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Kenneth Hartman discusses prison reform and “the other death penalty”

By Upstate Institute on November 7, 2019

The Upstate Institute partnered with Hamilton College to bring author Kenneth E. Hartman to Colgate on Tuesday, November 5, 2019. Hartman served 38 years of a life without the possibility of parole sentence in the California State prison system before being released in 2017. Hartman discussed his time in prison to a full audience in Persson Auditorium, and described his activism in working to abolish the sentence of life without the possibility of parole (LWOP). LWOP is effectively, in Hartman’s words, “the other death penalty” sentence, without any of the legal or administrative safeguards rightly awarded to those condemned to the traditional forms of execution. LWOP exposes our society’s concealed beliefs that redemption and personal transformation are not possible for all human beings, and that it is reasonable and just to forever define an individual by his worst act. Life without the possibility of parole is wrong and should be abolished.

Hartman also discussed the importance of including prisoner voices in the prison reform process. Hartman argued that many of the ideas surrounding prison reform inevitably fail because they come out of a fundamental misunderstanding of the realities of prison. In his experience, prisoners are barred from participating in the conception and management of almost all prison programs, even though their voices have the ability to inform the conversation about reform in unique ways.

Hartman is the author of the award-winning memoir “Mother California: A Story of Redemption Behind Bars.” He has been published in Harper’s magazine, the New York Times, and in numerous other magazines and newspapers, mostly writing about the experience of serving time in prison. Ken is also the founder of The Other Death Penalty Project, works for a nonprofit that helps reentering formerly incarcerated people find housing, and is actively involved in the broad struggle to reform the criminal justice system. Since his release from prison, Ken has spoken at colleges and universities, moderated panels at criminal justice conventions, completed an internationally accredited Life Coach program, and continued to write. He now lives in the Los Angeles area.

This event was presented in partnership with Hamilton College and the Mohawk Consortium College in Prison program, and sponsored by the Office of the Dean of the Faculty, CORE 152 and Peace and Conflict Studies.

Professor Benson’s Video Project Tells ABC Story

By Upstate Institute on November 28, 2018

Colgate students with the 2017-18 ABC scholars

One of the challenges of increasing financial support for the Fayetteville-Manlius A Better Chance (FM-ABC) program is in raising awareness of the program and the impact on the young women who participate. That task has gotten a large boost through a series of videos produced to tell the FM-ABC story. The video series was created by 13 Colgate University students enrolled in the Community Based Participatory Research course during the spring semester of 2018. In this sociology class, students work in partnership with a local community organization to carry out a research project that meets a community need. The course is taught by Janel Benson, associate professor of sociology at Colgate and an ABC board member and academic adviser, who thought the FM-ABC program would make for a perfect organizational partner. Read more

Kyle Bass named Burke Chair for 2018-2019 academic year

By Upstate Institute on August 28, 2018

Burke Chair Kyle Bass (photo by Brenna Merritt)

Kyle Bass, Associate Artistic Director at Syracuse Stage and instructor in playwriting at Syracuse University, has been named Gretchen Hoadley Burke ’81 Endowed Chair for Regional Studies for the 2018-2019 academic year. Bass is a two-time recipient of the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship (for fiction in 1998 and playwriting in 2010), a finalist for the Princess Grace Playwriting Award, a semi-finalist for the O’Neill Playwriting Conference, and Pushcart Prize nominee. His new play Possessing Harriet, commissioned by the Onondaga Historical Association, will have its world premiere at Syracuse Stage in October, directed by Tazewell Thompson. Bass is the co-author of the original screenplay for the film Day of Days, which stars award-winning veteran actor Tom Skerritt (Alien, Top Gun, Steel Magnolias, A River Runs Through It) and was released by Broad Green Pictures in 2017. He is currently writing the screenplay adaptation of the novel Milk by Darcy Steinke and has been commissioned by the Society for New Music to write the libretto for an opera based on the life and music of legendry folk singer and guitarist Libba Cotten. Bass is the co-author (with Ping Chong) of Cry for Peace: Voices from the Congo, which had its world premiere at Syracuse Stage and was subsequently produced at La MaMa Experimental Theatre in New York City. He worked with acclaimed visual artist Carrie Mae Weems on her theatre piece Grace Notes: Reflections for Now, which had its world premiere at the 2016 Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, South Carolina, and was subsequently produced at Yale Rep and the Kennedy Center. Bass’s Separated, a piece of documentary theatre about the student military veterans at Syracuse University, was first presented at Syracuse Stage in 2017, directed by Robert Hupp. His prose and other writings have appeared in the journals Folio and Stone Canoe, among others, and in the anthology Alchemy of the Word: Writers Talk about Writing and he has appeared as a guest on National Public Radio’s “Tell Me More,” discussing race in American theatre. and is Drama Editor for the journal Stone Canoe. Bass has taught in the M.F.A. Creative Writing program at Goddard College since 2006. He also teaches theatre courses in Syracuse University’s Department of African American Studies, and in addition to teaching at Colgate University, Bass has taught playwriting at Hobart & William Smith College.

Bass holds an M.F.A. in creative writing from Goddard College and is a proud member of the Dramatist Guild of America.

Opioid research conducted with Bassett Research Institute to be published

By Upstate Institute on June 7, 2017

The research on New York State’s opioid crisis, conducted by faculty and students at Colgate in collaboration with the Bassett Research Institute in Cooperstown, will be published in the journal “Drug and Alcohol Dependence.” This article looks at the research on  prescribing patterns and opioid overdose morbidity in New York from 2010 through the second quarter of 2016, before mandatory use of the state’s controlled substances database began in August 2013. The research project looked at morbidity (complications and health effects) from overdoses, not mortality, because the numbers are much bigger.


ENST 390 students release data on village deer population

By Upstate Institute on November 17, 2016

Students in the Environmental Studies 390 course, entitled “Community Based Studies of Environmental Issues” taught by Associate Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies Catherine Cardelús, have shared the results of surveys they conducted about the perspective of community members and students on the culling of deer in the village of Hamilton.


“The Status of White-Tailed Deer in Hamilton” presentation, held at the Hamilton Public Library on November 16, included updated data on the deer population in and around the Village of Hamilton. Data was shared through a powerpoint presentation, and through the brochures, available below.

ENST 390 Research Page 1

ENST 390 Research Page 2


Godwin publishes book on the symbolism of Freemasonry in Upstate New York

By Upstate Institute on May 26, 2016

SymbolsJoscelyn Godwin and coauthor Christian Goodwillie (Hamilton College) have just published Symbols in the Wilderness: Early Masonic Survivals in Upstate New York. The title was published by Richard W. Couper Press, with funding from the Upstate Institute.

Freemasonry played a vital role in the social development of New York State. Its Lodges provided a trusted place for newcomers to meet and for friendships and business partnerships to develop, free from political, professional, and sectarian differences. During its explosive growth from 1790 to the end of the 1820s Masonic brethren produced iconic architecture, as well as extraordinary examples of folk art, expressed in large symbolic paintings (“tracing boards”), murals, textiles, and graphics. Most of these have remained entirely unknown outside the Upstate Lodges that, against all hazards, have preserved them. Their symbolism seems mysterious and confusing to outsiders, but once explained, it gives insight into a period and place unique in American history.

Joscelyn Godwin is Professor of Music at Colgate University. He previously published The Spirit House, or Brown’s Free Hall, in Georgetown, New York with the Upstate Institute. Symbols in the Wilderness is available for purchase at Couper Press.

Upstate Funded Project on Drone Warfare at Palace Theater March 21

By Upstate Institute on February 25, 2016

Jacob Mundy, Assistant Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies, and Valerie Morkevicius, Assistant Professor of Political Science, will hold a public symposium at the Palace Theater in Hamilton on March 21, 2016 at 4:30 pm. “Drone Warfare and the Implication for Upstate New York” will include participants Daniel R. Brunstetter, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of California at Irvine; Charles J Dunlap, Professor of the Practice of Law and Executive Director, Center on Law, Ethics and National Security, Duke School of Law; and Nicholas Rostow, Charles Evans Hughes Visiting Chair of Government and Jurisprudence, Colgate University. Harry Murray, Professor of Sociology, Nazareth University and member of Upstate Drone Action, will respond.

The federal government’s desire to increased the range and precision of counterterrorism targeting programs with drones means that drones are often operated from bases inside the United States, including Hancock Air Force Base near Syracuse. While there is already a rich debate over the effects of drone warfare on the areas it targets, the implications of drone warfare for communities that host such programs is poorly understood. The participants in this symposium will collectively explore the significant yet unexplored consequences of drone warfare on those who are exposed to it and those who wage it.

Three Faculty Awarded Course Development Grants

By Upstate Institute on September 29, 2015

Janel Benson of Sociology and Anthropology, Jessica Graybill of Geography (“Urban Geography”), and Tim McCay of Biology (“Applied Natural Resource Conservation”) were recently awarded course development grants through the Upstate Institute.

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Chris Henke Assumes Position of Upstate Institute Director

By Upstate Institute on July 1, 2015

Christopher Henke, Associate Professor of Sociology, begins a three year term as Director of the Upstate Institute on July 1, 2015. In this position, Henke will oversee the programs and initiatives of the Institute, and will continue to strengthen connections between Colgate faculty and the greater Upstate New York community. He will work with Project Director Julie Dudrick, who oversees the Upstate Institute Summer Field School and community-based research throughout the academic year.

Chris Henke, Associate Professor of Sociology, becomes the Director of the Ustate Institute on July 1, 2015.

Chris Henke, Associate Professor of Sociology, becomes the Director of the Upstate Institute on July 1, 2015.

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Faculty Research Projects Receive Funding

By Upstate Institute on June 1, 2015

Three faculty-proposed research projects on the Upstate New York region will be funded by the Upstate Institute in the coming year.  These funded projects will promote community collaboration and civic engagement through the creation of knowledge and enhance community capacity throughout the region. Each year, the Upstate Institute chooses projects to fund in order to promote scholarly research that relates to the region’s social, economic, environmental, and cultural assets. Faculty receiving a research award share their research at the annual Upstate Institute Research Symposium.

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