Global Dimensions

News and notes from across NYU's Campuses and Sites

NYU Abu Dhabi Launches Fikret Science Club to Initiate Conversations on Science in Abu Dhabi

NYU Abu Dhabi’s Center for Genomics and Systems Biology (CGSB) is organizing an ongoing series of informal public gatherings through its newly launched Fikret Science Club. Driven towards promoting an understanding of the scientific world to the Abu Dhabi community, the Club will explore various topics under certain themes such as: conservation of cultural heritage through science, biological rhythms and mood, climate change and environmental adaptation, and science in society, among others.

Launching on September 25, 2018, at 7pm, these two-hour long discussions will take place every month at LARTE Restaurant in Manarat Al Saadiyat, Abu Dhabi. Members of the CGSB will lead the monthly gatherings, including the Associate Director of CGSB Operations at NYU Abu Dhabi Enas Qudeimat, and Manager of Administration for the Provost at NYU Abu Dhabi Tiffany Kilfeather. The first talk is entitled A hydrogen atom’s view of ancient mummies and art forgers, and will be led by Assistant Professor of Chemistry at NYU Abu Dhabi Maria Baias.

“The purpose of this Club is to generate interest in science among our students and the wider Abu Dhabi public, as well as introduce participants with an appetite for science to a variety of scientific disciplines to further enhance their knowledge. We’re looking forward to launching this Club, and we hope that the wider Abu Dhabi public will benefit from these interactive sessions and realize the significant role science plays in our everyday lives.”

Associate Director of CGSB Operations at NYU Abu Dhabi Enas Qudeimat

Fikret Science Club is open to both established science enthusiasts and those curious to learn more.

 

This post comes to us from NYU Abu Dhabi. The original can be found here.

NYU Florence Considers – Can Creativity Change the World?

On 24 September, NYU Florence will host a dialogue with Adama Sanneh, Co-Founder and COO of the Moleskin Foundation.

The Moleskine Foundation is a non-profit organization that believes that quality education is key to producing positive change in society and driving our collective future. Focusing on communities affected by cultural and social deprivation, the Foundation is committed to providing youth with unconventional educational tools and experiences that help foster critical thinking, creativity and life-long learning. With a special focus on Africa and its diaspora, the Foundation works closely with local organizations to fund, support and co-create a wide range of distinctive initiatives. Sanneh will present the new strategy of the Foundation and its main initiatives with a specific focus on the role that creativity and art can play in social transformation.

Adama graduated in Linguistic and Cultural Mediation from the University of Milan, he worked for several years in East Africa on rural development and humanitarian emergency programs. He obtained a Master in Public Management (MPM) from the Bocconi School of Management and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Geneva. After graduating, he worked as a management and strategy consultant for various public and not-for-profit organizations among which the United Nations, in education, social entrepreneurship and innovation. As Co-Founder and COO of the Moleskine Foundation, he is committed to promoting and advocating a more profound understanding of the African continent, focusing on the role that art and culture can play in social change.

NYU Shanghai Professor Zhang Zheng to Head Amazon’s New AI Lab in Shanghai

NYU Shanghai Professor of Computer Science Zhang Zheng has been appointed Director of Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) newly-opened Shanghai Artificial Intelligence Lab, where he will lead the company’s advanced research and development of deep learning.

AWS made the announcement on September 17 at the 2018 World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai, shortly after Zhang, a U.S. citizen, became the first foreigner to receive a work permit from the Pudong government allowing him to hold simultaneous positions at Amazon and NYU Shanghai.

An award-winning expert in the theories and practices of large-scale distributed computing and its intersection with machine learning, Zhang held significant positions at Microsoft and Hewlett Packard prior to beginning his career at NYU Shanghai in 2013.

At Amazon, Zhang, who will maintain his appointment at NYU Shanghai but take a leave of absence from his university duties, plans to build a lab that researches natural language processing with a special focus on Chinese. He also hopes to engage and develop an open-source deep learning ecosystem and advise Chinese customers on machine learning and AI adoption.

“I’m honored to join the AWS AI Lab Shanghai, where, together with some of the world’s brightest minds, we will have the opportunity to spur innovation, make technologies easy, fast, and useful for Chinese organization of all sizes,” Zhang said.

“One of the areas I will emphasize is fundamental research via a lab with global culture, and do so in tight collaboration with major universities in Shanghai, including NYU Shanghai,” he added.

Earlier this month, the Exit-Entry Administration of the Pudong Public Security Bureau, as part of its efforts to attract high-end foreign talent, issued Zhang its first-ever work permit allowing foreigners to work part-time in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone. NYU Shanghai Chancellor Yu Lizhong applauded the new policy.

“As a research university, NYU Shanghai encourages its faculty to conduct further research on cutting-edge frontiers and help cultivate global talent,” he said. “The fact that Professor Zhang can now play a key role in the research and development of a leading industry is of great value to the university, enabling us to strengthen our  partnerships with leading companies.”

Professor Zhang is not the first NYU Shanghai community member to take advantage of the government’s efforts to clear hurdles and enable more foreign citizens, particularly innovators and entrepreneurs, to work in Shanghai. Last June, Tyler Rhorick ‘17 became the first international student to obtain a work permit under a new policy allowing foreign graduates of Chinese-accredited universities such as NYU Shanghai to obtain visas to work in Shanghai’s Free Trade Zone. Rhorick now works in NYU Shanghai’s Student Life Office.

Another alumna, Lathika Chandra Mouli ‘17, an Electrical Engineering major, obtained a new “Talent Visa” from the Shanghai Yangpu district that is reserved for recent college graduates employed by startups or Fortune 500 companies. Mouli joined Energo Labs, a blockchain startup, as a project specialist after graduation.

 

This post comes to us from NYU Shanghai. The original can be found here

NYU Berlin Hosts Lecture by Mary Nolan

On 1 June, 2o18, NYU Berlin is hosting a lecture by NYU Professor of History Mary Nolan. Professor Nolan’s research interests include: Europe and America in the Twentieth Century, Cold War, history of Human Rights, Global economy in twentieth century, Modern German history; European women’s history. Her talk entitled, Still the American Century? End of the European Project?, will reflect upon the political crises unfolding on both sides of the Atlantic.

 

NYU Sydney Environmental History Instructor on Ants in Australia

This post comes to us from NYU Sydney Instructor Adam Gall, who teaches Australian Environmental History. 

We tend to see ants as objects of benign curiosity or perhaps annoying interlopers in our gardens or kitchens, but when the Argentine ant appeared in Australian cities and suburbs in the mid-twentieth century it was already understood as a significant pest species. These unassuming little brown ants were emerging at the time as a global problem, infesting people’s home in large numbers in Mediterranean Europe and the southern United States, and generating a great deal of attention among scientists and policymakers. They likely arrived in Australia via the global shipping networks that connected this country with the rest of the world, though their exact date of arrival remains uncertain. As they traveled to new places, they went through a population bottleneck. Instead of being surrounded by diverse, rival colonies of the same species (as they had been in their home range in northern Argentina), Argentine ants in Australia were part of one group and able to cooperate against native species and compete with them for food resources. Their arrival prompted an enormous effort to control their numbers and, in Sydney at least, to eradicate the ants entirely using pesticides.

In a new chapter, “On the ant frontier”, written for a forthcoming edited collection, Animals Count, I narrate the history of these creatures in Sydney. The focus of my research has been on records left by the Argentine Ant Eradication Committee, the government organ which oversaw the eradication initiative in New South Wales. These files are held in the State Archives in western Sydney, at a compound situated on the rural fringes of the metropolitan area. They contain all sorts of documents, including weekly reports from field officers, invoices for equipment, letters from members of the public, articles and pamphlets, as well as plans for publicity campaigns. At the forefront of the work were entomologists, the insect scientists who developed techniques for identifying and spraying Argentine ant nests, and their reports and expert contributions have been fascinating to dig into, too.

The fact that the ants were domestic pests put the campaign on a collision course with suburban middle-class people and their growing awareness of the environmental effects of organochlorine pesticides. Already in the 1960s there were household pets affected by chlordane spray, and people complained about this to the Committee and sought compensation. There are even stories of citizens standing in front of the spraying carts or refusing access to their land because they recognised–against the official positions of government and chemical companies–that these were dangerous poisons. This is all part of a global history, too: around the world, more and more citizens and activists tried to prevent the use of organochlorine pesticides, partly because of the influence of Rachel Carson’s powerful writing in The Silent Spring. There pesticides were used because they were seen as more environmentally friendly than other chemicals, and the eradication campaign was undertaken to protect people’s sense of everyday wellbeing and household amenity. Eventually, citizens and their representatives in the northern suburbs of Sydney–particularly in leafy Lane Cove–challenged the right of the ant unit to spray. In 1985 the campaign was formally ended by the state government, though the ants themselves are still seen as a huge threat to biodiversity in many places around the world.

I found this journey through the archives very interesting as a historical researcher, because it had a defamiliarising effect on the spaces of my everyday life. I grew up in this city in the 1980s and 1990s and had never heard about Argentine ants before beginning this work. I found that whenever I mentioned my topic to people I met, they would say things like ‘Oh, I remember the TV ads!’ and talk about the Trapper Tom character, and about collecting samples to send in to their local councils as kids. There is a whole submerged history of ordinary people–particularly those who were children in Sydney during the 1960s and 1970s–being really invested in the campaign against the ants through popular media.

As new campaigns begin against other species, such as fire ants in Queensland, it is fascinating to see patterns repeating. History prompts us to ask difficult questions about the decisions we are making now. While it is happening, we feel with great urgency the threat of insects infesting our homes or suburban spaces. But we should also recognise that there is usually much more going on, from the effects of changes to land use to the potential risks of whatever substances we use to control pest species.

Health and Human Rights Conference at NYU Florence – Conversation with CGPH Dean Healton

In this second post, Dr. Cheryl Healton, Dean of the College of Global Public Health and Professor of Public Health Policy and Management, talks with us about the third annual Health and Human Rights Conference at NYU Florence. In addition to her management responsibilities, Dr. Healton is responsible for building the College of Global Public Health’s academic, service, and research programs, which focus on domestic and international health with an emphasis on prevention, systems intervention, and innovation in public health practice. We are thrilled to share her perspective and insights on this important topic.

1. Can you tell us what the vision is for this conference and why it is important?

When I first joined NYU, I was excited by the various efforts going on university -wide in the area of human rights. I knew the Global Institute of Public Health, as we were called then, needed to become active in this area. Three key events happened that made it possible. First, and most important, I was approached by HealthRight International about forming an alliance. After much negotiation and the help of former EVP Robert Berne and the NYU legal office we signed a Memorandum of Agreement with them to collaborate on curriculum, research, and practice. We provided a physical home for them and we now employ the Executive Director, Dr. Peter Navario, who is an inspiring leader. Second, I met Joanna Pozen, referred to me by John Sexton our former President, who is an expert in health and human rights and was uniquely qualified to help us build this area. She also is an expert on women’s health and human rights, a subject near and dear to my heart. Finally, I got to now Ellyn Toscano, site director at NYU Florence who also has a keen passion for human rights and is deeply connected with human rights activists and political leaders in Italy. We were delighted to have her join our faculty too. 

The vision was simple – Could we catalyze more effective activity in the health and human rights arena by bringing together academics, NGOs, activists, government officials and students? Could we design a world class curriculum? Could we stimulate research efforts to better track and assist in meeting the needs of the large and growing numbers of refugees, displaced persons and migrants? Could we learn from each other and gain insights that none of us could achieve within our own silos? 

There are now more people without a home or homeland since the end of World War II. Many are dying in transit, many are dying in the camps meant to protect them, and and many are suffering from the sequelae of trauma. A handful of European countries play a key role in what the course of history will be in this crisis. The growing wave of fear toward immigrants and refugees is ominous and fits with the swing to the right happening in many locations around the world. Unless rational voices join in a chorus, a desperately bad situation will grow worse still.

2. I understand that this is the third annual event. Will it continue?

We just completed the third annual event and we hope to continue this effort and grow it into an annual global event attached to an appropriate international meeting. I have suggested that a global organization dedicated to health and human rights be formed to expand and accelerate momentum toward improvement in the health of those adversely affected by the wave of global dislocation occurring and also to take up the important cause of working with human rights colleagues to end this global crisis. Our current working title is The Society for Health and Human Rights.

3. Why was the event hosted in Florence? Are there any special strengths that NYU’s global presence brings to these sorts of conversations?

The Florence site is ideal for many reason but most especially due to the leadership at the site and the key role Italy has played in the refugee crisis. it is one of three countries receiving the bulk of refugees fleeing their own continent, the others are Greece and Turkey. Thanks to the efforts of Dr. Nate Bertelsen who is co-appointed at the CGPH but principally with the medical school, our second meeting brought together leaders from these countries as well. At that meeting we were delighted to be addressed by the Mayor of Florence who has been especially active in the refugee crisis.

4. Were there any noteworthy points of discussion or outcomes this year?

The meeting was packed with terrific presenters and lively discussion. I was moved by the many efforts going on in other countries to address the crisis and in countries turning away refugees in large numbers. I was impressed by the efforts of academics, NYU Prague in particular, to document the rapid change in public opinion about migrants apparently precipitated by the relentless xenophobia of politicians fanning nationalistic flames. Sadly, some speakers pointed out that these politicians are emulating politicians here in the US. The efforts in Tuscany, Turkey, and elsewhere were also showcased. These countries too are burdened by changing political winds. 

5. Is there anything else the NYU community should know about this dialogue?

It is urgent for leaders, include those in academia, to work to deescalate the anti-immigrant sentiments that are rising globally. Only through dialogue and understanding can we counteract the many nefarious efforts presently underway to exaggerate the risk of immigration and downplay the advantages. Dislocation due to war, economic deprivation, as well as those fleeing from the risk of genocide are as widespread as ever in history and we must, as a world community and civil society, find solutions together. The formation of rational policies and approaches can benefit greatly from sound research and constructive dialogue. 

Health and Human Rights Conference at NYU Florence – Refugee and Migration Crisis

This is the first of two posts focusing on a recent Health & Human Rights Dialogue on the Refugee and Migration Crisis held at NYU Florence. On March 26-27, 2018, a diverse and multidisciplinary gathering of scholars, students, activists, political and civic leaders, NGO representatives, and rights advocates gathered to discuss multiple aspects of the complicated health and human rights problems posed by the current refugee crisis in Europe and beyond. This was an especially compelling opportunity for students to engage with leading public health thinkers.

Diana Klatt, a first year GPH MPH student studying at NYU Florence who participated in and presented at the Refugee and Migration Crisis Dialogue, proposed practical initiatives to address the stigmas of migrants in Italy and the sociocultural barriers they face. She found the experience rewarding, saying, “I chose to come to Florence to get a different perspective on applications of public health. It is no secret that Italy is currently receiving many migrants and that Europe is experiencing a crisis. Having the opportunity to be here and to visit and meet with various organizations and camps has been invaluable. I came to CGPH for a career change and having this experience here for a semester has made me feel like I made the right choice to work in the global public health sector.”

Rory Curtin, a student in the Cross-Continental MPH program studying at NYU Florence also participated in the Dialogue and reflected on the importance of these kinds of conversations. “Improving health and human rights world-wide starts with increasing social awareness and cultural cohesion through initiatives that promote a migrant-friendly Europe. Particularly in this dialogue, it was pertinent that all parties from UN representatives, to university deans and students, to NGO workers, were collaborating. Europe should expect to see exponential growth in their migrant population, and we as academics, humanitarian aid personnel, and everyday citizens, need to be open and prepared for this. The concept of ‘safe third countries’ such as Libya has to de-bunked, and borders re-opened to ensure humane treatment of asylum seekers. Additionally, asylum procedures need to become less complex, expensive, and time intensive, to facilitate the migration process. Finally, Dublin III and other unreasonable EU deals should be discontinued and replaced with procedures for secondary movements and resettlement of migrants. Therefore, having all those who participated come together and generate the idea that a ‘society for health and human rights’ be established is incredible, and has the potential to shake things up!”

Rory also finds that NYU’s global presence “absolutely” facilitates these types of programs. “It’s important for students to not only experience other parts of the world, but become entrenched in politics, social issues, and therefore passionate about making a difference in our increasingly interconnected world. These sorts of programs are the result of otherwise disparate groups coming together, united by at least one thing, which is that education is a certain catalyst for change.”

NYU Shanghai Making an Impact with Deans Service Scholars

The 2017-2018 Deans Service Scholars program is open to all NYU Shanghai students and allows selected scholars the opportunity to learn about community development and service through a progressive learning experience. This experience includes classroom interaction, direct service, and travel.

This year’s DSS program spanned the topics of health, education, environmental protection and community development in Anhui, Hunan, Yunnan and Cambodia, respectively. Here’s what our DSS students saw and did this year:

 
1. Chi Heng Foundation (CHF) 智行基金会

Our DSS Group had a memorable experience in Anhui with our visits to an orphanage, home visits to HIV-affected families, visit to a village affected by HIV, and interacting with the Chi Heng students. 

As part of Qing Ming Festival, we held a kite decorating activity where we asked HIV-affected children to draw their hopes and dreams for the future. Some shared dreams about becoming a music star, others dreamed for world peace and good health. We then flew our kites and watched as we flew our dreams to the sky.

2. PEER 毅恒挚友计划

Group photo of DSS PEER group on the last day in Yuanling NO.6 High School 沅陵县第六中学
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The DSS scholars on a visit to a local community in Cambodia. NYU Shanghai students taught at Sunrise English school for two days.

4. ​Yunnan Green Environment Development Foundation (YGF) 云南省绿色环境发展基金会

 Students planted trees to provide food for the endangered snub-nosed monkey.
A group picture after planting trees on Snow Mountain:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
DSS YGF students share unique cultural experiences with Uncle Yu, a local farmer who has been working for 20 years to protect the mountain’s snub-nosed monkeys: 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
This post comes to us from NYU Shanghai. You can read the original here.