Social Norms in Philly – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Social Norms in Philly

Wesley Perkins, professor of sociology, and David Craig, professor of chemistry, gave several presentations at the 2010 National Conference on the Social Norms Approach meeting in Philadelphia, Pa., from July 11 through 13. The national conference has been meeting annually for more than 10 years and is entirely devoted to the social norms model for promoting health and well-being and reducing risk behaviors in a variety of populations. This social norms model was originally introduced to the field of health promotion and risk prevention by Perkins in the 1980s, and Perkins and Craig have been leaders in designing applications and conducting research since.

The conference was attended by health educators, researchers, counselors, administrators, and faculty working in higher education, secondary schools, and community coalitions. Perkins initially presented an “Introduction to Social Norms Theory and Practice” as an afternoon pre-conference intensive seminar for those professionals new to the approach. Then, Craig and Perkins presented two sessions on their recent work on “Achieving and Demonstrating AOD Prevention Impact from a Social Norms Intervention with Survey Research in Diverse Secondary Schools” and “Alcohol Use and Sexual Risk Taking: Survey Methods to Examine Misperceived Norms in a College Population.” Finally, Perkins was invited to be a luncheon speaker on a panel addressing the whole conference on the topic of “How to Engage the Academic, Researcher and Practitioner in the Social Norms Approach.”

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.