newsId: D0723329-C53F-7C8B-23DADDF26BCA1557
Title: Virtual Dinner Creates Cultural Connections
Author:
Subtitle:
Abstract: International Media students share dinner, discussion with Cairo students via Skype.
Topic:
Publication Date: 04/24/2014
Content:

Violet Jiang, a American University student from the People’s Republic of China in the International Media program was having trouble with an assignment for her production practicum course. The goal: interview Americans about whether the United States is the best place to come to build a better life. The challenge: no one wanted to give her any answers with a camera. The solution: more transparency.
 
“We told them ‘We are having a video dinner with people from Egypt. Can you help us with some answers?’ And they said, ‘How cool!’” Violet remembers.

This is just one of the key assignments in Professor Erica Burman’s Spring 2014 production practicum course. The assignment took the already diverse group of International Media students and linked them via Skype for several virtual meals with university students in Egypt. The concept is to share a meal, have a discussion and then challenge students to go out and produce videos that answer questions at the heart of the Skype discussion. The idea is the brainchild of Eric Maddox, the founder of the Virtual Dinner Guest Project.

“What Maddox is doing with this project is taking cross-cultural communication concepts and putting them into action,” says Prof. Rick Rockwell, the director of the International Media program. “When we had the chance to get students involved in this, we leapt at the opportunity.”

Burman was excited about the possibilities. “It taps into everything they are learning in the class,” Burman says. “It is not just a constructed project. It is real and it connects them to young people who are working in similar areas in other parts of the world.”


Virtual Dinner The students at American University had challenged the Egyptians to ask about what advice the typical Egyptian would give to those in the next generation. Maddox, who organized the student group in Cairo, acknowledged the special video production challenges of the project especially when he would accompany the student crews. “There were real issues of xenophobia,” he says. “Egyptian authorities questioned why an American was out recording videos with students.” Like the students in Washington, D.C., the Egyptian students rose to the challenge and produced a video to spark further conversation.

Although planning took months, the students connected directly for three weeks. After the first meal, a production challenge was issued to make videos that reflected the foundations of the discussion. Then there was time for production, followed by a final meal where the students shared experiences, videos, and sparked new discussions.

The exchanges between the students went on for several hours and the conversation turned from the original discussion of opportunities and challenges for a new generation to controversial topics such as women’s rights, sexual harassment, and religious freedom.

Students in both Cairo and Washington, D.C. said they were enthused to be part of this important project. And their instructors expressed similar sentiments. “It’s fun to be part of something bigger,” Burman said. “This project definitely made the students prepare for something on a grander scale.”

Tags: School of Communication,Education,International,International Relations,Technology,Washington DC
Publication:
Photos: 0
Contact Name:
Contact Phone:
Contact Email:
News Photos: D0E538D8-EBDA-01D3-83423DD802EE0467
Profile:
Media:
newMediaIDList:
newsId: C9FF2EB0-0DE4-A89C-51AF16D7E2CF553A
Title: AU Ranks No. 2 with Record Number of PMF Finalists
Author: Devin Symons
Subtitle:
Abstract: AU’s 34 Presidential Management Fellows Program finalists credit preparation, passion for public service
Topic: Achievements
Publication Date: 04/24/2014
Content:

Mattea Sanders, CAS/MA ’14, knew she wanted to become a public servant. As a graduate student at American University (AU), she has interned with federal agencies in D.C. including the Smithsonian and the National Endowment for the Humanities. She has definite goals for a future in public service, combining her passion for history and her interest in management.

"I want to be in a position where I can help develop an expansive vision for the way the public learns about and experiences history,” she says.

Now she may have her chance. Sanders is one of 34 AU finalists for the Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program, a prestigious program offering successful applicants two-year salaried leadership positions in a range of federal agencies, as well as additional training and development opportunities.

“It’s the best way to enter the federal government,” says PMF and School of Public Affairs career advisor Robert SanGeorge. “Interest in PMF is at a record high. More of our best people are applying and are willing to persevere through the rigorous three-part application process.”

This year, the PMF Program had approximately 7,000 applicants, only 608 of whom were selected as finalists. This year’s 34 finalists set a record number for AU and tied with George Washington University for a No. 2 national ranking.

Intense Coaching for an Intense Application

“AU provides a level of coaching that is likely unmatched by any other university,” says SanGeorge. “We also have a loyal core of PMF alumni, many of whom participate in the coaching process.”

Saidah Bennett, SPA/MPA ’14, another PMF finalist, says the application process was intense, especially the five-hour in-person assessment, but that the support of the Career Center made it manageable.

“They were always very active in making sure I had everything that I needed, or if I had any questions they always made themselves available,” she says.

Bennett learned about the fellowship her first year at AU, and decided she would apply when she became eligible in her second year. 

“I’ve had some experience working at the local and state level, and I had an interest in working at the federal level,” she says. “PMF seemed like a good program to jumpstart a career in the federal government, and it gives you the leadership training that will be essential in that system.”

Bennett is looking for program and policy analyst positions at agencies like the Department of Justice or Housing and Human Services. She hopes to work on issues in urban affairs and economic mobility, developing programs that are evidence-based and proven to be effective in helping low-income communities. 

Success on Second Try

Luis Pablo Solorio, SIS/MA ’12, shares Bennett’s passion for improving lives through public service. Before beginning his graduate studies at AU, he joined the Peace Corps and spent time in Mauritania, working on an education and empowerment program for young women. Now he is a program analyst with the U.S. African Development Fund, working to promote economic development in vulnerable populations. 

“Economics has given me a great skillset for analyzing information, and it’s allowed me to make contacts all over the [African] continent,” Solorio says. “Now I’d like to apply what I studied by getting involved directly in the politics of international conflict and development, advancing U.S. policy and representing the U.S. and U.S. interests abroad.” 

He plans to apply for positions with agencies that would allow him to continue working in international affairs, including the State Department, Department of Defense, and USAID. This is his second time applying to the PMF program.

“I would always say if it doesn’t work out the first time, don’t give up. There’s always a second time you can do it, and take advantage of Career Center resources, which I think is fundamental to achieving success,” he says. “There’s a reason AU ranked No. 2 for PMF this year.”

He says he continues to receive support from SanGeorge, who is putting him in touch with AU alumni currently working in the federal government through PMF. 

Humanities Students Should Apply

Sanders, the only finalist from AU’s College of Arts and Sciences this year, encourages other CAS students to apply.

“CAS students don’t traditionally know about PMF, but they should,” she says. “A lot of these job descriptions fit skills that you get with a humanities background. In CAS I learned how to analyze information, how to write well. We need to put ourselves out there. It’s hard to get into the federal government, and this is an opportunity to be seen by a lot of different agencies.”

She advises future applicants to be prepared, but not to stress out about the process itself—SanGeorge and the Career Center are here to help with that.

“I can’t imagine a school that’s better at PMF than AU is,” Sanders says.


Congratulations to all of AU’s 2014 PMF finalists: Alex Zender, Andrew Horn, Bryan Thurmond, Cassandra Lewis, Charles Kilby, Christina Caryl, Elana Katz-Mink, Emily Mella, Hari Swaminathan, Hina Gir, Jackson Keith, Josie Mace, Laticia Sanchez Bubongi, Laura Drummond, Leslie Chiu Barnes, Liliana Burnett, Luis Pablo Solorio, Mattea Sanders, Matthew Smither, Maria Martinez, Max Bing-Grant, Paul Jurado, Rachel Croft, Rana Wahdan, Rebecca Harris, Rebecca Sanfield Schatz, Richard Driscoll, Robert Bannon, Saidah Bennett, Sara Falk, Sarah Waldron, Shayn Tierney, Tamara Di Paolo, and Zachary Graham. 

The application process for the 2015 PMF Program will begin this fall, and will be open to students and alumni who hold a master’s degree, PhD, JDL, or LLM earned between December 2012 and August 2015.

Tags: Career Center,Career Center Services,Career Development,College of Arts and Sciences,School of International Service,School of Public Affairs,Washington College of Law
Publication:
Photos: 0
Contact Name:
Contact Phone:
Contact Email:
News Photos: D3F9599A-D618-F072-598CD1C40BD07E05
Profile:
Media:
newMediaIDList:
newsId: C74F3563-D491-643F-583EE0E0D3567125
Title: AU Mock Trial Finishes Eighth in Country
Author:
Subtitle:
Abstract: The AU Mock Trial Team placed eighth in the country, from more than 650 teams, at the National Championship Tournament.
Topic: Achievements
Publication Date: 04/24/2014
Content:

The AU Mock Trial Team placed fourth in its division and eighth in the country at the National Championship Tournament in Orlando in April.

More than 650 teams from more than 330 colleges competed this year. The team is captained by Connor Trafton, SPA '14, and Kristen Pulkstenis, SPA '15, both pictured at left.

The other team members are Andrew DeMarco, Virginia Lyon, Eliana Peck, Jordyn Giannone, Melisa Azak, and Iain Phillips who also earned an All-American Outstanding Witness award. The team coaches are SPA adjunct faculty member Don Martin, graduate student Kierra Zoellick and AU alumni Eric Fledderman and Sam Sandfort.

Tags: Mock Trial Association,School of Public Affairs,Justice, Law & Society
Publication:
Photos: 0
Contact Name:
Contact Phone:
Contact Email:
News Photos: C852CF77-96AC-0F97-F29D751EFF98A77A
Profile:
Media:
newMediaIDList:
newsId: 683911E1-CFB4-6E67-ED463333F3AF8441
Title: 2014 Graduate Student Commencement Speaker
Author: Ania Skinner
Subtitle:
Abstract: Angeli Gabriel overcomes fear, finds success.
Topic: Communications
Publication Date: 04/22/2014
Content:

Angeli Gabriel is fearless.

Gabriel, who will receive her MA in Film and Video May 10, has been chosen as this year’s School of Communication graduate student commencement speaker. She says the inspiration for her speech is the fearlessness she has found in her classmates, and most importantly, in herself, during her time at SOC.

“I cannot tell you how long I’ve waited to be in this industry, but I was too scared to go for it. I didn’t think I had the technical know-how,” she says. “I realized that I’m the only person stopping myself from doing what I want to do in life, and I know I’m not the only person who has had fear stop them from doing something they’re excited about.”


Taking the first step

Gabriel received her undergraduate degree in anthropology from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, but after being hired to write scientific papers, she realized that the only people reading her work were those in her department.

“That’s how I came to documentaries—it was a way to share my first love of science with a wider audience,” Gabriel says

When Gabriel enrolled in the Master’s program at SOC, one of her classes was a partnership between SOC and National Geographic, in which the class made short video stories about science-related topics. Last fall when Gabriel applied for an internship at National Geographic’s Missions Media, it turned out that the people in that department had also been her contacts in the class. That internship turned into a full-time position at the end of the semester.

“Some days I’m editing short pieces, and during others we have several video shoots throughout the day. We interview scientists visiting from around the world for one of our segments. Hearing scientists talk about their work is amazing, and seeing all of my interests come together is incredible. I love my job!”

Finding Success at SOC

Gabriel attributes many of the skills she uses at work to the training she received at SOC.

“SOC stressed that you shouldn’t be good in just one thing—you need to be able to dabble in several things. That’s what makes you more marketable,” she says. “Editing is a huge crutch in getting into the production industry. You have to learn how to piece together a good story with content and tone. Editing, producing, and lighting—those are three of the most important skills in the professional world and I learned them while at SOC.”

Now that Gabriel’s time at SOC has come to an end, she is excited to share commencement with the SOC students who, like her, fearlessly pursued their goals and worked hard until the end.

“I have had such a great time getting to know my classmates and hear about all their different walks of life. Everyone wants to tell so many different stories, and that is very inspirational to me,” she says. “It’s special to share this moment with all of them who have put in two, three, or four years of their lives here. We have all been looking towards this moment.”



Award-winning journalist and TV personality, Katie Couric, will speak at the 2014 School of Communication commencement ceremony Saturday, May 10, at American University. Ceremonies begin at 9:00 a.m. in AU’s Bender Arena. Learn more

Tags: School of Communication
Publication:
Photos: 0
Contact Name:
Contact Phone:
Contact Email:
News Photos: 68C14E89-0C6E-D62A-40A3F7F8F8F4B27A
Profile:
Media:
newMediaIDList:
newsId: 6617EA99-94B9-3350-00443867805DC864
Title: ‘Stand Up Planet’ Leverages Laughs for Change
Author:
Subtitle:
Abstract: How one communication professor helped craft an international transmedia anti-poverty project. And made it funny.
Topic: Communications
Publication Date: 04/22/2014
Content:

It takes a special kind of creative mind to figure out how to leverage laughs to make a difference on an issue as complex as global poverty. 

Enter communication strategist and School of Communication Executive in Residence Caty Borum Chattoo, executive producer and producer of Stand Up Planet, a groundbreaking documentary TV and transmedia project which premieres on May 14 on four cable and broadcast networks. Stand Up Planet proves that comedy can spring from the most unlikely topics, in some of the toughest places to live on earth.

Thanks to Chattoo, who is also Creative Director at the university’s Center for Media & Social Impact, American University is getting a preview April 23 at 6pm in SOC’s Forman Theater prior to the broadcast premiere on the Participant Media (entertainment company behind An Inconvenient Truth, Food, Inc. and others) cable network, Pivot, nationwide; KCET in Los Angeles; Link TV nationwide; and top India broadcast network, NDTV. The documentary will premiere theatrically at the San Francisco International Film Festival (with a stand-up comedy show) on April 28, and a comedy show and red-carpet event in Los Angeles on April 30. The show will stream starting May 15 on www.StandUpPlanet.org

Chattoo began collaborating on the project years ago, when it was a concept. Her expertise in social change communication, integrated media campaigns, and documentary film and television production made her a perfect fit for Stand Up Planet, as did her history of working with legendary producer Norman Lear, whose breakthrough sit-com All in the Family is an exemplar for using comedy to confront social issues.

“To me, this really is the dream project. My professional passion is working at the intersection of translating complex social issues into entertaining narratives, connecting with untold stories through documentary production. The world of ‘social impact media storytelling’ is evolving in such exciting ways,” said Chattoo.


At the center of Stand Up Planet is a U.S.-based host—Hasan Minhaj, a stand-up comic on a quest to find some of the best humor coming from corners of the developing world. Starting from his own personal story as an Indian-American Hollywood comic, Hasan embarks on an epic journey of discovery to find some of the funniest stand-up comics in the most unlikely places: the bustling city of Mumbai, India, and the neighborhoods of Johannesburg, South Africa. Along the way, Hasan follows the jokes and personal experiences of the funniest international comics deep into the hard truths and the promise for change in some of the toughest global poverty issues of our time. Along with a posse of comedian friends, Hasan invites comedians from India and South Africa to take part in the biggest night of their lives – performing in America’s first international comedy showcase and television special, after a stop to meet three of comedy's legends: Bill Cosby, Carl Reiner and producer Norman Lear.

Q&A with Borum Chattoo on her involvement in the project.

SOC: What drew you to the project?

CBC: The opportunity to channel storytelling and comedy into shining a light on some of our most urgent problems in the world was really compelling. Wendy Hanamura and I (leads on the executive team on this project) have been collaborators in storytelling around global poverty for close to five years now, and it was our job to lift the project off the ground even before it was an idea—to find other producers and creative folks to work with—and to ensure that the original mission of the entire project was fulfilled through the creative work *and* the strategy.

The project's centerpiece is the TV documentary, of course, but there's so much more to it that we had to develop and build, including the huge wealth of transmedia content, the digital elements, the action campaign, the relationships with huge global development NGOs, all the way to the integrated marketing and promotion of it. The ability to direct and be connected with every aspect of such a complex project -- from the creative storytelling to the factual information to the campaign itself -- is my favorite kind of work. It was a real privilege. The idea is to follow the entertainment into the deeper social issues, and audiences can easily do that online through our transmedia storytelling. We were really trying to continue a great contemporary moment in documentary storytelling by creating material that moves from TV and screen to online engagement. There's a great trend in documentary storytelling at the moment that's engaging with interactive, transmedia storytelling designed not only to get people to watch, but to participate in some way. Our project's DNA is in that contemporary tradition.

Stand Up PlanetSOC: How were you able to bring comedy legends Norman Lear, Carl Reiner and Bill Cosby into the project?

CBC: I had the great, incredible good fortune of working for and with Norman Lear in Los Angeles for close to a decade. I was a producer, project director, writer and lots of other things with Norman, and his orbit is full of legendary Hollywood people who want to connect with social change through entertainment. This project really has a kind of legacy of Norman Lear and his work—raising awareness and starting conversations through comedy—so I wanted him to be in it and to be involved. I asked him to be an advisor on the project really early on, and then he also agreed to "perform" in a scene with our comics—he brought along the amazing Carl Reiner for a pretty epic day of filming in Los Angeles, and it's a charming scene in the final documentary. Our producers had other connections to Bill Cosby, as well, and he responded with the same level of generosity to appear in it.

SOC: How has your work with Stand Up Planet influenced your teaching?

CBC: I work on documentaries and other social-change media and research projects outside the classroom, and I always share my latest work with my students. They are learning communication and media work in the middle of a totally transformed, transmedia environment, where storytelling meets strategy meets action, and seeing how these projects come together in “the real world” is valuable. 

SOC: Who was the funniest or What/who made you laugh the hardest?

CBC: Our charming, amazing host, Hasan Minhaj, is such a find. He's not only very funny, but really smart and able to connect with people immediately—we couldn't have found someone better to be the tour guide through our Stand Up Planet journey. He's very funny at observing things happening around him and then spitting out some wry observations and imitations. There were so many laughs along the way, it would be hard to pick just one moment.

Tags: Entertainment,Film,Film Production,Global,Human Rights,International,Public Communication,School of Communication,Social Justice,Featured News
Publication:
Photos: 0
Contact Name:
Contact Phone:
Contact Email:
News Photos: 66AC1AF0-EECD-FB4C-805DE19867BADD77
Profile: 65C1AF27-CD06-5E33-83E3D8C9D8022DEA
Media:
newMediaIDList:
newsId: 63EA5BCA-AF2E-893B-83BFE3D4B87CBC5F
Title: New American Studies Courses
Author:
Subtitle:
Abstract: This fall the American Studies Program offers a number of new courses.
Topic: Humanities
Publication Date: 04/22/2014
Content:

The American Studies Program has multiple new courses for fall 2014.

The Body in American Culture (AMST 296-001)
In the past century the body has become the main tool of expression for identity and social status in U.S. society. This course discusses ways in which we maintain and modify our bodies, such as tattoos, piercings, beauty surgery, dieting, and exercise. It also explores phenomena in which our bodies are beyond our control: death, birth, obesity, disease, and disability.

This course is taught by Katharina Vester. Professor Vester was a radio journalist and newscaster before she attended grad school. Trained in Germany, she joined the American University faculty seven years ago and was for the last 4 years director of the American Studies Program.

Space, Imagination and Science Fiction (AMST 320-001)
This course examines the political and cultural impact of the U.S. space program. Beginning with the Cold War space race and ending with the retirement of the Shuttle program, students explore the representations of NASA and the space program in science fiction films and novels, as well as in journalism, graphic design and other forms of popular culture. The course will be taught by new AMST faculty.

Americans In Paris (AMST 330-001)
This course offers a survey of American writers who lived in Paris in the early 1900’s. Before World War I and during "the roaring twenties," Paris was at the center of many transnational avant-garde movements including Cubism, Futurism, Expressionism, Dadaism, Constructivism, and Surrealism. This course aims to explore the ways in which the radical innovation of these writers’ methods reflects the various movements of these years in painting, music, film and dance. We'll read selections from Gertrude Stein, Mina Loy, Djuana Barnes, H.D., Sherwood Anderson, James Joyce, and Hemingway among others.

This course is taught by Linda Voris, an Assistant Professor in the Literature Department where she specializes in 20th and 21th century Anglophone literature, especially poetry. Professor Voris is a Stein scholar and has published several articles on the uses of a painterly analogy in interpretation of Stein's work. She teaches courses at AU on literary Modernisms and modern painting, and is interested in what we learn by understanding the painterly envy evinced by so many Modernist writers.

Black Popular Culture in Washington, D.C. (AMST 340-001)
This course will be discussing various American pop cultural formations including hip-hop, film, go-go, blues/jazz, speculative fiction, spoken word, crime fiction, politics, print news, and new digital media as they take shape within the very specific context of Washington, D.C., a city that's been majority Black for much of the 20th and 21st centuries. The course’s goal is to critically examine the concept of "blackness" as it appears in these various popular cultural formations and also consider the way Black people have influenced and engaged these genres in Washington, D.C. There will be several special guests throughout the course including D.C. politicians, radio personalities, artists, entrepreneurs, and authors. The class will also take around the city trips to explore "Black Popular Culture in Washington, D.C." The class is designed to allow students to engage with D.C. in a very tangible and exciting way.

This course is taught by Nikki Lane, a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology at AU. She is a cultural and linguistic anthropologist who studies American popular culture broadly, Black queer studies, and urban anthropology. Her dissertation is about Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer women in Washington, D.C., particularly the leisure spaces that they inhabit and the way talk about and make use of the city's landscape.

Tags: American Studies Dept,Students
Publication:
Photos: 0
Contact Name:
Contact Phone:
Contact Email:
News Photos: 642B4961-AE8B-84A0-CD21CA26A3CC3ABD
Profile:
Media:
newMediaIDList:
newsId: 6182E80B-C8CF-5DC6-B6B40332045E8BC1
Title: American Studies Day 2014
Author: Allison Pierce and Katharina Vester
Subtitle:
Abstract: American Studies Day featured student research and faculty presentations.
Topic: Humanities
Publication Date: 04/22/2014
Content:

The American Studies Program would like to thank everybody who participated in or attended American Studies Day 2014, and for making it a success!

American Studies Day was held on Wednesday, April 9, in the Battelle Atrium. We hosted four main events: two paper presentation sessions, a panel delivered by one of the spring 2014 classes, and a talk from our keynote speaker, Jeffrey Pilcher, as well as lunch and an evening reception.

The day started at 12:30 p.m. with the students in Katharina Vester’s senior seminar Interpreting American Culture presenting their individual research projects over lunch. The papers by Estephanie Amaro, Matt Cekutta, SJ Jeong, Allison Pierce, Jon Rich, Samantha Theriault, Lindsay Sandoval, and Daylyn Weppner discussed video games, country music, Beetle advertisements, the Occupy movement, the space program, the commodification of hipster culture, and the promotion of white values in “feel good” movies. The audience helped advance the projects by asking challenging questions and offering comments and insights.

In Monique Laney’s panel “Science Fiction and American Society,” students went up in small groups to discuss various aspects of Sci-Fi films, such as time travel, flying cars, artificial intelligence, and special effects. They not only explored how Americans imagined their future but also how Sci-Fi films provide commentary on the present.

In our Best American Studies Papers of 2013/2014 panel, five contestants competed for the award: Erica Reinhard with “Drugs on Screen: Tobacco and Popular Media,” Jared Kroening with “The Vampire Mystique & The Problem that has No Reflection: Vampires in Conversation with Second Wave Feminism,” Sean Donovan with “Vampires on the Frontier: White Fear in Curse of the Undead,” Lindsay Sandoval with “Icing on the Cupcake: Baking, Blogging and the Promise of New Domesticity,” and Cienna Breen with “Queer Representation in Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Willow Rosenberg and Tara Maclay.” The award, together with a $100 Amazon gift card, went to Sandoval, with Breen as the runner-up.

Lastly, Jeffrey Pilcher joined us from the University of Minnesota. His talk, “Burrito Madness: How a Mexican Street Food became an American Icon,” explored the history of the wheat tortilla, its ascendance to the burrito, and its reception in the U.S. We ended the day with a reception catered by Chipotle.

It was an entertaining, informative day, and we would like to thank our presenters, audience, and supporters again. See you at American Studies Day 2015!

Tags: American Studies Dept,Students,Research
Publication:
Photos: 0
Contact Name:
Contact Phone:
Contact Email:
News Photos: 63AA77C8-06BB-6788-6FC99EA6918A93DA
Profile:
Media:
newMediaIDList:
newsId: 614A6BD7-B8D6-8580-C6351DDE5E957FF1
Title: WPI Honors Democratic Nominee for DC Mayor
Author:
Subtitle:
Abstract: Muriel Bowser, an SPA alum, received an Alice Paul Award during the Women and Politics Institute's graduation ceremony.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 04/22/2014
Content:

SPA Dean Barbara Romzek, left, and Connie Morella, right, former congresswomen and ambassador-in-residence at the Women & Politics Institute (WPI), welcome Muriel Bowser, an SPA alum and Democratic candidate for DC mayor, at WPI's graduation exercises in the Katzen Arts Center.

Bowser received an Alice Paul Award during the ceremonies. Paul led a successful campaign in the early 20th century for women's suffrage that resulted in the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibiting gender discrimination in the right to vote.

Tags: School of Public Affairs,Women and Politics Institute,Government Dept
Publication:
Photos: 0
Contact Name:
Contact Phone:
Contact Email:
News Photos: 6199E636-F270-DA5C-36691F1CEE3DC17E
Profile:
Media:
newMediaIDList:
newsId: 3B05298F-B502-AD76-3AA1811C228D44DA
Title: AU Continues to Lead Fight against Global Sweatshops
Author:
Subtitle:
Abstract: American University among first 20 schools to sign on to Bangladesh accord.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 04/21/2014
Content:

On November 10, 2000, American University became a Workers Rights Consortium affiliate, landing it among a group of the first universities in the United States to join the then-new organization dedicated to advocating for the safety and fair treatment of apparel workers in factories around the world.

Now 14 years later, AU continues to lead the fight against global sweatshops and their dangerous working conditions as it recently became one of the first 20 universities to sign on to the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh. The President’s Office made the announcement through a campus-wide memo.

The accord is an independent, legally binding agreement among apparel companies, retail signatories, and worker representatives that seeks to improve factory safety through a three-part program which includes independent factory inspections, public reporting of inspection results, worker training, and resources for factory improvements during a five-year period.

The university’s signing on to the accord comes at a critical time for worker safety in Bangladesh. Recently, three Bangladeshi workers died instantly when construction materials and the walls of different floors of the under-construction building Captex Garments Ltd. fell on them. April 24 marks the one-year anniversary of Rana Plaza collapse in which at least 1,129 people died.

By signing on to the accord, AU joins the company of Brown, Duke, Columbia, Cornell, Georgetown, New York, Penn State, Syracuse, and Temple universities, as well as the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Washington–Seattle, and the University of Wisconsin–Madison, among others.  

The AU End Deathtraps Coalition, a student group, first brought the accord to the university’s attention last November. AU’s Project Team on Social Responsibility, Business Practices and Service considered the accord and the issues involved over the course of several months. Their review included a visit by the executive director of the Fair Labor Association (FLA), who delivered a presentation on the FLA and addressed the concerns about worker rights and safety related to recent garment factory fires in Bangladesh.  

Last month, the project team met with three members of the AU End Deathtraps Coalition, who presented comprehensive information on the situation in Bangladesh, the related initiatives sponsored by the FLA and the WRC, and the response by the U.S. apparel industry, particularly university licensees that are producing collegiate products in Bangladesh. Project team staff also conducted independent research on the issue and provided additional resources and information to the team members.

“We were very grateful for the opportunity to present our case to the project team, and we felt that the presentation that we gave and dialogue that we had with them afterwards were our best opportunities to present a strong, comprehensive case that allowed us to showcase the thought and research that went into our recommendation,” said Katie Plank, one of the students who presented to the project team. “The project team was very receptive to hearing our point of view and asked important, thoughtful questions, and I'm glad that we had a chance to help provide the information that went into crafting the recommendation for this decision.”

AU's licensing agent will notify all current licensees that, if they produce, source, or procure AU-licensed apparel from or in Bangladesh, they must subscribe to the accord within 30 days in order to maintain their licenses.  

Subscription to the accord for will be a requirement of all current and future licensees that produce, source, or procure AU-licensed apparel from or in Bangladesh.

“The members of the AU End Deathtraps Coalition are proud to be a part of a university that has demonstrated such a strong commitment to worker's rights,” Plank added. “The fact that AU is on the cutting edge of this movement, as the 17th school to make this change, shows that AU continues to be a leader among American colleges.”

Members of the AU community may ask questions about the accord and the university’s decision to sign on to it at the Spring Open Forum with President Kerwin and Board of Trustees Chair Jeff Sine at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, April 22.

Tags: Media Relations,President,Social Justice,Featured News
Publication:
Photos: 0
Contact Name:
Contact Phone:
Contact Email:
News Photos: 3B4D872B-F4B2-C7F0-2B112A8A1E10499A
Profile:
Media:
newMediaIDList:
newsId: 9E3A6929-D3B0-EDDC-8DE80361206F2370
Title: Providing Access to the Arts
Author: Abbey Becker
Subtitle:
Abstract: Alumna Brooke Kidd founded Joe’s Movement Emporium, a community-based performing arts center.
Topic: Arts
Publication Date: 04/21/2014
Content:

When Brooke Kidd’s friends mentioned they needed a dance space to rehearse, she answered the call. Kidd, who graduated from AU with two bachelor’s degrees in ’91—international relations and an individualized degree from the College of Arts and Sciences combining dance and African studies—and a master’s degree in dance in ’98, founded Joe’s Movement Emporium as a response to a community need.  

With some experience working for nonprofits and a desire to start a community-based performing arts center strong in dance, Kidd launched Joe’s in 1995. She chose the community of Mt. Rainier, a small community on the border of Washington, D.C., in Prince George’s County, Maryland, as the home base for Joe’s due to its need for arts education. “I intentionally chose a community near D.C. that had problems with access to the arts,” she says.  

Kidd came up with an idea for a space like Joe’s after traveling as an undergraduate to Cameroon, where she saw examples of performing arts centers that were more “open-door-oriented” than a large facility. She enrolled in the master’s program for dance to further develop her ideas about dance education, especially teaching it in a community setting. She managed a teaching contract as a graduate student staffer for a year that hosted arts classes in 15 different D.C. public housing communities.

Now in its 18th year, the nonprofit performing arts center provides education, production, and artists’ services for a collective of 24 professional artist groups. “We’re a business environment for arts companies, where they can retain their original identities and share space,” says Kidd.  

Joe’s started in a single, vacant storefront. Between 1997 and 2006, the organization expanded to three storefronts on 34th Street in Mt. Rainier. In 2007, Joe’s relocated to a renovated space in a vacant 20,000-square-foot facility around the corner. The $3.2 million capital project funded three new studios, a large lobby and theater, an arts education center, and five individually leased artist studios. 

While Joe’s has grown exponentially since its inception, initially Kidd wasn’t sure how the organization would fare. “When you open something like this, you don’t know what to expect,” she says. “It’s an evolving experience.” 

The organization offers year-round arts education programs, in addition to rehearsal space, performances, and events of all kinds. “We added an afterschool program in response to the community’s request,” she says. “This part of the county was lacking out-of-school services for elementary and middle school kids.” 

Many of the programs at Joe’s center around movement, which Kidd considers an essential part of human development. “People feel so good after moving,” she says. “In particular, when working with special populations, you can see the impact even more clearly. Dance and dance-related arts are lifestyles that people can adopt for the long-term; fitness tends to be more sporadic.” 

In addition to working with children, Joe’s provides dance classes to disabled adults who lead a sedentary life. “With regular movement, their independence and capacity just blossom,” Kidd says.

Kidd believes in the equalizing power of dance. “It creates social structures of inclusion that really balance everything. There’s no hierarchy in dance,” she says. 

That idea can be applied to those who don’t consider themselves particularly coordinated. “There’s an old African proverb,” she says. “‘If you can talk, you can sing; if you can walk, you can dance.’”

Tags: Performing Arts,Performing Arts Dept,Alumni
Publication:
Photos: 0
Contact Name:
Contact Phone:
Contact Email:
News Photos: 9E8131D8-030F-3274-19FB2FE88D0EEA55
Profile:
Media:
newMediaIDList:
newsId: 370ED3FA-C7B1-DFDF-B40413643147962E
Title: AU Creates New First-Year Living-Learning Programs
Author:
Subtitle:
Abstract: Increased interest in current programs emphasizes American University’s academic, experiential learning strengths.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 04/21/2014
Content:

Friday, April 25, prospective members of AU’s class of 2018 will descend on campus for Freshman Day, the university’s premier event for admitted new students and their families.

When AU welcomes the entire freshman class to campus for fall 2014, a large number of them will likely participate in one of AU’s signature living-learning programs—programs in which students live and learn together in communities based on a common interest or area of study. 

More than 5,000 first-year undergraduate applicants for this fall—approximately one-third of AU’s applicant pool—indicated interest in the new AU Honors Program, the Frederick Douglass Distinguished Scholars Program (FDDS), or the Three-Year Scholars (bachelor’s degree in three years) programs. Numerous prospective AU students applied to several programs at once, writing and submitting anywhere from eight to 14 essays in the process.

The university has responded by creating two new living-learning programs for first year students: AU Scholars and Community-Based Research Scholars (CRBS). With the addition of these new programs, close to 70 percent of AU’s class of 2018 will have the opportunity to participate in a living-learning program.

The New Programs

The AU Scholars and CBRS programs are one-year, living-learning experiences for first-year students offered for the first time this fall. The university anticipates enrolling 300 AU Scholars and 60 CBRS.

AU Scholars is for high-achieving students who demonstrate an interest in research, internships, and other academic challenges. Scholars will be placed in fall semester Honors general education seminars; work collaboratively with faculty and other scholars to investigate historical, societal, or controversial issues focusing on a thematic area; and will pursue a spring research or creative project that is an extension of their fall theme.

The Community-Based Research Scholars program offers early engagement with community partners—such as nonprofit organizations working to improve social or environmental conditions in the D.C. area—culminating in a significant research project in the spring semester with a single community partner. The program has an interdisciplinary, collaborative focus with foundational research skills acquired by the end of the first year.

Students are selected for either program based on their application, experience, and essays. Both programs offer also offer additional for-credit components. With high academic achievement in their early years, these students may pursue Honors in the Major. If successful, Honors in the Major will be noted on their transcripts upon graduation.

Why More Interest Now?

Living-learning programs aren’t exactly new—at AU or anywhere else. For decades, universities across the country have been offering opportunities for like-minded students to live and learn together, whether it be a residence hall in which all students speak the same non-English language or a house that takes sustainable living practices to a higher level.

So why the increased interest now and why at AU?

While it’s not likely because AU applicants have developed a sudden love of writing essays, AU’s assistant vice provost for undergraduate admissions Greg Grauman says that the trend is likely the combination of several factors.

“A lot of the interest in our programs, particularly FDDS, Honors, and our three-year degree programs, is because they provide students with unique educational opportunities not found at most institutions.”

But Grauman also says AU’s reputation as a leader in experiential education—the university consistently ranks among the top schools in the nation for the number of students who participate in internships and study abroad—likely has something to do with it.  

“Students are attracted to the benefits inherent in attending a university located in Washington, D.C., and subsequently seek out programs that will help make the connections between classroom work and real world experiences in the city,” Grauman said.

Benefits Embedded into the AU Experience

Perhaps the most significant advantage of participating in a living-learning program is the nearly-instant social support system it provides. This is especially critical for new students who are living away from home for the first time in their lives.

“Initially, the advantage of participating in these programs is that you are connected with students who share similar academic interests,” Grauman said. “You have an immediate commonality, which helps build initial relationships on your residence hall floor, as well as easy-to-access study partners.”

Fortunately, AU’s size and strengths mean that all students—regardless of whether they participate in a living-learning program—have access to the social and experiential benefits offered.

“AU is uniquely placed as a medium-sized school, providing the benefits of a small liberal arts school—such as close attention and faculty relationships—while also having the advantages of a larger research institution,” Grauman said. “This, coupled with our long history of excelling in internships and study abroad ensures students that the opportunities they gain from a living-learning experience are actually embedded into all four years of their AU education.”

Tags: Academics,College of Arts and Sciences,First Year Programs,Frederick Douglass Scholars Program,Media Relations,Office of the Provost,School of International Service,School of Public Affairs,University Honors Program,Featured News
Publication:
Photos: 0
Contact Name:
Contact Phone:
Contact Email:
News Photos: 383861A8-9C45-9D18-5E35A66BA14AE84B
Profile: 1882709A-9D90-951E-805E0309649E7AE6
Media:
newMediaIDList:
newsId: 2CCA47CE-AFF2-5EFB-E4E6EAE6D06E2290
Title: MBAs, Designers, Doctors Create Medical Prototype for Children
Author: Laura Herring
Subtitle:
Abstract: Students in Kogod’s Full-time MBA collaborate with designers, medical professionals to develop and launch a medical diagnostic tool.
Topic: Business
Publication Date: 04/21/2014
Content:

It looks like a children's kaleidoscope: a small plastic tube, fitted to a smartphone. But instead of seeing tumbling bricks of color when you peer inside, this instrument takes a measurement of the viewer's pupil, sending diagnostic information to the phone. Information that doctors will use to diagnose everything from the level of opiates in the bloodstream to a mild concussion.

It's called a pupilometer. The breakthrough device's design, and correlating app, is the result of months of collaboration among Full-time MBA students, students from the International Design Business Management (IDBM) program at Finland's Aalto University, and a team from the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation at Children's Hospital.

Right Brain + Left Brain

Beyond developing a useful tool to aid in diagnosing children, the pupilometer project has provided the opportunity for all involved to stretch beyond professional comfort zones.

For the MBA students, this meant approaching a project from with increased creativity.

"This project has definitely given me a new perspective," said Nick Elefante, MBA '14. "[The Aalto students] really made me realize that a good product isn't just about cost and profit, but [also] about user experience and paying attention to what the customer needs."

While the business students were learning to see beyond spreadsheets, the design students were getting a crash course in more left-brained activities.

"We are going to come away from this experience with a better appreciation for time management," said Alex Rodichev, an IDBM student. "Our friends at Kogod were so efficient in all our dealings with the client and were very respectful of their time and ours."

In addition to two in-person team meetings—one in Helsinki in October and one in D.C. in February—the teams have weekly Skype calls and maintain an internal blog to share progress.


MBAs and Aalto students working on the pupilometer project.

"This process has definitely shown me the importance of keeping detailed documentation of every step of a project," said Nazgol Zand, MBA '14. "The planning goes so much better when we're all able to look at the same notes and reflect on changes together."

"Having the opportunity to work together, in-person, even a little, has made such a difference," said Rodichev. "International communication is easier than ever, but there are still some things that weekly Skype conversations just can't cover."

Good Apples

While MBA students aren't experts in medical device construction—and a designer might not be the most well versed in creating a business plan—together, the three teams created a functional device that will enter the market quickly and be of use to a broader audience.

"It's been a phenomenally fruitful set of partnerships," said Dr. Julia Finkel, the project's medical director and a specialist in pediatric pain management and opioid management.

"By tying together the device design with the business plan development and market strategy, we've been able to cut the project timeline down significantly."

Instead of designing and constructing a prototype in the lab alone, Finkel and Carolyn Cochenour, the lead technician on the project, worked in tandem with the students, soliciting ideas along the way.

"It was really incredible to see the process through the eyes of someone without medical training," said Cochenour. "[Their questions] opened our eyes to a possibility or usability issue that we wouldn't have thought of and allowed us to fix those early in the process."

The Finished Product

While the primary market for the pupilometer will be medical professionals in a hospital setting, it's hoped that the product will also be a useful field diagnostic tool for first responders and medical volunteers with less formal training.

"At its most basic, the pupilometer is a screening tool meant to guide follow-up treatment," Finkel said. "While we're focusing on use in hospitals, its connection to a smartphone means it could be used anywhere, from a high school football field to the scene of a roadside accident."

Determining the best way to get the pupilometer into the market and create a sustainable business plan were the MBA students.

Pending regulatory approval, Finkel and Cochenour expect the device to enter the market within the year. The pair also hopes the collaboration among the schools and hospital will continue.

"Projects like this are an incredible opportunity for our students and our partners," said Mark Clark, Faculty Program Director for the Full-time MBA. "A successful collaboration produces good fruit for all involved and really shows our students what kind of professional partnership to strive for."

Tags: Kogod School of Business,Featured News
Publication:
Photos: 0
Contact Name:
Contact Phone:
Contact Email:
News Photos: 2D0DE7F8-FC46-6E17-5427FC76D2227914
Profile:
Media:
newMediaIDList:
newsId: A28C521F-C9D6-B180-BB4827EE3CBF165B
Title: Increasing the Green Behind the Scenes at the AU Library
Author:
Subtitle:
Abstract: Library personnel work hard behind the scenes to reduce the carbon footprint of our work—and to encourage eco-conscious behavior in our visitors and employees.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 04/18/2014
Content:

The American University Library Green Team formed in 2011 to promote sustainable and ecologically friendly practices throughout the Library. Over the past three years, the team has engaged in many initiatives to help green the Library, and the campus. It has transitioned staff members to workstations with eco-friendly power strips, installed rechargeable batteries in clocks, increased energy efficient lighting throughout the building, and moved all of the public printers to 100% recycled paper. These efforts culminated in Bender Library's consecutive first place finishes in the university's Green Office Program (2011/12 and 2012/13). The Green Team has also hosted activities aimed at sustainability including do it yourself solar chargers for cell phones, and has helped distribute plants throughout the public and staff areas of Bender Library.

The Green Team also plays an integral role in promoting green practices like recycling and composting throughout the building. Bender Library was the first academic building on campus to use compost bins, diverting organic waste from landfills. The Green Team is currently running a Green Workspace initiative designed to encourage staff to participate in sustainable activities and create a sustainable workplace. Through all of these efforts, and participation in campus-wide events like Earth Day, the Green Team is working to make sure that the Library is a sustainable environment for the staff, students, faculty, and alumni of American University.

Tags: Library,Library Services,Music Library,New at the Library,University Library
Publication:
Photos: 0
Contact Name:
Contact Phone:
Contact Email:
News Photos: A2D673AF-953B-420B-F02F3045FDC42EA3
Profile:
Media:
newMediaIDList:
newsId: 6AAE335F-BB31-617B-F4FA7D60D82085D5
Title: Charting AU's Carbon Neutrality Progress
Author:
Subtitle:
Abstract: SOC film students document carbon neutrality research trip to Costa Rica.
Topic: Environment
Publication Date: 04/18/2014
Content:

American University’s plan for carbon neutrality is among the most ambitious in the country. According to Chris O’Brien, director of the Office of Sustainability, AU will achieve the green goal by 2020.

Released May 14, 2010, AU’s plan came two years after President Neil Kerwin signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. The initiative began in 2006 when 12 presidents gathered at Arizona State University to commit to carbon neutrality and research around climate change.

Graduate students from AU's School of Communication, School of International Service, Kogod School of Business, and School of Public Affairs, recently participated in a team research project addressing AU's commitment to achieve carbon neutrality by 2020.

MORE: Earth Month Schedule of Events at AU

In an attempt to mitigate carbon emissions from students’ study abroad travel and faculty/staff commuting to campus, AU has invested in the Costa Rican government’s “Payment for Environmental Services” program, which pays landholders to protect rainforests in biodiversity hotspots and vulnerable watersheds.

Led by O'Brien, Dr. Ken Conca (SIS), and Professor Larry Engel (SOC), the team traveled to Costa Rica to assess the program’s environmental and social impacts, along with the overall effectiveness of AU's payments for these ecosystem services.

SOC Film and Media Arts master’s students Jazmin Garcia and Nick Zachar, also joined the group in Cost Rica. The two aspiring filmmakers documented the students as they interviewed government officials, local organizations, and landowners.

The interdisciplinary research project will work to provide AU with a recommendation on whether to continue the current project in Costa Rica or to look for alternatives going forward.

“As an institution of higher education in the nation’s capital, it’s incumbent upon us to lead climate change mitigation strategies,” O’Brien said. “We’re training the next generation of leaders, and it’s critical our students understand the problems and be a part of the solution.”

Tags: School of Communication,Global Environmental Politics,Environment,South America,Study Abroad
Publication:
Photos: 0
Contact Name:
Contact Phone:
Contact Email:
News Photos: 9379C3B4-C44A-09F5-CC1FBF1CE7C02AA4
Profile: 06D34A3C-D64B-CC58-883AA584D9631E00,07CF0367-B12A-8F23-30105411A4199B4B
Media:
newMediaIDList:
newsId: 9C943CCB-FD38-40DC-A6DF72FC1E2E02BF
Title: Former Florida Senator to Address BP Oil Spill at Reilly Awards
Author: Dave DeFusco
Subtitle:
Abstract: Former Senator Bob Graham will discuss lessons from the BP oil spill as part of an event honoring recipients of the William K. Reilly Awards for Environmental Leadership.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 04/18/2014
Content:

Former Florida Senator Bob Graham will discuss “Four Years Later: Lessons Learned from the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill” as part of an event honoring the recipients of the William K. Reilly Awards for Environmental Leadership on Thursday, April 24, at 7 p.m. in the McKinley Building at American University.

At the event, Dan Esty, former commissioner of Connecticut’s Department of Environmental Protection, and Nsedu Obot Witherspoon, executive director of the Children’s Environmental Health Network, will receive the William K. Reilly Award for Environmental Leadership for their contributions to environmental and energy policy and to the protection of children’s health.

William Reilly, administrator of Environmental Protection Agency during George H.W. Bush’s presidency, will also provide remarks. Reilly was co-chair with Senator Graham of the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling to investigate the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. The blowout at the BP Deepwater Horizon rig claimed 11 lives and spilled 206 million gallons of oil, and is considered to be the biggest environmental disaster in U.S. history.

In addition, Kavita Mak and Jennifer Fernandez, both candidates for master’s degrees in public policy at the School of Public Affairs, will be awarded scholarships for both their academic achievements, as well as their commitment to a career addressing critical environmental and energy issues facing the nation.

“Dan Esty and Nse Obot Witherspoon exemplify Mr. Reilly’s pragmatic and inclusive approach to strengthening environmental laws, policies and practices,” said Daniel Fiorino, director of the Center for Environmental Policy at American University. “Thanks to them, we are charting a safer, healthier course for the energy we consume, the air we breathe and the water we drink.”

During his 18 years in the Senate, Graham helped begin the process of restoring the Everglades. As chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, he opposed the Iraq war. He recently traveled to Cuba to discuss oil-spill prevention and preparedness.

Esty is the Hillhouse Professor of Environmental Law and Policy at Yale University and is the director of the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy and the Center for Business and Environment at Yale. In 2011 he was appointed commissioner of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection by Gov. Dannel Malloy. In 2002, he received the American Bar Association Award for Distinguished Achievement in Environmental Law and Policy. Before joining Yale, he held senior positions in the Environmental Protection Agency.

As executive director for the Children’s Environmental Health Network, Witherspoon has been a staunch voice for children’s environmental health over the past decade in Washington, D.C. She also serves as a member of the Environmental Health Sciences Roundtable for the Institute of Medicine, the Friends of Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health, a strategy advisor for the California Breast Cancer Prevention Initiatives, and a board member for the Pesticide Action Network of North America.

Tags: Environmental Policy,Public Administration,School of Public Affairs
Publication:
Photos: 0
Contact Name:
Contact Phone:
Contact Email:
News Photos: 9D2A8909-01D5-1F92-BD3AAC741862D1A5
Profile: 754E94B7-F05A-EB27-5EB3F776794B6BCD
Media:
newMediaIDList:
newsId: 97D53B36-FC72-E4FB-D789E1CD0453D019
Title: Area Universities Recognize AU Senior for Service
Author: Patrick Bradley
Subtitle:
Abstract: Jennifer Johnson's commitment to Latin America is turning heads.
Topic: Achievements
Publication Date: 04/18/2014
Content:

Adopted Grandfamily

Jennifer Johnson has many grandmothers, and two of them just gained U.S. citizenship. Johnson’s more than proud; a graduating AU senior, she tutored the two women on how to pass the citizenship exam.

And she’s done it entirely in Spanish, a new language for her as of college.

Every Saturday morning, Johnson wakes up early, treks out to Washington, D.C.’s Columbia Heights neighborhood, and teaches her class of adopted family members at the Central American Resource Center, or CARECEN.

Johnson can’t help but smile when she thinks of her students. “It’s like having 15 new Latina grandmothers,” she said. “It’s really great.”

Other people are smiling about her work also. When Washington-area universities recently gathered at a conference dedicated to service, they named her one of just two Service-Learning & Community Engagement Undergraduates of 2014.

Early Trajectory

Johnson doesn’t only teach her grandmothers; she’s involved in service work both in the District and abroad. On Wednesdays, she visits the Next Step Public Charter School, where she prepares —again, entirely in Spanish—young adults for the GED.

During her seven months spent studying in Mexico last year, she volunteered in a rural indigenous village, implementing sustainable development projects aimed at helping women and children.

Johnson believes her first moments at AU were the catalyst for her passionate work. While taking part in the Freshman Service Experience, she visited CARECEN. “That’s where I first heard about issues affecting the Latin American community, issues I had never heard about,” she said.

Director of AU’s Center for Community Engagement & Service Marcy Campos believes Johnson’s passion for her work touches every organization she’s a part of. “The people at the sites are so excited to have her there,” she said. “Her commitment and character is conveyed by the quality of work she puts in with them.”

After her inspiring FSE run, she took advantage of AU’s Community Service Learning Program, which allows students to gain academic credits by coupling volunteer hours with courses. Campos’ class, Latinos of the DC Metropolitan Area, requires 20 hours of community service; Johnson decided to do 40.

“You can’t learn everything through work, but you also can’t learn everything from a book,” Johnson said of her decision. “Being able to put the theory and the practice together leads to a much deeper understanding of the issues and the situation.”

Though Campos teaches the course regularly, she was particularly struck by one end-of-semester reflection journal about a student’s experience—Johnson’s. "I was just so moved when I read it,” Campos said after seeing Johnson’s humility on paper. “This is what you hope happens in a service-learning class. The awareness of privilege, the empathy you develop, and the insight it gives you."

Opportunities Knocked


Even with all her care and attention to the community, Johnson is graduating in only three years as part of both the School of International Service's Global Scholars Program and the University Honors Program. She credits these programs with providing her a diversity of experiences, from a summer spent in Ecuador and Costa Rice to her current three-days-a-week internship at the Mexican Embassy.

“My experience wouldn’t have been nearly as positive or as rich as it’s been,” she said, “I work with Latin American issues every day within my country. . . .The opportunities AU has given me have been utterly phenomenal.”

Campos sees Johnson as a prime example of how a student receives so much in return from serving others; for her, the benefits expand far beyond graduation. “There are multiple ways to be engaged in the city and community,” Campos explained. “If you find the right match, it's something that will be essential to your full college experience and to preparing you professionally also."

As Johnson looks toward life after AU, she recalls how her 15 adopted Latina grandmothers have shaped her time—and she wouldn’t have it any other way. While she appreciates her recent award, her work has always been just about one thing: understanding and serving others.

“It was an honor even to be nominated . . . but for me it’s never felt like service. These are the kind of things I enjoy doing and like to do in my free time,” she said. “I like to practice my Spanish and help the immigrant community because they deserve it.”

Tags: Campus Life,Campus News,Community service,Community Service Center,Office of Campus Life,School of International Service
Publication:
Photos: 0
Contact Name:
Contact Phone:
Contact Email:
News Photos: 98D11B2B-DC01-FDAD-E99228F39FF90DD9
Profile:
Media:
newMediaIDList:
newsId: 961FDD16-0CD2-94A4-46642477A8B02F7A
Title: Hunker Down for Finals!
Author:
Subtitle:
Abstract: With finals just around the corner, the library will once again be offering 24/7 hours. Having all night access to study space, computers, library materials, and group work areas makes end of the semester workload a little bit easier to manage.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 04/18/2014
Content:

It is crunch-time once again. Presentations, papers, and projects are all due soon—and finals are on the horizon. Good news for all you night owls. Bender Library is moving to extended hours this weekend, when the library will stay open until midnight both Friday (4/18) and Saturday (4/19). Our 24/7 schedule begins on April 20th and provides a comfortable place for those all-night research and study sessions through the end of finals.

Our service desks, including Borrowing and Media Services will still close at 9pm on Friday and Saturday nights, but students are welcome to make use of study space and available materials all night long. Additionally, the self-check machines are accessible whenever the building is open.

After midnight, the building is accessible only to students and requires an AU ID for entry. Students must keep their AU ID on them at all times while in the building.

More information is available on our Overnight Hours page.

Tags: Library,Library Services,University Library
Publication:
Photos: 0
Contact Name:
Contact Phone:
Contact Email:
News Photos: 9638B405-C9A5-B5D6-50B4EABC2819A0BC
Profile:
Media:
newMediaIDList:
newsId: 6A02EED2-FA6E-7357-C5A1BE883BBEEA38
Title: Green Roofs Keep Pollutants out of Urban Waterways
Author: Rebecca Basu
Subtitle:
Abstract: Professor’s research shows green roofs capture pollution while reducing energy use.
Topic: Research
Publication Date: 04/17/2014
Content:

Rooftop gardens, or green roofs, are known to reduce energy use in buildings and catch stormwater runoff, but new research from American University shows that green roofs also absorb pollutants. The research, which takes on an area that previously has not been explored widely by scientists, has implications for how cities can improve the health of their rivers, streams and estuaries.  

“The potential is that institutions and businesses could reduce their pollution footprint,” said Stephen MacAvoy, assistant professor of environmental science at AU. “If large numbers of green roof systems were installed throughout Washington, D.C., they would contribute greatly to keeping harmful nutrients and suspended solids found in runoff from entering the city's waterways.”

MacAvoy works with D.C. Fire & Emergency Medical Services, which received a $300,000 grant for installation and monitoring of green roofs at its fire stations, financial analysis of energy savings and incentives, and research on the ecological impacts.

Significant Pollutant Capture

On the rooftop at D.C.’s Engine 12, green roof panels cover approximately 2,200 square feet. Instead of soil, a new kind of foam technology by the company Aqualok holds plants. MacAvoy and his students conduct chemical analyses, and after five storms over seven months, their results showed significant capture of pollutants, specifically suspended solids of 78 percent and nitrates by up to 82 percent. In fact, the green roof systems became more effective as time passed. After seven months, they were absorbing more pollutants than at the beginning.

Fewer pollutants entering the Anacostia River, a key waterway in the Mid-Atlantic region, is significant. D.C. has declared it wants the Anacostia "fishable and swimmable" by 2032, and reducing sediments and nutrients will help achieve this goal. “Bacteria and algae rob the river of oxygen, and low oxygen kills most invertebrates. Sediments clog fish gills and bury bottom-dwelling life forms and fish eggs,” said MacAvoy.

Fire Stations = Ideal Subjects

Keen on going green, D.C. Fire & EMS conducts sustainable projects such as collecting rainwater and rooftop gardens. Fire stations provide ideal subjects since green roofs can cool the floor directly below the roof. Each station is a two-story building with a non-air conditioned ground floor garage and a heavily air-conditioned second-floor dormitory. Results comparing utility data on Engine 12 from 2013 and 2012 showed a 5 percent annual reduction in electric consumption after installation of the green roof.

The setup is fairly simple: Pans collect untreated runoff and flow through green surfaces of planted roof panels, unplanted roof panels and a ground-level "bioswale," which looks like a large square rain barrel stuffed with plants (grasses and ferns). Plant varieties growing in a three-to-four inch thick foam matrix capture and absorb nitrogen from rainwater. MacAvoy’s analysis shows fewer suspended solids and nitrates are leaving the bioswale as well. This year, the research will be expanded to include three more green roofs of both foam and soil.

A Model of Best Practices

“At D.C. Fire & EMS, we play an active role in practicing sustainability. Through our efforts with green roofs, we hope to determine a kind of ‘best practices’ approach that can benefit residents, businesses and our colleagues in the municipality, for which kind of green roofs work best,” said D.C. Deputy Fire Chief David Foust. “Green roofs must yield economic benefits and ecological performance to be truly effective and desirable for property owners and municipalities.”

With help from Glenn Williamson, owner of Amber Real Estate LLC, and civil engineers, an economic assessment on energy savings and potential stormwater credits will be done when the project concludes next year. The assessment will provide an estimate of stormwater credits that could be received through public incentive programs and how water fees could be reduced.

“The idea is for businesses or institutions to know clearly what must be invested up front and what kind of actual returns can be generated to repay or offset that investment,” Williamson said.

All of the economic and environmental findings will be reported back to the grantor, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. MacAvoy and Williamson also have been invited to present the findings at the annual Cities Alive sustainable building conference in Nashville later this year.

“Fewer chemicals entering our waterways is crucial to ecosystem health,” MacAvoy said. “People want to live in nice, clean cities, and greening our cities must be a priority for all of us.”

Tags: College of Arts and Sciences,Environment,Environmental Science,Media Relations,Featured News
Publication:
Photos: 0
Contact Name:
Contact Phone:
Contact Email:
News Photos: 6A5A035C-E2B7-C5C7-535EA370A83FDF3F
Profile: 1EB41AE6-D89C-B29C-7BB15A658ADB485E
Media:
newMediaIDList:
newsId: 614E3063-BC30-BA1C-A9AEEE32CEAA42D1
Title: Exploring the Science of Sports
Author: Abbey Becker
Subtitle:
Abstract: Visit AU faculty and students at the USA Science and Engineering Festival April 26 and 27.
Topic: Science
Publication Date: 04/17/2014
Content:

While many visitors descend on D.C. in April to see the cherry blossoms, it will likely be for a different reason on April 26 and 27. The USA Science and Engineering Festival will take over the Walter E. Washington Convention Center for a weekend of science, engineering, technology, and math-inspired exhibits, workshops, and hands-on activities aimed at people of all ages. American University will run a booth for the third time this year, with a “Science of Sports” theme. Past years’ themes included the “Physics of Music” and “Science in the Kitchen.” 

The effort this year is supported by the departments of biology, chemistry, public health, physics and athletics. Various faculty, staff, and students contribute to the preparation of AU’s exhibit, and students will staff the booth at the event. “We’re committed to STEM outreach, and the best way to get strong science students at AU is through this kind of event,” says physics professor Nate Harshman, who led the event the past two years. “It’s something that responsible and future-minded scientists should do. It creates a more scientifically literate population.” 

The AU booth will showcase the collaboration between the departments toward science-based sports demonstrations. Public health is bringing Jell-O molds in the shape of small brains that can be used to observe what types of materials best protect this vital organ. Booth visitors can clip on fingertip pulse monitors brought by the Biology Department to measure their pulse and level of oxygen in their blood before and after they run in place for a few seconds. AU will also provide Styrofoam heads with acceleration sensors to illustrate how concussions can be prevented with helmets. 

This year, Nancy Zeller, director of the biology teaching labs at AU, is leading the university’s participation, with help from Harshman. She was involved in the planning for one of the festivals two years ago. “We calculated that about 1,500 people came by our booth. That means 1,500 people were excited about American University science,” she says. “It was a great way to advertise that science is a very important part of AU.” 

But attending the festival isn’t just about getting the AU science word out; it’s an opportunity for AU students to have a hand in promoting science education. “A lot of our students feel that STEM outreach is really important,” says Harshman. “And the students have a really good time. It’s fun to see them work to communicate complex information to a lay audience. These young kids see them as ‘big kids,’ so it’s funny to see the kids’ eyes light up and the students’ eyes light up.” 

Faculty members encourage students to be part of the festival to strengthen the AU science family’s unity. “We want students to know that they’re an integral part of this community. We’re trying to offer as many opportunities as possible for students to get involved,” says Zeller. “Our students are great teachers and talented scientists.” 

If students are planning to attend graduate school, volunteering at the festival can help them show they have a continuing interest in the dissemination of science information. “Graduate schools want to see that students are committed to the broader endeavors of science,” says Harshman. “Outreach demonstrates that they’re committed to broader impacts and that they embody the ethical standard of scientists.” 

The hands-on methods that AU brings to the festival helps students connect with the event’s attendees, particularly in an increasingly tech-driven world. “It can seem like our technology really is like magic, and that’s something we want to avoid,” says Harshman. “We want them, even if they don’t become scientists, to realize that people do these things. We want them to know that science, engineering, and math are fun and are great ways to be curious as a job.”

Tags: Biology,Biology Dept,Chemistry,Chemistry Dept,College of Arts and Sciences,Physics,Physics Dept,Public Health,Athletics
Publication:
Photos: 0
Contact Name:
Contact Phone:
Contact Email:
News Photos: 61F15EFD-DB9B-7F37-36AC465BE3462675
Profile:
Media:
newMediaIDList:
newsId: 60080A28-AC3A-1DE4-3D10E19BCCECA75E
Title: Jesse Reed, BSBA '16, Leads Championship Basketball Team in Points and GPA
Author: Max Chilkov
Subtitle:
Abstract: Jesse Reed, BSBA ’16, earned Patriot League Scholar-Athlete of the Year award on his way to leading the Eagles the their first NCAA Tournament birth since 2009.
Topic: Business
Publication Date: 04/17/2014
Content:

The life of a college basketball player is far from simple. Finding a way to balance practice, weight lifting, film sessions, and games can mean athletes barely have time to sleep, much less study.

But Jesse Reed, BSBA '16, makes it look easy. The leading scorer on this season's Patriot League Championship team—leading to American's first NCAA Tournament birth since 2009—Reed also proved himself a leader off the court, earning the Patriot League Scholar-Athlete of the Year award.

New Season, New Goals

After a disappointing 2012-2013 season, finishing with a record of 10-20, few believed the Eagles had any chance of competing for a Patriot League title in 2013-2014. With Mike Brennan replacing long-time head coach Jeff Jones and the loss of key seniors, the season seemed to be defined by uncertainty before it even began. Preseason rankings predicted the Eagles would finish at the bottom of the league, but Reed and his teammates had different plans.

"We were upset about [the rankings], but at the same time we didn't prove anything," said Reed. "It's understandable that they picked us last but we just used it as motivation."

The sophomore recommitted himself to his craft, improving his scoring average from 3.7 points per game to a team-leading 13.8.

Reed's maturation proved essential, applying concepts from Coach Brennan and from his schoolwork to self-improvement, athletically and academically. 

"I felt more comfortable with the position I was in and just being able to slow things down, not try to force things and let them come to me," he said.

Scholar-Athlete of the Year

For a college athlete to be successful on the court, he or she must be diligent off of it. The Patriot League Scholar-Athlete of the Year award honors players for high academic achievement.

"I was shocked at first; I had no idea I would even be eligible for [the award]," he said. "But to receive it was a tremendous honor."

No stranger to hard work, Reed's upbringing taught him the value of education: "My parents instilled in me from day one: academics first."

But Reed has worked hard to juggle the two, attributing his successes to late nights in the library and sacrifices in other aspects of his life. But in the end, it's all been worth it to him.

"Being a college athlete, being able to balance sports and school…gives you a sense of self-pride," Reed said. "Knowing that you can handle this, there's not much you can’t handle."

Finding Support at Kogod

As much as Reed's life centers around basketball, "Kogod is a great place to be," he said. "I go [to the business school] a lot more to do my studying than the library, because there is a sense of comfort."

As an athlete, Reed has been able to apply the skills and habits he's developed on the court to help him academically, citing commonalities between sports and business school.

"In the Kogod School of Business… you have to be able to interact with people, lead an audience or a group," he said. "That's what you have to do in sports."

Sights on Next Year

Reed isn't dwelling on his achievements. Everything that he's been able to do has only inspired him to do more in his remaining two years at AU.

"Getting that taste of success makes you want to have success everywhere," he said.

Athletically, Reed hopes he and his fellow Eagles can continue to dominate the Patriot League, bringing home next year's trophy as well.

But Reed refuses to let his championship aspirations distract him from his post-graduate career. He intends on maintaining his stellar GPA and having a job offer upon graduation, if a professional basketball career isn't an option.

As for next season's hardware, Reed hopes to follow fellow AU Eagle Alexis Dobbs and her back-to-back Scholar-Athlete of the Year awards by securing a second of his own.

"What [Alexis] did was unreal. For her to show that it's possible to [be a good student and athlete] but you got to keep up the hard work, makes you want to achieve it."

Tags: Athletics,Kogod School of Business
Publication:
Photos: 0
Contact Name:
Contact Phone:
Contact Email:
News Photos: 60A3D5A2-E8C3-EDCC-F203AD35385F3571
Profile:
Media:
newMediaIDList:
newsId: FCC6DC9A-BD94-8619-49ECFE6DD71D8312
Title: Talk on School Violence Fifteen Years After Columbine
Author:
Subtitle:
Abstract: Lynn Addington, an associate professor in the Department of Justice, Law & Criminology, suggested that the Columbine incident constituted a cultural shift in how the public viewed school violence.
Topic: Research
Publication Date: 04/15/2014
Content:

Lynn Addington, an associate professor in the Department of Justice, Law & Criminology, presented the talk, “Cops, Cameras and Students Under Surveillance: The Long-term Effects of Columbine and Deadly School Violence," as part of Georgia Southern University's 2nd Annual Criminal Justice Lecture on April 10.

Addington said that while the shootings at Columbine High School in 1999 were not the first act of deadly school violence in the United States, the incident constituted a cultural shift in how the public viewed school violence.

“This change occurred largely due to the pervasive and graphic media coverage spurred by cable news channels and the emerging role of the Internet as a news source,” she said.

The fear and concern generated by Columbine, she said, prompted a rash of demands for greater safety, including the use of visible security measures in public schools. However, relatively little is known even now, she said, about the use of school security across grade levels or about schools that opt to use particular measures, such as cameras or metal detectors.

“Critics argue the overzealous use of security measures in relatively safe schools can negatively impact students and their school environment,” said Addington. “In contrast, advocates point to the necessity of these same measures in troubled schools struggling with serious violence.”

Tags: Justice, Law & Society
Publication:
Photos: 0
Contact Name:
Contact Phone:
Contact Email:
News Photos:
Profile: 00DE4B7C-9244-708C-5A8D71722D5F24B4
Media:
newMediaIDList:
 
newsId: A775946C-BE26-99F8-F3BCFAFAB8B5203E
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.”

Tags: Students,School of Communication,Center for Environmental Filmmaking,Film and Media Arts,American Today
Suggested Home Page:
Profile:
Photos: 0
Success Story Photos: A77818DC-DA12-3E1C-EFFF6DE02502F78C
Media:
newsId: AA1092CC-B2AC-A672-86893E068F4707D1
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."

Tags: Alumni,American Today,Athletics,Washington DC
Suggested Home Page:
Profile:
Photos: 0
Success Story Photos: AA3428F7-B7C5-AB49-0F0AF9AEB2475707
Media:
newsId: 904CB299-B701-6AFB-82BEFC5174731C76
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.

Tags: Faculty,American Today,Science,Biology,Research,Environment
Suggested Home Page:
Profile:
Photos: 0
Success Story Photos:
Media:
newsId: 90250D3F-F30A-9C1A-890D7ADAF416E8A8
Title: Saving the Dead Sea in Israel
Author:
Subtitle:
Abstract: Gidon Bromberg is restoring an ecosystem with Jews, Christians, and Muslims.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 02/19/2009
Content:

 The Dead Sea is dying.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tags: Alumni,American Today,Middle East,Global,Law
Suggested Home Page:
Profile:
Photos: 0
Success Story Photos: AF8BFD34-C126-0784-E214DBB642ED948A
Media: