Charles Mann '76 and Town Meeting

Submitted on Thursday, 3/29/2018, at 10:32 AM

Charles C. Mann ’76,  author of such books as "1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus" and "1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created," recently wrote about his becoming disenchanted with the town meeting style of government in Amherst. Voters in Amherst agreed, and in a historic vote this week elected to create a 13-member town council, replacing the five-member board of selectmen and town meeting. Mann moved back to Amherst in 1990.

"The structure of town meeting allows people to make virtuous stands," Mann wrote for the Pacific Standard blog, which was excerpted by the Daily Hampshire Gazette leading up to the March 27 vote. “People at town meeting make choices based on gut feelings about right and wrong, regardless of whether those impulses are conflicting. I still love living here but worry that we are becoming ungovernable."

Stavans on Building the Wall

Submitted on Thursday, 3/29/2018, at 10:31 AM

Ilan Stavans, Lewis-Sebring Professor of Humanities and Latin American and Latino Culture, takes a personal and poetic look at the U.S.-Mexican wall through the eyes of immigrants, border patrol, soldiers and activists in his new book “The Wall.” He recently spoke with WBUR Boston about this converging of the personal and the political.

A History of Loneliness

Submitted on Thursday, 3/29/2018, at 8:53 AM

“Is loneliness our modern malaise?” asks English professor Amelia Worsley in her recent essay, “A History of Loneliness,”written for The Conversation.

“While writing a book on the history of how poets wrote about loneliness in the Romantic Period, I discovered that loneliness is a relatively new concept and once had an easy cure. However, as the concept’s meaning has transformed, finding solutions has become harder,” she wrote.

Dole on Billy Graham's Legacy

Submitted on Friday, 3/16/2018, at 1:26 PM

Could there be another Rev. Billy Graham? Andrew Dole, Amherst College professor of religion, marked the passing of the evangelist by pondering, in a column for The Conversation, the historical and sociological forces that brought about Graham’s rise as the pastor to presidents.

“It is true that Graham did not single-handedly rescue evangelicalism from fundamentalism, but his contribution remains unmatched,” Dole wrote.

“Success in the business of reviving evangelicalism will require more in the way of personal qualities than just integrity, charisma and good preaching: It will require a deep bench of supporters, whether persons or institutions, capable of withstanding criticism,” he concluded.

Talking Litfest 2018

Submitted on Friday, 3/16/2018, at 1:15 PM

Media accounts of Litfest 2018 included coverage of Junot Diaz’s talk by the Daily Collegian and an article in the Daily Hampshire Gazette about the talk given by Masha Gessen, John J. McCloy '16 Professor of American Institutions and International Diplomacy and author of the new The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia, and her brother Keith Gessen, author and co-founder of n+1 literary magazine.

The article included a followup to a more lighthearted part of the event, when Keith Gessen took a question from, and gushed about, his high school newspaper advisor, George Abbot White, who drove out from Boston to see the talk. The paper tracked down White for his thoughts.

“All I cared about was that they take things seriously and do something good for the world,” White said about his teaching days.

#NeverAgain Protests and Admissions

Submitted on Friday, 3/16/2018, at 10:08 AM

Pieces in Newsweek and Mother Jones referenced a February 25 Facebook post by the College’s Office of Admission and Financial Aid about the #NeverAgain movement, declaring “First Amendment rights are among the most prized of Amherst’s values and the college encourages all students to engage in civil and meaningful discourse on issues of critical importance.”

In the wake of the Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Florida, high school students across the country are holding protests under the banner of #NeverAgain, including a mass walkout from schools March 14. 

In response to some high schools announcing that students staging walkouts or other protests would be disciplined, a growing number of institutions, including Amherst College, have responded that engaging in peaceful protest won’t capsize a student’s college application.

“The Office of Admission, will, as always, consider the unique circumstances of any reported disciplinary action related to civic engagement,” the Facebook post stated. “Peaceful protest has never been a reason for a student to be denied admission or to have an offer be rescinded.”

Connecting with Ray Suarez

Submitted on Wednesday, 3/7/2018, at 10:59 AM

Ray Suarez, the John J. McCloy ’16 Visiting Professor of American Studies, recently appeared on WGBY57’s program “Connecting Point,” joining with host Carrie Saldo in a discussion covering teaching, fake news, reporting in the social media age, and more. 

Tracking the Skyrmion

Submitted on Wednesday, 3/7/2018, at 10:59 AM

Interest in Physics Professor David S. Hall’s work with the skyrmion has taken off like, well, lightening.

Hall, members of his student research team and his collaborators at Aalto University in Finland recently created a three-dimensional skyrmion—a quasiparticle consisting of a knotted configuration of atomic magnetic moments, or spins—in a quantum gas in Hall’s lab. Scientists predicted the existence of the skyrmion theoretically more than 40 years ago, but this is the first time such an object, exhibiting the properties of ball lightning,  has been observed in an experiment.

The experiment has attracted the attention of Science, Gizmodo, and other science-related news services.

Sonya Clark '89 on "Unraveling"

Submitted on Thursday, 3/1/2018, at 12:24 PM

“I wanted to make a piece that sort of acknowledged how far we’ve come in some way or another … and how slow the progress has been,” Visiting Artist-in-Residence Sonya Clark ’89 told the Boston Globe, for a piece about her Feb. 21 Mead Art Museum performance of “Unraveling,” in which she and other participants slowly unravelled a Confederate flag.

Diverse: Amherst Noted for Mellon Initiative

Submitted on Thursday, 3/1/2018, at 12:20 PM

Diverse recently published a piece about the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarding Amherst College a prestigious $500,000 Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF) Program grant to fund an initiative to attract and better serve students from underrepresented groups.

“The goal of MMUF is compatible with Amherst, a renowned liberal arts institution with a highly diverse student body,” wrote Diverse. “At present, 44 percent of U.S. students at Amherst identify as students of color. One of the school’s chief principles is that liberal arts education develops individuals with deep understanding of the world and the possibility to create positive change through innovation and critical thinking.”