Why I Teach: Jeffry Casey, Theater Professor

Photo: Jeffry Casey and theater Norwich student actors pose on the construction site of the future Pegasus Player theater.
Norwich University Office of Communications

December 4, 2017

Assistant Professor of Theater Jeffry Casey (third from left) is a playwright and director who joined the Norwich faculty in July. Teaching classes on theater, literature, writing and public speaking, he describes himself as the “Swiss army knife” of the English department. Casey directed student actors in the November 2017 Pegasus Players production of two Harold Pinter plays, “Party Time” and “The New World.” We recently asked Casey—seen here on the site of the new $24M Mack Hall construction project with students Sachi de la Cruz ’21, Nick Veldy ’21, and Nathan Ures ’21—what inspired his career.

Why I Teach:

“When I was in Kindergarten, I kept talking in class. One of the teachers tried to humiliate me by making me teach the class. It was this massively malicious sort of way of humiliating me to get me to stop talking. I think at that point, I spent the rest of my time in school, all two decades or however long it was, thinking about, Could I do this? … Could I do this better? was always my question.

I grew up in rural West Texas, where I endured lots of bad teaching. Whenever I would get angry at that, I always thought, How could this be better? How could this be improved? Long before I ever got a chance to teach, I was thinking about pedagogy. I mean we stick people in these classes for whatever it is, eight hours a day for twelve years, and we have been doing it the same way for how long? I always wanted to imagine just any sort of different way of doing it that would make it more exciting, because I was generally so bored.

By the time I got to college, I just loved the discussions. We were talking about all this stuff. You can see all my books. I’ve got philosophy, literature, theater, poetry, sociology. I just loved sitting down and talking about all of this stuff. It is something I actually can’t live without is that talking.

Hearing what students have to say is an important component of that. Every night during play rehearsals, a student would bring up something that I didn’t realize about the text. I think the nature of being good a teacher is just being a student with the students and discovering the text anew every time. Part of why I don’t really lecture is because I want [my students] to say things to me. Because I’m sick of my own voice. I’m sick of my own thoughts. I’m with them all the time.”

Photograph by Sean Markey

Prof. Travis Morris’s 2017 Norwich University Convocation Address

Photo: Prof. Travis Morris addresses NU's Class of 2021 at Convocation.
Norwich University Office of Communications

August 30, 2017

Associate Professor of Criminal Justice Travis Morris is a terrorism and policing scholar, who directs the Peace & War Center at Norwich University. He is the author of the recent book Dark Ideas, an exploration of how violent jihadists and neo-Nazis ideologues have shaped modern terrorism. On Tuesday, Morris addressed the Norwich community at Convocation. A copy of his prepared remarks follows.

President Schneider, Provost Afentio, deans, faculty, staff, guests, and most importantly the class of 2021: It is indeed an honor for me to be here today.

Incoming students, let me again welcome you to Norwich University. It’s a well-known fact that the audiences rarely remember what a speaker says. So with that in mind, I’ll be direct.

Each one of you is taking a risk by sitting there. Let me explain.

You face numerous challenges over the course of four years. And as you know, every challenge has two sides, success or failure.

As you think about your upcoming four years at Norwich, expect to be tested, intellectually, ethically, and some of you, physically. Expect to ask numerous questions. Expect to learn who you really are and make lifelong friends. Expect to emerge from Norwich more informed, service oriented, and a better person. I know that you have already thought about this and this is why you chose to come to Norwich. Norwich has been in the business of producing some of finest leaders, who have impacted countless lives around the globe and by sitting in those chairs, you aspire to join their ranks. You, however, are at the beginning of this journey, but you are not on this journey and risk taking alone.

The administration, faculty, and staff want you to succeed. We want you to excel and make us proud. But at the same time, we want you to be challenged, so that you leave here with the ability to make the world a better place. We know that some of you sitting here will reach the top positions in the military, government, corporations, academia, the arts, technology, engineering, medicine, law enforcement, and non-profits. We also know that some of you will face tremendous academic, personal, relational, and professional challenges during your four years. However, thousands have gone before you. But as General Sullivan states, “Hope is not a method.” You won’t make it back to these seats for graduation four years from now based on hope.

Taking risks is really a Norwich tradition. “I Will Try,” our motto, is really about taking a risk. That’s it. Norwich’s motto means that you take risks. You either make the shot or not. You either graduate or don’t. You pass the test or not. You either save the life or don’t. I also believe that “I will try” was never meant to be said in a comfortable chair or in a lackadaisical tone. Often the Norwich motto is uttered in stressful, uncertain situations with high stakes.

The first Norwich risk taker was our founder, Capt. Alden Partridge. You’ll pass his statue who knows how many times during your four years at Norwich. His ability to face challenges and take risks have impacted thousands. And you and everyone else sitting here today is part of his legacy. However, his actions took place a long time ago and have normalized over time. The courage required or the consequences of failure is often forgotten or taken for granted. It’s hard to picture Capt. Partridge sitting at his desk in 1866 after … the impact of the Civil War. He began the fall semester with only 19 students. Imagine the risks involved! Or Dr. Homer L. Dodge, former Norwich professor and president, was also a risk taker. Like Capt. Partridge, he challenged teaching conventions of the day.  He also visited a young man in Omaha, Nebraska, named Warren Buffet, before Buffet became one of the richest men in the world. Dr. Homer L. Dodge liked what he heard and invested thousands of dollars based on this young man’s advice, and guess what? That risk paid off. His thousands became millions. Taking risks can end in success sometimes.

If you allow me to offer you some points from my perspective that may be of benefit to you as you take risks and face the upcoming challenges during your time at Norwich. In some small way, I hope to share some lessons learned. These points are meant to assist you and come from serving as a Ranger-qualified infantry officer with the 10th Mountain Division, my years as a police officer, and as a criminologist at Norwich.

You cannot do it alone. You cannot do it alone. The United States Army Ranger School is one of the toughest training courses the Army has to offer. To me, a 22-year-old at the time, Army Ranger School was a lifetime of challenges, with the very real risk of failure crammed into a few months. Ranger students train to exhaustion, pushing the limits of their minds and bodies. Ranger School students learn whether they can lead or follow when tired, hungry, physically on the edge of exhaustion, and pushed to their often previously untested limits. Ranger School was more like getting into a car wreck. It was a collision, not a jostle. I learned that it is possible to actually sleep and walk at the same time.  At one point in the school I thought the sunset was a mountain rock ledge that I continually tried to step under but later realized that it really was a hallucination caused by carrying over a hundred pounds of gear, starvation, sleep deprivation, pushed physical limits, and the stress of being evaluated. To be sure, any soldier who attends Ranger School will be a better leader for it.

You see, no matter how prepared you are mentally or physically, you will break down at some point. You’ll have moments where you think you just can’t go any farther, and you need someone to tell you that there is only one mile left, someone to take 25 pounds of equipment off your back so you can make it up the mountain or through the swamp. You have a Ranger buddy, someone who you are paired with throughout the entire school if you both make it through. Your Ranger buddy not only helps, but becomes someone you don’t want to let down. You actually can do more than you imagine because someone is there to push and support you. Being a lone ranger is not the goal, and my Ranger buddy is a lifelong friend. There is a reason that some of you call each other Rook buddies—you need them.

You may not know this now but you soon will: You are surrounded by some of the finest faculty and staff in the United States. I’m honored to know them and call them colleagues. They are here to push you, challenge you. But also assist you to carry your academic load when you feel like you can’t go any further. Notice I said, “assist.” You still have to shoulder the weight. But they will both encourage you and hold you to a standard. They will see potential in you that some of you don’t currently. Some of them will spark an idea, offer a word of encouragement, challenge you in such a way that it will alter your life path. Some of you will stay in contact with them for the rest of your lives (or theirs), because they played a pivotal role in impacting you during your time here. So remember: You cannot do it alone. Depend on others. Find a mentor.

Own your mistakes. Some of you have been pulled over by a police officer. In another life, before academia, I used to be that guy who met you by the side of your vehicle. I have heard every excuse imaginable and those even unimaginable. These include, after finding drugs in a suspect’s pants pocket, being told with a straight face that these were not his pants. He just put them on at a party he just left. I never asked why he wasn’t wearing pants at the party in the first place. What I learned from those thousands of interactions with the public was that some people were honest, despite what they had done, and told the truth. They owned that they had broken the law. They had moral courage and recognized they had made a mistake when they, in fact, had.

You will make mistakes at Norwich. Some of you more than others. However, be honest and tell your professors, cadre, RA, parents, friends that you made a mistake. Corruption begins at the smallest levels at first, and then it will grow. Own your mistakes. Learn from them. Deal with the consequences and move on. Show yourself to be someone that others can trust.

Small tasks turn into large ones. Some of you in the distant future will write a dissertation for a PhD. While some of you this year will feel like you are working on a dissertation, you can be certain that the faculty will tell you that you are not. I look to my colleagues, who know how arduous, psychologically challenging, and difficult the dissertation process can be. Fifty percent of PhD students don’t finish and most of it has to do with not being able to finish the dissertation. During the dissertation process, you have a committee that reviews your work. When I was almost at the end of my dissertation, a committee member told me that I had to make certain changes. However, these changes would take over a year to complete. A year or more. The next day, as I sat looking at an empty computer screen trying to move the project forward and wondering how I was going to support my family, progress started with one small task. Putting words on a page. Words were soon typed on the screen, which then become sentences, which became pages, which become chapters and moved the project ahead one day at a time or really one word at a time.  The dissertation was successfully defended and that chapter closed.

Translation to you… . Don’t get overwhelmed by the challenge of your papers, projects, or labs. Pick one thing you can do, be consistent, and do it. These small things will eventually lead to completing a larger, much more complex project.

Put yourself in unfamiliar territory. In 2017, news about the nation of Yemen, which is located at the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula, involves war, al Qaeda, ISIS fighters, or the biggest cholera outbreak in decades. However, I was able to do some research there several years ago. Yes, those news headlines are unfortunately true. But they’re not the only Yemen. Just like there is never one side to a cube. One cannot simply paint a nation, region, or a people group with broad brush strokes. To me, Yemen reminds me of some of the most hospitable people I’ve ever met, amazing mountaineers, unsurpassed scenery, kindness, and a remarkable history. Being in unfamiliar territory can often challenge your own biases or assumptions. You leave seeing yourself and that territory with enlightenment.

You are in unfamiliar territory right now. NU is unfamiliar to you, the Corps is unfamiliar, university academics is unfamiliar, and Vermont may be unfamiliar. But, believe it or not, this will soon become your new normal. You and your environment will equalize. Don’t become stagnate when it does.

There are [many] nations represented at Norwich. Make it a goal of yours to welcome them, learn from them, and ask them questions. Going overseas does not have to involve physical travel. It can begin with the international student in your residence hall, classroom, or platoon. Study overseas if you can. And if you can’t, spend a semester overseas, participate with NU Visions Abroad or another overseas NU experience. Continue to find unfamiliar territory for you to explore.

Believe that you are talented. Every one of us is talented. Some talents are more visible and valued than others, but we all have them. I can remember a student in class a couple years ago who may represent, in some way, the way some of you may think right now. When I asked a question during class, he would almost always raise his hand and give a well-thought, articulate answer. One day after class, we had a conversation, and I was shocked to hear him describe himself as being “not that smart.” I disagreed and questioned why he thought this way and was told that he was not a good test-taker. He was told by a teacher in high school that he was not intelligent and should focus on athletics. Maybe he needed to learn how to take tests more effectively. Maybe others only saw his kinesthetic intelligence. Maybe he did not know the most effective way to process information. But somehow along the way, they missed that he was intelligent. Although this may not be the case for you, it’s important for you to find your true talents and be proud of them.

It is critically important for you to know that you are talented and to be confident in whatever it is you can do well, even to the point when others tell you the opposite. For some of you, you’ll discover your talents here at Norwich. You’ll find that you can write, translate, solve, interpret, mediate, create, make, and the list goes on. Believe in your talents.

Make the most of every situation. Like it or not you now live in Vermont. Make the most of your time here, enjoy it. This will become easier after your rook year. There are always positive rays of light no matter where you are. I agree, sometimes, depending on the circumstances, the rays can be very dim, but they are there. The challenge is to find them, but you can. But for you, you’re in one of the most beautiful parts of the country. Don’t become numb to the beauty around you, no matter what the season, and chose to make the most of this special place you now reside. Making the most of every situation is more about a philosophy than Vermont. Some of you, though you don’t know it now, will find yourself in very tough and unwelcoming places. Make the most of it, and try to see the best in others.

Class of 2021, you are beginning a journey that involves risk, but it will change you. Four years from now you will not be the same person. One of the rewards staff and faculty share is to see how you change from first year students to seniors. You will face challenges. You will fail and you will succeed. But in the end, when you are sitting here once again for graduation, you will be prepared to lead others through some of the most difficult circumstances this world can throw at you. Becoming that type of person does not happen by hoping it does or without thoughtful planning. For almost 200 years, Norwich University faculty and staff have helped students like you give the world hope and set an example of what it means to be a leader, work hard, make the right choice, and get the most out of life. When you walk past Capt. Alden Partridge’s statue remember that he was a risk taker. He worked with others. He was honest, talented. He made mistakes and made the best of situations. Your Norwich journey started a few days ago when you arrived on campus. Remember that you are not alone in this process. Use all of Norwich’s resources to prepare you to lead, serve, and impact the world. Four years will go by fast. So make the most of your time at Norwich. Make us proud now and in the future. We’ll see you in the classroom tomorrow.

Norwich Forever!

3 Questions for Norwich Criminal Justice Scholar Stephanie Maass

Photo: Studio portrait of Stephanie Maass
Norwich University Office of Communications

May 18, 2017

Corrections scholar Stephanie Maass, PhD, teaches in the School of Justice Studies and Sociology at Norwich, where she says she strives to “foster discussions, the sharing of ideas” in the classroom and broaden students’ conceptual frameworks. Her courses range from intro surveys and senior seminars to examinations of juvenile justice and corrections. During her master’s and doctoral studies at George Mason University, Maass honed a research focus on community corrections, substance use and co-occurring disorders, and organizational change. The scholar has trained corrections officers across the country on the use of evidence-based supervision practices. We recently asked Maass about her teaching and scholarship.

1. Why do you teach?

I teach to help students become critical and responsible consumers of information. I strive to challenge their preconceived notions with information they may not be aware of and guide them while they think through the realistic challenges facing our world today.

2. What drives your passion for the field?

The criminal justice system is often bleakly portrayed as a broken system plagued with corruption and high recidivism rates. I look at the system and I see potential, particularly in the corrections field. Community correction, in particular, offers a significant amount of time to work with justice-involved individuals to rehabilitate them, reintegrate them into society, and increase public safety. We only need to pay attention to what approaches work best and how to successfully implement those strategies.

3. What questions do you explore through your scholarship?

Currently in the field of corrections the adoption rate of best practices is about 33%. We know quite a bit about what works to reduce recidivism but quite a bit less about how to implement those effective strategies on a large scale. My research seeks to understand the adoption—or lack of adoption—of best supervision practices among individuals in organizations. What makes one individual or agency more likely to use best practices than another? And which practices are they likely to use over others?

What I Do: Norwich History Professor Rowland Brucken

The ultra-runner and human rights scholar discusses his work in Zimbabwe, the country’s repressive political climate, and baseball.

Norwich University Office of Communications

 
May 5, 2017

Norwich history professor and ultra-marathoner Rowland Brucken rarely takes the easy or conventional path. Take the Ohio native’s lifelong devotion to the Cleveland Indians. Or the fact that he didn’t start a band during high school–he founded a chapter of Amnesty International. Today, Brucken serves as the human rights organization’s Zimbabwe country expert and testifies on behalf of Zimbabweans seeking U.S. asylum. At Norwich, he teaches courses on human rights and international law, civil rights, and the prosecution of human rights abuses, as well as surveys of U.S. foreign policy, U.S. history, and the history of baseball. In the classroom, Brucken strives to inspire his students to inform themselves, engage with peers, and reach their own conclusions. “If students have the ability and will to do that, then I’m the happiest professor ever.”

What questions do you explore in your scholarship?

The main question around a lot of my research now is, how can societies heal from mass trauma? Whether it’s torture, genocide, systemic human rights abuses—what are the alternatives? What are the options that victims and survivors have? A second larger question with the human rights work that I do is, how has international human rights law evolved, especially since World War II? In what areas, regions, and times has it been effective in deterring human rights abuses or holding people accountable? In what areas has it been ineffective?

You returned to Zimbabwe earlier this year. What were you doing there?

I gave a paper on truth commissions to a government-sponsored research conference, which was a bit awkward. I also met with civil society groups, human rights organizations, to talk about how Amnesty can best help them given that the next year is probably going to be particularly difficult in Zimbabwe. Lastly—and something unexpected—as part of a transitional justice working group, I gave some feedback to the parliament of Zimbabwe on a truth commission bill that they are now debating. What kind of truth commission to set up in response to past human rights abuses.

You said next year will be difficult there. Why?

There are national elections scheduled for 2018. Whenever there have been elections, the government has increased surveillance and repression of perceived political challengers, as well as human right activists who document human rights abuses. Also, the ruling party might implode; the opposition party is relatively fragmented; and the economy has bottomed out. All of those make for a very uncertain campaign. The government with a monopoly on violence can act unpredictably and arbitrarily in employing torture and detention, among other weapons.

How did your interest in Zimbabwe come about?

It started when I studied abroad when I was in college, during my junior year back in 1990. I wanted to go a country that no one in my college had ever been to. I was at a place called Ranche House College in Harare, the capital. But I also ended up hitchhiking all over the country on my own.

What distinguished that experience for you?

Zimbabweans are culturally an incredibly generous and kind people. For example, when you ask somebody here in the United States, “How are you?” They say, “I’m fine.” In Zimbabwe, it translates into, “I am fine—if you are fine.” There’s a communitarian emphasis. I met many Zimbabweans all over the country. People would be cooking by the side of the road. I would just stop off and have dinner with them. They took me in as a college student, a 20-year-old guy who didn’t really know what he was doing with his life. They took me in, and they gave me their food, their wisdom, their hospitality. I’ve never forgotten that. It’s a debt that I can never repay as a human being.

Did you run on your most recent trip?

I did. I did. I forgot that Harare was a mile above sea level. I ran the same distance, but was often out of breath and had to run slow. I’m not one to back down. I just adjust my pace.

Are you still training for ultra-marathons?

I am. I’ve got one more 100-miler left in me. I’m doing two marathons this [year]. I’m looking at doing another 50-miler in the fall. It’s foolishness is what it is.

You study the history of baseball. Did you play as a youngster? Were you a fan?

I played horribly in little league for two years. I grew up in Cleveland, and so I’m a lifelong Cleveland Indians fan. When I was in elementary and junior high school, the Indians would finish last or next to last every year. Rooting for a losing baseball team, it taught me a lot about life. About being grateful for small victories and about loyalty and that every opening day is a new year. So hope emerges every year right in springtime with flowers and trees. Baseball has such rich history. I couldn’t imagine teaching a course on football history that brings in so many cultural, economic, foreign policy, political, race, class, and gender aspects as baseball does.

Interview edited and condensed for length and clarity.

9 Objects: The Office of Amy Woodbury Tease

Photo of Amy Woodbury Tease setting at her office desk in the NU English Dept.
Norwich University Office of Communications

February 3, 2016

A specialist in modern British literature with a PhD from Tufts, Assistant Professor of English Amy Woodbury Tease has a soft spot for junk television and a fascination with surveillance culture. This year her courses include two new classes, “Art in the Age of Surveillance” and “Paranoid States,” which examine contemporary surveillance society, conspiracy, terrorism, and anarchy through the lens of art. Required reading/watching ranges from Joseph Conrad’s novel The Secret Agent to the Brazilian TV series 3%. Woodbury Tease also directs the Undergraduate Research Program at Norwich and is currently writing a book about surveillance society and culture. She shares the backstory of nine items found in her Webb Hall office:

Virginia Woolf pillow1. Assorted Virginia Woolf-abalia. Woodbury Tease wrote her undergraduate senior thesis on the 20th-century English author, sparking years of Woolf-themed gifts from friends and family. Today, her collection includes a finger puppet/magnet, a poster, assorted dolls, and a “creepy” pillow.

2. Nerd-Affirming Thermos. Swag from the 2014 Norwich University Undergraduate Research Symposium. Tease launched the symposium, known today as “From Students to Scholars,” to inspire early-career students to undertake ambitious, independent research with faculty mentors. “Undergraduate research is important to every student. But specifically students at Norwich, I think, because they are such active learners.”

Photo of Muriel Spark novel and framed picture of Amy Woodbury Tease and student Hannah Bell with Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy3. Muriel Spark’s The Girls of Slender Means. A gift from recent graduate and standout research mentee Hannah Bell ’16, who was the first Norwich student to present findings at the annual Posters on the Hill conference in Washington, D.C. “[Hannah] put it in the mail with a little note that said, ‘I was at a used bookstore unwinding, and I saw this book. It was the first book that I read in your class, and I couldn’t resist sending it.’”

Photo of Mark Rothko print with two children's drawings below4. Mark Rothko Print. A holdover from Woodbury Tease’s days as a graduate student. “It just brings light into the room. Underneath it, I have paintings that my son, who is now 3, did that I thought were Rothkoesque.”

Photo of tiny French mailbox5. Tiny Post Box Replica. Purchased at a vintage store, it’s a nod to French philosopher Jacques Derrida, author of The Postcard, among other works. “He does a lot with language and the ways in which language kind of circles around itself and there is no kind of outside to language. Some people find his work maddening, other people [like me] find it incredibly engrossing.”

Photo of cards and postcards tucked into fabric and ribbon holder6. Note cards. “I love sending cards to friends.” During finals, Woodbury Tease will steal a moment or two to write friends, family, and “sometimes colleagues who I think need a dose of humor.”

7. Squashy Armchair. In the morning, Woodbury Tease likes to relax with a cup of coffee and re-read text that she’ll discuss with students later that day. “That chair is really old, from an apartment I had in Queens before I got my PhD. It’s colorful, so it brings a little bit of brightness into the office.”

Photo of two children's books, "She Loved Baseball" and "Alice in Wonderland"8. Children’s books. Before starting her PhD program, Woodbury Tease spent three years working in New York as an editorial assistant in the children’s book division of Harper Collins. “I was actually really lucky, because my editor traveled a lot. So she gave me more responsibility.” A highlight was working with artists and seeing their original work.

9. Vintage Telephone, Circa 1930. The working phone was a gift from a grad school friend on the eve of Woodbury Tease’s English PhD defense. Her dissertation explored technology, technical snafus, Modernism, and machines. “I had several chapters that dealt with the telephone and phone calls,” she laughs. “So for a while I was known as ‘the call girl.’”

Photo of Amy Woodbury Tease standing at office door

 

Text and photographs by Sean Markey

Top 10 Norwich University News Stories of 2016

Norwich CSIA majors, faculty and alumni stand in front of Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., on the eve of Super Bowl 50
Norwich University Office of Communications

December 14, 2016

It’s that time of year—a chance to highlight just some of the many accomplishments of Norwich University’s outstanding students, alumni, faculty, and staff during 2016. While they may make taking on difficult challenges and achieving distinction look effortless, it isn’t. A case in point: This list of stories below. In the end, we couldn’t winnow it to ten and were forced to sneak in four more.


1. Norwich Cyber Majors Help Safeguard Super Bowl 50

After a year of preparation, Norwich CSIA majors and faculty based in California and Northfield, Vt., worked with Santa Clara city, California state, and federal law enforcement officials to analyze and flag potential cybersecurity threats during the NFL championship matchup between the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers.

2. Norwich University Celebrates 100 Years of ROTC
The birthplace of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, Norwich University celebrated ROTC’s centennial anniversary with a leadership symposium in April that drew scores of military VIPs. Among them, 39th U.S. Army Chief of Staff General Mark A. Milley, who gave the keynote address.

3. Norwich Class of 2020 Largest in University History
This fall, Norwich welcomed close to 900 first-year students to campus, the largest incoming class in the university’s nearly 200-year history.

4. Forbes Awards Norwich an “A” for Financial Strength
In August, Forbes magazine published their analysis of the financial footing of roughly 900 private colleges and universities, ranking Norwich University in the top 20 percent.

5. Writing Prof. Sean Prentiss Wins National Outdoor Book Award
Winning the history/biography category, Finding Abbey chronicled Prentiss’s two-year search for the hidden desert grave of environmental writer Edward Abbey.

6. Student-Built Tiny House Showcases Innovation, Hands-On Service Learning
Norwich architecture, construction management, and engineering majors and faculty designed and built C.A.S.A. (Creating Affordable Sustainable Architecture), a 334-square-foot tiny house with a small price tag to address Vermont’s affordable-housing crisis. See related article and video.

7. Norwich’s Standout Athletic Teams and Coaches Fight to a Four-Way Tie

8. Nisid Hajari Wins NU’s 2016 William E. Colby Book Award
A journalist who oversees Asia coverage for the editorial page of Bloomberg News, the first-time author won for Midnight’s Furies, an account of the 1947 partition of India and its surrounding violence following the end of British colonial rule. Founded at Norwich University, the annual book award and symposium celebrates outstanding writers, authors, and ideas from the fields of military affairs, military history, intelligence, and international affairs.

9. NUARI Cyber Attack Simulation Software Nominated for “Innovation of the Year”
Developed by the Norwich University Applied Research Institutes, the DECIDE-FS cyber-gaming platform has been used by major U.S. financial industry firms, regulators and law enforcement agencies to test institutional preparedness and resiliency in the face of cyberattacks.

10. Norwich Wins $700K+ NSA Grant to Train Next-Generation Cyber Soldiers
Working in collaboration with the United States Army Reserve, the National Security Agency announced in December that it had awarded Norwich over $700,000 to support scholarships for soldiers.

Bonus: Washington Post Columnist Says NU’s “I Will Try” Is Best College Motto
Writing in her Answer Sheet blog for the Washington Post, education reporter Valerie Strauss opines on “The Small Vermont University With Arguably the Best School Motto.”

Video: Inside Norwich’s C.A.S.A. 802 Tiny House

Video still: Architect and NU Assistant Professor Tolya Stonorov speaks in front of bright red orange door of C.A.S.A. 802 tiny house.
Norwich University Office of Communications

September 27, 2016

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e0upWIKBCXQ&w=560&h=315]

Learn more about C.A.S.A. 802, a modular, tiny house project designed and built by faculty and students from Norwich University’s School of Architecture + Art, David Crawford School of Engineering, and construction management programs. Energy efficient and sustainably designed, the $30,000 structure offers a modern alternative to mobile homes for young families and can be expanded over time.

Related Article:[gap size=”-15%”]

Ideas @ Work: Tiny House

9 Objects: The Office of NU Terrorism and Policing Scholar Travis Morris

Norwich University Office of Communications
September 13, 2016

It’s been a busy year for Norwich Assistant Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice Travis Morris. Recently named the director of the university’s Peace and War Center, Morris organized a NATO-sponsored advanced training course on counter terrorism in Macedonia for South Eastern Europe this past spring. He’s also brought a Canadian Fulbright scholar to campus and co-led a summer trip to Israel and Palestine. The trip enabled students from Norwich and the Royal Military College of Canada to explore the roots of the Middle East conflict. All that while teaching and continuing his wide-ranging scholarship, which explores how ideas have shaped modern terrorism. His book, Dark Ideas: How Violent Jihadi and Neo-Nazi Ideologues Have Shaped Modern Terrorism is slated for publication later this year. Morris shares the backstory of nine objects from his office in Ainsworth Hall.

Great Moments in Aviation History Print
A gift from Morris’s father, a retired Air Force colonel, who taught at the Air Command Staff College at Maxwell AFB. “As a kid, I wanted to be a pilot and fly A-10s. But I didn’t have 20/20 vision, so I had to let that dream go.” Morris says the poster is a nod to his father and “reminds me a little bit of growing up surrounded by aviators.”

Kentucky Colonel Certificate
When Morris was a police officer in Kentucky, his in-laws nominated him as a colonel in Kentucky’s honorary state militia. He received the certificate among his wedding gifts.

Mountain Bike
As a PhD student and father in Nebraska, Morris cycled to work to squeeze in a workout. “The problem was the wind.” Today, Morris still bikes to the office, albeit less frequently. “I don’t have time just to go to the gym. So that’s where that fits in.” More often he drives, dropping his kids off at school along the way.

Florida Folksong Book
“My grandfather was a fourth-generation Floridian.” His brother, Alton C. Morris, PhD, was an ethnographer who recorded and preserved folk songs and taught English at the University of Florida. Morris’s grandfather constantly sang Florida folksongs to him as a child. The book speaks to the academic side of his family tree.

Miniature of Point Arena, Calif., Lighthouse
A gift from his father recalling Morris’s early childhood. The family lived on a remote USAF radar base in northern California that scanned the West Coast for the Soviet threat. “There were only several hundred people that lived on this remote mountain top. We had a doctor once a week.”

Scrimshaw Whale Tooth
Another memento from that time. Morris remembers it mostly as kid heaven. “It was like living in some outpost away from the rest of civilization—miles and miles and miles and miles of huge redwoods around us, and wild boars, and the long winding access road that made us car sick almost every time.”

Carnegie Foundation Mug
Part of the grant writing endeavors Morris has taken on as director of the Peace and War Center.

Haifa Photo
Morris spent two years living in Israel with his wife and young daughter while studying Hebrew and doing research for his master’s thesis on the Israel national police. “Believe it or not, that’s looking out our porch. If you turn your head slightly to the right you can see Lebanon.”

Family Photo Taken in Israel
“The girl in the middle is my little daughter, Eden. She was 6 months [old] when we lived there. She happens to be sitting on the Horns of Hattin, which is the site of a historic Crusader battle.” The 12th-century battle marked the turning point of the religious war. There’s no park, just a “small beat up metal sign at the end of a dirt path. You looked down from the battlefield to see the Sea of Galilee.”

Prof. Carole Bandy Explores Mysteries of the Human Brain, Trauma, and Well-being

Photo of Norwich University Dana Professor of Psychology Carol Bandy teaching in a classroom
Norwich University Office of Communication

August 9, 2016

For more than two decades, Norwich University social psychologist Carole Bandy, PhD, has applied her innate curiosity about how the brain works to study real-world problems. Problems like cultural stereotyping and shooting bias or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Working with colleagues on campus and around the globe, she has applied eye-tracking and electroencephalogram (EEG) data studies in novel ways. Her research has helped illuminate how the clothes people wear can activate or suppress a stereotype and how Transcendental Meditation can boost resiliency or reverse PTSD.

Bandy’s frequent collaborators include NU neuroscientist Kevin Fleming and Middlebury College clinical psychologist Matt Kimble. Combining their expertise, the researchers connect macro-level social behaviors to physiological processes happening in the brain on a micro scale.

Six years ago, the trio published a major study in the journal Social Neuroscience, which assessed how social perceptions and discrimination affect people’s decisions to shoot a gun in a weapons identification task.

Normally a comparison of how so-called “priming” photos of black and white men influence test subjects’ decisions to “shoot” a gun, Bandy and her colleagues were the first to introduce images of Middle Eastern men to the assessment.

The researchers found that clothing, not ethnicity, primed negative stereotypes. A photo of Middle Eastern man dressed in a traditional tunic and turban prompted a much higher error rate in test subjects. (“Shooting” at a photo of a hair-dryer or cordless drill, rather than another gun, for example.) While a picture of a Middle Eastern man dressed in a western suit did not.

“Clothing was the critical variable in discrimination,” Bandy says. “Stereotyping did not occur without it.” Those findings have now been downloaded countless times from Research Gate.

Since then, Bandy has continued to secure five-figure research grants and publish findings in respected journals, all while carrying a full teaching load. The achievement speaks to her drive to explore fundamental questions, even as retirement draws near. “The nature of research is that once you start down a path, the further you go with it, the more it pulls you,” Bandy says.

Many decades into that research journey, those questions have only grown more compelling. Among a raft of ongoing research projects, Bandy remains intently curious about Transcendental Meditation (TM), a practice she first encountered in graduate school over 45 years ago. She is particularly interested in TM’s demonstrated ability to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression and improve critical thinking and mental resilience.

For Bandy, the driving question is why the regular practice of restful awareness works. “Not whether it works. That much is clear,” she says. “But how? What is going in in the brain?”

In 2011, Bandy initiated a multi-year Transcendental Meditation study at Norwich using random assignment—the research gold standard—among first-year military cadets. Twenty-eight students were taught Transcendental Meditation from day one. While a control group of the same size began their meditation training six months later.

Using self-report questionnaires, behavioral and eye-tracking tasks, and EEG data, Bandy and her colleagues assessed how individuals in both groups responded to threat. Early adopters of meditation showed lower levels of stress, anxiety, and depression and better critical thinking and mental resilience. These measures improved over time as cadets continued their meditation training, results confirmed in a second study of 60 cadets the following year.

Bandy has shared this research with members of the U.S. military, which has expressed interest in TM’s potential to reduce PTSD in troops entering or returning from combat.

More recently, Bandy has collaborated in two studies with colleagues in Iowa, Rwanda, and South Africa, including the University of South Africa, to measure the effectiveness of TM to treat PTSD in Congo refugees and South African college students. Endemic violence in both countries causes high incidences of PTSD in both groups.

Among students who started TM training, “there were significant drops in PTSD in as little as two weeks,” she says. Bandy notes that by 100 days, nearly all study participants practicing meditation showed sub-threshold measures for PTSD.

Bandy theorizes that transcendental meditation works for a very simple reason. It helps people with PTSD rebalance or optimize the relationship between two areas of the brain: the cognitive frontal area and the more primal limbic system, where our strongest emotional responses, such as extreme anger and extreme fear, originate.

In the future, Bandy plans to start a longitudinal study of Transcendental Meditation at Norwich.

Susan Limberg, a Class of 2015 graduate who commissioned last May into the U.S. Air Force as second lieutenant, was among the Norwich cadets who learned meditation in Bandy’s study. She describes it one of the highlights of her Norwich experience.

“[Carole] has consistently used her experiences as a scholar to informally mentor her Norwich colleagues and to formally mentor a multitude of psychology students,” says David Westerman, a Dana Professor of Geology and Associate Vice President for Research at Norwich.

Raised in Tennessee, Bandy earned her master’s degree from the University of Memphis and her PhD in social psychology from George Washington University. She joined the Norwich faculty in 1995 after serving as principal investigator on a $250,000 grant awarded to the Norwich University Applied Research Institutes to evaluate the effectiveness of a new gunnery training system for the National Guard.

Bandy remains deeply invested in undergraduate research at Norwich, where she was hired to teach junior and senior-year thesis seminars, classes she continues to teach 20 years later. “We are probably the only department in the country that requires [a senior research thesis] of all undergraduates.”

Doing so means students “have to literally be a researcher themselves and that’s the essence of the discipline,” Bandy says.

In recognition of her innovative scholarship and teaching, Bandy was recently named Norwich University’s newest Charles A. Dana Professor by university President Richard M. Schneider. “It’s a wonderful honor,” Bandy says. “It’s the highest honor, really, that a faculty member can get here at Norwich.”

Astrophysicist Tabetha Hole on Supernovas, Teaching, and the Universe

Norwich University Office of Communications

March 25, 2016

K. Tabetha Hole joined the Norwich physics faculty last fall as an assistant professor. The daughter of an American doctor, she was born in Nigeria and earned her PhD from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Using computer models and Chandra X-Ray Telescope data, her ongoing research studies the structure of supernovas and massive star winds. This spring, she teaches Intro to Astronomy, the capstone Senior Seminar II, and an independent study while supervising a senior research project. In a recent interview, Hole reflected upon the beauty and mystery of the universe and teaching.

Pop quiz: In 60 seconds or less, explain dark matter.

Dark matter is a name for our ignorance. If we look at the structure of galaxies, how fast the sun is going around the center of our galaxy should tell us how much mass there is in the galaxy. When we look at that, the amount of gravitational mass is way more than we can account for by actually looking at the stuff that’s there.

Ninety percent of the mass of the universe does not correspond to anything we know about on Earth. We’ve tried to account for it. But [we] just can’t. There’s missing mass. We know its effect. But we don’t know what it is, and that’s what we call “dark matter.” It’s “dark,” because it doesn’t glow. It doesn’t interact with light. It’s some completely different kind of matter that we’ve never been able to touch or detect directly. Obviously, we’ve been trying to. But we still don’t know what it is, and we’ve been looking for decades.

What do you call yourself?

Astronomer, astrophysicist, and, of course, physics professor. I spend most of my time being a physics professor. It is my focus, because I really enjoy teaching. Generating new knowledge is wonderful. But as is true in pretty much every academic discipline, if I discover something new about stars, only a few people in the world will ever read about that. Whereas, working with students, teaching introductory physics, I am able to share with them something beautiful and amazing about the universe.

You published a research paper titled, “Can We Detect Clumpiness in Supernova Ejecta?” Well, can we?

Yes.

Why should we care about supernovas?

When a star explodes, it turns out that that explosion makes most of the heavier elements in the universe. The iron in your blood had to be made in a supernova—there’s no other way to make iron—and probably more than one. So the iron in your blood came from multiple stars exploding. We can see supernovas across the universe. They affect the stars around them. They start star formation. They end star formation. They are responsible for changing the chemical makeup of the universe over time. They are responsible for making us. They are a test for our understanding of physics in extreme conditions that we just can’t do on Earth. If you want to study how the universe changes over billions of years or how galaxies change, you have to understand what happens in [supernovas].

Does your brain ever hurt thinking about these things?

Not so much. I think maybe the bigger puzzle is how to get students to understand. Because especially in physics, you first have to remove the misconception and then you can bring in the real fun. And that’s something no one knows how to do perfectly. I mean people ask, If we can put a man on the moon, why can’t we feed the hungry? The reason we can’t is because of people. We can harness the power of a couple thousand people who want to work together to go to the moon. [But] you can’t put people in a box and poke them until they do what you want. All in all, I would definitely rather feed the hungry. Humans in some ways are a much harder puzzle than the universe. Helping people learn more about themselves and learn more about the world, that is actually in some ways a bigger challenge.

You say your interest in physics was sparked, in part, while studying astronomy in high school. You mention things like studying the phases of the moon. The moment when you visualized that relationship from space, rather than the surface of the Earth, and how that suddenly provided clarity. Can you talk about that?

By changing your perspective, something that was incredibly complicated becomes incredibly simple and elegant. That’s a larger part of what I find so amazing about the universe. You take things that are on surface incredibly complicated and you peel back the layers to find the incredibly simple rules that the universe operates by. Then you can build back up to the complication, piece by piece, and understand each one. And then the universe is not this weird unpredictable mess. It’s actually beautiful and elegant underneath, even if it’s not what we would ever have expected.

What excites you about the field today?

Oh, there’s so much. One big [thing] is that we now have a new way of looking at the universe: gravitational waves. It’s like opening your eyes. When we’re in astronomy, all we can do is study what the universe sends us. Most of the information it sends us is in light, radio waves, x-rays. Gravity comes from mass. So we now have a tool for looking at things that don’t even necessarily produce light. It’s going to give us more information that we could’ve gotten in the next hundred years using regular telescopes. So that is the most exciting thing right now. That we have a fundamental new way of knowing about the universe.