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Sociology as Much as Technology: Martha Nell Smith WS ’84 on Digital Scholarship

“Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense,” Gertrude Stein wrote in 1946, when Alan Turing was developing his machine. If today’s burgeoning online resources in the humanities create a sometimes bewildering deluge of information, they also, as Martha Nell Smith WS ’84 notes, change how scholars analyze, craft, debate, and share information.

marthanellsmithDr. Smith has headed two of the nation’s best-known digital humanities sites. In 1994, as a Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities (IATH) at the University of Virginia, she founded the Dickinson Electronic Archives (www.emilydickinson.org). The DEA hosts manuscripts of and commentaries on the poet’s work, as well as related correspondence and works. Through the DEA Dr. Smith, in 2012, revealed and analyzed a daguerreotype that may be the only known image of Dickinson as an adult.

Her DEA experience also paved the way for Dr. Smith’s 1998 creation of the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH) at the University of Maryland. “We were the first wave,” she recalls. “In the United States, there was IATH; a group at Brown that produced the Women Writers Project; Matrix at Michigan State; and ourselves.”

“Some of my colleagues thought I was crazy,” she says, “worried that getting enamored of computing would take away from the humanities research. I would say it’s using computational tools to advance research.” While Dr. Smith stepped aside as director in 2005, MITH remains a leading digital humanities center.

Digital tools, she observes, have changed scholarship, but ultimately human interaction guides their use. In a landmark 2007 essay, “The Human Touch: Software of the Highest Order,” Dr. Smith argues for embracing a collaborative, interdisciplinary, interpretive sensibility in digital scholarship that does not conform to traditional methods. For example, old notions about the validity of particular scholarly editions, or about the invisible authority of any one editor’s changes, are replaced by an awareness of the ways in which different editors and editions engage each other.

“One of the most important technologies I have learned about is collaborative work. It trains people for various workplaces,” she says. “The reach of digital scholarship is also huge. You can reach many people that you wouldn’t engage through traditional book and article publication.”

What about peer review, the academy’s traditional quality control for published research? “I do think peer review is important,” Dr. Smith avers. “Putting publications online [without peer review] can yield pieces that are not so good. But on the other hand you might get feedback and critical review that you wouldn’t get through regular channels. You might get an expert perspective from a quarter you don’t expect.”

Digital scholarship can bring a similar breadth of perspective to original sources, Dr. Smith says. “With primary materials—items previously viewable only by experts allowed into Special Collections and the like—now being examined by non-experts, sometimes very productive questions are posed, questions that those in the know have been schooled out of.”

At the same time, the increasingly digital nature of primary materials themselves poses dilemmas, she observes, as future scholars will no longer rely on marginalia and marked-up text. “Now I’m really arguing for making sure that that various publication states be preserved and not just overwritten. It’s important to have digital preservation markers that show different stages of work, so that people can see and learn from various evolutions.”

Dr. Smith’s leadership in digital humanities is shaped by her commitment to feminist scholarship. Her 2014 article, “Frozen Social Relations and Time for a Thaw: Visibility, Exclusions, and Considerations for Postcolonial Digital Archives,” contends that, while online access makes it possible to share ideas and information without respect to class, race, gender, or sexuality, funding and recognition still conform to traditional social structures that privilege certain groups over others.

Digital scholarship, in the end, changes the way tomorrow’s scholars will approach materials and exchange ideas. Dr. Smith says she cautions her students about the irrevocability of online publications, the volatile culture of response to online work, and the ease with which anyone working digitally may be deprived of full credit. The true innovation in digital scholarship, she suggests, may be less technological than sociological. “The positive side for scholars,” she adds, “is that you may make connections that you wouldn’t make otherwise.”


This story appeared in the fall issue of Fellowship, the newsletter of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, in a section titled Decoding Digital Humanities: Perspectives on an emerging and ever-changing field. To see the full newsletter, click here.

Jayne Swift, left, and Dr. Regina Kunzel

Jayne Swift, left, and Dr. Regina Kunzel

Newcombe Fellow and WW Women’s Studies Fellow Regina Kunzel CN ’86 WS ’87 was happy to recommend her student Jayne Swift WS ’15 for this year’s WW Dissertation Fellowship in Women’s Studies. It’s not a responsibility she takes lightly.

“I try to remember that I’m training grad students to become people who I would want to be my colleagues,” says Dr. Kunzel. “Ultimately we are going to be recommending them to people as good colleagues, and so I think about training people to be reliable and generous in their critical practices and also in their collegial practices. These things seem to come naturally to Jayne. They don’t to everybody.”

For her part, Ms. Swift says she values the tough, clear-sighted guidance Dr. Kunzel offers. “Her feedback… can sort of feel like a layer of skin being taken off — it’s very precise and deadly right. It sounds kind of awful when I put it like that, but it’s the best possible thing,” says Ms. Swift. “I’ve really grown as a writer and a thinker and have a much clearer sense of the contributions I want to make from getting feedback from her.” At the same time, she adds, Dr. Kunzel has helped her understand the nuts and bolts of academic life, from research techniques to grant-writing. “Regina has always been willing to demystify the whole process.”

Ms. Swift was first introduced to Dr. Kunzel’s research when she picked up a copy of Dr. Kunzel’s 2008 book, Criminal Intimacy: Prison and the Uneven History of Modern American Sexuality, and the work immediately and strongly resonated with her.

“I found a certain kind of affinity with my own research and intellectual curiosities,” Ms. Swift says, and so she applied to the University of Minnesota’s feminist studies program to work with Dr. Kunzel. “We were a natural fit for each other,” Dr. Kunzel affirms.

In addition to teaching her in a seminar and independent study, Dr. Kunzel chose Ms. Swift as a research assistant on her current project. The study, which looks at mid-20th century attributions of mental illness to sexual and gender variant people, was largely inspired by the vast writings of psychiatrist Benjamin Karpman. Dr. Kunzel hired Ms. Swift to summarize Karpman’s work.

“That’s a measure of how much I trust Jayne and her smarts and her instincts,” says Dr. Kunzel. “I don’t hand over that kind of assignment to just anybody, but I really trusted her reading.”

The experience ranks at the top of Ms. Swift’s all-time favorite jobs. “I learned so much during that time about the process of writing a book, specifically historical study,” she says. “I learned patience with the research process and an understanding of the legwork that goes into the finished product.”

Now at Princeton University as the Doris Stevens Chair in Women’s Studies, with appointments in history and the program in gender and sexuality studies, Dr. Kunzel continues to advise Ms. Swift from a distance as she completes her dissertation on the cultural history of recent sex worker social movements in the United States. While she describes it as a challenge, Dr. Kunzel tries to maintain regular calls and check-ins with Ms. Swift and other Minnesota mentees.

The field of gender and sexuality studies, Dr. Kunzel notes, may be “more self-conscious” about mentoring than many others. “It is a field that thinks through relations of power, and that contributes to thinking self-consciously about mentoring.”

For her part, Ms. Swift feels lucky to have a working relationship with someone who is both a respected scholar in her field and generous with her time and support. “Dr. Kunzel is just one of those people whose intellectual brilliance is really matched by a deep decency and kindness that she shows to her graduate students,” she says.

“Your dissertation advisor will always be your dissertation advisor even when your dissertation is finished,” Dr. Kunzel notes. “It’s a relationship that’s forever.”


This story appeared in our Spring 2015 newsletter. To view the full newsletter online, click here.

Indiana Teaching Fellow '12 Kathryn Stwalley, left, with her mentor Alyce Myers TF '09.

Indiana Teaching Fellow ’12 Kathryn Stwalley, left, with her mentor Alyce Myers TF ’09.

Working with her two mentors as a Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellow at Purdue five years ago, Alyce Myers TF ’09 observed two very different teaching styles. One of her cooperating teachers used a very hands-on approach in the classroom; the other relied more on lectures.

Watching and working with her mentors, Ms. Myers gleaned what she called her most important lesson as a new teacher: You need to become your own teacher.

“You have to figure out who you are as a person and as a teacher and teach based on what best represents you and your strengths,” she says. “You need to be comfortable in what you are doing.”

Now, as a master teacher herself, Ms. Myers is trying to teach that same ethos to new Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellows—recent graduates and career changers who are transitioning into the classroom.

Each teacher candidate who comes through the Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship spends a full school year in a classroom with a master teacher. As a way to combat the pitfalls of traditional student teaching, Fellows enter the classroom much earlier and are able to work through lessons and get feedback and assistance in real time.

Ms. Myers’ current Fellow from Purdue, Kathryn Stwalley TF ‘12, finds the ability to try new things in the classroom very helpful. “The freedom and flexibility has been invaluable to my preparation,” says Ms. Stwalley. “Even if something falls flat, we have been able to put the pieces together with the students to make sure that something valuable was still salvageable from my time.”

Ms. Stwalley also finds Ms. Myers’ previous experience as a Fellow to be helpful in their relationship. “She has taken the time to get to know my prior knowledge instead of assuming every experience is new to me, and instead she challenges me in the areas she knows I am trying to improve on.”

Keith Manring TF ‘09, like Alyce Myers, was one of the first WW Indiana Teaching Fellows. During his work as a Fellow at the University of Indianapolis, his mentors offered him not only troubleshooting, but also crucial connections between different aspects of the program. “They help[ed] bridge the content from readings and university instruction to effective practice with students,” said Mr. Manring.

By being present in the classroom so early in the program, Fellows get a feel for the type of school where they will be teaching, from the first day students arrive (and the challenges of engaging them) until school ends and administrative needs are wrapped up. Part of the Fellowship commitment includes teaching for three years at a high-need urban or rural school. In this context, the master teacher “provides a kind of starting framework for instructing a given group of students in a specific setting,” says Mr. Manring. “This allows the Fellow to take that foundation in their own direction.”

The relationship between mentor and Fellow also allows for a great deal of collaboration. Both parties see benefit from this aspect of the relationship. Ms. Stwalley looks to her mentor, Ms. Myers, as she prepares for student teaching: “We’re continually bouncing ideas around. This sense of urgency, awareness, and openness has been the best help as I’m wrapping my mind around this next stage.”

“I think my students and I benefit tremendously any time I can get a second caring adult into my classroom,” master teacher Mr. Manring explained. “Offering to be a mentor was one way to provide that opportunity. I think it makes me a better teacher and provides more people in the room helping them learn.”

“I have found that my mentees have supplied me with so many ideas and have allowed me to continue to grow as a teacher,” says Ms. Myers. “Having another person to bounce ideas off of, coteach, and talk to is a great opportunity regardless of whether you are the mentor or mentee.

“It’s a learning and growing experience for us both,” she adds. “That’s what education is all about after all, learning and growing.”


This story appeared in our Spring 2015 newsletter. To view the full newsletter online, click here.

FOR RELEASE: August 7, 2014

Patrick Riccards | Director of Media Relations & Strategy | 609-452-7007 x122


Nationally Recognized Communications Strategist Will Spearhead Media Relations and Strategy

PRINCETON, N.J.—The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation announced that Patrick R. Riccards has joined its communications team as director of media relations and strategy.

Riccards is an award-winning education communications strategist with nearly 20 years of communications and public engagement experience. He was previously CEO of the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now and, prior to that, executive director of communications and public affairs at American Institutes for research. PR News named Riccards its Public Affairs Professional of the Year in 2013. He was also Bulldog Reporter’s 2011 Not-for-Profit Communications Professional of the Year.

Riccards has also served in senior communications positions for many of the nation’s leading education communications agencies, including roles as executive director of the Pennsylvania STEM Initiative and as de facto chief of staff and counsel to the congressionally mandated National Reading Panel. He began his career on Capitol Hill, holding communications posts for U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd (WV), U.S. Sen. Bill Bradley (NJ), and U.S. Rep. John Olver (MA).

“The Woodrow Wilson Foundation is leading a national effort to transform how we prepare educators for the classroom and how we ensure high-need schools have the teachers and innovators they need and deserve,” Riccards said. “With its work in states like Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey, and Ohio, the Foundation has an incredible story to tell. I am thrilled to be able to help tell it and share the lessons learned through the Foundation’s work to strengthen our nation’s schools and communities.”

The Foundation’s education reform initiatives include the Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowships, providing master’s-level preparation for high-achieving individuals with backgrounds in science and mathematics to teach in high-need high schools. Another recent program, the Woodrow Wilson MBA Fellowship in Education Leadership, prepares school, district, and charter leaders, blending an education-based business curriculum with clinical experience in schools, corporations and nonprofits.

Other Woodrow Wilson programs include fellowships that prepare candidates for the U.S. Foreign Service, administered on behalf of the Department of State; support dissertation work in ethics and religious values, funded by the Charlotte W. Newcombe Foundation; and offer awards for graduate study in various other fields.

“For two decades, Patrick has worked with institutions, educators, and policymakers to help improve public education and make the American Dream a reality for all of our children,” said Arthur Levine, president of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation. “Patrick brings to Woodrow Wilson the knowledge and experience essential to advance the Foundation’s work of identifying and developing leaders to address the nation’s educational challenges. We are thrilled that Patrick has joined us.”

A University of Virginia graduate, Riccards is author or lead editor of more than two dozen education research studies, beginning with the NRP’s Teaching Children to Read report. He is the author of Dadprovement (Turning Stone Press, 2014) and is lead editor and contributing author for the forthcoming second edition of Why Kids Can’t Read: Challenging the Status Quo in Education (Rowman Littlefield Education, 2014). He is the creator and author of Eduflack, a nationally recognized blog focused on the intersection of education research, policy, politics, and communications, and its companion @Eduflack Twitter feed.

The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation of Princeton, New Jersey identifies and develops leaders to meet the nation’s most critical challenges. In 1945, the Foundation was created to meet the challenge of preparing a new generation of college professors. Today Woodrow Wilson offers a suite of fellowships to address national needs, including the education of teachers and school leaders.



0613-Campus-Buildings-dc-21_webAbout Kennesaw State University

As a leading producer of teachers in the state of Georgia, the Bagwell College of Education at Kennesaw State University strives to prepare educators to improve student learning within a collaborative teaching and learning community through innovative teaching, purposeful research and engaged service.

Bagwell College plays a leading role in the Educator Preparation Provider (EPP) collaborative group at Kennesaw State, which also includes educators affiliated with nine academic departments in four other colleges. Our programs are nationally recognized and approved by the National Council on the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). The only nationally recognized Middle Grades Teacher Education program in Georgia is at Kennesaw State.

Teacher Preparation at KSU

The Woodrow Wilson Georgia Teaching Fellowship at Kennesaw State University is a 15-month/36-credit hour graduate study followed by three years of teaching and mentoring. Preparation extends into the first three years of teaching in urban or rural schools, incorporating induction and mentoring programs that feature ongoing school-university cooperation. The Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship at KSU will be uniquely defined by the following characteristics:

  • BCOE-Bireny-Fair-Oaks-dc-43_webA co-teaching model between mentor teacher and Fellow with co-teaching preparation for both the mentor teacher and Fellow
  • Flexible-integrated course delivery
  • University faculty collaboration between content and education experts
  • Discipline specific pedagogy courses facilitated by discipline specific faculty with 6-12 classroom teaching experience
  • Strong community-based mentoring
  • Coaching during the year-long field experience
  • Commitment to diverse learners with opportunities to obtain endorsements or experiences in ESOL, special education, gifted, or Advanced Placement/IB
  • Instructional technology integration
  • Action research embedded performance measures

* Clinical instruction begins in the earliest days of the program, with at least four days per week in schools throughout the program, while providing frequent feedback and giving Fellows increasing responsibilities as teachers.

* Fellows are matched with a highly qualified master teacher mentor, as well as another mentor from the university.

More information.

Schools/Districts Working With KSU

Currently, the schools/districts working with Kennesaw State University and the Woodrow Wilson Georgia Teaching Fellowship are (in alphabetical order):

Tuition and Assistance at KSU

The estimated cost of tuition for Fellows at Kennesaw State University is $3,324 both for Georgia residents and non-residents.  Click here for more Georgia partner university tuition information.

A Saner Approach to Mental Illness
Kim J. Hopper CN ’86 explores new models of care

The biggest problem in mental health is our tendency to compartmentalize mental illness—to separate people with mental illness from others and to separate mental illness from overall health. “Mental illness almost invariably is a sidecar to some other discussion, rather than a more general discussion about what it means to think seriously about health in a variety of departments,” says, Dr. Kim J. Hopper CN ’86, medical anthropologist and professor of clinical sociomedical sciences at the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University and co-director of the Center for the Study of Issues in Public Mental Health at the Nathan S. Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research.

Improving the quality of life for people with mental health issues, one of Dr. Hopper’s main concerns as a medical anthropologist, necessitates collaboration from other institutional entities that do not see mental health as part of their purview. In a recent project, Dr. Hopper and his colleagues reimagined all people with severe mental illnesses in New York City—regardless of their living situation, whether with family, institutionalized, or on their own—as inhabiting their own country, then applied Amartya Sen’s capabilities approach and the United Nations Human Development Index. The analysis showed that “they live at roughly the level of a Moroccan peasant. Their life expectancy can be as much as 20 years less than other folks. Their literacy rates are terrible and their income is set at a rate that essentially expects them to live for free every sixth day.”

So if the ability to pursue a life of one’s own is an index of recovery from mental illness, what would it take to help these New Yorkers recover? “It takes not only a great deal of work on individual agency, Sen’s engine of development at the individual level,” Dr. Hopper notes, “but it also means reworking the environment so that the necessary resources are available to feed that agency: education, jobs, and, of course, affordable housing—resources which for this group are in restricted, and often qualified, settings. We argued that mental health could not do its job without the partnership and collaboration of these other institutions. We found, for the most part, that there was no conversation going on, so it managed to get a lot of conversations started.”

Through this work Dr. Hopper got involved in the recently funded Parachute NYC program, which seeks to change the way health and social professionals respond to young people in a mental health crisis, minimizing initial damage. Borrowing from a Scandinavian public psychiatry model of crisis response/respite, the Parachute program will offer a “soft landing” instead of a traumatizing “hospitalize/diagnose/medicate” response. The first response will be to convene the family and other affected parties into working groups led by therapeutic teams. “[It] tends to hold back on the question of ‘Is this a mental illness and if so, what’s its name?’ in favor of ‘What’s going on here and how can this group be differently configured so that everybody can live together?’” If the individual does need to be extracted from the family setting, he or she receives a crisis respite placement in a non-hospital, non-medical setting, staffed by peers who have been through similar ordeals. “It’s got more than its share of implementation difficulties,” says Dr. Hopper, “but it’s also got some really interesting implications.”

It was during his work as a Newcombe Fellow that Dr. Hopper became interested in questions about mental health care. “I was in philosophy of religion, doing work on values and philosophy and trying to figure out how they should apply to medical quandaries in the clinical setting,” he recalls. “The more I got into it, the more I realized that the values that we really should care about are ones that are built into everyday assumptions about right and wrong, proper and improper, good and not-so-good. That’s what I took to mental health, because it’s those assumptions about essentially what’s good enough for people with mental illness that need challenging,” explains Dr. Hopper. “It’s about trying to find a better way of asking how we establish a floor beneath this question of what suffices as adequate for a variety of quality of life issues for people who have this diagnosis or have seen this diagnosis sometime in the past. My issues are still all heavily driven by that concern.

Staff Leadership


ArthurLevine_thm2 Arthur Levine (levine@woodrow.org) is the sixth president of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation. Before his appointment at Woodrow Wilson in 2006, he was president and professor of education at Teachers College, Columbia University. He also previously served as chair of the higher education program, chair of the Institute for Educational Management, and senior lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.  Dr. Levine is the author or co-author of ten books and dozens of articles and reviews, including a series of reports for the Education Schools Project on the preparation of school leaders, teachers, and education researchers. Dr. Levine’s numerous commentaries appear in such publications as The New York Times; The Los Angeles Times; The Wall Street Journal; The Washington Post; Education Week; and The Chronicle of Higher Education. His most recent book is Generation on a Tightrope: A Portrait of Today’s College Student (with Diane Dean, 2012). | Full bio
SJH_headshot2 Stephanie J. Hull (hull@woodrow.org) came to the Woodrow Wilson Foundation in 2012 as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. She began her academic career as an assistant professor in the Department of French and Italian at Dartmouth College, subsequently becoming Assistant Dean of the College. After six years at Dartmouth, Dr. Hull went on to serve as the Assistant to the President and Secretary of the College at Mount Holyoke College, then as Head of the Brearley School, a girls’ K–12 college preparatory school in New York City, where she led a highly successful capital campaign and long-range planning process and oversaw the introduction of a number of new initiatives. She earned her bachelor’s degree in French literature at Wellesley College and her master’s and doctoral degrees at Harvard University in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures. | Full bio
BSanford_thm2 Beverly Sanford (sanford@woodrow.org) is Vice President of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation. She also serves as Secretary of the Foundation, a position elected by the Woodrow Wilson Board of Trustees. Prior to joining the Woodrow Wilson staff in 2002, Ms. Sanford served first as communications director for the president of the University at Buffalo (SUNY), then as associate director of the UB Regional Institute. A graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, she completed an M.A. and Ph.D. coursework at the University at Buffalo.


SusanBillmaier_crop Susan Billmaier (billmaier@woodrow.org) serves as program officer for two dissertation fellowships at the Woodrow Wilson Foundation: the Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship and the Woodrow Wilson Dissertation Fellowship in Women’s Studies. A member of the Woodrow Wilson staff since 2008, she earned her Ph.D. in political science from Rutgers University and has taught in the areas of American politics, women and politics, and traditions of western political theory.  Dr. Billmaier also facilitates workshops on learning styles, personality assessment, and conflict resolution.
LeAnnBuntrock_crop LeAnn Buntrock (buntrock@woodrow.org) joined the Woodrow Wilson staff in 2013 as Director of the Woodrow Wilson M.B.A. Fellowship in Education Leadership. She was formerly Executive Director of the Darden/Curry Partnership for Leaders in Education at the University of Virginia. Dr. Buntrock earned her J.D. from the University of Richmond and her Ph.D. in education policy from the University of Virginia. Her background demonstrates her deep commitment to education, ranging from her early years as a teacher in elementary education to several years of advocacy in education and family law.
JamesGadsdenUSState_sm Ambassador James Gadsden (gadsden@woodrow.org) is Senior Counselor for International Affairs at the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, with responsibility for both advising on the development of new programs and providing counsel and guidance for the Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowships. Ambassador Gadsden, formerly Diplomat-in-Residence and Lecturer in Public and International Affairs at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, served as U.S. Ambassador to Iceland from 2002 until 2005. He completed his undergraduate degree in economics at Harvard University, followed by a master’s degree in East Asian Studies at Stanford University and further graduate work in economics at Princeton.
 Deb photo Deborah Hirsch (hirsch@woodrow.org) is Executive Director of the Woodrow Wilson Academy of Teaching and Learning. She most recently served as Vice President for Development and Director of External Relations at Mount Ida College in Newton, Massachusetts, where she was previously Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs and Acting Vice President for Academic Affairs. Prior to Mount Ida, Deborah was the Executive Director of the Boston Higher Education Partnership and Director of the New England Resource Center for Higher Education. She graduated summa cum laude from Boston University and holds master’s degrees in education from the University at Buffalo and Harvard University, as well as a doctorate in education from Harvard University.
JoseOchoa_2013_sm Jose F. Ochoa (ochoa@woodrow.org) is Director of the Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowships. He was previously Director of MPP Admissions and Programs at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School, joining the Woodrow Wilson Foundation staff in 2013. He previously served as Associate Director for Enrollment Management at NYU’s Steinhardt School of Education, and was Assistant Director of Scholarship Programs at the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering. He earned his B.A. in political science from Rutgers University and an M.A. in liberal studies from NYU.  He is an alumnus of the U.S.-Spain Young Leaders Program.
 patrickweb Patrick Riccards (riccards@woodrow.org) is Chief Communications and Strategy Officer. Patrick began his career on Capitol Hill, where he served in senior communications positions for members of the U.S. Senate and U.S. House. The former executive director for communications and public affairs at American Institutes for Research, he has also served as executive director of the Pennsylvania STEM Initiative and de facto chief of staff for the National Reading Panel. Pat is widely known on social media for his blog and Twitter feed, @Eduflack, and he has won numerous national awards for his work in education communications and public engagement. Pat holds a B.A. in Government and in Rhetoric and Communications Studies from the University of Virginia.
 rickrosenberg2web Rick Rosenberg (rosenberg@woodrow.org) is Woodrow Wilson’s Chief Development Officer. He previously served as director of foundation, government and faculty grants at Gettysburg College, and has held similar positions at Bucknell University, the University of Maryland College Park, and Hobart and William Smith Colleges. Rick also worked in development for Princeton University. He has been active in a variety of groups for foundation and faculty grants professionals at liberal arts colleges and has twice served on the national leadership team for the Council for Advancement and Support of Education’s annual conference for professionals in corporate and foundation relations. Rick completed a B.A. in economics and political science at Stanford and an M.P.A. at Princeton.
Audra M. Watson (watson@woodrow.org), Director of Mentoring & Induction Strategy and Program Officer, has lead responsibility for the mentoring components of the Foundation’s various Fellowships. Dr. Watson earned her Ph.D. in education policy at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.  Prior to coming to the foundation in 2010, she worked with the New York City Department of Education, directing mentoring and teacher development programs.

Alice Dreger CN ’94, Guggenheim Fellow; Associate Professor of Clinical Medical Humanities and Bioethics, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University

Alice Dreger CN ’94: At the Intersections

Alice Dreger CN ’94 works at intersections—the intersection of medicine and ethics, of research and activism, of traditional academic work and publications for the general public. And she works with people whose anatomy falls between classical categories, and who find themselves carving out identities in those intersections.

“I wear two hats in most of what I do,” Dr. Dreger explains. “Under one hat, I do history of anatomy. I’m a historian by training, and what I study in that case is the way that people have dealt with anatomy…The other hat that I’ve worn in my work is as an activist, as a patient advocate—or, as I sometimes say, as an impatient advocate…. In that case, I’ve worked with people who have body types that challenge social norms.”

While her work encompasses the experience of individuals with a range of birth anomalies—conjoined twinning and dwarfism, for example—she is particularly known for her work with those who are intersex. As defined by the Intersex Society of North America, intersex is “a general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male.”

Now professor of clinical medical humanities and bioethics in Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, Dr. Dreger first became interested in intersex and other birth anomalies when her dissertation advisor suggested she look into hermaphrodites and the history of medicine. The connection between the two was not immediately apparent to Dr. Dreger, and she was surprised by what she found. “I looked at the Index-Catalogue of the Library of the Surgeon-General and there were 400 cases. And I thought ‘How is it I’ve never heard of this?'” she recalls. “I became really interested simply because of the fact that I had never heard of it and yet here, even in the 19th century, was this huge wealth of literature.” The dissertation became Dr. Dreger’s first book, Hermaphrodites and the Medical Invention of Sex (Harvard University Press, 1998), which examines how doctors and scientists treated intersex people in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and how they are treated in present-day medicine.Dreger_cover

Reading case studies, getting to know people with various birth anomalies, and hearing about their medical histories led Dr. Dreger to a more active interest. “I became fascinated and wanted to figure out if there were other realms of medicine where people behaved in this very strange fashion—where they lie to patients and do surgeries on children purely for cosmetic reasons without evidence that it helps. I started looking at case studies and, inevitably, running into people who had these birth anomalies or whose children had them. Getting to know those people, I became fascinated with the current system, and became an advocate for that population in trying to change it.”

Historical research and contemporary activism, Dr. Dreger says, “come together on issues of evidence. I’m a more subtle advocate than I think many people are because I’m not actually in it for the identity claim. I want to know what’s going to help and what’s going to hurt. So I look at the evidence—and sometimes the evidence goes against what activists say or want, and I have to disagree with them. Being trained in the history and philosophy of science, I’m still, at the end of the day, a big old science geek, and I really want to know: What does the evidence show?”

To change the system takes a combination of mass education and personal relationships, she explains. “It took me a lot of time to learn that social change actually happens through personal relationships,” Dr. Dreger says. “Some social change has to be tackled from the other end—which is to change conventional wisdom—and that I do through the media. But you have to do that one-two punch to actually get the change to happen. When you tackle both ends, personal relationships and public perception, you begin to get this feedback loop: The experts are hearing conventional wisdom change and they literally say to me, ‘Well, the culture’s changed enough that we can move in the direction you’re suggesting,’ and then the culture says, ‘Well, the doctor says that’s where we should be going, to change this, so it must be true.’ And nobody seems to realize you’re puppeting the whole thing from behind. It’s doing those two things together, I think, that is finally effective.”

Dr. Dreger’s commitment to mass education has made her a significant presence in the media and online. Mainstream media outlets and programs often consult her as an expert on intersex; she also maintains a personal website and blog, as well as a blog on Psychology Today (“Fetishes I Don’t Get”), and frequently posts on the Hastings Center’s Bioethics Forum. “At my core I’m really a writer,” she says. “I always wanted to write in mainstream venues, but it’s also clear that the Web is a place where you can directly access people’s minds and work for change. And being in a 24-hour news cycle, if I want to piggyback on some international story and twist the conversation in a direction that might produce some progress towards people opening their minds, the Web is a way to do that.”

She cites Caster Semenya, a South African runner whose sex was called into question by sports officials, as an example. “I dropped everything and made sure that I used that for a moment of international sex education,” says Dr. Dreger. “For the first time, the whole world was ready to talk about sex anomalies, and I thought: here’s a perfect moment to educate, educate, educate. I put a media advisory up on my own website that went through the same questions reporters were asking me. I just wanted to get some of them not to say ‘she has two sets of genitals,’ not to say ‘you’re a man if you have a Y chromosome.’ I was stunned when somebody wrote to me and said, ‘I read your quote in USA Today,’ and I thought ‘I didn’t talk to USA Today this week.’ It was a quote from the media advisory. And so a few million people got the story a little closer to right.”

Getting the story or the reform right is not a simple issue. Recently, the Australian government announced that passport applications would now include a third sex category: “X.” While the move might seem to be a step in the right direction, Dr. Dreger explains why “X” is not an option. “The truth is that there aren’t three sex categories in nature—male, female, and intersex. In nature, sex blends in complicated ways from one variation to another. The idea that there is a third category legitimizes the other two categories as if they are natural, when in fact the truth is that nature doesn’t draw these lines; we draw the lines on nature. I admire Australia for moving forward, but I think they’re still stumbling a bit on the details.” (Read Dr. Dreger’s blog post on the topic at Psychology Today.)

As much as Dr. Dreger is in the public eye, “there’s a lot of stuff that people never see that I do,” she says, such as consultancy work with doctors and scientists and helping individuals with birth anomalies that reach out to her. “Every day I get emails from people seeking help with some issue. Sometimes I can just send them to other websites and groups. But a few times a year I’ll run into somebody who really needs personal service, for whom it’s not enough to say ‘you need to join this support group’—someone who really needs to figure out what it says in their medical charts from the 1960s and 1970s. They have a Xerox copy of a Xerox copy and the handwriting’s unclear and the terms are unfamiliar. I’ll sit down with them and say, ‘Let’s figure this out.’ And I’ll call a bunch of docs and they’ll help me out.” She has written about helping individuals discover surgeries done at birth to address their intersex, and—in one particularly poignant essay—about helping a mother find information on the stillborn conjoined twins taken from her years before.

It’s this “history work” that Dr. Dreger would love to do full time. “If someone handed me a million dollars and said, ‘Do whatever you want with it,’ I would set up a group of pro bono, client-centered historians who would help people who’ve been through traumatic events by simply doing narratives. The psychological literature is very powerful on this: creating narratives around traumatic events helps people heal. There would be a historian stationed within the hospital, there purely for the purpose of taking a history—not a medical history but a history of the trauma. That person could give the patient a purely descriptive written document that says, ‘This is what you’ve been through,’ and provides historical context: ‘This is what was happening in the 1960s when you were being treated. This is what was happening in your nation at the time.’ And they would draw on all the historical wisdom and provide people context of their lives and give them that solace. That is really at this point in my life what I’d love to be doing. It’s so satisfying. The way people say ‘thank you’ when I write their four-page history is like no other ‘thank you’ in the world.”

Dr. Dreger is currently finishing her next book—”a memoir of other people’s lives” tentatively titled Galileo’s Middle Finger: Science and Identity Politics in the Internet Age. “It’s a first-person account of having worked inside, and having investigated the history, of scientific controversies. It’s an attempt to examine where we are now in the world in terms of how scientists and doctors interact with activists. Since I’ve been on both sides and have been sympathetic to both camps and helped both camps, I feel well-positioned to care about them both and to try to come up with solutions to the way that we deal with issues of human identity. A lot of the book is about trying to live the life of a historian but still remain very much engaged with our changing world.”

Learn more about Alice Dreger:

FOR RELEASE:   April 24, 2012

Susan Billmaier   |   Program Officer, Charlotte W. Newcombe Fellowship   |   (609) 452-7007 x310
Beverly Sanford   |    Vice President for Communications   |   (609) 452-7007 x181


Doctoral candidates working on religious and ethical values
are 32nd group named in prestigious fellowship program

PRINCETON, NJ—The moral distinctions that shape the Tea Party movement, modern understandings of Sufism and their relation to liberal Islam, 20th-century religious and humanitarian missions to Africa, everyday social speech and democratic politics: These are just a few of the topics addressed by the 2012 Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellows.

The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, which has administered the Newcombe Fellowship for more than three decades, has announced the selection of 21 Newcombe Fellows for the upcoming 2012-13 academic year. These Fellows are doctoral candidates writing dissertations on topics involving religious and ethical values. Each Newcombe Fellow receives a 12-month award of $25,000.

Of the 550 applicants for the 2012 Fellowship, 58 were named as finalists. The 21 Fellows ultimately selected include scholars in religion, philosophy, anthropology, sociology, history, literature, political science, art history, Asian studies, and Near Eastern studies. They come from 13 institutions nationwide. (See full list of the 2012 Fellows below.)

Funded by the Charlotte W. Newcombe Foundation, the Newcombe Fellowship was created in 1981. It remains the nation’s largest and most prestigious such award for Ph.D. candidates in the humanities and social sciences addressing questions of ethical and religious values.

“The Newcombe Foundation Trustees are deeply gratified that Newcombe Fellowships have had significant positive impact on so many scholars’ professional lives, and that these scholars have made many noteworthy contributions to the scholarship of ethics and religion,” said Thomas N. Wilfrid, Executive Director of the Charlotte W. Newcombe Foundation.

Over the past three decades, the Newcombe Fellowship has supported just over 1,100 doctoral candidates, most of them now noted faculty members at colleges and universities throughout the U.S. and abroad.

# # #

The Charlotte W. Newcombe Foundation continues Mrs. Newcombe’s lifelong interest in supporting students pursuing degrees in higher education. It has awarded scholarship and fellowship grants totaling over $50 million since 1981.

The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation identifies and develops the best minds for the nation’s most important challenges. In these areas of challenge, the Foundation awards fellowships to enrich human resources, works to improve public policy, and assists organizations and institutions in enhancing practice in the U.S. and abroad.


Mont Allen   •   Art History, University of California, Berkeley
The Death of Myth on Roman Sarcophagi

Chloe Bakalar   •   Political Science, University of Pennsylvania
Small Talk: The Socialities of Speech in Liberal Democratic Life

Geoff Bakken   •   Sociology, University of Wisconsin
“Let’s take our country back!” The Tea Party Movement in the American Political Field

Sarah Bakker   •   Anthropology, University of California, Santa Cruz
Fragments of a Liturgical World: Syriac Christianity and the Dutch Multiculturalism Debates

Prithviraj Datta   •   Political Science, Harvard University
Freedom of Association and the Promise of Progressive Political Theory

Daniela Dover   •   Philosophy, New York University
The Ethics of Persuasion and Argument

Joshua Gedacht   •   Modern World History, University of Wisconsin
Islamic-Imperial Encounters: Colonial Warfare, Coercive Cosmopolitanism, and Religious Reform in Southeast Asia—1801-1941

Robert Harkins   •   Modern World History, University of California, Berkeley
The Politics of Persecution: Religious Conformity and Republican Obedience in England, 1553-1603

Kelly Heuer   •   Philosophy, Georgetown University
How to Do Things with Reasons: Agency, Value, Choice

Maha Jafri   •   English Literature, Northwestern University
“The Town’s Talk”: Gossip, Sociability, and the Victorian Novel

Theresa Keeley   •   American History, Northwestern University
Reagan’s Gun-Toting Nuns: Catholicism and U.S.-Central American Relations

G.A. Lipton   •   Religion, University of North Carolina
Making Islam Fit: Ibn ‘Arabi and the Idea of Sufism in the Secular Age

Betty Nguyen   •   Asian Studies, University of Wisconsin
Buddhist Calamity Cosmologies: Being Virtuous in an Immoral World

Megan Cole Paustian   •   Literatures in English, Rutgers University
Narratives of African Improvement: Missions, Humanitarianism, and the Novel

Bruno Reinhardt   •   Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley
Tapping into the Anointing: Power, Pedagogy and Ecclesiology in Ghanaian Bible Schools

Maxim Romanov   •   Near Eastern Studies, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Public Preaching in Medieval Islam (900-1350 CE): Between “Clerical” and Popular Islams

Camisha Russell   •   Philosophy, Pennsylvania State University
The Assisted Reproduction of Race: Thinking through Race as a Reproductive Technology

Anelise H. Shrout   •   History, New York University
“Distressing News from Ireland”: The Famine, the News and International Philanthropy

Ronit Stahl   •   History, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
God, War, and Politics: The American Military Chaplaincy and the Making of Modern American Religion

Bharat Venkat   •   Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley
Moral Failures: Co-Infected Histories and the Diagnostics of Disease in South India

Rose Wellman   •   Anthropology, University of Virginia
Feeding Moral Relations: the Making of Kinship and Nation in Iran

* Dissertation titles are subject to change. The titles reflected here were correct at the time the awards were made.

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