Faculty Lecture Series
The series consists of lectures given during the academic year. Faculty presenters discuss research conducted with students and colleagues across the globe.
All talks in the Faculty Lecture Series will take place in Eaton Lounge in Bresee Hall.
Friday, February 9, 2024, 12:20–1:15
Carlena Ficano and John Mahn ’23, “Minimum Wage as a Poverty-Alleviation Tool in the Face of Powerful Employers”
Although the value of the federal minimum wage has been in decline since 1970, thirty-one states boast minimum wages exceeding the $7.25 federal floor, and many have implemented wage increases to address poverty among low-wage workers. Many economists argue, however, against even modest minimum wage increases due to disemployment risks. A growing number of studies challenge this assumption, documenting links between rising employer power or monopsony and wage suppression that they claim are not an exception for local US labor markets. In the face of such monopsony, minimum wage stands both to increase wage and employment, thereby reducing poverty on two fronts. Using newly available data, we evaluate changes in poverty rates in the wake of state-level minimum-wage changes over the period 2015–20 across counties with differing levels of employer power. Results indicate that rising minimum wage correlates with declining poverty rates in the average US county.
Dr. Carlena Ficano is a professor of economics teaching courses in labor economics, public policy, and applied econometrics. Her current research interests include local food demand estimation and the poverty alleviation impact of minimum wage policy. Ficano is currently the faculty liaison to Hartwick’s Griffiths Center for Collaboration and Innovation, serves on the Executive Boards of the Center for Agricultural Development and Entrepreneurship (CADE) and the Catskills Agrarian Alliance (CAA), and is a member of the steering committee of the Otsego Refugee Resettlement Coalition .
John “Jack” Mahn was a John Christopher Hartwick Scholar and graduated from Hartwick in 2023 with a BA in economics and political science. He is currently a budget and policy analyst at the New York State Division of the Budget.
Friday, March 8, 2024, 12:20–1:15
Lisa Darien, “Technologies of Handwriting: Manuscripts, Material Culture, and the Past”
Although medievalists have always had some expertise in fields that focus on manuscripts—paleography, codicology, and textual criticism—more recently they have joined other scholars in a so-called “material turn,” focusing more precisely on the materials and materiality of manuscript production, not just on the final product itself. Darien’s talk will explore how this material focus can lead not only to a deeper scholarly understanding of how medieval manuscripts were produced but can also be used to help students connect with places and time periods that are often erroneously viewed as too remote to be relevant today.
For the last twenty-three years, Lisa Darien has taught courses covering everything from the literature of the Vikings to fiction about the dangers of technological change. She has also been honored to have been asked to give talks to student groups on subjects such as queer medievalisms and on Tolkien and his medieval sources. She has previously given two talks in the Faculty Lecture Series. This presentation, based on teaching supported by the FlightPath initiative and research supported by her time as Cora A. Babcock Chair in English and by a Fall 2023 sabbatical, is her last lecture.
Friday, April 12, 2024, 12:20–1:15
Jing Chen, “Selective Peacekeeping: Understanding China’s Participation in UN Peace Operations”
Leveraging a new dataset and engaging in the first systemic analysis of China’s participation in the UN peacekeeping operations (UNPKOs), Chen’s study reveals that, contrary to the existing literature’s assumption of China merely having a binary choice of participation and nonparticipation, China actually follows a two-step decision-making process. The first step is to decide whether to participate in a UNPKO or not, largely an effect of the interaction between the geographical region of the host country and the conditions of US-China relations. The second step is to decide how many peacekeepers to contribute to a UNPKO, largely an effect of China following both a logic of consequences and a logic of appropriateness. Chen’s findings indicate that the goals of Chinese foreign policy have gradually moved beyond emphasizing its narrow self-interests and have become much more comprehensive, expanding to provide global security public goods.
Jing Chen (PhD, Princeton University) is associate professor of political science at Hartwick College. Her research explores Chinese domestic politics and foreign relations to understand the broader themes of authoritarian politics, central-local relations, environmental policies, peacekeeping, development, and security. She is the author of Useful Complaints: How Petitions Assist Decentralized Authoritarianism in China (Lexington, 2016) and articles published or forthcoming in Asian Perspective, ASIANetwork Exchange , China Information , the Journal of Chinese Political Science , and the Journal of Contemporary China . She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Past Faculty Lectures
Research provides an important foundation for many works of fiction across genres, yet telling an immersive story requires blurring the line between truth and invention until the research goes almost unseen. In particular, speculative fiction—nonrealist genres such as science fiction, fantasy, and horror—may appear to be entirely imagined, even as authors use research techniques to promote a willing suspension of disbelief among their readers. In this talk, Yang will discuss examples of effective research-driven speculative fiction, the different kinds of research a fiction writer might undertake and why, and the process of filtering fact through plot and character, with emphasis on her own experience researching and writing the second draft of her science fiction novel as a Winifred D. Wandersee Scholar in Resident during AY 2022–23.
Tessa Yang (she/her) received her BA from St. Lawrence University and her MFA from Indiana University. She is assistant professor of English at Hartwick College, where she teaches classes on fiction, creative nonfiction, and literary editing. Her debut story collection, The Runaway Restaurant , was published by 7.13 Books in 2022. Recent work has appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, CRAFT, and Southern Indiana Review.
This presentation will give an overview of an ongoing research program, in collaboration with students, on the ecology of the octopus Octopus insularis at San Salvador Island, The Bahamas. Shallow-water octopods like O. insularis den in crevices during the day and dispose of the remains of much of their prey (snail and clam shells, crab exoskeletons, and the like) outside the den in a trash pile or “midden”; collecting and identifying these remains provides a reasonable estimate of an individual octopus’s diet. Kuhlmann and his students initially focused on characterizing how diet and diet specialization vary among individuals and among habitats. More recent projects are exploring other aspects of octopus foraging ecology, such as prey handling behavior, and the effect of human fishery discards (conch shells) on the distribution of octopuses.
Dr. Mark Kuhlmann, professor of biology, has been at Hartwick since 1997 and has been teaching and doing research regularly at the Gerace Research Centre on San Salvador Island, The Bahamas, since 1998. He earned a BS in biology from Hope College (MI), an MS and PhD in biological science (specializing in marine ecology) from Florida State University, and was a postdoctoral fellow at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Edgewater, MD.
Based out of Hartwick’s Pine Lake Environmental Campus, he also conducts research on crayfish in the streams of upstate New York.
Police radio scanners are a common feature of homes in rural Upstate New York, but not much attention has been given to how local communities are affected by their use. Focusing on a small town in the Adirondack Park, Branch finds that the scanner becomes a central feature of the town and mediates multiple and contradictory structures. The scanner offers an opportunity to feel connected to the local community, but it is also employed as a surveillance tool. The scanner provides residents with the opportunity to develop and practice informal networks of care, but it also normalizes the interactions between local police and poor residents. Appearing in nearly every home in the town, the scanner positions policing at the center of everyday life, shapes perceptions of criminality and policing for those listening, and may have severe consequences for some of the most vulnerable residents.
Michael Branch is assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice at Hartwick College and the chair-elect of the Law and Society Division of the Society for the Study of Social Problems. As a cultural sociologist with an interdisciplinary background, his research focuses on the cultural production and politics of meanings associated with rurality, whiteness, and policing.His work offers a critical investigation of how policing and contemporary media intertwine and structure the experience of everyday life. His current work explores how rural horror video games reflect cultural and political anxieties about rural areas and the people who live there.
Fred Block was one of the first authors to break from the structural and instrumental debates that animated much of the discussion surrounding the state in the 1960s and 1970s. In his important essay, “The Ruling Class Does Not Rule” (1977), Block argued, in contrast to the prevailing Marxist notions of the state, that the capitalist class does not govern or exert undue influence over the political process. Through a case study of the UAW-Volkswagen labor organizing campaign that took place in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Zachary McKenney illustrates how Block’s theory of the state can no longer account for the growing number of examples where we see the ruling class actually ruling. McKenney argues that the situation that occurred in Tennessee is but a microcosm of a larger shift that is taking place across the political landscape in the United States.
Think about our musical sound. Is it what is in our minds? Is it what comes out of our instruments, or is it what an audience (live or through recordings) perceive and interpret? And what if musical sound is all of it? Join Ana Laura González for an account of what it was like to record an album of chamber music for flute and percussion in collaboration with Julie Licata. From the careful selection of repertoire, through conversations with composers and cover artists, to the final click of the release button on Spotify, each baby step becomes a statement of aesthetics.
This lecture examines the origins and evolution of a varied yet coherent movement of white supremacist, neo-Nazi, and skinhead groups in the United States, Britain, and Europe. Since the late 1970s, they have worked across national borders, trafficking in shared ideas, interests, and industries. Advocating violence against their perceived enemies at home and abroad, they circulate texts, populate internet chatrooms and message boards, and plan international gatherings. As this movement has coalesced in the emerging post-Cold War order, far-right leaders on both sides of the Atlantic have enlisted young men as shock troops and guided them toward violence. Moving beyond nation-centered histories of the far right, this lecture interprets this transatlantic white power movement as a product of militarization, globalization, and decolonization.
This study analyzed research utilization and access across several fields of K–12 education in comparison with their collegiate counterparts. In 2019, after securing funding through a Hartwick College faculty research grant, researchers attempted to collect data using an original survey instrument developed five years prior. After numerous efforts to disseminate the questionnaire across fields failed, focus shifted to only new participants in the field of music education in comparison to data collected using the same survey and similar participant pool five years earlier. Findings were mostly stable over time and showed K–12 music educators access, understand, and value music education research journals significantly less than their collegiate counterparts. Sheehy will discuss ways to bridge the research-to-practice gap in K–12 education, the efforts and troubles related to this research project, and the potential implications for knowledge translation in education.
This project takes the concept of third culture and uses it to explain how some individuals feel as though they are not “enough” to belong in their social, cultural, or identity groups. Third culture kids were born into one culture and then adopted into another culture. In some cases, the adopted child goes into a family that shares similar phenotypical traits. In other cases, however, the adopted child and the adopting family do not share these similar traits. This leads to a sense of discord for the adopted child as they feel they do not fully belong to their birth culture nor do they fully belong to their adopted culture. Johnson will expand upon this feeling of “not enough” and apply it to individuals who feel as if they are “not enough” in their lives (e.g., not Hispanic enough, not straight enough, not Republican/Democratic enough).
Though cosmology, the study of the Universe itself, has had many great successes in recent decades, major mysteries remain. Determining accurate distances is one of the most challenging issues of modern astronomy, yet it is essential to understanding galaxies, supernova explosions, and the large-scale structure of the Universe. Einstein’s theory of general relativity is highly successful at describing our expanding Universe, but the relativistic effects that distort light as it travels through space and time require careful consideration nonetheless. Troischt will present ongoing work done in collaboration with the Undergraduate ALFALFA Team aimed at improving red-shift independent distances to galaxies using supernovae. As part of this, he will discuss the upcoming Vera Rubin Telescope, a facility that promises to revolutionize astronomy and produce “the deepest, widest image of the Universe” ever made. He will also summarize years of work done with Hartwick undergraduates at world class observatories.
Elder’s recent book, The Partisan Gap: Why Democratic Women Get Elected but Republican Women Don’t (NYU Press, 2021), will be available for purchase at the talk.
The 117th Congress convened in January 2021 with more women than any other Congress in United States history. The 2020 elections, therefore, mark an important continuation in the slow upward climb of women’s representation. When we break down women’s progress by political party, however, we see that the dynamics of women’s representation has been remarkably different for Democratic women versus Republican women. In Professor Laurel Elder’s recently published book, she argues that long-term, structural changes in American electoral politics—including the ideological, regional, and racial realignments of the parties—has created an electoral and political environment conducive to the advancement of Democratic women congressional office seekers, but has created a much more challenging landscape for Republican women seeking office. The partisan gap among the women in Congress holds significant consequences for the image, functioning, and viability of the two parties.
Join Professor James Buthman for a discussion of his sabbatical research. Buthman travelled ten thousand miles around the United States from October 2020 to July 2021, exploring how environmental policy affects the relationship between people and nature. The majority of the travel (six thousand miles) was via a bicycle. The remainder came in cars, trains, a plane, and boats. This faculty lecture will address different landscapes and relationships with nature as Buthman travelled from New York to Arizona and back. Guided by Aldo Leopold’s theory of ecological restoration, particularly building resilience through adaptability, Buthman examines how to pursue policies which build bridges between people and nature. This research was also based upon the notion of Thoreau’s call to speak a word for nature and guided by principles of respect and deep listening advocated by Indigenous Research Methods of scholars such as Bagele Chilisa, Timothy San Pedro, and Sweeney Windchief.
A few years before his death in 1896, the great English socialist, poet, and designer William Morris began to collaborate with Charles March Gere on what they envisioned as an elaborate, illustrated edition of Morris’s historical romance The House of the Wolfings (1889). The project was never completed, and over time many of the original working materials were lost, but students of Morris’s life and work have always hoped that unexpected discoveries might someday permit a reconstruction or approximation of the original text. Professor David Cody and Professor Susan Navarette’s lecture introduces a cache of previously unknown material—including Gere’s own annotated copy of Wolfings, a number of his original sketches, and his hand-written list of planned illustrations—that not only sheds new light on his collaboration with Morris, but brings the dream of a reconstructed text one step closer to reality.
Presented in conjunction with Autism Awareness Month.
Professor Marisa Kofke’s talk reviews a qualitative study about the experiences of three autistic teenage girls and the role of social skills instruction (SSI) in their high-school contexts. She applies a neurodiversity framework to the analysis of the students’ perspectives with data drawn from a larger study using the Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis research method to explore the participant experiences undergoing SSI and how they understood their autistic identity in high school. Research themes include: sensory sensitivities, hiding autistic traits (masking), autistic identity, and gender. Findings reveal the participants learned minimal information about autism and neurodiversity in school. Kofke will discuss the implications for school personnel to better support autistic students through application of neurodiversity concepts.
Traditionally, theatre has not emphasized the importance of sustainability, ecological awareness, nor the health of theatre artists when creating productions. Chemicals used in theatre have been the cause of a range of health problems for practitioners, ranging from dermatitis to central nervous system impairment, while the use of synthetic materials are the cause of a range of “health problems” for the Earth. While some changes are being made, there is a long way to go towards habituating “green theatre” practices. Professor Barbara Kahl will discuss her research, including the growing of plants historically used for pigment, and how she has incorporated the use of the resulting natural dyes with renewable fibers, recycling and repurposing those materials to create many of her theatrical costume and scenic designs.
Campus visitors are encouraged to have up-to-date vaccinations for COVID-19.
The College reserves the right to require masks on an event-by-event basis.
For more information, contact Bradley J. Fest at email@example.com.