Academics

College of Arts and Science Highlights

Tiffany Chenault

Sociology Professor Tiffany Chenault

My sabbatical started off with participating in the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington in Washington DC. To witness and interview people who marched 50 years and came back to celebrate the anniversary was a once in a lifetime experience. Racism and inequality have not gone away. They are reorganized and rendered at times justified and invisible. 50 years after Civil Rights Legislation (1962-1965) how far have we progressed in race relations in regards to voting, employment, housing, and education. This was question and focus of my sabbatical. I was able to publish research examining voting inequalities in the 2012 presidential in Salem, MA. Along with my other collaborators, students, and community members we were able to document the racial discrepancies at the voting polls. We also we able to enact change and have the polling location moved back to the community of minority residents.

In addition being on sabbatical gave me time to work on the intersections of race and gender in academia and the workforce. For women of color who rise up to a certain level in their professions how do they navigate spaces of power and privilege? What are the ways that oppression and racism operate when these women are in “power positions?”

headshot of Rebecca Hains

Communications Professor Rebecca Hains Addresses "The Princess Problem"

Communications professor Rebecca Hains is a media studies scholar whose work focuses on girls' media culture. Her newest book, The Princess Problem: Guiding Our Girls Through the Princess-Obsessed Years (Source Books), is a media literacy primer for parents of girls. It guides parents through the process of coaching their daughters to become critical viewers of media--to raise girls who are empowered to resist the media's problematic messages regarding gender roles, race stereotypes, consumerism, and the beauty ideal.

Hains began conducting research for The Princess Problem in 2011 while her previous book, Growing Up With Girl Power--an expansion of her dissertation research--was in press. Hains researched princess culture by going "undercover" as a birthday party princess and by conducting qualitative research with parents of preschool-aged girls. In the process, she realized that parents were clamoring for solutions to the problems with princess culture that had become part of our national discourse, thanks to Peggy Orenstein's 2011 bestseller Cinderella Ate My Daughter.

After Hains received a contract for The Princess Problem from Source Books, Hains spent her Fall 2013 sabbatical completing the manuscript. She also continued building her platform as a nonfiction author by blogging at rebeccahains.com and for the Christian Science Monitor.

Since The Princess Problem's release in September 2014, reviews have been strong: Peggy Orenstein called it "an indispensable tool kit, full of concrete, practical advice"; Publisher's Weekly praised the book for its " practical parenting tips"; and the LA Times called it "a beacon of light for parents trying to navigate through the fog of their daughter’s princess obsessions." Most recently, Hains' double-segment with the Meredith Vieira Show about her book aired on November 25.

Professor Todd Wimpfheimer in front of a chaulkboard

Chemistry and Physics Professor Todd Wimpfheimer

My sabbatical involved researching, developing, and assessing two hybrid chemistry courses for non-science majors. After studying best practices in use across the country and participating in online webinars, I felt that although chemistry is an experiential science, much of the basic lecture content could be delivered via electronic media to an appropriate audience. The hybrid nature of the course would allow for online content delivery, homework, and tutorials while maintaining face to face meetings to work on higher order learning objectives as well as for the laboratory experiments. My project involved recording online lectures using the Tegrity lecture capture software package. I now also record my face to face lectures and make them available through Tegrity. I also used the suite of Learnsmart online adaptive learning modules.

Students completed online surveys using the SALG (Student Assessment of their Learning Gains) website at www.salgsite.org. The assessment results show that students like the flexibility the hybrid schedule affords them. They can work on the Learnsmart modules at their own pace and can review them again if desired. The students also appreciate that the Tegrity lectures allow them to review the lecture more than once.