Hobart and William Smith Colleges - Perkins Addresses Social Norms and Prevention
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Perkins Addresses Social Norms and Prevention

During the fall semester, Professor of Sociology H. Wesley Perkins, a leading expert in social norms research, was invited to speak in Pennsylvania, Utah and New York about social norms theory, research and practical interventions to reduce youth and college student alcohol and drug abuse, bullying, sexual assault and other violence.

On Sept. 20, he was invited to Bucknell University to present “Social Norms Theory and Practice: Preventing Problem Drinking & Substance Abuse and Promoting Healthy Campus Environments.” His talk addressed faculty, administration and counseling and student life staff at the University in Lewisburg, Pa.

Perkins later addressed teachers, local school administrators, superintendents and counseling staff of secondary schools as well as community coalition leaders in southwest Utah. His presentation was titled “Is Everybody Really Doing It? Using a Social Norms Approach to Successfully Reduce Youth Risk Behaviors” and took place at the Southwest Behavioral Health Center in Saint George, Utah on Sept. 27.

He gave a similar presentation under the same title for community, secondary school and higher education professionals concerned with health promotion and risk prevention in western New York on Nov. 7.  The talk sponsored by the Western New York Prevention Resource Center took place in Hamburg, N.Y.

Finally, on Dec. 12, Perkins was an invited guest speaker on “The Social Norms Approach to Successfully Reduce Youth Risk Behaviors” at the State University of New York at Buffalo. There, he addressed faculty and research staff of the Alberti Center for Bullying Abuse Prevention who are working on a project to reduce bullying and sexual harassment in secondary schools.

Perkins and Professor of Chemistry David Craig P’05 have developed an influential body of data and research around college students’ perceptions and behaviors around alcohol use. Over the past two decades, the social norms intervention model developed by the HWS Alcohol Education Project has been applied in a variety of settings and across various social circumstances, earning multiple awards from the U.S. Department of Education. Perkins and Craig launched the intervention program among student-athletes at HWS, eventually expanding the project to other NCAA Division III programs, schools abroad and the U.S. Air Force.

A graduate of Purdue University, Perkins received his M.A., M. Div., M. Phil. and Ph.D. from Yale University. He is the author of dozens of journal articles and is editor of a book on the social norms approach to substance abuse prevention. He has been honored with national awards for his work in preventing alcohol and drug abuse at colleges and universities.