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How did ‘Social Justice Warrior’ Become an Insult?

Why we say bad things about people who do good things

Why is there this persistent myth that those who do good things are boring, annoying or even morally questionable?

This paradox has a long history, and has been given a new lease-of-life via the internet, with the derogatory term “Social Justice Warrior.” Do-gooders have long been met with resentment, suspicion and hostility. Feelings which manifest as people inferring ulterior motives for altruistic actions, implying real or imagined hypocrisy or attacking do-gooders on unrelated dimensions.

Craig Parks.

“Do-gooders are seen as deviant rule breakers. It’s as if they’re giving away Monopoly money so someone can stay in the game, irking other players no end,” explains social psychologist Craig Parks, of Washington State University, who is the author of one such study.

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Fulbright Summer Institute to the U.K. award takes WSU sophomore to Wales

Ava Beck.

Washington State University linguistics major and Spokane native Ava Beck will study at Aberystwyth University in Wales for three weeks this summer, thanks to a Fulbright Summer Institute to the U.K. award.

Beck is one of around 60 U.S. students selected to undertake short academic and cultural programs at any of nine hosting institutions throughout the United Kingdom. At Aberystwyth, on that country’s western coast, Beck will join fellow Americans exploring contemporary issues in identity and nationhood “through the lens of Wales.” She will attend classes in the university’s Dept. of International Politics, explore the city, visit the National Library of Wales, and learn a bit of the Welsh language.

“I am eager to learn and study during the experience and apply that knowledge to my future studies,” Beck said. “But I am also eager to just experience a new place and culture. I hope to grow in obvious and subtle ways and to bring this experience back with me to share with my peers as well as those I am closest to. It really is an exciting opportunity.”

The aspiring speech language therapist chose to apply to the Aberystwyth program for two reasons. She is interested that Wales is striving toward bilingualism in English and Welsh. Plus, she believes her academic area of interest—linguistics, or the study of the nature and structure of human language—is “irrefutably connected” to the summer themes of identity and culture.

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WSU Insider

Linda Russo wins CAS Mid-Career Clinical and Instructional Achievement Award

Linda Russo.

Linda Russo, clinical associate professor of English, has won the 2019 College of Arts and Sciences Mid-Career Clinical and Instructional Achievement Award. Russo teaches Introduction to Creative Writing as well as Intermediate and Advanced Poetry.

Megan Kaminski, a poet at the University of Kansas who nominated Russo, writes that “Linda’s three recent books, Participant, Meaning to Go to the Origin in Some Way, and To Think of Her Writing Awash in Light have had a significant impact on the poetry world.”

Kaminski also recognized Russo for her co-edited volume Counter-Desecration: A Glossary for Writing Within the Anthropocene, stating that the book “re-visions current understandings of the ecological in literary studies… and does important work in decolonizing the often very white male world of nature writing.”

Russo’s collaborative digital mapping, ecology, and arts project has brought together students and community members, as well as forging valuable connections between the arts, humanities, and sciences, allowing her to connect with a wide range of students.

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WSU Insider

Center for Arts and Humanities awards fellowships to eight faculty

The Center for Arts and Humanities (CAH) and the Office of Research are pleased to announce eight faculty members are recipients of the 2019 Arts and Humanities Fellowships. The fellowship program awarded a total of $62,320 to faculty representing Fine Arts, the School of Music, the Department of History, Politics, Philosophy, and Public Affairs and the School of Design and Construction. Each project supports faculty professional goals and advances university‑wide arts and humanities initiatives. The fellowships will support exhibitions, music recordings, research travel, and course releases. Many of these activities will lead to publications. In addition to their individual efforts, the Fellows will meet for monthly discussions, hosted by the CAH.

This is the third year in which CAH and the Office of Research have awarded the fellowships. In April 2019, the Board of Regents gave formal approval for the center. With this recognition, the CAH will continue the fellowship program and further expand and advance arts and humanities at WSU through speakers, seminars, and other activities.

“This year’s fellowships reaffirm the vibrancy, relevance, and creativity of the arts and humanities at WSU,” said Todd Butler, director of the CAH. “Particularly impressive is the fact that most if not all of the fellowship winners envision a public component to their projects. This is land‑grant work in action.”

Learn about the fellowship recipients for 2019

WSU Insider

New data platform illuminates history of humans’ environmental impact

The human environmental footprint is not only deep, but old.

Ancient traces of this footprint can be found in animal bones, shells, scales and antlers at archaeological sites. Together, these specimens tell the millennia-long story of how humans have hunted, domesticated and transported animals, altered landscapes and responded to environmental changes such as shifting temperatures and sea levels.

Now, that story is available digitally through a new open-access data platform known as ZooArchNet, which links records of animals across biological and archaeological databases.

Making these specimen records accessible digitally helps provide a long-term perspective on current biodiversity crises, such as animal extinction and habitat loss, and could lead to more informed conservation policies.

Erin Thornton.

Zooarchaeological specimens can also provide insights into how, when, and why humans domesticated animals in the distant past. Research by anthropologist Erin Thornton of Washington State University and a colleague on the earliest uses of the Mexican domesticated turkey, the ancestor of modern domestic turkeys, highlights how motivations for raising animals can change over time.

“Our recent work suggests that these birds were first domesticated for their feathers and symbolic links to power and prestige, rather than as a source of food,” she said.

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