Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Deckman Co-Authors Study Of The Political Attitudes, Activism Of America's Women Clergy

Chestertown, MD, June 22, 2005 — Women clergy now account for approximately 10 percent of religious leaders in the United States, and as their numbers grow, so does their political influence. Melissa Deckman, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Washington College in Chestertown, MD, has joined Laura R. Olson, Associate Professor of Political Science at Clemson University, and Sue E. S. Crawford, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Creighton University, to examine the impact of gender, professional experience and religious belief on the political attitudes and activism of clergywomen in Women with a Mission: Religion, Gender, and the Politics of Women Clergy, just released by University of Alabama Press.

Based on qualitative analysis of interviews with 54 women ministers and rabbis from four American cities (Washington, DC, Milwaukee, Omaha, and Indianapolis) and quantitative analysis of a national survey of other clergy, this study breaks new ground in specifically addressing the political priorities, agendas, strategies and actions of clergywomen.

The authors' research probes beyond the traditional stereotypes of women clergy as either a silent, oppressed minority or the cutting edge of an elite feminist vanguard. Though women ministers and rabbis face professional and political restraints that stem from long-standing religious norms about gender roles, in many circumstances their gender can be an asset. Though the same constraints make it risky for some clergywomen to assume visible roles on divisive cultural and political issues, many do, even on controversial issues, such as gay rights and abortion.

"Among those women we studied who did not participate in politics that heavily, most believed such activism was a valid and even necessary part of their ministries," Deckman said. "At the national level, we were struck with how much more politically engaged women clergy were than their male counterparts in similar denominations. On most measures of political activism, women clergy were significantly more likely than men clergy to participate, which runs counter to much of the political science research that finds that men are more likely to participate in politics than women."

Women with a Mission also sheds light on the broader phenomenon of the political mobilization of professionals in general: how the idiosyncrasies of one's profession affect political attitudes and actions. In this way, it contributes to a national, rather than a regional or denominational, discussion of gender and politics.

Deckman is a graduate of St. Mary's College of Maryland and received her Ph.D. in Political Science from American University in 1999. In addition to broader interests in America's national, state and local politics, Deckman has specialized in the study of the role of religion in America's political scene and is the author of School Board Battles: The Christian Right in Local Politics (Georgetown University Press, 2004). She has taught at Washington College since 2000.

Tuesday, June 7, 2005

Starr Center Sponsors Essay Contest

Chestertown, MD, June 7, 2005 — In 2006, Chestertown will celebrate the 300th anniversary of its founding. To celebrate the occasion, the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience is sponsoring a weekend symposium, devoted to Chestertown's history. The conference will bring together Washington College students, outside scholars, and the larger community to explore the unique past of this Eastern Shore town through lectures, exhibits and other events. Topics will range from Chestertown's colonial and Revolutionary heritage to the present day; from race relations to archaeology and historic preservation.

Students are invited to submit papers for presentation at the April 2006 symposium. Essays will be judged by a panel of historians, who will award prizes to the top submissions.

Essay Guidelines

  • The Chestertown Essay Contest is open to any Washington College student who is enrolled fulltime during the 2005-2006 academic year.
  • Essays should be no longer than 3000 words in length, and may be submitted in hard copy or electronic format.
  • All papers must be submitted to the C.V. Starr Center by noon on Friday, March 10, 2006.
  • Papers written for Washington College classes are eligible, as are those written expressly for the competition.
  • Essays will be judged on their relevance to the larger American story, for original or groundbreaking research, and for elegant and engaging writing.
  • Accepted entries will be presented by the students at a Chestertown history symposium to be held on Saturday, April 22, 2006.
  • Judges will award a cash prize of $500 to the top essay, with $250 and $100 presented for the second and third place finishers. The top three papers will be featured on the C.V. Starr Center's web site,, and will be considered for publication in the Washington College Magazine.

For more information, or to discuss possible topics, please contact Kees de Mooy, Program Manager of the C.V. Starr Center, at or 410-810-7156.

Monday, June 6, 2005

Novelist Benjamin Anastas Named To Literary House Post

Chestertown, MD, June 6, 2005 — Benjamin Anastas, author of An Underachiever's Diary and The Faithful Narrative of a Pastor's Disappearance: A Novel, has been named Interim Director of Washington College'sRose O'Neill Literary House. Anastas succeeds Robert Mooney, associate professor of English, who stepped down from the administrative post last spring to devote more time to completing his second novel. The College is embarking on a national search for a permanent successor to Mooney. Anastas, who assumes his post on August 15, will also serve as a visiting assistant professor of English.

Prior to joining Washington College, Anastas served as executive director of the Ledig House International Writers' Colony in Ghent, New York. A graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop and a former fiction editor of The Iowa Review, he won Story Magazine's College Fiction Competition in 1992 for "A Voice from Somewhere Else" and GQ's coveted Frederick Exley Fiction Prize in 1994 for his short story "Ice Fishing." His most recent short fiction, "Versace Enthroned with Saints Margaret, Jerome, Alex, and the Angel Donatella," was published in The Yale Review.

"The College is extremely pleased that Mr. Anastas has agreed to lead the Rose O'Neill Literary House program during the coming year," said Joachim Scholz, provost and dean of the college. "A distinguished writer who is very well established in the literary world of New York City, he will bring a wealth of talent and of literary connections to the Literary House. I believe our creative writing students can expect a lively and challenging year."

Washington College is a private, independent college of liberal arts and sciences located in historic Chestertown on Maryland's Eastern Shore. Founded in 1782 under the patronage of George Washington, it is the first college chartered in the new nation.

Fish For All Advocate Tapped To Head College's Center For Environment And Society

Chestertown, MD, June 6, 2005 — Michael Chiarappa, former associate professor of history and environmental studies at Western Michigan University, has been named the new director of Washington College'sCenter for Environment and Society. Chiarappa succeeds Wayne H. Bell, who resigned from his administrative and teaching posts last spring. Bell will continue his association with the Center as a Senior Associate. Chiarappa assumes the post July 1.

With a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania specializing in American environmental history, Chiarappa has focused his academic career on the teaching and research of American regional cultures and environments. His interdisciplinary use of American cultural history, ethnography and material culture studies examines the interplay of geographic and environmental consciousness ("sense of place"), landscape transformation and natural resource legacies.

As a specialist in maritime environmental studies, Chiarappa helped establish the Great Lakes Center for Maritime Studies, where his courses focused on environmental values, history, policy and fieldwork methods. He has been involved with a number of vessel-based classroom settings, including the Delaware Bay-based Bayshore Discovery Project and the Great Lakes-based Inland Seas Education Association.

His signature program to date has been "Fish for All: Perspectives on the History of Lake Michigan Fisheries Management and Policy." As co-director of this project, Chiarappa took students from the classroom and then onto fisheries research vessels and commercial fishing tugs. His students also visited private homes, government offices and fish sheds to interview and observe members of every fishing constituency on the Great Lakes. "Beyond what they learned in the classroom and in the field," he said, "my students brought this work a step further by working on a traveling museum exhibit, writing educational booklets, scripting an award-winning NPR radio documentary and constructing a web site."

Chiarappa is highly recognized on national and international levels for research that combines environmental history, landscape studies, cultural resource management and environmental policy and planning.

"Dr. Chiarappa emerged from a national field of strong applicants as the candidate who would most successfully advance the Center's agenda," said Joachim Scholz, provost and dean of the College. "His imaginative and interdisciplinary approach to the study of environment and society assures that Washington College will continue its leadership role in academic programming as well as in its regional, national and international outreach."