10 August 2010 HWS Featured by U.S. Dept. of Ed

Hobart and William Smith Colleges are highlighted in a new publication by The U.S. Department of Education, Field Experiences in Effective Prevention. HWS is included along with 11 other institutions of higher education as model programs for alcohol and other drug abuse and violence prevention in higher education. The nationwide competition and review of programs took place between 2005 and 2007. HWS was selected in 2005 and awarded an additional two-year grant for its long history of marked success since 1995 in reducing alcohol problems using the social norms model that was developed at the Colleges for students in general, as well as for its special intervention with student-athletes. After selecting the most effective programs over these three years, the Department of Education sent representatives for site visits to speak with project directors and other campus staff. The subsequent monograph has been two years in preparation and was just released at the end of July.

Our selection in this group, and the inclusion of so many other institutions using the social norms model of providing normative feedback in a variety of ways to address substance abuse problems, underscores the nationally recognized importance of this approach, says HWS Professor of Sociology Wes Perkins.

The social norms model was originally introduced to the field of health promotion and risk prevention by Perkins in the 1980s, and Perkins and Professor of Chemistry David Craig have been leaders in designing applications and conducting research since.

The publication gives HWS a significant amount of attention and the Colleges are the only liberal arts institutions selected amidst several large universities. Additionally, the social norms approach is either central to or features prominently in the strategy employed by nine of the 12 institutions featured.

Perkins is a graduate of Purdue University, and he received his M.A., M. Div., M. Phil. and Ph.D. from Yale University. He is the author of dozens of journal articles about substance abuse prevention and has been honored with national awards for his work in preventing alcohol and drug abuse in colleges and universities.
In addition to his teaching duties, Craig is the director of the Hobart and William Smith Colleges Alcohol Education Project and is principle investigator of a program of BAC research at HWS. He is a leader in interdisciplinary program development particularly in the integration of the sciences into programs focusing on health and wellness at both the college and secondary school levels and has published numerous publications and a recent film on this subject.

Their Alcohol Education Project has received two Model Program grant recognition awards from the U. S. Department of Education for success in preventing alcohol abuse in a college-wide population and for one focusing on intercollegiate athletes. Their work is also recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a premiere model for substance abuse prevention.

A PDF of the Field Experiences in Effective Prevention can be found online at the Alcohol Education Project website. The chapter devoted to HWS begins on page 29.