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Black jacobin hummingbird
Fall 2018

Higher calling

For decades, scientists have been intrigued by a black hummingbird that appears to be singing, its throat and jaw moving in all earnestness, but without making any obvious sound. Augusto Ruschi, a naturalist who catalogued dozens of hummingbirds in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest, first noticed it in 1959.

The bird, called a black Jacobin, appeared to have portions of its song that were ultrasonic, “inaudible to humans,” said Ruschi, “and while one would only perceive it with special equipment, one can notice the moment in which the bird emits it, as its guttural region makes characteristic movements, commonly observed when a bird sings.”

It would be … » More …

Fall 2018

Returns on education

Damien Pattenaude went back to his old school in Renton when there was a need. Now he wants to see even more kids return to Renton classrooms as teachers, just as he did.

It has become an even more urgent concern for Pattenaude (’99, ’05 MA, ’16 EdD) now that he is superintendent of the growing Renton School District. Like other school administrators across Washington and the country, he faces a teacher shortage, especially in special education, math, and sciences. Schools also need more diversity among teachers, to better represent the state’s changing population.

Although teacher shortages are not new, the problem is accelerating» More …

Summer 2018

Finding identity and expression at WSU

Bob Dlugosh says that he and his roommate, Al, “were always chumming around Pullman together.” Best friends, Bob figured Al for straight, but he liked the guy so much he didn’t let it bother him. Bob did wonder if Al knew he was gay. In 1968, “gay” felt like a brand new word. So it probably wasn’t the one used on the sign Al and Bob found tacked to their Stephenson Hall door: “Bob and Al are gay.”

But that’s what Robert Dlugosh ’71 recalls decades later. The noun was probably something from the much crueler vernacular of the day: They were being called faggots, … » More …

Twitter bird illustration
Spring 2018

Truth or consequences

Fake news nearly started a war between Qatar and its neighbors in 2017. In Pakistan, a highly placed official bought into a fake news story warning that Israel was going to destroy Pakistan, and tweeted a warning at Israel that his country, too, was a nuclear power. And in Washington, D.C., an armed vigilante burst into a pizzeria and fired three shots, thinking he was bringing down a sex-slave ring.

While news has never been neutral, something has changed: Information has become weaponized. What’s changed, says Washington State University communications professor Doug Hindman, is that the marketplace of ideas has broken down under the … » More …

Illustration of paper with question mark
Spring 2018

How to become information literate?

It takes four moves and a habit

Michael Caulfield’s approach to information literacy is simple. He argues that we should teach students to be fact checkers instead of rhetoricians. In rhetoric, readers spend a great deal of time reading closely, analyzing syntax and word choice for tone. Fact checking, though, is quick, involving only “four moves and a habit,” Caulfield, director of networked and blended learning at WSU Vancouver, says. A recent Stanford University study supports the idea that a fact-checking strategy is superior to close reading.

Look for previous work. When fact-checking a particular claim, the quickest, simplest thing to do is to … » More …

Winter 2017

Homer on a flash drive

Plato is sitting at the feet of his mentor Socrates, writing down what the old philosopher says. What Socrates is saying, ironically, is that writing is bad for you: It rots your memory. Preserved in Plato’s Phaedrus, Socrates’s opinion of the then-emerging technology sounds strange to us now—until you recall that that’s pretty much exactly what pundits in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries have been saying about TV, video games, and texting.

Dene Grigar, director of Washington State University Vancouver’s program in Creative Media and Digital Culture, laughs and nods. She’s also the president of the Electronic Literature Organization, an international team of scholars and … » More …

Alicia Cooper
Fall 2017

Alicia Cooper

Many college students balance a full load of classes and activities, but it’s pretty rare to juggle all that plus the crown of Miss Washington 2016. Alicia Cooper, a senior at Washington State University Vancouver, works as a real estate broker as she studies personnel psychology and human resources—and she was third runner-up for Miss America in 2016 after winning the Miss Washington competition.

Cooper credits her grandmother with inspiring her. When she passed away after a 13-year battle with breast cancer, “I realized how significantly she impacted every person who knew her,” says Cooper. She took her grandmother’s lessons to heart, volunteering as … » More …

Midwives tend to a newborn baby while the exhausted mother rests in bed, circa 1450. Another child lies in a cradle beside her, being rocked by a servant. Original Artwork: A miniature engraving from 'Histoire de la Belle Helaire' on a 15th Century manuscript from the Imperial Library, Paris. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Spring 2017

Call the midwife

ViviAnne Fischer practices midwifery in her clinic near Pullman, where you can see her connection to the long and complicated history surrounding the practice.

In a green-colored house along a dirt road, at the top of a set of stairs, a large, nondescript black suitcase stands before a crammed bookshelf, her “library” for families. Inside the suitcase is a mix of new, modern medical equipment beside bottles of herbal extracts.

On the other side of the room is an odd-shaped stool at the foot of a bed. The bed is almost cot-like but the wooden frame poking out from beneath the quilt is carved. The … » More …

Zeroing in on critical zones
Spring 2017

Zeroing in on critical zones

For almost half a century, scientists have been measuring carbon dioxide in the air two miles above sea level in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. At first, Charles David Keeling counted 310 parts of carbon dioxide for every million parts of air. When he died in 2005, the number was 380. On May 9, 2013, the number topped 400, “a milepost,” wrote National Geographic’s Robert Kunzig, “on a far more rapid uphill climb toward an uncertain climate future.”

We might get wistful over the elegance of what is now known as the Keeling number: a solitary data point, like the Dow Jones industrial average, … » More …

Winter 2016

When Jermiha marched home

Military homecoming is usually a time of immense joy and relief, but for many veterans the weeks that follow are daunting. Each month in Washington state alone, 1,000 service members transition from active duty to civilian life—moving from a structured, often traumatic environment into the looser routines of home. Along the way come unexpected challenges, especially when returning to college or entering the job market.

Jermiha White ’16 served eight and a half years as an Army cavalry scout on the front lines of Iraq and Afghanistan. As a combat veteran, White began experiencing anxiety when he enrolled as a student at Washington State University … » More …