newsId: 309936DD-CF7D-5E0E-CB58EC9338B89474
Title: #SPA80for80: Sarah McBride, SPA/BA '13
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Abstract: Former student government president Sarah McBride is committed to working toward equality for all.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 09/15/2014
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Sarah McBride is a remarkable example of what SPA's young alumni can achieve. From being the first openly transgender woman to working for the White House, to being instrumental in the passage of Delaware's Gender Identity Nondiscrimination Act, Sarah is committed to working toward equality for all.

Sarah has loved politics since she was a teenager, and she became actively involved in campaigns in her home state of Delaware in 2006. Coming to AU was the right choice for her politically-minded career, she says, because her time at AU "made my love of politics less about 'politics' and more about what politics can do."

As president of AU's Student Government for the 2011-12 academic year, Sarah championed student interests, including gender neutral housing and encouraging changes in AU's insurance coverage for transgender students.

Sarah credits fellow AU students and alumni for instilling in her "a deep passion for social justice." Since graduating, Sarah has continued to work with the university in promoting equality among students. Along with the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, Sarah helped champion a new sexuality and queer studies minor at AU, which debuted in fall 2013.

She says that she feels a "deep responsibility" to give back to the school that has given her so much.

#MySPAHistory

"I wouldn't be the person I am today without the School of Public Affairs and without my experience there. My time at AU, the relationships I developed, and the lessons I learned allowed me to live authentically," Sarah said. "If America was a little more like American, things would be a lot better for people who are currently struggling."

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Title: War Powers: Three Questions for Shoon Murray
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Abstract: The Obama administration says that it does not need approval from Congress to launch an air war in Syria and Iraq against the terrorist group known as ISIS. We asked Professor Shoon Murray for her insights.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 09/15/2014
Content:

The Obama administration says that it does not need approval from Congress to launch an air war in Syria and Iraq against the terrorist group known as ISIS, because the campaign is covered by the existing authorization to use military force against the perpetrators of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. We asked Professor Shoon Murray, author of The Terror Authorization: The History and Politics of the 2001 AUMF, for her insights:

Q: What was the original intention of the AUMF and how has it changed over time?

A: Lawmakers meant to unleash the president to go after the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks; they did not intend for the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) to be a decades-long, open-ended, handing-over-of-war authority for the president to use against any terrorist group he may deem dangerous.

The AUMF was passed hastily: the Senate and House passed the resolution on September 14, only three days after the attacks, and President Bush signed it into law on September 18. In their haste, lawmakers reached for a legal framework—a broad use-of-force authorization—that had only been used for conflicts against nations (at least since the beginning of the 20th century). They retrofitted this practice by adding the words “organizations, or individuals” to allow the president to go after non-state actors. 

By doing so, the AUMF authorized the war in Afghanistan against al Qaeda leaders operating there and the Taliban government who had supported them. It also authorized the president to use force against al Qaeda operatives outside of that battlefield, wherever they resided. The 2001 AUMF has no built-in geographic boundaries—it is not specific to a nation or region—and it has no stated expiration date.

Still, lawmakers did build in one limit: there had to be a nexus with the 9/11 attacks. The statute authorizes the president to use military force only against those “nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons …” 

Once passed, however, the 2001 AUMF took on a life of its own and has been used very broadly by both the Bush and Obama administrations. It has been invoked as providing the authority for the warrantless National Security Agency (NSA) domestic surveillance program, military tribunals, indefinite detention of al Qaeda and Taliban captives, and the lethal targeting of al Qaeda leaders around the world and newer associated groups. 

Q: President Obama outlined a plan to combat ISIS. Some have characterized it as a “shoot first, ask Congress later” strategy. Does the AUMF cover ISIS? 

A: The short answer is “only because the president and his lawyers say so.” The application of the 2001 AUMF to ISIS is a big stretch. ISIS did not exist in 2001; it wasn’t a party to the attacks against the United States. Nor does ISIS easily fit the criterion of being a “co-belligerent” with the core al Qaeda organization in its conflict with the United States. The two groups are not operationally linked. They have had a rupture, a falling out. 

I think the President should have asked Congress for a new authorization specific to ISIS. 

Q: What is the larger significance of this apparent signal of open-ended support for the war authorization? 

A: The shift in Obama’s position on this issue is surprising and worrisome. Only last year, the Obama administration broached the idea of taking America’s counter-terrorism policy off of its wartime footing. In a major speech at the National Defense University in May 2013, President Obama called for refining, and eventually repealing, the 2001 AUMF and spoke of a time when the war with al Qaeda would come to an end. 

If Obama is allowed to use acrobatic legal reasoning to expand the scope of the 2001 AUMF, so might the next president. It means that the 2001 AUMF could become a permanent accruement of power to the president to use force against extremists with some tentative link to al Qaeda without involving Congress. It allows the president to bypass the 1973 War Powers Resolution when dealing with certain terrorist groups. 

At issue is a continued erosion of Congress’s constitutional role in deciding when the country uses military force. And, so far, members of Congress have just allowed it to happen.

To request an interview with Professor Murray, please call (202) 885-5943.

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Title: New Moves
Author: Carolyn Supinka
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Abstract: AU Dance Program partners with American Dance Institute.
Topic: Arts
Publication Date: 09/12/2014
Content:

American University’s Dance Program is setting things in motion with an exciting new partnership with the American Dance Institute (ADI). ADI is a Rockville-based performance venue for internationally renowned dance companies and choreographers, as well as a dance school. The Washington Post described it as “fast becoming one of the area’s leading presenters of choice experimental dance.” 

The partnership will offer free master classes for AU students, as well as opportunities to watch rehearsals and interact with ADI’s visiting dancers and choreographers. Melanie George, director of the American University Dance Program, will present pre-performance talks at ADI, and ADI will provide a venue for the AU Dance Program’s annual fundraiser. 

A Natural Partnership  

“An important part of being a student of dance is that you need to see multiple and varied dance performances. Dance is an art form that exists in the moment, and it never happens the same way twice, so seeing it live is critical for your understanding of the form,” said George. “The variety of artists they (the students) are exposed to will help them to cultivate diverse perspectives about dance. The palette from which they build their own aesthetic will be much wider because of that.”  

Steven Skerritt-Davis, director of institutional relations at ADI, said that his organization is thrilled to be partnering with American University. 

“When we had the idea to add an educational component to the incubator program, we thought the best way to do that was through a partnership with a university, and AU was a great pick,” he said. “AU is one of the premier institutions in the D.C. area, and we’re thrilled to be embarking on this partnership that aims to benefit dance students throughout the region.”  

As for what the partnership would bring in the future, Skerritt-Davis said, “We’re hoping it will give something to both dance students and the visiting artists. ADI is always evolving, so this is part of that…It’s a great synthesis of coursework and practical experience. We’re excited and we hope it continues and grows.” 

The partnership has three components: the Inside the Incubator series, master classes, and the Dr. Naima Prevots Guest Artist Fund.  

Inside The Incubator Series 

The Incubator at ADI is a unique dance residency program that gives visiting choreographers the time and space necessary to develop their work at ADI’s facilities. 

The AU partnership adds an educational component to the residency, giving AU dance students the opportunity to observe rehearsals and talk with the artists and choreographers. At the end of each residency, the choreographers will perform their work for the public, and Melanie George will present pre-show talks. AU students can receive a discount for all of the performances offered at ADI.

Master Classes  

As part of the partnership, AU will host a series of master classes taught by ADI’s visiting choreographers and dancers. Each of three master classes offered this fall will have room for about 25 students to attend. They will be taught by award-winning choreographers Vicky Shick and Aszure Barson, and by the Vertigo Dance Company. ADI will offer these classes on AU’s campus. They are open to students and the general public.  

Dr. Naima Prevots Guest Artist Fund 

ADI will provide the venue for the annual benefit performance of the American University Dance Program for the Dr. Naima Prevots Guest Artist Fund, in honor of Dr. Naima Prevots, the founder of the AU Dance Program. All proceeds go to bringing emerging and veteran artists to AU’s Dance Program. 

For More Information 

To read more about the upcoming performances at ADI, visit the ADI website.

To register for master classes, contact Melanie George at mgeorge@american.edu.

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Title: Database of the Month: Wiley-Blackwell Cochrane Library
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Abstract: Our new Database of the Month feature showcases the Wiley-Blackwell Cochrane Library, a terrific resource for medical topics.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 09/12/2014
Content:

Looking for well-researched, up-to-date reviews of medical topics? The Cochrane Library database is designed for doctors looking to keep up with the latest medical developments, but is now available for anyone at AU needing accurate, relevant, and easily understood medical summaries. Plain Language Summaries present the article's findings with minimal medical jargon. Sample topics include the relation of MMR vaccines to autism, whether Vitamin D supplements can prevent cancer, the efficacy of Alzheimer's treatment methods, and more. Want more health resource recommendations? Check out the Health and Fitness subject guide

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Title: A Wonder Material
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Abstract: Ben Derby researched graphene during his NIST summer fellowship.
Topic: Science
Publication Date: 09/11/2014
Content:

Senior Ben Derby, a physics major minoring in economics, spent the summer in Boulder, CO, on a National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF). 

Derby, who also won an honorable mention for a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, worked with graphene at NIST. Graphene is a newly discovered "wonder material" that is expected to revolutionize the next generation of electronic devices. 


Why did you choose to study physics and economics?

I came to AU as a communications, legal institutions, economics, and government major hoping to someday serve in public office. Professor Ivy Broder's Principle's of Macroeconomics course introduced me to two subjects I would learn to love: math and economics. I would not find my academic home, however, until taking Professor Harshman's Principles of Physics course. I knew right away that this subject would not only challenge me intellectually, but it would allow me to use my hands in an experimental sense. 


How did you decide to apply for the fellowship?

I had not been introduced to experimental physics research until 2013 where I worked at the Rochester Institute of Technology's Surface and X-ray Science laboratory. I was able to work with gold nanostructures and characterize thin films using X-ray diffraction. Being able to understand and then manipulate materials left me in amazement. 

I started reading the literature in condensed matter physics and become fixated on this seemingly revolutionary material known as graphene. I kept reading about all its potential uses that could transform many industries. I knew then that I wanted to work in a graphene lab over the following summer. I had looked at the research NIST Boulder was completing and was very happy to see that they were looking for a SURF fellow for the summer in the graphene lab. 

 

What was the most rewarding part of the fellowship?

Not only did I further my understanding of graphene, magnetics, and spintronics, but I gained experience on laboratory equipment not many undergraduates get to play with. Being able to conduct experiments on my own by the end of my time at NIST truly enlightened the budding experimentalist inside me. 

In addition I was able to connect with NIST scientists who have global impact and very unique expertise. Learning from them and discussing my future goals with them, especially with my mentor, helped me define my career path. My mentor allowed me to connect with researchers at the NIST Gaithersburg who experiment with graphene, and it is my intention to join a graphene project during my senior year here at AU. 

And who could forget all that I was able to experience in Boulder, Colorado!


What are your plans for the future?

In the short term I would like to pursue a master's degree in materials science in Germany. The institutions in Germany, specifically RWTH Aachen and Technishe Universitat Munchen, are world renowned for their materials science and condensed matter physics programs. I am also very excited about their research in the area of using graphene for renewable energy harvest. I would like to be a part of this research because I think graphene could help divert our current energy crisis for the long term. Also being a dual-citizen with the country, I have always wanted to spend time there to connect with my family and bolster my working knowledge of the language. 

After this, I plan on pursuing a PhD in materials science and engineering in order to be able to conduct research at an academic institution or in the industrial setting.


What are your other interests? 

I served as the director of the Community Service Coalition during my sophomore year and have maintained an active role since. I believe service is the life-blood of any community, and it is very important to me. I am also a member of the Leadership Program here at AU. It has provided me immense training in how to be an effective leader in any setting I choose later in life. 

I have also been granted the opportunity to work at the National Air and Space Museum since my freshman year. This gives me an amazing experience sharing my love with science to a younger audience. 

Outside of AU, I am very excited to be currently pursuing a private pilot's license. Last summer I had the amazing experience of soloing a Piper J-5 aircraft.

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Title: Alumni Board Seeks New Members for 2015-2017
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Abstract: Interested in helping make key decisions about programming and outreach to fellow Eagles?  Apply for the Alumni Board!
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 09/11/2014
Content:

Looking for ways to reconnect with your alma mater? Interested in helping make key decisions about programming and outreach to your fellow Eagles? The Alumni Board is currently accepting applications for its 2015-2017 term. Any graduate of AU, whether undergraduate or graduate, is encouraged to apply. 

Here are the details: 

  • Each term of office lasts two years, and each member can serve up to two consecutive terms.
  • Board members must attend four meetings in D.C. per year, and serve both as stewards to and for the general alumni body.
  • Members are expected to represent the board at AU alumni events, positively promote the university, and financially contribute to the university with a gift of $1,000 per year.

While the nominations process for the board is extremely competitive, membership is very rewarding. Members play an active role in guiding the efforts and initiatives of the Office of Alumni Relations and serve as regional, national, and international AU ambassadors.

Applications are due October 3. Once the nominations committee reviews the applications, a slate of nominees will be submitted to board president, Chip Griffin, SPA/BA '94, for approval and appointment. New board members will assume their responsibilities in January 2015, following a welcome dinner at the home of President Neil Kerwin, SPA/BA '71.

"Being a part of the alumni board has brought back so many of the great feelings I had for the university as an undergraduate," says Larry Pockers, SPA/BA '96, secretary of the AUAB. "Getting an insider's view of everything that is taking place on campus and in the larger AU community, and being an ambassador for and to the alumni, has reinforced for me all the reasons why AU is such a phenomenal school."

To nominate yourself or a fellow alumnus/a, submit an application and a current résumé online by Friday, October 3, 2014. Questions? Contact Raina Lenney, assistant vice president of alumni relations, at lenney@american.edu or 202-885-5936.

Tags: Alumni,Alumni Board,Alumni Newsletter,Alumni Relations,Alumni Update
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Title: AU Welcomes Diverse Class of 2018
Author: Patricia C. Rabb
Subtitle:
Abstract: This class is one of the most varied in recent history in terms of geographic and multicultural diversity.
Topic: Student Life
Publication Date: 09/11/2014
Content:

"This class represents one of the most diverse classes in recent history in terms of geographic and multicultural diversity," says Assistant Vice Provost for Undergraduate Admissions Greg Grauman, SOC/BA '99, when describing the Class of 2018.

Due to targeted recruitment and an increased presence of AU admissions personnel, almost 28% of the Class of 2018 is from the south and west. This includes an increase in deposited students from California, Utah, Washington, and Florida. Specifically, the increase in students from Utah was 167%, from Washington 56%, and from Florida 38%.

The Class of 2018 boasts an average GPA of 3.78 and an average SAT score of 1270 (on a 1600 scale). More than 11 percent are first generation students, 21% are Pell Grant eligible, and more than 31 percent are a minority - with approximately seven percent of the class identifying as African American, 10 percent as Asian, and 12 percent as Hispanic.

These first-year students arrived in Washington from all corners of the country and from around the world. They travelled from 49 states (including D.C.) and from 40 different countries. Additionally, the class includes 46 U.S. Global Nomad freshmen (U.S. citizens living abroad) who represent 18 countries of residence. 

Grauman is particularly proud of the enrollment and increased yield results for the Class of 2018. "Over twenty-seven percent of those who were offered admission chose to attend AU. This represented a five percent increase compared to the academic year 2012-13, and is another sign of AU's increased profile and popularity," he says.  

AU's admissions team is already seeking new students for the class of 2019. Over the coming year, staff members will participate in hundreds of recruitment events, such as prospective student interviews, high school visits, college fairs, and regional information sessions.

More than 580 alumni are registered to assist with the admissions process as alumni admissions volunteers (up from 415 last year). The engagement of AU alumni in a variety of admissions activities has greatly assisted the Office of Admissions in recruiting and enrolling top students. Alumni volunteers support admissions staff at interviews, college fairs (national and local), admitted student receptions, and by hosting summer send-off receptions. 

This past fiscal year, alumni admissions volunteers engaged 5,261 students in the admissions process (up from 4,046 last year). The alumni who participated in these events answered questions about AU programs and provided invaluable insight into their unique experiences at this university. "Alumni admissions volunteers played a significant role in helping to recruit and enroll the class of 2018," says Grauman.

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Title: “Images of Forgiveness” Comes to Bender Library
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Abstract: “Images of Forgiveness” is a thought-provoking collection of photos and personal narratives exploring forgiveness. This free exhibit is open to everyone and will be on display from Monday, Sept 15 to Friday Sept 26.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 09/11/2014
Content:

This fall, Bender Library is presenting a new exhibit on social justice. "Images of Forgiveness" is a thought-provoking collection of arresting pictures and personal narratives exploring forgiveness in the face of atrocity.

"Images of Forgiveness" will examine forgiveness as a healing process, a transition out of victimhood and, ultimately, a journey of hope by drawing together voices from South Africa, America, Israel, Palestine, Northern Ireland, and England. First launched in London in 2004, this exhibit has since been displayed in over 300 venues worldwide.

The six-foot tall banners feature powerful, affecting stories from around the globe. Learn about the power of forgiveness through the experience of Katy Hutchison. Katy was able to overcome her anger and grief in order to forgive her husband's killer, Ryan Aldridge. The relationship that has developed between Katy and Ryan through this act of forgiveness illustrates Katy's belief that "Part of being human is rolling up your sleeves and taking an active part in repairing harm."

The theme of love and reconciliation is also made manifest in Robi Damelin's story of finding peace through forgiveness after her son David was shot by a sniper while serving in the Israeli army. Robi now works as an activist with The Parents Circle, an organization that unites bereaved Israeli and Palestinian families. Dani found that "the organization soon became my lifeline. I now spend my time travelling the world, spreading the message of reconciliation, tolerance and peace. The pain of David's death never goes away, but what do you do with this pain? Do you invest it in revenge or do you think creatively?"

The "Images of Forgiveness" exhibit is in partnership with The Forgiveness Project which uses real stories of victims and perpetrators to explore concepts of forgiveness, and to encourage people to consider alternatives to resentment, retaliation, and revenge.

This free exhibit is open to the entire community and will be on display from Monday, September 15 to Friday, September 26 on the First Floor of Bender Library.

It will be the first part of the Exploring Social Justice Series the Library will host this academic year. The Exploring Social Justice Series, a new program co-sponsored by the American University Library and the Kay Spiritual Life Center, brings in exemplary leaders from diverse backgrounds who will share their stories of love and forgiveness in action around the world. The speakers have had personal and profound experiences with injustice and have demonstrated the capacity to forgive and to live the rest of their lives committed to witness and advocate within their spheres of influence.

All events are free and open to the public. The series is supported by the Fetzer Institute. Upcoming lectures in this series include Sister Helen Prejean on her life work vigorously opposing state executions and Reed Brody, Counsel and Spokesperson for Human Rights Watch, offering an international perspective on the quest for justice.

For more information on this series, please visit the Exploring Social Justice webpage.

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Title: Announcing the 2014 AU Alumni Award Winners
Author: Traci Crockett
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Abstract: The AU Alumni Board announces the 2014 Alumni Awards recipients and the October 18 event details.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 09/10/2014
Content:

American University is known for its accomplished alumni. AU graduates are thought leaders, business leaders, and world leaders. This year, the university's Alumni Association celebrates five outstanding alumni for their achievements.The American University Alumni Board and the Office of Alumni Relations are pleased to announce the recipients of the 2014 Alumni Awards. Selected annually from nominations submitted by faculty, staff, and alumni from around the world, these awards are the highest honors presented to alumni by the Alumni Association. The 2014 Alumni Award winners are as follows:

Alumni Achievement Award –Barry Josephson, SPA/BA '78
The Alumni Achievement Award recognizes alumni who have distinguished themselves through their professional accomplishments.

Barry Josephson is a film and television producer and is the owner and president of Josephson Entertainment, a production company. Mr. Josephson's producer credits include Life as We Know It, Bones, The Lady Killers, Like Mike, Enchanted, and Wild Wild West. He has earned two Golden Globe and three Oscar nominations plus a Critic's Choice Award for "Best Family Film." 

Prior to his film career, Mr. Josephson worked as a manager for musicians such as Paula Abdul, Patti Labelle, Morris Day, and Whoopi Goldberg. He also helped found Sandollar Films, whose productions included several of Dolly Parton's made-for-TV movies and specials and such feature films as Gross Anatomy and True Identity. Mr. Josephson is a member of the SOC Dean's Council, a member of the Entertainment and Media Alliance Leadership, and a former SOC Alumni Mentor;he previously taught as a guest lecturer in SOC's Summer in L.A. and Executive Suite courses. 

Alumni Achievement Award –Monica Jeffries Hazangeles, CAS/MA '96

Monica Jeffries Hazangeles was named president of Strathmore Hall in November 2010. She held several former positions with Strathmore, including executive vice president for administration, capital campaign director for the Music Center at Strathmore, and special events coordinator. Before joining Strathmore in 1994, Ms. Jeffries Hazangeles worked for The Smithsonian Associates and the Chamber Music Kansas City.

In 2011, Ms. Jeffries Hazangeles was named one of Washingtonian magazine's "100 Most Powerful Women." She has also served as a panelist for the Maryland State Arts Council. In addition to her MA in arts management from AU, Ms. Jeffries Hazangeles holds a BM in flute performance from the Florida State University, a MM in flute performance from the University of Missouri at Kansas City.

Alumni Recognition Award –Mark Bergel, CAS/MS '87, CAS/PhD '96
The Alumni Recognition Award recognizes alumni who inspire the world around them through service to a philanthropic mission or the AU community.

Mark Bergel is founder and executive director of A Wider Circle, a nonprofit organization in Washington, D.C., that is dedicated to serving children and adults who are challenged by poverty, homelessness, and abuse by providing donated furniture and other goods, resources, and education. Prior to founding A Wider Circle in 2001, Dr. Bergel spent 15 years managing health and wellness initiatives and served as a part-time faculty member at AU. 

A nationally acclaimed speaker on poverty, health, and social connection, Dr. Bergel has been featured on national television and radio programs. In 2008, he received the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region's Linowes Leadership Award. He has also been voted one of People magazine and Major League Baseball's "All Stars Among Us" and has received the Dr. Augustus White III Award for Civic Engagement and Service, the Andrea Jolly President's Award, the Essence of Leadership Award at the Greater DC Cares Business and Nonprofit Philanthropy Summit, and in 2014 he was named a "CNN Hero."

Alumni Eagle Award –Jolene McNeil, SPA/BA '97
The Alumni Eagle Award recognizes alumni who have rendered outstanding service to the University and/or the Alumni Association.

Jolene McNeil is an associate director of meetings and conventions at the American Psychiatric Association. She was previously a meeting manager at Fernley & Fernley, a program and meeting planner at the Drug Information Association, a conference planner at the Child Welfare League of America, and a meetings and membership assistant at the General Federation of Women's Club. 

While a student at AU, Ms. McNeil was an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha and president of the Black Student Alliance. She served on the reunion committee for her class and was most recently chair of AU's Black Alumni Alliance. She is also an Alumni Admissions Volunteer for the university.

Rising Star Award –Daniel Maree, CAS/BA '08
The Rising Star Award recognizes young alumni (those who received their undergraduate degree within the last 10 years) who are already making significant contributions to greater society through professional or philanthropic work.

Daniel Maree is the founder and chief executive officer of M-PWRD, LLC, the founder and executive director of the Million Hoodies Movement for Justice, and the Grand Prize winner of the 2013 Do Something Awards. Mr. Maree created the Million Hoodies Movement in 2012 in response to the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida. Prior to launching M-PWRD and Million Hoodies he worked as a senior digital strategist for both Havas Worldwide and McCann-Erickson, where he had previously held the position of social strategy lead. He was also a communications consultant at The World Bank, special assistant to the founder of The Enough Project at The Center for American Progress, and special assistant to the executive vice president of Social Action and Advocacy at Participant Media.

Please join the Alumni Board and President Neil Kerwin, SPA/BA '71, in honoring these recipients at the 2014 Alumni Awards Dinner during All-American Weekend on Saturday, October 18 at 6 p.m. in the School of International Service Atrium. Tickets are $25 per person and include a cocktail reception and seated dinner. Special pricing is available for current AU students.

For more information about the 2014 Alumni Awards Dinner, contact Carlita Pitts, director of alumni programs, at 202-885-5921.

To learn more about the 2015 Alumni Awards nomination process, contact Isaac Thweatt, director of alumni outreach, at 202-885-5930.

Tags: Alumni,Alumni Board,Alumni Relations,Alumni Update,Alumni Weekend
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Title: Blank Check
Author: Gregg Sangillo
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Abstract: SIS professor’s new book tackles the law that unleashed a war without end.
Topic: Research
Publication Date: 09/09/2014
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Soon after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the nation was swept up in a combination of shock, righteous indignation, and patriotic fervor. On September 14, Congress voted on the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), which was aimed at the perpetrators of the attacks. In both houses of Congress, just one lonely soul, Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., voted against the authorization. And how, you may ask, was Rep. Lee recognized for voting her conscience? She got enough death threats that she needed special Capitol Police protection. The frenzied, post 9/11 atmosphere left little room for dissent.

Yet as School of International Service professor Shoon Murray demonstrates in her new book, Rep. Lee may have been prophetic. "The statute was passed in haste, with no sense of where it would lead," Murray says in an interview. "It just took on a life of its own."

Murray's book, The Terror Authorization: The History and Politics of the 2001 AUMF, describes a law that was ill-conceived and too broadly defined. It helped spawn an open-ended War on Terrorism, with shifting conflict theaters and a rotating cast of enemies. Even as a battle-fatigued nation tries to extricate itself from Afghanistan, AUMF is still on the books as a legal justification for war-making all over the globe.

Rush to Act

Even with overwhelming support for action, Senate leaders pushed back against initial White House drafts, one which would have granted presidential authority to use force within the United States. Still, the final version of this 60-word document was all-encompassing. It authorizes the president to use force against "those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks" or "harbored such organizations or persons." Since U.S. officials had not yet definitively determined the culprits, Al Qaeda isn't even mentioned in AUMF. But in the early weeks, it would be interpreted as the right to wage war against the Taliban for harboring Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.

"By applying this legal framework to 'nations, organizations, or persons' connected with the attacks on 9/11, Congress granted significant war authority against nonstate actors without clear geographical bounds or an expiration date," Murray writes in her book.

"It allows the president to use force wherever Al Qaeda operatives reside, which is a broad expansion of presidential force that was never meant to be permanent," she says.

Executive Power

Murray says AUMF has given both the Bush and Obama administrations carte blanche to implement a number of controversial policies. NSA warrantless surveillance was initially defended using AUMF, but it was later placed under a different authority. Military commissions, drone strikes, and indefinite detention of terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay have all been justified by AUMF.

During the "imperial presidency" period (circa 1950 to the early 1970s), Congress was deferential to the president on foreign policy, Murray writes. Like AUMF, the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin Resolution passed with near-unanimous congressional support. Yet as the shadowy circumstances surrounding the Gulf of Tonkin incident came to light, President Lyndon Johnson was accused of gross deception. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman J. William Fulbright, D-Ark. notably apologized for sponsoring the resolution, calling it a "contract based on misrepresentation."

But the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution was at least confined to one nation and one enemy, Murray says. "Even though it was a blank check, it wasn't, in some ways, as much of a blank check as this. AUMF has no geographical limitations. You can go anywhere," she explains. "It allows the president to use force in countries where we're not at war, like Yemen and Somalia."

An Emotional Issue

A major problem with AUMF, Murray notes, is that it has no sunset clause. And members of Congress have been hesitant to revisit an issue fraught with political risk. "Part of this story is the congressional abdication in war powers. I think that there's a way in which they want to give over responsibility to the president," she says.

Today's climate is different from the one immediately following 9/11. Yet Murray assumes AUMF could still pass now, and a re-opened debate could even lead to a more expansive version of the statute. "Terrorism is such an emotional issue," she says. "There's a perception that Al Qaeda is everywhere. And there is no distinction between the core Al Qaeda, who attacked the United States, and other groups, who may not be focused on the United States."

There are some indications of change, however. At a National Defense University speech in May 2013, President Obama signaled that he'd like to revise and ultimately repeal AUMF. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who sits on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, has a bill to sunset the law. "I think what you need to do is pinpoint and debate if there is a group actually targeting the United States. Then you have an authorization that is targeted towards that and has a limited time period," Murray says.

But without deliberation on this issue, protracted conflict is almost inevitable.

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Title: Loving Your Figure, Thick or Thin
Author: Gregg Sangillo
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Abstract: American University graduate research and campus services help students with body image concerns.
Topic: Research
Publication Date: 09/08/2014
Content:

Let's say you're standing in the checkout line at the supermarket buying a package of Double Stuf Oreo cookies. You glance at the glossy magazines, and see Kate Upton, Beyoncé, and Channing Tatum represented. You might feel like you can't possibly live up to these superhuman physical specimens. You look down again at those Oreos, and suddenly guilt and defeat engulf you.

Oh, and when the world's most beautiful celebrities tell People magazine about how they overcame their chubby childhood and teenage acne? That doesn't make you feel any better.

Millions of people are insecure about their body shapes and sizes. At American University, both researchers and campus services have addressed problems created by body image. It's one way in which AU scholarship and programming have coincided to tackle an issue that concerns many students.

Research with a Purpose

Over the summer, Sarah Godoy finished up her Ph.D. in clinical psychology at AU. Her dissertation is titled, "Exploration of a Dissonance-Based Body Dissatisfaction Intervention." In conducting her research, she set up a group-based intervention for female students (ages 18 through 30, from AU and other universities), most of whom currently struggle with body image or previously grappled with these issues. In a sense, Godoy was doing innovative research and helping young women in the process.

"Body dissatisfaction generally means when people are dissatisfied with their body weights or their body shapes. And for women, it tends to mean that they wish that they were thinner or smaller, and that idea is referred to as the 'thin ideal,'" Godoy says.

She developed workshop-style groups, based on three specific conditions. One was called the "healthy weight condition" and dealt with balancing nutritional eating and exercise. It emphasized health over thinness.

Two other group conditions revolved around cognitive dissonance (thin ideal dissonance and values-based dissonance). Godoy explains how your brain can't really hold two notions—thin is ideal, thin is not essential—together at the same time. "So we just talked about the pros and cons of pursuing the thin ideal, and we started considering, 'What are the alternatives? What are really the risks of pursuing this? What might be a better way of living?'" she says.

In talking about values and identities, students considered how aiming for the thin ideal can be disruptive and unwise. Some women explored this through their religious beliefs. "'They might say, 'My spirituality is very important to me. If I try to change the body, or if I try to devalue the body God gave me, that's not compatible with what I actually value," Godoy recounts. Women also discussed how striving to be skinny is time-consuming and could ultimately take a toll on friendships.

At the completion of the project, Godoy was pleased with the results. "We saw improved body image, improved self-esteem, and decreased internalization of the thin ideal."

Societal Pressures

Convincing students to be content with their bodies is no easy feat. There is an inordinate amount of pressure to be thin and attractive in an image-driven society. The Hollywood celebrity factory puts a high premium on a certain type of physical—and arguably unattainable—appearance. Facebook and Instagram openly invite people to judge what old acquaintances look like these days.

Godoy says that young female college students are at a particularly vulnerable age. "It's really hard when you're going through a time of transition," she says. "You're exploring your own identity, and trying to figure out who you are. And you're away from home;it stirs up a lot of insecurity."

As much pressure as there is on young women, Godoy says many men deal with similar body image issues. Again, this can emanate from media images. Men may want to look more muscular, which is sometimes referred to as a mesomorphic ideal.

Amanda Rahimi is assistant director for outreach and consultation in the AU Counseling Center. She did her Ph.D. in clinical psychology at George Mason University, and she did research on how women of color deal with eating disorders and body image concerns. She found that some African-American women were less enamored with the thin ideal. "They may think it's good to have a curvy body, it's good to have hips, it's good to have breasts. And when someone doesn't have those characteristics, they may experience some body image dissatisfaction as a result of that."

But Rahimi stresses that each person is different, and Godoy adds that the thin ideal is spreading beyond the province of white women.

AU Assistance

Godoy, who is now doing post-doctoral research at the University of Michigan, first took interest in body image issues and eating disorders during her undergraduate years at Vassar College. She was influenced by Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia by Marya Hornbacher—herself an AU alumna. At AU, Godoy was part of the Body Image Research Group, a clinical research laboratory directed by psychology professor James Gray.

Other AU faculty members have done research in this general area. For instance, history professor Katharina Vester has examined the power relations inherent in discussions surrounding body ideals.

The Counseling Center helps students through individual and group sessions. Rahimi and others do presentations and workshops on campus related to eating concerns and body image matters. And the center also offers educational materials on its website and has an in-house self-help library. Outside the Counseling Center, students can get assistance from Jo-Ann Jolly, a registered dietitian for AU Dining.

Advice in dealing with this problem varies on a case-by-case basis. "In general, we try to help students understand the roots of their body image concerns, and the experiences that might have contributed to this," Rahimi says. "But ultimately, we try to help students work towards self-acceptance."

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Title: American University Museum Early Fall Exhibits

Author: Rebecca Basu
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Abstract: Six new exhibitions open starting September 6.
Topic: Arts
Publication Date: 09/05/2014
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Starting Saturday, September 6, six exhibitions open at the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center—including works specially selected from the estate of the late gallerist H. Marc Moyens to be auctioned during American University's annual Fall for the Arts event.

From Russia with Love

Memorial Modeling, an installation exhibit, was made possible with support from AU's Initiative for Russian Culture. Artists Peter Belyi and Petr Shvetsov, two of the most important and original artists working in Russia today, encountered the collapse of the Soviet empire in their youth. As a result, they acquired a certain unifying view where they are suspicious of any new doctrine, instinctively sensing its instability and ephemerality. On display through Sunday, October 19.

Celebrating Marcel Duchamp

Readymade@100 is a juried exhibition of submissions by contemporary artists of "new" readymades that significantly expand upon Duchamp's original idea. The exhibition will be juried by Corcoran College of Art and Design Professor Mark Cameron Boyd. Readymades are ordinary, constructed items modified slightly, or joined with another item. Duchamp started the concept with his choice of commercially available objects for exhibit, such as "Bottle Rack" and his infamous "Fountain" urinal. It was Duchamp's location of these objects within the "art context" that began a century of debate about the definitions of art and established his influence on contemporary art. On display through Sunday, October 19.

Cuba Libre?

Bridging the Past, Present, and Future: Recent Works by Sandra Ramos showcases prints, video, collage, and installations by Cuban artist Sandra Ramos. Ramos reflects on the conflicting experiences of living in her beloved homeland with all of its many challenges. Viewers will be given a look at Cuban life today and some aspects of the impact and interaction of that country with the United States as seen through the sensitive eyes of one of its top creators. On display through Sunday, October 19.

Dangerous and Intriguing

Steel Sculpture: Anxiety and Hope, a sculpture exhibition by Sam Noto, is both serious and playful. In his large steel constructions, largely made of found materials, Noto allows his materials to generate form and occupy space in a dynamic way. Noto creates pieces of welded steel that are sometimes literally dangerous as well as formally intriguing.On display through March 15, 2015.

Photography by Washington Artists

Some Uses of Photography: Four Washington Artists continues AU Museum's fine tradition of showcasing Washington artists. The work of four artists—Jenn De Palma, Ding Ren, Siobhan Rigg, and Sandra Rottman—represents an ongoing dialog about craft, authenticity, the role of the artist, and other concerns that embody today's definition of photography. The exhibition curator Phyllis Rosenzweig was formerly curator of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. On display through Sunday, December 14.

Surrealist Art from the Estate of H. Marc Moyens

Estate Art of H. Marc Moyens is an exhibition and auction of items specially selected from the estate of the late gallerist H. Marc Moyens. Moyens and his partner, Komei Wachi, ran a gallery that bucked trends. When pieces of their collection exhibited at Corcoran Gallery of Art in 1969, one reviewer described the show as "creepy and menacing." It was not until 2006 that items from the collection were shown again at the AU Museum. By this time, the tone of critics had changed, and they embraced the provocative content. On display through Saturday, September 20—the date of the auction.

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Title: Real-World Practice Makes Perfect for MSKTG Graduates
Author: Laura Herring and Alexa Marie Kelly
Subtitle:
Abstract: Members of the first MS Marketing cohort land jobs in the area right after graduating from Kogod’s newest graduate program.
Topic: Business
Publication Date: 09/05/2014
Content:

The first cohort of Kogod's MS Marketing (MSMKTG) degree program graduated in May. An intensive, one-year degree based on experiential learning, the MSMKTG program prepares students from all backgrounds to enter the workforce with a leg up on the competition.

Changing Gears

As a studio artist, Carolyn Becker, BA/CAS '13/MSMKG '14, dabbled in more than paint. She also explored courses outside her major and fell in love with Kogod classes.

"My marketing professors were really hands-on and really cared about the students," Becker said. "They [pushed me] and [helped me] think outside the box."

Becker transitioned from her art background to marketing as a member of the first cohort of the MSMKTG program, working with the same engaging and experienced professors as a graduate student.

She now works for RP3 Agency in downtown Bethesda, Maryland, guiding the agency's artists and writers to meet client needs. Becker started her new job in August, just two months after graduation.

A cornerstone of the program is the Applied Client Project. Students worked on teams for real-world clients, including GEICO and FIJI Water, through a partnership with area firm RedPeg Marketing.

The team campaigns gave Becker the opportunity to not only apply the skills she learned in the program but to learn to work effectively as a member of a cohesive team.

"I'm in it until the job is done," Becker said. "Not everybody works like me, and I have to be more flexible."

Becker also credits the program's site visits with jump-starting her career. After touring local advertising agency Meredith Xcelerated Marketing, she landed her first industry internship.

"Without Kogod, I wouldn't have gotten the internship, and I would never have gotten the job [I have now]."

Practical Application

Becker isn't the only MSMKTG student to hit the ground running after graduation.

Elizabeth Pittman, MSMKG '14, recently began a job as an account coordinator at W2 Communications, a Fairfax, Virginia-based PR agency for technology clients.

"I actually got the job through an internship [with Tigercomm] I had thanks to Kogod," Pittman said.

Pittman earned her BS in business administration from Christopher Newport University, and she appreciated the real-client experiences Kogod offered.

"It's all about deadline," according to Pittman. "It's all about constantly editing and trying to impress the client."

For these group projects, students "pitch to high level executives," Pittman said.

"[The executives] gave us tips on how to stand, how to communicate."

Pittman now looks forward to applying these skills when presenting to clients and the media as a professional.

"Everything that I learned was of value to me in the long run," Pittman said.

Working the Network

The MSMKTG site visits provided Chen Vaisburd, BSBA '13/MSMKG '14 more than an internship—he recently began work as an account coordinator at digital agency AKQA after touring the location with his cohort.

"With my financial background I was interested in online advertising so AKQA's work in web apps and mobile analytics was a good fit," he said.

A native Israeli, Vaisburd knew he would need to leverage his network to find full-time employment after graduation.

"As an international worker, it can be hard to find a company willing to take you on," he said. "But our site visit to AKQA allowed me to get to know real people there and let them get to know me. Without that, I wouldn't have my job."

Vaisburd also believes having the Applied Client Project on his resume made him standout as a job candidate.

"Working with a client like GEICO like we did was exactly that: work," he said. "It was practical work experience, not just educational experience and that makes a difference."

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Title: SIS Welcomes New Faculty
Author:
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Abstract: The School of International Service is pleased to announce new tenure-line and term faculty members.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 09/04/2014
Content:

The School of International Service (SIS) at American University is pleased to announce the following new tenure-line faculty members:







Adam Auerbach, Assistant Professor
Auerbach’s research interests include the political economy of development, local governance and representation, and comparative political institutions, with a regional focus on South Asia and India in particular. His dissertation examines informal community governance and development in India’s urban slums. The project draws on nearly two years of ethnographic fieldwork, archival research, and an original survey he designed and administered across eighty slums in two north Indian cities. His research has been supported by the Social Science Research Council, Fulbright-Hays, and the National Science Foundation. He received the 2013 Best Fieldwork Award from the Comparative Democratization Section of APSA and the 2014 Best Dissertation Award from the Urban Politics Section of APSA. He earned his Ph.D. in political science and M.A. in agricultural and applied economics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Austin Hart, Assistant Professor
Hart specializes in political campaigns and public opinion around the world, particularly in Latin America. He analyzes the television advertising strategies candidates employ in response to the national economic and institutional constraints they face and the effects of these strategies on voting behavior and policymaking outcomes. Hart's research has been published in the Journal of Politics and Comparative Political Studies and has been funded by competitive grants from the National Science Foundation and the TESS program (Time Sharing Experiments in the Social Sciences). He earned his Ph.D. in Government from the University of Texas and B.A. in Economics and Political Science from the University of Kansas.

Miles Kahler, Distinguished Professor
Kahler is an expert on international politics and international political economy, including international monetary cooperation, global governance, and regional institutions. Kahler was most recently Rohr Professor of Pacific International Relations and Distinguished Professor of Political Science at the School of International Relations and Pacific Studies (IR/PS) and the Political Science Department, University of California, San Diego. He has been a Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (2012-2013), at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University (2007-2008), and at the Council on Foreign Relations (1994-1996 and currently). He is a member of the editorial board of International Organization. His current research centers on the role of emerging economies in global governance and challenges to the nation-state as a dominant unit in the international system. Recent publications include Integrating Regions: Asia in Comparative Context (co-editor, Stanford University Press), Politics in the New Hard Times (co-editor and contributor, Cornell University Press), and “Rising Powers and Global Governance: Negotiating Change in a Resilient Status Quo,” (International Affairs, 2013). He received A. B. and Ph.D. degrees from Harvard University and a B. Phil. (M. Phil.) degree from Oxford University.

Sarah B. Snyder, Assistant Professor
Snyder is a historian of U.S. foreign relations and specializes in the history of the Cold War, human rights activism, and U.S. human rights policy. Her book, Human Rights Activism and the End of the Cold War: A Transnational History of the Helsinki Network, (Cambridge University Press), analyses the development of a transnational network devoted to human rights advocacy and its contributions to the end of the Cold War. The Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations awarded it the 2012 Stuart Bernath Book Prize for best first book by an author and the 2012 Myrna F. Bernath Book Award for the best book written by a woman in the field in the previous two years. Her second book, Human Rights Before Carter (under contract with Columbia University Press) explores the development of U.S. human rights policy during the 1960s. In addition to authoring several chapters in edited collections, she has also published articles in Diplomatic History, Cold War History, Human Rights Quarterly, Diplomacy & Statecraft, Journal of Transatlantic Studies, and Journal of American Studies. She previously served as a Cassius Marcellus Clay Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of History at Yale University, the Pierre Keller Post-Doctoral Fellow in Transatlantic Relations at the Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies, also at Yale, and as a professorial lecturer at Georgetown University. She earned her Ph.D. at Georgetown, M.A. from University College London, and B.A. with honors from Brown University.

Stephen Tankel, Assistant Professor
Tankel specializes in international security with a focus on political and military affairs in South Asia, transnational threats, Islamist militancy, and U.S. foreign and defense policies related to these issues. He has published widely on these topics and conducted field research on conflicts and militancy in Algeria, Bangladesh, India, Lebanon, Pakistan, and the Balkans. Columbia University Press published Tankel’s first book, Storming the World Stage: The Story of Lashkar-e-Taiba, in summer 2011, and will publish his next one, which explores jihadist-state dynamics, in 2015. Tankel is a non-resident scholar in the South Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He is currently on leave working as an Advisor for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs at the Department of Defense. Tankel is on the editorial board of Studies in Conflict and Terrorism and is a senior editor of the web magazine War on the Rocks. In addition to his writing, he is frequently invited to advise U.S. policymakers and practitioners on security challenges in South Asia and threats from Islamist militancy around the world. Tankel earned his Ph.D. in War Studies at King’s College London, MSc at the London School of Economics, and B.S. at Cornell University.

Joe Young, Associate Professor
Young’s research seeks to understand the cross-national causes and consequences of political violence. He studies whether and why the interaction of states and dissidents turns violent and what kinds of violence develop. He is interested in topics such as insurgency, civil war, interstate war, and terrorism. He has published numerous peer-reviewed articles across academic disciplines, including political science, economics, criminology, and international studies. Young is a contributor to the blog, Political Violence @ a Glance, and an associate editor for ISQ Online. Young’s research has been supported by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism START, where he is an Investigator and Research Affiliate. Young holds a joint appointment between SIS and the School of Public Affairs at American University. Young earned his Ph.D. at Florida State University, M.A. at Ohio University, and B.A. at Stetson University.

SIS is launching six tenure-line faculty searches this fall

In addition, SIS welcomes the following new term faculty members:

Marion Dixon: Dixon received her Ph.D. in Development Sociology from Cornell University. She has a M.S. in Development Sociology from Cornell University and a B.A. in Political Science from University of Michigan. Her research focuses on international development, political economy, and political ecology. Her dissertation focuses on agriculture and food system change in Egypt during the 19th century and the post-Cold War era.

Daniel Dye: Dye received his Ph.D. and M.A .degrees from AU SIS and has a B.A. in International Affairs from George Washington University. His dissertation focuses on the discourse around globalization in British party politics.

Laura K. Field: Field received her Ph.D. in Political Theory and Public Law from University of Texas at Austin, Department of Government. She received an M.A. in Political Theory and a B.A. in Politics Science (with honors) from the University of Alberta. Her research focuses on the rhetoric of character in the work of Rousseau and Nietzsche.

Travis Hall: Hall received his Ph.D. in Media, Culture, and Communication from New York University. He has an M.A. in International Communications and a B.A. in International Relations from American University. His dissertation focuses on the historical contexts through which governance structures identify individuals by recourse to their bodies.

Ash Jain: Jain received a J.D. and a M.S. in Foreign Service from Georgetown University and a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Michigan. He is a senior analyst and practitioner in international affairs who is an expert on international norms and law, global governance, international organizations, transnational security, and emerging powers. He has served as a member of the Secretary of State’s Policy Planning Staff during the Bush and Obama administrations, as an advisor for the White House Office of Global Communications, and with the staffs of Senators Fred Thompson and Dan Coats.

J. Thomas Moriarty: Moriarty is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Virginia, Department of Politics, and also has an M.A. in Politics from the University of Virginia and a B.A. in International Politics from Pennsylvania State University. He served as a National Security Policy Advisor on the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, and non-resident Transnational Security Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. His research focuses on international security, U.S. foreign and defense policy, and transnational security.

Andrew Spath: Spath is a Ph.D. candidate at Rutgers University. He has an M.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and a B.A. in Political Science from Indiana University. His research focuses on comparative politics, politics and society of the Middle East, authoritarian regimes, conflict studies, and foreign policy analysis. His dissertation focuses on how leadership change affects political activism in nondemocratic regimes.

Susan Thomas: Thomas received her Ph.D. in Education, Culture, and Society from the University of Pennsylvania. She has a B.A. in International Affairs from George Washington University. Her research focuses on international education, globalization, race and citizenship, transnational migration, and South Asian diaspora. Her dissertation focuses on ethnographic examination of educational migration among middle-class youth from South Asia to the United States in the context of globalization of higher education.

Eugene Walton: Walton received his Ph.D. and M.A. degrees in Political Science from Duke University. His research focuses on the relationship between identity-based political violence and international conflict. His dissertation focuses on militant non-state actors and international crises.

Barbara Wien: Wien completed an M.A. in Comparative World History and Economics at the City University of New York. She has a B.A. in Public Communication and International Relations from American University. Wien is an accomplished practitioner in the field of peace and conflict resolution, who led eight national nonprofit organizations and taught at five universities, including AU.

Follow SIS faculty members on Twitter.

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Title: Meet New Art History Professor Ying-Chen Peng
Author:
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Abstract: Ying-Chen Peng is a new assistant professor in the Department of Art.
Topic: Arts
Publication Date: 09/04/2014
Content:

Ying-Chen Peng is a new assistant professor in the Department of Art.

Degrees
PhD art history, University of California—Los Angeles
MA art history, Graduate Institute of Art History, National Taiwan University
BA Japanese language and literature, National Taiwan University

 

Areas of research
Late imperial and modern Chinese art history, globalization in art, gender studies, Asian material culture


What initially sparked your interest in art history?
"An image or object does not only offer visual pleasure to the viewer. It also gives clues to a world significantly different from what we know from written words. My interest in art history germinated from my desire to decipher intriguing visual and material clues."


What honed your interest to your specific areas of research?
"Globalization has largely reshaped the cultural, national, and ethnic boundaries of art since the fifteenth century. I am deeply interested in how China interacted with other cultural traditions in this world phenomenon. As a woman, I am also enthusiastic about gaining a better understanding of women's role in art in the past and present."

 

What brought you to AU?
"A strong focus on feminist art history in the art history program and the open, supportive environment for both faculty and students at AU brought me to this exciting university."


What are you hoping to accomplish at AU?
"My goal as a teacher is to enrich our students' visual literacy in reading art and to broaden their understanding of Asian cultures to prepare them for a globalized world. As a researcher, I wish to help strengthen East Asian art research for AU as a hub of feminist art history. "

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Title: Enjoy These Sweet Library Selections for National Honey Month
Author:
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Abstract: September is National Honey Month and to celebrate we combed through our hive to bring you a swarm of resources.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 09/04/2014
Content:

September is National Honey Month and to celebrate we combed through our hive to bring you a swarm of books, films, and CDs in honor of all things honey, bee, and beekeeping related. These titles and more are all available at the AU library.

Books

With cookbooks and guides to beekeeping, you'll be busier than a worker bee with these titles.

Letters from the Hive: An Intimate History of Bees, Honey, and Humankind By Stephen Buchmann (SF523.3 .B83 2005)
An account of the relationship between humans and bees from prehistoric to modern times and the rich history of the many uses for honey.

Anything by Karl von Frisch
The definitive expert on bees, Frisch won the 1973 Nobel Prize in Physiology for his work on investigations of the sensory perceptions of the honey bee and one of the first to theorize the waggle dance.
Bees: Their Vision, Chemical Senses, and Languages (QL569 .F74)
Dance Language and Orientation of Bees (QL568.A6 F643)

Honeybee Democracy by Thomas D. Seeley (QL568.A6 S439 2010)
Written by one of Frisch's students, this book showcases the nature of how bees make decisions democratically when it comes to the survival of the hive.

Buzz: Urban Beekeeping and the Power of the Bee by Lisa Jean Moore and Mary Kosut (E-Resources)
A look into the boom of urban beekeeping and trend in homegrown honey started in Brooklyn, NY.

The Winnie-the-Pooh Cookbook by Virginia H. Ellison (TX652.5 .E4345 2010)
Enjoy honey-centered treats such as berry whipped drinks or apricot honey bread with these recipes dotted with classic Winnie-the-Pooh illustrations.

Films

After baking some honey-based treats, relax with these buzz worthy films.

Vanishing of the Bees (Streaming)
A thrilling documentary following the collapse of bee hives and the deadly consequences of their vanishing.

Queen of the Sun: What are the Bees Telling Us? (Streaming)
Another look at the global bee crisis.

More than Honey (DVD 8570)
A worldwide look at bee colonies from California to Switzerland to China to Australia.

Music

Need a sweet score for a honey themed night? Only one really comes to mind: Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's "Flight of the Bumblebee" (CD 881)

Want more information on honey, bees, or beekeeping? Stop by our Research Assistance Desk, and a friendly library expert will help you locate additional sources.

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Title: An Indelible Mark
Author: Gregg Sangillo
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Abstract: SPA Dean Barbara Romzek accepts the prestigious John Gaus Award.
Topic: Government & Politics
Publication Date: 09/04/2014
Content:

School of Public Affairs Dean Barbara Romzek has had a distinguished career in academia. As a thinker, scholar, administrator, and dean, Romzek has made an indelible mark on public affairs in higher education. For her lifetime achievement in public administration and political science, she just accepted the 2014 John Gaus Award from the American Political Science Association (APSA). At the APSA annual meeting in Washington, D.C. on Friday, August 29, Romzek gave the 29th John Gaus Distinguished Lecture.

Accountability

During her speech, Romzek focused on accountability in public affairs, a vital issue that pervades almost every facet of our public discourse, and the topic to which she has devoted much of her academic research. The typical scandal—such as the recent VA imbroglio—inevitably results in accusatory finger pointing. But after outraged members of Congress hold hearings and op-ed writers offer scathing rebukes, reforms often don't end up fixing the problem—because the issues are so complex.

"Accountability isn't a puzzle to be solved," Romzek says in an interview. "But it can be managed better. And we, as academics, can help improve that management by applying our knowledge in ways that contribute to a healthier political system."

"We as scholars are very good at doing the research, but we now need to take our knowledge and contribute to public engagement and civic discourse in a manner that helps improve the world we live in," Romzek said in her speech. "Extending our expertise into the realm of practice is a responsibility we should embrace. That is, after all, the distinctive marker of public administration as a field."

Breakthrough Research

Growing up in Michigan, Romzek was a curious child who always had a book in her hand. She later earned her Ph.D. in political science at the University of Texas at Austin. She took her first job out of graduate school at the University of Kansas, where she remained for more than three decades. One experience in the early 1980s had a profound impact on Romzek's academic career. A city manager received an award from the regional chapter of the American Society for Public Administration. That same day, he was fired.

Romzek viewed the incident as a useful puzzle in understanding accountability and governance. "How can someone so quickly fall from grace? He's getting an award from his professional colleagues saying, 'Great Job!' And at the same time, the elected officials who employ him said, 'You're outta here!'" Romzek and colleague Melvin Dubnick researched this phenomenon and concluded it was a matter of different performance expectations and multiple layers of accountability. Professional co-workers wanted best practices, while elected officials facing the voters were concerned about political responsiveness.

Later research resulted in a seminal paper with Dubnick, "Accountability in the Public Sector: Lessons from the Challenger Tragedy," which was cited as one of the 75 most influential articles in the entire history of the journal Public Administration Review. Romzek's research has explored the challenges of both formal and informal accountability in a variety of venues, including congressional staff, the U.S. Air Force, government contractors, and networks of service providers.

Vision for the Future

Romzek joined SPA as dean in 2012. She is excited about the quality of research and teaching in the school. "We have a really strong faculty. We attract extraordinarily talented, ambitious, hard-working students. This combination is the foundation of our exceptional school," she says.

The Journal of Public Affairs Education recently ranked SPA 5th in the world and 1st in the Washington D.C. area for institutional impact on research in the field of public administration.

Romzek is the third SPA scholar to win the prestigious Gaus award, as Robert Durant (2013) and David Rosenbloom (2001) were also honored.

Romzek plans to build on SPA's record of success. The school has three departments: Government; Justice, Law & Criminology; and Public Administration & Policy. "We're looking at concentrating across departments to create clusters of expertise," she says. There are at least three policy areas—national security, health care, and metropolitan/urban affairs—that are ripe for collaboration, she adds. In national security, SPA offers a new master's degree in terrorism and homeland security policy. A new SPA associate professor, Derek Hyra, will help launch SPA's Metropolitan Policy Center.

Like the call to action in her speech, Romzek envisions faculty members translating their exceptional research scholarship into language that policymakers and the general public can easily understand. "The faculty does a fabulous job, and the rankings show that we publish in the best journals," she says. "I envision us being more engaged in policy circles. So the goal is really to extend our outreach beyond academics."

Explaining the Mission

Despite passionate criticism of government, Romzek remains a believer in government and public service. The energy and enthusiasm of AU's politically-minded students reminds her that the future role of government is in the hands of its engaged citizens. "Working at a School of Public Affairs in the nation's capital, communicating the merits of government is one of our paramount tasks. Even with all of the government reforms and contracting out, what I tell students is that the purposes of government are still being served. It's just now we've got the private sector doing this work. So we contract with the private sector to provide security services, or social services," she says.

Romzek encourages students to explore jobs not just in the executive and legislative branches, but also with contractors and nongovernmental organizations. It's a broader conception of public service, drawn from her lifelong commitment to research and education.

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Title: Global Learning at Ground Level
Author: Devin Symons
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Abstract: For those seeking hands-on international experience, competitive scholarships like Fulbright and Boren can prove ideal.
Topic: Achievements
Publication Date: 09/03/2014
Content:

Going abroad on a Fulbright or Boren award is certainly no vacation. The AU students who win these awards are seeking and finding something else: a challenging and uniquely rewarding experience with the potential to change the course of someone's life. Sometimes that means experiencing the unexpected.

Dara Jackson-Garrett, SIS/BA '13, was teaching English on a Fulbright in Venezuela when anti-government protests erupted across the country.

"My Fulbright experience was not your typical abroad experience," says Jackson-Garrett. "Not many people come back from their Fulbright with stories about watching mass protests or the National Guard chasing people down your street. For the first time in my life, I wasn't reading about civil unrest or discussing the shortages or analyzing the situation, I was living it." 

That is the true promise of these prestigious national scholarships: the opportunity to go beyond the page, to learn by living. 

"It was the best year of my life," says Leanza Bethel, SIS/BA '15, of her Boren Scholarship in India. "I was able to study Hindi and take classes in the master's department at Manipal University, to meet with policymakers, to intern with an NGO, and conduct research for my thesis by going out into the field and interviewing women in the sex industry—just amazing opportunities." 

The Fulbright Program offers participants the opportunity to study, teach, or conduct research around the world. This year 11 AU students accepted Fulbright Grants through the U.S. Student Scholars program, one student received the newly-established Fulbright National Geographic award, two undergraduates received Fulbright United Kingdom Summer Institute awards, and one alumna was named an alternate for the Fulbright Clinton Fellowship. 

The Boren Awards recipients receive funds to study, intern, or conduct research in languages and areas of the world that are deemed critical to U.S. interests, including Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East. This year 23 AU students were awarded Boren Undergraduate Scholarships and Graduate Fellowships, making the university number one in the nation in combined Boren recipients for the second consecutive year.

"I think that American University has a high success rate with Fulbright applications because the university as a whole focuses on a global view of the world," says Jackson-Garrett. "We are taught how to analyze world events, research new opinions in our respective fields, and form our own educated opinions."

The dedication of faculty and staff to fully support and guide students throughout the application process may also play a role in consistent awards success. 

"I have no doubt that the generous support I received from the AU community made all the difference in terms of my preparation of a successful Boren application," says Guru Amrit Khalsa, SIS/MA '13, who is currently in India on a Boren Fellowship, studying Hindi and conducting research on India's climate change policy. 

She credits faculty members and the Office of Merit Awards with helping her craft a research program and approach her application critically.

"My dream is to work for the federal government," says Khalsa. "I feel that my Boren Award will provide me with unique experience in attaining my professional aims."

For students considering applying for either award, these winners have some advice. 

"Your thesis should be on something you are truly passionate about," says Bethel. "Otherwise you're depriving yourself of future opportunities. The internship and career opportunities I have now to work in my chosen field come directly out of my Boren experience."

"Begin the process early, and utilize all of the resources AU has to offer," says Khalsa. "The Office of Merit Awards offers one-on-one assistance, as well as group sessions. Discuss your plans with your professors, and consult them in the early stages when you are playing with ideas–I found this incredibly helpful, in terms of tweaking my ideas and framing them in terms of U.S. national security."

And remember, ultimately, why you are going.

"I think a lot of time especially in international relations and politics in general it is easy to forget about the people who are experiencing these events," says Jackson-Garrett. "Fulbright taught me that policy is great, but that the people we are discussing, their lives, and their challenges, are very real."

The application cycle begins in September for Boren Awards, and in March for Fulbright Grants. Visit the Office of Merit Awards for more information.

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Title: Professor Investigates Conflict and Stabilization in Afghanistan
Author: Antoaneta Tileva
Subtitle:
Abstract: Associate Professor and Director of AU’s Global Public Media Research Project Shalini Venturelli recently returned to American University after a year in the Afghanistan investigating the conflict there and studying stabilization efforts.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 09/03/2014
Content:

Associate Professor Shalini Venturelli recently returned to American University after a year in Afghanistan investigating the conflict there and studying stabilization efforts. Her aim was to seek a deeper understanding of the underlying forces that drive conflict and peacebuilding in unstable countries.

“I have been studying the sociocultural drivers of the Afghanistan conflict in order to inform policy and support efforts on security and stabilization,” she explained. “More broadly, my goal is to develop complex qualitative analysis of the sociocultural dynamics of conflict and peace-building relevant to current and future conflicts.”

Venturelli studied how to advance the conditions of security and stabilization, strengthen the capability of Afghan security forces and institutions, and help Afghans adopt sustainable policies for security and governance. 

Venturelli’s study is the largest of its kind. It contains data covering a broad range of issues relevant to Afghanistan’s population, governance, security, and stabilization. The scope of the study is unprecedented, ranging from the local population, Afghan civilian leadership, Afghan National Security Forces, to cultural analysis of extremist networks, and the intangible sociocultural and information environment that drives conflict conditions. 

Her year-long field investigation across multiple provinces included:
• examination of perceptions, beliefs, and participation in elections at the local/regional level
• interviews with Afghan leaders at the local, provincial, and regional levels
• observation of Afghan decision-making, leadership models, meetings, and shuras
• study of the interplay between governance and security among Afghan organizations
• interviews and focus groups with local, regional, and national media • examination of the relations among civilian and security organizations
• cultural analysis of the strategic communication environment of the conflict
• investigation of the sociocultural evolution of insurgency
• sociocultural analysis of the creation of civilian safe havens through narrative strategies
• investigation of forms of population resilience and resistance to insurgent control 

The battle for the hearts and the minds of the population, she observed, is fought on a number of fronts. Venturelli observed that the insurgency, much like the government, vies for the support of civilians. The security forces, in turn, rely on the confidence of the local communities in their ability to secure the population from the insurgency. 

Venturelli’s field research demonstrated the critical role of the strategic communication environment and the narrative strategies employed by the press, insurgents, and government organizations in shaping the conflict environment and confidence in prospects for stability. 

In the process of interviewing, observing, and understanding the Afghan people, Venturelli discovered sociocultural and sociopolitical factors and dynamics that had not been fully investigated in the literature on conflict. These include:
• the significance of leadership discourse models to the security and governance environment
• the fusion of feudal and technical systems within evolving organizational structures
• the power of intangible forces such as contradictory concepts of knowledge and intelligence
• effective models for advancing capability gains among Afghan partner organizations
• the evolution of cultural resilience mechanisms among communities and leaders caught up in conflicts 

For her extensive frontline research efforts in field investigation and analysis of the sociocultural drivers of conflict, Venturelli was awarded the U.S. Army Commander’s Medal for Civilian Service and the Secretary of Defense Medal for the Global War on Terrorism

The award citation notes: “Her efforts greatly contributed to the overall increased effectiveness of advising Afghan partner organizations, ultimately achieving quicker and more efficient results. Her research and recommendations on how to better integrate security forces and on the development of more effective media relations were in particular beneficial. Her tremendous efforts will have a long lasting effect on the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) in the region, significantly contributing to the mission to train, advise, and assist Afghan partners.”

Venturelli is currently working on compiling policy reports, lectures, and a book manuscript from the data she collected. She hopes her firsthand field investigation efforts in Afghanistan demonstrate the vital role of social science analysis in advancing a deeper understanding of how to stabilize the complex environment of population-based conflict.

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Title: Key Executive Leadership Programs Welcomes New Director
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Abstract: Patrick Malone, Ph.D., selected for new leadership role with the Key Executive Leadership Programs housed within the School of Public Affairs.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 09/02/2014
Content:

Patrick Malone, Ph.D., a 22-year veteran of the Department of Defense and expert in public sector leadership, will take the helm of the Key Executive Leadership Programs on September 1, 2014.

"It's a tremendous blessing to be part of such a talented staff and faculty who are dedicated to serving our public leaders," Dr. Malone expressed. 

After 8 years as director of the program, Robert Tobias will step down, effective August 31, 2014. 

"Every single day we get the honor of working with federal executives who are doing the work of running a democracy. [Robert] set quite a standard for all of us to follow and I think we're all excited about the future of Key."  

Since 2000, Malone has served as a faculty member at the School of Public Affairs (SPA), teaching courses such as "Diagnosis and Development of the Leadership Self", "Politics, Policymaking and Public Administration", and "Executive Problem Solving." He is a frequent guest lecturer on leadership and organizational dynamics in state and federal agencies, professional associations, and universities.  

Tobias, a distinguished practitioner in public sector labor relations, joined the SPA and AU faculty as distinguished practitioner in residence in 1999. In 2006, Robert Tobias was appointed director of the Key Executive Leadership Programs, and further developed both the executive MPA and certificate programs into rigorous and challenging academic programs for public sector employees. 

In addition to remaining as a faculty member, Tobias will assume a new role with the program as the director of business development, recruiting students and cohorts.  

"I am extremely pleased that Dr. Malone has been selected to be the Director of the Key Executive Leadership Programs," shared Robert Tobias. "Dr. Malone has the academic credentials, managerial talent and experience, and, most importantly, a true love for the students in the Key Programs to continue to enhance and improve the Program's success. I look forward to continue to work with Patrick in the Program."

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Title: Unrest in Ferguson and Beyond: Three Questions for Cathy Schneider
Author:
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Abstract: Associate Professor Cathy Schneider comments on the increasing militarization of policing in minority neighborhoods.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 08/29/2014
Content:

On August 9, police in Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, shot an 18-year-old unarmed black youth, setting off riots and demonstrations in Ferguson and beyond. Associate Professor Cathy Schneider is author of Police Power and Race Riots: Urban Unrest in Paris and New York and an expert on policing and social movements. We asked her to comment on the increasing militarization of policing in minority neighborhoods.

Q: You have noted that the response in Ferguson echoes the riots of the 1960s in the United States and those in Europe over the past decade. Is history repeating itself?

A: There are aspects of the situation that have not changed much since the 1960s in the United States or Europe. There are other elements of the crisis that are different from the ways that most communities respond to police violence in the United States today. What is unchanged is that police treat poor and stigmatized minority communities differently than they treat middle class and wealthy white communities. Police only use violence against poor people and stigmatized minorities. Mayors and police chiefs rarely hold officers accountable for abusing members of minority communities. Consequently, officers working in such communities treat residents of these communities as dangerous and criminal rather than as vulnerable and in need of protection. When officers are not held accountable for the mistreatment of minority residents, increased police violence is almost the inexorable result.

Almost all riots erupt after the killing of minority youth, in communities with a history of tension between residents and police and where residents have no alternative avenues of redress. What changed after the riots of the 1960s was the emergence of an array of community organizations focused on combatting police violence. Many of these organizations are led by activists that cut their teeth on the race riots of the 1960s. Many of these activists were hired in the late 1960s as peacekeepers, often by mayors using Great Society program funds. These activists and organizations developed a standard nonviolent repertoire for dealing with police violence, which included lobbying local officials and pressing district attorneys for indictments, holding mass marches and sit-ins, requesting federal interventions, and in general using the legal process and the courts to resolve grievances.

Q: Your book notes that for racial and ethnic minorities, police force often represents subjugation. Why do some instances of police violence result in riots, and others do not?

A: Riots are the last resort for communities that find all other avenues blocked. Where even the most limited opportunities to pursue redress exist, riots are rare. Justice takes many years, and is infrequent at best. It takes an enormous amount of mobilization to convince district attorneys to indict police officers, yet families rarely win criminal cases against police. Community activists often have to mobilize to get the federal government to intervene on civil rights grounds, and some families see a modicum of justice that way, usually very short prison sentences for the offending officer or officers. Far more commonly, cities settle civil suits out of court. In New York, for example, the city spent almost 25 million dollars a year during the 1990s to settle police brutality cases. But while families all wanted justice not money, the long legal process exhausts everyone involved. Community anger is channeled into the courtroom and off the streets.

Q: Should policing become less militarized? How can police departments build trust among communities and help to calm racial tensions?

A: Police should not treat poor vulnerable communities as enemy countries and should not be using military uniforms and equipment. Good police understand that their job is to protect and serve the community, and that good policing depends on establishing trust relationships with community members. Police normally do this when working in white middle class or wealthy communities. Yet poor minority communities are more in need of protection. Residents of poor neighborhoods are those most likely to be victims of crime. They are most in need of protection. But police are not rogue agents. For police to understand that they should protect and serve vulnerable communities there has to be political leadership that wants police to do that. You need a mayor that directs his police chief to serve the community, not occupy it. Good policing involves working with communities to resolve community problems. Police should not be rewarded only for netting large drug arrests or arrests for people who commit “quality of life” crimes such as painting graffiti. But ultimately voters have to change their priorities. It is the voters who are responsible when they elect candidates who demonize poor stigmatized populations, who use martial vocabulary, playing on white voter's racial fears, and who promise to provide security by cracking down on dangerous communities.

To request an interview with Professor Schneider, call (202) 885-5943. Follow her on Twitter @schneidercathy1.

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Title: Juggling NBC, SOC All in A Day’s Work for Grad Student
Author: Adrienne Frank
Subtitle:
Abstract: Aspiring filmmaker juggles classes, career.
Topic: Student
Publication Date: 06/03/2009
Content:

Joe Bohannon grew up on environmental films.

“I would travel from Antarctica to outer space – all from my seat in the theater. I would get woozy from the aerial shots, but I also fell in love with film and filmmaking,” he recalls.

Now, as a grad student in the School of Communication (SOC), Bohannon, 41, is making his childhood dream a reality.

“This is the next chapter in my career evolution and my personal journey,” said the MFA student.

Bohannon works as an operations manager and producer for NBC News in Washington – a gig that not only informs his work in the classroom, but allows him the flexibility to juggle classes and extracurricular activities.

“I wanted to continue to work while I learned,” said Bohannon, who’s been with the network since 1993, covering everything from the Emmys to the White House. “I wanted to learn the theory, while still refining my skills. You can always learn how to light things or do audio a little better.”

The Fairfax, Va., resident has also honed his skills through SOC’s Center for Environmental Filmmaking (CEF). Along with CEF director Chris Palmer, Bohannon has shot a documentary on the Chesapeake River for Maryland Public TV; mingled with alligators in the Florida Everglades; and shot atop glaciers in the Alaskan wilderness.

“I experienced things I never would’ve imagined – things I couldn’t have learned just sitting in a classroom,” says Bohannon, who also traveled to five states to help a classmate shoot a documentary about parrots, A Place to Land. He served as director of cinematography and sound technician on the film, which won a Student Academy Award.

And while he says it’s tricky to juggle school and work – “it’s difficult to wear so many hats when you’re just one person” – Bohannon wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.

“Being able to go to untouched areas of the world to practice your craft is just amazing.”

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Title: When Eagles beat the mighty Hoyas
Author: Mike Unger
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Abstract: Before he become an NBA coach, Ed Tapscott led the Eagles to a historic win over the Hoyas.
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 02/24/2009
Content:

Before he was one of the 30 coaches at the pinnacle of professional basketball, Ed Tapscott '80 led AU to one of its biggest basketball wins.  

Tapscott, now  head coach of the NBA's Washington Wizards, was on the sideline 26 years ago when his unheralded Eagles shocked the college basketball world by taking down the mighty Georgetown Hoyas.  

Despite coming off back-to-back 20-win seasons, AU was a prohibitive underdog to a Georgetown team ranked fifth in the nation and stocked with future NBA all-stars. Those Hoyas teams didn't just beat their opponents, they scared them into submission. But AU refused to be intimidated.  

"We knew we could play with them," says Gordon Austin, who scored some huge buckets for AU that night. "Coach Tapscott treated it like it was a normal game. He made the point to respect them, but not to fear them. We started off playing very well, and they were not. They were playing right into our hands, shooting long jumpers—and we were getting all the rebounds."  

AU took a double-digit lead into the locker room, but Georgetown mounted an expected second-half comeback that AU scrambled to hold off. When the final buzzer sounded, the scoreboard read American 62, Georgetown 61. 

 "I was happy to see that clock wind down to zero, that's for sure," says Tapscott, who went on to a long and distinguished career as an NBA executive before taking over the Wizards head coaching job earlier this season. "It was a wonderful moment for our program. I think it gave us some sense of appreciation at AU that basketball could play a significant role on campus."

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Title: Marine ghostbusters
Author: Sally Acharya
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Abstract: Biology professor provides solutions for marine debris.
Topic: Research
Publication Date: 02/19/2009
Content:

This is a ghost story that starts with a fishing net that gets loose from its moorings. It drifts in the ocean, entangling sea turtles, trapping seals, snagging fish that act as bait to lure other fish, which are trapped in their turn. Or maybe it damages a fragile coral reef.

Fortunately, that's not the end of the story. Science has its ghostbusters, and they're in pursuit of these derelict nets known as ghost nets, along with the wildlife-killing garbage dumped at sea by freighters and fishing fleets.

The ghostbusters are people like marine biologist and AU environmental science professor Kiho Kim, who goes after marine debris as a member of the Ocean Studies Board of the National Research Council. Their weapons are data, meetings, long hours analyzing research, and ultimately, a national report and testimony to Congress on the changes needed in marine policy and regulations.

The sight of marine debris is familiar to Kim, who spots it whenever he dives around the coral reefs that are the focus of his research. "Every time I go diving, I come back up with a pocket full of weights and lines," he says.

Some of it washes into the sea. A plastic bottle chucked into a clump of water weeds by a Georgetown fisherman can end up in a sea turtle's belly. "Plastic can lacerate intestines. Animals can choke, or their intestines can be blocked up so they can't eat any more," Kim says.

On weekend cleanups at a seemingly pristine Georgetown park he's led AU students to do what they can, in practical ways, to stop trash on the shoreline from washing into the seas.

 But the debris problem, particularly in the ocean, is too big to eliminate with weekend actions. That's why Kim and his colleagues have spent almost two years examining the situation and, in the end, proposing specific solutions.

The National Research Council is, in essence, the research arm of the federal government. Its Ocean Studies Board includes experts in a variety of areas, such as lawyers who looked at regulations, along with some leading marine biologists—including Kim.

The council's report called for the United States and the international maritime community to adopt a goal of zero discharge of waste, a goal that could be closer to reality thanks to a series of policy and regulation changes recommended by Kim and his colleagues.

And that could make a real impact in saving the seas from the specter of wildlife-killing debris.

Adapted from the article "Report to Congress: Tackling Marine Debris," American magazine, Winter/December 2008.

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Title: Saving the Dead Sea in Israel
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Abstract: Gidon Bromberg is restoring an ecosystem with Jews, Christians, and Muslims.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 02/19/2009
Content:

 The Dead Sea is dying.

With each passing year the sea's depth drops by 1.2 meters, almost 4 feet, yet Gidon Bromberg refuses to consider its demise inevitable. His goal: the ecosystem will be restored, and it will be done by Jews, Christians, and Muslims working in concert.

In a part of the world with no shortage of problems, the environment often takes a back seat. It has a champion, however, in Bromberg, WCL/LLM '94. Working from a blueprint he developed at AU, he has devoted his life to restoring the Jordan River valley.

"There is no place on the planet similar to the Dead Sea," Bromberg says from his office in Tel Aviv, Israel, where he runs the organization EcoPeace. Stunningly beautiful, the Jordan valley has desert, mountains, green oases, and a heritage 12,000 years old. "For all three religions the river has a high importance, and yet we've completely destroyed it."

The sea's main water source is the Jordan River, today in a great state of peril. Littered with sewage, agricultural runoff, and pilfered of its water primarily for use in farming by Israel, Jordan, and Syria, the river's diversion is directly responsible for 70 percent of the Dead Sea's water level decline. The rest stems from mineral mining.

The Dead Sea was 80 kilometers long a half-century ago, about 50 miles. Today, it's only 31 miles long and shrinking fast.

Bromberg's Washington College of Law thesis on the environmental implications of the Middle East peace process intrigued many people around Washington, leading to a conference on the topic in Egypt and the founding of EcoPeace.

Today, its 38 staff members and hundreds of volunteers work in offices in Tel Aviv, Bethlehem in the Palestinian West Bank, and Amman, Jordan, lobbying governments to adopt environmentally favorable policies and trying to stimulate public awareness of the ecosystems at the grassroots level.

"He's committed to bringing Palestinians, Jordanians, and Israelis together to see how they can cooperate," says Nader Al-Khateeb, EcoPeace's Palestinian director. "He's a citizen of this region and cares for its future."

Like the obstacles to peace, the prospects of rejuvenating the Jordan River and the Dead Sea are daunting, yet Bromberg is convinced both can be achieved.

"The environment is a great impetus for peace building," he says. "What we do in our work is turn things around and look at how we could all benefit if we cooperate."

Adapted from the article "Saving the Dead Sea," American magazine, spring 2007.

Tags: Alumni,American Today,Middle East,Global,Law
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