Faculty participants have introduced topics about alcohol and other drugs into several of their courses in response to the 1997 Summer Workshop. Brief follow-up reports (August, 1998) from participants representing various disciplines are provided as examples.

Rocco L. Capraro, Assoc. Dean of Hobart College (

Men and Masculinity Seminar

I teach an interdisciplinary men's studies seminar, titled Theories of Masculinity. The seminar examines social forces that shape the lives of men and explores the nature of men's experience, especially in relation to the question of manhood, or prevailing models of what it means to be a man.

The first part of the course studies the three major contemporary critiques of masculinity: conservative/traditional, mythopoetic, and feminist. The second part of the course moves from universals to particulars, taking up the issue of "masculinities", or the varieties of male experience grounded in different identities and experiences, including, but not limited to, race, sexuality, and religion/ethnicity.

The third part of the course re-visits some critical motifs of masculinity that have appeared in earlier sections of the course, such as sports, the body, adventure, violence, fathers, and fathering. This part of the course has been the focus of the curricular infusion of the topic of alcohol.

Two years ago, I introduced the question of connections between alcohol and masculinity through the text of Jack London's autobiography, John Barleycorn: Alcoholic Memoir, and a chapter from Herbert Finagrette's Heavy Drinking. Essentially, the course argued that "heavy drinking was a way of life" and that way of life was "being a man". In papers and exams I also asked students to review the previous texts of the course with an eye toward the question of alcohol.

As a direct result of the curricular infusion seminar, I re-situated the place of alcohol in the syllabus and I changed the central text. I included alcohol as a re-visited motif, signaling that it was a pervasive issue and not simply a variation on the theme of masculinity. Alcohol as a motif is now housed with the related issues of adventure and violence in men's lives. I substituted a book brought to my attention in the curricular infusion seminar, Pete Hamill's A Drinking Life: A Memoir, for the Jack London text. The Hamill text is a more contemporary account in a more contemporary idiom than the London. It was more sociological and less literary, and hence more realistic, in its treatment of the alcohol issue. I will use the Hamill again for the next iteration of the course.

The curricular infusion seminar also had an impact on my thinking about the co-curriculum on our campus. It now seems to me that alcohol, like gender, is a natural topic for the kind of "connected knowing" that links learning in the classroom to learning out of the classroom/campus life and learning in the classroom and individual student development and formation of worldview. /p>

Professor Sigrid Carle, Biology, (

I found that your alcohol workshop provided many ideas for enhancing my cell biology and introductory biology courses. Below I have explained how the topic of alcohol was incorporated into these two courses.

Cell Biology

Cell biology is a junior/senior level biology course. I used the topic of alcohol and its affects on the body to spark an interest in the metabolism section of this course as well as to connect many topics we covered during the term. The topic of metabolism is often tedious for students. I used alcohol metabolism as a way of sparking interest in this tedious material and as a way of reinforcing the metabolism material. After an overview of how carbohydrates are converted into usable cellular energy (ATP), we discussed how alcohol is metabolized and which organelles participate at each step. Then we discussed how ethanol consumption alters metabolism and why this leads to the metabolic effects of alcohol, such as an increase in fat production and hypoglycemia.

I also used the effects of alcohol on the body to connect many topics we had discussed in class. Typically, the cell biology course covers a broad range of topics that seem unconnected. By discussing how alcohol affects the body, I was able to connect many topics. For example, students often do not see the relationship between metabolism and other cellular events. Alcohol metabolism affects protein trafficking, the immune system, cellular signal transduction systems, and cellular receptor function. Particularly with chronic alcohol use, the students were able to see how cells respond and modify function based on an environmental insult.

Introductory Biology

My introductory biology course is a topics course in health issues. One topic I cover is metabolism. As in cell biology, usually the students are not too interested in this topic. The incorporation of alcohol metabolism into this section was very successful in sparking student interest and enthusiasm. I covered the same basic alcohol related topics (how ethanol is metabolized, how ethanol consumption alters metabolism, and how ethanol consumption affect cellular function) as I did in the cell biology. Additionally, I introduced the ethanol metabolism section by showing the results of the David Craig/ Wes Perkins happy hour experiment. (I borrowed D. Craig's graphs.) This presentation was very effective in sparking student interest in the topic. In this course I had covered nerve function. I was also able to connect the alcohol metabolism and nerve function material.

Further Plans:

Introductory biology: I would like to expand the ethanol section in my intro. biology course. Next time I will add a lab, potentially one on how ethanol affects respiration in an aquatic invertebrate.

Cell Biology: I cover a section on immunology and HIV infection. I would like to expand the section on alcohol to include a section on HIV and alcohol. I am also considering a lab based on differences in ADH isozymes.

Thank you for having done the alcohol workshop. This is an important topic on college campuses and your workshop was very useful. The concepts I have presented in my classes have been well received. /p>

Cheryl Forbes, Writing and Rhetoric, (

As a result of the workshop last summer, I used books in fall and winter terms that raised the issues of alcohol abuse. In my first-year seminar, we read Cynthia Voigt's novel Izzy Willy-Nilly. The protagonist has part of her leg amputated as a result of a drunk driving accident. Students in their journals told stories about similar events from high school, ans we also discussed drinking on campus.

In the spring term, I used several books for my adolescent literature class that focused on the problems alcohol abuse causes in families. Norma Fox Mazer and Anne Lamott were particularly thought-provoking for students, who not only read adolescent literature during the class and discuss the issues raised but also write their own stories. One of the students chose alcohol as a theme for his novel, which provided those in his writing group additional opportunity to talk about alcohol abuse.

Although I had hoped to include the issue of alcohol abuse in my course on work, only one of our books touched on the subject significantly, Wilson's When Work Disappears. However, the book helped students understand alcohol and drug abuse is so high among the urban poor, but I don't think they connected the alcohol and drug abuse on campus with the urban poor; the class differences were too great an imaginative leap. I was surprised that several other books on the pressures of two-family careers did not address the issue of alcohol. /p>

Professor A'Lelia Henry, Political Science, (

The subject of state and federal regulation of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs was discussed in one lecture in both Pol 229 (state and local government) and Pol 102 (American Political Systems). In both cases, the primary foci were on differences in federal and state laws governing alcohol and tobacco, the success/failure of lobbying initiatives, and the importance of constituent movements in influencing the governmental process. In additional to textbooks, students in both of these classes were provided with articles from several national newspapers and periodicals. Hence the focus, rather than on the individual student or citizen, was more on the governmental process as a deterrent to a centralized governmental policy regulating the tobacco industry, as is further exemplified by the go it alone approach of the states and individuals in pursuing suits against the tobacco industry.

Students were asked to contrast this development with that of alcohol, including how the present trend towards states rights might further this distinction. /p>

Professor Steven Lee, Philosophy, (

The topic of alcohol played an important role in my course Phil 156, Philosophy and Contemporary Issues: Biomedical Ethics, a course enrolling 30 students in the fall of 1997. The problems of alcohol and alcoholism were mentioned as illustrations under a number of topics through the term, but it received its most extensive discussion under the topic of justice in the allocation of medical resources. There are two levels at which the issue of distributive justice in health care arises: the macro level and the micro level. At the macro level, the basic issue is to what extent and how the issue of a person's abuse of alcohol should affect whatever health insurance scheme he or she belongs to. At the micro level, problems arise such as whether someone's alcoholism should be a negative factor in deciding where that person should be placed on a list of persons awaiting a liver transplant, in a situation where those low on the list will probably die before a transplant is available. We illustrated this problem with the Mickey Mantle example, which recurred throughout the course. At both levels, the basic issue is whether or not someone should be held responsible for being an alcohol abuser--is it that person's fault or is it not the person's fault, as the disease model would suggest. This led to a discussion of the question of the nature of responsibility, which has wide reverberations in medical ethics, given the apparent fact that a good portion of serious human diseases and disabilities are due to life-style choices. If health care is to be rationed, as it must, is the responsibility of the patient in bringing about the disease or disability one of the criteria on which it is to be rationed? /p>

Professor Scott McKinney, Economics, ( )

As I indicated when I took the workshop, my major interest was in building up some background in order to be able to help students doing research projects in the area of student alcohol consumption. I teach a Statistics course in which I have the students work in groups to create a questionnaire, distribute it on campus, and analyze the results. I work with each group to fine-tune their questionnaire, so the more I know about an issue, the more helpful I can be. Student alcohol consumption is a topic that comes up often, in terms of level of consumption, who consumes, influence on academic work, influence on athletic performance. Perversely, the topic was not researched by any groups this year, but I know it will be again; I feel much more confident in my ability to help students in the area as a result of the workshop. /p>

Professor Brooke Olson, Anthropology

During the past academic year, I have incorporated the theme of alcohol abuse problems into several of my courses, relying extensively on the materials I obtained through the seminar. In my North American Indians class, we examined the history of alcohol use in Native American tribes and the current scope of the problems. I organized class discussions on the myths and realities of Indian drinking, primarily through an analysis of the "firewater myth" or the stereotype that Native Americans cannot "hold their liquor." We discussed the impact of this stereotype on the assumptions that non-Native people makes, and also the repercussions this has on Native Americans themselves. The gendered aspects of drinking were also explored in this class, primarily using the autobiographical book Lakota Woman, and through an analysis of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome on the Navajo Reservation.

The other course in which I incorporated segments on alcohol and other drugs was Medical Anthropology. In this class, I covered the themes of different cultural pattern of drinking, the impact on the household of substance abuse, the historical transformations from moralization to medicalization of alcohol problems, and how drinking may also be related to structural inequalities in the political economy (the article by Singer et al. was especially useful for this task). The students explored how different theories of alcohol abuse (individual, medical, social, cultural, economic) may be combined for a more comprehensive framework.

I found the alcohol and other drugs seminar to be extremely useful in providing a more comprehensive framework to examine substance abuse issues which enhance the students' education at Hobart and William Smith.

Useful References

Bordewich, Fergus. 1996. Killing the White Man's Indian. Anchor Doubleday Books. (I used the chapter, "A scene most resembling hell," about the substance abuse problems in Gallup, New Mexico, and how innovative programs have ben developed which combine Native American concepts with Western therapeutic strategies)

Crow Dog, Mary. 1990. Lakota Woman. Harper Perennial.

Kunitz, Stephen & Jerrold Levy. 1994. Drinking Careers: A Twenty-Five Year Study of Three Navajo Populations. Yale University Press.

Maracle, Brian. 1993. Crazy Water: Native Voices on Addiction and Recovery. Penguin.

May, Philip. 1994. "The Epidemiology of Alcohol Abuse among American Indians: The Mythical and Real Properties." American Indian Culture and Research Journal 18 (2): 121-143.

Singer, Merrill, et al. 1998. "Why Does Juan Garcia Have a Drinking Problem? The Perspective of Critical Medical Anthropology." In Understanding and Applying Medical Anthropology, Peter Brown (ed.), pp. 286-302. Mayfield. /p>

Michelle Rizzella, Psychology, (

Here is a brief outline illustrating how alcohol and alcohol issues may be incorporated in my classes. The majority of my references come from either the books I purchased or from journal articles.

I. Attention Issues

A. Controlled Processing (i.e., tasks that require attention) vs. Automatic Processing (i.e., tasks that do not require attention) -- Effects of alcohol are greater for tasks that require controlled processing than automatic processing

B. Divided Attention -- Tasks that are done simultaneously are more sensitive to impairment than other cognitive measures such as tracking, vigilance, and reaction time

II. Memory Issues

A. Chronic Use

1. Korsakoff's Syndrome

Description -- inability to remember events prior to alcoholism; new information is not encoded in memory (Marslen-Wilson & Teuber, 1975).

Cause -- syndrome is not caused by alcohol itself; the problem is caused by a thiamine deficiency often associated with an alcoholic's diet (Rao, Larkin, & Derr, 1986).

2. Birnbaum and Parker (1977) have found that degree of amnesia increased with larger doses of alcohol.

B. "Normal" Use

1. Presumably, alcohol impairs the acquisition of new information but does not affect the retrieval of preciously memorized information (Mungas et al. 1994). This acquisition phase occurs at both attention phase and consolidation phase of memory processing. New information is not processed at a "deep" level.

2. There is a positive correlation between memory impairment and sedative drugs (alcohol is a sedative). Sedative drugs interact with neurotransmitter levels (GABA, Acetylcholine, Histamine). These neurotransmitters are related to memory functions (Jones, 1994) Memory interacts with factors such as mood and level of alertness. Because alcohol directly affects each of these factors directly, alcohol can also indirectly afftect other factors because of interrelations.

C. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome - FAS patients often have problems with memory. Patients with FAS have difficulty recalling a list of words even after hearing the list five times. These patients often failed to cluster words into categories, which "normal" subjects do as a memory strategy. (Connor& Streissguth, 1996)

III. FAS & Higher Order Processing Issues:

A. Intelligence -- Intellectual functioning, as measured by standardized IQ tests, is often below average in children and adolescents with FAS. 68 percent of FAS subjects in three age groups studied (i.e., children, adolescents, and adults) had received services for learning problems in school. (from Connor, & Streissguth, 1996)

B. Language FAS patients show are not as verbal fluent as "normal" peers (i.e., naming as many words as possible in a given time; Connor, & Streissguth, 1996)


Birnbaum & Parker (1977). Alcohol and Human Memory. Lawrence Erlbaum Association: Hillsdale.

Connor, & Streissguth, (1996). Effects of prenatal exposure to alcohol across the life span. Alcohol Health and Research World, Washington.

Jones (1994). Basic mechanisms of sleep-wake states. In Kryger, Roth & Dement (eds.) Principles and Practice of Sleep Medicine. Philadelphia., 145-162.

Lister, Eckhart, & Weingartner (1987). Ethanol intoxication and meory. In Galanter (ed.) Recent Development in Alcoholism. New York: Plenum Press, 111-126.

Marslen-Wilson & Teuber, (1975). Memory for remote events in anterograde amnesia: Recognition of public figures from news photographs. Neuropsychologia, 13, 353-364.

Mungas, Ehlers, & Wall. (1994). Effects of acute alcohol administration on verbal spatial learning. Alcohol and Alcoholism, 29, 163-169.

Rao, Larkin, & Derr, (1986). Biological effects of chronic ethanol consumption related to a deficient intake of carbohydrates. Alcohol and Alcoholism, 21, 369-373. /p>

page last modified 11/5/1999

Address comments and suggestions to Prof. David Craig ( ) or Prof. H. Wesley Perkins ( )