tcnj wordmark

Letters From the Dean

Check back here every Sunday for Dean Rifkin’s timely message to the School of Humanities and Social Sciences!

This Week -  September 28, 2014

Dear Students:

As you may recall, I was in Kazakhstan last week. If you can’t picture it on the map, imagine India and then just keep moving your eyes up north, beyond the Himalayas.  Then keep going.  Kazakhstan is north of India and west of Mongolia.

It was a fascinating visit, especially to the city of Astana, a booming metropolis home to more active construction sites than any city I have ever visited, a city truly very impressive for two reasons.  First, many of the new buildings have been specially adapted for severe winter weather with aboveground heated tunnels connecting any new building to neighboring buildings and sheltering employees from bitter cold and wind.  Second, many of the new buildings defy conventional expectations about architecture:  for example, one building looked like a dog bowl, two others like golden buckets, and a fourth like an upside-down halogen light bulb.  (When is a bucket not a bucket?  When it’s an office building!) I will post some of my photos of these and other interesting structures to the HSS Instagram account; I encourage you to take a look.

I draw from my observations about Astana some conclusions that may be relevant for our community:

First, let’s all think about how we protect one another from the difficult conditions that occur with some regularity, whether those conditions are meteorological or emotional.  Let’s be kind to one another and support one another when a storm comes in.

Second, let’s not be constrained by convention:  let’s try to give our creative impulse the freedom to explore new ideas.  Some of these new ideas will surely fail, but if Steve Jobs had said that, I wouldn’t be writing this message to you on a Macintosh or an iPad and Bill Gates and his team might never have invented Windows.  You can explore new ways to be creative about your own future by attending the Opportunity Fair on October 3 from 11 am to 2 pm (see “Events” below).

Accordingly, I wish strength, calm, and persistence especially to those HSS students currently working on applications to graduate or professional school, such as law school or medical school.  I urge you to take shelter from the storms of anxiety and frustration that may accompany the application process by taking a break from time to time and enjoying the support of your friends.  And I wish everyone strength and confidence to try a new approach to an intellectual problem.

I also want to take this opportunity to wish all those observing holidays in this season, whether holidays of renewal and atonement (Rosh Ha-Shanah and Yom Kippur), or holidays celebrating sacrifice (Eid al-Adha), meaningful and beautiful celebrations.

Lastly, I want to alert you to the fact that in about a week’s time we will be sending you individual invitations to complete the annual HSS student survey.  The entire survey will take you no longer than 10 minutes.  This survey helps us improve the programs we offer you so that they will be better address your needs.  Please be sure to take the survey:  it’s an important way for you to help our HSS community.  And it will make you eligible to win a $50 gift card for Amazon (employees of the HSS Dean’s Office and HSS Student Advisory Council members are not eligible to win the gift card).



Your friendly neighborhood dean,


Benjamin Rifkin
Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences
The College of New Jersey

PO Box 7718

Ewing, NJ 08628
(v) 609.771.3434

(f) 609.637.5173



Congratulations to HSS alumna Maryan Escarfullett on the publication of her article in The Diplomat



TCNJ’s Tutoring Center has joined a Northeast Consortium for eTutoring!  See a separate e-mail message about this opportunity for you or look for information at the Tutoring Center’s website:

Consider writing for TCNJ’s Journal of Student Scholarship (JOSS).  For more details, see  The deadline to submit is October 27.

The application process is open for the US Government’s Critical Language Scholarship program for summer study in one of 13 languages including: Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Persian, Russian, Turkish, and Urdu.  This competitive national scholarship funds summer study.  For more information, see and note the deadline of November 12, 2014. You may also want to see this website:

Students are invited to consider writing for The Wall, a biannual newspaper that features stories, artwork and poetry by individuals who are experiencing homelessness. It serves as an outlet for the voices of the homeless. It is the paper’s goal to help share their voices with as many people as possible and to educate the local community about the realities of homelessness.  Students who write for The Wall can pitch their own article ideas or choose from a list of available topics.  More information about the The Wall can be found on its website:



Tues., Sept. 30         Afternoon Recital Series at 12:30 pm in Mayo Concert Hall

Tues., Sept. 30         Information Session for Faculty-Led Study Abroad Program in Harlaxton, UK, 12:30 pm in Bliss 145

Tues., Sept. 30         Information Session for Faculty-Led Study Abroad Program in Cornwall, UK, 1:00 pm in Bliss 145

Wed., Oct. 1              PharmaTech Symposium, especially the Careers in PharmaTech panel from 1 to 2 pm in Education 212.  This is a great way to explore career opportunities for liberal arts majors in the pharmaceutical industry.  For more information, see

Wed., Oct. 1              Exploring Economic Justice Series:  Capitalism in Utopia, lecture by Dr. Jason Brennan of Georgetown University, at 4 pm in the Library Auditorium

Wed., Oct. 1              Information Session about the Public Health Minor, with Drs. Jessica Barnack-Tavlaris (Psychology) and Lynn Gazley (Sociology) in Science Complex P-117

Wed., Oct. 1              Wednesdays with CAPS Peer Educators at 5 to 7 pm focuses on Changes in Relationships, in both Travers and Wolf Lobbies

Thurs., Oct. 2            NJ 350th Anniversary Lecture Series:  Why We Should Not Celebrate NJ’s 350th Birthday:  Lenapes, Land, and the Legacy of Colonialism.  Lecture by Dr. William Carter (History) at 5:30 pm in the Library Auditorium

Fri., Oct. 3                  Brown Bag Series features Frank Migliorelli, Director of the Digital Experience at the New York Public Library, at 12:30 pm in the Library Auditorium

Fri., Oct. 3                  6th Annual NJ Coalition for Battered Women’s Women in Movement Awards event from 11 am to 3 pm in Roscoe West 202

Fri., Oct. 3                  Opportunities Fair at the Rec Center from 11 am to 2 pm, including representatives of the following employers, among many others, who have indicated that they are interested in talking with HSS majors:  Businesses – Aerotek, Bloomberg LP, Cintas Corp, First Investors Corporation, Guardian, Hennion & Walsh, Johnson & Johnson, Marathon Data Systems, New York Life, Northestern Mutual, Princeton Review, Reynolds & Reynolds, Sherwin Williams, Solar City, Target; Government Agencies – Delaware State Police, Dept. of Veterans’ Affairs, FBI, Federal Air Marshals, Superior Court, Peace Corps; and Non-Profits – CISabroad, City Year, Teach for America, Womanspace, Woodrow Wilson Foundation; and Graduate Schools – law schools, medical schools, pharmacy schools, public policy programs, and more.  See for more details.

7ads6x98y Top