The independent student newspaper of Goucher College


Anna Young

Anna Young has 6 articles published.

Anna is a senior at Goucher completing a double major in Psychology and American Studies and a minor in Professional Writing. Beyond the attraction of writing articles, Anna joined the Q to work with the fun and quirky staff members!

Study Abroad Requirement on Probationary Review


It’s a blindingly sunny Wednesday afternoon as trails of faculty members emerge from the academic buildings and dart across the quad toward Dorsey Center. They head toward the faculty meeting, which is dotted with students as the faculty members enter Merrick and find their seats. Included in the numerous items on the agenda for the hour and fifteen minute meeting is an update from the ad hoc Study Abroad Committee, which has done work throughout this year to review the study abroad requirement at Goucher.

Daniel Marcus, Nyasha Grayman-Simpson, and Brandon Arvesen took the floor to share their preliminary review, which focused on three factors: finances, recruitment, and learning objectives. This is the second year of a three-year faculty-initiated probationary review of the study abroad requirement. The committee explained that this is the first time anyone has started to do an extensive review of Goucher’s study abroad program, and that the committee could only provide a preliminary report for the time being.

Suggested entry/exit survey questions. Credit: Study Abroad Ad Hoc Committee

In 2006, Goucher College’s tenth president, Sandy J. Ungar, implemented the requirement for all undergraduate students to study abroad. This requirement came with a $1,200 voucher to cover extraneous travel costs and make up for income students would otherwise be making while living and working on campus. While the voucher existed for nearly a decade, it was removed in 2016. Now, many students cite finances as an obstacle involved with study abroad. As Eliezer Cartenega ‘18 (Argentina, Spring, 2017) said, “Study abroad was very stressful. And I felt like that stress detracted from the experience because I was so worried about my money situation.” The committee noted that the financial component is a significant part of the discussion, and that this element of the review was currently inconclusive, as it required an extended time frame.

Even with its complications, study abroad continues to attract prospective students. The committee referenced entry and exit reviews completed by 290 students in 2014 who said study abroad was a very important reason they chose Goucher. Anne Werkheiser ‘18 (Seville, Spain, Fall 2016) said, “ I work in admissions and talking about study abroad is always the best part of my tour; it’s really what draws students in and makes Goucher stand out.” The committee points out that the requirement may both attract and deter prospective students. Data collected from Goucher’s 2014 Admitted Students Survey found that 56.71% of Fall 2014 admitted students ranked study abroad as “very important” in their decision to attend Goucher; while 18.37% ranked study abroad as “very important” in their decision not to attend Goucher.

Students speak of how study abroad impacts Goucher. Kalee LaPointe ‘19 (Athens, Greece, Fall 2017) said, “ There’s just this sort of feeling you get when you talk to other students at Goucher about study abroad that is completely missing when I talk to students from other colleges.” Sarah Zaukus ‘18 (University of Roehampton, UK, Fall 2017) said, “I also feel like study abroad at Goucher is like a rite of passage, which in my opinion is really cool.” Further, Madison Hernandez ‘19 (SIT Uganda) said, “…one of the main reasons that I came here was because I didn’t have to choose between being an athlete and studying abroad…I knew that it would be extremely difficult for me to convince any coach to let me go abroad for an entire semester. However, when I toured here I realized that I could have both since whatever coach I had could not stop me from going abroad if it was a requirement for my major. “

Rather than detracting from the various other commitments student make on campus, the committee found that a majority of the major program chairs reported that study abroad served to enhance their major’s learning objectives. Regarding learning objectives, students connect study abroad to personal, academic, and professional development. On the personal level, Marina Lant ‘18 (Hansard Scholars Program, London, Spring 2016) said, “Not only did my time abroad challenge me to think about myself and my experiences in a completely different context, but it forced me to reevaluate my world view and think about the reverberations of all my actions.” Academically, Jess Solomon ‘18 (La Trobe University Melbourne, Spring 2017) said, “ It was 100000% beneficial to my Major, because I was able to take classes that I did not have any access to in Maryland.” Finally, regarding professional development, Rachel Grosso ‘18 (DIS – Copenhagen, Fall 2016) said, “I can definitively pinpoint my semester abroad as a turning point in my life; I’ve projected into the industry and career I’m pursuing as a direct outcome of my time in Denmark.” Further, Jonathan Davies ‘18 (University of Oxford, Spring 2017) said, “ I think if the school is set out to prepare students for the jobs that are yet to be created, then a crucial component, in my opinion, is this globally minded individual and that comes from the study abroad component.”

In the PCE 220 Organizing report, 16.4% of respondents cited study abroad as an area where significant gaps exist between expectations and experience. Meanwhile, 21.6% reported a desire to see further resources allocated to study abroad. Anne Werkheiser ‘18 suggested, “For example, there needs to be a more open and honest conversation about issues of race, sexual orientation, gender identity, etc; students may be blindsided by attitudes in certain areas.”

Since the ad hoc committee will officially disband at the end of the semester, they completed their preliminary report with recommendations for further review of study abroad. Their call for further review included internal and external reviews of the Office of International Studies, and a long-term financial report. At this point it is yet to be decided if another ad hoc committee will form to complete the third year of the probationary review, or if the review components will be delegated to a variety of Goucher stakeholders, as the current ad hoc committee has suggested. Regardless of this decision, the faculty will meet again in Spring 2019 at the end of the probationary period to vote on whether the current study abroad requirement will be renewed. Marina Lant ‘18 said, “It [study abroad] represents Goucher’s commitment to international learning and understanding your own context in the world and your more immediate environment. Even with all its flaws, I am proud of Goucher’s study abroad program. Taking away the requirement is a mistake.”

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Goucher Abuzz With Recent Honey Extraction

The Beekeeping Club extracted more than 20 pound of honey earlier this semester. Photo credit: Mitchell Moran-Kaplan

It’s not every day you see a swarm of bodies, swaddled in what look to be white fencing suits, huddled outside your campus library. These bodies move quietly, slowly; thick gloves cover their hands and large screened masks hide their faces like fencers prepared to compete. But they aren’t fencers, they’re beekeepers. Their gloved hands work delicately to inspect their hives. Clumps of honeycomb stick to the frames of the hive boxes where masses of bees swirl. The beekeepers lift these frames out of the decoratively blue and yellow painted boxes for a clear inspection of the hive’s health.

This is Goucher College’s Beekeeping Club. Co-presidents Olivia Baud and Virginia Turpin started the club in 2015 with the help of English faculty member, Marjorie Pryse. “We have been very lucky because the administration is very supportive of us and allows us to have them [the bees]. Not all colleges are down with bees,” Turpin explained.

The club started off this academic year strong with its first ever honey extraction. The campus was abuzz with the news as honey-craving students, staff, and faculty members reached out to get their hands on a jar. “They delivered the first jars to President Bowen, Vice President Coker, Professor Kicklighter, and Matt Harmin – all of whom had been very supportive of the club in one way or another,” Pryse explained.

The club currently has four hives. At the beginning of this past summer, they added special honey storage boxes, called honey supers, to the two healthiest hives that would be most likely to produce an excess of honey. The excess honey would be stored in the honey super, which could then be removed from the hive box to extract the honey while still leaving enough for the hive to survive. During an inspection in late summer, the club leaders determined that there was enough honey collected in one honey super for an extraction to take place.

“So what we do is we take out the frames with honey. We take a really big knife – looks like a butter knife – and we cut the top of the comb to let the honey flow out,” Fiona Rutgers, the club’s treasurer, explained. “We then put it in an extractor, which is like a centrifuge that can fit frames, and we run that which lets the honey flow out, which we collect at the bottom of the extractor. We put the honey through a filter, and voila! The finished product!”

The extraction took place at Marjorie’s house, about fifteen minutes away from campus. The honey super, which is separate from the rest of the hive containing larvae, was removed from the hive and transported to Marjorie’s garage without disturbing or transporting any bees. The extraction needed to take place off campus due to the current campus construction that limits the  calm and spacious atmosphere necessary for an extraction. The club leaders, along with one active club member, were able to join Marjorie for the extraction. The process was live-streamed in a Facebook video for the rest of the club members and Goucher’s community to experience.

“We did the extraction, and that was very exciting because that was kind of the goal, the objective Virginia and I had from the start.” Baud said. “It was like, if we get to do an extraction, that will mean we have succeeded in some ways in establishing and maintaining this club. So that was a really momentous event for us.”

Baud, Turpin, and Pryse first bonded over their interest in beekeeping in the fall of 2015. “One of my objectives, coming into Goucher, was actually starting a beekeeping club.” Baud explains, “It was my sophomore or junior year of high school that I read a book by Sue Monk Kidd called The Secret Life of Bees. And the way it portrayed beekeeping and bees in the book really enchanted me.” Her interest connected with Turpin’s when they met in a biology class at Goucher. Their biology professor, Dr. Cynthia Kicklighter, then got them in touch with Marjorie Pryse.

“The Club…benefits from an energetic board of officers. They have generated significant response among students, always ‘sell out’ hive inspection opportunities, and have been very creative in expanding the kinds of activities the Club generates for its members.” Pryse said.

Pryse, Baud, and Turpin spent the 2015-2016 academic year meeting with campus members from Facilities, Public Safety, and the Office of Finance. They needed to decide where to place the hives on campus. “We wanted a site that would both benefit the bees and also – even more importantly – protect students and the general public,” Pryse explained. Furthermore, the club needed to find a space that could provide ample sun; access to forage, which consists of plants and wildflowers that produce pollen and nectar; and proximity to water. “We eventually chose the current site-outside the wall of the Athenaeum that faces the rain garden and loop road- because it met all our requirements. In addition, the apiary stands close to the Co-op Garden, and it is ideal to have synergy between bees and vegetable gardens.”

By spring 2016, the first two hives were established and the Beekeeping Club gained momentum. “We had an event with club members…we wanted to make it a kind of Goucher pride type of event so we painted the boxes blue and yellow.” Baud said. That first semester the club had over 80 people signed up for its email list, and a growing number of students wanting to take part in hive inspections.

Hive inspections are limited by the amount of protective gear the club has. “We used to have only six suits. But we just got some new equipment!” Baud explained. “We base it [hive inspections] around the protective equipment because we absolutely cannot let people go in without some sort of protection. That’s just legally smart to do that.” Each member of an inspection needs to be completely covered with a suit, gloves, and a veil. There are even elastic bands that tighten around the suit’s pant legs to securely protect the entire body.

Inspections are done every two weeks or so, depending on the season. The hives are largely left alone in the winter months to avoid disturbing the bees in the cold weather. When inspections do take place, Baud explained, “the first thing you want to look for is disease, and usually that’s pretty noticeable.” The beekeepers also look at general hive wellbeing involving the larvae and honey production.

Club members take turns inspecting the hive. Photo credit: Mitchell Moran-Kaplan

Turpin said, “We do need at least one person with some amount of expert knowledge to lead the sessions. For us, that’s Marjorie Pryse. It would be very hard to do this without her help.”

Baud explained, “Marjorie, she’s so modest…but she’s been a huge help for the club. And in all honesty I don’t know if we would’ve come this far if it weren’t for her support.”

Pryse became a beekeeper before she came to Goucher in Fall 2015. “I kept bees in Ithaca, New York, for about six years under the mentorship of a local master beekeeper and working with an area beekeeping club.” From her past experiences, Pryse was able to provide some of the preliminary equipment when the club first started at Goucher, and furthermore has continued to offer her knowledge and guidance to the club members.

“I have never before had as much fun keeping bees as I do now, keeping bees with student beekeepers. It is such a delight to watch the Club introduce newbies to bees and to watch the more experienced members become increasingly comfortable and knowledgeable working with these insects that so many people unfortunately have learned to fear,” Pryse said.

Goucher’s Beekeeping Club is a member of the Maryland Beekeeper’s Association, through which the club was able to purchase some of its hives and connect to a larger beekeeping community. According to Bee Culture Magazine, most colleges and universities that keep bees tend to be larger state schools where the bees are kept in various entomology departments or research labs. The University of Maryland’s Department of Entomology has a Honey Bee Lab, through which they can conduct apiculture research.

Baud explained, “I think there is something to be said about how disconnected we are from nature and from things like honeybees because we aren’t used to being exposed them in our present, modern world.” Goucher’s campus is unique with its spacious greenery. It also has a community of administrators, staff, and students who support, or at the very least tolerate, beekeepers promoting awareness of bees by actually maintaining hives on campus. With the recent honey extraction, the community has even more of a reason to support the bees and their dedicated keepers.

“The Club…extracted more than 20 pounds of honey,” Pryse said. 20 pounds didn’t meet the demand on campus, so club leaders designed a raffle system for the distribution process.

“A big concern for the club was finding a way to distribute honey in the most equitable way,” Rutgers said. “The raffle was a way for us to give everyone a chance to buy.” Community members had the opportunity to email the club to enter their names into the raffle. From there, the club used an algorithmic-based website to randomly select the winners. There were 22 jars in total that were sold through this process, at ten dollars a jar.

Before the jars were ready for distribution, labels had to be made. “We decided to open up a label-drawing contest and decided that the winner would receive a jar of honey,” Baud said. She, Turpin, and Rutgers all privately ranked their top three choices of the submissions they received. Luckily, they all agreed on their final choice, a design created by student, Erin Ertunga. The honey distribution just took place this week.

With the club’s success over its first two years, Baud has long-term visions for the club’s role on campus, including providing awareness to campus members that honeybees should not be feared. “My hope is that people who don’t feel comfortable around bees, that we’ll be able to reach out to those people, and they don’t even have to participate, but get them to witness a hive inspection. Because I think even just getting to witness one can really help dissipate the irrational fear of honeybees.”

Welcome Back! Welcome Home?

Goucher’s study abroad requirement means that students are returning to Goucher after having a myriad of experiences that stimulate a variety of needs. Photo Credit:

It was an uncharacteristically warm January night when I returned to Goucher after five months of living and traveling abroad. The night had a surreal clarity to it; the buildings stood out sharply in the darkness. My Uber ride from the airport landed me in front of the Alumnae/i House, from which I slowly made my way to Van Meter, lugging my suitcase along the familiar brick pathway. The Athenaeum beamed in its artificial brilliance; it was familiar, yet I stared for a halting minute, convinced I had never seen the building before. I stopped before the end of Mary Fisher, near the door to Dulaney. The academic quad glittered in the glow of the tall sidewalk lamps. It was quiet, as a Goucher night is so often quiet – when you can’t be sure if there’s anyone really on campus at all.
A distant figure began to approach, gliding down Van Meter from Stimson. The figure moved with confidence, a majestic flight I knew so well. Meg John. My roommate emerged from the shadowy distance, embracing me in a hug of world-saving capacity after our nine months apart. With the warmth of her smile and glowing welcome, the campus began to regain its feeling of home.
Goucher’s emphasis on study abroad doesn’t just mean that students have the chance to spend three weeks or a semester living and studying in another country. It also means that these students are returning to Goucher after having a myriad of experiences that stimulate a variety of needs. Here we explore some of those needs, and questions that arose in our process of reentry.
“It wasn’t fully 360 to me,” John Nobriga ‘19 wrote in an email response to our inquiry of his return experience. He wondered what it would be like if we “discuss[ed] how going abroad works into our education rather than going abroad and then ending it all with nothing back at school.”
One of the things I needed most when being back at Goucher after study abroad was time. Through this need of time, I realized how study abroad has been a part of my experience at Goucher. Though I can distinguish my time abroad and my time at Goucher, there is a certain level of connection that exists to bind the two in their collective reality of my undergraduate experience.
How do we return from an experience “abroad”? How do we share it? Who do we become when we return? And what do we need? “Returning to Goucher,” Rachel Grosso ‘18, shared, “I really needed a bicycle and a place like home to be cozy and chat with other people. Danes have a cultural value called ‘hygge’, which is basically coziness and comfortability. Often found by cuddling up, being with good friends, enjoying non-controversial conversation, maybe a warm drink, and some fuzzy socks. I needed that when I returned here.” These responses answer the question of how we incorporate our experiences back into our time at Goucher. We need something we felt was lost on that plane ride home.
Needing time was something I recognized mostly in hindsight. I needed time to process my experiences abroad, and in returning to Goucher I needed time to process what it meant to be back in a familiar and comfortable place. Moreover, I needed someone to tell me that it was okay where I was – it was okay for me to feel angst about Goucher, it was okay to want to talk about changes to the system of study abroad at Goucher, it was okay to want to sit alone and think and feel whatever arrived in those moments. Reentry into Goucher’s bubble was allowed to be bumpy and messy and bittersweet. But at the same time it was okay for returning to feel normal, uneventful. As Madeline St. John ‘18 said, “I was also kind of in the space of I’m just ready to be back at Goucher and not really thinking about abroad.” Some days that’s exactly what I wanted too.
Though we students have many gripes when it comes to the study abroad program at Goucher, there is a unique and quite honestly amazing quality to the opportunities we receive. I’ve heard many fellow students notice a distinction in their experience as a Goucher individual studying abroad. They weren’t aware of the nuances of the Goucher identity until being abroad with non-Goucher American students who perhaps handle the privilege of study abroad with a different awareness. Is this a part of a Goucher identity? What connections do Goucher students share when abroad? What do they not share? As Rachel Grosso puts it, upon her return she needed “a place to talk about more serious subjects, like my privilege and how Goucher students study abroad differently than Greek life kids do…”
Madeline St. John continues, “When you leave a place, that’s when you realize you’re from a place. So leaving the U.S. and going to Argentina is when I was labeled an American and looked at that identity.”
Many of us have returned to Goucher from study abroad experiences. Maybe we’ve changed, maybe Goucher has changed, or maybe nothing has changed and we’re back in the swing of things before we know it. That night I returned to Goucher’s campus for the first time, my roommate and I made our way into Dulaney, up to the third floor double that was to be our room for the rest of the semester. Both of us back at Goucher from semesters abroad, we spent that spring semester challenging each other with questions of what it meant to be gone, and what it meant now to be back. Her presence made my reflection process possible in ways I didn’t know it could be.
There are still questions, there are still reflections, and I continue to learn.


Goucher and the Environment


“So, this is the Athenaeum. It’s a LEED Gold-Certified building which means that it’s super green.” I’m laying on the floor of the Ath lobby hearing this phrase echoed repeatedly from three intersecting tours that have coincidentally all met up in the same place at the same time. It’s GIG (not the fun one, but “Got into Goucher” day), which means that dozens of prospective students are wandering the campus being spoon-fed the idea of Green Goucher.
But the truth is, as much as it may want to be, Goucher is not as green as it professes. There are two major non-sustainable practices that Goucher is currently employing: its treatment of trees, and the college’s refusal to divest from fossil fuels.
Let’s talk trees for a moment: Goucher currently plans to develop an 8-acre area in the front of Dulaney Valley Road, adjacent to the main entrance. This project, kept under wraps possibly to avoid student protest, would destroy approximately 249 trees, according to Dr. Cynthia Kicklighter, associate professor of biology, whose class surveyed the area last fall. It is unknown to whom Goucher will lease the land, but a hotel and/or conference center is the current leader. Dr. Kicklighter speculates that the developer of the land would be someone who aligns with the morals and values of the college.
This raises the question, however, of what those morals and values are. During our admittedly brief research into Goucher’s sustainability practices, we were struck by the disparity of thought between the decision makers and the larger Goucher community. “I think Goucher is trying,” Dr. Kicklighter remarked. It comes down to a matter of economics. The upfront cost of going ‘totally green’ (by investing fully in clean energy, for example) is more than Goucher is capable of shelling out, especially considering all the new construction projects. However, Matt Harmin, Goucher’s Sustainability Coordinator, believes in this day and age it would not be destabilizing for any institution to completely back out of fossil fuel investments – Goucher included.
These projects bring us back to the issue of trees. Like many of us, Dr. Kicklighter and Mr. Harmin remarked that they are saddened by how much foliage is being chopped down to make way for new buildings.
“More will have to come down for the Hoffberger addition,” Dr. Kicklighter observed. Once construction starts on the new equestrian facilities, she continued, they’re going to have to start cutting into the surrounding forest.
While there may be plans to replace the trees once construction is finished, anyone who has studied climate change can attest to the ticking clock that is looming over our planet. The community doesn’t have five or more years to wait for Goucher to replace the dozens (and potentially hundreds) of trees it is mowing down. Moreover, though it may be an uplifting image to picture the community coming together to plant new saplings once the changes have been made, those saplings will have substantially less impact on our wildlife habitats and carbon consumption than the large, decades-old (if not some centuries-old) trees we are losing to these changes.
What can we as students do? Dr. Kicklighter believes that earlier education about sustainability is a good start. It is important that we learn about our institutional impact on the environment so that we can take active measures to avoid harmful practices. Harmin believes student power can be one of the most influential presences on Goucher’s campus, and that power can be leveraged for “student engagement with social and ecological justice.”
“Take the student work policy, for example,” Harmin explains, “Students had the passion and made a difference. This is a good example of how student power can work.” Harmin advises that students need to clarify their concerns and stances and meet with the right people to voice these concerns, in order to stimulate broader discussions and motivate change. Another step is to hold our administration and the trustees accountable for where our money is going and how it is being used. Change starts with caring; caring about our climate and caring about our community. If we want to alter any of these practices, we have to keep the conversation going. This can start with a conversation about our investments and the lack of transparency surrounding them.
We understand. Goucher is a business and, like all businesses, regardless of whether it’s a bank or a community, Goucher needs money in order to keep the lights on. But, in choosing to divest from fossil fuels, Goucher would be making an investment in a sustainable, livable future, and more fully embodying the values it espouses. Goucher cannot claim to be a community-centered institution if it is actively choosing to ignore and destroy its global community.

Taking care of the environment is not an impossible feat. We call on you, Goucher College – our students, our faculty and staff – to ignite the conversation. Photo Credit: Google Images

In the Climate Action Plan that Goucher published in 2011 on how it tracks its environmental impacts and continues to work toward greener practices, Goucher clearly shows they track travel for study abroad in their overall Greenhouse Gas emissions (GHG) (Climate Action Plan Section 8.0). This is wonderful, and a thoughtful understanding of the impacts of one of Goucher’s values. As the report mentions, study abroad is a fundamental and required component of engagement at Goucher, thus it’s important to counter GHG emissions by investing “in a project that results in the measureable reduction of GHG emissions” (Climate Action Plan Section 13.0).
Why then, do we continue to invest in fossil fuels if we so clearly recognize and work against our carbon footprint in other ways? Fossil fuels are responsible for our climate change—a change that is disproportionately affecting economically poor black and brown communities. In refusing to divest from fossil fuels, Goucher is continuing its history of white supremacy. To date, hundreds of universities and colleges, NGOs, for-profit corporations, and a slew of other organizations have divested from fossil fuels. It’s not an impossible feat. Taking care of the environment is not an impossible feat. We call on you, Goucher College – our students, our faculty and staff – to ignite the conversation. We call on you, Goucher College – our trustees, our administration – to take action. Consider the impact of the changes made on campus and think of alternative solutions to develop the college without the environment paying the price. Divest from fossil fuels. Invest in a sustainable future. Show us that you care.


What is the Role of Study Abroad at Goucher?

What does it mean to label ourselves “Number One in Study Abroad”? Photo Credit: Google Images

Since 2006, Goucher College has required all undergraduate students to study abroad. Last year marks the tenth anniversary for the shift in campus experience, now a significant selling point for the college. But what does it mean to label ourselves “Number One in Study Abroad”? How does that translate to our everyday campus life?
Calla Fuqua (’18) believes, “Study abroad is one of the main reasons people go here. They see it’s required. That sticks out.” There is by no means, a be-all-end-all easy explanation for the role study abroad plays on our campus. More than anything, perhaps there needs to be a larger conversation about why it exists and what that means for each member of the Goucher community. As Fuqua said, it makes us stick out. But what dynamic does that create on campus?
The Goucher undergraduate population is over 1,400 students. Of the population, we interviewed eight students who have different relationships with study abroad – those who have not yet gone, those who are currently abroad, those who have recently returned and are in their first semester back, and those who have been back for a bit longer and are currently in their second + semester back.
A.J. Bhadai (’18) explains, “It’s [study abroad] a major cultural importance for our small community. Everyone is exiting the United States and entering new communities and new cultures and everyone has different interactions and experiences.” If study abroad is a large part of our Goucher identity and, to some extent, a significant part of our personal journey through college, how do we, as a community, want to engage with this part of our self?
Laura Williams (’17) put it nicely by saying, “It [study abroad] served me as a way to take what I had learned at Goucher and either apply it in a different context, or build upon it.” There is an interconnection between time at Goucher before study abroad, the time abroad, and the time returning to Goucher, jumping into the world beyond our undergraduate experience. Jess Solomon (‘18) mentions, “Study abroad was very important to me at Goucher, as I felt it was important to leave ‘the bubble’.”
Solomon raises an incredibly intriguing tension by referencing the “Goucher Bubble”. The bubble implies different realities for different people and generally implies a sense of insulation. What’s insulating about Goucher, in light of the travel each student is required to partake in? Sam Goldberg, a philosophy major and creative writing minor, suggested that the requirement of study abroad brings to light the union of “here” and “there.” In other words, the “there” of different ideas and places is brought very close to the “here” of Goucher. Do our experiences abroad lead to the sensation that Goucher is only one facet of a much larger world of meaning spanning the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual spectrum of possibility? Are we left in limbo of recognizing “here” and “there” but never quite being sure where we are?
Erin Snyder (‘17) also mentioned the Goucher bubble, saying, “It’s hard because people don’t talk about it [study abroad]. I see it as a way to get us out of the Goucher bubble…I love Goucher but you get so immersed in it, in the bubble – it’s [study abroad] a breath of air.”
Study abroad also serves as what Williams calls “a mental vacation”. Andrew Rowland (‘18) also mentioned this idea, saying that many students may look to study abroad as a space for “limited obligation”.
These ideas seem to imply a value of refreshing one’s mindset. Are our mindsets refreshed when we return from abroad? Rowland thinks some people believe it’s supposed to be a life-changing experience, while Solomon mentioned that before going abroad, she heard from upperclassmen “how transformative it was for them”. Do we want to bring to light the change people undergo and the meaning behind “a life changing experience” ?  Midori Fujitani (’17) states, “I think the biggest thing that students get is diverse perspectives by going to countries they’ve never been to.”
Do these changes in perspective come from a change in the pace of life we’re used to, as a shift from our norm? As Williams put it, “Study abroad as a concept has been a role model in the sense it normalizes being different.” Back to the question of the role of study abroad, Emma Minkoff (‘17) reflected that upon returning to Goucher from her time abroad, she now thinks about Goucher differently. Her experience deeply contrasts her Goucher pace of life. But once back, it’s easy to brush over the experience and the transition of returning to Goucher. How many times have we asked, “How was it?”, and left it at that?
Snyder states, “Its [study abroad’s] role is to push you out of your comfort zone when you get comfortable or too comfortable – it pushes you to learn a little more – it gives you a larger sense of responsibility as a person and as a person navigating the world. So you don’t move through the world and not know your impact.” Williams also speaks to this point, saying, “Traveling to a different context and being able to function there and make something of myself inspires me to go out and have the confidence to make something of myself wherever I go.”
If study abroad means to push us out of our comfort zone, then the role it plays is a force both brutal and transformative. But do we have the language to speak about it? It takes a larger conversation to discuss something so personal, so broad, so fundamentally a part of our campus and yet paradoxically distant from the time we spend here. It deserves a larger conversation; we want to be a part of it, and we want you to speak up too.
This article is not to prove a point; this article is to say this is messy to talk about. Let this be a brainstorm, an attempt to weave our voices together. But upon returning to school next semester, we want to invite you to workshopping sessions in order to articulate our goals as students who study abroad.
More information to come but in the meantime: Have questions? Want to talk? Contact me at .


The Psychology of Climate Change


In 2009, New York Times’ Dr. Paul Krugman compared climate scientists today to Cassandra of ancient Greek mythologies. Through a series of circumstances, Cassandra was gifted by the gods with the ability to prophesize the future, but was also cursed that people wouldn’t believe her prophecies. Throughout her lifetime she predicted a number of deaths and disasters. Her warnings of these impending events, though, went unheeded, and the disasters played out just as she foretold.

Today, we don’t have Greek gods gifting us with the ability to predict the future, but our modern sciences are doing a pretty good job of picking up the slack. However, they too are going largely ignored as they warn us about the dangers of climate change.

Why? Why is it that a scientifically proven phenomenon is being locked in a debate over its existence? Media technologies have offered a unique platform, not only for climate science communicators but also for climate science deniers to argue their positions. As our technologies become more expansive components of our daily lives, science communicators have broadened their tactics of reaching wider audiences. The situation that exists today suggests that although the data are available to the public as clear evidence of climate change and humans’ influence on its increased severity, people still don’t address this as a problem. Furthermore, they don’t address it as a problem they have any relation to or power to change.

In the last decade, climate scientists have taken direct measures to better communicate their research to a broader public audience through a more expansive media approach. Reaching beyond print platforms, web-based strategies such as blog and social media outreach have aimed to provide comprehensive basics of climate change research and discussions on small and large-scale advocacy and action.

The Union of Concerned Scientists’ website works to spread information through videos and blogs to engage a wider group of internet users. also works specifically to provide climate change information to a mainstream audience through multimedia. And these are just a few of many organizations and campaigns working in similar ways to utilize our technological society.

Youtube, television programs, and documentaries are full of initiatives to connect popular media users to scientific conversations. The discussion is present and available, and yet on a national scale we so easily choose to ignore or disregard this information or fail to find ways to apply this information to our own lives through preventative action and advocacy. Whether disengaged, dismissive, or uninformed to some degree, there are psychological foundations to our ability to tune out and turn away from environmental conservation, advocacy, and action.

Humans are easily influenced by confirmation bias. We have a natural tendency to engage and agree with information and individuals who reconfirm beliefs we already hold. Similarly, we have a more difficult time connecting with information that opposes our beliefs. This plays out in self-enforced limitations and a general narrowing of the sources of information we seek out. It is easier to read news that already flows with our understanding of the environment rather than something that completely disrupts what we think we know.

Similarly, accepting that climate change is a global issue, and accepting that our behaviors have had and are continuously having negative impacts on the world, creates cognitive dissonance. In the United States just as in other countries throughout the world, we have built our economy and many of our social structures around practices that prove to be wasteful and harmful. Admitting these practices are leading to larger consequences pertaining to global health both on an environmental level and a human level changes how we can view our behaviors.

If we know our actions are directly or indirectly harming others and harming our planet, we are caught in a moral and ethical struggle of what it means to maintain our behaviors in the face of this knowledge. Choosing to ignore the consequences, or instead choosing to downplay their severity or their connection to our actions, is easier than recognizing ourselves as part of the problem and altering our comfortable lifestyles to fix that.

This leads to the concept of risk assessment. A recent study published by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication showcases that areas in the United States that are experiencing consequences of climate change are more likely to recognize and prioritize climate change as a global issue. As the study explains, these are nonpartisan results. Regardless of one’s political stance, you are more likely to address a situation when you see yourself directly being affected. This is a dilemma in the United States because we are not directly exposed to many of the consequences of our actions.

The toxic digital dump wastelands and devastating deforestation that result from our technological and paper product consumption, for example, leave many communities throughout the world with devastating health consequences and a diminishment of resources. A community facing the day to day struggles of existing during a drought will better relate to the science of climate change because they are experiencing it with a higher personal risk assessment.

So what does all this mean? If people aren’t listening to our modern day Cassandra foretelling the future, where do science communicators and educators come in? Where do people with firsthand experience of the consequences of our current actions come in? What role do science deniers play and why do they continue to hold such influential roles? What policies and structures are at play or could be at play to address these issues? How can we, as students and community members, be positive forces in addressing this ever-growing alteration of our planet?


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