Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Bhutan daily notes students’ work

Kuensel Online, a Bhutan daily news websiteStudents taking part in Wheaton’s study abroad program in partnership with Royal Thimphu College in Bhutan this semester spent three days helping with reconstruction of Konchosum Lhakhang in Bumthang. The temple was destroyed in a fire in 2010 and reconstruction began in October 2012.

Kuensel Online, a Bhutan daily news website, featured a story about their efforts, which included moving rocks, plastering walls, pounding clay and putting bricks together.

“The main objective is to give back to the country in the form of such social service,” Wheaton Professor Bruce Owens, resident director for the program, was quoted saying in the article. “It’s special for our students to realize that the work that they’ve done here will be around for hundreds and thousands of years.”

The students told the writer for the daily that it was fun and rewarding to be able to do the work and make a small contribution.

New York Times interviews professor about technology in the classroom

Professor Mark LeBlancWhen it comes to digital humanities, Wheaton faculty lead the way. A number of professors are incorporating technology into the classroom and scholarship in novel ways, from the use of Twitter to extend and document class discussions on literature to data analysis of texts.

The New York Times picked up on the trend with an article, headlined “Computer Science for the Rest of Us,” that highlighted how information technology and computer programming is being taught to students who are not majoring in computer science.

The article included an interview with Professor of Computer Science Mark LeBlanc, who teaches the course “Computing for Poets,” in which students learn the Python programming language and use it to create software that analyzes large bodies of text.

The course is part of Wheaton’s Connections curriculum. Through the connection “Computing and Texts,” it is linked with courses on Anglo-Saxon literature and the works of the Old English scholar and Lord of the Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien.

Professor LeBlanc says teaching such courses together demonstrates the contributions that different disciplines make to studying an issue, and it serves a very pragmatic purpose as well: preparing students for professional careers.

McCormack comments about foreclosure on NPR

Sociology professor Karen McCormackThe family home symbolizes the upward mobility and prosperity that forms the heart of the American dream. But with the bursting of the real estate bubble and the ongoing global economic crisis, home ownership has slipped beyond the reach of many citizens.

Sociology professor Karen McCormack studies the impact of the home foreclosure crisis on families and the way in which it has deepened inequality in our society.

National Public Radio turned to Professor McCormack for a commentary on the topic for the “Academic Minute,” a daily feature produced by WAMC in Albany, N.Y.

In her piece, McCormack observed that the “dream” of home ownership may stand in the way of developing a more rational approach to housing policy.

According to the professor: “One result of this crisis may be a price correction in the value of houses, but perhaps it could also lead to a reconsideration of the meaning of home. Because we put such stock in ownership, good rental options are often not available. In ignoring other forms of housing, we frequently relegate the working poor to substandard housing, making families choose between inadequate housing or mortgage debt.”

Listen to her full commentary on WMAC.

Wheaton in the news

Magazine turns to Crutcher for comments on education

When it comes to higher education, public debate these days often starts with the question of whether college is worthwhile. And the measuring stick most often used is whether graduates get jobs after commencement.

In that conversation, programs with a strong occupational focus get most of the approval from the news media and politicians.

The Boston Globe Sunday Magazine tackled the subject in a big way, devoting the issue to a collection of stories on the topic. The lead article quoted President Ronald A. Crutcher, who spoke up for the value of the liberal arts.

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