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NYU Sydney Faculty Seeks to Increase Competencies with Diversity and Equity

Increasing competencies with Diversity and Equity has been on the key goals this year at NYU Sydney. This led to a series of Diversity and Equity meetings and a training session conducted by Dr Tim Marsh (NYU Sydney Lecturer: Social Psychology) and Dr Suraj Samtani (NYU Sydney Lecturer: Multicultural Counselling). Both academic staff and administrative staff participated in this training and meetings this year to increase awareness and skills with diversity. We hope to lead by example and put our skills into practice every day. Here are some nerdy highlights:

What do we know from psychology about biases?

The training session discussed how biases play a role in everyday interactions. The research from Social Psychology is that we have two distinct systems that influence biased thinking and behavior: System 1 (automatic, fast, not conscious) and System 2 (effortful, slow, conscious). We generally operate using System 1 which results in quick judgements and reactions that we are not necessarily aware of. It is only by being aware of our quick judgements that we can bring our behavior into consciousness and therefore, give it a different direction. Our System 1 typically reflects the biases inherent to the culture we live in and the media we consume, even if our System 2 would consciously reject them.

How can we know our own biases?

Instead of self-report measures (which assume conscious awareness), the staff were encouraged to find out their own biases using Harvard University’s Project Implicit. This involves a sorting task, where you must categorize both photos of people and either positive or negative adjectives. The website analyzes differences in reaction times in milliseconds and lets you know if you have biases and how strong they are. Staff were surprised to find the biases they held against those with different skin colors, sexual orientations and genders. Find out your own implicit biases here: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/

How can we change our biases?

In our increasing ‘curated’ online world, our sources of knowledge are funneled to match our existing preferences. Finding out where are biases lie is the most important step. Making changes to diversify the shows we watch, the websites we read, and the people we interact with, gradually adjusts our preferences in System 1, changing even our most subtle and unintentional behaviors and reactions over time.

How can we change our approach in class and in our teaching?

The syllabus is one of the key areas where we can change what we do. The training highlighted steps like representing cross-cultural sources of information in the syllabus. The staff shared ideas such as marking using student numbers instead of names, including photos of professionals who come from diverse backgrounds, managing which groups of students we stand closer to while teaching, and balancing out the amount of time given to male vs. female students when answering questions in the classroom.

Our challenge to you

Find out your own biases using the Harvard implicit project test, check your syllabus for cross-cultural references and investigate your non-verbal reactions in the classroom.

NYU Students and Faculty from Florence and New York Brief European Parliament on Race, Racism, and Xenophobia

NYU students and faculty preparing just before the conference in the European Parliament.

9 November, 2017 was not a typical day for the European Parliament. That day, the Parliament’s Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup hosted NYU’s third conference on Race, Racism, and Xenophobia in a Global Context. Members of Parliament and the public heard from NYU faculty and students considering these issues through scholarly discussion and artistic expression.

This conference grew out of NYU’s unique willingness to allow students to grapple with the complicated issues they confront when studying away. The first conference, structured as an All-Campus Teach-In at NYU Florence on March 24, 2016, was developed by a student committee convened by NYU Florence Director Ellyn Toscano. As students observed the ongoing debate about “European identity” and migration, racism and Islamophobia, and as they also saw increasingly public racial violence in the US and student protests in response, they wanted to consider theses issues in a meaningful and informative way.

As the planning for the conference evolved, Ellyn explained the premise became that “the scope of this discussion on racism and intolerance be transnational and comparative. Racism must be understood as it operates in different historical and geographical contexts, reflecting local tensions and prejudices and intersecting with other important issues of class, gender, religion, nationality, marginality, citizenship, globalization and globalization.” The questions posed for the first conference included:

How does racism and discrimination operate in different geographical contexts, reflecting local tensions and prejudices and intersecting with issues of nationality, class, gender, religion, marginality, citizenship, and globalization? How does location affect the way in which we think about the social constructions of race and race relations? What role do historical experiences of slavery, discrimination and colonialism play? How does the current migration crisis in Europe and mounting Islamophobia help us better understand the similarities and differences between the U.S. and Europe?

Excited or Nervous? Students arriving at the European Parliament.

Asking those questions lead to a continuing dialogue and a second conference in New York on October 28, 2016. A diverse group of students has been involved in all three conferences, starting as freshman and sophomores in Florence, they presented and performed in Brussels as juniors and seniors. The students introduced and moderated conference panels in addition to providing live performances – song, poetry, monologue. A short student film was also shown. With faculty from both New York and Florence present, it was, according to NYU’s Senior Vice President for University Relations and Public Affairs Lynne Brown, a “unique opportunity to showcase students and faculty” which is at the core of NYU’s mission.

A number of NYU faculty have also been involved in all three conferences, including members of the faculty committee Deb Willis and Dipti Desai, Awam Amkpa, Jason King, Pamela Newkirk, Paulette Caldwell, and Ann Morning. NYU Florence faculty included Deborah Spini and Alessandra Di Maio. In opening the conference, NYU Steinhardt Professor Dipti Desai noted that the motivation for all participating is furthering the conversations necessary to create “a world that is more just and equal.”

MEP Kyenge and NYU open the conference.

Italian Member of the European Parliament Cécile Kyenge participated in the first Race, Racism, and Xenophobia conference in Florence and the second in New York. A member of the Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup, Ms. Kyenge was so impressed that she invited NYU to organize a conference for the European Parliament and the public in Brussels. During her opening remarks on November 9, Ms. Kyenge praised NYU’s interdisciplinary efforts, noting that the university does not “stop at scholarly discussion, but also takes a creative approach.”

That is in part what the students found inspiring. Helen You, a CAS senior who has participated in all three conferences, described the vibrancy of the event. “As someone who is both an IR major and potentially going to law school, but who danced and played music throughout my life, I really appreciate just how diverse we have made this conversation. I mean, we have everyone from the Law School to Tisch siting in this room to talk about issues that span across all departments and that is just amazing.” She and other students expressed their gratitude for the professors and administrators helped to make the conferences happen. Helen also especially thanked NYU Florence Director Ellyn Toscano on behalf of the students, saying, “So often, students have a passion and an idea in their heads, but they don’t have the opportunity to explore it and create something meaningful. You gave us the confidence and the voice to share our stories and make this conference a platform for change and we never thought that something like this could happen. Thank you so much for everything you have done for us and your support.”

The students with MEP Kyenge.

The conference was well-received in Brussels, with Parliamentarians and other participants very engaged. Even if you missed the opportunity to participate in Brussels, New York, or Florence, this is not the end of these conversations at NYU. According to student participant Eilish Anderson, “I sincerely hope that we were able to inspire the people watching the conference to take action in fighting against hate in the world, particularly through policy change. Even after the third edition of this conference, it’s still just the beginning. Where will we go next?”

The conference program is available here.
A live stream video of the Brussels conference is available here.

NYU Paris Hosts Conference: Rouch in the USA

On November 9, NYU Paris will host a conference entitled Rouch in the USA. This year marks the centenary of the birth of the French ethnographic filmmaker, Jean Rouch. Founder of the cinéma-vérité movement and pioneer of techniques such as “shared anthropology” and “ethno-fiction,” Rouch not only re-defined the landscape of anthropology and cinema in France during the 1950s and sixties, he helped transform Post-Independence African cinema and documentary film practice, writ large. Having made upwards of one hundred films with countless collaborators over the course of a career that spanned six decades and several continents, the story of his complex legacy is just beginning to unfold.

Rouch in the USA aims to trace the contours of Rouch’s influence on American thinkers and filmmakers. Whether through his work with students and faculty at summer workshops on the East Coast (where he taught alongside such pioneering figures as Ricky Leacock and John Marshall), his invaluable presence at the now legendary Flaherty Seminars, or his lasting impact on scholars and artists working in the U.S., it has long been recognized that Rouch’s work has been embraced and taken up in the American context in ways that are wholly unique.

An integral part of the centenary edition of the annual Festival International Jean Rouch, the event is co-sponsored by the Comité du Film Ethnographique and has been made possible by the generous support of the Office of the Provost’s Global Research Initiatives at New York UniversityNYU Paris, the NYU Center for the HumanitiesThe Gallatin School of Individualized Study, and the Center for Media, Culture and History at NYU. Rouch in the USA will also coincide with several centenary events taking place in Paris this fall, including two major Rouch exhibits at the Musée de l’Homme and the Bibliothèque Nationale de Paris.

Organized by Beth Epstein (NYU Paris), Faye Ginsburg (Department of Anthropology, NYU), & Jamie Berthe (The Gallatin School, NYU).

NYU Florence Professor Gallo Appointed to Italy’s Court of Auditors

On October 3, 2017, Professor Giampiero M. Gallo was appointed to the Italian Corte dei Conti by the President of the Republic, following a proposal by the Prime Minister. This Court of Auditors is a constitutional body supervising public expenditure both ex ante and ex post. Professor Gallo will join the Regional Budgetary Control Committee in Milan to supervise regional laws and report on yearly budgets from both the regional and the municipal administrations. He will be applying econometric methods to estimate effectiveness and efficacy benchmarks of public spending to evaluate individual administration performances.  As the new position as a Judge is incompatible with other forms of public employment, he will resign from his position at a local university. Professor Gallo will continue conducting research and and will continue to teach at NYU Florence.

NYU Sydney Instructor to Judge Prestigious Australian Leadership Award

Last week, NYU Sydney instructor Dr. Andy West was invited to be a judge of the National Finals 2017 Australian Leadership and Excellence Awards (ALEAs), Australia’s peak awards ceremony recognizing and celebrating Australia’s most outstanding leaders. This is organized by the Institute of Managers and Leaders, which was previously the Australian Institute of Management. In addition to teaching at NYU Sydney, Andy is the Executive Dean at UBSS, an MBA Business School. He also lectures in the Department of Marketing at the University of Technology Sydney. He provides consulting services to the finance, professional services, ICT, higher education, and health industries. His research has focused on e-business adaption, marketing high technology, and marketing strategy. His recent research is into the early career success of marketing graduates, with a focus on the success factors of workplace integrated learning from simulation to industry collaboration projects with internships.

NYU Shanghai Professor Profiled in Book on Americans in Shanghai

NYU Shanghai Professor Barbara Edelstein has been proudly dubbed a “daughter-in-law” of Shanghai for her contributions to the city’s flourishing art scene. Now, the NYU Shanghai art professor’s story has been featured in a new volume of Americans in Shanghai, a series celebrating the stories of US citizens who have made their lives in the city.

The book explores Edelstein’s life and work, starting with her upbringing in Los Angeles, where Asian culture strongly influenced her development as a young artist in love with water and the medium of ink.

After graduating with a Master of Fine Arts from Claremont Graduate University, Edelstein moved to New York, where she met her future husband—Zhang Jian-Jun, then a visiting artist from China.

Now both professors at NYU Shanghai, Edelstein and Zhang continue to connect China and the world through the language of art. Combining East and West influences, their works encompass various forms, including sculpture, photography, video, installation, and ink painting.

“It was during the World Expo time, in 2010. A special curatorial committee, partly government and partly art critics and curators, selected the works. I designed a five-meter high sculpture in bronze and copper that rains water into a round pool. It’s again based on what I saw there. The bronze part is an abstracted willow leaf that I found when I visited the site. The copper is like a vine ball of the wisteria that was there. It’s a beautiful park.”

Some of the works were temporary, but Barbara’s was permanent. It’s still there. Whenever Barbara is in the park, the guard there will point out to visitors that she is the artist who made the sculpture.

When the work was installed and the fence and the frame around the sculpture were removed, neighbors of the park gathered round.  “This is China: there are always people out and about,” Barbara said. “They use the park for dancing and walking their dogs. When we were there to get the water working, there was a crowd of people. They were really excited and cheered. They came up to me and told me they liked my work. They were very pleased it got established in ‘their’ park. As an artist, you want to make the world more beautiful. That was so nice for me to hear that they appreciated and enjoyed it.”

Barbara is concerned with how city dwellers lose track of nature, in large metropolises especially: “By using natural imagery, such as vines, trees, leaves, water—whatever is there—and abstracting it into a sculptural form; and by using man-made materials such as copper tubing, and adding the element of water, I try to bridge the industrial world we live in with the essence of nature.”

This post comes to us from NYU Shanghai. You can read the original here.

Professor Arjun Appadurai Discusses His Time in Berlin

© Suhrkamp Verlag

Today we are in conversation with Arjun Appadurai, Goddard Professor in Media, Culture and Communication at NYU Steinhardt, where he is also Senior Fellow at the Institute for Public Knowledge. He is currently in Berlin for a year and in this interview discusses how being there has informed his scholarship and vice versa.

How did you first come to NYU? What drew you to the institution?

I came to NYU in 2009 from the New School. So I was not physically very far away, but institutionally NYU is quite different. I had previously been provost at the New School for couple of years so was engaged with the large issues related to educational institutions. For various reasons I stepped down from that role to focus on my professorial work, but the transition was hard. I was not unhappy but it was a challenge, so when I received an offer from the Media, Culture, and Communication department at NYU Steinhardt, that seemed compelling. It offered a good opportunity to fully reenter the academic world in a very appealing department. NYU was just entering to its global phase so that was an added appeal for someone with my interests. The department seemed interesting, NYU’s global moves also seemed interesting. So NYU was a good place to shift to in 2009. I have not been disappointed.

How did you come to NYU Berlin? I understand that you received support from the Provost’s Global Research Initiatives program. I also understand that you are now a visiting professor at Humboldt University in Berlin. What work have you been focusing on while in Berlin?

I am on sabbatical for this year and was additionally supported with a GRI stipend for the autumn. I am here for the whole academic year – at Humboldt for the full year as a sabbatical and I remained linked to NYU through the GRI last term. My affiliation with NYU Berlin technically ended in December so I am now a just visiting professor at Humboldt. Throughout the year and with the various affiliations, I have been working on the same things: two very short book projects and one other project that has grown out of my time here. Starting with the latter, in response to news and recent current events in Europe, I was asked to a contribute to an edited book with eleven other authors about “the great regression’ – the global swing to right wing leaders. The book will be published in German and simultaneously translated into twelve other languages. This affiliation has lead to other contributions to the European media. I was recently interviewed by the French paper Journal du Dimanche. I also appeared on a German television program, Kulturzeit, which airs on an educational channel comparable to PBS in the United States. Because of the engagement with this book project, I have been able to participatee in a most interesting, unplanned public engagement while in Europe. My essay for that book is entitled “Democracy Fatigue.” I wrote it during the fall and finished it about three weeks after Trump’s victory in the US election. It has considerably broadcast my interests and arguments in the German and European press. In general over the eight months that I have been here, including during my time at NYU Berlin, I have had a considerable engagement not just in the academic world in Berlin but also outside Berlin, with quasi-public institutions, cultural institutions, and academic institutions concerned about my interests. Some of my long-term areas of interest – migration, refugees, globalization, the future of Europe, the future of nation states – are of great interest in Europe at the moment. So I find myself discovering and becoming part of the very wide flow of ideas and events that straddle academia and public institutions.

In terms of the two books I have been working on, one is related to this set of topics, the other less so. The one less related is a short book on failure – in design, technology, states, markets but also in life – careers, marriages, and such. What do we learn from failure that we do not learn from success? I raise that question and also consider how failure is historically and culturally defined. I ask what is failure and what is not; what parts of thinking about failure are interconnected and what are more idiosyncratic and particular to a particular place or moment in time.

The other book seeks to explore the prima facie contradiction between the ideals of enlightenment entitlement – freedom, equality, humanity – that took hold precisely as Europe went about mass colonialist projects that were racist, exploitative, and seemingly trampled the universalist values of the Enlightenment. Entitled Enlightenment and Empire, this work is a deeper historical look at how Europe has for a very long time had internal debates about itself and a certain measure of volatility about its identity or essence. I consider whether current concerns might be just a recent chapter in this history as opposed to a crisis in an otherwise settled European project.

How have you found the experience at NYU Berlin and at Humboldt University? How has researching Germany influenced your scholarship? What has been most challenging and what has been most rewarding? 

I find that my stay in Berlin is particularly timely in relation to how my interests have evolved over a long time. I have come to be very interested in the European story itself – in terms of ideas, politics, the nation state, the economy. Earlier I saw this from an Indian or South Asian or “Third World” perspective which pre-disposed me not to look very carefully inside Europe. I saw Europe broadly and without nuance. Then I began to question how Europe made itself and to wonder what were and are the stresses or uncertainties of that enterprise. I had been doing this for a few years so when I had the opportunity to come here I had some hopes that the interest would find fertile ground. It has been much more fruitful than I had anticipated. In Berlin perhaps especially there is an active search for the hidden histories of Europe and a focus on Europe’s entanglements with the rest of the world. There is lots of active research at universities, think tanks, and other places exploring the histories that have been marginalized and seeking to bring them back to light in part to offer different alternatives for the present. So my timing in being here and my experience has been better than I had hoped.

Your last book, The Future as a Cultural Fact: Essays on the Global Condition (2013), was the product of many years’ worth of research and writing and an important contribution to globalization studies. It has been described as laying the foundation for “a revitalized, and urgent, anthropology of the future.” Can you tell us more about this book? How do you see the future of higher education, and NYU’s global presence, in the context of globalization?

The book is indeed a collection of essays with some highly connected themes and it is in part a manifesto to say that anthropology has not paid sufficient attention to what is coming next. We usually look to custom, tradition, habit – the past – but all societies also have views about what is coming next – how to ensure it, realize it, achieve it. But the book also asks what are the lightest and darkest sides of current global horizons. It takes a generally hopeful view of the future, and for the anthropology of the future, focusing on ideas like design and research that need to be pursued in a global, cosmopolitan way that involves egalitarian transactions and interactions between institutions in other countries and the West. It is within our powers to put ourselves on the same plane. Although I am not an expert, having only been to Abu Dhabi and Berlin, my view is that NYU global has the potential for helping to create an egalitarian, mutually recognizing and affirmative climate for research, teaching, and learning. This requires a great deal of of commitment and value-driven institution building. This is happening at a time when the countries or regions that drove us in the past will not necessarily drive us tomorrow. China and India are powerful, as are Brazil, Russia, and Turkey. All are now facing some form of political dampening, but they will are major powers. But the idea of a university in which in undergrads, graduates students, and faculty are in different orbits but are circling the same globe while remaining connected vertically through interactions between research and teaching, is exciting. This is a most hopeful idea. NYU’s global locations can play an important role in trying to forge connections perhaps not so easily made at the home campus because it is so large and established. For example, getting US scholars to meet local scholars, having students meet local students. Having the single global umbrella is a terrific opportunity with a powerful potential. What makes NYU special is experimenting with how the university could or should work.

You are an acclaimed author and scholar who has not only lived a globalized life but thought critically about globalization and the serious issues of our time – design, planning, finance, and poverty. You have been described as embracing the “politics of hope.” Can you tell us what that means about what you are currently working on?

The idea of the politics of hope is tied up with another phrase I have coined – the capacity to aspire. That concept was my effort to intervene or contribute to a debate among scholars about inequality and how to rectify it. Some thinkers, for example Charles Taylor, focus on recognition, while others focus on redistribution.

To me, if you look at the capacity to think optimistically, to look ahead, to aspire, no one lacks that, but poorer populations lack the experiences upon which to build robust ideas about where they would like to go or what they would like to do or be. This is not an inequality of the mind, but of experience. They simply have a smaller stock of experiences to draw on in thinking about their own future. They lack, but need, the capacity to aspire and that is where we should focus our attention.

The capacity to aspire sets the foundation for the politics of hope, which endeavors to find methods to look for better solutions to our biggest problems. Problems like inequality, racism, exclusionary politics, and climate. And solutions that that include poorer populations and so are not merely solving them for the few. Such an approach emphasizes the capacity to look ahead, design, and plan in the long run. The politics of hope is made up of whatever methods can strengthen the capacity to aspire – the capacity to research, to design, to make your world more as you would like it to be – for all people.

Do you think that time abroad is valuable for students’ academic and personal development? If so, how do you think that value manifests?

I think it is not only valuable, but vital. However, the structure is very important which is why the nature of NYU Berlin and the other NYU programs is consequential. How you help students see their new situation and do your teaching and relating is vital. Having the best of human talent engaged in that really helps, and this is true at the NYU global sites. In our world this kind of education is urgent and indispensable because today time studying abroad has the capacity to do something that the cosmopolitan urge in earlier times did not. Earlier this was only a self- broadening endeavor – you become a fuller person. But today you develop the capacity to live with, recognize and address harsh realities for other people. Now the global study experience is about collective horizon expansion, not only about US students becoming more mature or wise. It builds their capacity to be global thinkers and doers. That is the gold standard and NYU is a part of it.

NYU Steinhardt in Hong Kong: Forging Pathways to Sustainability

This spring, a graduate class from NYU Steinhardt traveled to Hong Kong to collaborate in visionary plans to protect Hong Kong’s ecological heritage. The class is taught by Prof. Raul Lejano, who integrates the international field studies workshop with his ongoing research on urban resilience in Asia.

Over two weeks in January, the students collaborated with nonprofits and others in Hong Kong to craft strategies for integrating the urban and the ecological. They were even joined by Dom Brewer, Dean of the Steinhardt School, for a day or trekking in the field.

The rest of the semester was then spent analyzing data and preparing deliverables which are then presented to stakeholders in Hong Kong for actual implementation. This year, students sorted themselves into four projects.

  1. Hoi Ha Nature Trail and Masterplan

    Map of Hoi Ha Nature Trail and Cultural Heritage Site

Maegan Ciolino, Yunshun Yang, Rachel Baruch

The group sought to create ways for local residents to cherish (and protect) the coastal wetlands and mangrove in Hoi Ha, an area in Sai Kung District, Hong Kong. To do this, they worked with Friends of Hoi Ha to design, stake out, and geo-reference a nature trail, complete with interpretive signs (map shown below). The project took a surprising turn when the group retraced an old, abandoned boulder trackway built by Hakka settlers almost two hundred years ago. They integrated the historical pathway into the new nature trail to provide the visitor an experience of history and ecology. Friends of Hoi Ha is working with the Environmental Minister to formally incorporate the nature trail into the nature master plan for Hoi Ha.

  1. Mangroves and Me: A Nature Lesson for Young Ecologists

RaeJean Boyd, Anna Hoch, Barbara Leary, Kym Mendez

Another group of graduate students worked with a local elementary school, Hong Kong Academy, to design and conduct a half-day nature lesson revolving around the ecology of Hoi Ha. Their vision for the learning experience was to integrate play and experiential, place-based learning to engage fifth graders in environmental action. Learning about mangrove and wetlands was integrated with hands-on activities, including kayaking, planting mangrove propagules, and identifying freshwater insects. Assessment revolved around interpretive drawings that the kids created to capture the day’s activities. The lesson is being formally integrated into the Academy’s curriculum.

NYU Steinhardt Students Conducting Nature Lesson for Fifth Graders of Hong Kong Academy

  1. Sustainable Housing for Pak Sha O

Fatima Ahmed, Zhe Huang, Danni Lu, Pamela Razo, Yiyi Shi

Traditional Hakka Village Housing in Pak Sha O

Pak Sha O is a traditional Hakka village in Sai Kung, Hong Kong, where the old village houses have been preserved by its current residents. The government has made plans to put in new housing in Pak Sha O. NYU students have written up a set of design recommendations for new housing in this ecologically and culturally important area. The specs include: adaptation of Hakka housing elements for the exterior, application of Feng Shui design concepts for the interior, wind turbines, and advanced septage treatment. An interesting facet of the design concerns the intersection of cultural and environmental elements –e.g., agreement between traditional Feng Shui concepts and newer sustainable design principles.

  1. Seafood Tourism and Coastal Heritage in Sai Kung

Xiao Huang, Alex McIe, Tommy V. Le

Sustainable Cities Class with Dean Brewer in Sai Kung

The area of Sai Kung is popular with tourists for its renowned seafood restaurant row. However, seafood tourism goes on seemingly disconnected with the rich heritage of Sai Kung as a fishing village. NYU students trace the cultural and cuisinary pathways that make up seafood tourism in the town. Their ethnographic study has led to recommendations for making the fishing culture and coastal ecology alive for visitors to the area. The guide includes a walking tour of Sai Kung and an ethnography of the local seafood industry.

NYU Paris Professor Gives Reading- The Pirate Who Does Not Know the Value of Pi

On 2 May, Eugene Ostashevsky, poet, translator, and NYU professor, will discuss The Pirate Who Does Not Know the Value of Pi, his poetry novel about communication challenges in a relationship between a pirate and a parrot who are shipwrecked on a deserted island.

The Pirate, just published in the U.S. by the New York Review of Books, has also appeared in French and German translation, the former as Le Pirate qui ne connaît pas la valeur de pi – Chapitre 1.
Ostashevsky, himself an award-winning translator from Russian and Italian, will talk about the challenges and opportunities of writing and publishing a creative book, and especially a multilingual one. He will also talk about pirate language, animal intelligence, and other minds. Of course, he will also read passages from The Pirate Who Does Not Know the Value of Pi.

NYU Abu Dhabi Chemist Helps Bring Digital Courseware to Schools in Kenya

Learning science is about to get a whole lot cooler for hundreds of high school students in Kenya. An international project co-led by an NYU Abu Dhabi chemist will deliver digital education materials such as interactive modules, online simulations, and even virtual chemistry experiments to many classrooms.

The idea for the project — Chemistry on Computers in Kenya — was born at the second Joint Undertaking for an Africa Materials Institute (JUAMI) conference held in Arusha, Tanzania.

“Computer learning in core scientific subjects like chemistry is uncommon in Kenya because internet service is unreliable and many teachers may have limited computer skills,” said Philip Rodenbough, NYUAD postdoctoral chemist who was also a member of the US Peace Corps in West Africa. “Chemistry on Computers in Kenya (CCK) will digitize science education and help improve digital literacy for both young people and teachers.”

Kenya’s government is already providing scores of tablets to elementary school students and funding more computer labs in secondary schools, Rodenbough said, but they need help establishing a digital curriculum. They have computers but nothing to put on them for students to learn.

CCK aims to develop at least three computer-based chemistry lesson plans this year and then encourage science educators to distribute them across their own personal networks. The project has the potential for a very large impact because “it’s easy for teachers to share digital materials” even beyond Kenya, Rodenbough added.

Along with Rodenbough, the project is co-led by PhD student and Kenyan chemistry teacher Agatha Wagutu at the Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology in Tanzania. The JUAMI conference was funded by the US National Science Foundation and the CCK project received funding and support from the Materials Research Society Foundation.

Andy Gregory, NYUAD Public Affairs; this post originally appeared here.