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From the Director

With just one semester at the Goldfarb Center I am getting to know many of the staff and faculty, and I have officially rubbed elbows with our students. There is a lot more to learn about the College and the center, and I have only nicked the tip of the iceberg of getting to know Colby alumni. Even so, I feel a part of the team; no longer that unfamiliar face in the Diamond Building.

A few quick reflections jump to the fore. Everyone has been wonderfully helpful and supportive and the staff and students at the center are dedicated and hard-working. It is a joy to spend my days with such a fine group of professionals and students. I also continue to be amazed at the scope of Goldfarb initiatives. From important campus programs to broad civic engagement projects, Colby Cares About Kids, and scholarly endeavors, the scope of our work is much broader and more significant than I could have imagined three months ago. What an exciting, dynamic organization.

I look forward to the winter and spring program on Mayflower Hill, and to getting to know more of you in the days and weeks ahead.

All the best during this holiday season.




Goldfarb Center Poll Reveals New Insights on Civility and Compromise

Immediately following the 2012 elections the Goldfarb Center commissioned a national public opinion survey exploring American attitudes toward political compromise. SurveyUSA conducted the phone survey, which included responses from 1,534 registered voters and some surprising new information. Pic1

Over the past few years Goldfarb Center Director Dan Shea has taken a leading role in the scholarly exploration of civility and compromise in politics. With a team of scholars he has conducted three national public opinion surveys and published several articles and chapters on related topics. With Stanford University scholar Morris Fiorina, he also edited a collection of essays titled, Can We Talk? The Rise of Rude, Nasty, Stubborn Politics (Pearson/Longman 2012). Aspects of his research have been reported by many of the nation’s largest media outlets. Shea will continue that groundbreaking research here at the Goldfarb Center with the aid of Colby students.

The center will release findings from the new survey to the media over the next few weeks. An initial discovery, reported on by the Los Angeles Times, suggests Americans are divided on issues related to compromise. Asked a generic question on whether it is more important for a politician to find compromise solutions or to stick to principles, respondents overwhelmingly favored compromise: 61 to 35 percent. A full 73 percent of self-identified Democrats and 60 percent of independents suggested compromise solutions were preferable, but only 38 percent of Republicans said the same.

Yet, when asked more specifically about a range of policy disputes, support for compromise drops among all respondents. Just 41 percent said they were very or somewhat likely to compromise with others who disagree with them on the federal budget deficit, compared to 34 percent who noted very or somewhat unlikely to compromise. Twenty percent were unsure.

Shea will work with Colby students to fine-tune the results and to release new material to the media as it emerges. A host of novel, important insights are expected, particularly as they relate to perceptions of civility in politics and the tone of the recent presidential election. Stay tuned!

Putnam Will Speak at the Annual Nonprofit Leadership Institute

Robert Putnam, LL.D. ’12, the Peter and Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School, will speak at Colby April 26, 2013, at the annual Nonprofit Leadership Institute. This year’s theme is Common Ground? Facing a New Reality with Compassion and Conviction. The conference will examine ways for nonprofit leaders to bring civility back to the conversation and find common ground in defining a new system dynamic amidst major societal changes, huge budget debt and deficits, culture wars, and an era of eroding of civility.

Putnam is the author of Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, and more recently Better Together: Restoring the American Community, a study of promising new forms of social connectedness.

Professor Putnam is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a Fellow of the British Academy, and past president of the American Political Science Association. In 2006, Putnam received the Skytte Prize, one of the world’s highest accolades for a political scientist, and last May he received an honorary Colby doctor of laws degree.

Mules Kick-Start the College Process for Local Students

MulePrep, a Colby-student led college prep program, wrapped up its second seven-week course in early November. Fifty participating high-school students from area communities raised their scores on SAT practice tests an average of 103 points.

A program of the Colby Volunteer Center, MulePrep also called on the Career Center, Admissions, and the Farnham Writers’ Center to help high school students learn more about the college application process through its college process seminar series. Additionally, the MulePrep’s six stellar teachers taught three hours of class each Sunday. As the program closed, 100 percent of partricipating high school students said they would recommend the program to a friend.

Colby senior Matt White started MulePrep a year ago, working with Professor Mark Tappan (education) to design the course and then pilot it in the spring. “MulePrep, as I envisioned it and planned it, is open-access, but set up to best support first-generation and low-income students overcome disparities in college access,” explained White. “Looking at the demographics we’ve been supporting, few of our students fit our target population. The SAT portion of MulePrep will always be open-access, but to better target first-generation and low-income students I am looking to create a one-on-one college process mentoring program this spring.”

Now that the fall season is over, MulePrep busy recruiting students for the winter session, which will begin in Jan Plan. Over the next few weeks, Colby students will be going out to schools and giving MulePrep assemblies with the hope of raising enrollment to 75 students for the winter term. To learn more about the program, visit the MulePrep page on the CVC website.

Colby Brings Concussion Management Skills to Maine High Schools

The Maine Concussion Management Initiative (MCMI), which provides testing and education about concussion management and the dangers of traumatic brain injury, is now working with more than 80 Maine schools. In 2009 the Goldfarb Center awarded a research grant to Professor Joseph Atkins (psychology) and Medical Director Paul Berkner, D.O., to develop a program of testing and education about the dangers of traumatic brain injury and the importance of consistent concussion management for Maine’s high school athletes. pic2

The program, which brings together a group of physicians, parents, athletic trainers, neuropsychologists, teachers, and other professionals, aims to make computerized cognitive testing available to all high schools in Maine. “We began with 25 high schools in the first year and now have 82 schools and youth sports organizations as partners in providing the best in evidence-based concussion management,” explained Atkins. “The program has an active research element … involving faculty and staff in the pursuit of new methodologies for detecting concussion and assistance with management.”

Atkins said that the program recently secured grant funding from Bill Alfond ’72 to help a limited number of new schools gain access to cognitive testing and to host and participate in conferences to enhance awareness and training regarding concussion management. For more on this project, see the Colby magazine article here.