of the Colgate for All movement. I remembered going down to the administration building and hearing first-year students speak — students who arrived on campus having just read Freedom Summer, which details the sacrifices that students were willing to make 50 years ago in the name of civil rights.

It was almost direct evidence of the impact that summer books can have on our students and on the Colgate culture. It argued for new ways to strengthen the program, increase student participation, extend the intellectual life of the book, and potentially reach a larger portion of our community.

As interim director of the First Year Seminar Program, I convened an ad hoc committee of like-minded — and maybe not so like-minded — faculty and staff who would be interested in considering what we could do to make the program more meaningful.

Based upon the committee’s work and open forums with faculty, staff, and students, we decided to invite all students to read the book. Instead of discussing it for an hour during orientation, we would develop an interdisciplinary series of events, providing formal opportunities to build a shared experience around the text.

We also significantly redesigned the process for selecting a book, including all faculty, staff, and students in the decision. The community voted on the final selection, which turned out to be Kiese Laymon’s book of essays, How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in AmericaHow to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America book cover

This book is not easy. It’s not easy for the majority of our students, who are white, to read a book that was not written for them. They are normally the target audience. Would they take it as a challenge or dismiss it?

During a series of Colgate Conversations for first-year students during orientation, we covered many topics — presentations on Colgate history, issues of inclusion, and our summer reading. I led one of those conversations, and a student said, “You know, I chose to come to Colgate because I was going to fit in and everybody there was going to be a lot like me.” But he said it with a dawning realization that he should try to get out of his own little world and meet people that he’d never met before from places that he’d never visited. He needed to understand how life may be for others and how their experiences could enrich his own.

What will that realization mean to him and to his classmates 10 or 20 years from now? I came away from that conversation thinking, boy, these students were serious, and they did really hard work.

They will continue that work through a schedule of 17 book-related events, from poetry readings to dance performances to film screenings to scientific lectures — all dealing with issues of intergroup dialogue, the black experience in America, and how people who are not from a marginalized group contribute to this culture in which we find ourselves. We’re all part of this. We’re all in this together.

Jeff Bary, associate professor of physics and astronomy.

Related links
Colgate community reads
Physics and Astronomy department page
Colgate professor Jeff Bary examines chemical spill affecting thousands in West Virginia
Professor Jeff Bary among group of international astronomers published in Nature magazine
Get to know Jeff Bary

 

 

 

 

 


Debating the Common Core

October 26, 2015
John Palmer, educational studies professor, discusses the Common Core at a public debate hosted by Colgate's Center for Freedom and Western Civilization.

John Palmer, educational studies professor, discusses the Common Core at a public debate hosted by Colgate’s Center for Freedom and Western Civilization. Photo by Nick Friedman ’16

On October 15, a mix of teachers, administrators, parents, students, and citizens from across central New York gathered in a town hall–style meeting to discuss the Common Core. Read more


Work co-produced by professor Joel Sommers featured in Technology Review

October 22, 2015
This is a map of the US with red dots representing hubs of the internet

A map of the U.S. Long-haul Fiber-optic Infrastructure

Even though the Internet is a critical tool for the U.S. economy, no one had ever mapped the cables that help the data flow. One problem is that the cables that power the Internet are owned by many different companies including AT&T and Level 3. Because the information is in many places, the system powering the Internet hasn’t been mapped – until now.

Working with a team of researchers, Joel Sommers, associate professor of computer science, changed that paradigm by creating a map of the cables. The work was featured in Technology Review Magazine, and the paper is available to read as a PDF file.

“Other researchers have tried to map the Internet,” says Sommers. “However, all of those attempts have tried to do it by taking traffic measurements or using other measurement tools to try to build a picture of the Internet from the top down.”

The problem with previous attempts is that they see a virtualized topology — not the real physical infrastructure.

Through painstaking work of putting together ISP maps then cross referencing against a massive set of public records, uncovered through lots and lots of manual work, the team was able to create one of the first maps of the Internet’s long-haul fiber-optic infrastructure in the United States.

Sommers explained that understanding the topology of the Internet can help protect it. There was a well-publicized case a few years back when a tunnel fire in Baltimore melted fiber-optic cables causing Internet outages. Having a picture of the Internet’s topology can help engineers understand the potential impact of such events on other portions of the network.

Related links:
Computer Science at Colgate
Q and A with Vijay Ramachandran, associate professor of computer science
Lauren Yeary ‘15, Farah Fouladi ‘15 organize trip to NYC with other female computer science majors
Joel Sommers looks to identify Internet ‘attack traffic’

 

 


Colgate takes next step on international journey

October 20, 2015

It was a Colgate Hello that could be heard around the world.

On October 15, Colgate ushered in a new era of internationalism and officially celebrated the opening of the Center for International Programs (CIP). The center will serve as a hub for the university’s numerous global initiatives, conducted by faculty and students.

Read more