Three Williams Faculty Members Awarded Nelson Bushnell Prize

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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Three faculty members at Williams College are the recipients of the Nelson Bushnell ’20 Prize for excellence in teaching and writing, an award given annually to the faculty since 1995. 

This year's recipients are Rashida K. Braggs, Mea Cook and Bernie Rhie: Braggs for the integration of her scholarship with her teaching and for mentorship of junior faculty members; Cook for her creativity in her classes and the deliberate approach to inclusive pedagogy; and Rhie for his highly effective teaching and mentoring for junior colleagues through various programs.

Rashida K. Braggs

Braggs is an associate professor of Africana studies and a faculty affiliate in comparative literature. With her background in humanities, performance studies, mass communications, theater studies and English, she consistently introduces a performative lens to African diasporic cultural expressions, from jazz to literature to advertising. In such courses as "13 Ways of Looking at Jazz" and "Black Migrations: African American Performance at Home and Abroad," she teaches students to explore how performance conveys values, patterns and negotiations of power in society.

Her work has also been published in such journals as Nottingham French Studies, The Journal of Popular Music, The James Baldwin Review and The Black Scholar. She received her B.A. from Yale University, her M.S. from Boston University and her Ph.D. from Northwestern University.

Mea Cook

Cook is the chair and associate professor of geosciences. A marine geologist and paleoceanographer, she studies the ocean's role in natural climate variability across timescales ranging from decades to hundreds of thousands of years, including natural fluxes of methane and carbon dioxide between the ocean and atmosphere and the role of ocean circulation in ice age cycles.

Her research is funded by the National Science Foundation, and she has been published in such journals as Paleoceanography and Deep-Sea Research II. She earned a B.A. in geosciences from Princeton University and a Ph.D. in marine geology and geophysics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution joint program in oceanography.

Bernie Rhie

Rhie is an associate professor in the department of English and will be chair of the department effective July 1. He teaches courses on a variety of topics, including: the concept of the "self" and the representation of subjectivity; the influence of Buddhism on American literature and culture; the history, theory, and practice of meditation; Asian American literature; and philosophical approaches to literary studies. He is also deeply interested in contemplative pedagogy and has been exploring ways to incorporate contemplative practices like mindfulness into his teaching.

He received his B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley, and his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania.

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Williamstown Select Board Recommends Social Justice Articles to Town Meeting

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Select Board on Monday recommended to town meeting passage of two warrant articles designed to address issues of racial equity and diversity after reconsidering an earlier decision to make no recommendation on one of the measures.
The last two items on the 37-article warrant for Aug. 18's outdoor annual town meeting at Weston Field were generated by way of citizen's petition.
The first asks town meeting voters to commit to the "Not In Our County Pledge" generated by the Great Barrington-based group Multicultural BRIDGE. The second, titled "Equity," calls on all agencies and committees of town government to re-examine their policies, demands the town train board members and employees about issues of systemic inequities and requires quarterly reports on these issues to the recently formed Diversity, Inclusion and Racial Equity (DIRE) Committee.
Board members expressed support for the intent of both articles but raised technical issues about each, though the panel took no action on the warrant's final measure, the Equity article, before Chair Jane Patton realized there were members of the audience who wanted to speak to the articles from the "floor" of the remote meeting.
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