Electric Forest Announces 2019 Lineup Featuring The String Cheese Incident, STS9, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, & More

first_imgElectric Forest has announced the lineup for their 2019 event, set to take place from June 27th through 30th at Rothbury, MI’s Double JJ Resort.The diverse lineup will include three unique String Cheese Incident shows as well as headlining performances from ODESZA on Thursday, Kygo on Friday, Bassnectar on Saturday, and Zeds Dead on Sunday. In addition, Alison Wonderland, Ganja White Night, Gramatik, NGHTMRE & SLANDER PRESENT: GUD VIBRATIONS, STS9, Lettuce, Gramatik, Brandon “Taz” Niederauer, Ghost Light, Ghost-Note, Quinn XCII, Spafford, Tierra Whack, Anomalie, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades, KNOWER, Mansionair, Minnesota, Ookay (LIVE), Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Twiddle, Ripe, Said The Sky, TAUK, The Knocks, Mungion, The Nth Power Presents: Earth, Wind & Power and many more will join the Forest Family in Rothbury this year.In addition to a plethora of musical performances, Electric Forest 2019 will also feature The Curated Events Series, daily yoga with Hannah Muse, The Silent Disco, Plug In Programs and activities, and many more ways to connect to all of the energy and excitement The Forest has to offer.Wristbands and lodging packages will be available to the general public this Friday, December 7th here. For more information on Electric Forest and the full lineup, head to the event’s website.last_img read more

Nice guys can finish first

first_imgIt turns out nice guys can finish first, and David Rand has the evidence to show it.Rand, a postdoctoral fellow in Harvard’s Department of Psychology and a lecturer in human evolutionary biology, is the lead author of a new paper, which found that dynamic, complex social networks encourage their members to be friendlier and more cooperative, with the possible payoff coming in an expanded social sphere, while selfish behavior can lead to an individual being shunned from the group and left — literally — on his or her own.As described this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the research is among the first studies to examine social interaction as a fluid, ever-changing process. Previous studies of complex social networks largely used static snapshots of groups to examine how members were or were not connected. This new approach, Rand said, is the closest scientists have yet come to describing the way the planet’s 7 billion inhabitants interact daily.“This model is closer to real life; thus the results are closer to real life,” Rand said. “What this is showing is that a key aspect of real-world social networks is the dynamic component. The point of this paper is to say that those networks are always shifting, and they’re not shifting in random ways.“There are many nasty things that happen between people, but for the most part we are fantastically cooperative,” Rand said. “We do an amazing job of having thousands or even millions of people living in very close quarters in cities all over the world. In a functioning society, things like trade, friendship, even democracy itself require high levels of cooperation, and when everyone does it, you get good collective outcomes.”“Cooperation is a fascinating topic,” said Sociology Professor and Pforzheimer House Master Nicholas Christakis. “We see cooperation everywhere in the biological and sociological worlds, but it’s actually very hard to explain. Why do creatures, including ourselves, cooperate?“What our paper shows is that there is a deep relationship between cooperation and social networks. In particular, we found that if you allow people to rewire their social networks, cooperation persists in the population. I believe this paper is the first to show, empirically, how that relationship works. As humans, we do two unique things: We re-shape the social world around us, and in so doing, we create a better place for ourselves by being nice to each other.”To demonstrate how groups reach those good collective outcomes, the scientists, including Sam Arbesman, a former postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School, recruited nearly 800 volunteers, who, in groups of between 20 and 30, took part in the study by playing a simple game.At the outset, Rand said, each player begins with an equal number of points, and is randomly connected with one or more players. As the game progresses, players have the opportunity to be either generous, and pay to give points to each player they are connected with, or be selfish, and do nothing. Following each round, some players are randomly given the opportunity to update their connections, based on whether other players have been generous or selfish.The findings, Rand said, showed that players re-wired their social networks in intriguing ways that helped both themselves and the group they were in.  They were more willing to make new connections or maintain existing connections with those who acted generously, and break connections with those who behaved selfishly.“Because people have control over who they are interacting with, people are more likely to form connections with people who are cooperative, and much more likely to break those links with people who are not,” Rand said. “Basically, what it boils down to is that you’d better be a nice guy, or else you’re going to get cut off.”Intriguingly, the study also uncovered a correction mechanism inherent to social groups. Those who were initially noncooperative, Rand said, were found to be twice as likely to become cooperative after being shunned, suggesting that being cut off from the group acts as a sort of internal discipline, ensuring that cooperation remains high within a social network.“As a result, when you have a network that’s dynamic, you see stable, high levels of cooperation, whereas in a static network you see a steady breakdown of cooperation,” Rand said.As important as the study’s findings are, the research is also notable for its innovative experimental design. Rather than recruit test subjects to come to his lab for testing, Rand relied on Amazon Mechanical Turk, an online labor market created by Amazon.com, to enlist nearly 800 volunteers from across the globe.“Lab experiments are incredibly valuable because they let you very tightly control the experimental conditions, which is helpful to demonstrate causality,” Rand said. “But lab experiments also tend to be very time-consuming and expensive, because it’s difficult to get people to come in. The Internet offers an amazing opportunity for streamlining the process.”Developed several years ago, Mechanical Turk is an online labor market where employers can hire workers to perform what they call “human intelligence tasks” — simple, repetitive ones that are easy for humans — such as describing the content of a picture, transcribing audio or translating text from one language to another — but are frustratingly difficult to program computers to perform.“It’s a crowd-sourcing tool,” Rand said. “What we’re doing is crowd-sourcing experimental social science. We are now an ’employer’ on Mechanical Turk, but instead of asking people to label images, we’re hiring them to take part in our experiments.“From a philosophical perspective, I think this is an amazingly important technology for the social sciences, because it’s democratizing,” Rand continued. “You no longer need to be at a university that has a big lab, with a huge research budget and someone maintaining a subject pool.”Though the paper is one of a very few to use Mechanical Turk to recruit volunteers, Christakis said the site has already had a wide-ranging impact on the social sciences.“This is a whole new way of doing social science and conducting experiments,” he said. “By creating a virtual laboratory, it broadens the scale and speed of these experiments. In principle, one can do an experiment with thousands of participants, and we are able to control how participants interact and behave in ways that were unimaginable even five years ago. We think this will do for the social sciences what the invention of the microscope did for biology.”last_img read more

Abraham Zaleznik, HBS professor, 87

first_imgHarvard Business School Professor Emeritus Abraham Zaleznik, a renowned authority on leadership and social psychology, died in Boston on Nov. 28 at the age of 87. At the time of his death, he was the School’s Konosuke Matsushita Professor of Leadership.As a member of the Harvard Business School (HBS) faculty for more than four decades, Zaleznik made important and lasting contributions as an innovative, prolific, and distinguished scholar, researcher, teacher, course developer, and author of 16 books and more than 40 articles. In all his roles, Zaleznik was never reluctant to go against the grain of conventional wisdom in order to nurture new ideas and perspectives.He is survived by a daughter, Dori, of Newton, Mass., and a son, Ira, of Lexington, Mass. A funeral has been held. No decision has been made regarding a memorial service.Read the full obituary.last_img read more

Belfer Center and CID among top three university think tanks

first_imgTwo Harvard Kennedy School research centers have been recognized as among the best think tanks in the world.The Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs is ranked number one and the Center for International Development (CID) as the third best university-related think tank in the 2011 Global Go To Think Tanks Index, released on Jan. 19 by the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program at the University of Pennsylvania.“We are very pleased that the Penn survey has acknowledged the impact of the Belfer Center and other university-based think tanks,” said Graham Allison, director of Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. “And we are especially proud to be recognized for engaging policy makers effectively in our core areas of security and international relations.”The rankings are the culmination of an eight-month process involving almost 800 expert panelists, 150 journalists and scholars, and 120 academic institutions.More than 30 distinct rankings are included in the 2011 report, including those based on region, area of research, and special achievement.The Belfer Center takes the top spot in the university-affiliated think tank rankings. It is also ranked 25th among all think tanks in the United States and 17th on the list of security and international affairs think tanks globally. CID is ranked third on the university-related list. It is also rated 19th among all U.S. think tanks and fourth on the list of international development think tanks.The report’s author, James G. McGann, director of the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program in the University of Pennsylvania’s International Relations Program, notes the critically important role that think tanks play in the 21st century.last_img read more

James Q. Wilson

first_imgVisible order was the point of Wilson’s famous article on the broken window (with George L. Kelling, 1982), which, left unrepaired, suggests that nobody cares and invites mischief and further transgression. Policing is a matter not only of catching violators but also of preventing intimidation and even annoyance to decent citizens from drunks, panhandlers, vagrants, and rowdies. People read situations from appearances, and Wilson’s political science did the same, collecting styles, types, and varieties from the surface of things and working inwards rather than moving from universal causes to particular applications.Wilson also worked from the bottom up. In Political Organizations (1973) he distinguished four types according to whether the costs and benefits were narrowly or widely concentrated, a matrix that focused on the consumer or client of the organization as opposed to the administrator. Recalling the “amateur spirit” of his early work, he particularly addressed “purposive” public interest organizations whose members ignore economic incentives and volunteer. In his masterwork Bureaucracy (1989), based on his famous course Government 150, he considered the distinct cultures of different agencies, refusing to damn bureaucracy as such but looking at bureaucrats to see what they do and how they think. An organization easy to run is hard to change, he remarked in The Investigators (1978), a study of the FBI. Its discipline is as much demanded from below as enforced from the top.Preoccupation with crime brought Wilson to reflect on the importance of character, a middle term between the imperatives of human nature and the choices of individuals. He wrote the book that he considered his most important, The Moral Sense (1993), in which he borrowed from Aristotle on habit and from the moral side of Adam Smith. A good character, he argued, is one that looks on incentives morally, as either to good or evil. He once said: “Tobacco shortens one’s life; cocaine debases it.” The word “debases” was his judgment not only as a citizen but as a political scientist.In the best Harvard tradition, Jim Wilson was a brilliant classroom lecturer. He rendered extraordinary service to Harvard during the troubles of the late Sixties, helped to fashion the Core curriculum, and was the most skillful and accomplished chair of the Government Department in his lifetime. It was in gratitude as well as admiration that he received an honorary doctorate of letters from Harvard in 1994. He is survived by his wife Roberta—with whom, after a life of watching humans, he wrote Watching Fishes—by his children Matthew and Annie, and by five grandchildren.Respectfully submitted,Michael J. SandelSidney VerbaHarvey C. Mansfield, Chair James Quinn Wilson, Henry Lee Shattuck Professor of Government, taught at Harvard from 1961 to 1987. Perhaps the most prominent political scientist of his generation, he died in Boston, Massachusetts, from complications of leukemia, on March 2, 2012.He spread his mind over most of political science: as a pioneer who defined or redefined the study of political parties, city politics, policing and crime, and bureaucracy; as a judge of American government scholarship in his textbook; as a master of both the current in our politics and the permanent in human nature; as skeptic of political science methodology and all grand theory; and as student of the morality of character. His work was known to every social scientist and he received nearly every high honor the political science profession can bestow. He was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2003, the U. S. Government’s highest civilian award—marking a rare point of accord between the American Political Science Association and President George W. Bush. Though he tackled the most contentious issues and published articles almost exclusively in magazines, he was a model of the modest scholar.Jim Wilson was born on May 27, 1931, grew up in Southern California, and attended the University of Redlands, graduating in 1952. After serving in the U. S. Navy, he took his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago in 1959, where he taught before coming to Harvard in 1961.Although Wilson never sought the limelight, his scholarly work followed a sequence of related topics, each of them beginning from a political issue more important to citizens than to political scientists. His first book, Negro Politics (1960), concerned blacks in city government, from which he proceeded to write City Politics (1963) with Edward Banfield, a life-long friend and colleague at Chicago and Harvard. In a far-seeing work, The Amateur Democrat (1962), he studied the original “amateur spirit” in city clubs that was soon to fire up the McGovern reformers in the Democratic Party, then to jump across to Goldwater Republicans—groups now called the party “base.” These activist amateurs he contrasted with party professionals, who worked the city machines with less lofty motives. Wilson largely took the side of the professionals, who kept their cool in the face of passion and kept their distance from unworkable principles.After urban politics Wilson turned to the police, also unstudied by political scientists, and Varieties of Police Behavior (1968) appeared, a classic not only for its title. His focus was the cop on the beat, whose unenviable task is rather to restore order when it has lapsed than to enforce the law with set procedures. That everyday uncertainty makes it difficult to administer from above according to a plan and ensures that government in this aspect is about handling problems, not solving them. After the police it was natural to turn to crime, another political topic too hot for political scientists. Wilson wrote three books on this, one of them, Crime and Human Nature, with his Harvard colleague the psychologist Richard Herrnstein. His practical attitude began to earn him the reputation as a conservative, which he unsuccessfully resisted, for though he was skeptical of gun control, he was also wary of guns. As opposed to most criminologists, he found study of the “root causes” of crime to be useless, once declaring he had “never seen a root cause.” He preferred to study the visible behavior and character of criminals.last_img read more

Harvard GSD awards 2013 Wheelwright Prize to architect Gia Wolff

first_img Read Full Story Mohsen Mostafavi, dean of Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, is pleased to announce that Gia Wolff, an architect based in Brooklyn, New York, is the winner of the inaugural Wheelwright Prize, a $100,000 traveling fellowship dedicated to fostering new forms of architectural research informed by cross-cultural engagement.The Wheelwright Prize jury—Mostafavi, Yung Ho Chang, Farès el-Dahdah, K. Michael Hays, Farshid Moussavi, Zoe Ryan, and Jorge Silvetti—selected Gia Wolff from among 231 applicants from 45 countries, including Afghanistan, Brazil, Burkina Faso, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Nigeria, and Spain. Applicants were asked to submit portfolios along with a research proposal and travel itinerary, outlining an extended field investigation and its anticipated benefits for the field of architecture.Wolff is the first winner of the new Wheelwright Prize, an update of the Arthur Wheelwright Traveling Fellowship, which was established in 1935 and previously available only to GSD alumni. The original prize was conceived at a time when few architects traveled abroad, and for many early recipients—including Paul Rudolph, Eliot Noyes, William Wurster, and I. M. Pei—the fellowship financed travels that followed the tradition of the Grand European Tour.Wolff’s winning proposal, Floating City: The Community-Based Architecture of Parade Floats, proposes the study of the tradition of parade floats—elaborate temporary and mobile constructions that are realized annually in carnival festivals in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Goa (India), Nice (France), Santa Cruze de Tenerife (Spain), and Viarreggio (Italy).The $100,000 grant will fund Wolff’s research over the next two years.last_img read more

The future is now for FAS

first_imgFollowing the launch of The Harvard Campaign last month, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) plans in the weeks ahead to outline its own fundraising goals and priorities. Leading the way will be FAS Dean Michael D. Smith, who took office in 2007, shortly before a global financial crisis that had an unprecedented impact on Harvard’s largest School. In the years since, Smith has balanced a projected $350 million combined operating budget deficit, while maintaining the size of the faculty, increasing financial aid, and launching some important initiatives, including renewal of the College’s undergraduate Houses. Late this month, he will launch the Campaign for Arts and Sciences. Smith recently spoke about the priorities for the coming campaign and his vision for the FAS.GAZETTE: It’s been nearly seven years since you took the helm of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Can you describe where you see the FAS as being today, and where it’s headed in coming years?SMITH: I think the FAS is in tremendous shape right now intellectually. Although institutions of higher education as a sector are facing some shared financial pressures, stemming from both global economic instability and a weak federal funding environment, among other things, I think the FAS is managing those fiscal challenges.Intellectually, we have seen a re-emergence of initiatives that are being developed organically through our faculty. The work of researchers like Dan Schrag and Dan Nocera, for example, has generated a great deal of excitement around issues of energy and the environment. With their leadership, we are beginning to pull together the many resources we have — both in the FAS, but in the professional Schools as well — to address very important questions in that space.These efforts, however, aren’t limited to science and engineering. The faculty working groups that [Dean of Arts and Humanities] Diana Sorensen has put together, and the work they have done on the arts and the humanities, have given us a voice on the national and international stage on the future of the humanities. They are rethinking the curriculum and how we should be bringing this thinking to young students as they’re choosing a concentration.Going forward, I hope we will continue to be viewed as we are today: as an institution with broad-based excellence across many scholarship areas. But I also hope we get to the other half of our mission: to be known for our emphasis on teaching and learning, and for helping to answer the question of what higher education should look like in the 21st century. That needs to go beyond just curriculum and into the ways we are interacting with students in the classroom. What should our students be doing before they get to the classroom? How do we understand whether they are learning the material, and ensure they retain it? Those are the sort of questions Harvard can be a leader in answering.GAZETTE: You have made teaching and learning a priority in recent years, and it’s also a central theme of the FAS campaign. How do you see teaching and learning fitting into the FAS mission?SMITH: In my opinion, teaching and learning are central to our mission. We should be putting as much effort into those areas as we put into our research. I have dedicated a great deal of my deanship to supporting teaching and learning efforts.This is a particularly important time for Harvard’s voice to be heard on these subjects. There are a number of questions being raised about higher education’s place in the world today, and I absolutely think Harvard should be a leader in answering those questions. Over its history, Harvard has been a leader in the education “space.” Our faculty’s work on the “Red Book” in the 1940s influenced a large number of institutions across the nation and, eventually, around the world. I think we’re at a moment like that again, where we should be stepping up. It’s a different moment, with different questions being asked, but Harvard has done this in the past, and we should be doing this again.We can bring a range of expertise to the table that is unique compared with our peer institutions, and we have made changes to our institutional support structures to make information about the latest research on pedagogy and neuroscience available to more of our faculty, so those who are interested in doing something new and creative in the classroom know where to start. I have also strengthened the Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, so when someone has a creative idea we can measure whether it had an effect on the learning of our students. That kind of assessment needs to be built in from the beginningToday, we’re building on the combined knowledge of what’s happening in this space, but we haven’t had the institutional structures to do that in the past. We can then stand up and say to the world, this is what we’re working on, this is what we have found — you may want to adapt it for your student base or your particular curriculum, and this is how we can help.GAZETTE: Last year saw a major controversy in the FAS regarding academic integrity and other issues. What can the FAS do to recover from that, and what can administrators do to restore trust with the Harvard community?SMITH: On the trust issue, briefly, I think we are addressing that by getting out and talking — through conversations, discussions, and meeting with people. There’s no better antidote than bringing people together for honest, straightforward, face-to-face conversations, and that’s been happening.The larger issue, I believe, is academic integrity, and it’s not new. It’s been bubbling in academia for at least 10 years, with a number of people working on honor codes and similar issues. I’m proud of our community for having the hard discussions, for being willing to say we’re not doing as well as we should be.We need to consider how we can better communicate our standards of academic integrity, and why it’s important, in ways that are effective and that address the relentless change we see in the world today, and the ways technology is changing how people work and collaborate. We have also become a much more international community in recent years, and we know that the concepts of intellectual property and what you can and can’t use without attribution — there are vast cultural differences in the world.We need to dig into this, as our community has always dug into hard problems, and that’s what has happened over the past year. The answers are not always easy, they’re not going to come quickly, but that doesn’t mean we should stop trying.GAZETTE: House renewal has also been identified as a campaign priority, but it’s something you’ve been working on for some time. How important is House renewal in Harvard’s educational mission?SMITH: I believe strongly that residential education — the kind of education we have happening not only in our classrooms, but outside the classrooms, especially in the Houses — is critical for building the kinds of experiences and learning opportunities that will allow our student body to be successful and outstanding citizens in the 21st century.We started this process officially in 2008, but it was a topic of discussion among the leadership of the FAS as far back as 2007. In fact, when I took office, one of the first things that appeared on my desk was a review of the state of our Houses. One of the reasons this was such a priority for us was that, physically, some parts of the Houses, such as heating systems and electrical systems, needed work.As an eternal optimist, I decided that if we were going to tear some walls out, the right question to ask was where we should put them back that will best support the programs that run through our House system, and support the needs of the students, as well as other issues like safety and accessibility. One challenge for this type of project was how to balance the history of the Houses with modern needs — how could we make this still feel like a Harvard House, but have the conveniences — and support the needs of today’s students, and hopefully generations of students to come.Our first test project, Old Quincy/Stone Hall, opened last month, and has received nothing but glowing feedback. The spaces look wonderful, but more importantly, they are working right for what the students want and need, the programs we’re trying to run, and what the House masters and tutors are trying to accomplish.GAZETTE: One of the other challenges you’ve faced in recent years was the financial crisis. Despite large drops in revenue, you made a point of maintaining financial aid budgets. Why?SMITH: Shortly after I took over in 2007, I put in place a number of initiatives to more strongly direct how we were using our revenues and other resources in support of our academic plans, so when the financial crisis hit, we were already heading in the right direction.The financial crisis was still a major shock to the system. It had a huge effect on our endowment, which at that time provided more than 50 percent of the annual revenue coming to the FAS. We had to put together a plan to deal with reduced revenues, and it was a decision of mine to say everything is on the table except financial aid. I felt strongly that we had to find a way to continue to fund that, and to keep that program headed in the right direction.We had done a tremendous amount to invest in financial aid and have it truly help talented students realize that they could come to Harvard and take advantage of the opportunities we have here, and not be held back because of their family’s particular financial circumstances. It was having such a huge impact on our students and the kinds of talent we were bringing here that it was clear we didn’t want to interrupt that in any way.When you sit with some of the students — every year we have a dinner that brings together students who receive financial aid with the donors who provide the funds for their particular scholarship, and that is one of the most heart-warming events. We ask two students to stand up and talk about their particular circumstances, where they come from, their aspirations, and how financial aid is enabling them to realize their dreams going forward, and it’s just an amazing event. You see those sorts of things, and you know you’re doing the right thing.GAZETTE:  You also kept the size of the faculty stable.SMITH: Yes.  In the years before the crisis, the faculty identified the need to hire more tenure and tenure-track faculty members, in part because we needed to reduce the ratio of students to faculty. At the beginning of the crisis, we had approximately 100 more faculty members than a decade previously.We decided early on that maintaining the size of the faculty was critical, both to support teaching and learning [and] to support the ongoing intellectual enterprise.  As a result, we never stopped searching or hiring.  Although those activities certainly slowed during that period, we are back to precrisis levels.GAZETTE: Can you outline where things stand with the search for the next dean of Harvard College, and how interim Dean Don Pfister has done since stepping into that role?SMITH: First of all, Don is fantastic. Being in an interim position is always difficult, but he’s dug into the situations — both the opportunities and the challenges — in front of the College, so I’m extremely thankful for his service to the College and to our students.Don is a citizen of this institution in so many ways. He is an outstanding teacher in the classroom, but he’s also a former House master, and his experiences as someone who has been part of our community for a long time have been particularly helpful to draw upon.In regards to the search, I spent time this summer talking to faculty, College staff, and some of our alumni leaders. Those conversations are continuing this fall. I have a faculty advisory committee that has already met once to talk about what the opportunities and challenges are for the College, and how those translate into skills we might value in the next College dean.I’m also talking with students. I met with the Undergraduate Council last week. And there are a number of student town halls planned in which I will meet with students across the freshman Yard, the river Houses, and the quad Houses to hear their thoughts on what qualities and characteristics they feel will be important for the next Dean to have.At this point, I have hesitated to specify what characteristics I might be searching for because I want to hear from others. But there are some obvious ones. We want someone who understands the College and who cares deeply about the students’ experiences both in the classroom and outside the classroom, and who enjoys sitting down and talking with them.Right now we have a very clear calendar for the consultation phase of the process, but frankly that’s the easy part. Then the hard work of trying to whittle down the names and do some interviewing will begin, and it will be a very individualized process. So I couldn’t give a timeline for the back end of this type of search.GAZETTE: Are there any lessons you feel you’ve learned since taking over as dean?SMITH: There are a lot of lessons. Every day brings something new. I will say I undertook this job not pretending I would understand all the pieces of it. The FAS is a wonderful organization, but it’s also a very large and complex organization. Over the last 6½ years, I have tried to be a student of the FAS, and spend time exploring parts of it that I have not been to before. Everywhere I go, our faculty and staff are incredibly generous with their time, and are excited about the things they’re working on, and how it will have an impact on the education of our students, or on the generation of new knowledge.One of the other lessons I’ve learned, especially as we enter into this campaign, was about the impact Harvard has had on the world beyond Cambridge. I had known that Harvard has an exceptional alumni base who care about what we do. But when I talk with those individuals and hear their stories about the effect this institution has had on them, or the interactions they’ve had with our faculty, staff, and students, it takes you to a new level of appreciation for the impact the FAS has on so many people.last_img read more

No easy answer for health void in Syria

first_img Courses will train officials to help save those exploited globally Syria’s civil war, now under a fragile cease-fire, has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and left widespread devastation, including a health care system in crisis. Rebuilding that system will require replacing at least 1,000 doctors, nurses, and other health care workers who have disappeared or been killed, according to Jennifer Leaning, a Harvard expert on the health impacts of warfare. Leaning, the François-Xavier Bagnoud Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights, was one of three co-chairs named last month to lead a 15-month study by the medical journal The Lancet examining the war’s consequences for health and society. The Gazette asked her about the prospects for peace and recovery in Syria. GAZETTE: Are stability and peace essentially the best prescription that any doctor could write at this point for the people of Syria, almost under any leadership? And then a follow-up: What’s your sense of how promising this latest cease-fire is?LEANING: Depending on the extent to which the armed groups under [Syrian President Bashar al-]Assad engage in wipeout tactics under the cover of the cease-fire, it might hold for a bit. If, under the cover of the cease-fire, Assad is still going after rebel forces and opponents, then I believe you’ll see people trying to move out of the way. I think there is enormous hatred that may be fueled if Assad does not move quite carefully not to provoke it. We don’t know a lot about what people are thinking now in Syria. There’s kind of a stunned silence. People I know who are moderately well-connected are saying that there’s a dearth of formal news, but much on Twitter and What’s App. I think people are coming out of holes and trying to account for who’s dead and who’s missing and trying to find food and maybe trying to find ways to put a little bit of distance between them and the armed groups, let alone the regular forces of Assad.It seems quite fluid and unstable. In the longer run, if the cease-fire holds, it could be a very bitter stability and not really a peace. From what we know, Assad is reviled by the majority of the remaining population. There has been a high death rate and a high expulsion rate. So I think this is a temporary place, very tentative, not as dangerous as the acute bombardment of the war, but dangerous from the standpoint of uncertainty about what’s going to come next.GAZETTE: Because you have a little bit of breathing room here …LEANING: Coming back to your question the long way — is the prescription peace and stability? The prescription first is stability. But given how many promises have been broken and how much hate has been incited, peace is a long way off. And, in this stability that may come — it may still include low-intensity war and oppression — it’s a bit too tentative to be talking about return [of refugees], let alone rebuilding. So we’re in a limbo here. And I don’t believe anyone can predict how long this uncertainty will continue.GAZETTE: You’ve recently been named to a commission to examine unmet health needs in Syria. What can you tell us about the commission and its goals?LEANING: I’m a co-chair of the commission, with two other co-chairs from the American University of Beirut. This Lancet Commission is looking at the overall issues of health and population impacts of the war in Syria. The remit is quite broad. We had a meeting [in Beirut] in December for two days and there were about 20 commissioners there and another 20 authorities on various topics who were invited. The scope of what we are trying to cover is vast and important.GAZETTE: Is the commission looking solely at unmet health needs or will it go beyond that to touch other areas that affect health?LEANING: It covers a much broader range of issues. We’re looking at several thematic groups that need to be independently deployed but linked quite closely by us as the three co-chairs.One is going to look at the problems of delivering care in Syria and to refugees. It’s going to look at the destruction of the [health care] system and the strategies that were used by actors on many sides to try to reach people and take care of civilian populations in the context of a fairly brutal and lawlessly waged war. The cost of rebuilding under various projected scenarios will also be looked at: what has actually been destroyed and what the cost might be to begin to rebuild. It includes a significant loss of manpower, easily 1,000 doctors and nurses — and that’s probably an underestimate.There will be also a very large burden of disease, of injury, and long-term rehabilitation, because the survivors have amputations, paralysis, head injuries. The longer-term issues of rehabilitation are going to be extremely expensive and burdensome. Then there’s been destruction of facilities: hospitals, training centers, and universities. They need teachers. Over half of the population of Syria is elsewhere now, either in refugee centers or displaced within Syria, having lost everything and fled. Related New hope for imperiled children We have not yet been able to get in to know how much damage has been done, but what we can see — by satellite, by report — is taking Syria back at least 30 years in terms of its towns, its cities, and its health systems. The cost of just training people to fill the gap of the physicians, the nurses, and other ancillary health personnel who died is going to be enormous.GAZETTE: What other aspects will be examined?LEANING: There will also be a discussion of what help the outside world, the international humanitarian community, brought in to support the civilian population. Another big category is going to be on refugees and forced migrants and those internally displaced in Syria. That will look at the circumstances of the refugees in the host countries of the region as well as, in a more general way, the issues facing those en route and [moving] into Europe. An additional section will focus on what has been lost in Syria itself: the fracture of society and dismemberment of cities, the aerial bombardment of structures that include museums and libraries and institutions of learning and ancient ruins.Furthermore, we will address the geopolitics of the Mideast, the ways in which the Mideast has been plagued by autocratic governments and uneasiness about nation-state boundaries and alliances since the end of WWI … [and] the ways in which the Mideast has been considered either a basket case or a source of deep trouble by the North and the West in the last 60 or 70 years.These issues have contributed to a sense of isolation and intellectual impoverishment among many in the region … and a sense of avoidance from the other parts of the world. This is all very important when we think [about] the astonishing failure on the part of the international community to try to make something happen there.GAZETTE: Is it possible, or even preferable, to not pick sides as you’re going through this — to disentangle health from the political?LEANING: I think we will have to deal with politics because this war is highly complex with many actors. An argument would begin with the recognition that Syria was heading into crisis from the drought that really became intense in 2006-2007, and rigidity and an absence of options coming from the Assad regime. Then came the forced migration of Syrian farmers in the northeast because of economic collapse from the drought. Over a million of them came into the cities in western Syria, which are the Alawite cities and more pro-Assad. You had a million Sunnis who are not so pro-Assad come into these cities in 2010 and early 2011. They joined over a million Iraqis and other refugees from the Iraq and Afghan wars. This burden on housing and jobs and even food led to the riots in the streets, the graffiti, and then the unbearably brutal crackdown on the children and teenagers that Assad meted out in March in 2011. That was the spark that led to this popular uprising, which became this very complex internal war, which has become internationalized.So, had the international community cared enough to have paid attention, could there have been ways to stop the escalation as it was brewing in the years before 2011? Or even beginning in 2013, with the chemical weapons attacks? Could there have been an intervention that halted some of the slide into brutality?There will [also] be some conceptual contributions around how public health turns out to be an excellent way to look at war in all its parameters, if you take public health broadly, in terms of human well-being and human suffering. Another source of debate is going to be on the concept of early warning, in terms of a sentinel event that something bad is going on — the first case of polio at the start of an epidemic — and what modes of intervention could be brought to bear.GAZETTE: What about the return of the refugees?LEANING: Who’s coming back is going to be a very big question. Then, the cost of rebuilding is going to be immense. It’s going to take a great deal of money and where that will come from is another question.last_img read more

Worry in white, Christian America

first_imgShortly after the re-election of President Barack Obama in 2012, the conservative Christian Coalition sent an email to its members. It included a photo taken in 1942 of a white Christian family praying at the dinner table, patriarch seated at the head.The note below the photo read: “We will soon be celebrating the 400th anniversary of the first Thanksgiving and God has still not withheld his blessings upon this nation, although we now richly deserve such condemnation. We have a lot to give thanks for, but we also need to pray to our Heavenly Father and ask Him to protect us from those enemies, outside and within, who want to see America destroyed.”According to Robert P. Jones, the founder and CEO of Public Religion Research Institute, the note’s “apocalyptic ring” stems from the anxiety, fear, and anger of some conservative white Christians who he says have, in the space of a decade, moved from the mainstream to the minority in America. In a conversation Wednesday evening at Harvard Divinity School with journalist and political analyst E.J. Dionne, Jones laid out the data behind his claims, collected in his recent book “The End of White Christian America.”HDS Dean David N. Hempton (from left) opens the discussion as panelists E.J. Dionne and Jones listen. Jonathan Beasley/HDS.Jones characterized white, Christian America as representing centuries of cultural, political, and economic domination. Over the last couple of decades, however, demographics and culture have shifted dramatically.During the years of the Obama presidency, for instance, the percentage of Americans who identified as white and Christian declined from 54 to 43 — more than a percentage point every year. During this time, the United States “crossed from being a majority to a minority white Christian country,” Jones said. At the same time, support for the institution of same-sex marriage rose from 40 to 60 percent of Americans.,“If you are a conservative, white Christian, these numbers constitute a kind of cultural vertigo,” he said. “You’ve gone from being in the mainstream to [an era where that is] no longer true.”The changes in religious affiliation between generations of Americans are even more striking, Jones said. In 2016, 64 percent of those aged 65 and older identified as both white and Christian. Among 18- to 29-year-olds, the number was only 25 percent. Nearly 40 percent of young Americans claimed no religious affiliation at all.,“What turbocharges the cultural changes is the exodus of young people,” Jones said. “Those kids were raised in churches and left. By all measures, very few of them look like they’re coming back.”Moreover, conservative churches are now seeing declines that were once limited to progressive Protestant denominations. Jones noted that 23 percent of Americans identified as white evangelicals in 2006. In 2016, that number was only 16 percent.The numbers “explain why it feels like a fight to the death for some in the white, Christian world,” Jones said. They also account for a startling turnaround in the attitudes of so-called “values voters.” In 2011, the institute asked Americans “whether a political leader who committed an immoral act in his or her private life could nonetheless behave ethically and fulfill their duties in their public life.” At that time, Jones wrote, “only 30 percent of white evangelical Protestants agreed with this statement.” When the institute asked the question again in 2016, 72 percent of white evangelicals said that they believed “a candidate can build a kind of moral wall between his private and public life.”,The sentiment carried into the November presidential election, when around 80 percent of self-designated white evangelicals voted for Donald Trump — the most weighted support of any American religious constituency.“Donald Trump got the highest percentage of white evangelical vote since we began recording,” noted Dionne. “Before Trump, the personal life of a politician really mattered. After Trump, it really didn’t matter.”Both Dionne and Jones characterized the rightward trajectory of white Christians over the past 50 years in large part as a reaction to the gains of the Civil Rights, feminist, and LGBTQ movements, as well as to predictions that the U.S. will for the first time be majority nonwhite by 2042. As a result, the coalitions behind the country’s two major political parties look radically different.In 2012, “the Obama coalition looked like 30-year-old America,” Jones said. “The Romney coalition looked like 70-year-old America … Ten years ago, the GOP was 80 percent white and Christian. Today that’s 71 percent. We’re on a trajectory where we end up with a white Christian nationalist [GOP] and everyone else.”,Dionne noted that shifting demographics and the rise in religious disaffiliation created coalition management problems for Democrats that may have cost them the White House in 2016.“There was fear in the Clinton campaign that the young would be turned off [by talk of religion] and that there’s a lot of anger toward conservative Christians whom they see as inimical to who [liberals] are,” he said. “But not to talk to religious people was a mistake. [Methodism] was the most authentic piece of Hillary Clinton. If you want to carry Michigan and Ohio and Pennsylvania, you can’t do it with only a secular coalition.”Jones and Dionne spoke hours after news broke of the death of “America’s pastor,” the Rev. Billy Graham. Dionne called Graham’s death a “reminder of the era [Jones] writes about [that] in some ways is passing away.” Jones, who grew up a Southern Baptist in Mississippi, worked for Graham during the summer of his senior year in college. He noted that the evangelist refused to hold segregated rallies in the South, counted the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. among his friends, and tried to reach beyond his white audience.Jones contrasted his approach with that of his son, the Rev. Franklin Graham, and said that the two represented the response of white Christian Americans to two eras, 20th-century ascendancy and 21st-century decline.With Billy Graham, “There was a deep invitation to become part of Christian life,” he said. “Franklin Graham was public in his support for Trump, critical of Obama and Black Lives Matter, and in lockstep with the Christian right movement. Billy Graham’s death is the passing of an era when evangelical Christianity was more sure-footed — and more sure of itself. Now it’s more defensive.”last_img read more

Learning to find ‘quiet’ earthquakes

first_img New earthquake mapping system could save lives Ph.D. student to discuss earthquake research during the Harvard Horizons Symposium Understanding faults 3-D modeling captures complexities of fault lines Imagine standing in the middle of Harvard Square and the swirling cacophony that comes with it: the thrum of passing cars, the rumbling of trucks and buses, the chattering tourists and students, and a busker or two competing for attention. Now imagine trying to filter out all that noise and pick up a whisper from a block away, and you have some idea of the challenge facing seismologists. Related Marine Denolle, assistant professor of Earth and planetary sciences at Harvard, is one of several co-authors of a study that used computer-learning algorithms to identify small earthquakes buried in seismic noise. Other authors are Thibaut Perol, who has doctoral and master’s degrees from the Harvard John A. Paulson School for Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Harvard Institute for Applied Computational Science, and Michaël Gharbi, a doctoral student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The study was published in the journal Science Advances.While researchers hope the algorithm may one day allow for development of a system for real-time earthquake detection, the ability to track limited “micro-seismicity” should help scientists draw a clearer picture of a number of processes in the Earth.“We can use this data to map fluid migration, whether it’s magma or wastewater or oil,” Denolle said. “In addition, there is a redistribution of stresses after an earthquake … but it’s very difficult to understand that process because the only data points we have are the earthquake, so we have to infer our models from there. This can help give us a more complete picture.”Denolle said that studying the data will be easy — because it’s already being collected.“Seismometers are incredibly sensitive,” she said. “They can pick up signals from everything from a person walking to ocean waves hitting on the shore to the movement of a tree’s roots as it sways in the wind.“But the signals of these smaller earthquakes are buried in that background noise,” she continued. “This is really about signal detection. That’s why deep-learning techniques are useful — because you can extract features from the noise.”To build an algorithm capable of sorting through that seismic noise, Denolle and colleagues went to Oklahoma.There, researchers spent nearly two years collecting data on more than 2,000 recognized earthquakes. That data, along with seismic noise, was used to train a learning algorithm to pick out previously unidentified quakes hidden in the information.“We found that in a typical month, where there might be 100 earthquakes detected, there were actually at least 3,500 events,” she said. “That’s two or three orders of magnitude larger. So it works, but what we wanted to do was not only to detect earthquakes but to identify and locate them in real time for early warning systems.”,To provide that early warning, Denolle said, the system has to work fast, so Perol designed the algorithm at the heart of the system with efficiency in mind. Because of the massive amounts of data collected in the field — some data sets are as large as 100 terabytes — Denolle said traditional algorithms could take minutes or longer just to analyze the data from a single day.“But with the code we developed, it works in seconds,” she said.Denolle and her colleagues later applied the algorithm to include seismic data collected in Spain, and it was able to identify earthquakes, even though seismic stations were placed further apart and the quake waveforms were dramatically different from those used to train the system.“We applied this code blindly, with all the optimization for Oklahoma, and it still detected most of the earthquakes,” Denolle said. “That suggests that this code is very generalizable.”Going forward, Denolle said she hopes to refine the algorithm to improve the ability to pinpoint the location of earthquakes. She plans to conduct additional tests using larger data sets, like those collected around volcanoes.“This is level one. We need to detect earthquakes to understand what’s going on in the Earth,” said Denolle. “Looking at these smaller events might tell us something about bigger events … so this is fundamental.”This research was supported with funding from the National Science Foundation, Southern California Earthquake Center and the U.S. Geological Survey.last_img read more