Scripps College The Women's College, Claremont, California Fri, 11 Dec 2020 16:13:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 185850515 Scripps and Pomona Colleges Host Virtual Fall Dance Concert Fri, 11 Dec 2020 16:13:19 +0000 Read More Scripps and Pomona Colleges Host Virtual Fall Dance Concert]]>

In yet another change compelled by the COVID-19 pandemic, Scripps and Pomona Colleges presented their annual “In the Works” fall dance concert online from December 4–5, 2020. Named for its original works-in-progress of student choreography, the recital showcased a variety of contemporary dance styles performed in a series of unusual and exciting films produced by the students and shared via livestream.

This years’ choreographers included Christina Dong PO ’22, Eric Garcia PO ’21, Selina Ho SCR ’21, Adrienne Kafka CMC ’21, Sasha Marlan-Librett SCR ’22, Vianey Martinez PO ’21, and Cassie Wang PO ’21. To aid the dancers in focusing on the filmic nature of their projects alongside choreographic development, The Rick and Susan Sontag Center for Collaborative Creativity supported a four-part guest series with filmmaker and Pitzer alum Steven Liang on film production that covered conceptualization, storyboarding, lighting, camera operating, and editing.

“The students ran with this information and their own expertise to create magical new dance films,” says Scripps Assistant Professor of Dance Kevin Williamson. And, given the impact of the pandemic on both The Claremont Colleges as well as access to arts and culture in general, Williamson found this year’s performances to be especially profound.

“The choreographers and performers were able to forge a sense of community with their collaborators, both in the process and the culminating project. Through their ingenious use of musicality in their dance vocabulary and skillful editing, emotions were conjured in their dance works’ power that transcended a 2D screen,” he shared. “I feel deeply inspired to keep dancing through these difficult times after viewing the choreographers’ works.”

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Environmental Chemistry Students Collaborate Overseas Thu, 10 Dec 2020 18:22:16 +0000 Read More Environmental Chemistry Students Collaborate Overseas]]>

By Emily Glory Peters

Bangkok’s khlongs: The historic canal system connecting residents across the city is also a mode of transport that sustains a vibrant floating market culture. Over time, many khlongs have been filled in or become so polluted as to inhibit their use. But what if science could be used to revive some of those khlongs and their surroundings—and consequently improve the lives of neighbors along the waterways?

That was the challenge Professor of Chemistry and Environmental Science Katie Purvis-Roberts put to her students this fall. With funding from The Claremont College’s EnvironLab Asia initiative, a laboratory that links knowledge with practice, environmental chemistry students from Scripps, Pitzer, and Claremont McKenna teamed up with graduate-level design students at Bangkok’s King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi (KMUTT) to conceptualize methods of reviving the canal metropolis.

“This project explored some core elements of environmental science—atmosphere and water—and how they relate to people’s lives,” said Purvis-Roberts. “As scientists, my students had to use a liberal arts mindset combining chemistry, sociology, and psychology to explore how they could impact these canal communities for the better.”

Naturally, COVID-19 necessitated some changes. Prior to the onset of the pandemic, Purvis-Roberts had planned to secure funding to host an in-person workshop and potentially bring some students to Thailand during summer 2021. Those plans were put on hold—but the collaborative soul of the project persisted despite ensuing shutdowns.

“My colleague Kanjanee Budthimedhee, the Chair of the Graduate program in Design and Planning at KMUTT, received funding from the Bangkok government to support those who had lost jobs due to COVID-19,” explained Purvis-Roberts. “She was able to hire people to take air and water samples in their homes and yards; they even counted how many people, boats, and bicycles went by to gauge traffic. They then shared that data with my class for analysis.”

Relying on data collected by non-scientists was challenging, explained Scripps chemistry major Mairead Brownell ’22, but it compelled her and her colleagues to adjust their method of communicating scientific concepts in laymen’s terms. Students worked in small groups specific to certain regions of Bangkok, parsing the data to learn as much as they could about the atmosphere, water, and biodiversity of their khlong areas. And, rather than receiving a pre-conceived directive from Professor Purvis-Roberts, Brownell shared that students were encouraged to establish their own hypotheses.

“We were looking at how the khlong environment impacted people’s lives and vice versa. There was clearly so much potential for recreational and commercial use of the area that could help offer a greener public transit option and ease other environmental issues,” said Brownell. “We made some conclusions and summarized them in a way we thought would be useful to the KMUTT students, then regularly met virtually to discuss and help brainstorm ideas.”

Resulting design concepts included everything from waterway lights that would change color to reflect air and water quality to an interactive comic and app that local elementary children could use to explore the area and learn more about khlong culture, pollution, and preservation. Purvis-Roberts noted that additional real-time data and funding would be needed to create some of these projects—but she’s optimistic. “This collaboration between The Claremont Colleges and KMUTT is a perfect example of how students addressing real-life issues for communities can create something beautiful as well as functional,” she said.

Of course, the project is more than a transcontinental exercise in collaboration. Purvis-Roberts remains involved with the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), a global, intergovernmental agency, whose funding through the APEC Energy Working Group has helped her bring together international faculty and policymakers to make science-informed policy decisions. Purvis-Roberts hopes future environmental chemistry students can build on her fall class’s ideas and present their findings to decision-makers who can put them into action—a hope Brownell shares.

“Sometimes the biggest challenge is transferring knowledge in a way that makes sense to those in a position of influence. With this project, we saw that the marriage of chemistry with design can convey these concepts more effectively than reading a paper that’s loaded with scientific jargon,” she said. For her, the most powerful outcome of the collaboration was realizing how student research—even at the undergraduate level—can pave the way for real societal change.

“This isn’t just science for science’s sake,” she said. “We’re making an impact.”

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Core III Students Examine Photographic Truth Thu, 10 Dec 2020 00:03:43 +0000 Read More Core III Students Examine Photographic Truth]]>

Subjects/Objects: A Critical Look at Photographic Truth is now on display as a virtual exhibition at the Clark Humanities Museum. Sophomores Gillian Bell, Chloe Boxer, Molly Bradshaw, Madeleine Callan, Margo Collazo, Katie Eu, Anna Horne, Tsion Mamo, Vivian Monteiro, Emma Sar, and Aanya Subramaniam curated the exhibition as part of Fletcher Jones Chair in Art and Professor of Art Ken Gonzales-Day’s Core III class, “The Mechanical Eye, Photography, and Truth” which focused on historical and contemporary issues surrounding photographic narratives. The exhibition includes works by 20 photographers, including Ansel Adams, Eve Arnold, Jacques Lowe, and Dorothea Lange.

The exhibition examines the relationships—or lack thereof—between the photographers and their subjects, and the narratives their images tell as a result of the dynamics between the subject, the photographer, and the viewer. “Objectification in photography is portraying a subject without agency,” the exhibition’s introduction reads. “Photographs are as much a reflection of the photographer as the subject. In other words, the subject becomes the object and the photographer becomes the subject.”

To inform their curation, Gonzales-Day’s students read a series of essays on photographers and documentary photographic practices. “Many of the readings and class discussions allowed us to consider the ways that photographic images can record aspects of a very ‘real’ world, while also serving to reinforce dominant ideologies, myths, and stereotypes,” he said. For example, Dorothea Lange’s iconic image “Migrant Mother,” which is included in the exhibition, quickly came to represent the experiences of White America during the Great Depression. But it also erased the nation’s indigenous histories, as the photo’s subject, Florence Owens Thompson, is now largely recognized as being of mixed ancestry. The image has also drawn speculation about its truthfulness: Lange altered the original negative to eliminate a thumb in the photo’s lower right section, challenging the image’s claims to documentary veracity.

Margo Collazo ’23, whose final class project focused on the storytelling limits of a single image, said the course changed the way she looks at contemporary photographic media: “It’s really made me think beyond what’s presented right in front of me. For example, Instagram may show people happy and having a good time, but that’s one second of a day that we see. This class has really made me aware that there’s a truth behind photos that isn’t always apparent.”

Chloe Boxer ’23 has realized that photography is “both an art and a window into the lives and experiences of people” and that she plans to make her portraiture more collaborative, building on the meaningful conversations and relationships she has with her subjects. “Photography has great power, and it must be wielded properly, especially in the digital age,” she said.

The virtual exhibition is one of the many ways in which Gonzales-Day adapted his course to remote instruction. In past semesters, student exhibitions have been physically displayed at the Clark Humanities Museum, and Subjects/Objects will be mounted at the museum when the Scripps community returns to campus. In the meantime, students built a virtual space that replicates the real-world experience as closely as possible. “We tried to keep the virtual reality version as close to the ‘real’ space as we could,” Gonzales-Day said.

In light of the class’s conversations about photographic truth, the seen, and the unseen, Boxer admitted that it was “a bit strange” that the Scripps community is seeing a virtual replica of the Clark Humanities Museum rather than an in-person exhibition. But by manipulating images to create a display that doesn’t physically exist yet, Gonzales-Day’s students are, in some ways, reflecting their exhibition’s thesis: “In many photographs of people, the truth of the subjects mixes with the truth of the photographer behind the lens. Multiple truths can exist at the same time.”

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Creative Chemistry Fri, 20 Nov 2020 23:00:07 +0000 Read More Creative Chemistry]]>

For many faculty, this semester of remote instruction has brought a unique set of challenges and successes, such as building communities through online platforms, engaging students on and off Zoom, and discovering new methods for exploring familiar processes. As the fall semester began, W.M. Keck Science Department chemistry faculty wondered how to best teach laboratory safety in a virtual environment, where students would not have hands-on access to or experience with the department’s equipment or facilities. “Chemistry is a practice as well as a theory, and that practice involves safety,” said Associate Professor of Chemistry Babak Sanii. “If you don’t learn that safety, you become a dangerous chemist.”

The solution: a virtual escape room, hosted in Google Earth’s version of the W.M. Keck Science Building. In a process reminiscent of puzzle-based computer games such as Myst, students clicked on different offices to “visit” chemistry faculty members and learn a brief but important safety lesson from each one, noting the letter assigned to each tip. Students then navigated to the laboratory where the class would have been held on campus, clicking on examples of unsafe practices, such as a spilled beaker or an improperly stored vial. Using the lessons they’d learned, they typed in the proper safety procedures and corresponding letters. Once they’d walked through the entire lab and recognized all the unsafe practices, they unscrambled the letters they’d received to form the message that allowed them to “escape” from the building.

“The lab was fun because we got to virtually explore and see all the instruments we would have been working with if the semester hadn’t been remote,” said Jill Batiuk ’21, a biochemistry major who hopes to pursue a medical career with a focus on women’s health. Chemistry major Sam Shaffer ’21, who plans to work in a lab before entering a chemistry graduate program, added that the lab built community and provided a “heartwarming” way for juniors and seniors to revisit their former professors: “It was a fun way to get to know my groupmates and reinforce safety procedures.”

Adapting to a Remote Learning Environment

Not every assignment has involved that level of online detail. This semester has also included a series of “kitchen chemistry” experiments with common household goods, such as batteries, salt, cereal boxes, and food coloring, many of which were shipped to students as part of their remote instruction course kits. Thus equipped, students have engaged in myriad scientific processes, from molecular geometry with augmented reality and chromatography to water filtration and testing, which encouraged students to critically examine water quality in their home regions. Sanii’s advanced summer research students designed the at-home experiments, which are available online for high school teachers, prospective students, and aspiring chemists to download and follow.

“We wanted to connect students to wherever they were in the world,” said Professor of Chemistry and Environmental Science Katie Purvis-Roberts. And although students are eager to work with equipment on campus, the kitchen kits have been effective teaching tools. “The results of our final lab this semester are really close to the results we get in the on-campus lab, even though students are at home,” she said. “They’re doing good science, and it’s teaching them how to conduct experiments, do calculations, and think about their data.”

Opening Doors to Future Opportunities

Remote instruction technology has also given students the opportunity to prepare for future opportunities in the field. Chemistry lab instructor Sadie Otte’s students have primarily focused on computational chemistry, which involves drawing molecular structures on a computer using a specialized program called WebMO. Students are using the browser-based software to learn about a molecule’s properties, movements, energy, reactions, and arrangement in space. “This is one of the genuine, authentic ways that scientists do science,” Otte said. “Computational chemistry is the area where most internships and research opportunities are available right now.”

Sanii’s students have spent the semester remotely logging into an atomic force microscope, learning the techniques for running the instrument. Atomic force microscopes are mainstay instruments in physical chemistry and academia, Sanii explained, although he said that this is the “first time I’ve seen anyone run one remotely in a class.” The microscope’s biggest research application is imaging semiconductors and microchips, but scientists have also used the instrument to pull apart proteins and image molecules.

Natalie Tsai ’22, a science management major with a focus in biotechnology and chemistry, said that learning how to remotely operate the microscope was one of the course’s highlights. Thanks to this semester’s labs, Tsai added, she now feels well equipped to pursue internships and research positions within the chemistry sector: “Being able to tell future employers that you can successfully operate an atomic force microscope or accurately analyze a mass spectrum are industry skills that could open several career doors.”

To highlight the realities and opportunities of a science career, Sanii invited ten of his former students to take part in a Zoom roundtable with his current students. The alumni, who graduated from Scripps, Claremont McKenna College, and Pitzer College—the three Claremont Colleges that form the W.M. Keck Science Department—now work in academia or at national labs and companies, or they’re attending medical school. Sanii’s current students also participated in online tours of industry chemical labs around the nation, where they learned how science is becoming increasingly digitized. “A lot of science work is done on the computer, where you mail samples off to a facility and get the data back, or you analyze the data in an online database,” said Assistant Professor of Chemistry Ethan Van Arnam, who’s co-teaching an advanced chemistry lab course with Sanii. “We tried to design experiences that take advantage of that.”

One such lab involved perusing existing scientific knowledge to explore the creation of antibiotics and the process of medical drug discovery. Scientists from all over the world have created a massive public database comprised of known antibiotic structures. Using the information in the database, Sanii’s and Van Arnam’s students compared chemical data from known antibiotics to data that no one has chemically described yet—but which could represent potential new antibiotics. “Scientists are voluntarily putting their data in this database with the hope that others will discover something,” Van Arnam said.

Although Tsai is currently hoping to pursue a career in medicine, she said the class has inspired her to become more involved with chemistry-related research, specifically antibiotic discovery. “This course showed me the multitude of ways that chemists can make an impact in their communities,” she said.

Batiuk said that the database exploration showed her how “messy” science can be. While most experiments conducted in course labs involve students attempting to reproduce predetermined results, there are no such expected outcomes in scientific discovery. “I learned not to expect easy answers,” she said. “One dataset can’t give us all the information we need—sometimes there is no one correct answer.”

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Rooms Become Cameras—and Zoom Becomes a Subject Wed, 18 Nov 2020 17:40:14 +0000 Read More Rooms Become Cameras—and Zoom Becomes a Subject]]>

The photos look like a film strip: A silhouetted horse gallops across eleven frames before coming to a standstill in the twelfth. Numbers run across the top of each image, while vertical lines are visible in the background. Three of the frames show the horse’s hooves leaving the ground completely. The horse is 16 and 1/4 hands tall, Fletcher Jones Scholar in Computation and Visiting Assistant Professor of Media Studies Douglas Goodwin tells his students, the vertical lines are 27 inches apart, and each image was snapped with a shutter speed of 1/25 of a second. So, how fast was the horse running and how far apart were the cameras when these images were taken?

The students head into Zoom breakout rooms to discuss these questions. With the information that Goodwin’s provided—and some quick research to convert a “hand” into a more familiar unit of measurement—they determine that the horse was running at the approximate speed of a mile every minute-and-a-half, and that the cameras, like the vertical lines in the frame, were spaced at 27-inch intervals in order to capture the horse in different stages of motion.

Image from Zoe Schmitt ’23’s lab notebook on “The Horse in Motion”

The lab focusing on Eadweard Muybridge’s “The Horse in Motion” (1878) is just one of the methods that Goodwin has used to engage his computational photography class during remote instruction. Students have worked solo, collaboratively, and in one-on-one sessions with Goodwin to take photos, debate contentious ideas in the field, program unique images from scratch, and discuss the techniques used in the creation of “mystery photos,” or images made during the early days of photography. All these exercises align with Goodwin’s aims for the course: to help his students understand how images are generated from a computational and technical perspective.

“Right from the beginning of this virtual learning period, I thought about how I could work with students to create an academic experience that would be shared, but also personal,” he said.

In one such experience, students turned their rooms into pinhole cameras by covering windows with boxes and cutting a dime-sized hole for light to shine through. By adjusting the size of the pinhole, students learned how pinholes form images: A larger hole creates a brighter, lower-resolution image, while a smaller hole forms an image that’s crisper but dimmer. Ultimately, students used the pinhole technique to create upside-down, reversed images of the outside world, superimposed on the interior of their rooms like double exposures.

Photo courtesy of Roya Amini-Naieni

“I love photography, but I also love math and learning more about how things work,” said Zoe Schmitt ’23, who’s considering a major in mathematical economics and a minor in art. As a photographer for a music blog, she sees Goodwin’s class as applicable to her work: It’s taught her more about the ways in which cameras function, and the labs have allowed her to experiment with various techniques by building and using different photographic devices, such as the pinhole camera.

Roya Amini-Naieni, a Harvey Mudd College junior who’s majoring in mathematical and computational biology, described the pinhole experiment as “mind-blowing” and explained that Goodwin’s course has given her space to be creative and imaginative—including with projects she plans to pursue even after the semester ends. “I’m personally going to make pinhole camera curtains so that I can have a permanent pinhole camera effect in my room,” she said, adding that the process of creating these seemingly unreal photographs has been exciting. “It’s kind of like Disneyland!”

Goodwin also sent his students at-home photography kits, which included lenses, lasers, and cyanotype papers, which students used to create images of nature by placing objects on top of the papers and letting them develop. Since cyanotype paper is light-sensitive, covering parts of the paper allows the unexposed areas to remain bright while the exposed areas darken, ultimately creating an effect similar to that of a film negative. Mara Morioka ’22, a media studies major, said that this “supernatural” effect demonstrated the unreliability inherent in image creation: “We think of photography as a ‘truth-telling’ medium, but it can lie or be manipulated.”

The many steps in the cyanotype development process—from choosing the objects to arranging them on the paper to waiting for the image to manifest—allowed students to step away from and return to the Zoom classroom as needed, an important aspect of remote instruction. “I know students are spending a lot of time on Zoom,” Goodwin said, “so it helps to find activities that they can do in their rooms by themselves as much as possible.”

Photo courtesy of Zoe Schmitt

And although Zoom has presented its challenges, it’s ripe for meta-exploration in a class that examines the past, present, and future of photography. “I like to deal with the medium that we’re using, to think about its qualities and what it’s doing to our concept of images,” Goodwin said.

In fact, Zoom images fit rather neatly into the history of formal portraiture and photography. Zoom’s recommended lighting set-up replicates the lighting recommendations of historic photo studios, and virtual backgrounds have become today’s equivalent of nineteenth-century studio photography backdrops, which featured bucolic scenery. Even Muybridge’s iconic composite of the galloping horse, with its grid of images, is reminiscent of a Zoom screen.

“One of the things that’s really charming about Zoom is that we can look back and see how it fits into this history,” Goodwin said, noting that echoes of the program’s gallery format can be traced all the way back to Early Renaissance triptychs and altarpiece paintings. “In those paintings, there’s a tension between individual perspectives and the whole piece. Zoom has a similar quality, which creates its own tension.”

For Schmitt, it’s been interesting to think about Zoom not just as an educational tool, but as a tool that shares traits with other forms of art. “Just like with photography,” she said, “we have control over what we show others.” And for Amini-Naieni, the remote instruction experience has revealed a world in which mundane materials—from recycled boxes to dishwashing soap to lemon juice—can be used to create powerful images no matter where students are located: “Ultimately, allowing students to explore computational photography and art in their own environments lets them take that perspective anywhere.”

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Students Keep Claremont Seniors Connected Fri, 13 Nov 2020 17:41:04 +0000 Read More Students Keep Claremont Seniors Connected]]>

Although classes may be remote this semester, Scripps students have found ways to connect with members of the Claremont community—including those beyond The Claremont Colleges. In Molly Mason Jones Chair of Psychology and Professor of Psychology Stacey Wood’s geropsychology class, students partnered with the Claremont Senior Program to teach a series of workshops called “Staying Social with Social Media.” The four-session series focused on teaching participants basic and advanced Facebook and Instagram skills, such as creating a profile, adding friends, uploading photos, and adjusting an account’s privacy settings, so that Claremont seniors could safely connect with their loved ones during the pandemic.

Wood is an expert in geropsychology, which helps older populations maintain and improve their quality of life by applying psychological methods to understanding their challenges. Due to their increased risk factors for COVID-19 and the associated precautions they must take, many older adults have suffered from higher levels of anxiety, depression, and isolation since the start of the pandemic, as well as decreased access to caregivers. In some instances, a lack of familiarity with technology has limited their ability to access telemedicine services or connect with family and friends through virtual platforms.

“Even before the pandemic, I had wanted to teach a class on aging with a strong service learning component,” Wood said. Working with Christina Delgado, the site coordinator for the Claremont Senior Program, Wood identified isolation and boredom as mental health threats to local seniors, many of whom were now cut off from their usual communities and activities. She then asked her students to come up with a project that would help Claremont Senior Program participants combat these issues during the pandemic. “I would never have picked this project before, but so far it’s working really well,” Wood added. “The students have total ownership.”

Although the class first considered organizing a series of virtual museum visits or online games, “we decided on Facebook and Instagram [workshops] because we felt these two social media platforms would provide the most opportunity for human connection,” said Caroline Strang ’21, a psychology major. The Claremont Senior Program had already conducted an introduction to using Zoom, so Wood’s class divided into teams of three, each of which taught two virtual social media workshops and hosted two virtual office hours for follow-up questions. One group focused on Facebook, the other on Instagram.

“There was very clearly a need for older adults to learn about these social media platforms, and Dr. Wood’s class came in to fill that programming gap,” Delgado said. “The workshop series has also provided the benefit of allowing us to tap into the talent and expertise of our local college students, something which was a bit more difficult to coordinate prior to the pandemic, due to conflicting schedules.”

Wood’s students made sure that the hour-long sessions were lighthearted and fun. In the workshop that focused on Facebook basics, students shared fun facts about themselves, while the participating seniors shared their reasons for wanting to rejoin or refamiliarize themselves with Facebook: interacting with private groups that share similar interests, sharing photos, or keeping up with their grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The session finished with a game that asked seniors to guess the meanings of common online acronyms such as LOL (laughing out loud) and TL;DR (too long; didn’t read).

Since many of Wood’s students grew up using at least one social media platform, they had to strategize the best ways to communicate basic aspects of apps that, to them, are almost second nature. “Explaining things that we were very familiar with could be challenging,” said Strang, who helped lead the Facebook sessions. “We had to get into the mindset of someone who may have known very little about navigating Facebook and Instagram, or may have even felt intimidated by these platforms.”

For this reason, each session included a lesson on how to avoid internet scams. Incidents of elder fraud have increased dramatically since the beginning of the pandemic, according to Wood. “When you’re fearful or stressed, you’re more likely to make impulsive decisions. Scammers know this,” she told AARP. Because scammers often use information found online to build trust with their intended targets, Wood’s students urged workshop participants to maximize their account privacy settings. They also provided examples of tricks that scammers might use to coax Facebook users into sharing their confidential information, such as creating posts meant to look like games.

“It’s possible that someone who could detect a scam in person or over the phone wouldn’t be able to do so on a social media platform because the format is new to them,” Strang said. “Scams can have devasting consequences to people’s finances and confidence, so it’s important to learn about scams’ formats when consuming media in a new way.”

Post-class surveys revealed that the workshops were a massive success, with each session filled to capacity. Technology-related programs are generally popular with Claremont Senior Program participants, according to Delgado, and the uniqueness of the student-run workshops created additional excitement. For psychology major Lauren Braswell ’22, who helped lead the Instagram sessions, the workshops’ biggest accomplishment was the participants’ newfound sense of confidence in using their social media accounts. “At the beginning, it seemed as though most participants were wary and unsure of their ability to navigate a platform like Instagram,” she said. “However, by the end of our second session, participants were eager to try out new tools and share what they had accomplished with us.” She added that the relationships her classmates built with participating seniors were also a high point: “They seemed to really enjoy conversing over Zoom and meeting other members of the Claremont community, instructors included!”

Delgado confirmed that the instructors were the participants’ favorite aspect of the workshops: In the post-class surveys, many remarked on students’ organization, patience, help, and knowledge of the topics. “They appreciated that the students created a comfortable environment for the participants to ask any and all questions, and that each question was regarded with respect,” she said. “Most of all, they liked the individualized attention and assistance that they received. They really enjoyed the opportunity to interact with the younger generation.”

Braswell, who hopes to become a teacher, said that her experience leading the workshops was a rewarding one, and Strang felt that the sessions were a highlight of the semester. “I really enjoyed watching the seniors’ confidence increase as the session went on in the Facebook basics group,” Strang said. “They asked thoughtful questions, and they let us know that they had learned many new things that they were eager to try. I hope that, with their new knowledge, they’ll be able to stay even more connected to their friends and families.”

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New Instagram Account Showcases Student Research Tue, 27 Oct 2020 16:16:15 +0000 Read More New Instagram Account Showcases Student Research]]>

By: Katie Clelland ’21

This month, Scripps launched a new Instagram account, @scripps.fellowships, to highlight and share information about students’ fellowships, research, and scholarship opportunities. In a series called “Research Bytes,” the account uses Instagram’s IGTV video platform to feature brief vlogs about students’ summer research projects and to provide information about the fellowships that made these projects possible. The account will feature a short series of three-minute videos every Monday for the duration of the fall semester.

Environmental analysis major Olivia Klein ’22 was featured for her summer research examining the 2020 park census project. She explored accessibility and inclusion from an environmental justice perspective in public parks in Oakland, California. “Access to public green space is correlated to physical and emotional wellbeing, so who feels safe, comfortable, and physically able to use these spaces is important in the discussion of urban health equity,” Klein explained. “This issue is especially pertinent in a city like Oakland, which has experienced significant gentrification over the past 10 years.”

Associate Dean of Faculty and Professor of Biology Jennifer Armstrong said the account was created to meet the needs of the Scripps community in the current remote learning environment. “We wanted to accomplish two goals: feature student research, and improve communication with students,” she said. “We reached out to our summer research students to get their feedback, and they proposed creating short videos of their projects that could be viewed by the entire community at any time, which we thought was a perfect solution. Students felt that IGTV would allow us to showcase students’ research videos, and a new Instagram account would allow the Fellowships Office to communicate with the student body quickly.”

Armstrong hopes the account will allow students to find opportunities for future endeavors. “We hope that the IG account allows students to discover new funding opportunities, find the support to pursue those opportunities, celebrate their hard work, and build community,” she said. “The account also serves as a place where the broader Scripps community can celebrate our students’ research projects and successes. We hope that this account serves as a starting place for students to connect to, support, and learn from each other.”

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Visiting Lecturer Jessica Christian ’07 Connects Past and Present Thu, 22 Oct 2020 16:32:01 +0000 Read More Visiting Lecturer Jessica Christian ’07 Connects Past and Present]]>

For Visiting Lecturer of History Jessica Christian ’07, the past is always present. Although she’s teaching an introduction to US history course, the subjects she’s covering—which include disease, colonization, environmentalism, and politics—feel both modern and familiar in a year marked by a global pandemic, protests for racial justice, and an unprecedented presidential election season.

She began the semester with an article on the environmental aspects of colonization by Tongva and Acjachemen scholar Charles Sepulveda, prompting a discussion of The Claremont Colleges’ location and students’ knowledge of Native histories in their own regions. More recently, her class read about Asian American community responses to the 1918 flu pandemic, comparing them to the responses to COVID-19. Students who choose to compare pandemic histories for this semester’s research paper projects can contribute to the Ella Strong Denison Library’s new archive on the pandemic and protests, highlighting the fact that 2020 has been a year of history in the making.

“The great thing about teaching a general history class is that we get to touch on a lot of different subjects,” Christian said. “My own research deals with women, gender, and colonization in Southern California from 1769–1930, but all of these issues are ongoing.”

She believes that the skills learned from a history liberal arts degree can be useful in any career field, an idea she hopes to impart to her students. “Attention to critical thinking and primary source analysis can help you be successful in politics, reporting, teaching, law, or public relations, just to name a few,” she said. “It even prepares you for having arguments with your friends—you learn how to support your position with evidence and prove your point!”

Christian always wanted to be a history professor. At Scripps, she dual-majored in history and gender and women’s studies, worked at Denison’s circulation desk, and did an independent study exploring Scripps College history using the archives. These experiences provided her with a strong foundation for success in her PhD program in history at the University of California, Irvine. “In some ways, my journey is unusual in that I arrived at Scripps knowing what I wanted to major in and that I wanted to teach college students,” she said. “Because my classes were small, discussion-based, and included a lot of engagement with faculty, I was very well prepared for graduate school.”

After taking a gap year to serve as a docent at the Kumeyaay-Ipai Interpretive Center in San Diego County, learn Spanish, and complete an internship at the New York branch of the National Museum of the American Indian, Christian started her doctoral program at UCI. A few months after finishing her dissertation, she saw an opening for a position at Scripps, and the rest is—well, history.

Due to the pandemic, Christian’s return to Scripps has been virtual. And, despite the occasional technological challenges—like the memorable morning when she experienced a power outage right before her Zoom class started, construction roadblocks that prevented her from reaching a site with Wi-Fi access, and a hotspot failure—she’s created a strong classroom community. Students participated in the guest lecture she organized outside of class, and Christian plans to use funds from the Faculty-Student Dialogue Fund to host a virtual class party, an idea met with plenty of enthusiasm.

Although she’d like to eventually teach on campus, Christian believes that her familiarity with Claremont has helped her forge relationships with her students and colleagues in an online environment. “I think that if I’d come in without those connections, teaching remotely would have been a very different experience,” she said. “And I think it helps my students feel connected to me as well.”

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Career Conversations Offers Virtual Resources for Alums Tue, 13 Oct 2020 15:20:31 +0000 Read More Career Conversations Offers Virtual Resources for Alums]]>

This fall, the Office of Alumnae Engagement and Career Planning & Resources will partner for the return of Career Conversations, a webinar series designed to provide alums with professional career guidance. This session’s programming, which begins October 22 and runs through November 18, will offer alumnae tactical resources, skills, and strategies for navigating career transition in a new virtual normal, including a two-part session on interviewing. Session registration is now open.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Office of Alumnae Engagement had planned to create additional programming to provide career support to alums. Then, pandemic-fueled economic uncertainty accelerated the process. “These sessions would be applicable outside of the pandemic, but they’re even more applicable within it,” said Jess Butler ’09, director of alumnae engagement.

The first Career Conversations series, which launched in the spring, featured four sessions, all of which were led by counselors from Career Journeys, the partner company with whom Scripps works to provide the Bridge Program for alumnae. Half of the programming focused on emotional intelligence and the psychological effects of navigating career issues during the pandemic, while the other half focused on concrete, tactical career strategies, such as résumé review. It was a successful debut: All four sessions reached registration capacity, with many participants attending the entire series.

The fall series will be comprised of five sessions, all of which will focus on more practical career advice, such as maximizing one’s LinkedIn profile, online networking, and practicing for interviews. Three of the five sessions will be led by Scripps staff and alumnae, including Butler, venture capitalist Sarah Hodges ’03, and CP&R Associate Director Valinda Lee.

“Through feedback on the first series, we learned that participants were most responsive to the tactical sessions, so we really focused on interviews for this series,” Butler said. The last three sessions will focus on interview preparation, personal branding, and interview practice, so that participants will have the chance to incorporate their personal brand into their interview practice. There will be ten slots available for active interview participation with live feedback, with unlimited spots available for anyone who wants to observe the process, although facilitators are requiring participants to enroll in the interview preparation session as a prerequisite for the interview practice session.

“We hope the flow of the series will be helpful in this climate, where people are navigating change, job transition, and even loss of employment,” said CP&R Director Rachael Acello. “Scripps alumnae have fantastic experience, but interviewing is a skill and it takes practice to tell those stories well. The interactive format of the interviewing workshop will enable many people to glean from the practice of our volunteers.”

All five sessions will be recorded and posted in Olive Grove, the College’s new networking platform for Scripps students, alumnae, and families. The goals for Olive Grove and Career Conversations overlap, Butler noted: to reach a broader Scripps audience and to add value to students’ and alumnae’s experience with the College. To this end, Olive Grove includes an alumnae referral platform for alum-to-alum recruiting, with a forthcoming feature where parents and alumnae can post paid, short-term, project-based work opportunities for current students.

“It was very important to us that Olive Grove should be about making connections beyond alumnae networking,” Butler said. “It has a lot of potential to build the Scripps community online, especially when we can’t build community on campus.”

The Office of Alumnae Engagement plans to continue the Career Conversations program in a webinar format, even after the Scripps community returns to campus. Butler envisions packaging sessions together in fall and spring series, adding more alumnae facilitators as the program becomes established.

“Despite how small the Scripps community is, it’s really powerful,” Butler said. “The strength of our community connections is incredible, especially the way that community members will go out of their way to support each other, and it’s been great to see that developing online as we reach people we wouldn’t otherwise be able to reach with on-campus events.”

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Laspa Center to Host Workshop on Remote Team Building Thu, 24 Sep 2020 16:09:47 +0000 Read More Laspa Center to Host Workshop on Remote Team Building]]>

On October 1, the Laspa Center for Leadership will host a new, interactive Zoom workshop on creative approaches to building student teams while leading remotely. The workshop will be led by Hilary Grosskopf, who has conducted previous leadership development trainings for Laspa, and will focus on team building strategies that explore methods beyond coming together via computer screens.

“We’ve had to reimagine the whole idea of ‘teams’ and how to build them, now that there’s this impersonal digital divide between leaders and the people they’re leading,” said Gretchen Maldonado, the assistant director of the Laspa Center. “Hilary was the first person we thought of for this session, because her approach comes from a perspective of mindfulness and a culture of positivity. She’ll help our student leaders deconstruct what they’ve been doing and ask whether those methods are still the best ways to get information across to their team members.”

“I really appreciate Hilary’s ability to engage different learning styles,” added Stephanie Johnson, the Laspa Center’s administrative assistant, who’s worked with Grosskopf during her previous trainings. “Her exercises are creative, unique, and interactive, and she conveys information in an accessible way.”

The workshop is an extension of this year’s virtual Student Leadership Institute (SLI), which was held prior to the start of the fall semester and featured sessions on resilient leadership, conflict management, and self care. Traditionally, SLI has been a three-day program on campus, with returning student leaders participating in full-day sessions to prepare for leading their clubs, organizations, or other campus groups during the school year. While the COVID-19 pandemic has prohibited on-campus gathering this fall, Laspa staff is using online tools and programs to expand SLI offerings, including an earlier session on virtual event accessibility. “We weren’t able to fit all of our programming into the allotted time this year, so the extension was the logical next step,” said Maldonado. “We’re taking the learning from SLI and continuing it into the fall, because we want to provide students with additional perspectives on ways to do this remote work that we’re all being asked to do.”

The interactive Zoom workshop will take place at 5:00 p.m. PST and is open to any Scripps students who are interested in leadership. “All Scripps students are potential leaders,” Maldonado said. “Our job is to help our students refine and channel different ways to use their leadership energies and talents.”

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