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NYU Shanghai Course Focuses on Recycling Plastic – Re-Made in China

More than two billion tons of solid waste is generated every year by the world’s cities — a challenge that if left unaddressed, will continue to have serious health, safety and environmental consequences. This semester, nine IMA students accepted the challenge of “learning everything about plastic and plastic pollution” and finding ways to sustainably upcycle it in a new course, Re-Made in China.

“Our goal is to become as knowledgeable as possible about our subject, and to come up with viable project ideas and prototypes that can be sustainable and fair business models generating a positive social impact for local communities,” says Clinical Instructor of Arts Marcela Godoy.

The two-credit course, guided by the principles of sustainable design philosophy, will introduce students to both traditional and new technologies to address social and environmental problems. The goal is to remake plastic waste into “something valuable and even extraordinary,” be it accessories, handcrafts or an art project.

In class, students are divided into 3 groups: one focusing on developing machines to process plastic, such as shredding and melting; another experimenting with what materials plastic can be transformed into; and the third on designing new products. “I want students to work together like a design firm, where we learn about plastic together and collaborate on projects,” Godoy says.

Suhyeon Lee ‘19, who took Godoy’s class on Digital Fabrication last semester and has signed on for Remade in China, says she is excited about learning what can be done with the overflow of trash. “I am going to gather discarded materials and combine them to produce an object that we can enjoy again — either an artistic sculpture, musical instrument, daily necessity, or even something personal that is meaningful to someone.”

Godoy’s idea of recycling emerged in 2012, when she was working in New York at YesYesNo, a studio for interactive arts and technology projects. She noticed the huge amount of waste generated from projects, and decided to upcycle the materials to make necklaces and other accessories.

“How ironic that things to make people feel beautiful can be made out of the opposite,” she says.

Marcela Godoy on the right, showing a student how to use the plastic shredder that she built.

Godoy is encouraging her students to become even more deeply engaged with the community they live in, by assigning projects that take them out of the classroom, such as creating “trash maps” tracking plastic trash routes through Shanghai.

“I am going to invite a person who collects recyclables from trash in Shanghai to share his experience,” Godoy says, “Students will then be assigned to research and interview people on their own to find out where the plastic trash is produced and disposed of.”   

Godoy also plans to invite seasoned designers from Precious Plastic Shanghai,a social enterprise devoted to raising plastic pollution awareness in China, to offer hands-on coaching to students in a workshop later in November. Godoy worked with the team after moving to China in 2015.

At the end of the course, Godoy plans to launch a “Re-Maker Space” for the benefit of the whole NYU Shanghai community, where all students and faculty can drop by to process plastic and make something valuable of their own.

The seven-week course is expected to conclude on December 11. Following the end of the semester, Godoy will present her class’ work at the Precious Plastic WANA Conference in Abu Dhabi on December 16-17.  

 

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

NYU Sydney Anthropology Lecturer Petronella Vaarzon-Morel on Students Experiencing the Warmth of Walpiri Culture

The Warmth of a Walpiri Welcome

By Petronella Vaarzon-Morel, NYU Sydney Anthropology Lecturer

This September, students in the Anthropology of Indigenous Art and Anthropology classes were privileged to meet with Warlpiri cultural experts Selina Williams Napanangka and Julie Kitson Napaljarri from Willowra, an Indigenous community which is located 350 kilometres north-west of
Alice Springs in Central Australia.

NYU Sydney was recently honoured to host Warlpiri cultural experts Selina Williams Napanangka and Julie Kitson Napaljarri from Willowra. Selina and Julie were guests for two classes within a week on campus. The occasions brilliantly illustrated the opportunities afforded by the anthropology classes and the Sydney campus for meaningful cross- cultural exchanges between Indigenous Australians and NYU students.

Julie and Selina are both skilled artists and performers of the Warlpiri women’s yawalyu ceremonies, which celebrate their ancestral connections to country through song, dance, and body painting.

Both women are currently involved in two collaborative projects with NYU anthropology lecturer Petronella Vaarzon-Morel. The first is a cultural mapping project which involves traditional owners visiting their ancestral countries in the Lander Warlpiri Anmatyerr region and mapping ancestral tracks, sites and cultural heritage information. The second is a cultural returns project, an Australian Research Council Linkage project involving the Indigenous body the Central Land Council, and researchers from The University of Sydney and The University of Melbourne. The project has been running for three years and is near completion.

During this period the researchers have located large collections of Central Australian Indigenous cultural materials which are held in diverse public and private collections. Applying international best practice, material (primarily images and audio-visual ) has been digitised and reconnected with rightful Indigenous people.

The project has helped preserve Indigenous heritage, improve community access, safeguard at-risk materials, support intergenerational knowledge transfer, and provide a framework for the development of a repatriation policy. At the time of their visit to NYU Sydney, Julie and Selina were visiting archives in Sydney and Canberra for the project.

The theme of the Indigenous Art class for the week was Warlpiri and Anmayerr art. In addition to providing insights into the different Warlpiri modes of artistic practice, and providing feedback on the readings for the week, Julie and Selina taught students the basics of the Warlpiri traditional iconographic system. The iconography is employed in body painting, sand drawing and the contemporary Western Desert style of acrylic painting on canvas which has become renowned throughout the world.

In a fascinating cross-cultural exercise, students later viewed video clips made by Petronella of Julie and Selina providing their interpretations of works such as Jackson Pollock’s Blue Poles in the American Masters Exhibition, which was on display next to the Indigenous Gallery.

Following their visit to Sydney, Julie and Selina visited the National Gallery in Canberra, where they expressed great pride in seeing Aboriginal art in the nation’s capital. Julie commented “it’s so amazing to see Aboriginal art displayed so beautifully here. The last time I came with you [Petronella] to Canberra in the late 1970s we hardly saw any Aboriginal art. It’s good to see the increased recognition of Aboriginal people in Australia.”

Julie and Selina joined students of the Anthropology class to view the virtual reality film Collisions, directed by Lynette Wallworth with Indigenous elder Nyarri Nyarri Morgan. The film, recounts Nyarri Nyarri Morgan’s recollections of his first contact with Europeans during the 1950s, and the fallout of the atomic bomb over his people, the Martu in the region known as the Pilbara in Western Australia. The viewing provided a great opportunity for the Warlpiri guest speakers to share their reflections on the violent history of settler colonisation of Australia and Indigenous responses. This in turn prompted exchanges. For example, one student spoke of the feelings the film stirred concerning the bombing of Japan, her homeland during the 2nd World War.

Julie told the students about the murder of her relatives during the Coniston Massacre, which took place in the Willowra region in 1928. Coniston is officially recognised as the last massacre of Aboriginal people in Australia. The students also heard excerpts from radio interviews with Aboriginal people including Julie’s son Dwayne Ross, sister Maisie Napaljarri, and also Petronella about the Massacre. The interviews were recorded during the recent Coniston Massacre memorial day, which was held at Yurrkuru, the place where the massacre began.

During this commemorative event Warlpiri spokespeople called for a National Remembrance Day to remember the victims of massacres of Indigenous people that have occurred throughout Australia. The exchange between the NYU students and Julie and Selina were respectful and relaxed, and they highlighted the importance of the recognition of Indigenous Australians, of the true history of Australia, and of reconciliation.

During the Anthropology class Selina and Julie instructed the students in Warlpiri kinship and classificatory or “skin” system. Each student received a skin name and had to work out how they were related to Julie and Selina. In learning about their kinship relationships, they also learnt about appropriate marriage partners and kinds of behaviors associated with different kinspersons. In illustrating the importance of the relational ontology which is foundational to Warlpiri society, the exercise facilitated understanding of different ways of being in the world. Selina later commented to Petronella, “the students were pretty quick in learning their skin names. They feel proud of them. They will have them forever and will take them back to their country and share the names and their experiences. If they want to come to central Australia, we would welcome them.”

Both students and Julie and Selina felt that there wasn’t enough time to share all they could and hoped that there will more opportunities for cross-cultural exchanges at NYU Sydney in the future.

Exploring Interdisciplinary Approaches in Israel via NYU Tel Aviv

Professors Sasson and Embry at Tel Ha Shomer Hospital in Tel Aviv.

Lisa Sasson is the dietetic internship director and a clinical professor in the Steinhardt School of in the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies Department.  After directing the Nutrition and Food Study program at NYU Florence for many years, in May 2018 Professor Sasson directed the Nutrition and Food Study program at NYU Tel Aviv campus.

During the January intersession Professor Sasson co-teaches an interdisciplinary course, Case-Based Management of Dysphagia (swallowing difficulty), with Erin Embry, a speech pathologist from Communicative Science Disorders. This course is designed to promote the development and application of interdisciplinary, collaborative approaches to evidence-based management of patients with complex needs. Through the use of case studies, student led discussions and learning exercises, students work as a team to review and critique treatment and management practices. Students also participate in a hands-on and interactive dysphagia cooking competition.

 A week before Professor’s Sasson’s departure for Tel Aviv, she received a call from a professor in speech pathology in Israel who saw a clip of the Dysphagia course on the internet and wanted to learn more about this class.  There is growing interest in Israel interdisciplinary teaching. A couple of conference calls later, both Professor Sasson and Professor Embry were on their way to Israel to discuss this course in more detail and also explore possible future collaboration.

Professor Sasson was on her way to Israel to prepare for the study abroad program but for Professor Embry it was her first time in Israel and she had only a few days to prepare for the trip!

During their time in Israel, Professor Sasson and Professor Embry met with government representatives, NGO representatives, speech pathologists, occupational therapists, nutritionists, and hospital representatives.  Professors Sasson and Embry learned so much about health care and treatment in Israel.

Everyone agreed to stay in touch and share research, ideas and possible future collaboration. For professors Sasson and Embry it was proof that “NYU’s global network can lead to amazing opportunities for faculty and students.”

 

NYU Sydney’s Fran Molloy on Australia’s Population Reaching 25 Million Two Decades Earlier than Predicted

AUSTRALIA’S POPULATION HITS 25 MILLION EARLIER THAN EXPECTED

By Fran Molloy, NYU Sydney Lecturer in Journalism

On August 7, Australia’s population reached 25 million, more than two decades faster than predicted.

Recently, the Australian Bureau of Statistics population clock – which adds another Australian every 1 minute and 23 seconds – rolled over to exactly 25 million.

It’s a significant benchmark, particularly when as recently as 2002, Australia’s population was predicted to climb from 19.6 million in 2002, to 25.3 million in 2042.

Instead, Australia’s already at 25 million, more than two decades earlier than expected; and if current trends continue, will likely exceed 30 million by 2030.

“When population grows rapidly, it makes it more likely that you will have further growth in the near future, because you have a younger and more fertile population,” says Professor Nick Parr, from Macquarie’s Centre for Workforce Futures.

He points out that population growth is complex; while migration has played a huge role in for Australia’s fast growth over the last couple of decades, factors like a strong economy pre-2008 and delayed childbearing also contributed to a “baby bump” in the early years of this century.

Students + Kiwis + holiday workers + expats + babies = 25 million

In 2017, net migration accounted for 62 per cent of our population increase. “That number includes international students as well as temporary workers, working holiday makers, New Zealanders and returning expatriates,” says Parr.

With house prices recently spiralling in major cities and complaints of traffic congestion and overdevelopment growing louder, rapid population growth is generally unpopular among Australians.

But there are advantages, Parr says – chief among them that population growth due to immigration both supports our ageing residents – and slows the overall rate of ageing of our population.

“When we have more people working and contributing taxes, the costs of population ageing are spread more widely,” he says.

He says that a more pressing issue for Australia than population growth, is its distribution. “Geographically, our population growth is very heavily concentrated in the major cities, which is the key factor influencing congestion and housing issues.”

What’s next? “Our population will continue to grow, and we need to plan for that as best we can,” he says. “We need to look further into the future to ensure today’s children are educated and trained in areas that would be gainfully used in the labour market, so they help defray the costs of population aging and contribute to tax dollars.”

This article has been republished with the permission of The Lighthouse, Macquarie University’s multimedia news platform.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

NYU Berlin Hosts Lecture by Mary Nolan

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

 

NYU Sydney Environmental History Instructor on Ants in Australia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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