Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

About Randell Kennedy

Randell J. Kennedy is a higher education consultant who frequently writes about the liberal arts, science and engineering.

Smoke screen

Professor explores views on tobacco use

SOCIAL SMOKINGIf you only smoke occasionally, does that make you a smoker? Surprisingly, new research by Associate Professor of Psychology Michael Berg reveals that many college students who may light up at parties or indulge in a cigarette or two on weekends do not consider themselves smokers.

Berg, coordinator of the Public Health Program at Wheaton, has been working with his wife, Linda Lin, a professor and chair of psychology at Emmanuel College, to look at issues of identity in tobacco using attitudes and behavior. Their research is shedding new light on an evolving student-health issue and may help build understanding on college campuses across the country.

They became interested in collaborating on the project to better understand what Berg calls “non-identified smokers” two years ago, when Emmanuel initiated a campuswide smoking ban, resulting in many conversations among students, faculty and staff about related health issues.

While tobacco use has steadily declined in the United States over the past decade, many American college students continue to smoke on a limited but regular basis. Young adults aged 18–25 have the highest rate of tobacco use of any age group in the U.S., with the majority smoking only intermittently. [Read more...]

Professor Liang helps launch academic organization

Wheaton Professor Gen LiangGeographically separated only by the narrow Strait of Gibraltar—and closely linked politically, religiously, culturally and economically for centuries—North Africa and the Iberian Peninsula have long been regarded as “worlds apart” by most scholars. Thanks to a promising new scholarly organization launched by Assistant Professor of History Yuen-Gen Liang and a group of colleagues, the many important links between the two regions are being re-established in the classroom, in scholarship and across academia.

Liang, founder and executive director of the new initiative known as the Spain-North Africa Project (SNAP), says the endeavor has bloomed from intellectual seeds planted during discussions among 11 American scholars attending the 2010 National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute in Barcelona, Spain.

“It was intellectually rewarding to encounter other scholars who are interested in bridging the divide that has separated the region for so long,” Liang explains. “We came to realize that we shared an interest in exploring Iberia and North Africa as a single geographic region.” [Read more...]

Professor collaborating on NASA research

Professor Matthew Evans with his class.

Professor Matthew Evans with his class.

As a geochemist, Matthew Evans has traveled from the lowlands of North America to the very top of the world in the Himalayas to better understand how water and rocks interact. But it is his latest work, bringing small pieces of Antarctica to campus, that perhaps sheds the most compelling light on how our planet is currently changing.

Evans, assistant professor of chemistry and geology, is conducting research that is part of a three-year project that recently received $707,112 in funding from NASA. The grant is being divided among three institutions where scientists are collaborating on the project. Wheaton’s portion of the grant award is $96,904.

The project is an interdisciplinary study of the connections between recent ice sheet melt, sea ice decline and enhanced ocean biological productivity along the Amundsen Coast of West Antarctica. Evans is collaborating with scientists at NASA, Clark University and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The grant provides funding for students from all three institutions to participate in the research, and the results from the project will also be incorporated into undergraduate and graduate coursework.

[Read more...]

Welcoming international students with new initiatives

According to NAFSA: Association of International Educators, more than three million students are now attending colleges and universities outside their home countries, and more than 670,000 students from abroad are enrolled on U.S. campuses. That booming trend is reflected at Wheaton in the 40 percent increase in enrollment of new international students that the college experienced last year.

Global Center for Education Dean Alfredo Varela, center associate director Jill Ostrowski, and the staff are paying close attention to that growth and working to make sure that international students are easily integrated into the campus and local community, right from the moment they arrive.

The center has been developing new programs and creative initiatives to do that for the college’s 130 international students.

[Read more...]