Gustavus Campus News
Gustavus Adolphus College philosophy and gender, women, and sexuality studies professor Dr. Peg O’Connor’s philosophy of addiction blog on Psychology Today has surpassed more than one million total hits.
In her blog posts, O’Connor combines her expertise in philosophy and her commitment to expanding the conversation on addiction to write “Philosophy Stirred, Not Shaken.” The content explores a philosophical and feminist approach to the topic of addiction, offering short pieces on a variety of topics to a wide audience of readers.
“People are constantly looking for ways to understand themselves, the people they love, or the people they work with, but they aren’t always looking for a scientific answer. With the rates of addiction increasing at a steady incline, the popularity of this blog reaffirms the value of philosophy in practices of self-examination and self-care,” O’Connor said. “Addiction is called a disease of the brain. But a person is much more than just a brain. Philosophy helps touch the ‘why’ of addiction that is so often missed in scientific conversations.”
In the classroom, O’Connor shares her interests with students, teaching a seminar course on the Philosophy of Addiction as a capstone in the philosophy major. She also serves on the Chemical Health Task Force at Gustavus, engaging students in discussions about the drinking culture on college campuses.
“At a liberal arts school, I can focus on both my research and my work with students from all disciplines,” O’Connor said. “As a professor, I find myself in the incredible spot of coming back to the same questions about life and meaning that I ran into as an undergrad, but this time with new information.”
The importance of O’Connor’s research on addiction and recovery was highlighted at the 51st Nobel Conference at Gustavus in 2015, “Addiction: Exploring the Science and Experience of an Equal Opportunity Condition.” Serving as the Conference chair, O’Connor brought together the field’s experts in medicine, neuroscience, sociology, economics, and philosophy to explore the science and experience of addiction.
“Not only were we able to expand the conversation surrounding addiction to a wider audience, but we also made it clear how much more work needs to be done to collectively understand it as a public health problem,” O’Connor said. “Since the event, I have had more opportunities to work with the speakers we hosted at the conference. It is incredible to be able to continue the conversation and let the Nobel Conference live on as these important ideas are debated and studied.”
In one such occasion, O’Connor collaborated with Dr. Owen Flanagan, the James B. Duke Professor of Philosophy and professor of neurobiology at Duke University and one of the 51st Nobel presenters, through the Rydell Professorship at Gustavus. Together, the two philosophers engaged Gustavus students with questions and discussion about ethics, meaning, and life.
O’Connor’s expertise stems from many years of research and publication. Finding an early connection in her studies to the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, her research focuses around his influence of thought. In 2002, she published Oppression and Responsibility. In 2008, her second book about Wittgenstein and ethics, Morality and Our Complicated Form of Life, was released. O’Connor’s essays have also appeared in The New York Times and the Huffington Post.
More recently, O’Connor’s focus on the philosophy of addiction culminated in the publication of Life on the Rocks: Finding Meaning in Addiction and Recovery in 2016. The book is the first in this field to approach addiction and recovery with a western philosophy lens. Relating to the topics explored in her blog, O’Connor’s book is directed towards all audiences, regardless of philosophical background.
Looking forward, O’Connor will be delivering a lecture about her research at the Mayo Clinic School’s 4th annual Humanities in Medicine Symposium later this fall. Then, she will travel to the University of Michigan as an invited speaker to a Society for Philosophy and Psychology panel discussion about addiction and agency.
“The decision to hold a conference dedicated to the roles of ethics and humanity in medicine is an important one. I appreciate these two honors as great opportunities to keep philosophy in the discussion of addiction as much as I can,” said O’Connor.
Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin
As Gustavus Adolphus College prepares to host the 53rd annual Nobel Conference October 3-4, the College has commissioned a nationwide survey to gauge the public’s thoughts on male contraception. The Nobel Conference, “Reproductive Technology: How Far Do We Go?,” will explore the science and ethics behind topics such as in vitro fertilization, CRISPR/Cas9, mitochondrial transfer, and the future of male contraception.
The results of the nationwide survey on male contraception indicate that men are generally interested in using hormonal birth control methods, but some of those polled are concerned that such usage would make them seem less masculine. The survey also asked about male contraceptive usage in short- and long-term relationships, as well as whether male hormonal birth control may be more appealing than traditional prophylactic methods.
The key findings of the survey are included in the release below. To see the more information about the results, please visit the survey PDF.
Majority of U.S. Men Say They’d Be Likely to Take Pill or Injection as Male Birth Control, But Many Express Concern Over How They Would Be Perceived by Women
New Gustavus survey explores attitudes toward male contraception as part of the College’s 53rd Nobel Conference on reproductive technology
MINNEAPOLIS, September 14, 2017 – A majority of men (65%) say they’d be likely to take a hormone pill or injection as a means of birth control if they were in a committed, long-term relationship. What’s more, 57% of men say they’d be likely to do the same if they were in a short-term relationship.
On the other hand, three in 10 men (29%) say that taking an oral or injectable male contraceptive would make them feel less masculine, while only 10% of women would perceive their partner that way. The proportion of young men (18-34) who say that they would feel less masculine if they took a male contraceptive jumps to 52% (versus 20% for men 35 years or older). Young men (18-34) are also twice as likely to be concerned that women would think less of them if they took male contraceptives (44% versus 21%, 35-54 years old).
Those are among the findings from a new Gustavus Adolphus College survey to gauge the U.S. public’s attitudes toward new male hormonal contraception. The survey was conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs in advance of the school’s 53rd annual Nobel Conference, to be held Oct. 3-4 on Gustavus’ Saint Peter, Minn., campus. The theme of this year’s conference: “Reproductive Technology: How Far Do We Go?”
One of the Gustavus survey findings actually could have potential widespread public health consequences. A majority of men and women agree that they would be less likely to continue using condoms if male contraceptives were introduced into the relationship (74% men and 69% women) – and this is especially true for younger men (83%, 18-34 years old).
“This means that our survey respondents appear to be more concerned about guarding against pregnancy than sexually transmitted diseases,” stated Yurie Hong, Gustavus associate professor of Classics and chair of this year’s Nobel conference.
“During our October conference, we’ll explore the science and ethical implications of new reproductive technologies such as male contraceptive methods, genome editing and mitochondrial transfer,” added professor Hong, “We undertook this survey to better understand both men’s and women’s attitudes toward managing reproduction. The results will enhance the rich discussions planned during our two-day agenda.”
Other findings from the Gustavus study include:
- Only 30% of women would trust a man to take an oral or injectable contraceptive if they were in a short-term relationship. On the other hand, 80% of women would trust their male partner to take the contraceptive when in a committed, long-term relationship.
- Women are much more likely than men to support the idea that health insurance should cover male contraceptives (78% vs. 66%, respectively); while men are more than twice as likely to oppose that idea (24% vs. 11%).
- More than half (58%) of the men surveyed would want their female partner to continue using their existing form of birth control as a backup if they were to start taking a male contraceptive. In comparison, the proportion of women who say they would continue using the pill, IUD, diaphragm or other form of birth control if they had a male partner who was taking a male contraceptive, jumps to seven in 10 (69%) women.
- Nearly half (49%) of men and women surveyed admit they have concerns regarding the effects of new male contraceptives on a man’s sexual performance – including most men (64%), younger adults (63%, ages 18-34), parents (58%) and college educated adults (51%).
- Men are significantly more likely to say they would not be willing to tolerate any side effects as a result of taking newly developed oral or injectable birth control methods (30% vs. 21%, women). Women, on the other hand, are much more likely to think men would be willing to accept side effects such as an increased libido, injection site pain, and weight gain.
About the Gustavus Nobel Conference
Reproductive technologies have long raised a host of scientific, social and ethical questions. The 53rd Nobel Conference, open to the public and held Oct. 3-4, 2017 at Gustavus, will bring together an interdisciplinary panel of scholars and scientists from around the world to address not only how far we can go, but how far we should go. For more information about the conference, visit https://gustavus.edu/events/nobelconference/2017/.
About Gustavus Adolphus College
Gustavus Adolphus College is a private liberal arts college in St. Peter, Minn., that prepares undergraduate students for lives of leadership, service, and lifelong learning. Gustavus was founded in 1862 and is the oldest Lutheran college in Minnesota. Fully accredited and known for its strong science, writing, music, athletics, study-abroad, and service-learning programs, Gustavus is internationally recognized for its annual Nobel Conference.
About the survey
These are the findings from an Ipsos Public Affairs poll conducted on behalf of Gustavus Adolphus College, conducted July 7-11, 2017. For the survey, a sample of 1,872 adults over the age of 18 from the continental U.S., Alaska and Hawaii was interviewed online, in English. To qualify for the survey, respondents had to identify as being straight/heterosexual. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of ± 2.6 percentage points for all respondents surveyed.
Tickets are still available for the Nobel Conference. To learn more about the schedule, speakers, and topics, visit the Nobel Conference website.
Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin
TO: The Gustavus Community
FROM: President Rebecca Bergman
SUBJECT: Support for DACA Students
DATE: September 6, 2017
Gustavus Adolphus College was founded by immigrants, and from its inception in 1862, the College’s mission has been to prepare young people to lead lives of leadership and service in society. The recent decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program stands in contrast to the College’s values and our commitment to supporting students from all backgrounds as they seek an excellent liberal arts education.
At Gustavus, we recognize that our community and the education we offer must reflect the world that we all live in. We remain firmly committed to the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion, and we stand together with many other institutions of higher education and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in opposing this change in policy.
We are committed to supporting our DACA students and all members of the Gustavus community during this time of uncertainty. I will also be contacting our elected officials to encourage them to support legislation that will allow the 800,000 DACA participants to continue to work, learn, and serve their communities. In the name of our core values of justice and community, I encourage you to do the same.
Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin
On Friday, September 1, during one of the most beautiful days of the year, Gustavus Adolphus College welcomed the 613 new Gusties who are the Class of 2021.
Students and their families entered campus to the wild, welcoming cheers of Gustie greeters. With the help of Gustie football players, they unloaded vehicles, unpacked clothes and snacks, and met new roommates in Pittman, Sohre, and Norelius (Co-Ed) Halls.
“There are so many people helping,” said Herbert Slaughter, from Opelika, Alabama. (His son is Class of 2021). “The football players—that’s got to be their workout for the day.”
Once students (mostly) settled into their rooms, thoughts turned to the real work—a first year at Gustavus. “I’m honestly excited for the classes,” said Rebecca Steffen ’21, from South St. Paul. She plans on studying physics and dance. (“We have no doubts about her,” said her mom.)
For professor Alisa Rosenthal, Move-In Day buzz sets a great tone for the rest of the year. “The excitement, the energy, the students anticipating their college experience—I love being here for it,” she said.
A buffet lunch was held in the Lund Center. After, Gustie families continued to help new students arrange their rooms. They stopped by the Gustavus sign for commemorative move-in day photos (available at flickr.com/photos/gustavusadolphuscollege). Then it was on to Old Main to mingle over ice cream and grab a selfie with President Rebecca Bergman.
Shortly after, at Convocation in Christ Chapel, President Bergman said to parents, “Soak in the beauty of this place and this moment. You have brought these students to this moment in their lives, and I know what this day means.” (Bergman herself is a proud mom to two Gustie grads.)
To the students, Bergman said, “Stay on top of your homework, eat only healthy foods, brush your teeth twice a day, and never wear flip flops in the snow.” (She was joking, a little bit.) She went on with a more earnest message: “I expect you to make good choices and to help others do the same. And don’t forget your parents are out there cheering for you.”
And don’t forget that your future in-laws may be in the room, noted associate vice president and dean of admission Rich Aune. Also in the room: fourth-generation Gusties, and first-generation college students. “Don’t panic,” Aune told all of them. “You belong here. We want you here. We want you to do something great.”
Aune then presented the Class of 2021 to JoNes VanHecke, vice president for student life and dean of students, who reiterated the two universal truths of college: “It is fun, and it is challenging.” Provost and dean of faculty Brenda Kelly then invoked a piece of the College’s new vision, telling students that Gustavus will prepare them “to act on the great challenges of our time through an innovative liberal arts education of recognized excellence.”
Like a lifetime of purposeful action, “Being a Gustie is not something that only lasts four years. It does not fade,” said presenter and alum Matthew Timmons ’15.
And now, said President Bergman, “that famous Gustie spirit is working its way into your heart.”
Gustavus Adolphus College senior Isabella Robertson is back on campus after spending the summer in Sweden as the winner of the College’s Wallenberg Foundation Intern Award. Robertson, a communication studies major from Honokaa, Hawaii, completed the internship after studying away in Ireland during the spring semester. Now that Isabella is back on campus, we sat down to ask her a few questions about her time away from the hill.
Gustavus: Why did you choose to study away during your time at Gustavus?
Isabella Robertson: Studying abroad had always been on my list of things I wanted to do before I graduated college. I knew a little trip abroad wouldn’t be enough. I wanted to be immersed into the life and culture of a country and experience getting an education there as well. I believe studying abroad gave me a newfound sense of confidence and taught me how to adapt and be more flexible in other cultures. I had the opportunity to immerse myself in Irish culture and education, work in Sweden, and travel to several other countries as well.
G: What was an average day like during your Wallenberg experience?
IR: I was the Communications and Operations Intern at the American Chamber of Commerce in Sweden (AmCham) for the month of June through the middle of July. On my first day of work we met early at the U.S Ambassador’s Residence in Stockholm and had a round-table meeting with members of the U.S. Embassy and other diplomats and international business members discussing the topic of cybersecurity. Some examples of the different types of tasks I did while interning with AmCham were creating plans of engagement for companies which included a brief description of the company, an industry landscape and a SWOT analysis, researching how we could help a company if they became our member, and connecting businesses with our sustainability board or mentoring board. I also worked one on one with my boss on a letter to the U.S. Congress that expressed AmCham’s concern with the budget cuts proposed for the U.S. Department of Commerce and Department of State.
G: How did the experience help prepare you for your future career?
IR: Overall I gained insight into a wide variety of potential career opportunities that I was not aware of before this internship. Working in Sweden and interning at AmCham has influenced me dramatically. It has completely changed what I had thought of doing in the future, because I am now fascinated with world politics and bridging connections between different countries and cultures.
G: What was your best day in Sweden?
IR: AmCham invited me to go to Almedalen, which is located in Vispy, Gotland. Almedalen is a weeklong political gathering where each night the leaders give speeches from Sweden’s political parties. There are more than 3,500 seminars and events during this week. We hosted approximately 10 seminars, from working with MasterCard to present “Reinventing Retail” to having a seminar on self-driving vehicles with speakers from Tesla, the CEO of Volvo, etc. One of my favorite seminars we hosted with the U.S Embassy was with Dr. Timothy Wedding, who is the deputy assistant U.S trade representative and he spoke about deepening transatlantic trade in the new economy. Later that night we watched the sun set over the Baltic Sea. The experience at Almedalen was one of a lifetime that I will treasure forever.
G: What advice would you give to other Gustavus students?
IR: Find a way to break out of your comfort zone by learning to adapt to new surroundings or cultures. I believe that one of the best ways to gain perspective and confidence in who we are as a person comes through traveling. So I would recommend all Gustavus students to try and travel during their four years on the hill.
Gustavus Adolphus College’s Wallenberg Foundation Intern Award provides financial support that enables Gustavus students to complete an internship in Sweden during the January Interim Term or summer session. The purpose of the Wallenberg Foundation Intern Award is to enable Gustavus students to benefit from the educational enhancement, personal growth, and career and professional development that result from the completion of an international internship, regardless of their ability to pay. The award is made possible by a generous, five-year grant from the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation.