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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.

NYU Shanghai’s Inaugural Graduation

NYU Shanghai honored its first graduates at the university’s inaugural Commencement on May 28. The 264 graduates, who hail from China, the United States and 31 other countries were awarded their NYU bachelor’s degrees as well as their NYU Shanghai diplomas in a ceremony at the Oriental Arts Center in front of professors, friends, and families who travelled from around the world to celebrate the historic event. For more information about the weekend’s festivities, see here.

Three NYU Shanghai Juniors on Their Decisions to Study Away

NYU’s global presence is an important part of what distinguishes the university. And study away is an integral experience for students from NYU Shanghai and NYU Abu Dhabi.. Here, three NYU Shanghai juniors share their study away stories from Buenos Aires to Berlin.

Lizzie LeClaire ’18

Global China Studies Major

Study Away Sites: NYU Madrid and NYU Buenos Aires

Enlightenment is a funny thing. You never know when it’s going to hit you. For Lizzy LeClaire, the moment of truth came when she found herself the only non-Chinese person in her Shanghai yoga class. The teacher was giving instructions in Mandarin and Lizzy, who was born and raised in Boston, understood what she was saying. “I’d been practicing my Mandarin, but this was a real litmus test,” says Lizzy, who is majoring in Global China Studies in order to gain an understanding of the country’s educational system. “For the first time, even as I was twisted into a pretzel, I felt accomplished and ready to go beyond the classroom.”

What Lizzy did with her new fluency was travel to a rural village in the Fujian Province to observe a small primary school. “Because many people in China are leaving the villages for the cities in search of work, small schools are being shut down due to declining enrollment. I wanted to see how this trend affected the teachers and students,” she says.

Education is highly valued in China, and although a school may have just a few students and maybe one teacher, there is still a strong desire to keep going. “I saw with my own eyes the excitement in the children’s eyes as they were being taught, and it made me realize that no matter where they live or what their parents do, kids want to learn,” says Lizzy. It was then she realized that educational activism, a movement that works to improve educational access for all children worldwide, was what she wanted to concentrate on.

“My time in China was so valuable as far as opening my eyes to the possibilities of advancing education in other rural areas, but I knew, to complete my studies, I would have to see other places,” says Lizzy. One of the countries on her wish list was Spain. “The reason I chose NYU Madrid for my junior year was to gain fluency in Spanish. I figured that by being fluent in three of the most widely spoken languages in the world, I could go wherever I was needed most.” Now in Buenos Aires, Lizzy is perfecting her Spanish. “My favorite part of being in Argentina is living with a host family and learning what they really value in life. Education is something that is held in high regard here, and it’s reaffirmed my commitment to improving educational opportunities in different parts of the world.”

Bo Donners ’18

Global China Studies Major

Study Away Site: NYU Berlin

An avid traveler and hiker, Bo Donners ‘18 shares her study away experience in Berlin, her internship in New York and her advice of waking up to be amazed where you are every single morning.

What Was Your ‘Global Experience’ Like Before Coming To NYU Shanghai?

I’m from The Netherlands, and I’m majoring in Global China Studies with plans to double major in Social Science. I’ve studied in Bosnia and Herzegovina, at UWC — a global NGO that aims to unite people, cultures and nations for sustainable development by education.

Besides studying abroad, I love to travel, hike and camp with my family in many different countries. I’ve hiked in Belgium, Italy, France, Germany, Czech Republic, Bosnia and Herzegovina, China, and also a mountain four hours away from New York City.

Why Did You Choose To Study Away In Berlin? What Was It Like?

It was really a choice between traveling somewhere I hadn’t been before–like Ghana or Buenos Aires–or advancing  towards my future. Berlin is a big, alternative center of Europe, a great hub for young people and especially for start-ups. It felt familiar to me; it’s not far from my home, and in fact after spending all of last semester there, I became pretty fluent in German, which is similar to Dutch, my mother tongue. Being back in Europe, I was able to reflect on what I’ve learned from my experiences abroad, and how they are applicable to my own  culture.

What Was The Best Thing About Studying Away?

Building connections with a professor who taught a social environmental movement class, and establishing the future possibility of working on projects with him and his company. In general, I value being in a new environment where you can meet and learn from people who have different backgrounds. Regardless if at first it seems irrelevant to your future plans, exposure to other cultures will only benefit how you work in an international environment. My advice is: be amazed every single morning.

And You Had An Internship In New York?

In New York I interned at The Partnership on Sustainable, Low Carbon Transport (SLoCaT) an NGO branch of the United Nations. The organization depended on my note-taking in conferences and I also wrote daily reports for them to  assist in how they could inform their partners about our progress and cause. I worked at  a climate change conference, did some lobbying, and found it exciting to see how people from multiple nations come together to work on international issues and develop policies.

Ma Teng (Martin) ‘18

IMA Major

Study Away Site: NYU Abu Dhabi

Driven by graphic design, IMA major Teng Ma (Martin) ‘18 used his study away semester at NYU Abu Dhabi to join the basketball team, introduce  a logo to the sheikh of Abu Dhabi, and contemplate how to open up design jobs in his northeast China hometown.

Why did you choose to study away at NYU Abu Dhabi?

I’m an IMA major who is passionate about technology, graphic design and basketball. The year before my study away, I had visited New York as an actor for the NYU Reality Show, and I wanted to explore Abu Dhabi to complete my travel among the three main global sites. I also had heard many good reviews about the design courses there from friends–plus, I couldn’t resist the fact that they had a state of the art indoor basketball court.

What was it like for you there?

I joined the basketball team–practice was rigorous and as early as 6:30am–I took up boxing and other fitness activities, and made a lot of friends with whom to explore the city. I loved the courses I took; a friend recommended a class called Yes Logo, taught by Goffredo Puccetti. In that course, we designed logos for WWF–the panda logo, as well as a logo for Italy and UAE’s 45 Years Celebration. My logo was picked in the top 3 of all the students’ individual designs. Professor Puccetti taught us through direct experience–from start to end, from brainstorming, using software and creating finished products.  We even presented our WWF logo to the sheikh, who was impressed.

Along with design, I took a painting course and a strategic management course out of pure interest. And I believe that studying across disciplines will inform how I approach graphic design in my future plans. Learning about how people succeed and what they do to reach their goals was eye opening for me.

One the best experiences was making new friends in Abu Dhabi who are now visiting me at NYU Shanghai while they study away here for a semester. It’s really cool that our adventures together will continue.

Where are you interning and what will you do in the future?

I am currently interning at Bigger Lab, an educational startup aimed at high schoolers in China and based in Puxi, Shanghai. I am helping them meet their various design and branding needs as well as create a new visual identity. After graduation I will probably work in Shanghai for a while. But, I’m keeping an eye out for opportunities in my hometown, Changchun in Jilin province.

My hometown is far from being a big city like Shanghai. Maybe right now people aren’t paying much money to focus on branding and development of logos, but I want to eventually return and empower people there with the experiences I’ve gained in Shanghai and abroad. I want provide opportunities for other people to learn about and understand brand consulting, especially how having design skills can benefit their endeavors.

NYU Tisch Dance Minor Credit Offered at NYU Shanghai

Students studying at NYU Shanghai can now qualify for half of the Dance Minor offered at NYU Tisch School of the Arts by taking two dance classes, Dance and Choreography & Performance, at NYU Shanghai.

NYU Tisch approved the two courses taught in Shanghai by professor Aly Rose in March, allowing students from across the global network to either start or finish their minor in Shanghai.

“This is a great opportunity for students to become leaders, artists, and diversify their skills for whatever careers they choose in the future,” says Rose, former Head of the Dance Minor at NYU Tisch where she taught Choreography, Chinese Dance, and Topics in Chinese Culture.

To be awarded a dance minor, students must complete a total of 16 credits in accredited courses, with Dance (ART-SHU 225A-001/225B-001) and Choreography & Performance (ART-SHU 239.4-001/239.2-001) at NYU Shanghai now counting 4 credits each towards the minor.

The two courses are already the most popular dance classes on campus, and students now have a new dance studio in the Shanghai academic building to train at.

“A week or two after landing in Shanghai, I enrolled in the Choreography & Performance class. The hours were long, and the coursework was demanding, but I stuck with it because I was genuinely interested in the content,” said study away student Emma Quong ‘19. “Little did I know that the course’s professor would bring an exciting dimension to my semester.”

Some of Rose’s students have gone on to hold public performances at some of the city’s biggest arts venues. The entire Choreography & Performance class performed CELL at the 18th International Art Festival Shanghai, while Emma Quongpresident of NYU’s ballet club –Janice Luo and Isabel Adler held performances at MOCA Shanghai in collaboration with Rose’s professional dancers.

“Professor Aly Rose constantly shared her professional opportunities with the students. Because of her, I was able to perform at the China Shanghai International Arts Festival Campus Performance and also at the Museum of Contemporary Art Shanghai (MOCA). And through NYU Shanghai, 5 invited students and I were sent to NYU Abu Dhabi to dance at the Body Voices Conference,” added Quong.

“All of my classes are open to everyone. No dance background is necessary,” says Rose. “It’s exciting to see a student transform, build up their confidence and learn how to express themselves more fully.”

While NYU Shanghai’s Dance course explores the history and movements of jazz, hip-hop, modern and classical Chinese dance, the Choreography & Performance course teaches students how to create their own work and work collaboratively with others.

“They learn how to trust their own bodies, respect and work with one another. Creating a dance vocabulary is very important part of choreography. It’s very exciting for student to have a voice and learn how to express themselves with their body,” Rose said.

“Collaborating with other students, professional dancers, and the Chinese arts community I found new perspective to dance and performance. I realized that it is not just about comparing the culturally different end products, but to also understand the importance of their various creation processes,” said Quong.

“At the end of the semester we put on a big show in front of a live audience. A lot of them are showing their own work for the first time and for some, dancing for the first time. It’s very impressive because their majors are business, finance, etc,” said Rose.

NYU Shanghai students wishing to complete the minor during their study away year can take a combination of the following courses at NYU Tisch: either History of Dance or Why Dance Matters for 4 credits each, and any combination of 2 point Ballet, Modern, African, Flamenco, Hip Hop and Indian dance.

This post comes from NYU Shanghai and originally appeared here.

NYU Shanghai Professor Heather Lee Honored with Martin Luther King, Jr. Faculty Award

For her pursuit of teaching excellence and cultural understanding, Assistant Professor of History Heather Ruth Lee of NYU Shanghai was conferred the prestigious Martin Luther King, Jr. Faculty Award on February 7, as part of a cherished tradition at the NYU community — the annual MLK Week.

The award, sponsored by the Provost of NYU, recognizes outstanding faculty who exemplify the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. through leadership, social justice activism and community building. The winners have all made a positive impact within the classroom and in the greater NYU community.

Tuesday’s award ceremony at NYU Kimmel Center saw Professor Lee — joined by four other winning faculty, past winners and university leadership–giving an emotional and inspiring acceptance speech, in which she recalled a deceased friend who dedicated her life as an undocumented immigrant to political activism for equality.

Professor Lee said she held onto the phrase “exemplifies the spirit,” which reminded her of “how much more there is to do and how great the challenges we face in this world are.”

Recipients of the Martin Luther King, Jr. award are selected by a committee of previous winners and a student leader, based on essays about faculty candidates authored by student nominees.

In her letter nominating Professor Lee, NYU Shanghai sophomore Chelsea Polanco recalled a “memorable moment” in which the professor met criticism from another student in a talk about the burkini ban in France.

“She took that opportunity to coordinate a class of faculty and students devoted to the issue of identity and how people in society view us,” Polanco said. “She created a safe space in which students could gather together to talk about how their position in society affects how they are viewed by others and themselves.”

According to NYU Shanghai Provost Joanna Waley-Cohen, Professor Lee brought attention to issues of cross-cultural misunderstanding and encouraged students to air their differences without fear of retribution.

“We are proud that she has won the award and grateful for her leadership. At NYU Shanghai, learning to build community and function in a multicultural context is part of our DNA,” she added.


This post comes from NYU Shanghai and is available here.

NYU Shanghai Seniors Earn Schwarzman Scholarships, Along with Graduates of NYU Abu Dhabi and NYU

The 2018 Schwarzman Scholars, founded by Blackstone Chairman, CEO, and Co-Founder Stephen A. Schwarzman, include students from 30 countries and 75 universities with 45 percent from the United States, 20 percent from China, and 35 percent from the rest of the world.

“I am overjoyed with the caliber of students who will make up the second class of Schwarzman Scholars,” said Schwarzman. “It has been truly inspiring for me to meet these people, who at such a young age have already started to make an impact on the world.”

Roxanne Roman is a social science major at NYU Shanghai. She will graduate this year having served as Shanghai’s first full-term student body president and founder of the school’s 2013 Fund. A first-generation American and advocate of women’s political advocacy, she has worked in the Office of the First Lady at the White House, the Hillary for America Presidential Campaign, and the Senate of the Philippines.

Jacko Walz is majoring in business and finance at NYU Shanghai. Interested in political risk, he will pursue a concentration in international studies as a Schwarzman Scholar. He has interned at London’s BBC Worldwide and worked as an analyst at IoTOne. At NYU Shanghai, he founded the NYU Shanghai American football team and has served in the Undergraduate Business Association and TEDxNYU Shanghai.

In addition, Mohammed Omar, a 2014 graduate of NYU Abu Dhabi, and Anushka Prasad, a 2013 graduate of NYU’s College of Arts and Science, were also among the 129 chosen.

Mohammed Omar graduated from NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) in 2014 with a double major in mechanical engineering and mathematics. He was a member of the inaugural class at NYUAD and was instrumental in establishing the university’s student government, having been elected student body president twice. He then went on to complete his M.S. in mechanical engineering at NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering, where he worked on analyzing composite materials. His group is the first to successfully create a metal matrix syntactic foam core sandwich composite; the results were published in Material Science & Engineering. In 2015, Omar joined the professional services firm AlphaSights as an associate in its Dubai office.

Anushka Prasad graduated with a degree in economics (with Highest Honors) from NYU in 2013. After graduation, she moved to New Delhi to be a part of building India’s first liberal arts university, Ashoka University. At Ashoka, Anushka leads various strategic initiatives to build the university’s governance structure, policies, women’s leadership and India’s first archive focusing on contemporary India. As a Schwarzman Scholar, she hopes to learn from China’s education policies to lead education reform and institution-building in India and other developing countries.

The 2018 scholars follow last year’s inaugural Schwarzman Scholars, who included Kes Rittenberg, a 2016 graduate of NYU’s College of Arts and Science.

“The second class of Schwarzman Scholars is a remarkable group of people who are committed to broadening their worldview and encouraging peace and friendship between the east and the west,” added Nigel Thrift, executive director of the program. “I continue to be amazed by these students and how Schwarzman Scholars is creating global citizens who will be well equipped to succeed and lead in whatever field they choose.”

An Interview With Roxanne Roman And Jacko Walz

The Shanghai Gazette spoke to Roxanne and Jacko shortly after the announcement of 2018 Schwarzman Scholarship, see how they responded to the wonderful news:

What Does The Winning Of This Scholarship Mean To You?

Jacko: For me, this scholarship represents an unmatchable opportunity to further my global education while surrounded by some of the most accomplished young individuals in the world. The Schwarzman Scholarship has been on my radar since Spring 2014, when Stephen Schwarzman held a Skype conference at NYU Shanghai. I immediately recognized the potential of the program and realized that it aligned very neatly with my goals. Since then, I have considered Schwarzman Scholars the optimal path for me following graduation.

Roxanne: Being named a Schwarzman Scholar tells me the future is invested in an inclusive, aware, and dynamic global community. I’ve been honored with an incredible opportunity to participate in innovatively changing the world for the better while learning and working alongside future leaders. It’s really meaningful to me to have my story involved in this endeavor.

How Do You Foresee This Opportunity Contributing To Your Personal Development, Future Goals And Broadening Your Perspectives On China?

Jacko: Living in China has provided me with countless opportunities for growth and learning. Most importantly, my time here has helped shape my perspective on China and the world, which has, in turn, helped me formulate my goals for the future. I hope to delve deeper into Chinese and international studies through the Schwarzman Scholarship in order to be able to explore some of the major challenges facing the international community in the coming years.

Roxanne: At 18, I had no idea how impactful the decision to move to China would be. At 22, I’m excited to engage with China from new perspectives in Beijing. One day, I hope to use my experiences to contribute to conversations of mutual benefit between the United States, the Philippines, and China.

Has Your Experience At NYU Shanghai Equipped You With The Qualities Exemplified By The Schwarzman Scholarship, And How?

Jacko: As a member of the inaugural class at NYU Shanghai, I’ve been fortunate enough to have a blank canvas to work with, molding the school in any way we saw necessary. From the start, NYU Shanghai has strongly encouraged us to take influential positions and leadership roles at the university which have enabled us to truly impact the development of the school. Furthermore, NYU Shanghai has deeply emphasized developing an international and culturally cognizant perspective on the world. I believe these leadership and cultural experiences have given me the tools become a member of the “next generation of leaders,” as the Schwarzman Scholarship insists.

Roxanne: NYU Shanghai taught me the power of initiative, courage, and perseverance in growing as a person, as a leader, and as a community member. NYU Shanghai propelled my personal growth and cultivated my potential by challenging me to build bridges over walls.

About Schwarzman Scholars:

Schwarzman Scholars was inspired by the Rhodes Scholarship, which was founded in 1902 to promote international understanding and peace, and is designed to meet the challenges of the 21st century and beyond. Blackstone Co-Founder Stephen A. Schwarzman personally contributed $100 million to the program and is leading a fundraising campaign to raise an additional $350 million from private sources to endow the program in perpetuity. The $450 million endowment will support up to 200 Scholars annually from the U.S., China, and around the world for a one-year Master’s Degree program at Tsinghua University in Beijing, one of China’s most prestigious universities and an indispensable base for the country’s scientific and technological research. Scholars chosen for this highly selective program will live in Beijing for a year of study and cultural immersion, attending lectures, traveling, and developing a better understanding of China. Admissions opened in the fall of 2015, with the first class of students in residence in September 2016.

This post was originally published in the Shanghai Gazette and is available here.

How January Term is Redefining Education

This is a post from NYU Abu Dhabi. Although January Term originated with NYU Abu Dhabi, now other students in NYU’s global network, notably those from NYU Shanghai, have the opportunity to experience a January Term.

Education at NYU Abu Dhabi is not just about learning facts from textbooks and passing multiple choice exams. It’s an immersive experience for NYUAD students, who, each January Term choose hands-on classes in cities from Al Ain to Buenos Aires that challenge their perceptions of the past and enrich their visions of the future.

There are dozens of courses offered in J-Term that get students out of the classroom to learn about the world as it was before, and experience the world as it really is today, like Jazz or the Financial Crisis taught in New York City, Emirati Arabic in Al Ain, Museum History in Berlin, and these seven examples that span the globe. Note: course descriptions have been edited.


Oasis Coast and Mountain

Faculty: Steven C. Caton and Donald M. Scott
Course location: UAE and Oman

A course that challenges students’ perceptions of Arabian landscapes as being mainly desert by showing them three distinct habitat zones: desert oasis, maritime ports, and mountain farms all within 250 kilometers of each other across the UAE and Oman.

Students learn through observational site visits, direct encounters and interactions with local peoples and places through walking tours, interviews, photography and sketching.

Imagining the Renaissance City

Faculty: Jane Tylus
Course location: NYU Florence

Northern and central Italy’s bustling towns inspired many of today’s modern cities and also pioneered recognizably modern artistic, cultural, and engineering practices. Florence was a powerhouse of culture and industry and Siena the ‘Wall Street of Europe’ with the skyline to match.

Students spend three weeks getting to know these towns intimately. Explore downtown Florence, Siena, and the Tuscan countryside. Walk from the town of Fiesole (with its Etruscan ruins and Roman theater), to Monte Ceceri (from whose summit a student of Leonardo da Vinci’s tried to fly; good start, sad ending). Visit seats of government and Renaissance orphanages, climb towers for bird’s-eye views, prowl a crypt recently excavated under Siena’s cathedral, visit churches on hills overlooking Florence and the cells of monks, and walk the trail of the stonecutters to see where Michelangelo found his stone.


Coastal Urbanization

Faculty: John Burt
Course location: Sydney

Over 80 percent of the Australian population lives within 100 kilometers of a coast and virtually all major Australian cities occur on coastlines. As a result, Australia’s coastal environments have been substantially modified to suit human needs.

Using Sydney’s terrestrial, marine, and built environments as a natural laboratory for field research, students collect environmental data throughout the city and use geographic information systems (GIS) to examine the spatial patterns of human impacts to Sydney’s environment and compare their results with patterns observed in other coastal cities.


Faculty: Professor Michael Beckerman
Course location: Prague

Prague should have been destroyed during the Second World War, like other major cities in Europe, but somehow it wasn’t. Its remarkable survival allows us to explore Central European history and culture in the context of a completely preserved inner urban core dating back to the Middle Ages.

Class time includes walking tours around Prague, trips to museums, castles, theaters, classical concerts including Mozart’s Magic Flute and Janacek’s From the House of the Dead, and several excursions outside the city to the Eastern Province of Moravia, birthplace of Mahler and Freud, and to the UNESCO Heritage site of Cesky Krumlov.

Democracy and its Critics

Faculty: Philip Mitsis
Course location: Abu Dhabi / Athens

An examination of one of history’s most radical and influential democracies, ancient Athens.

Students assume historical roles in key decision-making institutions and debate questions about democratic procedures, the extension of voting rights, religion and free speech, foreign policy, etc., often in the very locations where these ancient debates occurred.

The Idea of the Portrait

Faculty: Shamoon Zamir
Course location: London

The course draws upon the rich resources of London’s museums and galleries to examine a wide range of portraits and self-portraits in painting and photography from different periods of history and from different cultures.

Students visit The National Gallery, British Museum, Tate Modern, Tate Britain, the Queen’s Collection, the Courtauld Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery, and the Victoria & Albert Museum, as well as the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.

Creative Cities

Faculty: Arlene Davila
Course location: Buenos Aires

Latin America has been undergoing rapid urbanization and is increasingly recognized as a continent made up of “countries of cities,” yet the dominant Latin American image has been on indigenous or traditional communities, which are always imagined as rural and authentic, rather than modern and urbanized.

Buenos Aires provides an urban laboratory to explore culture in urban development, urban tourism, and the marketing and internationalization of tango. Guided tours and guest speakers enrich students’ appreciation of contemporary Buenos Aires.

Original post by Andy Gregory, NYUAD Public Affairs, available here.

In Conversation with NYU Shanghai’s new Dean of Arts and Sciences Maria E. Montoya

montoya_9401Maria E. Montoya has been NYU Shanghai’s new Dean of Arts and Sciences since June. As a tenured member of NYU’s history faculty for almost a decade, Montoya also knows NYU Shanghai well, after teaching at the campus as an affiliated professor during the 2014-15 academic year. Author of forthcoming U.S. history textbook, Global Americans: A History of the United States, Montoya is also an expert on the development of the American West, and the history of workers, women and ethnic minorities.

We sat down with the new dean and talked challenges of the Arts and Sciences, what a Global American looks like, and why it’s important for students to have a global perspective.

Q: What Impact Do You Want To Make As NYU Shanghai’s New Dean For The Arts And Sciences?

A creative impact. Things are much more flexible here in the way that we think about classes and the way we think about majors and areas of concentration. It’s exciting to be at a place like this–a hybrid of an American university, and I think a lot about how students are interacting academically in the classroom.

The challenge is getting a handle on some of the fields I’m not as familiar with, but it’s a rewarding process. There are a lot of moving parts in this place–so just figuring out how everything works together part of the exciting challenge.

Q: What Is Unique About NYU Shanghai’s Arts And Sciences Program?

The most unique thing is its diversity in the classroom. You’re able to have these cross-cultural conversations that you could never really have in a U.S.-based classroom. Things that you take for granted in a U.S. classroom you just can’t take for granted here. Those who teach here and choose to be a student here agree to engage in figuring out what it means to live in this place now and for the future. The classroom is peppered with so many different perspectives. It’s an amazing thing to watch how students broaden their own views. “Oh that’s interesting,” they’ll say. “ I never saw it that way. I’ve only learned about it in this particular way.”

Q: You Recently Authored The Textbook Global Americans And Are An Expert In The History Of The American West And Labor And Latina/O History. Did That Help You Bring A Global Perspective To The Curriculum Here?

Doing the Global Americans textbook really helped. U.S. history has always tended to be very focused inward. The project took us about 10 years to write, think about and put all together. When you think about American history from a global perspective, when you think about all the people who come to America and how Americans themselves are out and about since the 15 century, it just reshapes the way you see and think about presenting American history.

One thing the textbook does differently is that it’s entire first chapter has no Europeans in it. It’s all about native peoples and it takes seriously the notion that North Americans were the native people, and they had really complex societies and complex trade relationships–a whole world existing before European contact. You don’t assume that 1776 is going to come and the nation will emerge, but in fact this was a contest of empires and a contest of cultures. If you just switch the perspective a little bit, it becomes a really complex, interesting story. It’s not just about Thanksgiving. It really looks at all of North America and not just the East Coast.

Q:  Why Is It Important For Students Today To Have A Global Perspective Of History?

Everybody lives in a global world whether they know it or not. Think about the U.S. politics right now– it’s so much about politics of fear and politics of the unknown. Through the book I want to show students ‘You know what, America has always been globally connected, whether you believe that or not.’ Look back to the 15 and 16 century–there were always these connections, these trade networks, there were people migrating. People have always had to reassess and reevaluate with each other–and somewhere we got really afraid of that, but that’s actually what the U.S. is built on, different peoples  in constant interaction with each other. Of course that doesn’t mean it’s always easy or painless and in fact it can be really violent and difficult, but as a nation you get through that. You figure out how to absorb the next group of people, whether they are Mexicans or Asians, all of these different groups of people have their own stake of what it means to be an American.

This post comes to us from NYU Shanghai and originally appeared here.

NYU Shanghai Hosts Forum on the Future of Science

future_forum_940Hundreds of science enthusiasts had a blast on Saturday at NYU Shanghai by envisioning the future world with leading researchers from the most cutting-edge frontiers of life science and artificial intelligence.

Organized by the Future Forum and NYU Shanghai, the 20th Future Science Lecture saw almost five hours of thought-provoking keynote addresses and panels among scientists, entrepreneurs and the audience. It was the first time that the forum moved to Shanghai following 19 successful sessions in Beijing.

future_forum_250_2Jeffrey Lehman, Vice Chancellor of NYU Shanghai, hailed the forum as exemplary as it seeks to connect the world through science and technological innovation, which touches every aspect of our lives.

“NYU Shanghai, as part of our mission, is designed to provide a venue where we can welcome people from different communities to convene with conversations over serious issues and develop new ideas,” Lehman said.

In the first half of the lecture, William Haseltine, Chairman and President of ACCESS Health International, shared his insights on regenerative medicine and immunotherapy, describing them as “critical to the health of you and your loved ones”.

According to Haseltine, regenerative medicine seeks to generate new tissues and organs within one human body, which will reset the tissue’s age and bring body functions back to a younger stage, while immunotherapy allows us to “use our immune system to find malignant tumors”. He called for increasing investment in the two fields to produce more technological breakthroughs.

The second half of the lecture featured lively speeches over the history, nature and impacts of artificial intelligence. Yu Kai, Founder and CEO of Horizon Robotics, believed that AI will turn many of today’s user terminals into something truly “smart” and data-based.

“From an entrepreneurial perspective, it can be the biggest industrial opportunity in the next 10-20 years,” Yu said.

future_forum_250In particular, Zhang Zheng, Professor of Computer Science, and Jeffrey Erlich, Assistant Professor of Neuroscience at NYU Shanghai, joined the panel discussion over questions such as what changes AI will bring to our society in the next five years and their concerns about its expansion.

“As a citizen, I’m excited about real-time translation: something that people can wear which will allow them to talk to anyone,” said Professor Erlich.

“Considering different cultures and global security, allowing one individual on the planet to talk to another in real-time will bring enormous benefit,” he added.

This post comes to us from NYU Shanghai; the original is available here.

NYU Shanghai Computer Science Students to Present at Major Conferences

cs-9401Five NYU Shanghai undergraduate students have had their Computer Science research papers accepted by prestigious international conferences.

Class of ‘17 students Che (Watcher) Wang, Yanqiu (Autumn) Wu, Carson Nemelka, Cameron Ballard and Kelvin Liu have been invited to present their papers at the highly competitive Annual AAAI Conference in San Francisco, the ACM Internet Measurement Conference in Santa Monica, and the International World Wide Web Conference in Florence, Italy, which have acceptance rates between 14% and 25%.

The research, co-authored with academics at New York University and NYU Shanghai, investigates novice AI planning algorithms in real-time strategy games, the vulnerability of anonymous social media platforms, and risks to children’s privacy online.

Che (Watcher) Wang’s article “Portfolio Online Evolution in Starcraft,” which was co-authored with NYU’s Pan Chen, Yuanda Li, Christoffer Holmgard, and Julian Togelius, details a new method for playing real-time strategy games through “evolutionary search in the space of assignments of scripts to individual game units.”

The evolutionary algorithm, Wang says, is “based on and inspired by natural selection” and was test-proven to outperform previous methods in a combat simulator for Blizzard Entertainment’s StarCraft game.

“I was inspired by my advanced course called AI in Games. I only had a little over one year’s experience in programming before I got AI, but now I plan on taking on a DURF project this summer with a focus on reinforcement learning,” said Wang.

img_20160831_330The paper has been accepted for oral presentation in The Twelfth Annual AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainment (AIIDE-16) this October.

Popular on college campuses, Yik Yak is an app that lets users post anonymous short messages — a “yak”– which can be seen by other users in the vicinity. However, anonymous social network services like Yik Yak 4chan and Whisper, are likely to come under scrutiny after the publication of You Can Yak but You Can’t Hide: Localizing Anonymous Social Network Users [pdf] by seniors Ballard, Liu, Nemelka, and Wu.

Co-authored by NYU Shanghai Dean of Computer Science and Engineering Keith Ross and Minhui Xue and Haifeng Qian from East China Normal University (ECNU),  this paper investigates whether the app is “susceptible to localization attacks, thereby putting user anonymity at risk.”

Ballard worked with Nemelka on collecting data for the project. One of their experiments was able to determine the correct dorm out of nine UC Santa Cruz dorms from where a ‘yak’ message was generated — proven with 100% accuracy each time.

Reflecting on the collaboration, Ballard said it had taught him how to better communicate his work: “When collaborating you have to make sure another person can pick up your work wherever you left off. For Carson [Nemelka] and I, that meant making our programs easily usable by the other members of the team who weren’t necessarily as versed in computer programming,” he said.

poe6vsiuct_270The group’s paper has been accepted by the 2016 ACM Internet Measurement Conference (IMC), which takes place in Santa Monica, California, in November.

“It’s not often that you get the opportunity to generate knowledge, and the “Information Age” we live in is the perfect time to delve into any aspect of life that draws you,” said Ballard. “This research solidified my interest in academia. Having this experience under my belt made me confident enough to apply for the Dean’s Undergraduate Research Fund (DURF) grant this summer, and I’ve been researching Twitter and the 2016 election as a result.”

How Posting Baby Photos Could Endanger Your Child

The vulnerability of online privacy was also the subject of research published by Liu and Ross, along with NYU Tandon’s Tehila Minkus, in February 2015.

Children Seen But Not Heard: When Parents Compromise Children’s Online Privacy exposed the risks of adults sharing children’s personally identifiable information on platforms like Facebook and Instagram and was accepted by the 24th World Wide Web Consortium 2015 (WWW’2015) in Florence, Italy. Read more here.

Professor Keith Ross said he was proud of the students’ achievements.

“To have their research accepted as undergraduates at these conferences is an accomplishment of which they should be very proud,” he said. “It shows that they are already thinking and asking questions at an advanced level and will help them secure places in top postgraduate research programs. The NYU Shanghai CS faculty also have high hopes for the class of 2018 students.”

This post appeared in the NYU Shanghai Gazette, available here.