When Joy Newman (PhD 2011) first went to college, she was surprised by the high-risk drinking she observed among her peers. Ms. Newman soon began working as a “Social Host Trainer,” leading peer discussions on the benefits of safe, moderate alcohol use. During these trainings, she often encountered questions about the minimum legal drinking age, and the idea that this law “encouraged” high-risk behaviors. Now a fourth year doctoral candidate in the University at Albany Department of History, her research seeks to address these questions. Her dissertation, “The Drinking Age Debates: A History of Youth Alcohol Use and Related Policy in the United States,” directed by Professor Richard F. Hamm, explores the historical development of minimum drinking age legislation, and the varying ways in which government has looked to regulate youth and young adult alcohol use through law. Her cutting edge research has already garnered national attention, including panel presentations at the American Association for the History of Medicine and the American Historical Associations’ annual meetings. Newman has been interviewed by The Economist, was a “call-in expert” for the radio show BackStory with the American History Guys, and recently participated in a local televised debate about the Amethyst Initiative.
One of the primary reasons that Newman came to the University at Albany is that the Department of History’s unique, thematic-based doctoral program would enable her to keep her primary commitment to better understanding the origins and development of youth-oriented alcohol policies, while simultaneously pursuing her love of Mid-East history, and the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict. She recently contracted to write a comprehensive curriculum for adult Jewish learners interested in the historical development of the Arab-Israeli Conflict. The curriculum is being published by the Florence Melton Adult Mini School, in connection with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and will be distributed to over sixty Melton sites throughout the English speaking world.
Ms. Newman also sits on the University at Albany President’s Advisory Council on the Prevention of Alcohol Abuse and Related Risk Behaviors. She expects to have completed her PhD in 2011.