Check out what our faculty, students, and alumni have been up to recently:
Faculty-Student Pair Discuss Teaching Tool
Sociologist Dr. Jacqueline M. Zalewski and sociology student Syria Aaron participated on a faculty-and-student panel May 23 at the WCU Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching's spring workshop "Inquiry as a Tool for Modern Teaching and Learning." As part of their participation, they discussed a process of "free inquiry" that Syria completed for an independent study examining sex trafficking during the spring semester, as well as the benefits of inquiry-based teaching and learning for students.
Museum Exhibit Gets News Coverage
Department faculty and students were featured in a Daily Local News story about the newest exhibit in our Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology (located in the atrium of Old Library). Read about the Museum Exhibit.
Students Get Grant for Colombia Research
Anthropology and Latin American Studies students Caitlyn Handlin and Aaron Gallant received an Undergraduate Summer Research Grant from the Greater Philadelphia Latin American Studies Consortium (GPLASC). They will travel to Medellin, Colombia, this summer and conduct research with anthropologist Dr. Leon Arredondo on local protest movements.
Student Presents Sex Trafficking Study
Sociology major Syria Aaron presented her research project "Save Our Girls: Sex Trafficking in the U.S." at Spring Research Day, which was held by the WCU Office of Research and Sponsored Programs in April. Her project draws attention to an important and timely issue while highlighting knowledge that can help save the lives of young women. Great job, Syria!
Students Win Award for Facebook Study
Graduating seniors in sociology Tyler Rutherford and Sara Wolfgang won third place in the "Social Sciences and Mathematics" category at the 2018 College of the Sciences and Mathematics Poster Session. Their study, "Identity Through a Single Image: A Study on Identity Representation Through Facebook Profile Pictures," was completed as part of their Senior Seminar course. Congratulations, Tyler and Sara!
Students Hold Event on School Funding Equity
On April 16, students in sociologist Dr. Sebastian Guzman's Applied Social Change class held the event "School Funding Inequity: Why Doesn't Pennsylvania Value all of its Children?" The guest speaker was Will Fuller, an organizer with POWER, an interfaith coalition working on several social justice campaigns in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Students and Mr. Fuller talked about how the state gives more funds than needed to prominently White school districts and less funding to school districts with more minority students. They also talked about their campaign to have a fair distribution of education funds according to each district's need. The event was part of the students' community-engagement work.
WCU anthropology in the media
WCU anthropologist Dr. Michael Di Giovine was quoted in a recent article in The Economist, titled "A symbolic struggle over ancient manuscripts: The Garima Gospels exemplify a wider conflict over heritage and conservation."
In addition, anthropology major Emily Rodden recently published an article in WCU's The Quad newspaper titled "Human rights and the Sonoran Desert." It is the first in a five-part series on Borderlinks and Mexican Migration that she wrote in conjunction with her independent study and the department's previous museum exhibit (located in the Old Library Atrium). Congratulations, Emily!
Sociology Students Attend Conference
Students in the Sociology Club and the AKD honor society traveled to Baltimore in February for the 2018 annual meeting of the Eastern Sociological Society. Several went to attend sessions and meet other sociology faculty members and students from the region. Sociology senior Tyler Walton, who received an AKD Travel Grant for the conference, pulled double-duty as an attendee and a presenter: His research project "Divide and Profit: Mainstreaming Hate to Secure Viewership" was part of the Undergraduate Posters session. In addition, faculty member Dr. Jacqueline Zalewski gave two presentations: "‘Trading In Human Beings on Behalf of Cost Reduction': An Introduction to in-House Outsourcing and Why Companies Outsource" and (with a co-author) "Team-based learning: The role of student behaviors and team processes." Congratulations to all!
Student earns scholarship for workshop in Alaska
Graduating anthropology major Taria Montes-Rivera has been awarded a National Preservation Institute scholarship to attend the NAGPRA Essentials training workshop April 16-18 in Anchorage, Alaska. This workshop reviews the compliance process for the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) for Indian tribes, Native Hawaiian organizations, federal agencies, and museums. It provides an overview of NAGPRA statute and regulations; addresses tools for compliance such as national NAGPRA databases and other resources; reviews tools for determining cultural affiliation through case studies; and addresses the role of culturally unidentifiable remains in repatriation.
Sociology students carve for a cause
Members of Sociology Club and Tau Chapter of Alpha Kappa Delta (international sociology honor society) participated in WCU's Jack-O-Lantern contest in October. The fundraiser supports the WCU Resource Pantry, which provides food items, school supplies, clothing, and other assistance to meet student needs.
Sociologist discusses student movement
Sociologist Dr. Sebastián G. Guzmán presented "Chilean Students' Struggle for the Right to Free Higher Education" in November as part of the Department Symposium Series: Conversations on Social and Human Inquiry. Dr. Guzmán has studied social movements struggling against inequality, including those focused on social rights (such as housing and education) and debt resistance in Chile.
Professor Lectures on Sustainable Tourism
In honor of the United Nations' World Sustainable Tourism Day on Sept. 27, anthropologist Dr. Michael A. Di Giovine delivered the invited lecture "Can Tourism Be Sustainable? Heritage Preservation and Indigenous Empowerment in an Era of Mass Global Travel" as part of WCU's Office of Sustainability lecture series. The Sustainability Research Seminar features "a dozen WCU scholars from a dozen academic fields presenting their research on topics that deepen our understanding of concepts and applications of environmental, social and economic sustainability." Dr. Di Giovine spoke on both the pressures of mass tourism—including tourism gentrification and stresses on sustainable use of resources—as well as the opportunities of indigenous empowerment, valorization and awareness-raising that come with tourism development. More detail on the talk can be found in this article in The Quad, WCU's student newspaper.
Professor Presents Violence Research
As part of the Department of Anthropology & Sociology Symposium Series "Conversations on Social and Human Inquiry," sociologist Dr. Julie Wiest presented her research project "The Appeal of Cinematic Violence: Effects of Gender, Age, and Torture." The co-authored study used an experimental design with a sample of nearly 700 U.S. adults to explore public fascination with serial murder storylines in film, with the aim of better understanding violent content in film. Sociology student Tyler Walton also assisted with data analysis for the project.
Panelists Discuss "Difficult" Monuments
On September 5, the Anthropology Club hosted a special expert panel on negotiating public history and cultural preservation in the wake of Charlottesville. The engaging discussion featured Dr. Teresita Majewski, Vice President of Statistical Research Inc. and President of the American Cultural Resources Association. Joining her were two WCU professors: Dr. Michael A. Di Giovine, Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Convener of the Anthropology of Tourism Interest Group at the American Anthropological Association, and Dr. Janneken Smucker, Associate Professor of History. The panelists discussed the complexities of memorialization and preservation, reminding students that monuments are products of their time and that their meanings and uses change as cultural values change. Video of the Discussion
Migrant Trail Photographer Visits
On September 14, award-winning social documentary photographer Michael Hyatt gave students a moving presentation on his ongoing black and white photographic series, The Migrant Trail. As an artist/activist, Michael has devoted his creative time to some of the leading social issues in American life. A longtime resident of Tucson, Arizona, the issue closest to home has been advocating for protecting the lives of migrants on the U.S./Mexico border and efforts to prevent deaths in the Sonora Desert. Through his activism and photographic efforts, he works to raise awareness and inspire solutions to the deadly humanitarian crisis along the migrant trail. This special talk was sponsored by the Ethnic Studies Institute and the Anthropology Club, in conjunction with the Department of Anthropology and Sociology's exhibit Human Rights in Latin America, 1967-2017. Visitors can see his collection currently on display in this exhibit in the Old Library Atrium Museum, 775 S. Church Street.
Professor Presents Outsourcing Research
Dr. Jacqueline Zalewski presented a research poster entitled "'It All Revolved Around Numbers': Greater Commodification of the Work and Culture with Outsourcing" at the 69th annual Labor and Employment Relations Association conference in Anaheim, CA.
Faculty and Students Celebrate End of Year
Department faculty and students gathered in May to celebrate the end of the school year, to congratulate our graduating students, and to induct new members into our two honor societies. The sociology honor society, Alpha Kappa Delta, is advised by Dr. Julie Wiest, and the anthropology honor society, Lambda Alpha Nu, is advised by Dr. Heather Wholey.
Newspaper Publishes Student's Letter
A letter to the editor written by Helen Sdao, a student in Dr. Jackie Zalewski's "Introduction to Sociology" (SOC 200) class this spring, was published in the April 24 edition of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Titled "Pa. on right track with marijuana," the letter is about the legalization of medical marijuana in Pennsylvania. For Dr. Zalewski's class, students work in groups to research a social problem and then offer critical analysis and recommended solutions.
Interns use tools of the trade
Anthropology students Liz Strauss and Heather Davis are interns at Sadsbury Friends Meeting. In this April photo, they are using ground penetrating radar as part of their work.
Sociology student presents at Research Day
Sociology student Morgan Reimers presented a research poster titled "College for Military Students: A Comparison of Student Life at Two Universities for Active Military and Veteran Students" at the Spring 2017 Research Day on March 28. In one photo, Morgan is explaining her research project to Dr. Jen Bacon; in the other, she is standing with one of her professors, sociologist Dr. Jackie Zalewski.
Students present work at conference
Three anthropology students presented work at the Middle Atlantic Archaeological Conference at Virginia Beach on March 18. Kyle Knox and Melanie Flynn presented posters on the predicted impacts of sea level rise on cultural resources on the Delaware Bay. Both were selected as winners of the student poster competition! (Judges felt it was unfair to choose just one student, since their work was so closely related.) In addition, Rachael Marks presented her paper on archaeology and preservation initiatives at the Allee House, an 18th century Huguenot settlement along the Delaware Bay. Congratulations to Kyle, Melanie, and Rachael!
Anthropology students take field trip
Dr. Heather Wholey took students in her Archaeological Lab Methods course to the New Jersey State Museum on March 10. While there, they had the opportunity to use the handheld xrf (x-ray florescence) instrument to collect geochemical data from artifacts to assist in connecting them to source locations. Pictured are students Rob Heintz and Deryn Fink.
Faculty and students attend sociology conference
Several faculty members and students attended the 2017 Eastern Sociological Society annual meeting, held in February in Philadelphia. On Feb. 23, Dr. Jacqueline Zalewski presented in (and impromptu presided over) the "Responses to Precarity" session her paper "Betrayed, Sold, and Rebadged to Outsourcing Companies." On Feb. 24, Dr. Zalewski and Dr. Miguel Ceballos presented in the "Education and Beyond" session their paper "Where Do Our Majors Go: A Longitudinal Study of the Careers of Undergraduate Sociology Majors." And on Feb. 25, Dr. Julie B. Wiest served as a panelist for the workshop "Best Practices for Cultivating and Maintaining a Professional Digital Identity."
Faculty present on National Anthropology Day
Anthropology faculty members led a roundtable discussion on "Anthropology for Complicated Times: Insights on U.S. Political Changes" as part of National Anthropology Day on February 17. Presenters, from left, are: Dr. Michael A. Di Giovine, "Alterative Facts, Alternative Interpretations, Alternative Truths"; Dr. Sergio Gonzalez-Varela, "Cultural Complexities of the Mexico-US Border"; Dr. Leon Arredondo, "The Politics of Fear: Lessons from US Drug Policy"; Dr. Heather Wholey, "Earth Stewardship: Archaeology, Conservation and Environmental Policy"; and Dr. Paul Stoller, "Ethnography as Resistance." Moderators were students Rachael Marks, president of Anthropology Club, and Deryn Fink, president of Lambda Alpha Nu Honor Society.
Anthropology major gets scholarship award
Anthropology major Taria Rivera-Montes has received a $1,000 scholarship award from the West Chester New Century Club, which is facilitated by the WCU Foundation. Each year, the New Century Club awards five $1,000 scholarships to a third- or fourth-year nontraditional female student enrolled in one of WCU's five colleges. A minimum 3.0 GPA is required, and the student must demonstrate financial need. Congratulations, Taria!
Professor gives radio interview
Dr. Michael Di Giovine discussed UNESCO's World Heritage program on WBEZ Chicago's "Worldview" with Jerome McDonnell on Oct.
Students learn on location
This is Archeology and Environment students on 10/1 class field trip to the Delaware coast and bay at the Indian River Inlet. Left to right is Rachael Marks, Wendy Bullis, Melanie Flynn, Kyle Knox, Deryn Fink, and Heather Davis.
Getting down with dinosaurs
Anthropology major Cassie O'Brien, an intern at the Delaware Natural History Museum, got to attend the museum's recent gala featuring dinosaurs.
Anthropology student gets hands-on experience
Rachael Marks uses an illuminated magnifier at the Archaeology and Environment seminar at Maryland archaeobotony lab on Sept. 23.
Public outreach and education
Anthropology student Heather Davis provided public outreach and education at the 4th Annual Delaware County Archaeology Festival on Sept. 17.
2016 Summer Field School
Anthropology students participated in the 2016 summer archaeology field school at the ChesLen Preserve in Chester County, PA. Pictured from left are Dylan Miner, Adam Shubert, Rachael Marks, Melanie Flynn (absent, but represented by the diabase stone), Cassie O'Brien, Mike Gruber, Deryn Fink, Wendi Bullis, Alex Hajdu, Jackie Wanjek, and Heather Davis.
The department held a reception on May 4 to celebrate its graduating students and honor retiring faculty member Dr. Bonita Freeman-Whitthoft. Dr. Michael Di Giovine and Dr. Bonita Freeman-Whitthoft presented the Outstanding Graduating Anthropology Student Award to Erica Walters. Erica is graduating from WCU summa cum laude. She has conducted fieldwork in Greece, Italy, Colombia, and Stowe and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on topics ranging from linguistics landscaping, Pilgrimage and Devotion to St. Padre Pio, collective action in Colombia, gay men and identity management, and Vietnamese immigration and nail salons. Erica is currently president of the Anthropology Club and vice president of the Anthropology National Honors Society, Lambda Alpha Nu. She presented her research at this year's WCU Research Day, and last year at the PASSHE 2015 Conference at Bloomsburg, the WCU Latin American Studies Conference, and the 2015 American Anthropological Association Annual Meetings. Dr. Julie Wiest presented the Outstanding Graduating Sociology Student Award to Heather Welsh. Heather has been accepted to the University of Delaware Sociology Graduate Program with a full tuition scholarship and stipend for graduate study. While at WCU, she was a research assistant on two different projects with professors. Heather has presented posters of her research on gendered messages on campus media and youth mentoring at the Eastern Sociological Society Annual Meetings the past two years. She also presented a poster on the careers of WCU sociology majors last year at the Fall Research Day. Heather is currently president of the Sociology Club, a member of Alpha Kappa Delta International Sociology Honor Society, and secretary of the Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society Middle States Regional Alumni Association. She has also been a volunteer for The One Less Foundation in Philadelphia.
Outstanding graduating student awards
Dr. Susan Johnston, Dr. Bonita Freeman-Whitthoft, and Dr. Julie Wiest presented the department's Outstanding Graduating Student Awards to Erica Walters and Heather Welsh at the College of Arts and Sciences Student Recognition Ceremony on April 25. Heather was also recognized by Dean Lori Vermeulen as a CAS Research Award recipient.
Student elected to professional organization role
Student Deryn Fink has just been elected Undergraduate Student Representative to the Middle Atlantic Archaeological Conference.
PASSHE Undergraduate Anthropology Research Conference
The PASSHE Undergraduate Anthropology Research Conference was held April 22-23 at California University of Pennsylvania. Our department was well-represented, with 7 student paper presentations and 3 student posters!
Undergraduate Research at the Capitol conference
Students Samantha Jeune and Christa Rivers, who both work with Dr. Lisa Ruchti, presented a poster, "Success at a Price: Women of Color College Students," in April at Undergraduate Research at the Capitol conference.
Eastern Sociological Society Annual Meeting
Sociology majors Heather Welsh, Sara Wolfgang, Tom Hoertz, and Brendon Riley attended the Eastern Sociological Society annual meeting in Boston in March. Welsh presented a research poster, and sociology professor Dr. Julie Wiest presented a research paper as part of the Digital Sociology mini-conference.
Fear, Fraud, and Frank Complexities: The Influence of Gender on Human Trafficking
Dr. Lisa Ruchti was invited to participate in a high school student-led conference on human trafficking in Brooklyn based on her study "Fear, Fraud, and Frank Complexities: The Influence of Gender on Human Trafficking," which was published as a chapter in Human Trafficking Interdisciplinary Perspectives (2013, Routledge). Click here to find out more about the human trafficking conference.
Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge
Anthropology students James Kresge and Rachael Marks worked on an archaeology survey in the Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge over winter break.
Princess fixation: Let it go
Students in Dr. Jackie Zalewski's SOC 200 class wrote letters to the editor this semester about topics related to social problems. Congratulations to student Rhiannon Schroepfer, whose letter, "Princess fixation: Let it go," was published Dec. 10 in the Philadelphia Inquirer! See it in print below and read it online.
Presidential Awards Ceremony at the American Anthropological Association
Congratulations to Dr. Paul Stoller and Dr. Michael Di Giovine, who were recognized for their accomplishments at the first Presidential Awards Ceremony at the American Anthropological Association's annual meeting, held in Denver this November. Dr. Stoller received the prestigious Anthropology in the Media award, which was presented by AAA President Monica Heller, who especially complimented his versatile work, including the evocative books he writes and the public anthropology blog he maintains on The Huffington Post. Dr. Di Giovine was recognized for his work on the president's Task Force on Cultural Heritage.
Several department students participated in the university's Research Day on Nov. 10, including sociology students Heather Welsh and Mollie McElroy, who presented a poster, "Where Do Our Majors Go? Knowledge That Can Help Shape Curriculum Planning, Academic and Career Advising, and Pedagogy in Sociology."
Women's Leadership Conference
More than 100 students, including sociology major Andrea Koch and sociology minor Leah Okunoye, participated in WCU's inaugural Women's Leadership Conference on Nov. 7. Dr. Julie B. Wiest helped plan and run the event, along with Women's Center Director Alicia Hahn-Murphy and Assistant Director of Student Leadership and Involvement Jackie Aliotta. Dr. Lisa Ruchti led a group discussion at the end of the conference to help attendees reflect on their experiences and look toward the future.
National Park Service
Anthropology students Deryn Fink and Heather Davis assisted with National Park Service excavations on Nov. 6 at an 18th-century site in the Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge. They will be working on the project through December.
Lambda Alpha Nu
Lambda Alpha Nu, our chapter of the Anthropology Honors Society, has been selected as November's University Excellence Organization for members' work organizing and executing the clothing drive called "Layers for Liberia." They were able to fill more than six 55-gallon fiber barrels with clothing for children and adults. In addition, with help from Rotary International (West Grove/Avondale and Longwood divisions), the students have nearly met their goal of covering the shipping and duty costs of clothes collected. In addition, several members were interviewed for the Nov. 16 edition of the campus TV show "WCU Weekly." (the interview begins at 9:54).
Social Innovation in a Digital Context
As part of the second-annual Social Innovation in a Digital Context event, 13 social and digital innovators from the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia, along with two U.S. scholars, discussed projects they developed that use digital technologies to promote sociopolitical change. The event was held Oct. 16 at the PASSHE @ Center City campus in downtown Philadelphia and was organized by Dr. Julie B. Wiest and Dr. Miguel Ceballos in partnership with Lund University in Sweden. Dozens of WCUPA students were in attendance. More information about the 2015 SIDC event can be found here.
Graduate student Mohammed Kaba is heading to Liberia in December to distribute clothing and monetary contributions recently collected on campus. In addition, he has set up a GoFundMe account to raise money for shipping barrels for the clothing donations and to pay for international shipping costs to Liberia.
Newlin Grist Mill
Anthropology students got some great field experience on Sept. 19 by excavating at a public archaeology event at the Newlin Grist Mill in Glen Mills, PA.
National Center for Padre Pio
The Office of Graduate Studies, in conjunction with the College of Arts and Sciences, awarded funds to Dr. Michael Di Giovine to hire Mohammed D. Kaba, a recent anthropology alumnus and current graduate student in public health, as his Graduate Assistant to help with ongoing research at the National Center for Padre Pio in Barto, PA. Mohammed is conducting archival and ethnographic research at the shrine, focusing on alternate healing practices associated with popular devotion to the Catholic saint.
Dr. Rob Lukens
The Department of Anthropology & Sociology mourns the passing on Aug. 3, 2015, of Dr. Rob Lukens, president of the Chester County Historical Society. Dr. Heather Wholey and Dr. Michael Di Giovine continue to collaborate with the CCHS on a variety of projects, including curatorial training for the department's Museum Techniques class. Dr. Di Giovine recently was featured on Dr. Lukens' radio show, "Passing Time with Dr. Rob," on WCHE 1520 AM. He will be missed. Read more about Dr. Rob Lukens life and work.
Dr. Leon Arredondo traveled with anthropology students Erica Walters, Stephanie Crawford, Mark Morris, and Lech Zapata-Rotz (not pictured) during Spring and Summer 2015 to Medellin, Colombia, to conduct archival research on the history of collective social action in the city's industrial center of Itagüi. The project was funded by a grant from the West Chester University Foundation, with additional support from the Greater Philadelphia Latin American Studies Consortium. Check out a few photos from their travels:
Dr. Rebecca Chancellor and Dr. Aaron Rundus (psychology) led their second study abroad trip to Rwanda over the summer. Anthropology major Melissa Waltimyer was among the students who attended this year. Students even got the chance to appear on CNN, as several were interviewed for a story on community tourism in Rwanda.
Outstanding Graduating Anthropology and Sociology Student Awards
Congrtaulations to Sarah Sutton and Zack Kline, recipients of the department's Outstanding Graduating Anthropology and Sociology Student Awards! Both were honored at the College of Arts and Sciences Student Recognition Ceremony on April 27 and and in a department celebration on May 6.
Outstanding Faculty Award
Two department professors were each awarded an Outstanding Faculty Award for the 2014-15 academic year from WCU's Honors College: Assistant Professor Dr. Michael Di Giovine and Adjunct Professor Dr. Sheldon Zink. Congratulations to both! Read more here.
PASSHE Research Conference
Anthropology students and faculty participated in the annual PASSHE Undergraduate Anthropology Research Conference, which was held April 25-26 at Bloomsburg University. Our own Dr. Paul Stoller gave the keynote address.
Students in Dr. Jackie Zalewski's SOC 200 class in the spring wrote letters to the editor on topics related to social problems. Three of their letters were published in the Philadelphia Inquirer! Two were published on April 16: Read "Right-Sizing Ads," by Sarah Babb, and "Fit Minds and Bodies Not Mutually Exclusive," by Kayla Snyder and Ralph Salamone, here. Another was published on April 30: Read "Tougher sanctions for drivers who text," by Alyssa Fallon, here.
Meet the Faculty Pizza Party
Department faculty and students enjoyed an afternoon break March 24 at the "Meet the Faculty Pizza Party," sponsored by Anthropology Club and Sociology Club. The event helped students get to know department faculty and learn about department course offerings and faculty research projects.
Chester County Historical Society
Anthropology student Sarah Alderman has been selected as the Mian A. Jan Fellow at the Chester County Historical Society. The internship involves collecting the stories, history, and artifacts of the south Asian experience (mainly Indian and Pakistani) in Chester County and will aid the historical society in including the history of the Indian and Pakistani communities in the county into the museum's permanent collections and exhibits. Congratulations, Sarah!
Eastern Sociological Society
Sociology students and faculty attended the annual meeting of the Eastern Sociological Society, held Feb. 26-March 1 in New York City. Dr. Jackie Zalewski (left) and Dr. Julie Wiest (on left in bottom right photo) presented papers, and students Zena Eleazer (top right), Zack Kline, and Heather Welsh (on right in bottom right photo) presented posters.
Department alumnus Nick Arnhold (2010) completed his M.A. in Anthropology at the University of Kansas in May 2015, and he has been promoted to the role of archaeological field supervisor with the consulting firm URS in its Pittsburgh-area office. Congratulations, Nick!
Be sure to check back often for department announcements and additional good news about our faculty and students.
See you around Old Library!