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UConn Professor to Speak at Eastern on Human Rights

Written by Ed Osborn


Willimantic, CT--Luis van Isschot will speak on human rights activism in Webb Hall 358 at Eastern Connecticut State University from 3-4 p.m. on Monday, April 21.
Van Isschot is assistant professor of history and human rights at the University of Connecticut. For more than a decade he worked internationally supporting human rights advocates in Latin America and elsewhere, mainly with the NGO Peace Brigades International.
 
Isschot's research seeks to explain the emergence of human rights as a new paradigm of social protest during the Cold War. In 2008 he was full-time coordinator of the "Life Stories of Montrealers Displaced by War, Genocide and Other Human Rights Violations" oral history project.
His current book project, "The Social Origins of Human Rights: Protesting Political Violence in Colombia's Oil Capital, 1919-2010," examines why, how and with what impact people living in conflict areas organize collectively to assert human rights.

Established by Standard Oil in 1919, the oil enclave of Barrancabermeja has long been a critical battleground in Colombia's armed conflict. Drawing on interviews, as well as social movement and legal archives, van Isschot situates the experiences of frontline activists within broader debates on the history of the international movement for human rights.

Arts and Sciences Research Conference and Exhibition

Written by Michael Rouleau

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Willimantic, Conn. - Eastern Connecticut State University held its 14th Annual Arts and Sciences Research Conference and Exhibition (ASRCE) on April 12. The event featured oral and visual presentations of student-led scientific research and artwork. More than 50 presentations were delivered by students from a range of academic departments. 

 Mike Manzi, a junior majoring in environmental earth science (EES), presented on shoreline erosion due to weathering along Block Island. "I have enjoyed being a part of every step of the scientific process," said Manzi. "The best part is knowing that the information from my project can be used in the future by others doing research in this field."

 "Students studying environmental earth science have the opportunity to carry out exciting field-based research," said EES Professor William Cunningham. "Last summer undergraduates carried out original and important research in Idaho, Spain and various localities around southern New England. Their findings were presented at Saturday's event."

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At the ASRCE, Mathematics Professor Mizan Khan won the Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity Mentor Award. He was nominated by one of his students, Richard Magner, who has conducted extensive "number theory" research with Khan. 
 "Students who are interested doing research should ask a faculty member about opportunities in their area of interest," said Psychology Professor Madeleine Fugere. "I am always impressed by the quality of the research presented at this event."

Laura Markley, a junior majoring in EES, presented on population, natural resources and sea level rising in Bangladesh. "My research experience at Eastern has provided me with invaluable hands-on field experience," said Markley. "I'm lucky to be able to present on topics that interest me and address real-world problems."

"This event gives students the chance to experience the 'next step' in the research process: presentation," said Peter Bachiochi, psychology professor and faculty mentor. "It is very motivating for them."

"As a faculty mentor it is very rewarding to see your students present. It represents the culmination of a lot of hard work," said Fugere. "The ASRCE is one of the best academic events all year."

Buddhist Monk Speaks at Eastern

Written by Michael Rouleau

 

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Willimantic, Conn. - Ajahn Boumlieng, a Buddhist monk of the Lao Lan Xang Temple in Willington, CT, spoke at the J. Eugene Smith Library at Eastern Connecticut State University on April 8. The event, titled "The Way of the Elders: Buddhism and the Lao Community in Connecticut," discussed Theravada Buddhism and Lao culture.
 Theravada directly translates to "the way of the elders," and is among the oldest and most traditional forms of Buddhism. It follows closely to the teachings of Buddha and focuses on meditation. "Meditation is the most important part of my culture," said Boumlieng. "Meditation can be active or still, but must focus on breath."

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 Boumlieng, a native of Laos, has traveled extensively amidst his spiritual journey, learning various Buddhist philosophies along the way. He became a monk 30 years ago at the age of 25, and spent approximately 10 years meditating in Laotian caves to learn his Buddhist routes --a common practice of monks from that area.
Since then he has lived in China, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and now the United States. He's been in the United States for about 10 years--Connecticut for six. Boumlieng's English is limited, but he speaks Thai, Lao, Vietnamese and French fluently.

Speaking of the goal of meditation, Boumlieng said, "The mind is like water; naturally clear, but able to be colored." The mind is colored by thoughts and emotions, which Boumlieng calls "monkey mind." Clarity is the state of mind hoped to be achieved through meditation.

In his culture, monks are highly revered and are not expected to work; they are totally supported by the community. Through enlightening themselves, the community benefits, as monks provide a service as teachers and counselors. In Laos, monks are not allowed to use technology, but because of the support they receive, there is no need for it. In Connecticut, however, Boumlieng must occasionally resort to cars and the Internet.

Eastern Hosts 2014 Research and Exhibition Conference

Written by Jordan Sakal


Willimantic, Conn. -  Eastern Connecticut State University will host its annual Arts and Sciences Research Conference & Exhibition on April 12 from 8:30 to 1:30 p.m. This annual event highlights student creative activity undertaken within the 11 departments and 13 majors in the School of Arts and Sciences.

 The conference is a forum for Arts & Sciences students to give oral and poster presentations of research they have conducted while at Eastern.  Students will also be reading poetry, discussing interpretations of literature, and displaying artwork. This exhibition will be the first ever to feature an award presented to faculty mentors for services to their student researchers.
 
 The award is student-nominated, and draws attention to the fact that Eastern students and faculty contribute to scholarly fields of inquiry beyond the classroom. The opening ceremonies of the conference will begin at 9 a.m. in room 104 of the Science Building. There will brief introductory remarks by Professor Nick Parsons, Dean Martin Levin of the School of Arts and Sciences, President Elsa Núñez and Provost Rhona Free.

History Honor Society Inducts New Members

Written by Jordan Sakal


Willimantic, Conn. - On April 7, 13 history majors and one member of the faculty at Eastern Connecticut State University were inducted into Alpha Mu Alpha, Eastern's chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, the national honor society for the study of history.

The society promotes the study of history through the encouragement of research, good teaching, publication, and the exchange of learning and ideas among historians. The society recognizes students who have completed a minimum of 12 semester hours (four courses) in history, have a minimum GPA of 3.1 in history, have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 and are in the top 35 percent of their class.

Inductees included Eastern professor Bradley Davis, and students Abby J. Arisco of Wallingford; John P. Allen of Tolland; Nicholas G. Cecere of Branchburg, NJ; Emily C. Dwelley of Stafford Springs; Joseph L. Garzone of Rocky Hill; Margaret Kurnyk of Willimantic; Kevin M. MacVane of Manchester; Meagan Rose McCane of Torrington; Brandon Thomas Nickle of Hampton; Michael A. O'Neill of Killingworth; Victoria L. Schell of Norwich; Erin Renee Strickland of Gales Ferry; and Shannon J. Williamson of Baltic, CT.

Chief Justice Rogers and Judge Kahn to Speak at Eastern

Written by Michael Rouleau

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Willimantic, Conn. - Two high-level Connecticut court officials will speak at Eastern Connecticut State University on March 26 for Eastern's University Hour series. At 3 p.m. in the Student Center Theatre, Chief Justice Chase T. Rogers and Superior Court Judge Maria Kahn will speak with the Eastern community about justice and the judicial system in today's world. 

Born and raised in Angola, Africa, Kahn was appointed a Superior Court Judge in 2006 and currently is assigned to hear criminal matters in the Fairfield Judicial District Courthouse. She moved to the United States at 10 years of age, is fluent in three languages and serves on a number state and national Bars. 

Rogers, a Connecticut native, was sworn in as Chief Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court in 2007--the second woman ever to reach this designation in Connecticut. She was also appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on the State Justice Institute's Board of Directors. In addition to serving on a number of prestigious Bars and committees, Rogers is also an adjunct professor at the University of Connecticut School of Law.

"The event is open to the public and will be organized in a question-and-answer format," said Starsheemar Byrum, coordinator of the Women's Center. "Arrive early at the Student Center Theatre to ensure a good seat."

"Eastern in 4," Eastern's Revamped Academic Plan

Written by Michael Rouleau


Willimantic, Conn. - As part of Eastern Connecticut State University's 2013-18 Strategic Plan, "Eastern in 4" is now a requirement for current students and incoming freshmen. The goal of "Eastern in 4" is to lay out a tight and comprehensive plan--including academic and career goals--that will lead students to their bachelor's degrees in four years.

"Eastern in 4" has existed as an informal objective for several years now, but recent data supporting the need for college-career planning has caused the University to revamp and mandate the program. "There are so many options and requirements in a college setting," said Alison Garewski, a professional advisor with the Advising Center. "Students unknowingly taking courses they don't need--costing them more money and prolonging their time in college--is an issue nationwide."

With nearly 1,000 freshman at Eastern this year, approximately 650 have completed their academic plans. Though the plans are designed in group sessions of five to 20 students, each four-year plan is individualized according to a student's degree requirements and preferences--taking into consideration which liberal arts courses to take, internships and study abroad opportunities.

"Every semester when registering for classes I use my four-year plan to aid in my selection," said Christina Harmon, a sophomore majoring in psychology. "'Eastern in 4' was a great way for me to learn what classes I need to take and how to stay on track in order to graduate on time."

While "Eastern in 4" is available to all students and majors, it is especially useful to transfer students, continuing education students and those switching majors. "This program is ideal at Eastern because we're a liberal arts school," said Chris Drewry, a professional advisor with the Advising Center. "Students are required and encouraged to take courses outside of their major, so having this direction is really helpful."

"Before making my 'Eastern in 4' plan, I had no idea if I could fit a double major's worth of classes into my schedule," said Thomas Hacker, a freshman with a double major. "Now I have a roadmap to double major in music and communication in four years."

EES Defeats Political Science in College Bowl Competition

Written by Dwight Bachman


On March 12, the Eastern College Bowl completed its 37th consecutive season.  Held in the Student Center Theatre, the College Bowl is a competition for undergraduates representing various majors.

The championship match saw the lead exchanged several times, a match that was not decided until the final question. The team representing the Environmental Earth Science (EES) Department defeated the team from the Political Science Department. EES had won matches against Economics and Mathematics to reach the finals, while Political Science had won its previous matches over Biochemistry and Biology. The winning EES team included students Dustin Munson, Cody Lorentson, Daniel Grondin, and Mackensie Fannon. 

College Bowl questions asked come from many different academic and non-academic areas, often involving audio or visual clues. Questions in this year's championship match included ones involving Dante's "Inferno," Julius Caesar and his crossing the Rubicon, phobias, songs from Disney movies and one titled, "The Doors of Eastern," in which contestants were asked to identify buildings on campus after seeing photographs of their front doors.  The question that decided the winner of the 2014 College Bowl  involved the naming of Transuranium elements. 

The College Bowl is organized and run by Tim Swanson, associate professor of physical science, who originated the competition in 1978.  This year, he was assisted by Biology Professor Gloria Colurso and Marty Levin, interim dean of the School of Arts and Sciences.

Kirchmann Documents Polish-American Life

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History Professor Anna Kirchmann's latest book, "Letters from Readers in the Polish American Press, 1902-1969: A Corner for Everybody," has just been published by Lexington Books/Rowman & Littlefield. The book is a unique collection of close to 500 letters from Polish American readers that were published in Ameryka-Echo between 1902 and 1969. In these letters, Polish immigrants speak in their own words about their American experience, and vigorously debate religion, organization of their community, ethnic identity, American politics and society, and ties to the homeland. The translated letters are annotated and divided into thematic chapters with informative introductions. The Ameryka-Echo letters are a rich source of information on the history of Polish Americans, which can serve as primary sources for students and scholars. 

According to the book's abstract, "Polish Americans formed one of the largest European immigrant groups in the United States and their community developed a vibrant Polish-language press, which tied together networks of readers in the entire Polish immigrant Diaspora.

"Newspaper editors encouraged their readers to write to the press and provided them with public space to exchange their views and opinions. Ameryka-Echo, a weekly published from Toledo, OH, was one of the most popular and long-lasting newspapers with international circulation. For seven decades, Ameryka-Echo sustained a number of sections based on readers' correspondence, but the most popular of them was a 'Corner for Everybody,' which featured thousands of letters on a variety of topics."

Global Field Course to Hungary and Poland

Written by Christopher J. Herman


 Willimantic, Conn. - Eastern Connecticut State University's Communication and History Departments are conducting a multi-credit global field course titled "The Nazi Aftermath in Central Europe: History, Media and the Holocaust," from May 15-June 1, 2014.

The course is being offered as a 1-credit course in the summer for COM 471, a 1-credit course in the spring for HIS 470 and a 3-credit course in the summer for HIS 471. Global Field Course cost per student will be a maximum of $3,600 with a small group of 10 students, and will be less with a larger group of 15 to 20.
Students will investigate how the Holocaust is represented by the present-day Polish and Hungarian media; meet with major media, embassy officials, and historians; and visit historical and cultural sites including the Warsaw Ghetto, Auschwitz-Birchenau Concentration Camp, Krakow's Kazimierz Jewish Quarter and Budapest's Dohany Synagogue.

 For more information on the course, contact Communication professor Cesar Beltran at (860) 465-4389 or beltranc@easternct.edu.

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