Moving Mountains
What is the true cost of coal? In order to expose the social and environmental crisis known as mountaintop removal mining, Jeff Bary, assistant professor of physics and astronomy, organized a multidisciplinary series in the fall. Moving Mountains in Appalachia kicked off with a performance by Grammy-nominated fiddler Bruce Molsky in September and continued into November with film screenings, an art exhibition, and lectures that reflected various responses to this crisis.

(photo by iStockphoto)

    “The coal industry comes in and strips all the trees off the top of the mountain and blasts off the top with a lot of dynamite,” Bary said. In addition to devastating the landscape, he explained, mountaintop removal releases heavy metals that pollute the air and water supplies of the region.
    A West Virginia native, Bary noticed last year that his hometown was mentioned in Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt by Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and author Chris Hedges ’77. The book describes Bary’s town of Welch, W. Va., as a “sacrifice-zone,” a place where the local environment and population are exploited in the name of corporate profit. Bary invited Hedges to campus to give a public lecture. A dinner with a dozen other professors planted the seed for the Moving Mountains series. He found support from the Colgate Arts Council and from colleagues.
    “It is the scope of his [Bary’s] vision that makes this project so special,” said Lynn Schwarzer, art and art history professor and council member.
    Musicians, environmental activists, authors, graphic artists, filmmakers, and scientific experts participated. “The series exposed the complexity of the central Appalachian region: its relationship with the coal industry, the threats posed to the health of the local populations and the environment, the strength and resilience of Appalachian people, and the multitude of ways in which we are all complicit in the colonization of central Appalachia and many similar resource-rich regions all over the globe,” said Bary.“Those who attended learned a great deal about a region that is too often ignored or forgotten. There are important lessons to be learned from what’s happened in Appalachia.”
— Marilyn Hernandez-Stopp ’14

Tech on Tap
Transporting students to different lands by incorporating technology into teaching — that was just one of the topics discussed over wine and cheese in Donovan’s Pub at the first “Tech on Tap” event. The September gathering featured posters from a broad range of professors who have successfully integrated technology into their curriculum.
    Geology professor Karen Harpp has been using Google mapping tools in both a geology course and in collaboration with Nancy Ries, an anthropology and peace and conflict studies professor, in the course Weapons and War. Using mapping and geographic visualization tools such as Google Earth and Fusion Tables, their students have presented research on plate tectonics and landscape analysis and created choropleth (thematic) maps depicting troop locations during Operation Desert Storm and the Korean War.

Professors discussed how they use technology in their teaching during the first Tech on Tap event in Donovan’s Pub. (Photo by Anna Heil ’16)
    Meanwhile, although many professors discourage the use of Wikipedia for their classes, the web-based encyclopedia became the focal point of Aisha Musa’s Islamic Jurisprudence course. Musa, assistant professor of religion and Middle Eastern studies and Islamic civilization, designed a set of Wikipedia editing projects to develop her students’ writing, research, media literacy, and collaboration skills. After reading published articles by various scholars, her students edited relevant Wikipedia articles for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
    “The project is reflective of the way people know things today as opposed to twenty years ago; now we often look to electronic literature instead of published literature,” explained Nancy Pruitt, who, as associate dean of the faculty, is spearheading many of Colgate’s technology initiatives and helped organize the event.
    Beyond sparking conversation among professors, Tech on Tap is part of a larger working group in Colgate’s strategic planning process that focuses on the role of technology in teaching and learning.
    Colgate is also collaborating with other members of the New York Six Liberal Arts Consortium (Hamilton, Skidmore, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, St. Lawrence, and Union). Pruitt hopes that in the near future, students will be able to benefit from the unique faculty expertise at each college. “This generation has been engaged with technology from day one,” she said. “We need to take advantage of their way of knowing the world and use it to help expand the educational experience.”
— Laura D’Angelo ’14

College Fed Challenge
In November, student economists had the chance to take their understanding of the U.S. economy and make a recommendation for the Federal Reserve at the College Fed Challenge.
    Taking on 36 other universities, for the first time, Colgate’s economics department participated in the national competition hosted and judged by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
    The students applied knowledge gained in Professor Nicole Simpson’s class titled Fed Challenge. They researched U.S. macroeconomic data as well as analyzed historical and international macroeconomic episodes and policy responses.
    The class traveled to New York City in October for an orientation and meeting with Chris Burke ’89, vice president and director of Domestic Money Markets and Reserve Management at the New York Fed. Over lunch, Burke gave the students advice and told them the inside scoop on what it’s like to be in Federal Open Market Committee meetings with Chairman Ben Bernanke.
    Then, in November, five students — all junior and senior economics majors — gave their presentation summarizing the current state of the U.S. macro economy, including its weaknesses and threats, and made a monetary policy recommendation for the Fed.
    “It was great to focus on a topic and be questioned about it in front of true experts,” said Zachary Pitkowsky ’15.
    The team received support from the economics department faculty and seven economics classes, who viewed their presentations in advance and provided feedback.
    In addition, J.S. Hope ’97, Colgate’s director of investments, and Ellie Schmidt ’12, an investment analyst who also works in Colgate’s finance and administration office, previewed the presentation and asked the team questions.  
    “This ‘road show’ made [the team] far better presenters and responders to probing questions,” said Pitkowsky.
    Ultimately, the team did not advance to the semifinals, but “win or lose, their enthusiasm has created a fun buzz around the department among our students, faculty, and alumni,” said Simpson. “I am very proud of them, and deeply appreciate the hard work they did and how much we all learned in the process.”
— Hannah O’Malley ’17

Psychology major Casey Sherman ’14, who is looking into how we process memories, is featured on Colgate’s new research blog series. Read his entry and others from students teaming up with professors to explore everything from climate change to causes of cancer at (Photo by Natalie Sportelli ’15)

High-tech space focuses on foreign-language teaching
The W.M. Keck Humanities Resource Center, located in Lawrence Hall, has been transformed from a quiet computer lab into a high-tech space for foreign language learning.
    A recent renovation allows for more student interaction with professors and language interns. Complete with new software, computers, and 
furniture, the center has a new look and employs the latest technologies to broaden students’ global perspectives.

Transformed into a high-tech space for foreign language learning, the W.M. Keck Humanities Resource Center in Lawrence Hall features new computers and software. (Photo by Duy Trinh ’14)

    “The goal is to expand and improve the ways in which students learn languages,” said Yukari Hirata, a Japanese professor who was heavily involved in the renovation project. “We wanted to create a friendly lounge so that students find language practice enjoyable, instead of intimidating.”
    One highlight is a new office for language interns from eight countries, who are serving as tutors for homework and who facilitate conversations that help students practice their speaking skills.
    The Keck has new high-end Mac computers, laptops, iPads, and high-quality microphones and headphones, as well as two flat-screen TVs in the lounge that display content from international channels throughout the day. Also available are Transparent Language, an online language learning program; Nanogong, an audio recording application; and Praat, a tool that allows for visual analyses of spoken utterances; as well as Skype and Final Cut Pro.
    The center has been piloting a new program: Saturday morning Korean-language classes, taught by a professor based in Syracuse, through innovative technology and video conferencing. Although the program is not offered for credit, the hope is that more foreign languages not offered in Colgate’s curriculum will be offered to students in the future.
    “Nothing can replace the valuable student-teacher interactions that we offer here,” said Zlatko Grozl, instructional technologist for the Keck Center. “But I can imagine us offering languages that we normally don’t teach through these new technologies. We’re always looking for ways to enhance language learning.”
— Aminat Olayinka Agaba ’14

Chapel House changeover
How does the Colgate experience help one to live life well? Nearly a dozen alumni spanning the classes of 1974 to 2005 shared their thoughts in September, at an event honoring the retirement of John Ross Carter. The contemplative event was a fitting tribute to the man who directed Chapel House, Colgate’s spiritual sanctuary and retreat center, for 41 years. A philosophy and religion professor, he also directed Colgate’s Fund for the Study of the Great Religions of the World.

John Ross Carter (seated) with former staffers at Chapel House

    Sufia Mendez Uddin ’88, a religious studies professor at Connecticut College, reflected on how a January term class on Japanese tea ceremony co-taught by Carter has shaped her approach to everything from her cancer diagnosis to parenting. “I came to see the importance of focusing the mind, being present in a task, being devoted to one’s task,” she said. “It influenced my relationship with my students, how I work as a scholar, my relationship with my family, and how I face adversity.”
    Kevin Trainor ’90, a professor and chair of the religion department at the University of Vermont, said that through his interaction with Carter and other professors, “I was given opportunities to engage with serious intellectual and moral issues in a setting where my struggles to make sense of things were respected and encouraged to develop, and where the framework for understanding those issues was continually expanded beyond the narrow perspectives of the dominant culture.”
    Both Uddin and Trainor also spoke about how Chapel House was a meaningful part of their Colgate experience.
    Stepping in to continue Chapel House’s mission, Steven Kepnes, a professor of religion and Jewish studies, has been named the new director, as well as director of the Fund for the Study of the Great Religions. Having taught at Colgate since 1988, he brings his deep appreciation for religious and spiritual practices and his prominence in inter-religious dialogue through the “Scriptural Reasoning” movement.
    One of the founders of Colgate’s Jewish Studies Program, Kepnes is a scholar of Jewish philosophy, theology, and ethics; biblical and rabbinic hermeneutics; Holocaust and genocide studies; and interreligious scriptural and liturgical reasoning. He also has another new title: professor of the study of world religions, having previously held the Finard Chair in Jewish studies since 2001.
    He has chaired the religion department and Core 151, and directed the Jewish studies program and several extended study groups to Israel. He is the author of many articles, most recently “Holiness as the Unique Form of Jewish Spirituality,” and books, including The Future of Jewish Theology.

Faculty buzz
Ray Douglas (history) has received the 2013 George Louis Beer Prize for his book Orderly and Humane: The Expulsion of the Germans after the Second World War (Yale University Press, 2012). The Beer Prize, awarded annually by the American Historical Association, recognizes  outstanding historical writing in European international history since 1895.
    The author of four other books, Douglas studies and teaches modern Britain and Ireland and 20th-century European history. The leader of Colgate’s fall 2013 off-campus study group to Geneva, Switzerland, he was listed as one of Princeton Review’s Best 300 Professors of 2012.
    • Research on a certain kind of pigment and the role it might play in plant life history by Frank Frey (biology and environmental studies), Andrea Berardi ’08, Jessica Wells ’08, and Elsie Denton ’09 between 2006 and 2008 was recently published in the International Journal of Plant Sciences.
    • Jessica Graybill (geography) was awarded $750,000 from the National Science Foundation as co-principal investigator for the five-year Arctic-FROST project, part of the Division of Polar Programs. Arctic-FROST teams up environmental and social scientists, local educators, indigenous scholars, members of underrepresented groups, and community members from all circumpolar countries to research sustainable Arctic development. The project is specifically aimed at improving health, human development, and well-being while being mindful of the Arctic ecosystem and is expected to contribute to conceptual, applied, and educational aspects of sustainability science in the Arctic region and beyond.
    • Robert Turner (economics and environmental studies) has joined the editorial board of the Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences. As an associate editor, Turner will assume an important and creative role in managing the journal, including consulting on its development, soliciting manuscripts and symposia presentations, reviewing manuscripts, and serving as a contributor.

Why Civil Resistance Works
From North Africa to South Asia, Erica Chenoweth reflected on the nature of nonviolent resistance when she delivered the fifth-annual Schaehrer Memorial Lecture in October.
    Chenoweth took to the podium in Love Auditorium to discuss Why Civil Resistance Works: Unarmed Struggle in the Past and Future. The topic stemmed from her award-winning book, Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict, co-authored with the U.S. State Department’s Maria Stephan. Chenoweth teaches at the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies and is associate senior researcher at the Peace Research Institute of Oslo. The event was hosted by the university’s Peace and Conflict Studies program.
    Before addressing her full audience, Chenoweth sat down with President Jeffrey Herbst for a wide-ranging conversation on her research. She discussed the data that show how peaceful struggle for freedom proves more successful in the long term than violent revolution.
    When asked her thoughts on the situation in Tibet and what she would say to Tibetans, Chenoweth replied, “They’re fighting the hardest kind of fight — territorial secession … is a very difficult fight to win no matter what type of method is used. [This is] in part because the population size of the Tibetan autonomy movement, compared with the Chinese population, is so small that it’s really hard to get that people-power dynamic without soliciting third-party support.”

For the full conversation, visit


Five popular new courses taught this spring

CORE 175S: The Science of Drinking
Julia Martinez, assistant professor of psychology

ECON 436: Seminar in Sports Economics
Benjamin Anderson, assistant professor of economics

HIST/ALST 284: Decolonization in Africa
Tsega Etefa, associate professor of history

ALST/PHIL 332: Philosophy of Race and Racism
David Gray, assistant professor of philosophy

ENST 324: Hunting, Slaughter, Eating, and Vegetarianism
Ian Helfant, associate professor of Russian

Live and learn

WRCU on the road

In late October, several members of WRCU’s Board of Directors attended the National Student Electronic Media Convention, facilitated by College Broadcasters, Inc. (CBI). Music director Zac Coe ’14 reflects:

Wanting to learn more about how to make WRCU the best station possible, I flew to San Antonio, Texas, with Assistant Music Director Frances Yin ’14, Program Director Zac Lomas ’15, Publicity Director Natalie Sportelli ’15, and General Manager Brandon Fiegoli ’14 for the CBI conference. We attended panels on program syndication, remote broadcasting, FCC compliance, digital streaming, supporting local music, automation, and pursuing careers in broadcasting — just to name a few!
    For a music director and an aspiring music journalist like myself, every panel was a new opportunity to understand potential careers. Many of the workshops, like those that focused on building a brand and maximizing the effectiveness of a social media presence, were just as applicable to my impending job hunt as they were to WRCU as a whole.
    We interacted with students from all over the country, as well as some notable radio personalities and professional college radio station managers. We also familiarized ourselves with San Antonio cuisine; “the other” Zac and Brandon even tackled an all-you-can-eat barbecue dinner and lived to tell the tale.
    We came back with innumerable long-term and short-term goals for the station. The first change we are implementing is an exciting new technology that allows listeners to interact with an on-air WRCU DJ instantly via text message.
    It was thrilling, and a little bit humbling, to begin to understand WRCU within the
context of the national college radio scene. I also came away with a newfound appreciation of what makes WRCU a unique resource for Colgate students: college radio is a form of self-expression like no other. WRCU has been a defining part of my time at Colgate, and I am very proud of the work we’ve done for the station this year.