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Plans for NYU Shanghai’s First Commencement Ceremony Announced

dsc_045_940_4-2NYU Shanghai’s inaugural class will celebrate the culmination of their studies next May.

Almost four years after New York University and East China Normal University came together to found the first Sino-US joint venture university, the date has been set for NYU Shanghai’s first Commencement.

The ceremony will be held on Sunday, May 28, 2017, at the Concert Hall of the Shanghai Oriental Art Center, one of the city’s leading cultural hubs.

Situated in Pudong district, a short walk from the campus, the center has already played a part in university life. In 2014, it hosted the annual Reality Show, a musical theatre production about life as an NYU Shanghai student, and was also the setting for an exclusive concert for the NYU Shanghai community by world-renowned pianist Lang Lang.


This Fall, the university’s founding class will return to Century Avenue from their study-away programs across NYU’s global network and will embark on the final year of their trailblazing journey.

“The students of NYU Shanghai’s inaugural class are pioneers,” says Vice-Chancellor Lehman. “By showing courage, curiosity and a willingness to engage with cultures beyond their own, they have developed the skills to be creators, innovators, and leaders in our globalized world. We are delighted to be able to announce the date and venue for NYU Shanghai’s first Commencement and are looking forward to celebrating our unique founding class and their achievements.”

The ceremony promises to be a big, bold and uniquely NYU Shanghai event.

Capezio Donates Shoes to NYU Steinhardt Dance Program in Uganda

unnamed (1)Every year, NYU Steinhardt offers a Dance Education Study Abroad Program in Kampala, Uganda for its graduate students and qualified undergraduate seniors. Participating students have the opportunity to teach, create and perform for locals, as well as take traditional Ugandan dance classes. In January, the program celebrated its 10th year as it once again led students to the landlocked country in East Africa.

Last fall when the students began to prepare for their adventure, NYU Steinhardt Dance Education Faculty Member and National Dance Education Organization (NDEO) Treasurer Patricia Cohen reached out to her network to see if anyone would like to donate tap shoes for the program. Through the connection of Dance Pathways Founder Susan Epstein, Capezio heard of their need and stepped in to contribute.

“When we received the request from the NDEO via NYU, we jumped at the chance to help facilitate shoes for their Ugandan outreach dance program, now in their 10th year!” said MaryBeth Wilson, Capezio’s VP of Marketing. “This wonderful organization travels the world over bringing the joy of dance and dance education.”

This program, designed by Deborah Damast of NYU and Jill Pribyl of Uganda, is truly a unique experience for all involved. It emphasizes cultural connectivity and exchange, with both Ugandans learning from NYU students and NYU students learning from the Ugandans. Students from Kampala’s Makerere University teach traditional Ugandan dancing and drumming while NYU students instruct modern and tap.

Danielle Staropoli, the student leader of NYU’s MA Dance Education Program, facilitated the tap program. She recounted her experience: “For the first week, we focused on exchanging dances with the Makerere University students. This year, the NYU students (there were 15 of us) learned Larakaraka and Kimandwa, along with traditional drumming. In return, Deborah taught two modern pieces and I taught tap.”

“Also, during the first week we were split into teaching teams to prepare for the children workshops. We designed a lesson plan based on a theme of our choice. We had a few lecture sessions on culture and pedagogy to help us understand the expectations of a teacher-student relationship in Uganda and how we can creatively work within those boundaries,” she continued. “For the second week, the children workshops were in the morning, then we had lunch, and then rehearsed/finished all of the dances we started the previous week.”

For Staropoli, the neat part was presenting tap dance to them. “Although I was introducing them to tap, it was actually bringing tap back to its roots,” she said. Epstein appreciated the significance in this as well, noting, “Historically, the roots of tap are founded in minstrel shows of the south, and those roots are African. It seemed to me we had come full circle.”

Staropoli said her students really committed themselves to her lessons, taking time out of their lunch break to tap with her. She shared, “We had a one-hour lunch, but anyone who wanted to tap had a 30-minute lunch and then tap class. I was really impressed that all of the Makerere University students participated in the tap sessions. They were eager and open to learning new things with such a positive attitude. “

At the end of the program, the students had the opportunity to perform a tap piece at the National Theatre of Kampala.

“The audience roared with excitement throughout the entire piece; it was amazing!” Staropoli recalled. “I felt so proud of everyone who participated in the tap piece because they confidently displayed everything they learned, even though we only had two weeks together.”

Staropoli is especially grateful to Capezio for contributing 10 pairs of adult tap shoes and five pairs of children’s tap shoes to her fundraiser, which altogether gathered 115+ gently-used and brand-new pairs. She exclaimed, “I am so appreciative for Capezio’s support because it provided such a wonderful teaching and learning experience for everyone involved. “

“This experience was extremely memorable from start to finish,” she added.

The tap shoes that were not used by the Makerere University students were divided up and donated to the six other dance centers the NYU students visited during their trip.

Esteemed Food Studies Professor Visits NYU Sydney Global Public Health Class

NYU Sydney Instructor Jane Elkington, who teaches global public health in a class called Environmental Health in  Global World, describes a guest lecture by a visiting faculty member from NY, the renowned food studies advocate Marion Nestle. Her description highlights how meaningful collaborations can be between global and NY faculty:

Class field trip to a community garden in Rose Bay.

Class field trip to a community garden in Rose Bay.

I usually ask students at the end of the semester how their view of environmental health has changed since our first class. The most frequent responses are that it is more complex, more political and more linked with the world’s ‘big’ issues than they first thought. Indeed, every big topic in our world today – climate change, globalization, big business, poverty, corruption…. does have an enormous impact on our environment and thus on global health. Change the environment and you change health risks – it works for and against good health.

We spend a fair bit of our time in Environmental Health in a Global World (EHGW) talking about the negative influences of the environment on our health, as well as what we can do to create environments that are healthy and that promote healthy behaviour.

My own introduction to the complex and often political nature of environmental health, was early in my career when I was working for the New South Wales Department of Health. We were investigating the prevention of scald injuries in children and found that our own Australian Standard for home hot water delivery temperature, required a minimum storage temperature of 60oC. At this temperature it takes just a few seconds to deliver a third degree burn. Following the lead of 29 states in the US (in the early 1990s) we set about to change the Australian Standard to 50oC. This seemed like a straightforward, effective, sustainable and evidence-based approach. However, we had fierce opposition: “You will increase the risk of Legionnaires disease”, “Child safety is a matter of supervision”, “Households will run out of hot water”. These objections were not coming from infectious disease experts, or concerned citizens – but the major energy companies. We discovered that around 30% of an Australian home’s electricity bill was due to their hot water system – the higher the temperature, the higher the bill. There it was – the threat to profits! This was totally confirmed when the marketing manager of our largest electricity supplier said to me “You don’t know what you are doing to a billion dollar industry!” This was my introduction to “big business” and environmental health – often in conflict.

So, when I was asked early in the semester if I was interested in the possibility of a visiting NYU faculty member, Paulette Goddard Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health Marion Nestle, a world renowned nutritionist and advocate, talking to my class about her latest battles in ‘taking on the food and soda giants’, the answer was, ‘Absolutely!’. We already had a scheduled class on food and the environment – so how lucky were we to hear about that from Professor Nestle while she was on sabbatical in Sydney!

Professor Nestle was in town at the University of Sydney extending her research into conflicts of interest between the food industry and sponsorship of food and nutrition research. Her book “Soda Politics: Tackling the Soda Giants (and winning)” published last year, exposed the tactics of Coca-Cola and Pepsi to create their markets among children, minorities and low-income countries. The book exposes the practice of soft drink companies sponsoring health research that deliberately seeks to conclude that obesity can best be addressed through exercise, not calorie intake reduction – to deflect the growing focus on the negative impact of sugar. Her goal in this area has been to get Coca Cola and other ‘soda giants’ to admit that they are a big part of the problem – and now they have done that.

The students in EHGW and I were treated to a lecture by “the world’s second most powerful foodie” as dubbed by Forbes Magazine. We heard about public health and advocacy, and the power of handing the evidence over to consumers. We learned that this can help turn the tide in battles against companies who are concerned only with their own financial interests. Professor Nestle also helped the students consider the impact of climate change on food security, as well as the threats to food safety which is a by-product of almost every “natural” disaster. The discussion paved the way beautifully for lectures later in the semester about tobacco, asbestos, firearms, lead, and climate change – all issues on which “big business” has worked hard to deny the evidence of the need for change. Professor Nestle showed that when you meet resistance you know you are pushing the right buttons, you are actually poised to make a difference – so it can be quite energizing. She indicated that she totally admired Australia taking on the tobacco industry (and winning) with our world’s first tobacco plain packaging legislation. What a great endorsement that was for the assignment students were about to undertake: to consult with stakeholders in our tobacco plain packaging and report back to the class.

If any of my EHGW students find their way into a career in public health, I’m sure that Professor Nestle’s presentation (a tiny sneak peek into a career laced with courage, conviction and success) would have shown them that some battles are worth fighting.


NYU Steinhardt and NYU Tel Aviv Helping to Organise and Sponsor Sustainable Food Systems Conference

Sustainable Food Systems - Agriculture, Environment and Nutrition

NYU Steinhardt Professor Lisa Sasson is helping to organize a Sustainable Food Systems conference at Tel Aviv University, Israel on 20-21 June. Sponsored by the Manna Center Program for Food Safety and Security at Tel Aviv University, the Israeli Forum for Sustainable Nutrition, and New York University, the conference will unite students and experts to discuss food safety, sustainability, nutrition, and public policy. NYU involvement and support includes participation from NYU Steinhardt, the Provost’s Global Research Initiatives program, and NYU Tel Aviv.

The conference will enable participants to learn from and interact with renowned academic experts, government officials, industry leaders, and activists in the global and local food movement.

Sustainable food systems takes into account environmental, health, social and economic concerns in the production and consumption of food. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the UN, “Sustainable Diets are those diets with low environmental impacts which contribute to food and nutrition security and to healthy life for present and future generations. Sustainable diets are protective and respectful of biodiversity and ecosystems, culturally acceptable, accessible, economically fair and affordable; nutritionally adequate, safe and healthy; while optimizing natural and human resources”. Sustainable diets are the outcome of sustainable food systems.

The aim of the conference is to draw on the themes of sustainability and food security, public policy, nutrition, and food justice, by bringing students and experts involved in these topics.  The outcome will enable tackling the question of how best to integrate sustainability in our food system.

Read more from the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

NYU London Professor Clive Bloom Book on Thatcher’s Secret War Nominated for Outstanding Radical Book of 2015

Clibe Bloom Thatchers Secret WarNYU London Professor Dr Clive Bloom’s recently published Thatcher’s Secret War: Subversion, Coercion, Secrecy and Government, 1974-90 has been nominated for the Bread & Roses Award for outstanding radical book of 2015. The book focuses on the rise of the British secret state (a secret bureaucracy) in modern times and the way the state-within-the-state warped the history of Thatcher’s premiership. Bloom argues that the secret bureaucracy of the state has become an uncontrolled, hidden political power in Britain, where power is no longer decided by parliamentary process. Dr Bloom teaches Gothic Literature and Cultural Foundations at NYU London. More information can be found here: www.clivebloom.com

NYU Shanghai’s Center for Global Asia Awarded Prestigious Grant

mlu-nyu940_4_0NYU Shanghai’s Center for Global Asia, partnered with the Center for Interdisciplinary Area Studies at Martin-Luther University at Halle-Wittenberg, Germany, has received a grant of over €150,000 from the prestigious Volkswagen Foundation(VolkswagenStiftung)–the largest private research funder and one of the major foundations in Germany.

The grant will support “The Indian Ocean World and Eurasian Connections”–a three-year international summer school program that will provide an in-depth understanding of the historical and contemporary Indian Ocean World.

“I think this is an important partnership between NYU Shanghai and a foreign institution that will promote the study of Eurasian connections within the NYU’s Global University Network as well as in Germany,” said Professor of History Tansen Sen, the Director of Center for Global Asia.

The first two summer schools (in 2016 and 2017) will take place at Halle, starting this July. Each school will consist of 30 participants–20 German participants and 10 from the NYU Global Network University. The third will be held in Shanghai (in July 2018) and will include 10 additional participants from other Chinese universities.

“Our collaboration with colleagues in the city of Halle, Germany is especially fortunate, since Halle was the center of an important Protestant missionary project in the eighteenth century, which  focused its efforts on southern India. We will take advantage of the city’s museum and archival resources to show just how vast the connections that crossed over and emanated from the Indian Ocean World were. You might even say that the networks of the Indian Ocean crossed the Mediterranean and over the Alps!” said Associate Professor of History, Duane Corpis.

The project will also contribute to the integration of NYU’s Shanghai, Abu Dhabi, and New York campuses through the interactions among doctoral and post-doctoral fellows, and junior faculty in the fields of Humanities and Social Sciences.

“For the Center for Global Asia, this is our first grant from a prestigious foundation. It will help us with other pending applications and future projects on related topics,” said Sen.

The Volkswagen Foundation’s mission is to support aspiring young researchers and promote interdisciplinary and international collaboration. Dedicated to the support of the humanities and social sciences, as well as science and technology in higher education and research, it has granted more than 4.2 billion euros of funding for over 30,000 projects. 

This story originally appeared in the Shanghai Gazette and can be viewed here.

Engineering with a Human Impact at NYU Abu Dhabi

This post originally appeared on NYU Abu Dhabi’s Salaam blog.

By Matthew Corcoran

Innovation & Technology

NYU Abu Dhabi is a liberal arts college nested within a research university. At the same time it is a hub of innovation and technology that has produced developments ranging from drones to potential cancer treatments.

After visiting Wadi Wurayah National Park in Fujairah and meeting the rangers who work there, a team of undergraduates came up with an idea to make the rangers’ jobs easier — and potentially to save their lives. The innovation won the 2015 UAE Drones for Good Award, which came with an AED 1 million prize.

Wadi Drone was built to improve safety for rangers in Wadi Wurayah National Park.

Wadi Drone was built to improve safety for rangers in Wadi Wurayah National Park.

The wadi rangers maintain camera traps that are used to monitor the movement of wildlife throughout the park. The traps snap photos when they sense movement. But in order to retrieve images from the devices, rangers must navigate treacherous terrain in oppressive heat to the over 100 traps throughout the park. “It’s a very dangerous job for a tiny SD card,” said Martin Slosarik, NYUAD Class of 2017.

So the team developed a fixed-wing drone that can circle over the camera traps and download the images wirelessly, making the rangers’ work safer and faster. “We approached this project in terms of the human costs, and that’s why we’ve become so emotionally invested in it,” Slosarik said.

Health Innovations

Farah Benyettou is a research scientist in the Trabolsi Research Group at NYUAD. The group uses chemistry to create molecules that can be used for a variety of different purposes. But Benyettou focuses on engineering nanoparticles that can be deployed to treat cancer.

Trabolsi chemistry lab at NYU Abu Dhabi.

Trabolsi chemistry lab at NYU Abu Dhabi.

Nanoparticles are — as their name suggests — tiny, much too small to be seen with the naked eye. In the lab at NYUAD, Benyettou has created magnetic nanoparticles that absorb a cancer-fighting drug commonly used in chemotherapy.

“The problem with chemotherapy is that the anti-cancer drugs don’t go just to the tumor,” Benyettou said. “They travel throughout the body and harm healthy cells as well as cancer cells.”

The hope is that the drug-carrying nanoparticles could be directed to the tumor with a magnet and release of the drug, limiting damage to healthy cells. She hopes to test the treatment in animals soon.

“I’m not saying that I am going to cure cancer,” Benyettou said. “But if I do one small thing, and other researchers in China, France, and the US do something, then all together we are going to fight this disease.”

For more about Research at NYU ABU Dhabi, watch this:

NYU Shanghai and NYU Stern Professors Analyze China’s Stock Market

roaller-coaster940Over the past year, wild swings in the Chinese stock market have drawn worldwide attention. On April 26, Professor Matthew Richardson of the NYU Stern School of Business, together with Dr. Xin Zhou, the Executive Director of NYU Shanghai’s Volatility Institute (VINS), dispelled some of the myths and analyzed the main drivers of Chinese stock price volatility.

At the extremely well attended second lecture of 2016 VINS/TCFA Financial Engineering Practice and Innovation Lecture Series, Richardson explained how in fact the volatility of Chinese stock prices relates to global volatility, regional volatility in China, state owned versus private enterprises and industry volatility. The research data was acquired at the Volatility Institute.

Despite China’s unorthodox methods, the Chinese stock market functions and reacts much the same way the rest of the global market does, “but with more intensity,” Richardson underscored during his talk.