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Provost to moderate discussion featuring six university faculty members: ‘Scholars in Action’ panel April 2 to highlight WCSU faculty research

DANBURY, CONN. — Western Connecticut State University will present six WCSU faculty members in a discussion of their recent scholarly work at the forum, “Scholars in Action: Acts of Violence, Acts of Grace,” at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 2, 2019, on the university’s Midtown campus, 181 White St. in Danbury.

The panel discussion will be in Room 127 of White Hall. Admission will be free and the public is invited. Reservations to attend are requested; RSVP confirmations may be sent to the Office of the Provost at

The panelists will include Dr. Jay Brower, associate professor and chair of the Communication and Media Arts Department; Dr. Brian Clements, professor of Writing, Linguistics and Creative Process; Dr. Deneen Harris, assistant professor and chair of the Social Work Department; Dr. Karen McLean, assistant professor of Social Work; Dr. George Kain, professor and chair of the Division of Justice and Law Administration; and Dr. Greg Haynes, assistant professor of Music. Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Missy Alexander will moderate the panel.

Following are the topics that the panelists will discuss in their presentations:

  • Dr. Jay Brower will present “Watching Death on Screen.” His talk will explore how violence and scenes of death saturate the media as commonplace subjects, from a favorite character’s coup de grace on “The Walking Dead” to broadcast news reports on natural disasters. Brower will seek to explain how such mediated death becomes an element of viewers’ environment and why it captures their attention. He will also explore how the individual can restore an appropriate sense of violent death as a brutal and unjust event, and assert an ethics of witnessing in an age where aestheticized violence shapes the media landscape.
  • Dr. Brian Clements will discuss “Bullets into Bells: Poets and Citizens Respond to Gun Violence,” drawing upon his three-part research project that has brought together voices from across the nation to speak about gun violence that killed nearly 40,000 last year in the United States. The first part of his project has collected an anthology of poems about the many varieties of gun violence and stories from survivors, activists and leaders. In the second part, the project seeks to organize events nationwide to extend the conversation about gun violence to communities in every state. The third part aims to facilitate global exchanges about the subject through the website,, providing an online forum for poems, essays, videos, interviews, survivor testimony and other information about gun violence. “The goals of this project are to give those most affected by gun violence in the United States a microphone, to educate the public about the frequency and effects of gun violence, and to motivate the public to action to reduce gun violence in the United States,” Clements observed.
  • Dr. Deneen Harris and Dr. Karen McLean will provide an overview of their current research project to educate social work students about the need for self-care and the impact on social workers of empathetic engagement with clients’ trauma. Their research seeks to explore the relationship between race and trauma exposure. Harris and McLean have designed a 90-minute workshop and accompanying training manual to engage participants in self-care, delivering content through a variety of techniques including videos, role playing, small group discussions and experiential activities.
  • Dr. George Kain will discuss “An Eye for an Eye: Retributive or Restorative?” based on a book chapter which he co-authored with Dale Recinella in “The Routledge Handbook on Capital Punishment,” published in 2017. The authors’ article found that biblical quotations commonly cited to justify capital punishment in fact have a meaning far different from the interpretations often used to support a vengeance-based theory of retribution. In a subsequent paper that evolved from the book chapter, Kain examined how retribution is presented in criminal justice textbooks for university programs, and concluded that many authors of these texts need to correct their definitions of the term to reflect a more accurate representation of what retribution is and what it is not.
  • Dr. Greg Haynes will present “Peace Intermezzo,” a piece that he composed as part of a Percussive Arts Society initiative to provide beginning and intermediate percussionists with minute-long instructional etudes on a variety of percussion instruments. “Peace Intermezzo,” which is most easily considered in E-minor, consists of a simple melody harmonized over five phrases in a form reminiscent of an open-ended rounded binary. The composition creates a short vibraphone solo with a long melodic line and full harmony using two mallets, two textures and a few dampening techniques. The score details vibraphone pedaling as it should be performed and employs mallet dampening to enable the player to preserve the continuity of a melodic line without cutting out the harmony or allowing tone clusters to build up around the moving parts. Haynes said he encourages students “to perform it as a breath of fresh air or a moment of peace amongst the larger concerns of life and music.”

For more information, contact the Office of University Relations at (203) 837-8486.



Western Connecticut State University changes lives by providing all students with a high-quality education that fosters their growth as individuals, scholars, professionals and leaders in a global society. Our vision: To be widely recognized as a premier public university with outstanding teachers and scholars who prepare students to contribute to the world in a meaningful way.