Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Professor and students examine epidemics

Karen McCormackIn 2014, the largest Ebola epidemic in history affected several countries in West Africa. Coincidentally, before the outbreak became a major media story, Associate Professor of Sociology Karen McCormack was already exploring health and crime epidemics in her First-Year Seminar (FYS) “Epidemics, Contagion and Inequality.” We talked to her about the course.

Tell us about the focus of your FYS and how the idea for it came about.

Over the past decade or so, many social scientists have used the techniques of epidemiology—the study of the determinants of health and the process and patterns of disease transmission—to learn about other social phenomena, like crime or even fashion trends. I’ve been fascinated by this attempt that parallels the work of sociologists to understand how contagion works, and how and why some people (as well as some neighborhoods, communities, and even states and countries) exhibit some degree of immunity from certain conditions. “Epidemics, Contagion and Inequality” allowed me to explore these patterns with students. [Read more...]

Rise and shine

FOX25_Panorama1You learn a lot when you have to get up at 3 a.m. to report to work by 4:30 a.m. One: It’s hard to find a fast-food place open that early in the morning to get that lifesaving cup of coffee (thank goodness for those golden arches). Two: It’s easy to order hash browns and not worry about the carb count when you order in the fog of sleepiness.

FOX25 T ShirtThis, of course, is information I could have lived without in exchange for more sleep. However, the early-morning wake-up was well worth it, considering the payoff: seeing the campus come to life in all of its shining glory with television cameras on-site to share it.

Fox 25 News Boston came to campus on September 26 (starting with a 4:30 a.m. set-up) to do a live news program from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. as part of the station’s “College Tour” series. The series showcases the best of what selected New England colleges have to offer. Staff, students and faculty spent the four hours on the campus green in front of cameras. The president was interviewed, various student groups performed, others showed off their scholarly interests, and the entire community provided Wheaton spirit. Some of us had way too much fun—and coffee. [Read more...]

The starting line

Mitchell Memorial 5KI’m a list maker. I love seeing life laid out so clearly and enumerated. Social media has fueled that interest in such an entertaining way. You name it, there’s a list for it shared via Facebook or Twitter.

I found this one, “10 Life Lessons I Learned From Running” by Suzanne Kvilhaug, this summer. The timing was perfect. I was on week five of my 26-week 10K training app, just far enough into it when things were getting tough and I was rethinking my commitment. (I am, after all, the girl who only joined the high school cross country team to get the cute team sweater and then dropped the sport like a bad habit.)

Kvilhaug’s list addresses challenges that runners face, but I think it also offers great lessons for our new graduates, who are celebrated in this issue on page 4, as well as guidance for our incoming first-year students: [Read more...]

Snow long, winter

By the time you read this, I hope that I’m wearing a lovely short-sleeved blouse, stylish capri pants and high-heeled sandals, and sitting on a bench on the deck of Balfour-Hood complaining about how hot it is.

Page2-Between-lines-1I write this today not quite sure that this will be the case. It is the fifth day of spring, and, yet, I just wrote the umpteenth winter storm alert to email to the campus community, because the “s” word is on the way—again.

It has been an ugly New England winter. Just consider the numbers: By early March, Wheaton’s buildings and grounds crew had used 250 tons of rock salt; 2,000 bags of ice melt (50 pounds each); and responded to 19 snow or ice-related storms (double the amount during the same time frame last winter).

However, there was still great beauty to be found. The campus landscape, of course, was gloriously picture-perfect draped in white. But the most beautiful sights were the ones that took place in offices in the hours leading up to the storms, when staff members began watching forecasts, making plans; and in the darkness of the late nights and early mornings, when buildings and grounds crews showed up time and again eager to dig out the campus parking lots and clear off the pathways to make everything nice and safe for everyone, before we even considered venturing out.

[Read more...]