In 2013, WhaleNet will celebrate its twentieth anniversary at Wheelock College. WhaleNet began as an element of the Simmons College online EnviroNet program, but when Wheelock’s Associate Professor J. Michael Williamson began directing the project in 1993, WhaleNet received a 1.2 million dollar grant from the National Science Foundation and spun off to become a major innovative educational web site.
WhaleNet was the first web site to use actual, real-time satellite tracking data on the movements and migrations of whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals and turtles to enhance interest in science and environmental education. Students of all ages are enamored with marine mammals; that provides the “hook” to getting them more seriously involved in Environmental Education. Some doubted that scientists would collaborate and allow their research data to be posted on the Internet before the results were published, but it worked and it worked well. In the words of Dr. Scott Kraus, the Research Director of the New England Aquarium, speaking to Michael Williamson, “I think that you are the only person in the world who could have pulled this off.”
In order to expand WhaleNet, Williamson needed computer technology so he allocated monies in his NSF grant to fund the purchase of Wheelock’s first server and three years of access and technological staffing. With this Wheelock was provided Internet and email for the students and faculty.
Students at Wheelock and across the globe have used WhaleNet in a myriad of ways: teaching units, links, and projects. Students have won state science fairs using WhaleNet data. Teachers and professors in education still use WhaleNet as an integral part of their programs. Scientists, students, teachers, and the public visit WhaleNet for general information and data. WhaleNet not only presents research data, but it also includes various resources and links to other related marine science sites around the world. Student projects and units, whale watch information, weather and hurricane links, educational units, pictures, movies, and more are part of the WhaleNet online resources.
Williamson’s innovative website has been recognized for its creative educational and scientific opportunities by associations around the world. WhaleNet was selected to exhibit at Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History, Washington, DC during its Oceans Exhibit. WhaleNet was an integral part of the US Pavilion at the World Expo ‘98 in Lisbon, Portugal. WhaleNet has also received over 60 awards for its unique programs. Scientific American, the US Department of Education, Renew America, National Academy Press, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) to name a few, awarded WhaleNet for its contribution to education and research. Other awards can be seen at http://whale.wheelock.edu/whalenet-stuff/awards/.
Since its inception, WhaleNet has satellite tagged over 170 marine animals in collaboration with research institutions such as the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Duke University Marine Lab, Mystic Aquarium, the Marine Mammal Stranding Center, the Mingan Island Cetacean Study, the University of the Azores, the University of New England, Univ. de Guadalajara, the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research, the Caribbean Marine Mammal Laboratory, the National Irish Seal Sanctuary, the Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary, and Mote Marine Laboratory. All data is archived on WhaleNet for education and research use (http://whale.wheelock.edu/whalenet-stuff/stop_cover.html),
WhaleNet also worked in conjunction with the New England Aquarium, the National Marine Fisheries Service in Woods Hole, and the Massachusetts Environmental Trust to help protect and disseminate important sighting data on the rare and endangered Right Whales. The Right Whales feed in Massachusetts Bay each spring and migrate along the east coast between the New England feeding areas and the southeast United States calving grounds in the Florida/Georgia area each year. Knowing their migration patterns can help shipping fleets avoid fatal encounters with these endangered animals.
WhaleNet also used satellite tracking technology to follow Erden Eruc on his five-year quest to circumnavigate the globe using only human powered vehicles. Erden rowed a 24-foot rowboat across the Pacific Ocean, the Indian Ocean, and the Atlantic Ocean, and a bicycled across Australia, Africa, and the United States “To accomplish, to inspire and to teach...” the youth of the world. And WhaleNet tracked his every move. (http://whale.wheelock.edu/whalenet-stuff/Erden/).
Thanks to the support of Wheelock College, and the Wheelock Information Technology Department, throughout these past 20 years, WhaleNet has been a resounding international success as a landmark web site for countless students and teachers across the country and around the world. During its peak, WhaleNet received over 1,000,000 hits each month from users in over 140 countries. Visit WhaleNet at http://whale.wheelock.edu.
As part of Wheelock’s set of international initiatives, ONCAMPUS Boston (OCB) is gearing up to welcome its first group of international students. These students will spend their first year taking academic courses as well as a range of skills workshops and English language support classes. The current set of students will include some from South Korea, China, Hong Kong, and possibly Kazakhstan, Vietnam, and Saudi Arabia.
Essential to the success of the program is the staff, which is composed of seasoned professionals with over 35 years of combined experience working in the fields of international education and academic advising.
Katherine Hala, who also serves as a Resident Director for Wheelock will be responsible for maintaining student academic records, scheduling, and helping to ensure students progress on successfully.
Kyndra Douglass spent three years teaching English and training English teachers in South Korea. Here with OCB, Douglass will be responsible for ensuring a safe arrival, getting the students academically and culturally acclimated to the U.S. system of higher education, and providing resources and support throughout their studies.
Dr. Alfredo Varela, who has worked in the field of international education for over 20 years, will serve as Director of OCB. In addition to providing support to the students, he will work with faculty and staff to help them appreciate the challenges and opportunities a growing international student population will bring to Wheelock.
For more information about OCB and the University Transfer Program please “like” ONCAMPUS Boston in Facebook or follow @drV_OCB on twitter!
College Preparedness Program Gives Blind Students a Boost
Justin Edwards has dreamed of becoming an archeologist since he was a little boy. His goal: to travel the world, searching for and recovering lost artifacts so that people can enjoy them in museums. He has researched the field and interviewed working archeologists. But relatives and friends have repeatedly questioned whether Edwards, who is blind, could ever accomplish his ambitious goal.
“It happened so much that I began to question if I could really do it,” Edwards said.
This summer, Edwards took a step closer to his dream career by completing The Transition to College Program offered by the Newton-based Carroll Center for the Blind.
The six-week program—designed for sight-impaired high school juniors, seniors, or recent graduates—provides advanced computer instruction for creating papers, downloading books, researching on the web, scanning, using college web-based management systems and social networking with new friends.
Just as importantly, the program gives blind students a chance to actually experience college life by living in Wheelock dorms and attending classes on campus. Students are exposed to the challenge of traveling across an unfamiliar campus to the dining hall and classes, learning to advocate for themselves and to ask for help, meeting other students, dealing with professors, and handling potential roommate issues.
“It gives them a glimpse into what college is going to be like to see if they’re ready for it or if they need to take a step back and get ready for it,” said Rabih Dow, director of rehabilitation services and international training at The Carroll Center.
This is the first year that the residential portion of the three-year-old program was held at Wheelock. It was also the first time that students were required to complete a for-credit writing course. During the course, the eight participating students each wrote a paper about a time in their lives when their expectations shifted from what someone else expected from them to what they expected from themselves. They then presented their papers aloud to their peers, professors, and other members of the Wheelock community.
“We expect them to put in the work that any other student would have to put in and to live up to Wheelock’s standards,” said Dow. “Getting ready for college is not all about a computer and technology. It’s about all of these experiences.”
Dow said there are about 12,000 blind high school students in the U.S. and only a handful of college-preparedness programs like The Transition to College Program. “There is a lot of room for growth,” he said.
In his paper, Justin Edwards said he no longer has doubts about whether he can finish college and finally become an archeologist. “One day, you might see my name in the paper with the words “Doctor,” “Archeologist,” and “famous” next to it,” he said.
Wheelock College Director of Athletics Diana Cutaia has been busy in recent weeks speaking about what she believes is a better way to value athletics and competitive sports. A front-page story in the The Boston Globe initiated a string of invitations to speak and be interviewed. Recently, Diana was invited by NECN to talk about what parents and their children should be aware of to be safe at summer camp. Check out her advice here.
In Washington, D.C., Diana was a featured panel speaker for an Aspen Institute event to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the landmark Title IX antidiscrimination legislation and the positive impact it has had on women's sports, while also exploring ways to expand its reach today. During her panel discussion, Diana spoke about promoting development over competition, a topic that she addresses thoroughly in this video created by the NCAA highlighting the approach she introduced here at Wheelock. Check out Diana's Aspen Institute panel discussion here.
Diana has championed the cause of expanding access to participation in sports to as many individuals as possible and has been the driving force behind Wheelock’s unique approach to collegiate athletics, which has garnered widespread attention throughout the nation.
The ride continues, just last night being interviewed by Wheelock alum and Trustee, Steve Aveson, on NECN on the topic of Pop Warner and other sports organizations introducing rule changes and guidelines to reduce the incidence of head contact, and the related injuries incurred in football and other sports.
As I prepared for my trip to Haifa in the beginning of the year, I had many questions about the history of violence and conflict present in Israel, a country located on land that has experienced extreme clashes for thousands of years. I also wondered how members of the community reconciled trauma and healed. While Boston is a very different place from Haifa, we too experience violence and trauma in our communities. I hoped that my trip to Haifa could broaden my understanding of violence and healing, and give me new inspiration to bring back home to Boston. Here’s what I learned…
Understanding Conflict and Moving Forward
Before you can understand the conflicts in Israel, I learned that you must absorb the context of time and space in Middle East culture. Paul Liptz, a scholar from Tel Aviv University and the Hebrew Union College, taught me that the concepts of time and space are important variables within Israel. Time is seen as relative. So, 5000 years ago is really “the day before the present.” Some conflicts present in Israel today originated from 1000 or 2000 year old incidents, but to those involved it is as if occurred yesterday. Space is also a powerful concept. Land is rare and therefore does not change hands as frequently as in other parts of the world. Land can have religious affiliations but may be divided for political reasons or by political allies. Therefore one must consider the concept of “holy time” and “holy space” as different to secular time and secular space; and this complicates planning for a future that is different from the past.
While Boston may not have the same associations with time and space, I think many of today’s conflicts here are caused by timeless issues. For example: racism, class inequalities, and gender or sexual preference discrimination are conflicts that are motivated by issues and beliefs from many years ago. Yet, these issues for some many continue to inspire present day conflict. Just as the Israelis find planning for a different future a complicated task, we too may find it hard to move forward with progress if people hang on to past ideologies and conflicts.
Healing from Trauma
One of the most inspiring elements of my trip to Haifa was witnessing the way people recover from trauma and deal with uncertainty in their everyday lives. It amazed me that the average Israeli is living their life, in spite of events that could force many to live in fear. Evidence of this appears in many forms. For example, I visited one area between Jerusalem and the Old City that was at one time not so long ago occupied and quite dangerous to walk through. Today, the space has been transformed and art now lines the street. The art reclaims that space and creates beauty where once stood barbed wires. While art may seem like a simple gesture, it has great impact. And I think art can be an incredible way to heal from trauma no matter where you live in the world!
I also spoke with one mother in Haifa who explained the challenges of recovering from trauma to me. She shared a story about witnessing a bus explosion directly in front of her on her way to work one day. She described it as a feeling deep inside of “things not being right.” But, she explained, you still have to get up and live your life. She said that it is hard to figure out what to tell your children, because you want them to know the truth but also not live in fear.
Perhaps the most powerful embodiment of this mother’s message was found when I got international students perspectives on this issue while talking to a group of High School students in Haifa. The students talked about their dedication to helping their community. They spoke of the value of service and working for one another. Despite conflict and trauma, the values they take away from living in Haifa are to help others as much as possible in times of trouble. I think their message is powerful and inspirational to anyone who deals with daily struggles. Instead of living in fear or worry, turn your energy towards helping others also in need.
Those high school students left me a special message to bring back to Boston. I hope it inspires you too!
Ceronne Daly, Wheelock's Director of Pre-Collegiate and College Access Programs, is starting out 2012 exploring parts of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa in an effort to find out how students find peace in their lives there.
In the short video below, Ceronne explains how a Learning Exchange sponsored by the Jewish Community Relations Council of Boston will allow her to ask, listen and observe in ways that will ultimately benefit the students of Wheelock and Boston.
Ceronne works closely with the 'Spark The Truth' and 'Teacher Bound/Upward Bound' programs at Wheelock, youth advocacy programs that help Wheelock students and Boston youth better understand the world beyond their neighborhoods.
Watch here in the coming days for more of what Ceronne is seeing, who she is meeting, and what she learning as she travels through Israel.
The year of 2011 was marked by Time Magazine as the “Year of the Protester”. From Egypt and Libya to New York City and Boston, people took to the streets to protest various injustices in a diverse range of cultures, often leaving people both motivated and questioning. While global protesters may have been acting for many different reasons, there is one specific evil every protestor was motivated to combat – inequality.
While it may be hard to label the various protests around the globe as successes or failures, they have all undoubtedly thrived in one aspect: they have sparked conversation about inequality. And that is where the Wheelock community is similar to Time’s 2011 ‘person of the year.’ The “Protester” fights inequality—something the Wheelock community has been doing since 1888. We at Wheelock are a group of students, faculty, staff and alumni who are dedicated to helping our communities, pursuing positive change, and inspiring a world of good where people are treated fairly and compassionately. Lucy Wheelock saw the long-term effect education could have on inequality. Today, Wheelock continues to focus on serving and helping children and families and the underlying theme of social justice connects all categories of study.
In the past year, we at Wheelock have served communities around the world, we’ve refurbished and reopened a local community center, we’ve launched a center dedicated entirely to military children and families, and we’ve participated in over 100,000 hours of community service. As the world protested, we served. And while it may be hard to measure the impact of these demonstrations against inequality, we’re getting people talking about what we care about: fairness, justice, equality, and hope. As we all return to Wheelock in 2012 let’s remember to keep up the fight against inequality as we engage in world service, field experience, youth advocacy and service learning. Inequality exists across the globe. It is up to us to use our passion, resources and service skills to fight against it.
For an interesting overview of 2011 protests and the “Occupy” phenomenon visit Wheelock’s Policy Connection.
It has been an amazing fall semester here at Wheelock. Our largest-ever incoming class and our returning students enjoyed not only the many physical improvements we made to our beautiful campus over the summer, but also an abundance of programs and events that celebrated both academic excellence and the spirit of social commitment that makes Wheelock such a special place.
Two highlights of the semester included our annual International Week, featuring thought-provoking lectures plus a joyous performance by South Africa’s Sharon Katz and the Peace Train, and the screening of Education Under Fire—a film about the right to higher education—which included a live panel discussion led by human rights activist and actor Rainn Wilson.
There has also been an incredible amount of behind-the-scenes activity at Wheelock this fall, all designed to ensure the College remains strong and vibrant well past its upcoming 125th anniversary. We are nearing completion of our 10-year Strategic Plan, a truly collaborative process that involved students, faculty, alumni, and staff at all levels. In addition, the College kicked off an unprecedented capital campaign in October that will allow us to create our first-ever endowments for student scholarships, professorships, technology, and innovation. The response to this appeal has been extremely gratifying; we have already raised $54.8 million toward our $80 million goal.
We will be hosting many more exciting programs and events in the spring semester, including a not-to-be-missed Half-Year program focusing on diversity and featuring a keynote address by Joseph “Rev Run” Simmons, one of the founding members of the influential hip hop group Run-D.M.C. and a practicing minister.
We are also looking forward to a spectacular Commencement 2012, which will feature Oscar-nominated actress Jane Alexander as keynote speaker. For the first time, we will be holding separate ceremonies for our undergraduate and graduate classes, allowing our amazing students to share this special event with more family members and friends.
Wheelock is a truly unique institution, full of people who are driven to make a difference in society. Based on the stellar applications we’ve received for fall admission, Wheelock’s Class of 2016 will be as inspirational a group of student leaders as their predecessors.
The best way to get a real feeling for what Wheelock is all about is to visit our Boston campus. We hope to see you on campus soon.
On Oct. 12, 2011, Wheelock began the public phase of The Campaign for Wheelock—the largest capital campaign in the College’s history—with a kickoff event at WGBH studios in Allston. The event celebrated Wheelock’s many outstanding accomplishments and brought students, faculty, and staff together with alumni and friends of the College to share information about programs and activities that are flourishing at Wheelock. It was an informative and fun way to envision new opportunities for the College to advance its mission in the near future and learn how the Campaign will lead to more growth and recognition for Wheelock.
Nearly one-third, or $25 million, of the $80 million Campaign goal is designated for faculty and student programs and unrestricted gifts to the Annual Fund, essential support which provides for scholarships and the financial flexibility that allows the College to maintain its day-to-day quality of operations and to respond to new opportunities and challenges as they arise. The remaining amount of the Campaign goal – $55 million – is dedicated to five first-of-their-kind endowments for Wheelock: endowments for Student Scholarships, Professorships, Innovation, and Technology Enhancement and Innovation, and a fund for Campus Facilities Projects.
The Campaign for Wheelock will prepare more Wheelock graduates with the knowledge and skills they need to change the world. Join in on this historic endeavor and follow the Campaign’s progress at its Wheelock website page: WWW.WHEELOCK.EDU/CAMPAIGN
“As we plan for the future, we are building upon a century of innovative thinking about children and families rooted in the inspired vision of Lucy Wheelock.”
— Jackie Jenkins-Scott, President of Wheelock College