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Report on the Williams in New York Program

Thanks to Professor Chris Waters for sending me a copy of the Report on The Williams in New York Program. I have pasted an html version of the report below. Comments:

1) I have not had time to read the whole report. What do others think? We would especially be interested in hearing from WNY alumni.

2) Kudos to Professor Waters for sharing this document (which has been sent to all faculty members) with the wider Williams community. Too many College officials and faculty decline to conduct themselves in a transparent manner. Professor Waters (like Professor McDonald, chair of the Committee on Varsity Athletics) upholds the best traditions of the Williams faculty by allowing alumni and students to read this report. Why don’t other faculty members (e.g., Professor Wendy Raymond) act this way? I predict that the College itself will never post this report nor officially notify alumni about its contents.

3) We discussed the WNY program here. (And let me again apologize to Professor Jackall for not providing an accurate description of the program.) Some of the concerns raised there, especially costs and popularity, are raised again in this report.

4) The next step in the process is a vote at the faculty meeting on May 7th on the following motion:

Should the Williams in New York Program be discontinued?

If I were a faculty member, I would vote No on resolution. Yet, at the same time, I would demand some fairly serious changes over the next year, mainly to reduce expenses. If those changes did not materialize, I would get rid of the program.



Submitted to the Faculty
of Williams College

Friday 25
th April, 2008

by the Williams in
New York Program Review Committee

Chris Waters
(Professor of History; Chair of the WNY Review Committee)

Rónadh Cox
(Associate Professor of Geosciences; Div III representative)

Will Dudley
(Associate Professor of Philosophy;

Committee on Educational
Policy representative)

Keith Finan
(Associate Provost; Provost’s representative)

John Gerry

(Associate Dean of the Faculty; Dean of the Faculty’s representative)

Laurie Heatherington
(Professor of Psychology; Division II representative)

Mike Lewis
(Professor of Art History; Division I representative)

Laura McKeon
(Associate Dean; Dean of the College’s representative)

Safa Zaki
(Associate Professor of Psychology;

Committee on Priorities
& Resources representative)

Executive Summary and Motion

While the nine members
of the Williams in New York Program Review Committee are unanimous in
their conviction that the Program should not be continued in its present
form, they are divided as to whether it should be completely discontinued
after the pilot phase ends. Six members of the committee believe that
the Program should be terminated following the 2008-09 academic year
due to insurmountable problems with its intellectual coherence, long-term
viability, and expense. Three members of the committee believe that
the investment should be made to expand the Program and build on its
strengths. Given this lack of consensus, the committee as a whole proposes
the following motion, posed in the form of a question, for debate and
a vote at the May 2008 faculty meeting:

the Williams in New York Program be

A “YES” vote means that the Program
will be terminated at the end of the 2008-09 academic year.

A “NO” vote means that the College,
informed by the findings of this committee, will take all necessary
steps to modify the Williams in New York Program to promote its viability.

1. Background

The Williams in New York
Program Review Committee was convened by the Dean of the Faculty in
April 2007 to undertake a comprehensive review of the Williams in New
York (WNY) Program. The review committee was charged with examining
all aspects of the Program, from its early incarnation as a Winter Study
Project in 2004 through its first four semesters of existence (Fall
2005, Fall 2006, Spring 2007, and Fall 2007). The committee was asked
to assess the “distinctive educational qualities” of the Program
and its importance to the Williams curriculum, as well as to explore
the educational impact of the Program on the students enrolled in it.
Given that in its present configuration the Program was not established
on a permanent basis, the committee was also charged with assessing
its long-term viability and making recommendations with respect to the
future. The committee’s work is summarized in appendix one.

The Williams in New York Program: History, Curricular Philosophy, and
Current Practice

In July 1995 a proposal
for a Williams program in New York was made to then President Harry
Payne and Dean of the Faculty Michael McPherson by Robert Jackall. The
proposal was tabled until the Fall of 2000 when Jackall submitted a
slightly altered version of the original proposal to the CEP, chaired
by Laurie Heatherington. The focus on experiential learning was central
to the new curricular initiatives put forward by the CEP and debated
by the faculty at two meetings in 2001. At its May meeting that year,
the faculty voted on those initiatives, including the establishment
of a Williams in New York Program. The legislation envisioned a one-semester
program for some twenty students, to be offered both semesters every
year and focusing on experiential education grounded in fieldwork. To
pass, the curricular initiatives required approval by 60% of the voting
faculty; the WNY Program proposal was approved by 67% of those voting.

In the wake of the terrorist
attacks of 9/11 and of the College’s fiscal restraint in the early
years of the new millennium, the Program as envisioned was not immediately
implemented. A scaled down version was announced at the February 2004
faculty meeting by Wendy Raymond (CEP chair). In May 2004, Peter Just
(CPR chair), reported to the Steering Committee: “An imaginative proposal
to make use of space in the Williams Club for a pilot project at a very
reasonable cost gained enthusiastic support from the CPR, which recommends
its approval.” Meanwhile, the Gaudino Fund had supported a prototype
program for five students during Winter Study 2004. In the Summer of
2004 Jackall was asked to implement the pilot program. The WNY Program
is now in its fifth semester, directed by Jackall in Fall 2005, Fall
2006, and Fall 2007, and by E.J. Johnson in Spring 2007 and Spring 2008.
Next year, during the final year of the pilot program’s operation,
Williams in New York will be directed by Liza Johnson (see appendix

The goal of the Williams
in New York Program has been to foster innovative experiential learning
through a combination of fieldwork and traditional scholarship, all
taking place in a city that serves both as its site and often as the
object of its investigations. It is a one-semester program, housed in
the Williams Club and limited to eight students. The Program has several
pedagogical goals. Through fieldwork it seeks to develop students’
observational skills, to enhance their ability to understand the dynamics
of the complex occupational worlds in which they are immersed, and to
strengthen their ability to convey their fieldwork observations to others.
In addition, it seeks to cultivate self-confident, critical habits of
mind, to encourage students to discover and more profoundly understand
the social, religious, and ethnic diversity of the city, to introduce
them to the world of cultural production in the city, and, more generally,
to help them develop a road map for a deeper and more nuanced understanding
of the operations of urban modernity.

Fieldwork is at the core
of the Program and directors work closely with students to select fieldwork
sites appropriate to their interests (see appendix three). In addition
to the intensive fieldwork they undertake (fifteen hours per week),
students enroll in a tutorial, focused on their fieldwork experience,
along with three other seminar classes. These vary by semester (see
appendix two) but always focus on some aspect of the city. For example,
Robert Jackall’s “Craft and Consciousness” explores “the functionally
interconnected but experientially disparate occupational worlds of New
York City” by hosting individuals from a wide range of professions
to discuss their work worlds with students; former Williams sociologist
Philip Kasinitz introduces students to “The Social Worlds of New York”
in his course; and next Spring Ondine Chavoya will offer “Art, Space,
and the City,” an exploration of the ways in which artworks and artists
engage with urban space in New York
. (Information about all of the Program’s curricular
offerings since its inception can be found on the Program’s superb

Williams in New York: An Assessment

The Williams in New York
Program has generated a great deal of enthusiasm from students, faculty,
alumni/ae, and fieldwork supervisors. The pilot program has achieved
notable success in providing an exciting and meaningful experience for
the thirty-eight students who have so far completed a semester in the
city. The committee recognizes these successes and has identified a
number of Program strengths which complement the curricular goals of
the College. Those strengths are outlined below, after which the committee’s
reservations about the Program will also be discussed.

  • The value of experiential
    The committee firmly believes in the value of experiential
    education as a means to broaden the curricular strengths of the College.
    Knowledge gained through observation and experience in the real world,
    when skillfully encouraged, monitored, and directed, is of “no inferior
    intellectual merit” to classroom learning, as one recent graduate
    of the Program, Anouk Dey, recently put it in “Education for Real
    Life” (Williams Record, 16 April 2008, p. 3). At its best,
    and when most successful, the Program has demonstrated the importance
    of experiential learning, even if this needs to be enhanced and explained
    more carefully to students (who still occasionally speak of “internships”
    and “career paths,” rather than fieldwork and the experience of
    new frameworks for intellectual growth).

  • Overcoming rural isolation.
    The Williams in New York Program has clearly demonstrated the ways in
    which a major metropolitan center can provide students with the kinds
    of educational experiences that are not available in an isolated, rural
    community. The Program has taught them how to engage with urban space
    in a practical, hands-on way that moves beyond book learning; it has
    overcome the age homogeneity that characterizes most student experience
    in Williamstown; it has expanded the horizons of those students from
    remote areas – and there is evidence from a few of them that their
    personal experience of the remoteness of Williamstown has been profitably
    countered by their engagement with the city, where they have mastered
    tools that have assisted them in their education when they have returned
    to Williamstown. (As we note below, however, many graduates of the Program
    have complained about the small number of Williams in New York students
    and the extent to which they have often spent too much time with the
    same few people). Finally, for a number of younger faculty members –
    and perhaps an increasing number, given the demographic shifts taking
    place in the teaching staff – the Program might be seen as an advantage
    to urban-oriented faculty and promoted as such.

  • 2020 and issues of diversity.
    Recently, the faculty voted to implement the Exploring Diversity Initiative,
    highlighting the importance of giving students the tools with which
    to understand and navigate diversity in their own lives and to prepare
    them for a life-long engagement with diversity. Moreover, the work of
    the 2020 Committee has also stressed the changes taking place in the
    Williams student body and the need for the College to be prepared for,
    and engage with, those important social changes that are taking place
    in the very fabric of the College community. New York City affords students
    the opportunity to experience and study one of the most diverse urban
    centers imaginable, contributing to the education the College increasingly
    considers desirable. An emphasis on learning how to navigate the diversity
    of the city looks to be increasingly central to the WNY curricular offerings
    next year and we would stress the importance of what the Program can
    continue to offer in this regard.

  • Abundance of cultural opportunities.
    New York affords an almost unparalleled richness of possibilities for
    student learning in both the visual and the performing arts. The faculty
    engaged in the Program to date have very successfully tapped into the
    cultural offerings of the city for the curriculum, and the students
    have taken advantage of the city’s cultural resources during their
    extracurricular time as well.

  • Location. The
    Program is housed in the Williams Club on 39th Street in
    mid-town Manhattan. This has been an important location for a number
    of reasons, not least being the facilitation of productive exchanges
    between Williams students in New York and a number of former graduates
    of the College living and working in the city. One or two students have
    complained that the area around the Club is “dead” at night, but
    virtually all of them have expressed the belief that the Club affords
    an ideal location for the Program. Committee members share this belief
    unanimously. Were the Program to be continued, they would encourage
    the College to explore the Club’s offer of devoting the upper floors
    of the premises to the needs of the Program. It is clear that space
    needs at the moment are barely adequate (an office for the current director,
    for example, is rented elsewhere) and those needs would only grow were
    it to be deemed feasible to expand the Program to sixteen students each
    semester. Such an expansion would also require a full-time administrator
    in New York, not to mention housing for a director, all of which can
    – after major renovations – be provided in the Williams Club building.

Despite these strengths,
the committee has also identified a number of both programmatic and
logistical problems that threaten the long-term viability of the Program.
As noted in the executive summary of this report, the committee is divided
as to the seriousness of these problems and whether or not they fatally
compromise the Program. We outline the key issues below.

  • Difficulty of
    integrating the fieldwork with academic coursework.

    The emphasis on fieldwork is central to the WNY Program and we applaud
    the dedication and hard work of the Program’s directors in finding
    appropriate sites for student fieldwork, in maintaining good relationships
    with site managers, and in exercising constant vigilance to ensure valuable
    experiences for all our students. Nevertheless, members of the committee
    share a number of reservations about the fieldwork component of the

    Central to our anxieties
    is that while at the heart of the Program is the integration of experiential
    learning and observation with academic coursework and reflection, we
    are concerned about how successful that integration always is. The placements
    are as varied as Bellevue Psychiatric Hospital, the Metropolitan Museum
    of Art, the District Attorney's office, and ABC News Special Events,
    and the unifying element of the students' experiences – the common
    element to be read about, studied, and discussed in the tutorial –
    is the concept of the workplace. In short, the glue that binds these
    diverse and disparate experiences together is an emphasis on the observation
    of how organizations work; students are expected to set aside preconceived
    assumptions and enter diverse occupational and professional worlds and
    observe how they operate. Pedagogically, this is an intellectual approach
    to institutions in general and workplaces in particular that has both
    emerged from and is central to specific social science disciplines,
    sociology in particular. While the Program has benefited from faculty
    directors whose talents lend themselves to this pedagogy, we worry about
    whether it is realistic to expect from among the Williams faculty the
    regular availability of future directors with similar training or skills.

    In addition, faculty
    interest in directing the Program appears not to be very high. While
    some faculty members are keenly interested in Williams in New York,
    it is unclear whether there will be enough to sustain the Program over
    time. Increased longevity and a growing awareness of the Program might
    spur more faculty members toward making a commitment to it, but the
    committee does not know if there will always be a regular supply of
    directors with the appropriate skills to optimize the fieldwork component
    of the Program.

  • Lack of curricular coherence.
    Fieldwork is the central, defining characteristic of the Program and
    members of the committee do not challenge this centrality. However,
    fieldwork is just one component of the Program. Students take three
    other courses, aside from their fieldwork and the related tutorial.
    These courses have varied depending on both the director and the semester
    (see appendix two) and sometimes have been a tremendous success. But
    members of the committee wonder how well they are integrated with the
    fieldwork students undertake, and are anxious about whether the whole
    is always greater than the sum of the parts or if there are just parts.
    At times, the justification for the WNY Program’s non-fieldwork curricular
    components doesn’t seem that clear or well-developed intellectually.
    Certainly students interested in the Program have often been confused
    about its overall curricular purpose and have found it difficult –
    as have members of the committee – to see an overarching unity, beyond
    the simple fact of its New York locational focus. On the one hand, it
    is very important to encourage different directors to experiment with
    the curricular aspects of the Program. But on the other, constant change
    undermines or inhibits the on-going intellectual coherence that is necessary
    for the Program to be understood by, and to attract, a healthy number
    of students.

  • Uneven quality of fieldwork
    We worry about the fostering and maintenance of high-quality
    placements over time, largely because the Program changes directors
    on a regular basis, but also in light of the committee's belief that
    were the Program to continue it would need to double its student –
    and hence placement – numbers. Good placements are those in which
    the embedded student has the opportunity to observe, listen, and learn
    about the structure, ethos, and management of the work environment.
    To date, some placements have worked spectacularly well, but others
    have not been so successful. In failed placements, the student is often
    incapable of inserting him or herself into the very fabric of the workplace,
    or unimaginative about creating opportunities therein. On other occasions,
    the site supervision has been less than ideal; in these cases, the students
    keep busy only with workaday tasks, rather than being admitted to the
    inner workings of the environment where they can make the observations
    central to the pedagogic goals of Williams in New York. Program directors
    have been very attentive to student complaints and have imaginatively
    worked with students to help them learn from their frustrations. But
    failed placements reduce the student's learning opportunity for that
    semester and can also damage the group dynamic. Finding valuable placements
    and cultivating them over time requires a large investment of time and
    an extensive network of contacts. It also depends a lot on personal
    interactions. With a system of rotating directors, the committee is
    concerned about the ability of the Program to maintain high-quality
    placements over time.

  • Inconsistent quality of
    adjunct instructors.
    Most students have generally been pleased with
    their educational experiences in New York. Indeed, many have raved,
    in the Williams Record and elsewhere, about the importance of
    the WNY Program in their Williams education. Nevertheless, one complaint
    is often heard above others, namely that the quality of some of the
    teaching by adjuncts has been sub-par. On several occasions the SCS
    scores of courses taught by adjuncts have been quite low, suggestive
    of a disappointment amply supported by the written testimony the committee
    received from WNY students. This is not to belittle all teaching done
    by adjuncts. Some has been very successful indeed and it must be noted
    that the directors of the Program have responded to complaints and made
    a concerted effort to address student concerns about the quality of
    adjunct teaching when they have arisen. That said, adjunct teaching
    has been a central part of the program since its inception, and pedagogically
    the least satisfying.

  • Low student demand.
    The committee is unanimous that the Program should not continue with
    the current eight students per semester. Apart from the significant
    issue of cost, there are too few students to allow for the social diversity
    and intellectual richness that the Program should afford its participants
    – a point made by virtually every student who has been interviewed
    or offered written testimony to the committee. And yet hovering over
    all of our deliberations this year was one, perhaps unanswerable, question:
    if we invest in the Program and expand it, will we be able to secure
    the sixteen qualified students each semester that we feel would be necessary?
    The number of past applicants makes some of us quite doubtful. For the
    eight available places each semester there were some nine applicants
    for the Fall of 2005 (and only six who completed the Program), twelve
    for the Fall of 2006, twelve for the Spring of 2007, eight for the Fall
    of 2007, and fourteen for the Spring of 2008 (a couple of whom had wanted
    to study in New York in the Fall but applied late). Such numbers do
    not bode well for running a Program with a full complement of sixteen
    students each and every semester. Student interest has been higher recently,
    and the committee notes that there were twenty-six applications for
    the sixteen available spaces for the 2008-09 academic year. The committee
    cannot say whether this represents an upward trend, or whether it is
    a transient high in a noisy system. But considerable investment in advertising,
    along with a conscious effort to boost enrollment, would be required
    to attempt to yield the requisite thirty-two students per year.

  • Significant expense.
    The cost of educating eight students in New York each semester, with
    a resident director, visiting faculty, adjuncts, travel expenses, etc.,
    is considerable. We note above that the Program’s current home in
    the Williams Club, around the corner from Grand Central Station, has
    generally been an important asset and we recommend that if the Program
    is to continue it would be very well served by the College’s full
    acquisition of the Williams Club and its renovation of the Club’s
    upper floors for the purposes of the Program. However, as appendix four
    indicates, the Program will remain an expensive undertaking, although
    the per student costs will be substantially reduced the more students
    there are. The figures presented are hypothetical, and we note that
    it is difficult to estimate with any precision the cost of a reformed
    Program when the precise nature of those reforms cannot yet be known.
    Nevertheless, our calculations suggest that above and beyond the cost
    of full tuition and fees, the College would need to subsidize each student
    by approximately $31,700 per semester in a program with just eight students,
    $16,300 per semester in a program with twelve students, and $10,700
    per semester in a program with sixteen students. Depending on how, precisely,
    a larger program would work, and how much, exactly, it would cost to
    renovate the Williams Club, and then to operate and maintain it, these
    costs might be either higher or lower than estimated here. Nevertheless,
    the initial and thereafter annual investment would be such that we need
    to be sure that the Program would be viable – that it would be pedagogically
    important enough, and would attract the requisite number of students,
    to make that investment worthwhile.

  • Inefficient administrative
    To date, the Program has been administered on site by
    the faculty director and by a number of administrative staff members
    based in Williamstown. This arrangement is insufficient and inefficient,
    even for eight students. Were the Program to continue in an expanded
    form, it would be necessary to hire an on-site administrator and perhaps
    other staff members as well.

For these reasons, all
the members of the Williams in New York Program Review Committee feel
that the continuation and expansion of the Program would be a gamble.
A third of the members of the committee believe it is a gamble worth
making while two-thirds do not.

4. Conclusions

At the close of its deliberations,
members of the committee remained troubled by a number of vexing questions:
is the pedagogical value of the Program great enough that the investment
should be made to expand it; were the Program to be expanded would it
regularly draw the requisite number of students to warrant the investment;
and is there enough interest and commitment to be found amongst the
faculty from which regularly to draw a capable group of instructors
and directors?

In terms of these questions,
six members of the committee remain skeptical. Indeed, their reservations
with respect to the long-term viability of the Program would probably
warrant a vote to discontinue the Program. Three are cautiously optimistic
and their optimism would probably warrant a vote to invest in the Program,
thereby establishing it on a more permanent basis and with the eventual
goal of reaching a total of sixteen students per semester. Nonetheless,
our discussions were wide-ranging, and even those who are most concerned
about the problems with the Program acknowledge its strengths, while
those who are more optimistic are keenly aware of the problems. Ultimately,
it will be the responsibility of the faculty to reach a final decision.
Thus, we hope that this report will initiate and inform a very thorough
and open discussion of this matter at the May 2008 faculty meeting.
That discussion will be followed by a vote on the motion on page one.



The work of the committee
commenced in May 2007 when the chair began to assemble more than 500
pages of Program-related material for the consideration of the committee.
This included promotional literature, information from the Program’s
website and the Williams College Bulletin, documents from the
Committee on Priorities and Resources (CPR) and the Committee on Educational
Policy (CEP) proposing the establishment of a New York program (2000-2004),
minutes of the faculty meetings at which those proposals were debated
(2001, 2003, and 2004), the reports submitted to the Dean of the Faculty
each semester by the WNY Program director (including assessments of
students’ work), course syllabi, SCS course evaluation summaries,
Program budgets and other financial agreements, material pertaining
to the Williams Club, and miscellaneous assorted newspaper articles,
memoranda, and other documents. Before the work of the committee began,
discussions were also held with the Program directors, past, present,
and future (Robert Jackall, E.J. Johnson, and Liza Johnson), with the
general manager of the Williams Club (Gabrielle Keene) and Club trustees,
and with Stephen Birrell (Vice President for Alumni Relations and Development);
a written summary of those discussions was presented to the committee.
Formal assessments of the Program were also solicited from Jean-Bernard
Bucky (in his capacity as WNY instructor), Carrie Greene (Academic Program
Coordinator), Robert Jackall, E.J. Johnson, and Liza Johnson. Finally,
documents pertaining to students included summaries of the interviews
undertaken each semester (both pre-enrollment and post-enrollment) by
John Gerry (Associate Dean of the Faculty) and/or Paula Consolini (Coordinator
of Experiential Education), a written summary of the two interviews
undertaken by the committee chair in May 2007 with students accepted
to study in New York in the Fall of 2007, and thoughtful, written testimonials
provided by more than three quarters of all the students ever enrolled
in the Program in response to the committee chair’s request for personal
reflections about the Program from all former WNY students.

The committee met to
consider this material beginning in September 2007, occasionally receiving
WNY Program updates and requesting further information as it undertook
its work. After a number of general meetings, it devoted lengthy sessions
to a consideration of the WNY curriculum (24 October), the role of fieldwork
in that curriculum (31 October), students and student experience (28
November), administration and finance (12 December), and location (9
January). In late January and early February the Committee discussed
its preliminary findings with the Dean of the Faculty, the chair of
the Steering Committee, and members of the CPR, and more formally interviewed
Program director Robert Jackall. The committee met again in March and
April to conclude its proceedings and discuss the drafting of this report.


Williams in New York


Fall 2005
(Director: Robert Jackall)

WNY 301T Fieldwork in New York
(tutorial) – Robert Jackall

WNY 303 Slow Motion Riot: The
Social Life of the Metropolis – Philip Kasinitz

WNY 305 Craft and Consciousness
– Robert Jackall

WNY 307 Arts and the City –
Jean-Bernard Bucky

Fall 2006 (Director: Robert Jackall)

WNY 301T Fieldwork in New York
(tutorial) – Robert Jackall

WNY 303 Slow Motion Riot: The
Social Life of the Metropolis – Philip Kasinitz

WNY 305 Craft and Consciousness
– Robert Jackall

WNY 307 Arts and the City –
Jean-Bernard Bucky

Spring 2007 (Director: E.J. Johnson)

WNY 301T Fieldwork in New York
(tutorial) – E.J. Johnson

WNY 302 Cinema and the City –
Liza Johnson

WNY 304 Revolutions: Contemporary
Art in New York – Shamim Momin

WNY 306 Street Smarts: Learning
to Read the City – Anthony Robins

Fall 2007 (Director: Robert Jackall)

WNY 301T Fieldwork in New York
(tutorial) – Robert Jackall

WNY 303 The Social Worlds of New
York – Philip Kasinitz

WNY 305 Craft and Consciousness
– Robert Jackall

WNY 307 Arts and the City –
Jerry Carlson

Spring 2008 (Director: E.J. Johnson)

WNY 301T Fieldwork in New York
(tutorial) – E.J. Johnson

WNY 302 Cinema and the City –
Liza Johnson

WNY 304 Revolutions: Contemporary
Art in New York – Shamim Momin

WNY 306 Street Smarts: Learning
to Read the City – Anthony Robins

Fall 2008 (Director: Liza Johnson)

WNY 307T Work/Ethics: Frameworks
for Observing People at Work (tutorial) – Liza Johnson

WNY 308 Explorations in the Urban
Outback – Michael Crewdson and Margaret Mittelbach

WNY 309 Covering the Other: A Course
in Cross-Cultural and Community-Based Film –

      Musa Syeed

WNY 312 Independent Study in Metropolitan
Studies – Liza Johnson (supervision of a course

    in the NYU Metropolitan Studies Program)

Spring 2009 (Director: Liza Johnson)

WNY 307T Work/Ethics: Frameworks
for Observing People at Work (tutorial) – Liza Johnson

WNY 310 Art, Space, and the City
– Ondine Chavoya

WNY 311 Imagining New York City
– Dorothy Wang

WNY 312 Independent Study in Metropolitan
Studies – Liza Johnson (supervision of a course

    in the NYU Metropolitan Studies Program)


Williams in New York

2005 – SPRING 2008

(number of students for
each placement in parentheses)

Humanities & the Arts

  • Asia Society (1)
  • Christie’s (2)
  • Dodger Theatricals (3)
  • The Frick Collection
  • The Guggenheim Museum (1)
  • Hebrew Union College—Jewish
    Institute of Religion Museum (1)
  • The Jewish Museum (0)
  • McConnell Hauser Films
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Museum of Modern Art
  • Production Resource Group
  • Urban Ethnomusicology
  • Whitney Museum of American
    Art (1)

Law, Advocacy, Business & Public

  • AvalonBay Communities (0)
  • CARE USA (0)
  • Common Ground (1)
  • District Attorney of New York
  • International Rescue Committee
  • L’Occitane (1)
  • Legal Aid Society of New York,
    Criminal Division (0)
  • Manhattan Institute (1)
  • New Century High Schools
  • NYC Department of Housing
    Preservation and Development (0)
  • New York City Department of
    Investigation (0)
  • New York City Landmarks Preservation
    Commission (0)
  • Office of the Special Narcotics
    Prosecutor for the City of New York (0)
  • Richard Green High School
  • Saint Ignatius School (1)
  • School for Democracy and Leadership
  • United States Attorney, Southern
    District of New York (3)
  • Vera Institute of Justice
  • Women’s Commission on Women
    and Children Refugees (1)

Medical Sciences & Public Health

  • Bellevue Hospital (1)
  • Mount Sinai School of Medicine,
    Department of Community and Preventive Medicine (2)
  • NYC Department of Public Health
    & Mental Hygiene (0)


  • ABC News Special Events
  • NBC Sports (1)
  • The New York Sun


Williams in New York


          WNY with 8
          students per semester
          WNY with 12 students
          per semester
          with 16 students per semester
          Tuition and
          $ 187,564 $ 281,345 $ 375,127
          salaries $ 170,708 $ 170,708 $ 202,958
          operating costs $ 82,790 $ 119,310 $ 155,830
          facilities $ 187,500 $ 187,500 $ 187,500
          Total cost $ 440,998 $ 477,518 $ 546,288
          Cost per student $ 55,125 $ 39,793 $ 34,143
          Total cost less
          $ 253,434 $ 196,173 $ 171,161
          Subsidy per student $ 31,679 $ 16,348 $ 10,698


  • Costs as shown are estimates
    per semester
    and are predicated on the Williams New York Program
    housed in a renovated Williams Club, owned and operated by the College.
  • Income: estimated as
    full tuition, fees, room and board per student per semester.
  • Expenses:
    • Salaries include pay, benefits,
      and supplements for director, commuting faculty member from Williams
      (one course per semester), 1-2 adjuncts per semester (depending on the
      number of students), and a WNY Program administrator based in NYC (calculated
      at half-time for 8-12 students and full-time for 16 students).
    • Operating costs include student
      food, misc. supplies and services, tech support, athletics, tuition
      for NYU course, teaching assistants and misc. course-related costs,
      commuting costs for Williams faculty member(s), student transportation/subway
      costs, visitors’ costs, social activities, etc.
    • Facilities expenses are calculated
      at 2.5% of the current estimated value of the Williams Club ($15m),
      as a proxy for the cost of maintaining and operating a College-owned
      building in the city.
  • Financial aid subventions
    are not included in these estimates.
  • The subsidy per student per
    semester (after the presumption of the payment of full tuition and fees)
    for the WNY Program compares with the current $2,230 per student per
    semester in the Williams-Exeter Programme at Oxford University (WEPO).
    The comparison, however, is difficult to make, given that the expenditure
    on facilities in Oxford (maintenance and operation) is calculated differently.
Comments Disabled (Open | Close)

Comments Disabled To "Report on the Williams in New York Program"

#1 Comment By hwc On April 30, 2008 @ 1:11 pm

This program seems better suited to a Winter Study program, perhaps more targeted in its appeal. For example, eight art history majors spending a month at the Williams Club, all doing three week internships at various museums around town and meeting with various members of the Williams art mafia.

#2 Comment By Larry George On April 30, 2008 @ 2:58 pm

The proposal to continue would be predicated upon the College taking over the Williams Club. I know that the club has faced financial strains over the last decade, but I thought it was still a viable going enterprise that alumni (and staff) as well as students found valuable. I don’t see any discussion of this, but how would Williams just take over what I think is an independent entity, what would be available at the club for its current non-student users, and what do the club’s governing body and members say about this proposal? If I am right about the club, I don’t see how the faculty can have a meaningful vote on the proposal without being given the answers to these questions.

But I skimmed the paper and may have misunderstood it (and/or the legal status of the club).

#3 Comment By Jeff On April 30, 2008 @ 3:01 pm

I am curious about the subsidy calculation.

This appears to be the cost above tuition. But don’t all williams students – even those paying full freight – get a subsidy from endowment spending?

Unless I am missing something, shouldn’t we be comparing the relative size of the subsidies? If the Williams in Oxford program has such a low subsidy, does that suggest that the college is under-spending on those students?

I suspect what is really at work is the conflation of operating and capital expenditures. If WNY costs are all operating (e.g. no owned facilities or major capital expenses incurred to-date) and the calculation of the subsidy is on operating expenses only, this would appear to be skewed against WNY and not fully account for capital costs incurred in billsville and Oxford (where I believe the facility is college owned).

The discussion of costs should really be on an apples to apples basis – with the college’s weighted average cost of capital used to account for capital investment expenses in billsville and oxford.

At any rate, the metric of analysis seems skewed against WNY and may distort the decision making of faculty. Weren’t there any econ profs on the review committee?

Please tell me I have missed something here.

#4 Comment By m. On April 30, 2008 @ 3:10 pm

gee, i wonder why wendy raymond would not want to send things to you.

#5 Comment By hwc On April 30, 2008 @ 3:32 pm

Ask and ye shall receive. Here are per student revenue and expense numbers for Williams. These are from 2005-06. I haven’t dug up last year’s numbers yet, but these are close enough for “government” work.

Of course, divide everything by 2 for a single-semester comparison. Also note that the Williams in NY is using a fictional revenue number (list price). The real revenue number (after discounts) is about $26,000 per year or $13,000 per semester. As you can see, the NYC program with 8 students is horribly out of whack compared to the average at Williams.:

Williams 2006

Tuition $29,822,
Financial aid ($10,884)
Net Tuition rev $18,938

Room/Board $7,076

Tot Student Revenue $26,015

Total Spending $71,032

Total Subsidy $45,018

Endowment $673,793
End Spending $28,685

#6 Comment By frank uible On April 30, 2008 @ 3:52 pm

How would Williams College take over the independent Williams Club? If necessary, the same way it took over fraternities – squeeze ’em John D. Rockefeller style.

#7 Comment By hwc On April 30, 2008 @ 3:56 pm

When considering the Williams in NYC, don’t we have to evaluate it compared to other urban studies/field work programs offered to Williams students? Here’s one that a Williams student did in 2006 that included 10 days of field study in NYC. The cost of this program was roughly $25,000:

International Honors Program
Cities in the 21st Century, Fall 2006

16.5 weeks:
15.5 weeks programming plus 1 week vacation

10 Days – New York City
Week 1-1.5: Orientation in NYC

5 WEEKS – Argentina
Week 1-4: Buenos Aires
Week 5: Vacation

5 WEEKS – China
Weeks 1-3: Beijing
Weeks 4-5: Shanghai

5 WEEKS – India
Weeks 1-5: Bangalore


Students stayed at Columbia University’s International House in NYC. Homestay in Buenos Aires. Homestay in Beijing. University guest dorm in Shanghai. Homestay in Bangalore.

So, for roughly half the cost, students get a stronger urban studies part on four continents, a fieldwork part on four continents, order of magnitude more cultural immersion on four continents, plus orders of magnitude more “uncomfortable learning”.

So, rather than try to entice 8 more Williams students into the NYC program each semester, wouldn’t Williams be smarter to do a better job “selling” the amazing programs they already offer to their students?

#8 Comment By hwc On April 30, 2008 @ 4:05 pm

BTW, along with one or two Williams students, the other students on the trip were from Wellesley, Vassar, Barnard, Harvard, UC-Berkeley, UPenn, Swarthmore, CUNY-Hunter, and a couple of others, so there was an effective peer learning component as well, probably more so than just picking up a group of students from any one school and plopping them down at the Williams Club.

#9 Comment By current eph On April 30, 2008 @ 4:34 pm

Correct me if I’m wrong…but one of their concerns is cost, and sending 8 students to NYC will cost an additional ~31,000 per-student on top of tuition for the college. Doesn’t this amount to significantly less than the per-student cost already expended by Williams (~60,000 instead of ~85,000)? Or, does the overall per-student expenditure at Williams reflect costs like the library project?

In that case, I wonder if it might be better for Williams to re-figure the way it calculates per-student costs, given that a significant portion of students spend a significant part of their Williams time away. Shouldn’t per-student expenditures ignore the significant number of students who are off-campus at a given time? After all, the costs of the library aren’t really relevant to a student who’s in Milan and is not paying tuition to Williams or enjoying that library. Correct me if I’m wrong, but that would mean that the average “subsidy” of attending Williams is actually greater than reported, because the cost-per-student-on-campus is greater for Williams than the cost-per-every student.

To return from that tangent, I find it interesting that the committee alludes to the high satisfaction among students in the program several times, yet largely has reached the conclusion that the program isn’t a worthy expense. It makes me think that HWC’s solution–that it be limited to a WST Program–is probably a good compromise.

#10 Comment By hwc On April 30, 2008 @ 4:48 pm

You lost me on your numbers.

Cost of NYC per semester: $55,000
Average rev. per semester: $15,000

Per student subsidy (semester) $40,000

Per student subsidy (annualized) $80,000

Compare to overall per student annual subsidy at Williams of $45,000. You can see that the numbers are really bad for NYC with only 8 students. At 16 students, they are OK.

BTW, to answer your question. The average per student cost at Williams is a simple calculation: total operating budget divided by total enrollment.

Things like library construction projects are not directly factored, but are indirectly factored as interest payments and/or depreciation over the life of the building included in the operating budget. So, the cost is included, but over a 30+ year period.

#11 Comment By hwc On April 30, 2008 @ 4:54 pm

To return from that tangent, I find it interesting that the committee alludes to the high satisfaction among students in the program several times…

That needs to be taken with a grain of salt, or at least some informed judgement. A three-month toga party at Poker Flats would probably generate a high level of satisfaction on student surveys, too. The faculty has the responsibility to evaluate the program as a learning experience, not solely on whether or not students “enjoyed” it.

#12 Comment By Ben Sykes ’08 On April 30, 2008 @ 7:43 pm

As a WNY alum (fall 06) and one of many students trying to do everything we can to ensure that WNY is not eliminated, I’d like to address some of the points above.

I disagree with HWC that student surveys need to be taken with a grain of salt–anymore than our evaluations of professors should be taken with a grain of salt (under the false impression that students will give low scores to professors who are “hard.”) We’re mature enough to reflect on a program’s academic merits, and in this regard WNY was superb. See a Record op-ed by myself and Mirza Delibegovic ’08 for much of this reflection (I’d post the link but it’s not up yet).

WNY was the greatest experience of my academic life. The majority of my fellow WNY alumni feel the same. It opened us to contacts, opportunities, and intellectual frameworks that are unavailable in the classroom setting at Williams. I don’t want to write a 2000 word post, so suffice to say that I and my fellow alumni feel that it would be a travesty for the program to be eliminated after only 2.5 years.

On the issue of cost–WNY is more expensive than your average Williams education, no doubt. But the committee makes no effort to compare this with Oxford, nor other great institutions like the tutorial system (we could get rid of tutorials and it would save money, but we don’t because they’re great. You don’t get rid of great programs simply because they’re expensive). Furthermore, the cost figures are exaggerated–the committee factors in tuition for every student to take 1 class at NYU: something which will only be done for next year’s program and is opposed by much of the WNY faculty. This adds $5,000 in per pupil expenses.

Finally, the students are shocked that such a report appears after what we feel was an incomplete process. The committee promised to interview alumni in the fall, and they never did. As pointed out, student satisfaction (expressed through brief written testimonials) was high, yet the report does not reflect the reasons why students expressed high satisfaction. Simply put, the alumni of the program believe that the report does not accurately reflect our experiences in the program, and much of this is due to the fact that we were not given the opportunity to interview with the committee. Sorry for the endless response.

#13 Comment By hwc On April 30, 2008 @ 8:21 pm


The reason that the NYC program may not be financially viable is not that the program is too expensive per se, but that there is insufficient student interest to amortize the fixed costs over a sufficient class size to make the numbers work.

Ultimately, the faculty committee is grappling with a marketplace decision.

BTW, I totally appreciate what you are saying. You are giving strong testimony to the value of field based experiential learning integrated with classroom work. I don’t think anyone in academia really disputes at least the theoretical benefits of this kind of learning.

#14 Comment By kthomas On April 30, 2008 @ 9:19 pm

Student interest, I would think, is more or less directly proportional to how the program is presented and marketed; the year FRS was closest to termination, — including “lack of student interest” (I believe under a hundred had applied)– a group of us created our own brochure, outlining our experiences, merits, and a few bumps as well.

The next year something like 350 people applied and I (in full irony) declared to the CEP that it was surely time to expand the program.

If the decision is purely financial, we have a marketing problem which, I believe, Ben could solve if given the liberty.

#15 Comment By hwc On April 30, 2008 @ 10:19 pm


Yes, you could market the NYC program. However, you have to weigh the benefits of pumping up that program costing $55,000 per semester against other programs Williams offers costing $25,000 per yer with the same kinds of experiences on four continents.

Why should Williams choose to market the NYC program over their other programs?

Where is the upside for the College? I’m not seeing any constituency that really prospers from investing in this program.

#16 Comment By FROSH mom On April 30, 2008 @ 10:20 pm

Amen, Ken. I would hate to see this program go by the wayside.

Ben, Your comment is SO valuable. Take the cue from Ken and step up to the plate. Future WNY participants will have you to thank.

#17 Comment By Ben Sykes ’08 On April 30, 2008 @ 10:24 pm

Good points, hwc, and I can appreciate the marketplace decision (am an ECON major, after all). I think kthomas’s argument addresses much of this, however I will add that THIS WAS A PILOT PROGRAM. Of course demand has been low–it’s only been going on for 2.5 years and is still in its pilot stage. However, the number of student applicants, and especially student attendance at information sessions, has greatly increased (the report reflects this, then tries to dismiss it as noise, which I find completely unbelievable).

Also, since Oxford seems an inevitable comparison, it is important to note that when Oxford first began (as I’ve heard from faculty, I obviously wasn’t around), demand was so low that Williams had to recruit students from other schools. It takes time to build up student demand, and such demand has already increased–particularly among the younger classes.

#18 Comment By hwc On April 30, 2008 @ 10:25 pm

As for upside to the College, does a semester in New York really seem that “cutting-edge” in the 21st Century? It strikes me as so last century. I mean, four hours from campus when the students at Williams today will be required to operate in a global economy.

I’m not knocking it. I know that my daughter really enjoyed field study in New York from an academic perspective in two different roles (both as a student and a teacher). However, at the level of a world-class college, it’s not really pushing the cultural boundaries to live at the Williams Club in midtown Manhatten.

#19 Comment By hwc On April 30, 2008 @ 10:33 pm


I guess what I’m saying. If the College is going to invest the years of effort to kickstart a risky and expensive new off-campus study program, why Williams in NYC over Williams in Tokyo or Williams in Hong Kong or Williams in Dubai?

Same money. Same field study. Same experiential learning. Is NYC providing the most bang for the buck and effort?

#20 Comment By bsykes On April 30, 2008 @ 10:37 pm

NYC provides the most bang for the buck because of alumni and other contacts already established in the city. For example, at my field placement at the Manhattan office of the District Attorney of New York, Mirza and I were the first undergraduate students ever allowed to engage in such a field study in the office. We got such a placement because of contact between Jackall and Morgenthau, the long-standing DA. Would this have been possible in Tokyo? Doubtful.

Other examples similar to this are abound. The contacts just don’t exist in other cities, in my opinion, to make for a successful program.

#21 Comment By FROSH mom On April 30, 2008 @ 10:40 pm


New York…”so last century”? You must be kidding.

It may be a mere few hours from Williams…and yet, it is light years away, especially to certain students. Europe is great as well…but to discount NY and label it “last century”…aaargh!

HWC… you…are….’one of a kind’. No doubt about it.

#22 Comment By FROSH mom On April 30, 2008 @ 10:47 pm

“Williams in Tokyo or Williams in Hong Kong or Williams in Dubai?”

There is an entire thread waxing eloquent about the need for more international students. Perhaps they might be on the list of those interested in a stint in N.Y.?

#23 Comment By frank uible On April 30, 2008 @ 10:48 pm

How about Williams in some place and with some endeavour that is dirty, unsanitary, otherwise dangerous and laboriously physically exhausting?

#24 Comment By hwc On April 30, 2008 @ 10:49 pm

To better understand my frame of reference, I view a study abroad program in England as pretty “last century” too.

Again. I’m not saying “bad”. I’m not saying Williams shouldn’t do it. But, nobody is going to look at a College starting a program in New York or England in 2008 as showing real cutting edge educational leadership. It was “cutting edge” to start a European study abroad program in the 1960s (i.e. “so last century”).

#25 Comment By hwc On April 30, 2008 @ 10:51 pm

[quote]How about Williams in some place and with some endeavour that is dirty, unsanitary, otherwise dangerous and laboriously physically exhausting?[/quote]

By jove, I think you’ve got it!


#26 Comment By kthomas On April 30, 2008 @ 10:52 pm


I wish I could type as fast as I compose in my head, and had a recorder.

Earlier today I was reflecting on how much this program is a reflection of Robert Jackall– and the lessons he taught me. “Hell,” my ‘day at work’ was another exercise of the skills of ANSO 205/305 and the approach to understanding embodied in the program.

That’s a start to why it’s not Williams in Tokyo– the resources for Williams to unilaterally active such a program are nill. Williams doesn’t have the on-the-ground experience, the connections…

Should it develop them with some rush? Perhaps. I’d certainly argue for it.

On the other hand, as the report points out, Bob can’t be the director forever. Relying on his unique personal skills is not sustainable and you can’t easily find another person with Bob’s skill– if indeed academia is still producing them; and (not discussed above) much of the value of the program is lost if you try to “bureaucratize” and formalize the directorship to someone who does not have Bob’s commitments and knowledge.

These are serious barriers to the model’s long-term survival– and challenges as well. I’d rather they were faced head-on, than presented as anything but the face of mountain to climb.

On another hand, it strikes me that some of the objections are easily solved– surely you can find enough suitable workplaces for 16 students in a city the size of New York, and the best way to do it would be to use the alums of the programs for guides, tutors and critique.

In the end, immersion in the culture of one city is very valuable– and while New York is so provincial– rather than close such a groundbreaking program (loosing the investment)–

I’d rather see the program opened to students from other US colleges and abroad, and a network of similar programs created in co-operation with other colleges.

#27 Comment By hwc On April 30, 2008 @ 10:54 pm

Perhaps they might be on the list of those interested in a stint in N.Y.?

Good point. International kids would love a semester in NYC.

And, don’t forget all those Greenwich and Short Hills kids, either!

#28 Comment By FROSH mom On April 30, 2008 @ 11:00 pm

“Dirty, unsanitary, otherwise dangerous and laboriously physically exhausting?”

Frank, you are describing NY, albeit more so before Rudy began his clean-up campaign (his best accomplishment, BTW)

#29 Comment By hwc On April 30, 2008 @ 11:05 pm

That’s a start to why it’s not Williams in Tokyo– the resources for Williams to unilaterally active such a program are nill. Williams doesn’t have the on-the-ground experience, the connections…

But, Williams already offers dozens of field study programs, on every continent, that are run by people who DO have the contacts.

So, the question is: does it really make sense Williams to get into this business? Or does it make more sense investing the student marketing into doing a better job of selling the programs the College already offers?

On a side note: I am not sold on the long-term, semester-long employment internship of this program. It seems to me that interning at ABC News is something that might be better done with an endowed summer internship deal…or at the other end of the spectrum, a get in/get out have a seminar about it one month Winter Study deal.

#30 Comment By FROSH mom On April 30, 2008 @ 11:14 pm

New York was a very valuable stepping stone for me; my ‘boot camp’ (if you will), for how to survive in ‘foreign’ places.

And it is foreign territory…maybe not to an east coast kid, but to a large part of the Williams student population, NY is not provincial.

#31 Comment By hwc On April 30, 2008 @ 11:22 pm


Here’s an example of an existing Williams program provider with nearly 100 pre-approved field study based experiential programs on every continent of the globe. Half the cost of the NYC program:

Link to SIT program list

Can Williams compete? Does Williams truly benefit by competing? Or should it market these programs to eight more students per year?

#32 Comment By hwc On April 30, 2008 @ 11:25 pm

New York was a very valuable stepping stone for me; my ‘boot camp’ (if you will), for how to survive in ‘foreign’ places.

Again, compare to the $25,000 Williams program I outlined early in this thread where 10 days of field study in NYC served as boot camp for survival in Buenos Aires, Beijing, Shanghai, and Bangalore — living with families in each city, travelling to class by autorickshaw or subway.

It’s not like Williams isn’t offering field study, experiential learning programs already — programs that offer more value at much lower costs.

#33 Comment By current eph On April 30, 2008 @ 11:28 pm

Most non-Williams abroad programs offer excellent educational value, but Williams seems to be going for something more than a neat academic experience. Williams in NY aspires to offer more than the average program offers: internships of the sort that can only be secured by the WNY model. Haverford in Tokyo simply will never be able to pull in the same sort of opportunities (in fact, programs like that typically are aimed far more at a cultural experience). There’s certainly a great value to that–I actually spent a semester meeting with Deans to see if there was a way to organize a 5 year Williams curriculum, with a mandatory year abroad/performing some sort of community service (needless to say, it didn’t go anywhere). Now, whether the WNY Program offers a better experiential experience than the International Honors Program now…well, I’m not so sure. There’s certainly a huge value in spending an entire semester or year in one place–the Program you cited looks like much more of a educational-themed paid vacation to me than a truly experiential experience. Whichever Program is more valuable now to most students, I think there’s no doubt that the WNY Program has far more potential for a certain (non-negligable) group of students.

#34 Comment By current eph On April 30, 2008 @ 11:31 pm

hwc–those programs offer a very different sort of experience than WNY.

#35 Comment By hwc On April 30, 2008 @ 11:42 pm

…the Program you cited looks like much more of a educational-themed paid vacation to me than a truly experiential experience.

Ask the Williams students who do the trip. The student I know was dying to get back to Swarthmore and slack off. It’s brutally demanding.

First, they are doing four full courses, similar to those on the NYC curriculum as they travel.

Five days a week they are doing site visits and or lectures from local experts. Now, add commuting either by autorickshaw in India or subway or bus. And, the intense effort required to deal with a homestay situation with a language barrier.

The field study portion is multi-day site visits. For example, in Buenos Aires, they studied the garbage system for a week. One half of the class visited the Sanitation Department — the home office, rubbish collection depots, recycling, depots. The other half visited the “carteneros” — the off the books, itinerant workers who make a living collecing and selling recycling refuse. At the end, the two groups came together for their classroom seminars and papers on the economies of refuse disposal in a major city.

It’s basically the same educational program as Williams in NYC, but with the added dimension of studying megacites on three continents in addition to NYC. For half the cost.

#36 Comment By FROSH mom On April 30, 2008 @ 11:59 pm

I suppose if I am going to keep arguing the merits of the WNY program, I would need to read the report above? (sigh) Not sure I can pull that off tonight…

But I will add this. I honestly can’t believe they would discontinue this program. If cost is really the issue, and the above report doesn’t manage to ‘sucker’…ahem…’inspire’ a big donor to step forward, then they need to take a serious look at some of the great suggestions here, for additional support…especially Ken’s:

“I’d rather see the program opened to students from other US colleges and abroad,…”

perhaps also hooking up with a NYC school; using their dorms and facilities….

#37 Comment By current eph On May 1, 2008 @ 12:17 am

hwc, if you really believe it’s the “same educational program as Williams in NYC,” then you really do not understand the advantages that WNY offers. I’m not doubting the benefits of the trip you mention…they’re just very different benefits than what are found in WNY.

#38 Comment By hwc On May 1, 2008 @ 12:21 am

I read the course syllabi for all four courses and guest lecture/site visit schedules of the New York program. It’s the same kind of deal.

#39 Comment By hwc On May 1, 2008 @ 12:25 am

“I’d rather see the program opened to students from other US colleges and abroad,…”

Can’t sell. It’s a competitive market out there. The high-end off-campus/study abroad programs are priced in line with a semester at a high end college: $22,000 to $25,000 a semester. That’s the ceiling.

So all Williams would be doing is subsidizing non-Williams Students.

#40 Comment By kthomas On May 1, 2008 @ 12:29 am


I have of sympathy for your positions, but not on that one. Lines of influence matter. Taking sociology with Robert Jackall, a student of Gerth and Mills, students of Weber, with all the cross-influence and personal knowledge of the German schools’ approach to cities, is not comparable to taking the same course from a ‘hack’ at NYU or Columbia.

(On the economics issue, you’re probably right; how do you fix the problem?)

#41 Comment By current eph On May 1, 2008 @ 12:34 am

No, it isn’t. The experience you get from interning in a place for a semester is not the same as the experience you get from interning in a place for 10 days. The experience you get living in one city for a semester is different from the one you get from living in it for 10 days. I will refrain from making judgment calls on which experience is more valuable, largely because I think it depends on the person. However, you are incorrect to suggest that the two experiences are interchangeable.

Incidentally, I think plenty of people would play top dollar for the opportunities offered by WNY. Unfortunately, I doubt those opportunities would persist if the alums setting them up knew that they were being arranged for non-ephs.

#42 Comment By aparent On May 1, 2008 @ 12:39 am

Somehow I can’t get Stevie Wonder’s lyrcis out of my head:


#43 Comment By FROSH mom On May 1, 2008 @ 12:41 am


Has anyone ever told you that you are big on ‘resolve’…but low on ‘receptivity’?

Which are (FYI) two vital elements necessary for real problem-solving […]

#44 Comment By FROSH mom On May 1, 2008 @ 12:49 am



Talk about the same ‘comment’, in very different language, but posted almost simultaneously…

#45 Comment By hwc On May 1, 2008 @ 12:55 am

current eph:

I stated early in this thread that I discount the value of the intern portion of the program. It’s too “Northeastern University”
or “Georgia State” for my tastes. Williams students can (and do) intern in the summer or during Winter Study. Heck, they could do a SIT program in Seoul, Korea and then intern at the Guggenheim for 10 weeks starting in June.

I’m talking about the academic syllabi, the site visits, the guest lectures, and the overall approach to field study and experiential learning.

#46 Comment By aparent On May 1, 2008 @ 12:55 am

After slogging through a thread where half of the comments are from one poster, I guess something had to give …

#47 Comment By hwc On May 1, 2008 @ 12:57 am


I’m not here for problem solving. I’m here to stir the pot and enjoy a little give n’ take.

It wouldn’t be much fun if everyone said, “Oh, that’s just a wonderful program at $55,000 a semester. Williams should keep it forever and give each student a pet unicorn!”

Just call me the resident devil(s advocate).

#48 Comment By aparent On May 1, 2008 @ 12:57 am

(FM: #46 was for you)

#49 Comment By current eph On May 1, 2008 @ 1:09 am

So what’s wrong with Northeastern? I think their internship approach to learning is interesting…I don’t think it should replace a more traditional academic experience, but I think integrating a small part of it into one semester of study in New York could certainly be beneficial for certain students. Discounting the internship portion of WNY is like discounting the Bod (or even the entire tutorial program) at Oxford.

Anyways, my main point still stands; a one month internship is not an equivalent experience to a three month internship or a five month internship. Each carries very different advantages and disadvantages. Similarly, one week of living in a city is an incredibly different experience than six months of living in a city.

There are certainly many valid advantages of the International Honors program, and for many students it may be a better choice. However, in most ways, it is not an equivalent program to WNY, and probably will not be best for the same student for whom WNY is a great fit for.

#50 Comment By FROSH mom On May 1, 2008 @ 1:20 am


“I’m here to enjoy a little give’n take.”

“Give” = resolve

“Take”= receptivity

#51 Comment By hwc On May 1, 2008 @ 1:21 am

However, in most ways, it is not an equivalent program to WNY, and probably will not be best for the same student for whom WNY is a great fit for.

I agree with that. I see the NYC program as a very comfortable learning experience, where the more adverturesome foreign study programs are very uncomfortable learning experiences, i.e. they push students outside their culture zones.

#52 Comment By current eph On May 1, 2008 @ 1:38 am

By distilling their differences down to that, hwc, you do the NYC program a great injustice. One could make the exact same argument about attending Williams for undergraduate vs. skipping undergraduate altogether and joining the peacecorps.

#53 Comment By David Broadband On May 1, 2008 @ 1:52 am

The Oxford program is perceptibly more appealing than the NY Bowling Lane programs with their Cultural Nauseums.

#54 Comment By FROSH mom On May 1, 2008 @ 2:17 am

More about Robert Jackall… if you please…

#55 Comment By frank uible On May 1, 2008 @ 3:47 am

Mom: I was thinking of something in the line of Williams in Baghdad in partnership with the Department of Defense.

#56 Comment By Larry George On May 1, 2008 @ 9:14 am

A year or two ago, the College put up a multi-part UTube video of a Jackall lecture to alumni. Fascinating stuff that made me think he’d be even more interesting overseeing field work. Don’t have time now to search for the link.

And for those of you who are interested in the College’s tradition of embracing experiential learning, did you notice that Ed Burger, one of the math professors who is highly toted for his teaching abilities, is the new Gaudino Scholar? Exciting possibilities there. The College is richly blessed in its resources.

I only skimmed the report, but I don’t think it does the program and the issues justice. For me, I distrusted the report because of 1) the undiscussed Williams Club issues, 2) the apparent lack of input by program alumni/the short shrift given to the little alumni input that was considered (course evaluations), 3) the confusing accounting, and 4) the failure even to mention, much less discuss, the contracting out of a fourth of the coursework to NYU).

Give it a temporary reprieve. Go back and interview (and allow submissions by) program alumni, invite their suggestions, and incorporate the material in the report. Make the accounting less confusing. Look for and give fair consideration to ways to improve/make viable the program, particularly to ideas that fall short of taking over and extensively renovating the Williams Club. If taking over and renovating the club (which, by the way, was recently renovated) is really seen as an alternative, provide information about that (proposing that the only way to save a program for 16-32 Williams students a year is to take over the club for an unmentioned – not even ballpark – sum and without any mention of how that might be accomplished legally and what it might entail for the club’s other operations is to doom the proposal before it even gets out of the gate ==> surely the faculty won’t want to step into that one and, as the report now stands, I can’t see that they have any alternative other than to close the program down, based on what they are being given).

I don’t know what’s going on. The report reads as though it was done in haste by very busy people who lost heart. Maybe they had a directive to end the program from the beginning…

I hate to be so critical. I am really pleased that the report was made public and I don’t want to discourage others from making materials public. Transparency is a pain in the neck. Yet, airing ideas to a wide audience of people who care can surface innovation. (I recognize that it can as easily kill innovation, lead to the lowest common denominator, and produce “political” rather than thoughtful results. As my wife would say: “Sigh.”)

I recently sat on a committee where the leader led us into releasing a draft report to a limited number of interested parties for comment. It added considerable time to the process but made the difference between an effective result that got people working together to make hard decisions vs. what, in retrospect, would have seemed like a hatchet job (and there will be no more committee work for me for a long, long time).

I wonder whether the WNY committee could get an extension, invite comment, and issue an enhanced report in the early fall. To do that would take some amazing leadership, and it may not be worth it as I sense that, in the end, the program is probably doomed (especially as the tea leave seem to be suggesting that that is the way of the political will).

Late to work…gotta rush. Sorry for typos.

#57 Comment By Rory On May 1, 2008 @ 10:12 am

A quick note on sociology in NYC:

Consider we can’t expect Bob Jackall to constantly be the program director/man-of-contacts, it is a very wise decision to try to integrate the program with NYU and Columbia.

FURTHER, NYU and Columbia have some impressive sociology programs and in no way are the faculty from the NYC schools (Phil Kasinitz for one–and he already taught at WNY) not impressive scholars for Williams students to learn with/from. Bob Jackall is great, but Kasinitz is a great scholar as well.

as much as i dislike his methodology, his fieldwork and his disregard for the rest of us sociologists, Sudhir Venkatesh at Columbia would also be an interesting mentor to the WNY program, as could Dalton Conley at NYU, etc.

i’d think the opportunity to do intensive urban ethnographic fieldwork with a Venkatesh or a Klinenberg or a Mitch Dunieur or the newest hire at NYU, Colin Jerolmack (even the new people aren’t hacks–though i’m kind amazed that 3/4 of my list is white males. not amazed–a little disheartened, perhaps) would be a unique opportunity–the type of opportunity that would make this a special program. a 3 or 4 month team ethnographically based program could give the students the type of research opportunity most undergraduates DREAM about doing (if they’re interested in doing research). I’d love to see that as part of the program. as a grad student, i’d kill to be in that, for example.

I’d like to know how well the fieldwork is integrated into an academic sphere. I’d think that a team-based ethnographic work might be a stronger model for ensuring that the internships stay ethnographic/research oriented. are they/do they? if so, this is a unique an important program. If not, i think that change would be critical.

#58 Comment By hwc On May 1, 2008 @ 11:24 am


It’s not the a five-month ethnographic research project.

You can see the syllabi for the sociology course and the arts course here:

Link to prior EphBlog article

The sociology course looks excellent, but it’s not a grad school course. The research component is a report on a neighborhood which involves an observation component, but not ethnographic research in that sense…only data from census materials or other reports.

#59 Comment By kthomas On May 1, 2008 @ 2:53 pm

rory: re: “hack…” wrong phrasing and wrong example institution there; though meant somewhat ironically, and certainly not meant to reflect any way on Phil (whose artful five-minute lecture on transportation technologies and the structures of cities, I repeat every few weeks).

#60 Comment By Aidan On May 1, 2008 @ 3:21 pm

I think we might be overestimating how ‘difficult’ these experiential learning study abroads are.

Qua Frank, we’re not talking “Williams in Basra.”