Professor of Sociology H. Wesley Perkins and Professor of Chemistry David Craig, who both serve as Directors of the Alcohol Education Project at HWS, were among those presenting at the National Conference on the Social Norms Approach, July 15-17 in Cambridge, Mass.
Perkins is one of the pioneer theorists and leading proponents of the social norms approach to health promotion. He gave a general address for more than 100 participants new to the field at the start of the conference. This “Introduction to Social Norms Theory and Practice was presented with Michael Haines, director of the National Social Norms Resource Center.
The social norms approach, focusing on reducing peer misperceptions of problem behavior, is one of the most talked about methods of health promotion today. Widely known for its use by a growing number of colleges and universities that report significant reductions in heavy drinking and related harm among their students, the social norms approach is being used increasingly in other areas as well: by high schools and community coalitions to address adolescent alcohol, tobacco and other drug use, by states to promote traffic safety, by colleges to improve academic performance, and by youth service agencies as a pregnancy prevention strategy.
Perkins also presented his recent research conducted in collaboration with the American Camping Association, addressing on reducing bullying as well as alcohol and tobacco use among campers and counselors.
Craig, who is a leader in curricular innovations in alcohol education, presented a workshop on how his first year seminar class at HWS used new technologies to reveal misperceptions and assess actual alcohol risk in college student populations.
Perkins and Craig jointly presented research on more than 3,500 student-athletes and their misperceptions of alcohol use at 13 colleges and universities across the country.
A growing number of U.S. colleges and universities of all sizes are using or have used the social norms approach to address a range of issues related to college student health. Hosting the event was The BACCHUS Network, a non-profit charitable, community-based network.