Hobart and William Smith Colleges https://www2.hws.edu Thu, 12 Dec 2019 20:59:32 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.3 Join HWS President Joyce Jacobsen and she explores HWS. Hobart and William Smith Colleges clean Hobart and William Smith Colleges dimauro@hws.edu dimauro@hws.edu (Hobart and William Smith Colleges) Inside HWS with Joyce Jacobsen Hobart and William Smith Colleges https://www2.hws.edu/wp-content/plugins/powerpress/rss_default.jpg https://www2.hws.edu Geneva, NY Entrepreneurial Students Pitch F.L.X. Fry Bird https://www2.hws.edu/entrepreneurial-students-pitch-f-l-x-fry-bird/ https://www2.hws.edu/entrepreneurial-students-pitch-f-l-x-fry-bird/#comments Tue, 10 Dec 2019 14:33:48 +0000 http://www2.hws.edu/?p=145501 HWS students in ENTR 400, the entrepreneurial senior capstone class, got a savory taste of real-world problem solving recently when they were charged with helping to market Geneva’s F.L.X. Fry…]]>

HWS students in ENTR 400, the entrepreneurial senior capstone class, got a savory taste of real-world problem solving recently when they were charged with helping to market Geneva’s F.L.X. Fry Bird, an artisanal fried chicken restaurant that is part of the F.L.X. Hospitality group.

“The capstone class is an opportunity for students to participate with real business owners and address real problems,” says their instructor, Margiloff Family Entrepreneurial Fellow Ed Bizari.  “It gives them an opportunity to try, fail and adjust throughout the process, which is so much of what entrepreneurship is about.”

Students met Maddie D’Amico, general manager of Fry Bird, at the beginning of the project to discuss the challenges facing the restaurant and came up with a series of questions. “We wanted to know the difference between locals, tourists and students,” says D’Amico. “What are they looking for, what do they want, when do they go out to eat and is the price right?” They also researched various take-out containers to explore ways to reduce those costs.

Over the course of the following four weeks, students broke into groups to address each question, conducted face-to-face customer discovery interviews, analyzed their findings to identify trends and themes and developed recommendations. Finally, they presented their suggestions to D’Amico and Isabel Bogadtke, general manager at F.L.X. Wienery, another restaurant in the F.L.X. group.

Joseph “Willie” Paul ’20, a political science major, was part of the group that looked into the tourist market for the Seneca Lake region. “This project taught me firsthand how important it is to go out and talk to customers to see what they want in a product or company,” he says. “I learned how important it is for you as a ‘consultant’ to buy into a project and really dig deep to find solutions to the company’s problems, because that is their livelihood and business.”

Elisabeth Rowedder ’20 and her team explored solutions for the restaurant’s to-go menu. The high cost of environmentally friendly containers reduces Fry Bird’s profits for take-out meals, she says, so her team advised on options to remain environmentally friendly while decreasing costs. The political science major relished the chance to apply her classroom skills to the task of exploring alternative solutions.

“I was very excited to be working on a plan for a business that could actually be implemented,” she says. “It helped me push past metaphorical processes and into the real world.”

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Harris and Wiles ’19 Research “Challenge of Change” https://www2.hws.edu/understanding-effective-organizational-change/ https://www2.hws.edu/understanding-effective-organizational-change/#comments Tue, 10 Dec 2019 16:32:39 +0000 http://www2.hws.edu/?p=145521 Transforming large corporations and well-established institutions is difficult, but thanks to the research of Professor of Sociology Jack Harris P’02, P’06 and Sarah Wiles ’19, leaders in the public and…]]>

Transforming large corporations and well-established institutions is difficult, but thanks to the research of Professor of Sociology Jack Harris P’02, P’06 and Sarah Wiles ’19, leaders in the public and private spheres may have a new set of tools to break out of the “we have always done it that way” mindset.

In their research for Harris’s book project “Organizational Inertia:  The Challenge of Change,” which he expects to be completed by the end of the next academic year, he and Wiles explore how institutional structure, culture and process often get in the way of effective organizational change.

Wiles, a sociology major and entrepreneurial studies and studio art double minor, spent the summer of 2019 conducting research for the book, identifying “the main external factors that necessitate organizational change, recognizing the obstacles to change that organizations encounter, and creating a framework for successful change management,” she explains.

For practical insight into the challenges, successes and failures of change initiatives, Wiles also interviewed leaders of public and private organizations in the region, including Fred Damiano, CIO and VP of Strategic Initiatives at HWS; Matt Horn, former Geneva City Manager; and Ed Hemminger, Ontario County’s CIO and Officer for Economic Development. Wiles then cross-analyzed the interview transcripts against existing literature, searching for relevant patterns.

“Sarah’s work was invaluable,” Harris says. “She provided excellent annotated bibliographies, considered ideas and share her thoughts with me about what she learned regarding organization change, and steered me to a more positive framework.”

In fact, Harris has shifted his focus from “a critique of organizational deficiencies to looking more at what processes are effective for organizational and cultural change. This has let me to concentrate on the social psychology of change, especially the importance of leadership and interpersonal influences.”

In exploring “how effective strategic planning and change management can ameliorate years of organizational stagnation and habitual behaviors,” Wiles says her work with Harris has given her practical insight in business management. And knowing that her research helped reshape the thrust of book’s emphasis, she says, “it feels good to know that I made a real contribution.”

Harris has examined the nuances of organizational stress for many years both as a change management consultant and in his course “The Sociology of Business and Management and Sociology of Community.” As an applied sociologist, Harris consults with local governments across the United States on business process reengineering, change management, and municipal information technology. He teaches a range of internationally-oriented courses in sociology, often focusing on Vietnam. His research focuses primarily on men and masculinity in Vietnam and the experience of Vietnamese as they go through massive economic and social change. A 2017-18 Kinghorn Fellow, Harris holds a B.A. from Tulane University and M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. Among his many academic experiences abroad, he has served as the core director of World Regional Geography for the Semester at Sea Program, director of the Social Entrepreneurship programs through ThinkImpact in Panama and Ghana, and director of a number of HWS abroad programs, including the upcoming 2020-21 J-Term program focused on change in Cuba.

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Ahmed ’20 Participates in Newman Civic Fellows Conference https://www2.hws.edu/ahmed-20-participates-in-newman-civic-fellows-conference/ https://www2.hws.edu/ahmed-20-participates-in-newman-civic-fellows-conference/#comments Thu, 12 Dec 2019 15:33:51 +0000 http://www2.hws.edu/?p=145947 In November, Hamdan Ahmed ’20 joined his cohort of 2019-20 Newman Civic Fellows for a weekend-long exploration of national and international policy at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the…]]>

In November, Hamdan Ahmed ’20 joined his cohort of 2019-20 Newman Civic Fellows for a weekend-long exploration of national and international policy at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate in Boston, Mass.

Hamdan_Newman_Conference“During the conference, we discussed strategies to tackle different social issues and participated in a simulation of passing a bill through the Senate,” says Ahmed, who earlier this year was named a Newman Civic Fellow by Campus Compact, a Boston-based non-profit organization working to advance the public purposes of higher education.

A computer science major who grew up in Pakistan, Ahmed says that “with no prior background in politics, I certainly learned a lot from this experience. The most impactful part was meeting problem-solvers from around the nation and learning about their experiences and their contributions to the community.”

The Newman Civic Fellowship is a prestigious honor that recognizes students who work to find solutions for challenges facing their community. The fellowship provides training and resources that nurture students’ assets and passions and helps them develop strategies to achieve social change.

Ahmed, who is one of only 262 students nationwide who make up this year’s cohort, plans to hold tech summits and after-school sessions this winter at Geneva High School and the Boys & Girls Club of Geneva, to teach programming skills to high school students and ensure they are prepared for college-level research and internship opportunities. He will also help write résumés for those experiencing homelessness in the Finger Lakes region.

On campus, Ahmed supports fellow international students, making Friday prayer more accessible for Muslim students, recently organizing the first Diwali celebration at HWS and hosting a large multicultural dinner on campus. He also helped organize the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning’s Alternative Spring Break programs for the 2018-19 academic year.

The Newman Civic Fellowship, named for Campus Compact co-founder Frank Newman, is a one-year experience emphasizing personal, professional and civic growth for students who have demonstrated a capacity for leadership and an investment in solving public problems. Through the fellowship, Campus Compact provides a variety of learning and networking opportunities, including a national conference. The program also affords fellows with access to apply for exclusive scholarship and post-graduate opportunities. The Newman Civic Fellowship is supported by the KPMG Foundation and Newman’s Own Foundation.

In this Campus Compact video, Ahmed is featured at :36.

Campus Compact is a national coalition of more than 1,000 colleges and universities committed to the public purposes of higher education. Campus Compact supports institutions in fulfilling their public purposes by deepening their ability to improve community life and to educate students for civic and social responsibility.

View previous HWS Newman Civic Fellow recipients.

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Herons Wage Strong Fight https://www2.hws.edu/herons-wage-strong-fight/ https://www2.hws.edu/herons-wage-strong-fight/#comments Sun, 08 Dec 2019 00:59:06 +0000 http://www2.hws.edu/?p=146578 The No. 2 William Smith College soccer team was edged by No. 1 Messiah 1-0 in the national championship game at UNCG Soccer Stadium this afternoon. The Herons, who were…]]>

The No. 2 William Smith College soccer team was edged by No. 1 Messiah 1-0 in the national championship game at UNCG Soccer Stadium this afternoon.

The Herons, who were making their fifth appearance in the national championship game, finished the season with a 21-2-1 overall record. William Smith’s 21 wins are second most in a season and its 18 shutouts are third most.

William Smith controlled the pace of play in the first half, outshooting, the Falcons 5-3. Junior Sheila McQuillen had the game’s first scoring chance in the sixth minute. She collected a crossing pass and one-timed it on cage, but Lydia Ewing was there to make the save. Junior Amanda Adams had a chance in the 30th minute but fired a shot from inside the box just over the crossbar.

Messiah, which finishes the year with a 23-1-2 overall record, flipped the script in the second half. The Falcons out shot the Herons 7-3 in the final 45 minutes. Messiah broke through with a goal in the 55th minute. Ellie Lengacher slipped a through ball to Maddie Kohl. Kohl dribbled the ball into the box and fired a shot into the lower right corner of the cage.

William Smith nearly tied the game right away, but first-year Katrine Berg’s shot from the right side of the box was punched aside by Ewing at the last second.

Messiah continued to apply pressure in the offensive zone, but sophomore Amanda Kesler was up to the dask, making a couple of key saves to keep it a one-goal game.

Kesler finished the game with five saves. Ewing played all 90 minutes in goal for Messiah and made three saves.

The Falcons finished the game with a 10-8 edge in shots. The Herons held a 6-4 edge in corner kicks.

Following the game, senior Eileen Rath, junior Julia Keogh, and sophomore Amanda Kesler were named to the All-Tournament team.

The seven seniors, Rath, Tamari BekauriGenevieve Carpenter, Jocelyn Mitiguy, Elizabeth Moore, Emilie Sauvayre, and Phoebe Wade finish their careers with a four year record of 78-8-2.

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Mead ’13 Named to Forbes 30 Under 30 https://www2.hws.edu/mead-13-named-to-forbes-30-under-30/ https://www2.hws.edu/mead-13-named-to-forbes-30-under-30/#comments Wed, 04 Dec 2019 21:13:38 +0000 http://www2.hws.edu/?p=145686 Selected from a field of nearly 20,000 applications, Matthew Mead ’13 and Tommy Gibbons, co-founders of Hempitecture, made Forbes annual “30 Under 30” Class of 2020 for “creating the products,…]]>

Selected from a field of nearly 20,000 applications, Matthew Mead ’13 and Tommy Gibbons, co-founders of Hempitecture, made Forbes annual “30 Under 30” Class of 2020 for “creating the products, methods and materials of tomorrow.” Hempitecture is an eco-friendly building materials company Mead originally introduced during the HWS 2013 Pitch Contest.

Matthew Mead ’13 (right) and Tommy Gibbons, co-founders of Hempitecture.

Matthew Mead ’13 (right) and Tommy Gibbons, co-founders of Hempitecture.

Mead launched the company at HWS after completing his year-long thesis, “The contemporary relevance of earth architecture,” in which he evaluated a wide range of natural building techniques and strategies. Seeing the potential for “hempcrete” as a green building material, he developed a business plan and entered the Pitch Contest for student entrepreneurs. Under the guidance of Pitch mentor Ira Goldschmidt ’77, Mead and Tyler Mauri ’13 took Hempitecture to the finals of that year’s competition.

Since then, the company has completed construction of “the country’s first public-use building made of hempcrete, hemp-based building materials that absorb C02 emissions and improves insulation,” Forbes reports.

In 2018, Mead was joined by Gibbons, his former high school classmate, in the shared vision of scaling Hempitecture into a company capable of impacting every hempcrete project in the U.S.

Today, the company offers installation, consulting and design services, as well as building and insulation materials and equipment and training for industry professionals.

Based in Ketchum, Idaho, Hempitecture is chartered as a public benefit corporation. In its collaborations with architects, engineers and developers, the company works to create healthy, energy efficient habitats beneficial both to those who live and work in them and to the environment itself.

Mead, who majored in architectural studies and minored in environmental studies and studio art, serves as a planning and zoning commissioner in Ketchum.

Learn more about Hempitecture.

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Kappa Alpha to Celebrate 175 Years https://www2.hws.edu/kappa-alpha-to-celebrate-175-years/ https://www2.hws.edu/kappa-alpha-to-celebrate-175-years/#comments Thu, 05 Dec 2019 15:46:14 +0000 http://www2.hws.edu/?p=145671 Hobart College is home to one of the oldest remaining branches of the Kappa Alpha Society, which itself is the oldest Greek-lettered collegiate fraternity in the United States and the…]]>

Hobart College is home to one of the oldest remaining branches of the Kappa Alpha Society, which itself is the oldest Greek-lettered collegiate fraternity in the United States and the precursor of the modern Greek system. On Saturday, Dec. 7, members will gather on campus to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the New York Beta Chapter at Hobart.

Kappa Alpha was founded at Union College in 1825, and the Hobart chapter — also known as the CH chapter — was founded in 1844. William Talmage McDonald, Class of 1845, and Lawrence Sterne Stevens, Class of 1848, were initiated into KA at Union College Nov. 26, 1844; when they returned to campus, they initiated six other Hobart men into the CH chapter.

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The Kappa Alpha house on South Main Street in Geneva.

In 1854, the CH chapter was suspended “owing to a decline in the affairs of the College,” according to 1938 edition of the Hobart yearbook The Echo. It was reestablished in 1879 with the help of several KA alumni who resided in Geneva.

More than 1,000 Hobart students have had the privilege of calling themselves KAs, including William F. Scandling ’49, LL.D. ’67, Christopher P. McDonald ’77, L.H.D. ’13, Thomas A. Mackie ‘77 and Eric Cohler ’81. Edward G. Mooney ’77 currently serves as president of the Hobart College Kappa Alpha Alumni Board of Directors. “I’m looking forward to connecting with many KA men this weekend,” he says.

In 2007, KA members Christopher S. Welles ’84, P’11, P’15, Kemp Stickney ’80 and Geoffrey Disston Jr. ’81 established the Kappa Alpha Society Endowed Scholarship in Memory of William H. Billings ’44. Billings served as a friend and mentor to generations of Hobart KAs. The scholarship in his name is awarded to an outstanding Hobart student who demonstrates high standards of achievement and quality of character and who is active in the life of the college and the community.

Devin Doeblin ’20 is the current recipient of the scholarship. A native of Geneva, N.Y., the history major is a civic leader with the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning and a member of Geneva Heroes. “Receiving the scholarship has truly been an honor,” Doeblin says. “It gives me the motivation to keep working hard to reach my goals as I approach the end of my time here at HWS.”

There are currently 27 active members of Kappa Alpha on campus. They are involved in sports, clubs and events, including crew and chorale, and are dedicated to service and community involvement.

The photo above shows Kappa Alpha men posing in the chapter house in 1895.

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Brummell ’21 Lands Citibank Internship https://www2.hws.edu/brummell-21-lands-citibank-internship/ https://www2.hws.edu/brummell-21-lands-citibank-internship/#comments Thu, 05 Dec 2019 17:36:56 +0000 http://www2.hws.edu/?p=145492 Asian Studies and Economics double major Darius Brummell ’21 has landed an internship with Citibank for the summer of 2020. “I’ve known I wanted to pursue a career in the…]]>

Asian Studies and Economics double major Darius Brummell ’21 has landed an internship with Citibank for the summer of 2020.

“I’ve known I wanted to pursue a career in the finance industry since high school. When I came to HWS, it was a matter of taking advantage of the opportunities that would get me there,” says Brummell, who enrolled in courses such as “Microeconomics” and “Behavioral Finance” and joined the Finance Society, a Salisbury Center for Career, Professional and Experiential Education program in which students meet monthly with an alum or peer who has professional experience in the finance industry.

After participating in Citibank’s early identification leadership program, a five-week intensive designed to help students translate their classroom knowledge into professional experiences, Brummell gained technical knowledge that helped him secure a position as a summer analyst in the company’s New York City office. Including a comprehensive overview of the industry and Citibank’s investment products, the program covered topics in derivatives, fixed incomes, stocks and capital markets.

Brummell says that while the early identification program was an essential component of his preparation, his externship and internship experiences also shaped his trajectory.

First, Brummell connected with Cameron Lochhead ’82 and landed an externship with PGIM Fixed Income, where his experience was focused on fixed income securities. While at PGIM, Brummell realized with certainty that he wanted a career with a client-facing role, which helped him discern which firm he wanted to work with next.

Then as an intern for Fellowship Home Loans, Brummell worked alongside Branch Manager Brian Schiele ’02 and Loan Officer Joseph Escamilla ’18 to onboard new clients and refinance home loans. “The best part was that I was learning something every day. I got to see how shifts in the economy were affecting people,” Brummell says, adding that Schiele and Escamilla ensured Brummell had the opportunity to see every step of the process.

During the NYC Finance Experience facilitated by Career Services, Brummell met Caroline Galdabini ’89, Margaret Bluhm ’15, William Shegog ’18, Mehrnaz Vahid-Ahdieh ’85, P’17 and David Smith ’99. He also connected with Gavin Gross ’19. “I learned more about their respective journeys to Citibank, and met the teams that they work with.”

In the spring, Brummell will study abroad through Center for Global Education in Taiwan. He is enrolled in a language and cultural intensive program and will take two courses in Chinese.

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Shiever ’21 Interns in Japan https://www2.hws.edu/shiever-21-interns-in-japan/ https://www2.hws.edu/shiever-21-interns-in-japan/#comments Mon, 02 Dec 2019 21:10:31 +0000 http://www2.hws.edu/?p=144370 Well-versed in Japanese, Carly Shiever ’21 is studying culture and society, and Japanese language this semester in Hikone. The program, intended for students majoring or minoring in Asian language or culture,…]]>

Well-versed in Japanese, Carly Shiever ’21 is studying culture and society, and Japanese language this semester in Hikone. The program, intended for students majoring or minoring in Asian language or culture, is coordinated through the Japan Center for Michigan Universities. The international relations and Asian studies double major is also working with children at an after-school center in a Buddhist temple.

Carly Shiever (second right) speaks during the conference

Carly Shiever ’21 (second right) speaks during the Japan-American Student Conference.

The owners of the after-school center, a local monk and his family, have encouraged Shiever to practice her language skills and, just as importantly, increase her understanding of Japanese culture. “Here, gratitude and respect are shown with the detail and care taken in preparation, in thanking people repeatedly and offering help without asking for anything in return,” says Shiever.

At her internship, Shiever teaches reading and plays American games with the children. To reinforce the Japanese emphasis on traditional greetings, she offers each child a handshake as well as a formal greeting. “It helps get them a little more comfortable with me,” she says.

After work, Shiever spends time with the monk in conversation and shares meals with his family. “It’s a great example of how kind and welcoming a lot of Japanese people are and how excited they are that foreigners want to learn more about their culture and daily practice,” she says.

Prior to her arrival in Hikone, Shiever served as a delegate to the 71st Japan-American Student Conference (JASC). “JASC emphasizes the development of U.S.-Japan relations, connecting student leaders from across the world and facilitating cross-cultural communication,” she says. Her involvement included online weekly meetings for three months followed by a three-week conference in Kochi, Kyoto, Tokyo and Gifu.

The conference, she says, gave her in-depth insights into the culture, language and traditions of Japan, and allowed her to discuss topics ranging from racism to nuclear warfare with her peers. Next year, she will return to Japan as a member of the executive committee for JASC 72.

Shiever credits her HWS professors, including Tanaka Lecturer in Japanese Kyoko Klaus, Associate Professor of Asian Studies James-Henry Holland and Associate Professor of History Lisa Yoshikawa with preparing her for her experiences. “I never thought I could pursue Japanese language until I met them. They have convinced me otherwise.”

Following graduation, Shiever hopes to go to grad school, but first she is exploring the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) program, an initiative of the Japanese government that places international participants in schools and government offices throughout Japan for a year. “I think having a globally-minded view of the world is so important,” she says.

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Four Statesmen Net All-Region Praise https://www2.hws.edu/four-statesmen-net-all-region-praise/ https://www2.hws.edu/four-statesmen-net-all-region-praise/#comments Thu, 05 Dec 2019 20:51:03 +0000 http://www2.hws.edu/?p=145920 Four members of the Hobart College soccer team were voted to the 2019 United Soccer Coaches All-East Region Teams. Senior defender Binjo Emmanuel was named to the first team. Senior forward Nate Cary was…]]>

Four members of the Hobart College soccer team were voted to the 2019 United Soccer Coaches All-East Region Teams. Senior defender Binjo Emmanuel was named to the first team. Senior forward Nate Cary was voted to the second team while junior midfielder Juan Widoycovich and senior defender Nick Wigglesworth were selected to the third team.

Emmanuel earned all-region recognition for the fourth year in a row. He was also voted to the All-East first team as a sophomore. A first-team All-Liberty League selection this season, Emmanuel saw action in 18 games, starting 17. He finished his senior campaign with three goals and six points. Emmanuel scored the game-winning goal against Vassar. Emmanuel was a key piece in Hobart’s defensive unit that posted 10 shutouts. The Statesmen allowed a Liberty League-low 16 goals this season and rank 34th in the nation in goals against average. Hobart is 25th in the nation in shutout percentage (.524).

Emmanuel saw action in 63 games during his career, starting 59. He recorded six goals and an assist for 13 points.

Cary earned all-region praise for the first time. A first team All-Liberty League selection, Cary played in 19 games this season, starting 16. He led the team with six goals, three assists and 15 points. Cary scored two goals twice this season. He pocketed the game’s first two goals against RIT in the conference opener and had two goals in a 3-1 win over Union. Cary netted three game-winning goals, including one 6:13 into the second overtime against NYU.

In 69 career games, Cary had nine goals and six assists for 24 points.

Widoycovich netted all-region honors for the first time. A second team All-Liberty League selection, he started all 20 games that he played in. He finished the year second on the team with four goals. Widoycovich is credited with the game-winning goal in Hobart’s 3-2 win over the Tigers. He also scored in wins over Skidmore and Utica. A midfielder, Widoycovich plays a key role on both ends of the field for the Statesmen.

In 40 career games, Widoycovich has four goals and four assists for 12 points.

Wigglesworth was also named to the all-region team for the first time. An Ipswich, Mass., native, he was one of three players to start all 21 games this season. He had a career-high two assists for two points this season. Wigglesworth set up the game-tying goal in the Liberty League Championship game against Clarkson. He was a key piece in Hobart’s defensive unit that posted 10 shutouts. The Statesmen allowed a Liberty League-low 16 goals this season and rank 34th in the nation in goals against average. Hobart is 25th in the nation in shutout percentage (.524).

A transfer from Brandeis, Wigglesworth played in 51 games as a Statesman, starting 35. He had two goals and three assists for seven points.

Hobart finished the 2019 season with a 14-5-2 overall record. The Statesmen were 6-2-1 in Liberty League play and earned the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament. Hobart defeated Clarkson 2-1 to claim its third Liberty League tournament title. Hobart advanced to the first round of the NCAA tournament.

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Studying How Climate, Humans, Politics Intersect https://www2.hws.edu/studying-how-climate-humans-politics-intersect/ https://www2.hws.edu/studying-how-climate-humans-politics-intersect/#comments Tue, 03 Dec 2019 15:00:47 +0000 http://www2.hws.edu/?p=144363 Science, politics and the relationships between humans and nature take center stage in a number of first-year seminars this semester — from the impacts of consumerism on habitats and communities,…]]>

Science, politics and the relationships between humans and nature take center stage in a number of first-year seminars this semester — from the impacts of consumerism on habitats and communities, to climate change data and denial, to the significance of water and whales on human history and the pursuit of power.

Individual choices shape global outcomes.

“Sustainable Living and Learning” — taught by Professors Beth Kinne and Tom Drennen — challenges first-year students to explore the complex relationship between sustainability and consumption, with a particular focus on the ways individual choices shape global outcomes.

In an ongoing project at the heart of the course, students research the footprint of objects in their everyday lives — T-shirts, water bottles, toilet paper, hockey sticks — to determine whether they are socially, economically and environmentally sustainable.

Associate Professor of Environmental Studies Beth Kinne teaches class outside.

“It’s been really interesting to see the nuances of worldwide impact of an object you may overlook,” says Matt Nusom ’23, who is researching plastic straws. While cost effective for the companies that produce them, straws “are not socially or environmentally sustainable. The good thing is, there’s lots of alternatives,” Nusom says.

The seminar is structured as a Learning Community, with students taking some of the same courses, attending some of the same lectures and field trips, and living in the same residence hall. These living and learning environments focus on shared, active learning, linking academic and out-of-class experiences and developing strong bonds with faculty and fellow students.

“We strive to build a real community,” says Drennen, a professor of economics and chair of the entrepreneurial studies program. “The students all live together in Rees Hall and we built classrooms and a kitchen in the residence hall. Having the professors go into the residence hall makes this a unique experience for all.”

In addition to small group discussions, “Sustainable Living and Learning” includes a three-hour common lab time that allows the two sections to go on field trips. As Nusom notes, this provides “so many opportunities to go out and experience firsthand what we’re learning about” — from fracking sites in Pennsylvania to apple orchards at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station to a Finger Lakes water treatment plant.

“It’s fantastic that we all have a common topic,” he says of the Learning Community. “It’s very supportive, and especially in the beginning few days, it really tied us together.”

As part of the Learning Community, students are also enrolled in an introductory environmental studies course in the spring semester taught by Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Whitney Mauer. In that course, “Campus Sustainability,” the students will seek solutions to environmental concerns on campus.

In the seminar “Climate Change: Science and Politics,” students are dual enrolled in “Introduction to Meteorology,” exploring the broad scope of atmospheric science as they delve into the ways it “can be misconstrued in the political realm,” says Associate Professor of Geoscience Nick Metz.


A student presents in “Climate Change: Science and Politics.”

Why does climate science skepticism persist?

“Climate Change is one of the best examples of a place where near scientific consensus can fall apart in the political realm,” Metz says. “I want the students to be able to differentiate between absolute fact (seeing the whole picture along with the complexities) versus political fact which often includes cherry-picking the data to support one’s preconceived opinion.”

Sydney Schultz ’23, who says she grew up steeped in politics, says the course offers an interesting window into “how much overlap there can be between several areas of study” and why climate science skepticism persists in the face of “just how much information and data there is out there.”

With “many ways to manipulate and skew data,” Calvin Klube ’23 says the course underscores how research “must be analyzed both holistically and individually when approaching an immense issue such as climate change,” especially for policy decisions.

The relationship between humans and the natural world is also the subject of Associate Professor of History Matt Crow’s seminar, “Whales and Dolphins.”

From the importance of whales as symbols of indigenous cultures, to their role in modern economic history, to the study of nonhuman culture and intelligence, the seminar asks students to consider the implications of acknowledging whales as having language and culture, and what that reveals about humanity.

Associate Professor of History Matt Crow conducts class outside.

Crow says the seminar was inspired by his own scholarship “on the writing of Herman Melville and how it reflected changes taking place in how law and empire shaped the way the United States encountered global cultures.

Tackling “broad existential questions [like] ‘who owns the ocean,’” Kate Clayton ’23 says the seminar has been a valuable opportunity “to learn about how our perceptions of the ocean and the creatures that inhabit it have changed over time…We don’t just learn about whales — rather we use them as a case study to assess the history of human interactions with the ocean.”

Who owns the ocean?

Meanwhile, students in “Politics, Inequality & Climate Change, taught by Professor of Political Science Paul Passavant, explore what climate change means for the world and the United States, and how it interacts with social and economic inequities. In Associate Professor of Geoscience Tara Curtin’s seminar, “Parched: Past, Present, Future of Water,” students develop tools to understand how the environment naturally produces safe, clean drinking water; how humans obtain and use these water resources; water quality and water pollution; water treatment processes; energy generation; and how humans can sustain water resources in perpetuity.

Learn more about other First-Year Seminars that explore the environment and human activity, as well as dozens of others with a range of themes.

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