News and notes from across NYU's Campuses and Sites
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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:
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
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
Dawa, an application designed to tackle counterfeit medicine in the region using blockchain based pharmaceutical distribution, and Boosala, a refugee location application, have won top honors at NYU Abu Dhabi’s 8th Annual International Hackathon for Social Good in the Arab World.
Dawa was designed by a team of eight students who were mentored by Cloud Developer Advocate IBM Saif ur Rehman, Technology Solution Professional at Microsoft Saeed Motamed, and IBM Cloud Developer Naiyarah Hussain. The students represented universities from across the region, including NYU Abu Dhabi, University of Wollongong in Dubai, BITS Pilani Dubai Campus, and M’sila University, Al Akhawayn University and Misr International University from Algeria, Morocco, and Egypt respectively.
The team behind Boosala, designed to locate missing family members and contacts among refugees, comprised seven team members led by mentors including Cloud Developer Advocate at IBMNikita Mathur, Executive Director at OpenCurriculum Varun Arora, and CEO at Kandw Technologies International Khalid Machchate. Universities represented through Boosala included NYU Abu Dhabi and Khalifa University, as well as other universities in the region such as ESPRIT, University of Science and Technology Houari, and American universities NYU and Wellesley College.
The event was organized by Founder and Chair of the NYUAD Hackathon, Clinical Professor of Computer Science at NYU New York and Affiliated Faculty at NYUAD Sana Odeh. Commenting on the occasion, Odeh said, “This Hackathon has offered yet another round of outstanding ideas and solutions that reflect the spirit of innovation shown across all the teams that participated, which made the final decisions for the judges especially challenging this year. Each team has grown remarkably over the course of these intensive three days, learning, and gaining expert knowledge.”
“NYUAD Hackathon is designed to encourage and secure an opportunity for cross-collaboration and entrepreneurship across computer science, bringing together people from all over the world with different ideas in order to expand the scope of understanding amongst participating students. This experience allows them to grow and learn through exposure to new concepts that act as an incubator for remarkable feats of innovation,” she added.
The second prize went to Huwayeti, a blockchain-based layer on top of UNHCR refugee registration to manage trusted agents’ claims made about refugees. The team was mentored by CEO of Sahem.ae Hussam Mohsineh and Software Engineer at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)/Improbable Keeley Erhardt. Four of the six members of this were from NYU Abu Dhabi, while the additional team members came from Yale University and the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne.
Third place was offered to the team responsible for devising a platform that assists refugees and asylum seekers in communicating with healthcare professionals using machine learning and natural language processing called MedLughati. Mentored by NYUAD alumna and current Rhodes Scholar pursuing a PHD at University of Oxford Farah Shamout and Software Engineer at Facebook UK Miguel Sanchez, the students behind MedLughati represented a wide range of institutions including University of Wollongong, BITS Pilani Dubai Campus, Stanford University, University of Oxford, University of Buenos Aires and Khalifa University in Egypt.
Aspiring hackers from across the globe came together at NYU Abu Dhabi from April 27 for the three-day event. Participants were divided into 10 teams and mentored by renowned international computer science professors, founders of successful startups, technology professionals, and venture capitalists.
The Audience Award for the occasion was given to Wadhafni, an SMS-based mobile app that links unemployed skilled individuals with the local labor market on a tasks-accomplishment basis. The team, comprised of students representing prestigious institutions such as the University of Edinburgh, NYU Shanghai, Middlesex University Dubai, ENSAM Casablanca and NYU Abu Dhabi, was mentored by Software Engineer at Think.iT Abir Chermiti, and Software Engineer at Google Fabricio Pontes Harsich.
For additional information on the 2018 Annual NYUAD International Hackathon for Social Good in the Arab World, visit http://sites.nyuad.nyu.edu/hackathon/
This post comes to us from NYU Abu Dhabi. You can read the original here.
Three CDs that were initiated and coordinated by NYU Prague professor and pianist Patricia Goodson were recently released; they all also include her solo performances.
Macbeth and Other Orchestral Works by Geraldine Mucha was released by Arco Diva in November, and commemorates the centenary of Scottish composer Geraldine Mucha’s birth. Mucha – married to the son of the Art Nouveau artist Alphones Mucha – moved to Prague after WWII with her husband. As well as composing in Prague, she did much to protect her father-in-law’s supposed “bourgeois” work and legacy under the oppressive Communist regime. Patricia Goodson became friends with Geraldine Mucha (who lived to be 95) at the end of her life and has continued to promote her work after her death. This pieces on this album were performed by Patricia with the the Hradec Králové Philharmonic and Irena Troupová. MusicWeb International writes that “American pianist Patricia Goodson plays commendably in both the concerto and the variations; she is a strong reason for the success of this disc, as is the contribution of the Hradec Králové Philharmonic Orchestra under their astute director Andreas Sebastian Weiser in a well-engineered recording.”
Later this year, the same label will release a CD of Geraldine Mucha’s chamber music which will include solo performances by Patricia.
Patricia also organized a CD devoted to chamber works by New Zealand composer Dame Gillian Karawe Whitehead (released in March by the New Zealand label Rattle Records), which jumped to number 2 on the New Zealand classical charts shortly after its release. It features the Stamic Quartet, oboist Vilém Veverka and Patricia on the piano; there will be a launch at the New Zealand Embassy in September. The pieces were performed in Berlin and Prague before they were recorded at Studio HAMU. Whitehead is one of the most acclaimed composers from the Australia/New Zealand region; in 2008 she was given the title of Dame for her contributions to music in New Zealand.
To listen to some pieces from the albums, please go to http://www.patriciagoodson.com
NYU Prague professor Michal Rataj also has a new CD, Sentenceless-Sentence, which was released in January, 2018. It consists of electro-acoustic pieces composed during 2013 – 2017 and consists of a rich variety of sound palettes and emotional worlds. They range from acousmatic music through mixed forms towards text-sound performance. On April 11 Michal presented the album and his work to our students at a public concert at NYU Prague. You can here it on: https://michalrataj.bandcamp.com/album/sentenceless-sentence
Several of Rataj’s compositions will be performed this spring. On April 28, The Long Sentence, will be performed at UC Santa Cruz, featuring the San Francisco based award-winning Del Sol Quartet and Ben Leeds Carson on piano. On May 5-7, Temporis-concerto will have its US premiere performed by the Santa Rosa Symphony, conducted by Bruno Ferrandis. Czechs can hear his music on May 25 at a concert called Škrábanice / Scribbles in Nachod as part of the Czech Museum Nights.
Michal Rataj is a composer, performer, sound designer whose work consists mainly of electro-acoustic and chamber/orchestral instrumental music. His work has been performed throughout Europe and in the USA, and he has composed soundtracks to numerous documentary and feature films and TV series. Later this year viewers can hear his music in two Czech films- Jan Palach (by Eva Kantourkova and Robert Sedlacek) and Pivnica/The Cellar directed by Igor Voloshin.
On May 10, NYU Washington, DC will host a film screening and dialogue. Join DC Dialogues, the Joyful Heart Foundation, and EMILY’s List for a special screening of the HBO documentary film I AM EVIDENCE. This moving documentary exposes the alarming number of untested rape kits in the United States, bringing much needed attention to the disturbing pattern of how the criminal justice system has historically treated sexual assault survivors.
The film will be followed by a post-screening discussion with local and national experts about the backlog of untested rape kits across the United States.
I AM EVIDENCE exposes the alarming number of untested rape kits in the United States through a character–driven narrative, bringing much needed attention to the disturbing pattern of how the criminal justice system has historically treated sexual assault survivors.
Why is there a rape kit backlog? What can we do to fix the problem? This film explores these questions through survivors’ experiences as they trace the fates of their kits and re-engage in the criminal justice process. I AM EVIDENCE illuminates how the system has impeded justice while also highlighting those who are leading the charge to work through the backlog and pursue long-awaited justice in these cases.
In this film, we seek to send a clear message to survivors that they matter, that we as a nation will do everything possible to bring them a path to healing and justice, and that their perpetrators will be held accountable for their crimes.
CO-DIRECTOR and PRODUCER
CO-DIRECTOR and SUPERVISING EDITOR
Maile M. Zambuto
Lauran & Myrna Bromley
Regina K. Scully
Pamela Schein Murphy & Marc Murphy