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Dispatch from Berlin

Gabriella EtmektsoglouAt NYU Berlin, students have the opportunity to explore a city of great historic importance that is also at the cutting edge of modern cultural and artistic discovery.
The new Global Orientations Course German Histories in Contemporary Life provides students with a distinct perspective on European and global issues as they relate to Germany and Berlin. Berlin has seen dramatic transformations in the space of just a century, as the capital of Imperial Germany, the Weimar Republic, Nazi Germany, the divided front-line of the Cold War and the new metropolis of reunified Germany. Students consider these transitions and the emergence of Berlin as a center for politics, business, culture, art, and media. By gaining an informed perspective on Germany during orientation, students are better able to relate to some of the topics covered in their courses as well as deepen their relationships to local schools and Universities.
The Berlin program strongly benefits from very strong connections with NYU departments, and a number of new courses reflect the intellectual rigor and creativity that result from these relationships.
“Designing truly effective exchanges between NYU’s global sites and the Washington Square campus requires that course content and curricula achieve a synergistic balance between productive use of the experiential opportunities in unique global learning contexts, and the maintenance of curricular seamlessness between global course offerings and overall programs of study at Washington Square,” says Anne Rademacher, assistant professor, Environmental & Metropolitan Studies, NYU.
Rademacher and Sigi Sliwinski, NYU Berlin, collaborated to design two courses that provide “theoretical, methodological, and experiential frames for understanding the intersection of social processes and urban ecology in New York and Berlin.” The pilot course Greening Berlin taught in Berlin is soon to be complemented by a New York-based course.
In Berlin students’ academic life is enriched through their participation in seminars and workshops. Recent examples include an international conference Re-examining Democratic Transitions in Times of Crisis, organized by NYU’s Center for European and Mediterranean Studies, NYU Berlin, and the Free University, Berlin. The conference assessed models of transitions in Southern Europe in the 1970s, Eastern Europe in the 1990s, and present phenomena in Arab countries. And as part of the joint NYU Berlin / Humboldt University course on Global Education in the 21st Century, German and NYU Berlin students presented their collaborative research projects to a general audience during a colloquium held in the Senatssaal where Albert Einstein taught his courses.
NYU Berlin’s extra-curricular activities are designed to promote cultural immersion, support personal transformation and growth, and expand collaborative work in an intercultural setting. A recent photography exhibit offered students the opportunity to focus their lens on the beauty of some of Berlin’s uglier sites. A play co-authored and performed by NYU Berlin students and students of the Kurt-Tucholsky-Oberschule at the English Theater in Berlin exemplified the benefits of our immersion projects. Finally, the literary and arts magazine Abend(b)rot had vibrant submissions.
NYU Berlin, in collaboration with NYU Steinhardt’s Department of Art and Art Professions, and the Deutsches Haus, organizes an annual group exhibition that invites former NYU Berlin students to reflect on Berlin as a place of continuous reinvention both symbolically and physically. At the opening on March 6, two students were awarded the “NYU Berlin Culture Brewery Prize 2014.” Each winner received $700 for a return trip to Berlin.

NYU Prague Community Member Wins 2014 Templeton Prize

Tomas.HalikTomas Halik, a Czech priest, philosopher, and former political activist with close ties to NYU Prague, won the 2014 Templeton Prize for religious and spiritual progress on Thursday, 13 March. The prize recognizes a living person “who has made exceptional contributions to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical work.” Founded in 1972 and awarded by the John Templeton Foundation, the prize is one of the largest awards given annually to a single individual.
Halik has long been an advocate for religious freedom and interfaith dialogue. His work has focused on building bridges between people of different faiths and between believers and non-believers. Halik describes his work as aimed at “seekers”, meaning people who are asking questions about religious or spiritual issues. His role as a connecter has been consequential both before and after the 1989 Czech “Velvet Revolution.”
Halik taught at NYU Prague in 2000, when he created the syllabus for the Religion, Culture, and Politics in East Central Europe course that is still taught at NYU Prague by one of Halik’s former students. Even though he is no longer teaching at NYU Prague, he continues to visit the campus to give talks to the community. In early 2001, Halik traveled with NYU Prague Site Director Jiri Pehe to NYU Buenos Aires to participate in an international conference organized by NYU. He has also collaborated with Pehe and other NYU Prague professors on organizing Forum 2000 conferences, an international gathering launched by President Vaclav Havel in 1997.
“Tomas Halik is considered to be one of the top Central European spiritual leaders, and I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with him closely when he served as an adviser on interfaith dialogue to President Havel,” said Pehe. “I know I speak for my colleagues on the NYU Prague faculty when I say that we have not only been privileged to work with Tomas on a number of civic and academic projects, but also to call him our friend. The NYU Prague community is very proud of Tomas and sends him our warmest congratulations.”
In winning the $1.8 million Templeton Prize, which has been called the “Nobel Prize for religion,” Halik is in very impressive company. The first prize went to Mother Teresa in 1973. Recent recipients have included Nobel Prize laureates Desmond Tutu (2013) and the Dalai Lama (2012).
>> Read more: Czech priest, philosopher Tomas Halik wins 2014 Templeton Prize (Religion News Service)

Czech priest, philosopher Tomas Halik wins 2014 Templeton Prize

Dispatch from Washington, DC

Michael UlrichNYU Washington, DC welcomed two new faculty members to our team this academic year. Laura Sponsler teaches our Internship and Fieldwork Seminar and is the content director for civic learning and democratic engagement at the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators. She holds both an M.S.Ed. and Ph.D. in Higher Education from the University of Pennsylvania.
Barbara Kotschwar teaches our new Politics of Latin America course, which introduces students to the evolution of politics and economic policy in Latin America after WWII. She is a research fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics and also adjunct professor of Latin American Studies and Economics at Georgetown University. She holds an M.A. in International Economics and Latin American Studies and a Ph.D. in International Relations and International Economics from Johns Hopkins University.
This fall, we were proud to host NYU Law, which sponsored The Legislative and Regulatory Process Clinic, which enrolled sixteen third-year law students working in DC at federal agencies and congressional offices. Visiting faculty member Sally Katzen, Senior Adviser with the Podesta Group, and Robert Bauer, Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence and Senior Lecturer, co-taught the course.
We are also proud to announce the launch of The Weissberg Forum for Discourse in the Public Square. The Weissberg Forum allows us to convene dialogues on timely issues each semester. Angela Maria Kelley, vice president for immigration policy at the Center for American Progress, was our first scholar for the Weissberg Forum, which included several public events, as well as meeting with students in our course Global Orientations: Citizens and Communities in Washington, DC.
Other recent events at NYU Washington, DC have included:

  • Professor Anon Ben-Meir, Senior Fellow at the NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies Center for Global Affairs, hosting of former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Jordan’s Ambassador to the United States, Alia Hatoug-Bouran, as part of our Global Leaders conversation series.
  • In partnership with the Global Language Network, we hosted G-Fest, an international festival of languages and cultural diversity for over 500 students and guests. In addition to these activities, we have recently accommodated a variety of visiting NYU groups, including students from the CAS Presidential Honors Scholars and the Academic Achievement Program.

Dispatch from Tel Aviv

Ronald ZweigThis is a period of rapid development for NYU Tel Aviv. The big news is the completion of the first stage of the construction at Bnei Dan, providing NYU with a new dormitory for our exclusive use. The new building has a large open kitchen for student use, and plenty of space to socialize. The availability of a self-service kitchen allows students to bypass a meal plan and to prepare food for themselves. That is great in theory – but in practice most of them have never cooked before! So cooking workshops were organized, and they are proving very popular. The internet connections in the building have been upgraded and WiFi is now available throughout. During the summer, an additional floor will be completed (the third), bringing capacity to 30 beds.
The academic facilities have been upgraded significantly as well, and classes are now taught in the Conservatory of Music just two short blocks away. The Conservatory is newly constructed with wonderful classrooms that would make Washington Square blush. The Conservatory is only lightly used till the mid-afternoon, and we have the building almost to ourselves.
New courses and new faculty have been introduced, all of whom are also teaching in Israeli’s major universities. The science courses offered in NYU Tel Aviv have been expanded, and we now have a collaborative arrangement with Tel Aviv University (TAU) which allows us to use their labs for the teaching of Organic Chemistry. More subjects will be added to the list in the future. The agreement with TAU extends to the Humanities as well. Students are now able to enroll in regular TAU courses that are taught in English, on an academic calendar that is more in tune with ours. Eventually, TAU students will be able to enroll in courses taught at NYU Tel Aviv as well. This is a reciprocal arrangement that augers well for the future.
Tours of Israel have always been a feature of studying abroad at NYU Tel Aviv. The tours are accompanied by lectures and extensive background information. For the Spring semester the tour itineraries have been revamped and extended. And we will repeat the very successful cycling tour around the Sea of Galilee – a challenging 40 mile cycle which over half of our students completed in the Fall.
The introduction of new courses, new faculty and new subject areas to be taught at NYU Tel Aviv, together with the new dorms and teaching facilities, is making Tel Aviv an increasingly attractive choice for NYU students from New York, Abu Dhabi and soon from Shanghai as well.

Dispatch from Paris

Henriette GoldwynNYU Paris remains committed to sustaining the vision that has defined the program since its inception, namely, the in-depth teaching of French language and culture as a means to help students foster new perspectives on the world around them. This is reflected both in the breadth of courses offered in the undergraduate program, that range from language and literature to courses on French history, contemporary society, international relations, French and European cinema, and more, and the center’s several graduate programs.
Graduate study at NYU Paris includes Masters in French Literature, in French Language & Civilization, and a two-year program in Teaching French as a Foreign Language in conjunction with the Steinhardt School (the only program of its kind). Just launched this year with the NY-based Program in Museum Studies, a new cooperative agreement allows students to earn an M.A. in French Language & Civilization in Paris and an Advanced Certificate in Museum Studies in New York.
Our first “soirée littéraire” was launched in November in the NYU Paris library. Well attended by students and colleagues alike, the evening featured Eugène Nicole, visiting professor from the French Department and author of L’Oeuvre des mers. Professor Nicole gave a transcendent talk about the tiny French island Saint Pierre and Miquelon, off the coast of Canada, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, where he was born; there was a big signing and reception with lively discussion at the end.
Mansouria Mokhefi, NYU Paris Instructor and Middle East Program Director at Institut Français des Relations Internationales launched a series of brown bag lunch seminars on current events, addressing first the crisis in Syria and then the Arab Spring viewed from France. These informal and politically-themed lunchtime seminars led by a specialist are conceived and tailored for undergraduate students, to pique their curiosity about the rest of the world, to look beyond what is presented in the news, and especially to ask questions. Future events will tackle the thorny question of the Roma situation in France and the upcoming municipal elections and their significance in an increasingly heated political scene.
NYU Paris will be moving to a new academic center in the Latin Quarter in Summer 2014. With its long-standing relationships with the best Parisian universities and specialized schools, NYU Paris has long been on the cutting edge of Parisian intellectual life, a quality that will be enhanced through our move to this new space. Located in the thriving historic and intellectual heart of Paris, the new academic center will allow students the opportunity to benefit from the boundless cultural, artistic, and academic institutions of this wonderful neighborhood, including the Sorbonne, the Collège de France, the Collège des Bernardins, and the Cluny Museum, to name just a few.

Dispatch from Sydney

Mal SempleThis is just the second year of operation for NYU Sydney. With only ten courses, we remain small, but successful, and this semester we have our largest class to date.
All students are taking our new Global Orientations course, which explores indigenous and colonial history, multiculturalism, popular culture, and Australian self-image, among other topics. A federal election in September provided a great opportunity to explore the Australian parliamentary political system. Recent student life trips to the Blue Mountains and to the Australian outback brought to life class discussions of the Australian Bush Myth.
Planning for the future was evident at many levels in recent months. In September, we held an event in New York called “Global Opportunities: Discover NYU Sydney.” Students who had already experienced a semester away in Sydney joined prospective students for an open conversation, and shared their experiences enthusiastically. October’s inaugural meeting of NYU Sydney’s Site-Specific Faculty Committee represented an important step in NYU Sydney’s curricular development. The committee is helping to craft new course offerings that mesh with our existing courses to provide students with more complete academic pathways. Later in the Fall semester, one member of the committee, Professor Fred Myers, spent a day at NYU Sydney. We particularly appreciated his presence at a meeting of our full faculty, and look forward to visits from other committee members.
In December, our colleagues at NYU Buenos Aires initiated a collaboration with NYU Sydney to forge a connection between the Creative Writing classes in our two locations. We are excited about the possibilities not only for this course, but as a model for creating deeper ties throughout our global network.
Also in December, after almost a year of planning and negotiation with regulatory agencies in Sydney, work began on renovations that will breathe new life into our academic center. NYU Sydney is housed in a heritage building known as Science House, built in 1930 as the home of the Royal Society of Australia. Our renovations included lighting upgrades, flooring restoration, and the addition of partitions to create new faculty offices and a new classroom.
At the end of the Fall semester, we relocated our student services and operations staff to create a third classroom on the third floor. This was completed just in time to welcome three classes from NYU Abu Dhabi for January session. We had hosted one NYU Abu Dhabi class a year earlier, and are delighted with this growing collaboration with NYU Abu Dhabi.

NYU London Professor Helps Identify Molecule that May Help Treat Resistent Cancers

Livio Mallucci Valerie Wells The effective treatment of cancer requires the ability to destroy cancerous cells. Nearly one third of all cancers today involve mutations of the Kras gene, which has proven resistant to existing cancer treatments. The current prognosis for patients with mutant-Kras cancers is poor because there is no effective treatment. However, recent analysis by Valerie Wells, of NYU London, and Livio Mallucci, of King’s College London, may present a new method to combat these untreatable cancers.
In a feature article in Drug Discovery Today, Mallucci and Wells discuss the current therapeutic strategies and their limitations and highlight a new way forward using the recombinant form of a physiological protein molecule, beta-GBP, which has proven to be effective against human Kras-driven tumors in animal models.
There are several significant aspects to their discovery. First, the beta-GBP molecule they have identified kills Kras mutant, and other cancer cells, by activating alternative routes to destroy cancer while leaving normal cells unharmed. Second, the beta-GBP molecule is naturally occurring in the body as a physiological molecule and therefore would avoid the complexity of current combinatorial therapies and the issues of drug resistance, toxicity and all side effects experienced with chemotherapy. Finally, translation of beta-GBP to the clinic, facilitated by its physiological nature, could open a new therapeutic opportunity representing a significant step forward in the treatment of cancers resistant to all current treatments.
The new research shows that mutant Kras, widely recognised as “undruggable,” yields to a treatment which, by impairing physiological processes rather than impairing targets, forces tumor cells to die while leaving normal cells unharmed.
“Few areas of scientific research can be as consequential and benevolent as those that help understand cancer and improve its treatment,” said NYU London Site Director Gary Slapper. “NYU London is exceptionally proud of the superb, path-cutting work of our faculty member Valerie Wells, and to be supporting her research. Innovative research, like Valerie’s with Livio Mallucci, is a key feature of university activity and a generator of world class teaching.”

NYU Prague: Tony Ackerman Ensures the Beat Goes On

Tony AckermanMeet Tony Ackerman, a world-renowned American guitarist who has lived in Prague for over 30 years. He has performed in thousands of concerts and recorded 9 albums with jazz pianist Martin Kratochvil. Ackerman is now working for NYU Prague in a newly-created position: our first Faculty Coordinator of the NYU Prague music program. The program, which was started by Dr. Lawrence Ferrara (NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development), in 2005, has enticed hundreds of budding musicians from New York City to Prague. We met with Tony to find out more about his plans for developing this highly successful program.
Tell us about some of the changes that you hope to bring to the music program.
Most importantly, I want students to get in personal contact with Czech artists– to play with jazz musicians, to work in studios… this has been happening organically, but hopefully we can formalize it, giving a structure to what is already happening.
One of the ways I want to do that is with a new course that all music students will take: The Collegium Seminar. There is a course of the same name at Steinhardt, but the Prague course is quite different. We want students to discover what is unique here, to find out what Prague has to offer. We’ll go to concerts, visit studios, invite guests here… in a few weeks we’re going to a Baroque music concert where the musicians play on historic instruments from the period. Students will get to see Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni in the same theatre where it premiered when Mozart lived in Prague.
What unique qualities do you think Prague has to offer NYU students?
Students sink into the rhythm of this cozy, welcoming, beautiful city. It isn’t New York, and it isn’t Berlin – but its small size is exactly what makes it so accessible, with lots of opportunities to collaborate with top ranking musicians. Musicians don’t need to speak Czech to integrate into the culture – they speak the language of music and can befriend Czechs through their shared passion.
Tell us about your musical background and what you specialize in.
In my life, I’ve worked in many musical areas. I’m best known as a jazz musician, but recently I’ve started a career as a solo player – I take six of my guitars, line them up onstage, and play them – in fact in one of my new compositions, I play all of them, running up and down to pick up different guitars. When I was doing my PhD at UCSB [University of California – Santa Barbara] I did my stint as a university composer, writing the kind of music no one wants to hear…
At Harvard I got music theory boot camp in 1968 – when I teach oral comprehension, it’s all from that experience. I was a rock musician in the late 60s. I’ve played in contemporary music groups, playing premiers of pieces in NYC. Playing many genres has its benefits – it’s given me a global view – but as well as perhaps its drawbacks.
You were one of the very few Americans living in Czechoslovakia under the Communist regime. How did that happen, and what was it like?
I first visited Prague at the age of 15 in 1965, a rare American tourists brought by my art-historian father to see stupendous architecture behind the Iron Curtain. Years later I married a Czech woman who I met in the USA, and because we were married, we could travel back and forth across the Iron Curtain. On one of those visits in the 1970s, I met Martin Kratochvil , a fantastic jazz pianist. Then in 1983 I moved to Czechoslovakia because I got a fellowship to study Czech contemporary music – music that was virtually unknown in the West.
So I moved here with my wife and kids, and we lived in a tiny apartment for a year. I stared playing jazz and performing with my friend Martin Kratochvil, and the work was really interesting – at the end of the year, I wanted to stay. It was a horrible time for the country in many ways – the lack of freedom to travel, people were cut off from achieving their ambitions in the external world…
But the plus side was that the energy was turned inwards – it led to amazing jokes, people had time for hobbies, like raising bees. They listened to music so much more – our concerts were packed in the 80s. I wasn’t subject to the same repression as others – I got a job teaching music at the Embassy’s high school and because of our diplomatic license plates, we could cross the border to Germany whenever we wanted. It was a bit surreal.
What has been most rewarding about teaching NYU students?
I love NYU students. There is something about the mysteries of Prague that brought them. They are very open and curious about the city. They are amazingly well trained in music as well as being open and flexible. And I like the smallness of the program – it’s very family-like.

Dispatch from Accra

Akosua AnyidohoThe 2013-14 academic year got off to an exciting start with an important symposium to commemorate our 10th anniversary celebration. In cooperation with NYU Florence, NYU’s School of Medicine, and our local partner institution, the University of Ghana, Legon, we hosted the symposium, “Healing Environment and the Creative Arts.” The symposium was organized to create awareness of the immense role the creative arts play in wellness and in healing.
Speakers at the symposium included Dr. Cheryl Heaton, the Director of the NYU Global Institute of Public Health, who is also the Dean of Global Public Health, NYU. Dr. Richard Ingersoll from NYU Florence presented a paper on therapeutic gardens. Dr. Sammy Ohene, Chair, Department of Psychiatry, University of Ghana Medical School spoke about traditional and modern healing in patient-doctor relationships. The local and international speakers explored important questions including how to define a positive healing space, how to provide a balanced healing relationship between patient and healer, and how to identify healing forces or measure healing outcomes. The event was well attended and well received, and we recently published a collection of the abstracts, which is available here (PDF).
During the fall semester, thirty-two students in Accra had the opportunity to select from seventeen courses taught by local part-time faculty and a visiting faculty member from NY. The courses included language study, literature, creative writing, music, film, public health, psychology, sociology, anthropology, history and metropolitan studies. The site welcomed a new faculty member, Dr. Alice Boateng, who took over the Internship Seminar and Fieldwork course.
In addition to their experiences in the classroom, most students participated in academic internships and volunteer or community service activities. These activities involved working at special schools, health facilities, microfinance institutions, government departments, non-for-profit organizations, and media outlets. Service learning is a flagship program of NYU Accra and provides valuable opportunities for students to deepen their understanding of the local society.
NYU Accra also welcomed the Center for Technology and Economic Development (CTED), a research center at NYU Abu Dhabi, which has just opened a facility across the road from NYU Accra. CTED focuses on the development of innovative and cutting edge technologies that can significantly impact economic development with a specific focus on problems faced in under-developed areas around the world.
Based in Abu Dhabi, CTED now maintains branches in New York, Accra, and soon Addis Ababa. CTED plans to involve both undergraduates at NYU Accra and resident Ghanaian scholars in its research activities.

Welcome to Global Dimensions

Welcome to Global Dimensions, the blog that follows faculty and students across NYU’s global network.
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