newsId: 8E97817C-D793-F79D-E7A7271035705DFB
Title: STEP Students Connect with Alumni on Capitol Hill
Author: Patrick Bradley
Subtitle:
Abstract: The summer program is giving freshmen career goals even before their first semester.
Topic: Student Life
Publication Date: 07/31/2014
Content:

Climbing the Hill

When Olimar Rivera Noa recently entered the marble halls of Capitol Hill’s senate offices, she thought of home—more than 1,500 miles away in Puerto Rico. 

An incoming freshman, Rivera Noa joined some 30 other students from AU’s STEP Program to meet and hear from a panel of alumni now working on the Hill. Like many from the summer transition program, the panel members’ words resonated with her.

“I liked having people in my position and now they are here talking to me about their experience. That makes me feel like I can be there eventually,” she said. “It was very helpful.”

Rivera Noa immediately connected with panel member George Laws Garcia (SIS/MA ’09) on the topic of representing Puerto Rico in Congress. Laws Garcia serves as a legal assistant in the Puerto Rican representative’s office, something that piqued Rivera Noa’s interest.

Similarly, incoming freshman Adrianna Juarez leaned in to hear Rebecca Nuzzi (SIS/BA, ’11) talk about balancing work as a U.S. senate committee research associate with a social life that includes playing ultimate Frisbee. Juarez was relieved to hear that people on the Hill have hobbies just like her, and she was even more motivated to pursue internships during her time at AU.

“It was really interesting to see how they were able to get where they are and what kind of things they took advantage of at AU to get to where they are,” she said of the alumni panel. “It gave me a guide on how to get there eventually because I’m interested in this type of work.”

Steps by STEP

Isaac Agbeshie-Noye is the assistant director for student success and retention at AU’s Center for Diversity & Inclusion. As part of his role, he oversees STEP—or the Summer Transition Enrichment Program, which supports multicultural and first-generation college students as they join the university.

During the seven-week program, these students take writing courses, meet with advisors and professors, and grow as a community before their four years on campus even begin. And then there are field trips like the one to the Hill, meant to get students thinking about education and career goals.

“It’s important for them to see how things happening up here can affect their everyday lives,” Agbeshie-Noye explained. “It’s worthwhile for them to understand how they can influence and not be the person on TV and not be the person that’s giving the speech. That’s key for them to see now, while they’re still early in their career development.”

It’s a notion that wasn’t lost on Juarez, who hopes to work in the political sphere someday. “It made all of those things I want to do tangible because I’ve seen that people have been through what I have, were in my shoes, and now they’re there,” she said. “It solidified a lot of my aspirations.”

For Rivera Noa, STEP has been the piece that made AU quickly feel like a home away from her island home. “I love it. I feel very comfortable here. I didn’t visit the university or Washington before coming,” she said. “I love the campus. I love all the resources they have, the opportunities, the diversity.”

Early Transitions

As STEP winds down and students look toward the start of their first semester in college, Agbeshie-Noye hopes the program has provided them everything they need to move steadily from the classroom to Capitol Hill, just like those students from the alumni panel.

“STEP is important because every college student should have the opportunity to succeed and realize their goals,” he said. “STEP is designed to give them the tools they need in order to build the confidence and behaviors that they feel they too are entitled to an AU education.”

Meanwhile, Rivera Noa will be considering those senate marble halls and what she can do for her native Puerto Rico while at AU. She hopes to intern in her congressman’s office, but for now she’s just excited about what she’s learning each day on campus with her tight cohort of STEP students.

“I’ve met people from many places. I think that makes the college experience more enriching because you’re not just learning about your major or minor, you’re learning about everything—other countries, other cultures,” she said. “That’s making my transition much easier than I thought it would be.”

Tags: Alumni,Alumni Relations,Multicultural Affairs,Office of Admissions,Office of Campus Life,Campus Life,Campus News,Capitol Hill
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Title: Targeting the Brain to Treat Obesity
Author: Rebecca Basu
Subtitle:
Abstract: AU researchers say therapies should focus on areas of memory and learning.
Topic: Research
Publication Date: 07/31/2014
Content:

Unlocking the secrets to better treating the pernicious disorders of obesity and dementia reside in the brain, according to a paper from American University's Center for Behavioral Neuroscience. In the paper, researchers make the case for treating obesity with therapies aimed at areas of the brain responsible for memory and learning. Furthermore, treatments that focus on the hippocampus could play a role in reducing certain dementias.

Terry Davidson in lab with sweets

"In the struggle to treat these diseases, therapies and preventive measures often fall short. This is a new way for providers who treat people with weight problems and for researchers who study dementias to think about obesity and cognitive decline," said Terry Davidson, center director, lead study author, and a professor with AU's Department of Psychology.

In the paper, published in the journal Physiology & Behavior, Davidson and colleague Ashley A. Martin review research findings linking obesity with cognitive decline, including the center's findings about the "vicious cycle" model, which explains how weight-challenged individuals who suffer from particular kinds of cognitive impairment are more susceptible to overeating.

Obesity, Memory Deficits and Lasting Effects

It is widely accepted that over consumption of dietary fats, sugar and sweeteners can cause obesity. These types of dietary factors are also linked to cognitive dysfunction. Foods that are risk factors for cognitive impairment (i.e., foods high in saturated fats and simple carbohydrates that make up the modern Western diet) are so widespread and readily available in today's food environment, their consumption is all but encouraged, Davidson said.

Across age groups, evidence reveals links between excess food intake, body weight and cognitive dysfunction. Childhood obesity and consumption of the Western diet can have lasting effects, as seen through the normal aging process, cognitive deficits and brain pathologies. Several analyses of cases of mild cognitive impairment progressing to full-blown cases of Alzheimer's disease show that the first signs of brain disease can occur at least 50 years prior to the emergence of serious cognitive dysfunction. These signs originate in the hippocampus, the area of the brain where memory, learning, decision making, behavior control and other cognitive functions come into play.

Still, most research on the role of the brain in obesity focuses on areas thought to be involved with hunger motivation (e.g., hypothalamus), taste (e.g., brain stem), reinforcement (e.g., striatum) and reward (e.g., nucleus accumbens) or with hormonal or metabolic disorders. This research has not yet been successful in generating therapies that are effective in treating or preventing obesity, Davidson says.

Vicious Cycle

Experiments in rats by Davidson and colleagues show that overconsumption of the Western diet can damage or change the blood-brain barrier, the tight network of blood vessels protecting the brain and substrates for cognition. Certain kinds of dementias are known to arise from the breakdown in these brain substrates.

"Breakdown in the blood-brain barrier is more rationale for treating obesity as a learning and memory disorder," Davidson said. "Treating obesity successfully may also reduce the incidence of dementias, because the deterioration in the brain is often produced by the same diets that promote obesity."

The "vicious cycle" model AU researchers put forth says eating a Western diet high in saturated fats, sugar and simple carbohydrates produces pathologies in brain structures and circuits, ultimately changing brain pathways and disrupting cognitive abilities.

It works like this: People become less able to resist temptation when they encounter environmental cues (e.g., food itself or the sight of McDonald's Golden Arches) that remind them of the pleasures of consumption. They then eat more of the same type of foods that produce the pathological changes in the brain, leading to progressive deterioration in those areas and impairments in cognitive processes important for providing control over one's thoughts and behaviors. These cognitive impairments can weaken a person's ability to resist thinking about food, making them more easily distracted by food cues in the environment and more susceptible to overeating and weight gain.

"People have known at least since the time of Hippocrates that one key to a healthy life is to eat in moderation. Yet many of us are unable to follow that good advice," Davidson said. "Our work suggests that new therapeutic interventions that target brain regions involved with learning and memory may lead to success in controlling both the urge to eat, as well as the undesirable consequences produced by overeating."

Tags: Center for Behavioral Neuroscience,College of Arts and Sciences,Featured News,Media Relations,Office of Sponsored Programs,Psychology Dept,Research
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Title: 2014 Israel Writing Award
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Abstract: Phoebe Bradford won the 2014 Center for Israel Studies Israel Writing Award.
Topic: Achievements
Publication Date: 07/31/2014
Content:

Congratulations to Phoebe Bradford, SOC '14, winner of the 2014 Center for Israel Studies Israel Writing Award. Bradford’s paper, “Meduzot’s Magical Multiplicity,” examined the contemporary female experience in Shira Geffen and Etgar Keret’s 2007 Camera D’Or winning film, Meduzot ("Jellyfish”). A cum laude graduate in film and media arts, she said she was attracted to the agency given the film’s three female protagonists, who “didn’t need to have a romantic conclusion to feel success in the end.” Utilizing Tel Aviv as a foundation and the image of jellyfish in the sea floating and randomly bumping into each other, “Geffen and Keret put faces to the collective experience of globalization’s effects on contemporary female Israeli identity,” wrote Bradford in her award-winning essay.

Bradford was a student in the spring 2014 Israeli Identities in Film class, taught by visiting Schusterman Professor Dan Chyutin. In a conversation with the award’s creator, literature Professor Emerita Myra Sklarew, Bradford said she had never learned about a culture through film before, and that the use of film made it a little easier to unravel complex identity issues. She realized that her previous assumptions about Israeli identity had been simplistic, and is now interested in visiting Israel after learning more about its varied landscapes and multi-ethnic society.

The annual writing award was created in 2008 by literature Professor Emerita Myra Sklarew, in honor of Benjamin and Eva Wolpe Reinkel and in memory of Harry Rinkel. Submissions run the full gamut from poetry and personal essays to lengthy research papers, and are judged through a blind review process. Said Michael Brenner, Abensohn Chair in Israel Studies and director of the AU Center for Israel Studies, “we are always impressed by the variety of submissions which reveal the complexity of Israel: its people, its place in the larger world, its history, and its future.”

An aspiring cinematographer, Bradford is currently a photographer and videographer for Maker’s Row in Brooklyn, NY, and also holds the position of creative director for a DC-based production company called Boundary Stone Films. She won a 2014 School of Communications Vision Award for her screenplay Parallel, which is a final selection for the DC Shorts Film Festival. Submissions for the 2015 Israel Writing Award will be accepted in spring 2015.

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Title: Creative Writing Alumni Win Accolades and Awards
Author: Patty Housman
Subtitle:
Abstract: Alumni Abdul Ali is the latest MFA graduate honored for his work.
Topic: Literature
Publication Date: 07/31/2014
Content:

Poet Abdul Ali (MFA ’13) is the latest in a series of creative writing MFA graduates to be honored for his work. He recently won the highly competitive 2014 New Issues Poetry Prize, which draws 1,000 submissions each year. New Issues will publish his book of poems, Trouble Sleeping, in spring 2015.

Trouble Sleeping, Abdul Ali's debut full length collection, situates him beside such New Issues writers as Sandra Beasely, Mark Irwin, and Paul Guest,” says poet David Keplinger of the Department of Literature. “It is a work of great energy and wisdom, at whose center lies a quiet place of rest and knowing.”

Ali credits AU for helping him to develop his craft. “The most important gift AU gave me was permission to see my own artistic vision, even if things looked hazy at the beginning,” he says. “The faculty in the graduate Creative Writing Program were all superior, masters of their craft, generous mentors. They made me feel as if they were genuinely happy to have me in the program.”

“Abdul has always been very professional and focused on the shape and character of his final product,” said Kyle Dargan, a poet and creative writing professor. “It is not a surprise that he's been able to put forward a prize-winning manuscript so soon after graduating from the MFA program.”

Ali’s poetry, essays, and interviews have appeared in Gargoyle, Gathering of Tribes, National Public Radio, New Contrast (South Africa), The Atlantic, and the anthology Full Moon on K Street, among other publications. He has received grants, awards, and fellowships from The DC Commission of the Arts and Humanities, the College Language Association, and the Mt. Vernon Poetry Festival at George Washington University. Ali teaches at Towson University in Maryland.

 

Other Awards, Honors, Distinctions
Over the past several years, recent graduates from AU’s creative writing MFA program have been recognized in the genres of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. They have received prestigious fellowships, won national writing awards, been interviewed by major media outlets, and widely published in a variety of journals including Copper Nickel, Nimrod, Poet Lore, and Circumference.

The New York Times’ recent poetry issue featured alumna Sandra Beasley (MFA ’05) as one of its four debaters on the craft. Mark Cugini (MFA ’11) founded the magazine Big Lucks and recently published his first collection, I’m Just Happy to Be Here (Ink Press 2013). Cugini also runs the popular DC reading series, Three Tents. In May 2014, Jenny Molberg (MFA ’10) learned that her first full-length collection, Marvels of the Invisible, will appear from Tupelo Press as winner of the Berkshire Prize.

Following are four other recent graduates who have made names for themselves since graduating from the MFA Program in Creative Writing at AU.


Chet'la Sebree (MFA ’13)
Poet Chet'la Sebree was awarded the prestigious 2014-15 Stadler Fellowship at Bucknell University, awarded to one recent creative writing MFA graduate in poetry each year. “As the Stadler Fellow, I will have the opportunity to work on Bucknell's distinguished literary magazine, West Branch, assist in the administration of the Stadler Center for Poetry, and work with Bucknell's Seminar for Younger Poets,” said Sebree. “It is an opportunity that allows me to dabble in multiple realms, while also focusing my attention on my collection.”

While studying at AU, Sebree was a 2011-12 Folger Shakespeare Theater Lannan Fellow and worked for Poet Lore and 491 Magazine. She was a 2013 finalist for the Hub City Writers House Nine-Month Residency in South Carolina. She is currently at work on her first book, The Ease with which Everything Fails.

“I came to AU as a terribly timid 22-year-old who was in awe of the third year poets. I was sure I didn't belong,” said Sebree. “I am forever indebted to the people at AU who proved me wrong. I am thankful for those people who helped entrench me in the community and who made me feel like I belonged as adjunct faculty, a staff member, and student, and, above all else, a poet.”


Sara Blaisdell (MFA '12)

Shortly before graduating from AU, Blaisdell moved to Utah where she completed a collection of poems inspired by her post-undergraduate years as a counselor and by the landscape of the American West.

Her nonfiction also explores that region, but it was her study of an intercontinental friendship between her husband and three Iraqi brothers during the Iraq War that earned her the opportunity to be featured on This American Life in 2010.

"Sara is one of those rare students who comes in to class seemingly fully formed as a writer; her voice was so strong, so full of grace and beauty,” said creative writing professor Rachel Louise Snyder. “The fact that she landed on This American Life for her first publication is almost unheard of. There are veteran writers who will never place a piece in a venue like that. It's a huge career starter, and speaks to the absolute quality of her work."


Valzhyna Mort (MFA ’11)
Valzhyna Mort is the youngest person to ever be featured on the cover of Poets & Writers magazine. Born in Minsk, Belarus, Mort writes and reads her poetry in English and Belarusian. In a New Yorker review of Factory of Tears, her first poetry collection, Mort was described as "an envoy for her native country, writing with almost alarming vociferousness about the struggle to establish a clear identity for Belarus and its language.”

“Valzhyna entered our MFA Program in 2008. She had already appeared on the cover of Poets & Writers magazine that previous spring,” said Keplinger. After graduating from AU, Mort published her second book, Collected Body, with Copper Canyon Press, and she now teaches at Cornell University.

“Mort’s work, for all its lyricism and language-play, draws enormous crowds at poetry readings,” said Keplinger. “Her work is grounded in the imagery of Eastern Europe, influenced by such writers as Russian poet Anna Akhmatova and Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz. But it is also strongly narrative. Collected Body, while considered a book of poetry, is also wrought with imaginative, gripping prose.”


Greta Schuler (MFA '11)
Greta Schuler has completed fellowships at The MacDowell Colony and at Yaddo, where she held the Dorothy and Granville Hicks Residency in Literature. She currently lives in Melville, South Africa, and her work reflects this international setting. “Much of Greta’s fiction and nonfiction is set in African countries, most notably Zimbabwe,” said Keplinger. “As an American writing from far off places, her writing often embodies a longing to connect. This urge to connect fuels each piece with conflict.”

Schuler’s work has appeared in Creative Nonfiction as the winner of the magazine’s 2009 MFA Program-Off Contest, in the Crab Orchard Review as the winner of the journal’s 2010 Jack Dyer Fiction Prize, in the Chattahoochee Review as the winner of the journal’s 2012 Lamar York Prize, in the New Guard, in Cutbank, and in the Drunken Boat.

"Greta is arguably the most fearless student I ever worked with. I have a special kinship with her because like me she works in multiple forms: fiction, memoir, literary journalism,” said Snyder. “She's insatiably curious and whip-smart, and her writing is full of muscle and soul, full of all these wonderful voices of people she meets in far-flung places. Sometimes she's writing to me from Zimbabwe, and then just a couple of weeks later she'll be at some writing conference in New England. She is utterly determined to carve out a writing life, and I have so much respect for her discipline and talent."

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Title: Meet New SETH Professor Jennifer Steele
Author:
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Abstract: A Q&A with education policy expert and new SETH professor Jennifer Steele.
Topic: Education
Publication Date: 07/30/2014
Content:

Jennifer Steele is a new associate professor in the School of Education, Teaching, and Health.

Degrees
EdD in administration, planning, and social policy, Harvard University
MA in education, Stanford University
MA in English, Georgetown University
BA in psychology and English, Georgetown University


Areas of Research

Teacher and school leader effectiveness; dual-language immersion education; competency-based and technology-enhanced education; transitions to postsecondary education


What initially sparked your interest in education?
Early in my career, I taught in a private, suburban elementary school and a public, urban high school, and I trained teachers for a supplemental education services company. I became very interested in ways that students’ experiences in school shape their choices and opportunities. What drew me into research was the observation that policy decisions made without a strong evidence base can do more harm than good. It’s critical that policy be guided by rigorous analysis of good data. My passion lies in conducting research that sheds light on what works, and in helping policymakers and practitioners become informed consumers of research.


What honed your interest to your specific areas of research?
I’m coming to AU from six years at the RAND Corporation, so I’ve been able to do research on a wide array of education policy topics. Right now, I’m leading an Institute of Education Sciences-funded study of dual-language immersion education in Portland, Oregon. I came to this interest through conversations with the language policy community, including Dr. Robert Slater (PhD SIS ’75) at the American Councils for International Education, who co-leads the project. It has become a passion project because access to dual-language education is still quite limited in the United States and is very unequally distributed. If we find that students randomized to these programs in kindergarten perform better in school overall than those randomized to English-only instruction, it raises the question of how we can spread these programs and what it would cost to do so. With that question in mind, we are documenting not only the causal impact of immersion on learning, but also what these programs cost and what is required logistically to implement them.


What brought you to AU?

AU has four features that attracted me: a vibrant faculty; a university-wide emphasis on public policy; a strong commitment to serving the District of Columbia, including partnerships with local schools, The New Teacher Project, Teach for America, and CityYear; and a dedication to the preparation of undergraduate and master’s degree students. When I was at RAND, I was lucky to work with several recent graduates of the School of Education, Teaching, and Health, and it was clear that they had received a great education. In joining AU, I am thrilled to have a chance to help prepare the next generation of educators and education policy leaders.


What are you hoping to accomplish at AU?
Beyond continuing the work on immersion education, I have a few other near-term goals. First, I want to ensure that SETH students receive a strong grounding in the use of data that will prepare them to make important decisions in education policy and practice. Second, I want to build local partnerships focused on facilitating students’ transitions between secondary and postsecondary education. Third, a portion of my research has focused on the transition of military veterans into postsecondary education, and I’m hoping to work with the Dean of Students’ Office to learn more about that transition process for student veterans at AU.

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Title: Negotiations with Iran: Three Questions with Professor Anthony Wanis-St. John
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Abstract: Iran and six world powers recently failed to meet a self-imposed deadline to address Iran's nuclear program. Associate Professor Anthony Wanis-St. John, an expert on international negotiations, describes the prospects for a deal.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 07/30/2014
Content:

Iran and six world powers recently failed to meet a self-imposed deadline to address Iran's nuclear program. The group agreed to extend an interim agreement for four months. Associate Professor Anthony Wanis-St. John, an expert on international negotiations, describes the prospects for a deal.

Q: What are the terms of the interim deal?

A: The interim negotiation process is predicated on very concrete offers by the United States and the European Union for sanctions relief and increased trade in exchange for equally concrete measures to be taken by Iran to reduce the quantity and degree of their uranium enrichment. The U.S. sanctions relief included repatriation of $4.2 billion of Iran’s overseas frozen funds, facilitating Iran’s oil trade to the EU, and granting of U.S. trade licenses for civil aviation spare parts. Iran began diluting and converting its more highly enriched stocks of uranium, among other compliance activities.

But the main purpose of the interim deal is to build mutual confidence so that a permanent deal can be reached. The parties gave themselves a tight deadline, and missed it. This is not alarming though—this is not currently a crisis scenario.

Q: Tehran says it will resume talks in September to try to reach a final agreement. What would a long-term deal look like?

A: A comprehensive agreement would probably be based on a core trade: deeper sanctions relief and more trade from the United States and the EU, in exchange for stricter safeguards on the nuclear facilities and enrichment activities of Iran—measures that would assure Iran’s neighbors that it is not building a nuclear warhead. This has both strategic and technical aspects. One reassuring move would be for Iran to get its enriched uranium from other countries, but the Iranians seem unlikely to give up this capability, although they seem willing to place limits on it.

Q: Some members of the U.S. Congress are worried that Tehran has not been negotiating in good faith and that the Obama administration will concede too much to Iran. What are the prospects for continued negotiations?

A: The choice is between sanctions (or military measures) and negotiations. Sanctions clearly have been ineffective in preventing Iran from developing its nuclear capabilities. Negotiations in which Iran agrees to work with the International Atomic Energy Agency and complies with the terms of Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and its protocols have a better chance of getting compliance. The Iranians have negotiated in good faith on this issue before, and some Iranian policymakers and opinion leaders feel that a nuclear weapon capability would make the country less safe (Libya, Ukraine, and South Africa espoused this when giving up their nukes). There could be an Iranian counterargument that looks to Pakistan, India, Israel, and North Korea as examples that support the drive to have weapons.

There is never any guarantee that negotiations will work, or that parties will always negotiate in good faith, but negotiations also have the potential to get the most cooperation at the lowest cost.

To request an interview with Professor Wanis-St. John, call (202) 885-5943.

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Title: SOC's Top Achievements of 2014...So Far
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Abstract: 2014 is shaping up to be a big year for the AU School of Communication.
Topic: Achievements
Publication Date: 07/30/2014
Content:

2014 started off strong for American University's School of Communication with its move to the beautifully restored and renovated McKinley Building. SOC's new Media Innovation Lab and the Malsi Doyle and Michael Forman Theater opened in March, and in May we welcomed Katie Couric as commencement speaker. 

 

As we prepare for fall semester, we celebrate some of the other SOC faculty and program successes from the first half of the year.

• Professor Laura DeNardis won international appointment as the Director of Research for the Global Commission on Internet Governance. Domestically, she was appointed as a member of the U.S. Department of State's Advisory Committee on International Communications and Information Policy (ACICIP).

 

• Assistant Professor Claudia Myers' film, Fort Bliss, won Best Narrative Feature at the 2014 GI Film Festival, the Audience Award at the 2014 Champs Elysees Film Festival and "Festival Honors" at the 2014 Newport Beach Film Festival.

 

• Professor Charles Lewis received the American University Award for Outstanding Scholarship, Research, Creative Activity, and Other Professional Contributions.

 

Shooting in the Wild

W. Joseph Campbell received a top alumni award from his alma mater, Ohio Wesleyan University, back in mid-May. The award was given in part because of his scholarly work and teaching at AU. 

Campbell was also honored with CTRL's 2014 Teaching with Research Award.

 

• Distinguished Film Producer in Residence Chris Palmer received the American University Award Outstanding Teaching in a Term Appointment.

 

• SOC's Investigative Reporting Workshop's Showtime collaboration The Years of Living Dangerously was nominated for outstanding documentary in the Emmy Awards.

 

Shooting in the Wild

• PR Week awarded SOC's Public Communication BA program the second-highest honor in its Best PR Education Program of the year category. SOC's MA in Strategic Communication received the same award at the 2013 awards.

 

• Professor Charles Lewis' latest book, 935 Lies: The Future of Truth and Decline of America's Moral Integrity, was on both the Amazon and Barnes & Noble Top 100 lists within a week of publication.

 

• Associate Professor Lindsay Grace was named to the Global Game Jam Board of Directors.

 

• Assistant Professor Carolyn Brown won the 2014 Associated Press / Robert R. Eunson Distinguished Lecturer Award

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Title: Anita McBride Re-Appointed by President Obama to Fulbright Board
Author: Will Pittinos
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Abstract: McBride, executive in residence at the School of Public Affairs, will be the longest-serving active member.
Topic: Achievements
Publication Date: 07/29/2014
Content:

President Obama announced that Anita McBride, executive in residence at the School of Public Affairs, will be reappointed to the 12-person Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.

"It is an incredible honor to serve our nation's largest exchange program," McBride said. "I look forward to continuing to promote the incredible impact of Fulbright participants around the world."

President Obama announced McBride's reappointment along with other key administration posts and said, "I am grateful that these impressive individuals have chosen to dedicate their talents to serving the American people at this important time for our country."

Sponsored by the Department of State, the Fulbright program has granted more than 325,000 awards and is active in more than 155 countries.

McBride was first appointed to the board in 2009, and she will be the longest-serving active member. She has served at the White House in various capacities across three administrations, including assistant to the president and chief of staff to First Lady Laura Bush from 2005 to 2009. She also served as senior advisor to the secretary and White House liaison at the Department of State from 2001 to 2003, and as senior advisor in the Bureau of International Organizations at the Department of State in 2004. From 1987 to 1992, she was director of White House Personnel under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush.

McBride is a also member of the U.S. –Afghan Women's Council and serves on the boards of the White House Historical Association and the National Italian American Foundation. Earlier this year, she was awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor from the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations.

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Title: Congratulations to 2014 Zauderer Scholarship Winner, Amir Paul
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Abstract: Congratulations to Amir, a student who embodies the Key mission and values.
Topic: Achievements
Publication Date: 07/29/2014
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Succeed despite your circumstance. That is the motto of scholarship winner Amir Paul’s life. Born in Washington, DC to a native Washingtonian and Vietnam Veteran father whose PTSD caused him and his four siblings to enter foster care at the age of 10, Amir Paul remained dedicated to succeed despite the circumstances in which he found himself.  At the age of 15 Amir received admittance into The Groton School in Massachusetts, which as he recalls “was the polar opposite from the streets of DC—from eating mumbo sauce to hollandaise.” Amir eventually went on to attend and graduate from Ohio Wesleyan University where he served as a mentor, member of the student government, rugby player, and fellow “social-scene enthusiast”.

Upon graduation, he began working full-time at the Department of Commerce in downtown Washington, D.C. while taking care of his 13-year old brother. Remaining true to his commitment in helping others, Amir worked one night a week for a non-profit dedicated to helping DC youth gain entry into college, which boasts a 90% success rate. After a year at the Department of Commerce, Amir married and moved on to the Department of Veteran Affairs, where he is today. Amir shared, “I am now the proud father of a 6-month old baby girl whose nickname varies based on her situation (i.e., fussy baby, sleepy baby, smelly baby). My career mission is to work for agencies that need hard-working employees to improve their current state-of-being to improve the services they provide and increase morale.”

“I am forever grateful to Pam Spearow—who is a Key graduate and the person who not only told me about the program, but encouraged me to apply” shared Amir. “Not only has this program made me a much better employee, it has made me a better father and husband through understanding myself better.”

“When [Director] Bob [Tobias] told me that I won the Don Zauderer scholarship, I was speechless. I became even more humbled to receive this award when I learned more about all that is Professor Zauderer, whose transformational leadership and ‘professor wit’ has made a tremendous impact on all of his endeavors. By no means do I consider myself worthy of this award but I guarantee that I will do everything that I can to become worthy of an award that honors Professor Z.”

Congratulations to Amir, a student who embodies the Key mission and values.

 

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Title: Alumni Startup Connects Expats Abroad and at Home
Author: Evan Gray and Laura Herring
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Abstract: Hristo Boyadzhiev, BSBA ’08, channels his experiences as an international student in the U.S. into providing networking services for his fellow Bulgarians.
Topic: Business
Publication Date: 07/29/2014
Content:

Hristo Boyadzhiev has always been drawn to faraway places and the people he can meet along the journey. Attending American University satisfied both desires for the Bulgarian native.

When Boyadzhiev, BSBA '08, started his freshman year at Kogod in 2004, a family friend who has just graduated from AU gave him a local connection in Washington, D.C. right away.

"The fact that I knew someone who was there, who lived in the city, who would sort of help me around, tipped the scale towards me going [to AU], for sure."

The help he received from that friend was the beginning of Boyadzhiev's mission to help other international travelers create similar connections.

Going Abroad, Giving Back

At Kogod, Boyadzhiev found a community as committed to doing good as he was—what he perceived as a far cry from his native home.

"[American] promoted the idea of giving back to society," he said. "[They] believe in doing business, but making sure that it [gives] results to a community, to society in general, not just yourself. Bulgaria didn’t really have that."

After his graduation, Boyadzhiev and six classmates put that idea to work, creating Tuk Tam, a nonprofit that connects Bulgarians living, working, and studying abroad. To date, the company’s Facebook page has more than 4,000 fans, The name comes from a traditional Bulgarian phrase meaning "here and there."

The service also extends to expatriates returning to Bulgaria, easing the often-overlooked transition back to life at home.

"We [remember] what it's like to come back, and try to give you a network to connect to—people who have done some amazing stuff," Boyadzhiev said. "You can link up and find a job, or just engage in various social activities."

For the past three years, Tuk Tam has hosted a four-day social entrepreneurship challenge, bringing together professionals of all backgrounds to develop new ways to address Bulgarian challenges.

"You have coders and designers on one end, and business people on one end, and [you're trying to] create a [company] in a weekend," he explained.

Boyadzhiev himself participated in similar events before incorporating them into Tuk Tam's offerings. In fact, one such event is how he found a job outside his startup.

After earning his MBA at the ESADE Business School in Barcelona, he returned to Bulgaria and met the founder of Despark, a web development and mobile app agency, through a weekend challenge. When his second competition startup failed to get off the ground, Boyadzhiev got back in touch. He is now the commercial director of the agency.

Since he joined Despark, the company has doubled in size, keeping Boyadzhiev busy. But even while managing Tuk Tam and bouncing between Despark's Sofia and London offices, he still finds time for what he loves.

"I'm [still] trying to do good by others and by me."

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Title: Voice of Reason
Author: Gregg Sangillo
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Abstract: Diane Rehm to receive prestigious medal from President Obama.
Topic: Achievements
Publication Date: 07/28/2014
Content:

Despite an increasingly raucous public debate, veteran radio host Diane Rehm has won over hearts and minds with her civil, intelligent programming. And despite her many accolades, this latest recognition is possibly her most prestigious: Rehm has been named a recipient of a 2013 National Humanities Medal. On Monday, July 28, President Barack Obama is scheduled to present her with the award at the White House.

The Diane Rehm Show is produced at WAMU 88.5 American University Radio and is distributed by National Public Radio, NPR Worldwide, and SIRIUS XM.

"For nearly 35 years, Diane Rehm has brought thoughtful conversations to millions of public radio listeners worldwide, and her careful and curious exploration of literature, the arts and the broader humanities has long been one of her distinguishing qualities," said WAMU 88.5 Programming Director Mark McDonald in a release.

A Washington, D.C. native, Rehm launched her radio career in 1973 as a volunteer for WAMU 88.5. In 1979, she started as host of WAMU's Kaleidoscope, which was later renamed to its current title. In 2010, she won a George Foster Personal Peabody Award for her distinguished career in public broadcasting.

The National Humanities Medal is given to her by President Obama and the National Endowment for the Humanities. According to an NEH release, the medal honors individuals whose work broadens citizen engagement with the humanities. "In probing interviews with pundits, poets, and Presidents, Ms. Rehm's incisive, confident, and curious voice has deepened our understanding of our communities and our culture," the NEH release stated.

Previous winners have included Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel, and novelists Toni Morrison and Philip Roth.

The medals ceremony is expected to be live streamed at 3 p.m. on Monday at www.whitehouse.gov/live

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Title: OCL Storms Staff Council
Author: Patrick Bradley
Subtitle:
Abstract: Four Campus Life staff members have big plans for their elected posts.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 07/25/2014
Content:

As a former undergraduate and graduate student and now Campus Life staff member, Keesha Ceran knows AU better than most; but she's not finished learning about the university. In fact, she's making it a top priority as she joins the Staff Council

"It's the best opportunity to give back to an institution that I grew so much from," she explained. "Being able to be part of this gives me the chance to see more of the behind the scenes that, as a student, we don't get to see."

By a recent staff vote, Ceran steps aboard the 20-person council alongside three other Campus Life colleagues, all of whom are hoping to make a positive impact at AU. The council, which draws together staff from departments across the university, represents the staff voice by promoting dialogue and advocating on staff issues.

Like Ceran, fellow Housing & Dining Programs staffer Sean Cullinane is hoping the council experience will bring him closer to AU. "I've really enjoyed my time over the past two and a half years that I've worked here, and I want to ingrain myself even more into the university," he said. "Hopefully I can improve the quality of life for staff members."

Michael Wargo, Campus Life's technology coordinator, has had his eye on the council since he joined AU's professional ranks a half-decade ago. Back then, he noticed the great things the group had accomplished, from securing for staff a week off during the winter holidays to organizing book and clothing drives for the Washington community.

"When I first came to AU, it was a week after the staff appreciation lunch. I was really blown away by the university recognizing staff like that," Wargo explained. "Now that I've worked here almost five years and have seen what Staff Council is able to accomplish as a voice for the staff . . . it's something I'm very interested in doing."

Each council member, regardless of which department they work in, represents a set of constituents on campus. For example, Wargo will voice ideas and concerns from staff in the School of Communication, Provost's Office for Academic Administration, and the Undergraduate Studies office—some 80 people.

The Academic Support & Access Center's Jennifer Baron Knowles will represent the library, and she's excited about what she'll learn in the process. "It can be easy to just think of your own department," she said. "It's good to get a wider perspective of what staff really want, what they have concerns about, and what is the great work that they're doing."

As the ASAC's manager of disability services, Knowles also plans to bring accessibility into conversations with the council on future events and how to best support AU's diverse staff.

Cullinane—a Washington native—hopes the council will engage more with his hometown. "I'd like to create more initiatives that take people out of AU and into D.C.," he said. "Whether that's hiking, volunteering, riding their bikes—anything that gets them more involved in the greater D.C. community in general."

At the end of the day, however, Knowles just wants to use her two-year term to inspire and encourage AU to be the best workplace it can be. "It's good to have more camaraderie and more spirit for where you work, and it's good to feel like you're contributing to that," she said.

And Ceran can't agree more. With what she's already learned about the council and AU in general, she's excited for all that's to come.

"There will be a lot of great things that come out of Staff Council this year. It's just really cool to be around a lot of talented and experienced members, who are really interested in making a positive environment for staff in general," she said. "I'm looking forward to the work that we'll be doing."

 

View all the Staff Council representatives and their constituencies. Staff Council encourages all staff members to share ideas and issues with their representatives and invites full-time and permanent part-time staff members to attend bi-weekly council meetings.

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Title: Mathematics & Statistics Professor Publishes New Book
Author: Jamie McCrary
Subtitle:
Abstract: Mathematics and statistics professor Michael Robinson published Topological Signal Processing.
Topic: Mathematics
Publication Date: 07/25/2014
Content:

AU mathematics and statistics professor Michael Robinson sees his recently completed book as a beginning, not an end. “This book is a jumping off point,” says Robinson. “I’m looking to take the ideas in the book and use them as a springboard to further address the problems presented. It’s very much a foundation to build off of.”

Published by Springer, Topological Signal Processing examines the intersection between signal processing, the art of collecting and analyzing measurements, and topology, the study of abstract notions of space. Exploring challenges in the signal processing community through the lens of topology gives mathematicians and engineers new tools for problem-solving, enabling them to develop approaches outside of traditional methodology. “Typically topology has been a pure math subject, but in the past few years applied topology has become a hot area,” says Robinson. “However, no one has really applied it to signal processing, so this book is the first unified treatment of that.” 

Robinson is specifically interested in using topology to retrieve geometric data from sensors—objects that convert physical measurements into electrical signals—that are not cameras. This data can be used to create pictures, allowing people to see non-visual information, such as sounds and echoes. These sensors include complex equipment such as radar or sonar systems, as well as more simple devices such as an audio recorder. Applying topology to these sensors’ geometric data helps engineers bypass uncertainties that traditional statistical methods struggle with, enabling them to create clearer, more accurate pictures. 

Following up on a curiosity that developed while working as an engineer, Robinson was able to investigate the intersection between topology, mathematics, and engineering through his PhD research at Cornell University. Robinson studied differential equations through the point of view of topology, allowing him to apply concepts developed from an abstract notion of space to concrete, mathematical equations. This research led him to pursue a post-doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania with Robert Ghrist, a person known for applying topology to engineering problems. Robinson credits Ghrist for his motivation to write the book, acknowledging that it was through Ghrist’s urging that he committed to the project. “He basically said, ‘There is no one else who can write this and this information needs to be accessible to the public; therefore, you will write it,’” Robinson says. 

The concepts in Topological Signal Processing are not just applicable for seasoned mathematicians and engineers, though; Robinson’s students are using his topological methods in their projects here at AU. One such project is an attempt to more accurately measure and form pictures of the structure of the wind over the ocean. Typically, satellites are used to measure wind structure by assessing how rough the surface of the ocean is. They direct radar beams on the ocean’s surface and measure how much signal comes back. If it is very windy, the signals reflect a turbulent surface; if the wind is calm, the signals indicate the ocean is more tranquil. These signals are processed and form a picture of the wind’s structure. However, these pictures are taken at a low resolution, resulting in an inaccurate presentation of the data. By applying topology to the satellite’s signal processing data, Robinson and his students are able to form clearer pictures. “We’re taking ideas developed through this topological signal processing framework, turning them into algorithms that can process the satellite data, and then putting the data through these algorithms,” says Robinson. “This approach allows us to see structural detail you wouldn’t be able to see using any other system.” 

This breakthrough technique has huge implications for weather and climate prediction, connecting to industries such as air navigation. If these models can inform airline pilots the wind is turbulent in a certain area, they can avoid this region, ensuring a safe flight for passengers. And if the data and pictures reveal the wind is frequently turbulent in an area, perhaps these are regions that should be avoided altogether. 

Robinson hopes the concepts in Topological Signal Processing will be points of entry for solving specific problems like wind structure measurement and believes bringing topology and engineering together is key in providing new solutions. “I want to increase visibility for signal processing problems in the applied topology community, and I want to increase visibility of topological methods in the engineering community,” Robinson says. “Engineers have very interesting problems and topologists—mathematicians—have techniques that can be applied to solve them. Both of these communities have a lot to learn from each other.” 

You can read more about Topological Signal Processing by visiting the publisher’s website.

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Title: Changing Social Attitudes Toward Women’s Health
Author: Caitlin Friess
Subtitle:
Abstract: Randi Saunders looks at the stigma college women face surrounding sexually transmitted infections.
Topic: Research
Publication Date: 07/25/2014
Content:

It is estimated that one in four college students has a sexually transmitted infection (STI). And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 19 million new cases of STIs occur every year, half of them occurring in people between 15 to 24 years old. Women are disproportionately at risk. 

Randi Saunders, BA sociology ’14, is taking a look at this high-risk group to examine what factors influence the decisions college women make when it comes to STI testing. Saunders, who worked this past semester as a research assistant for the Center on Health, Risk and Society, is examining the ways in which her target audience discusses STI testing in various contexts. She will be taking this research with her to the National Council for Undergraduate Research. 

“I have always been interested in sexual and reproductive health,” Saunders says. “And as I started researching major issues in this field during my junior year of college, STI testing for college women stood out.”  

To gather her data, Saunders arranged interviews with volunteer college students recruited through email listservs, campus resources such as Today@AU, and word of mouth. Her IRB-approved line of questioning guided each interview. The interviews examined the processes by which women make their STI-related decisions. The use of qualitative data allows Saunders to garner richer detail from her study, without forcing people’s experiences into patterns or binaries.  

“Qualitative data lets me ask more and look at more holistic experiences, to see where things intersect and interact with each other,” says Saunders. 

Assistant Professor Michelle Newton-Francis, who advised Saunders during the project, describes Saunders as a research wunderkind. “I have worked with Randi in a variety of contexts and have watched her design research and present both her design and findings. When listening to her, it is easy to forget that she is an undergraduate student,” says Newton-Francis.  

While Saunders’ work is still underway—the broader project continues to develop from her senior capstone—she has drawn some conclusions regarding those individuals most likely to discuss STIs, testing, and treatment.  

“More data collection is needed before concrete results can be claimed,” says Saunders. “That said, right now the interviews indicate that individuals who recognize they are at risk for STIs are more likely to seek testing, and that individuals who discuss STI testing with their friends, or whose friends treat STI testing as normal and/or healthy, are more likely to get STI testing. At the same time, these individuals may be cognizant of stigma or taboos surrounding STI testing outside the social group.”  

Saunders adds that without interviewing men, or people who identify as anything other than women, it is impossible to draw comparative data. Her focus now remains on women, and the changing social attitudes surrounding women's sexual activity. 

“Even individuals for whom STI testing was taboo, sex itself was seemingly okay to discuss,” says Saunders. “Attitudes regarding sexual health, however, aren't changing as quickly. For women, stigma is contextualized, and it's what their friend groups—what women they are close to—think that seems to matter the most. It's not yet clear if that is a gendered experience.”  

What are gendered experiences, she notes, are the health experiences that many women experience, such as interacting with gynecologists. 

“If we want to make sexual health more normalized and encourage women to access health services, we need to encourage providers to be non-judgmental and not make assumptions about women's lives and behaviors,” Saunders says. “When women feel safe, and do not feel judged by their health providers, they are more likely to be able to move past other social stigmas and take care of their own health.”  

“There is increased focus on the social determinants of health by researchers, policy makers, and public health practitioners,” says Newton-Francis. “This focus covers a broad range of public health concerns, including HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections. Randi’s capstone/honors project is situated within this focus and seeks to understand how the decision to get tested for STIs is gendered among college women, and how it has implications on intervention and treatment.”

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Title: 1964 New York Police Riot Deja Vu in 2005 Paris
Author: J. Paul Johnson
Subtitle: Prof. Cathy Schneider explores racial barriers and politics
Abstract: SIS associate professor Cathy Schneider’s new research finds racial boundaries result from wars on crime
Topic: Research
Publication Date: 07/24/2014
Content:

Wars on crime, immigration, and drugs and similar coded appeals to racial fears allow politicians to win votes, which in turn pressures police to enforce racial boundaries, according to new research from School of International Service associate professor Cathy Schneider. 

Schneider studied the cause of riots in her new book Police Power and Race Riots: Urban Unrest in Paris and New York and recommends the people who could learn the most from reading her book are U.S. and European voters, political leaders and legislators who make the laws that the police enforce.

"Police are not rogue agencies," says Schneider. Schneider's research looks at the 1964 riot that erupted in New York when a white police officer shot and killed a black teenager three weeks after President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act. 

The New York riot set off almost a decade of Black and Latino riots that crisscrossed the United States. Yet, by the late 1970s, riots had become rare in the United States. Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, particularly in Great Britain and France, they became more frequent. Schneider wanted to know why.

U.S. Accountability

In the United States, she argues, young people who had experienced the riots were hired by the city as peacekeepers, using moneys from Great Society programs. By the 1980s these young people had become community activists, and created an array of community-based organizations and a standard nonviolent repertoire for dealing with police violence. 

The Civil Rights Movement had opened up access to the judicial system for minorities to act as plaintiffs in both criminal and civil complaints against the state, and activists increasingly channeled community anger into the courtroom. Police violence remained a major issue, but the opening of alternative avenues to pursue justice made riots less likely.

Transatlantic Déjà Vu

Rioting in France had all the hallmarks of New York's riots decades earlier. In Paris, French police targeted minority youth, brutalizing and sometimes killing them, and doing so with impunity. By not holding police accountable the state was "saying that foreign and minority children's lives had no value" explains Schneider. "The unmistakable message was that the state does not represent you. The state won't even hold its own forces accountable for killing your children." 

Paris in Flames

France's worst riots occurred in October 2005 when police chased three minority youth into an electrical substation and an African boy and an Arab boy were electrocuted. But initially the community responded with nonviolent protests. Only after the French president defended the police twice, first claiming the youths must have committed a crime to hide in an electric grid, and then again after police lobbed a tear gas canister into a mosque did riots erupt. They began where the boys had died, and then spread rapidly to 300 other cities, towns and suburbs in France. 

"For three consecutive weeks youths set cars and buildings ablaze," says Schneider. "In setting cars and buildings aflame they externalized their internal pain, externalized the fires in their heads and in their hearts."

U.S. Community Policing Gaining Ground 

Schneider argues that other forms of community police relations are possible and more effective. Activated racial boundaries are bad for both community members and police. "When police enter a high crime neighborhood they should recognize that most residents are more likely to be victims rather than perpetrators of crime. These communities need police, but they want police to protect them not treat them as criminals. For police too it is safer and more effective to work in a community that trusts them and is willing to give them critical information." 

Schneider gives the example of New Haven Police Chief Nick Pastor who turned the arrest incentive model on its head. "Chief Pastor gave awards to officers that engaged the community rather than boosted arrest statistics," Schneider explains.

U.S. Problems Still Remain But Change May Be Coming

While riots have become less frequent in the United States, the American criminal justice system is even more discriminatory than that of France. The explosive growth of the U.S. prison population from 250,000 in 1972 to more than 2.3 million Schneider attributes to the mid 1980s harsh mandatory sentencing laws and statutes that supplanted judicial discretion in sentencing. 

Wars on drugs and crime packed prisons with minority youth. Pressures on police to meet arrest quotas also contributed to the racial disproportion in incarceration. Together these measures dramatically increased the likelihood that poor minority males and even females would spend time in prison, for nonviolent, often victimless crimes. Even innocent minorities, Schneider says often plead guilty to offenses because they cannot afford lawyers to vigorously defend them.

Today there are some positive signs says Schneider. U.S. prison populations are on the decline and harsh mandatory sentences are falling out of favor. Whether sentences will be shortened retroactively for those in prison, remains to be seen, or whether the country will help those leaving prison to reenter the job market and reconstruct their lives.

France's Dilemma

In France, Schneider says, "The centralization of policing has left little room for local innovation. The victory of the far right in the European elections coming on the heels of the National Front's strong showing in local elections months earlier are a bad omen." The recent riots and attacks on synagogues and Jewish residents in the French suburbs of Sarcelles and Garges-les-Gonesse (in response to the Israeli aggression in Gaza, and the French governments defense of Israeli actions),"show how quickly simmering anger and resentment at the low value placed on the lives of Muslim and minority children can erupt into violent conflict."

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Title: Spotlight on the GGPS Program
Author: Antoaneta Tileva
Subtitle:
Abstract: The Global Governance, Politics and Security (GGPS) program at SIS provides students with the professional and specialized training and skills necessary to launch careers in international affairs and public service.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 07/23/2014
Content:

This is part of a series in which we highlight SIS degrees and programs and interview program directors.

The Global Governance, Politics and Security (GGPS) program at SIS provides students with the professional and specialized training and skills necessary to launch careers in international affairs and public service. The program takes a multidisciplinary approach to understanding relations among and beyond states and societies on the global stage. 

We interviewed Dr. Michael Schroeder, Director of the GGPS program.

MS: I was appointed director of GGPS last October, but I have been teaching at SIS since Fall 2012. When I was appointed, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to implement the new curriculum that my predecessor, Celeste Wallander, had designed in consultation with the GGPS-affiliated faculty. The new curriculum keeps the best parts of the old International Politics program while introducing new foundational and concentration courses as well as practical training. The result is a program that ensures all of our graduates are specialized in a particular area of global security or global governance and have the professional skills to launch careers in international affairs and public service. 

What is the core mission/vision of the program?

MS: Our mission is to produce professionals who can turn rigorous analysis into meaningful policy innovation and practical action in global governance or global security. Students gain an understanding of global history, political dynamics, and economic systems as well as the methodological tools and the practical skills needed to make sense of data and influence policy. To do so, the program takes a multidisciplinary approach to understanding relations among and beyond states and societies on the global stage. 

How is the program unique?

MS: One of the best parts about developing a new program is that we can really reflect on our unique strengths and build a program around those strengths. Like all SIS Masters Programs, GGPS gives students flexibility while they earn a Master’s degree from one of the top ten international affairs schools in the country. Students also enjoy all of the advantages that come with a graduate program located in Washington, DC. The GGPS curriculum in particular offers core classes that give students a strong foundational knowledge, but it is the coursework in their field of concentration that gives them a long-term advantage in their career. GGPS students hone their expertise in Global Governance or Global Security by selecting courses from an extensive list of electives and concentration courses. 

Many of these courses are offered by GGPS-affiliated faculty, such as David Bosco, who has authored two widely-acclaimed books on global governance; Amitav Acharya, whose research continues to inform our understanding of regional and global governance; and Boaz Atzili, one of the country’s leading experts on border stability and violent conflict. Other courses are taught by faculty from other SIS programs, many of whom are established practitioners or prominent researchers in fields such as regional studies, human rights, peace and conflict resolution, U.S. foreign policy, corporate social responsibility, global environmental politics and international communication. 

What are some things your program does to further your students professionally? 

MS: GGPS is a professional program, so we take the idea of job-ready skills very seriously. We insist that our students have language training, professional experience, and other skills valued by employers. This makes our students stand out in job interviews and has an immediate impact in their organization. Our students have the opportunity to participate in skills institutes and signature SIS practica, where students work with a real-world client to deliver a work product, or they can produce a policy-relevant thesis or substantial research project as part of their program of study. Distinguished scholar-practitioners and professionals in the field design these practica and workshops and provide GGPS students with skills they can highlight on their resume and call on in their future work. 

Describe the students in your program: 

MS: GGPS has over one hundred graduate students. Although our students have a broad range of interests and concentrations, they all have an overarching interest in understanding relations among and beyond states and societies and addressing those policy problems that cross national borders. Our GGPS students are defined by both their breadth and depth of knowledge and their professional training. These qualities make them well equipped to thrive in global governance and security where complex problems will require innovative and practical solutions grounded in an understanding of global history and political and economic systems. 

Tell us about your own research and areas of expertise: 

MS: My research focuses on global governance, international organizations, and political leadership. I am currently working on a book investigating why some executive heads of international organizations are viewed as more successful leaders than others, and the strategies these leaders used to help their organization adapt to changes in world politics. 

To learn more about the GGPS program, please visit its website and find it on Twitter and Facebook. Follow Dr. Schroeder on Twitter at @mikebschroeder.

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Title: Minors at the Border: Three Questions for Professor Daniel Esser
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Abstract: Assistant Professor Daniel Esser, an expert on aid effectiveness who has conducted field research in Mexico, explains the root causes of the influx and suggests ways to slow the flow of people to the United States.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 07/22/2014
Content:

Thousands of Central American children have arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border in recent months, creating a humanitarian, judicial, and political crisis, as the Obama administration struggles to manage the situation. Assistant Professor Daniel Esser, an expert on aid effectiveness who has conducted field research in Mexico, explains the root causes of the influx and suggests ways to slow the flow of people to the United States.

Q: Why are so many unaccompanied minors trying to cross into the United States?

A: There are both push and pull factors at work. Living conditions for these minors in countries such as Honduras and Guatemala are generally atrocious. Gangs control entire neighborhoods and districts and exert control using extortion, kidnapping, forced gang recruitment, and aggravated sexual violence. The murder rates in cities like San Pedro Sula are a multiple of those in the most violent cities in the United States. Without protection by immediate family members, these children have no reason to stay put. 

At the same time, many of these minors are longing to be reunited with their parents, who may be in the United States. The latter are aware of the dangers facing their children during migration. They often even plead with their children not to embark on the trek, but in light of escalating violence in Central America, these minors have little choice. Moreover, these young people also act on false hopes fueled by rumors that if only they manage to cross into the United States, they might eventually be allowed to stay.

Q: What is happening in Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala that is causing so many young people to flee?

A: Two of the most violent gangs in the region originated in the United States, especially in California but also here in the DC area. After deportation, many of their members set up shop in Central America where most national governments have much lower enforcement capacities. Resulting criminal activities and accompanying violence have threatened community cohesion to a point where escape is a form of individual resilience—in a sense, the last option available. While wealthier citizens in these countries wall themselves in and are protected by an army of private security guards, children and adolescents living in these countries have been witnessing the complete breakdown of the state, both locally and nationally, when it comes to basic public service delivery. 

In addition, their exodus adds a new dimension to the billion-dollar business of human trafficking. Considering that each of the more than 50,000 juvenile migrants who, between October 2013 and June of this year, made it to the U.S. border with Mexico where they were apprehended, had paid between US$3,000 and $10,000 to their smugglers, we can imagine the perverse incentives that fuel this kind of migration.

Q: President Obama has asked Congress for emergency funding to deal with the current influx. What steps should be taken in the short, medium, and long term to resolve the situation?

A: The options range, at one extreme, from stricter border controls, expedited removal, and providing financial as well as in-kind assistance to the Mexican government so the latter can improve policing at its southern borders, to—at the other end of the spectrum—a system of emergency shelters that do not lock these minors away for eventual deportation but offer managed reunification with their families, stepping up funding for locally led anti-violence projects in Central America as well as, ultimately, a comprehensive immigration reform that acknowledges the economic contributions and inalienable human rights of currently undocumented immigrants in the United States. 

President Obama seeks federal support for measures that fall mostly into the first category. Meanwhile, Texas Governor Rick Perry announced that he would mobilize the National Guard. As long as migrants fleeing the violence in Central America, which continues to be fed primarily by the United States' insatiable demand for illicit drugs, are framed as a "national security challenge," as opposed to human beings worthy of humanitarian assistance and humane treatment, there is little hope that the situation at the border will improve anytime soon. 

My reading, however, is that the president's current strategy is to buy goodwill from a partially xenophobic House of Representatives through embracing tougher rhetoric and supporting a focus on enforcement in the short run in order to contain the longer-term political fallout from more profound reforms that will hopefully be introduced before his second term comes to an end.

Follow Dr. Esser at http://danielesser.org/

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

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Title: Decoding Aquarius
Author: Gregg Sangillo
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Abstract: School of Communication professor contributes to CNN Series on the 1960s.
Topic: Communications
Publication Date: 07/21/2014
Content:

Towards the end of the rain-soaked Woodstock Festival in August 1969, Jimi Hendrix took his Fender Stratocaster and made music history. He lit into a rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner" that was sublime and exultant. Yet it was also cacophonous and—like so much else from this time period—controversial. That expression of beauty and chaos, unity and discord, may have been the perfect metaphor for the 1960s.

Was Hendrix channeling the turbulence of the times? Interpretations vary. But just like the national anthem, historians are still trying to untangle everything that happened in the Age of Aquarius. American University School of Communication professor Leonard Steinhorn has intensely studied the era, and now he's providing expertise to CNN's documentary series, The Sixties. He taped commentary for three upcoming episodes, which deal with social movements, 1968, and the counterculture, respectively. The episode on 1968 is scheduled to air on July 31. The CNN series is presented in collaboration with several veteran film producers, including actor Tom Hanks.

Steinhorn is also an affiliate professor in the History Department, where he teaches a course on the 1960s.

Got a Revolution, Got to Revolution

What ignited such massive social upheaval? In an interview, Steinhorn provides some answers. Steinhorn discusses how a segregated, Jim Crow society was increasingly captured on television. "You had the brutal bombing of the church in Birmingham, the brutalization of Freedom Riders, the fire hoses and the German shepherds attacking people who were peacefully seeking their rights and dignities," he says.

School of Communication professor Leonard Steinhorn teaching

He also describes children growing up in the nuclear age, with accompanying air raid shelters and sirens terrifying them about the future. "They had the sense of either having to pull us back from the brink, or if the world's going to end, we've got to be able to do something about it now," he explains.

Music and alternative publications helped shape a rapidly developing youth culture. You had Mad magazine satirizing middle class conformity. You had rock 'n' roll, which kids increasingly listened to in their cars and out of earshot of their parents. Soul music brought people of all colors onto the same dance floors, he adds.

During the economic boom of the 1950s, the U.S. had a rising need for managers and thinkers to direct the economy. "And how do you get them? You go to universities, which had for years been places of social privilege," Steinhorn says. "You had this growing number of young people who were in universities, and who were there to learn, to ask questions, to see the world, to think critically."

Then, of course, you had the Vietnam War. "That hit everybody in their homes. Either when they were watching it on television, their kids were being drafted and fighting it, or their kids were protesting it," he says.

Sound of Marching, Charging Feet

Steinhorn lectures on 1968 as part of the One Day University program. The totality of what occurred that year was astonishing: Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy assassinated; the Tet Offensive in Vietnam; President Lyndon Johnson decided not to run for re-election; rioting at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago; Columbia University shut down.

"It was not just the rain clouds gathering. It was an electric storm that hot-wired everything at that moment in time," he says. Yet Steinhorn believes the country proved resilient. In 1969, he points out, the U.S. put a man on the moon.

Change Was Gonna Come

Steinhorn believes the countercultural forces of that decade had an overwhelmingly positive impact on American life. He deals with this in his 2006 book, The Greater Generation: In Defense of the Baby Boom Legacy. Many of the ideas forged by early Boomers during the 1960s ushered in today's more inclusive society. Racial bigotry has become taboo, and gender equality is a widely shared goal. Businesses are less hierarchical and more participatory, he says.

"We may look back on the counterculture as a quaint relic of the Sixties, but the values that animated it—express yourself, experiment with the new, find your own God, don't take anything for granted, appreciate nonconformity, feel comfortable in your skin, do your own thing—have permeated American institutions, families, and lives," he writes in his book. 

"The 1960s was a profound cultural shift. It was a shift in the norms of our society. And once the norms of society shift, once the culture begins to shift, the politics will have to follow," he says.

A Little Better, All the Time

Religious Right leaders blame the 1960s for creating a host of social ills, but Steinhorn emphasizes the repressive nature of the oft-romanticized 1950s. To give just one example, he's examined 1950s help wanted ads (which were separated by gender) in venerable newspapers like The New York Times and The Washington Post. "It was, 'Wanted: woman, 5-foot-5 to 5-foot-7 in heels;attractive.' I mean, we are living in a different universe," he says.

Even some 1960s era progressives have deemed the activist movement a failure, or at least a lost opportunity.

"We were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave," wrote Hunter S. Thompson in his early 1970s classic Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. "Now…you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark—that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back."

Yet Steinhorn takes the long view of history. It took decades before Baby Boomers began holding senior positions in business, government, and nonprofits, and changes are starting to reflect that now. "This country has moved in the direction of greater dignity, respect, equality, and freedom. We're not where we need to be, but we're far better than where we were." 

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Title: AU Museum Receives Gift to Support Washington Art
Author: Rebecca Basu
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Abstract: Alumna and art advocate Carolyn Alper’s gift will establish the Alper Initiative for Washington Art.
Topic: Arts
Publication Date: 07/18/2014
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Washington is fortunate to have a thriving arts community. Now, thanks to a major gift from AU alumna and art advocate Carolyn Alper, BA/CAS '68, to the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center, more resources will be allocated to the study and exhibition of Washington art.

Alper's gift will establish the Alper Initiative for Washington Art at the American University Museum. The initiative will dedicate space for displaying the work of Washington artists, including more tightly focused, historical shows; development of space for archives of Washington art (available for both members of the public and AU students); an endowment to support more programming of events, gatherings, lectures and films; and digitization of AU's growing collection of Washington art.

"Carolyn's gift provides American University Museum the funds necessary to elevate Washington art to the place of prominence it deserves," said AU Museum Curator and Director Jack Rasmussen. "All of Washington should be grateful as Carolyn has put her contributions where her heart is."

Rasmussen has made Washington art a priority with two "Washington Art Matters" exhibits and opportunities for regular displays of works by Washington artists. A reviewer with Washington City Paper recently wrote: "For almost a decade, the de facto museum of D.C. art has been at American University… The case has been made: Washington art does matter. All we need is the wall space to display it."

Five of the six exhibits on display at the museum through Aug. 17 feature Washington artists and collectors: Mynd Alive by B.K. ADAMS/I AM ART; Syzygy by William Newman; Continental Drift (Being Here and Being There) by Judy Byron; Passionate Collectors: The Washington Print Club at 50, with prints curated from Washington collections; and The Franz and Virginia Bader Fund: Second Act, with art by grant recipients from the region.

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Title: AU Educates the Feds on Inclusion
Author: Patrick Bradley
Subtitle:
Abstract: Government agencies increasingly tap AU for trainings on LGBTQ inclusion.
Topic: In the Community
Publication Date: 07/18/2014
Content:

Revolution Televised

Sara Bendoraitis and Matt Bruno had given their Safe Space presentation dozens of times, but never in five states at once. That is, until June.

The two Center for Diversity & Inclusion staffers stood in front of a packed conference room at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Maryland office, where they were featured speakers for the organization’s first ever LGBT Pride Month celebration.

The pair’s message, on how to create an inclusive workplace, was live streamed to USDA offices as far away as Iowa and Arizona. “It demonstrated why these conversations are important, that the USDA put in so much effort to broadcast it,” Bruno explained. “It’s pretty cool that we impacted not just the people in the room but people in different parts of the country.”

That particular event counts as just one of the many trainings around diversity and inclusion that Bendoraitis and Bruno have conducted for various government agencies and nonprofit organizations—and it certainly won’t be the last.

Student Connection

Of CDI’s core programs, its signature Safe Space training series is perhaps its most celebrated and—increasingly—well known. Established in 2001 and open to AU students, staff, faculty, and community members, these trainings address everything from language around LGBT identities to issues affecting the community.

The success of these workshops at AU has translated into growing attention off campus. Since receiving calls in 2011 from both the USDA and the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., Bruno and Bendoraitis have presented workplace-tailored versions of Safe Space for groups ranging from the Department of Justice to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The two are even working with the National Institutes of Health to develop the NIH's own Safe Space curriculum and program.

“Largely we’re talking about LGBT diversity in the workplace and how to create an inclusive climate around LGBT issues,” Bendoraitis explained. “We’ve been to some cool places.”

According to Bendoraitis, who is CDI’s director of programming, outreach, and advocacy, the secret to their success both on and off campus comes down to the reason she works in the field: students. 

“Our students go and do great things at these organizations and then talk about the experiences they had at American,” she said. “We both have been able to put ourselves out there as a resource, and our students have been a great voice for us too.”

American Way

When Bruno, CDI’s coordinator of LGBTQ programming, speaks to a crowd of 50 to 75 federal employees, he thinks of AU. Consistently ranked and celebrated for its inclusivity, AU’s campus climate has spread beyond its boarders, due in large part to his own efforts.

“We’re able to do this work with outside organizations because we’re able to do this work at American,” he explained. “The ability for us to have a center that allows us to do 18 Safe Space workshops a year provides us a good foundation to then facilitate other LGBT workshops.”

Since 2001, on-campus Safe Space trainings have expanded to feature more targeted themes, including Unmasking Your Privilege, Trans 101, Paving the Way: Supporting First-Generation College Students, and Creating an Inclusive Community. With all these new titles, the center now offers AU an average of more than two trainings per week during the academic year.

Just as the university worked to foster its campus climate, Bendoraitis sees that government agencies are starting down the same path. “For a lot of folks, it’s the first time they’ve ever had an open dialogue about this,” she said.

With that in mind, Bendoraitis and Bruno will continue making their rounds both on and off AU soil, trying to open conversations and perspectives where possible.

Still, Bruno hopes that one day their presentation—and their faces—won’t need to be broadcast to offices across the country. One day, inclusion will just be a part of the national workplace.

“It reemphasizes how important the work we do on campus is,” he says. “All of these students are going into the workplace. If we can continuously talk to them about how to make more inclusive environments, whether it’s for LGBT people or not, they’re going into the workplace and changing it.”

Tags: Campus Life,Campus News,Gay,Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Ally Resource Center,Multicultural Affairs,Office of Campus Life,Office of Diversity Services,Federal Government
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Title: AU Updates Tenley Neighbors on WCL Project
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Abstract: Representatives from American University met recently with Tenleytown neighbors to provide an update on construction at the new Washington College of Law (WCL).
Topic: Buildings
Publication Date: 07/17/2014
Content:

Representatives from American University, Whiting-Turner, and the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) met recently with Tenleytown neighbors, representatives of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 3E, the Tenleytown Historical Society, and the Tenley Neighbors Association to provide an update on the current phase of construction at the new Washington College of Law (WCL).

Neighbors were briefed about the conclusion of excavation and the project’s transition to the concrete-pouring phase. They also were told of the completion of the selective demolition inside Capital Hall and the Chapel, and about the installation underway currently of wall foundations and under-slab utilities at the lower parking garage level.

Additionally, presentations were made regarding the proposed traffic circles at 42nd and Warren Streets, a new sidewalk along Warren Street, and a neighborhood request to close or make the block of Warren Street that borders the WCL site into a one-way street.

“Providing regular updates to our neighbors is a big part of all of our projects,” said AU’s Director of Community Relations, Andrew Huff. “Our Tenley neighbors have been very supportive of the WCL project and we look forward to continuing our relationship with them when the project is complete.”

When construction is complete in fall 2015, WCL will be among the most technically advanced law schools in the country and the only one with a courthouse. The 312,000 square feet, light-filled, LEED-certified facility, will include flexible teaching spaces, expanded clinic space, teaching courtrooms, and multiple indoor and outdoor student study and meeting spaces throughout the campus. The enhanced Pence Law Library also will feature an Alumni Center that will provide the more than 18,000 alumni with research and business resources when they visit. The Tenley Campus also is located one block from the Metro, giving the legal community, business leaders, government officials, and alumni better access to the law school while providing students with a direct line to the heart of Washington, D.C.

Read more about the WCL or view the live webcam.

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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
Subtitle:
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
Subtitle:
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.

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