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Focus on the EU at NYU Washington, DC

On September 28, NYU Washington DC will host the fourth event in a series focused on the European Union as part of its EU in Focus series. EU in Focus is a series designed to enhance a student’s working-knowledge of the European Union. In close partnership with the Delegation of the European Union to the United States, NYU Washington, DC’s EU in Focus lecture series considers critical issues in a professional rather than conventionally academic setting.  NYU Washington, DC students who attend all DC sessions will be eligible to apply for a student leadership retreat to Brussels, the heart of the EU government. The retreat is organized jointly with NYU Florence and will be October 26 – 31.

The European Union represents the largest trading bloc and international donor in the world. It has the largest GDP; the third largest population; and is among the highest ranking in the world for health, education and living conditions. Europe remains the most important commercial and investment partner for the United States. The EU comprises a nuclear power, a permanent member of the UN Security Council and multiple seats on the G-20. From the escalating terror in its southern and eastern neighbors to Russia’s increasingly aggressive military confrontations, Europe borders regions most strategic to U.S. foreign policy and faces some of the 21st century’s most pressing security challenges. Despite these increasingly consequential and visible tensions, the “European Miracle” remains as relevant to international affairs as it was during the Cold War.

The program on 28 September is US and the EU: The Transatlantic Fight against TerrorismThe session will be presented by Laura Kupe, a Policy Analyst at the RAND Corporation. This fourth and final seminar will examine the importance of the US-EU relationship, highlighting specifically the transatlantic dialogue on security cooperation. The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and the subsequent revelation of Al Qaeda cells across Europe strengthened both sides’ commitment to combating terrorism, but challenges persist in fostering a closer US-EU security partnership. How has the heightened threat posed by the Islamic State influenced the transatlantic security policy agenda? This workshop will assess the Atlantic community’s most pressing security threats and explore the progress to date and ongoing challenges of US-EU counterterrorism efforts.

The earlier sessions in this series covered a range of interesting and engaging topics.

The series opened on September 7 with the program Fundamentals of the European Union. Timothy Rivera, Programs Officer at the Delegation of the European Union to the United States, presented the introductory workshop. It provides an overview of the origins and governing structure of the European Union. To understand the development of the 28-member bloc, this lecture examined the cultural, historical and strategic background of the European integration experiment, from World War II to present day.

The next session, on September 12, focused on The Evolving EU Governmental System. H.E. Pierre Clive Agius, Ambassador of the Republic of Malta to the United States of America, explored the unique governing system of the supranational entity. By participating in this seminar, students gained a basic understanding of the EU’s institutional framework and decision-making process. The lecture focused on the governmental innovations introduced in the Lisbon Treaty and the EU’s roadmap for social, economic and foreign and security policy.

The third session, Brexit Aftershocks: Economic and Political Implications, took place on 21 September. Lead by H.E. Dirk Wouters, Ambassador of Belgium to the United States of America, this program considered various aspects of Brexit and its aftermath. In the weeks following the United Kingdom’s fateful EU referendum, Great Britain experienced a sharp fall in the British Pound, record-low interest rate cuts, and a change of government and cabinet reshuffle. The United Kingdom is once again entering unchartered territory as the nation prepares to negotiate its exit from the European Union. Theresa May, Britain’s Prime Minister, has promised to secure the best possible deal for the UK, but many questions regarding the timeline of the negotiations and how Brexit will affect immigration, trade, and global markets, remain unanswered. This seminar revisited the implications of Britain’s historic vote and walked students through the next steps in this unprecedented geopolitical divorce.

NYU Washington, DC Hosts Dialogue on Ending Human Trafficking

It is estimated that 20.9 million people globally are victims of modern day slavery. This multi-billion dollar human trafficking industry can strip its victims of their freedom through many forms, from prostitution to involuntary servitude, and can happen anywhere.

On May 9, NYU Washington, DC will welcome U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and Cindy McCain for a dialogue on the fight to #EndHumanTrafficking. ­­

Senator Heidi Heitkamp

U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp is the first female Senator elected from North Dakota. She took the oath of office on January 3, 2013.

Senator Heitkamp grew up in a large family in the small town of Mantador, North Dakota. Alongside her six brothers and sisters, she learned the value of hard work and responsibility, leading her to choose a life of public service.

Already in her short time in the U.S. Senate, Senator Heitkamp has quickly become a proven senator who works across the aisle to fight for North Dakotans. Senator Heitkamp has personally shown that if senators work together, it can lead to real solutions.

As a former director of the one-of-a-kind Dakota Gasification synfuels plant, Senator Heitkamp has a long record of serving as a champion for North Dakota’s energy jobs and industry. She is continuing those efforts in the Senate, working to responsibly harness North Dakota’s energy resources, promoting the state’s all-of-the-above energy plan which she believes should serve as a model for the entire country, and fighting to lift the 40-year old ban on exporting U.S. crude oil.

Senator Heitkamp sits on the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, where she has been fighting for North Dakota’s farmers and ranchers to make sure they get the resources and support they need to continue to feed North Dakota, the country, and the world. Starting on day one in the Senate, she helped write, negotiate, and pass a long-term, comprehensive Farm Bill which Congress passed in 2014.

As a member on the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Senator Heitkamp is continuing her pledge — from her time as North Dakota’s Attorney General — to stand up for Native American families and make sure the U.S. government lives up to its treaty and trust responsibilities. The first bill she introduced in the Senate would better protect Native children and make sure they have the economic and educational tools to thrive.

Through her leadership on the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, Senator Heitkamp has pushed to reform the nation’s housing finance system, make housing more affordable, address North Dakota’s housing shortage, and provide relief to small financial institutions.

On the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Senator Heitkamp serves as the Ranking Member on the Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management. Through her work on the Committee, Senator Heitkamp has pushed to provide training and resources for first responders, improve mail delivery and service in rural communities, help recruit and retain a strong federal workforce, and cut red tape to make the federal government more efficient and effective for North Dakota families and small businesses.

Senator Heitkamp also serves on the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship where she has worked to support the small businesses and startups throughout North Dakota and rural communities. She introduced a bill to address challenges facing startups in North Dakota, as well as other rural states and small cities, by helping them get the early stage funding they need to grow their businesses.

Senator Heitkamp previously served as North Dakota’s Attorney General, battling drug dealers, protecting senior citizens from scams, and working to keep sexual predators off streets and away from kids, even after their prison terms were up.

During her time as North Dakota’s Attorney General, Senator Heitkamp brokered an agreement between 46 states and the tobacco industry, which forced the tobacco industry to tell the truth about smoking and health. The settlement resulted in the award of about $336 million to North Dakota taxpayers to date. It was one of the largest civil settlements in U.S. history. When very little of this funding was being spent on anti-tobacco programs as intended, Senator Heitkamp led a successful ballot initiative in 2008 that mandated significant increases.

Previously, Senator Heitkamp served as North Dakota’s Tax Commissioner. Under her tenure, the State of North Dakota attempted to make catalog retailers collect the sales tax the state and municipalities were already owed on sales. The debate went all the way to the Supreme Court in the case Quill v. North Dakota.

Senator Heitkamp received a B.A. from the University of North Dakota and a law degree from Lewis and Clark Law School. She lives in Mandan, North Dakota with her husband, Dr. Darwin Lange, a family practitioner. They have two children, Ali and Nathan.

Cindy McCain

Mrs. Cindy Hensley McCain has spent her life fighting on behalf of women and children, and has been a strong leader in the fight against human trafficking.

From serving as the Chair of The McCain Institute’s Human Trafficking Advisory Council and Co-Chair of the Arizona Governor’s Council on Human Trafficking. She works seamlessly across political, public, and private lines and has engaged with the National Football League, The International Center for Sports Security, both the Democratic Republican National Committees, Polaris, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Google and many other organizations to work to eradicate human trafficking.  She has advised members in the fight against trafficking in London, Kenya, Congo, Cambodia and the Ivory Coast.

Cindy serves as co-chair of the Arizona Governor’s Council on human trafficking and on the McCain Institute’s Human Trafficking Advisory Council.   She is dedicated to efforts to reduce human trafficking in Arizona, throughout the United States and around the world, as well as working to improve the lives of victims of human trafficking. Through her work with the McCain Institute, several partnerships have been formed with anti-trafficking organizations working on solving various aspects of the problem.

Mrs. McCain has worked to shed a light on the different facets of every day life that are affected by human trafficking, such as law enforcement, healthcare, the internet and child welfare systems.  She addresses human trafficking at an international level, by heading directly to the frontlines of the world with the most vulnerable populations subject to human trafficking. On the shorelines of Greece and Turkey, Mrs. McCain worked with organizations to educate refugees on the signs of human trafficking and how to avoid falling prey to traffickers. She has travelled extensively around the world learning more about the issue and the multitude of ways to fight this heinous crime.

She is on the Board of Directors of Project C.U.R.E and also sits on the Advisory Boards of Too Small To Fail and Warriors and Quiet Waters. Cindy holds an undergraduate degree in Education and a Master’s in Special Education from USC and is a member of the USC Rossier School of Education Board of Councilors.

Mrs. Cindy Hensley McCain passionately fights to stop human trafficking by convening academics, politicians, corporation officials, and technology experts to work together to stop this crime against humanity.

NYU Washington D.C. Hosts Briefing on Islamophobia

©NYU Photo Bureau: Creighton

On March 13, NYU Washington D.C.’s John Brademas Center of New York University hosted a briefing, The Roles of Arts & Culture in Addressing Islamophobia. The schedule brought together funders working on these issues and provided an opportunity for leading scholars, thinkers, and activists to share their views.

Islamophobia is escalating rapidly across the country, fueling fear, discrimination and hate crimes against Muslim, Arab and South Asian communities. In recent months, we have borne witness to a growing number of hostile acts including vandalism, intimidation and verbal and physical attacks on vulnerable people. This growing crisis has propelled multidisciplinary funders to seek out new ideas and strategies to be responsive to galloping need.

©NYU Photo Bureau: Creighton

The funders briefing was a day of learning and discussion with creative thought leaders, artists and philanthropy professionals on how arts and culture can diffuse the cultural tensions and “othering” that drive Islamophobia. What is the role of art in shifting cultural narratives? What kind of creative partnerships and collaborations can serve as an effective response to encourage pluralism and harmony in our communities? What meaningful mechanisms currently exist or can be adapted to magnify mutual wellbeing?

This briefing offered a chance for funders to weigh these and other vital questions and propose concrete next steps for action.

The event was also co-hosted by ArtPlace America, Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, Ford Foundation, New York Community Trust, New York Foundation, Philanthropy New York.

NYU Washington, DC Hosts Conference with Environmental Journalists and Others on Reporting During the Trump Administration

On Saturday, February 4, NYU Washington, DC and the Society of Environmental Journalists presented a mini conference, The Trump Administration and the Environment: A Reporter’s Primer, to discuss water and energy issues, EPA policies, environmental advocacy and public opinion in the new Trump Administration.

Speakers included Myron Ebell, the head of the Trump transition team for EPA; Scott Segal, a fossil fuels industry attorney for Bracewell; Bob Perciasepe, Center for Climate & Energy Solutions and former Obama and Clinton EPA appointee; and a panel of reporters who have covered Donald Trump and his appointees to head EPA and the Department of Energy.

In Conversation with Politics Professor Patrick Egan: A J-Term Course Considers the Causes and Consequences of the 2016 Election


Patrick Egan, Associate Professor of Policy and Public Policy in NYU’s Department of Politics, discusses the January Term course he taught at NYU Washington, DC, The 2016 U.S. Presidential Election – Causes and Consequences, and more.

How did you come to teach at NYU Washington, DC? Is this your first time teaching at an NYU location outside of NYC? How have you found the experience?

This is my first time teaching at a site beyond NYC. However, I have been associated with the site for awhile as I am the chair of the site specific advisory committee for NYU Washington, DC. So I am a big believer in NYU DC and the unique role it can play in providing students a real world view of politics and policy that you can only get in the nation’s capital. I have long admired the staff and the site so it has been gratifying to teach here. The experience has been inspiring and rewarding, especially seeing how well we were able to leverage the resources of the site to put together a great course for the students.

As a professor in the NYU Department of Politics, how have you viewed the establishment of NYU Washington, DC? Do you think that time in the nation’s capital is valuable for students’ academic and personal development? If so, how do you think that value manifests?

In the NYU Politics Department in New York, I am one of a community of faculty committed to teaching politics in a fairly analytical and social scientific fashion. We are focused on statistics, economic analysis, data – all of which are very important for gaining insight to questions about politics and public policy. NYU Washington, DC is thus an important complement to our studies in New York because it provides students with direct exposure to people and issues that also inform politics and policy. It can give students real-world experience in putting analytical tools into practice and to see how they can effect positive change.

The class at the Supreme Court.

The class at the Supreme Court.

I understand that you taught a January term course at NYU Washington, DC – The 2016 U.S. Presidential Election – Causes and Consequences. Can you describe how you decided to develop this course?

As the 2016 campaign began in earnest after Labor Day, a number of us working with the NYU Washington, DC site tossed around idea of a January Term course. Our thinking was that the goal would be to provide students with the opportunity to assess what happened during the campaign and what we might expect to come due the result. Our vision was to provide standard political science treatments of politics and public policy while integrating them with the resources and people that are part of the NYU Washington, DC network. We thought this would be a powerful and illuminating combination for our students. In planning the course, despite the pundits’ focus on a Clinton victory, we kept in mind the real possibility that Donald Trump could win, so we made plans that anticipated either outcome. There was an unexpectedly large enrollment for the course before the election even happened–and very few students dropped the course after the result was clear. This demonstrated to me that students were interested and on board regardless of which candidate won. I should note that the schedule we put together for the course is really a tribute to NYU Washington, DC’s wide-reaching network of people in Washington who have experience in all aspects of politics and public policy. If you look at our syllabus, just about every day students are meeting people with expertise in campaigns, policy-making, and strategy from across the political spectrum. Bringing in such a rich array of experts is a testament to what a tremendous site NYU Washington, DC has become in a short time.

What are the major themes you will cover in the course? What kinds of students are enrolled?

We are covering two broad questions in the course. The first is understanding what happened: what created the extraordinary campaign of 2016 and the result, and what it means for elections and politics going forward. The second is focused on what the election means for public policy in DC and across the fifty states: understanding elections and voting as well as the consequences for American public policy at federal and state level.

I have been delighted to see interest from a wide range of students. We have 51 students enrolled. This is a much larger group than originally envisioned, but we were able to engineer the course to accommodate more students. The student group is quite diverse. We have freshman as well as seniors, many politics majors, but also those who have never taken a politics course. If has been a very nice opportunity to work with a really heterogeneous group of students. Some have been to DC before, have interned on Capital Hill or elsewhere, and others are new to Washington and learning from their peers.

The class at the State Department.

The class at the State Department.

Being in Washington, I understand you have structured the course to include many significant guest lecturers and visits to key institutions. How does that influence the learning process for students? What have been the greatest learning experiences of this course, both for you and for the students?

I think the best way to demonstrate how this has enriched the course is to mention just a few of the people who have come to speak and whom we have met with. This included Tad Devine, chief strategist for Bernie Sanders and a long-time Democratic strategist, who also teaches at NYU Washington, DC. We recently had Jonathan Capehart, a prominent columnist at The Washington Post. We also heard from Ron Christie, a former advisor to the Bush White House, who will also teach a course at NYU Washington, DC starting in February. We visited Capitol Hill for briefing sessions with two members of Congress who are also NYU Alums – Diana DeGette of Colorado and Martha Roby of Alabama. It was great to hear from two women in Congress, and it was also fascinating because they represent very different districts. Representative DeGette’s district includes Denver and its suburbs and is very liberal. Representative Roby’s district is conservative and includes Montgomery as well as military bases and rural areas of Alabama.

The class visits Capitol Hill

The class visits Capitol Hill

In addition to your research and work on public opinion and institutions in American politics, the formation of political attitudes, and LGBT issues and politics, I understand you regularly comment on such matters in the media, including as an elections analyst for NBC news as part of the network’s Exit Poll Desk team. Can you give us any insights as to what the 2016 election means for the future of US politics? And can you tell us about your experience at NBC this year – what was the most interesting moment doing that analysis?

The most interesting moment was late on election night, or rather early the next morning at about 1:30 a.m.. Several states were still uncalled and everyone at the Decision Desk was trying to understand and explain an election result that very few people had seen coming. The most interesting and important aspect of this was how much professionalism everyone on the team exhibited. Everyone was dedicated in the moment to getting it right and thinking through the consequences of a big decision – calling the election for Donald Trump, which NBC finally did shortly after 2 a.m.. It was an exhausting night, and we didn’t leave the room until 4:00 am, but the professionalism and objectivity of everyone on the team was inspiring.

In terms of the future of US politics, probably the biggest development we saw in terms of voting in the 2016 election was a complete about-face in trends among white voters. In 2016, there was a clear distinction between white voters without a college education and those with a college education. Typically these groups move in concert with one another: if one group swings to the Republicans, so does the other But this is the first time since we’ve been doing exit polling that shows working class and educated white voters moving in opposite directions: compared to 2012, less-educated whites moved to Trump while more educated whites moved to Clinton. Is this the new normal or was there something specific about the Trump – Clinton match up that lead to this change in voting? This is the $64,000 question we’ll need to watch over next few years

What has been most rewarding for you about teaching at NYU Washington, DC?

Definitely working with the students. It is a special kind of student who wants to spend three weeks of their winter vacation studying politics and public policy: a young person who is really interested in these issues and maybe thinking about a career in public service. Many of these students arrived with an almost encyclopedic knowledge of what happened during the election, a real intellectual interest in the subject matter, and a commitment to understanding. This makes my job as a teacher all the more delightful.

Finally, to students who were unable to take your J-Term course on the election but want to learn more about its causes and consequences, what resources would you suggest?

They should come and take courses in the Politics department at NYU! We have a lot of offerings that will help students understand the 2016 election and its consequences. I would of course also say that they should consider spending a semester at NYU Washington, DC. Beyond NYU, most of the standard resources out there are good. For example, the New York Times still has a great set of resources available: maps, graphs, tables of data, analysis of numbers on exit polls. Another place to look to is a blog hosted at The Washington Post called The Monkey Cage. It was co-founded by a colleague of mine in the NYU Politics Department, Josh Tucker, and is a well-regarded resource for up-to-the-minute developments in politics and public policy.

NYU Washington, DC Hosts Vice President Joe Biden to Discuss Politics

1480523460703On December 8, NYU School of Law, in cooperation with NYU Washington, DC and the Law School’sLegislative and Regulatory Process Clinic, debuted the inaugural Sidley Austin Forum.  This annual forum, supported by a gift from international law firm Sidley Austin, explored topics critical to American democracy. Entitled, “A New American Political System?” the forum discussion was lively.

In the wake of the 2016 elections, the program addressed the evolving role of political parties, the state and direction of campaign finance law, changes in news and social media, and related topics.

Vice President Joe Biden delivered remarks at the inaugural Sidley Austin Forum hosted by NYU School of Law at NYU Washington, DC. Students also had the opportunity to engage with the Vice President both formally and informally. It was an exciting experience for all and an auspicious start to this program. A video of Vice President Biden’s remarks is available here.

Vice President Joe Biden takes group photos with NYU students at the NYU Global Academic Center in Washington, D.C., Dec. 8, 2016. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

Vice President Joe Biden takes group photos with NYU students at the NYU Global Academic Center in Washington, D.C., Dec. 8, 2016. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

Vice President Joe Biden takes group photos with NYU students at the NYU Global Academic Center in Washington, D.C., Dec. 8, 2016. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

Vice President Joe Biden takes group photos with NYU students at the NYU Global Academic Center in Washington, D.C., Dec. 8, 2016. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)










NYU DC Students Experience Travelers from the Lands of the Epic of Gilgamesh at the Italian Embassy in Washington, DC

First-year students in NYU Washington DC’s Cultural Foundations class had the opportunity to join Professor Alexander Nagel for a special opening of an exhibition of photographs documenting heritage preservation in Iraq at the Italian Embassy last month.

Dr. Carlo Lippolis, of the University of Turin in Italy and President of Centro Ricerche Archeologiche e Scavi di Torino (CRAST), visiting NYUDC class the day after the exhibition.

Dr. Carlo Lippolis, of the University of Turin in Italy and President of Centro Ricerche Archeologiche e Scavi di Torino (CRAST), visiting the NYUDC Cultural Foundations class.

To commemorate the opening, Dr. Carlo Lippolis, of the University of Turin in Italy and President of Centro Ricerche Archeologiche e Scavi di Torino (CRAST), presented Heritage in Danger: The Centro Scavi Torino and the Preservation of Iraqi Cultural Heritage, which highlights the work of the Center over the last ten years. Following the presentation, Dr. Lippolis visited the Cultural Foundations class for an additional discussion and question and answer session.

The following are reflections on the event and on Dr. Lippoli’s visit from NYUDC students.

Dr. Lippolis first introduced the Iraqi Italian collaboration efforts in rebuilding the displays of the National Museum of Iraq in Baghdad. Preserving collections from ancient Sumerian, Babylonian, Akkadian and Assyrian and Islamic civilizations, the museum holds objects from Uruk, a city the class just learnt about, while discussing cuneiform tablets and reading the fascinating stories from *The Epic of Gilgamesh* which was written over 3,000 years ago. Unfortunately, in April 2003, many precious artifacts were looted from the museum, and is a window to the past of Mesopotamia and human history. Despite the difficult political situation in Iraq, efforts to reopen the National Museum began in 2006. The Iraqi Italian teams cleaned and repaired artifacts, redesigned the galleries, created a timeline, and reinstalled the museum lighting. The museum was officially reopened to the public in February 2015. When Dr. Lippolis saw children lined up and eager to visit the museum, how they absorbed knowledge from the displays, and smiling at each other, he felt all of his team’s effort worth it.

Dr. Lippolis also introduced the audience to the reopening of the Iraqi-Italian Institutes in Baghdad earlier this year, in April 2016. Originally founded in 1969, the work of the Institute was halted during the Second Gulf War. He explained the mission of the Iraqi-Italian Institutes as to provide full cooperation on all issues raised by the Iraqi side, but especially to contribute to the safeguarding of the cultural heritage. After a retrieval of a historical building close to the Qislah, the old Turkish military quarters, the Institutes reopened with the purpose of contributing to the progressively wide-ranging safeguarding of the Iraqi cultural heritage and new archaeological and scientific research. He also spoke about his own excavations in Iraq. While there were Italian excavations at a site of named Seleucia earlier, since 2012 an Italian archaeological expedition began working in south-eastern Iraq on the site of Tulul al Baqarat. Altogether, it was great to gain so much insight into the work of European archaeologists in Iraq.

Jin Xiangru, Freshmen, NYU DC, Course “Cultural Foundations 1”

On the next afternoon, Dr. Lippolis joined us in the classroom at NYU DC. Here, we had the opportunity to learn more about the Italian and Iraqi collaborations, and we were able to ask questions about the practices of his work in Iraq. In his lecture on Wednesday evening, Dr. Lippolis had already introduced the efforts and work that went into the reopening of the Iraq Museum, and how the 2003 looting and the Iraq War halted archaeological research in Iraq. Dr. Lippolis continued to discuss how the damage and looting of sites has a lasting impact on the history of people. Some looted artifacts were returned to the museum in Baghdad by locals soon after the events happened in Baghdad. However, the museum curators were not able to verify all thefts, because archival documentation was destroyed along with some of the artifacts being looted. The 2003 looting had not only an impact on the artifacts that were damaged, but also on decades of research conducted. Dr. Lippolis introduced us to the history of the Iraq Museum and shared fascinating letters written by Gertrude Bell, the Iraq Museum founder. During her time, few women had access to education: against all odds, she got her education, and for the rest of her life she did not stop pursuing archaeology. After her death, the Iraq Museum changed locations, but they held on to her spirit for archaeology, and a sign with her name can be found by the Museum until this day. I was personally captivated by the diplomatic efforts and politics behind the reopening of the Iraq Museum in 2015. We learned about the work that went into planning of the layout, and the challenges in conserving and moving the sometimes very fragile artifacts.

My classmates and I were interested to learn more about the politics of archaeology. We wanted to know how embassies, diplomats, countries, and archaeologists co-operate with each other, about the work in recovering lost and looted pieces. Organizations such as Interpol monitor activities involved in the sale of looted objects yet the rise of the internet (and especially the dark net, as one student pointed out), presents new challenges and opportunities. This looting is a shame because history is being destroyed by greed. This practice should be outlawed. I can see where this behavior comes from, for since mankind started conquering other cultures, their first instinct was always to rob and destroy a culture. Culture unlike people changes and needs to be recorded before it is gone. The Iraqi locals that returned the stolen artifact set a great example of humanity and I became curious to learn more about Iraq.

My mother is from Vietnam and I was born in the Czech Republic. I spent most of my life outside of Vietnam, and I only had a few chances to interact with Vietnamese culture. Growing up I did not have too much of an interest in the country my parents grew up in, but it is something I regret now. I believe that preserving culture and history is important, so future generations will not have similar regrets as I did. The meeting with Dr. Lippolis provided me with important insights into understanding my own culture, because sympathy is the bridge to peace.

Thao Huong Tran, New York University, Washington, DC, Course “Cultural Foundations 1”

NYU Washington, DC Salon Series Holds A Conversation with Mehdi Ghadyanloo

mehdiOn October 20, NYU Washington, DC welcomed Iranian muralist, Mehdi Ghadyanloo, in conversation with Andy Shallal, Iraqi-American activist and owner of Busboys and Poets.

The NYU Washington, DC Salon Series: Conversations with Writers & Artists offers an opportunity for the NYU and Washington, DC community to meet and engage in dialogue with acclaimed writers and artists as they reflect on their craft. This program provides facilitated conversations that aim to illuminate the guests’ creative processes, discuss their current works, and explain the impact of their work on the world around us.

medhi2Mehdi Ghadyanloo is a visual artist from Tehran, Iran. Born in Karaj, Iran in 1981, Ghadyanloo worked as a farmer before moving to Tehran in 1999 to study Painting at the University of Tehran’s faculty of Fine Arts. After studying painting for three years, Ghadyanloo went on to study for an MA in Animation at Tarbiat Modares University.

Combining these two disciplines with his own unique style, Ghadyanloo went on to become one of the most famous mural painters in Iran, painting more than 100 wall murals in Tehran.

Growing up during the Iran-Iraq war, Ghadyanloo remembers the conflict as a ubiquituous feature of his childhood; hard years in which he recalls following war news on the television, waiting in long lines for fuel and bread. As Ghadyanloo says, he felt the war was an important part of his generation, leaving a lasting impact on people’s lives and minds.

For the past eight years, Ghadyanloo has been involved in the Municipality of Tehran’s Beautification Scheme, a committee set up to help promote mural art in the city. A growing megalopolis, Tehran is an architectural mishmash in which semi modern and classical buildings sit side by side, often faced with widely varying materials from concrete to aluminium. Interestingly, many high-rises and office buildings in the city have only one facade, with the other three left blank and grey. Practical demands mean that windows are often only installed on one side of the building, creating the perfect environment for large scale inner city murals of the type Ghadyanloo specialises in.

For Ghadyanloo, the purpose of public art is to ‘beautify’ his grey and polluted city. Using bright colours on a hyper-real scale, he creates escapist, surreal dreamscapes that form part of his own fictional endless story. His imagery portrays impossible scenes and gravity defying figures from radically altered perspectives. Through the use of optical illusion, Ghadyanloo bends reality, creating works that make people stop in their tracks.

His work is greatly influenced by Surrealism and Symbolism, combined with Persian figures and Iranian architecture. Using dreamy and playful motifs, Ghadyanloo aims to create his own utopia on the walls of his city. When designing a wall, Ghadyanloo carefully studies the people, culture and background of each area. Each mural reflects its surroundings, manipulating everyday life to transform the visual landscape of contemporary Tehran. Foregoing political commentary, Ghadyanloo is more interested in communication, and the dreams and imagination that people all over the world share.

Alongside his artistic career, Ghadyanloo teaches Urban Art and Mural Painting at Soore Art University, Tehran.

In February 2015 Howard Griffin Gallery London staged Ghadyanloo’s first solo exhibition at the Gallery entitled Perception.

Later this year Howard Griffin Gallery Los Angeles will stage Mehdi Ghadaynloo’s second solo exhibition.

anasAnas “Andy” Shallal is an Iraqi American activist, artist and social entrepreneur. He is the founder and proprietor of Busboys and Poets, an activism center and café in Washington DC, which features prominent speakers and authors and provides a venue for social and political activism.

Since its inception, Busboys and Poets has become the most blogged about restaurant and gathering place in Washington DC and has become an incubator for activism and social change. Andy Shallal is a member of the board of trustees for The Institute for Policy Studies, a liberal think tank. He also sits on several arts and philanthropic boards, including The Washington Peace Center, The Institute of Conflict Analysis and Resolution at GMU, DC Vote, Think Local First, Social Venture Network, The National Arab American Museum and Split This Rock Poetry Festival.

He has been a featured speaker at several conferences and panels that deal with Iraqi as well as Israeli-Palestinian issues. He is the founder of Iraqi Americans for Peaceful Alternatives which was an ad hoc group formed prior to the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The group was instrumental in speaking out about the detrimental impact of war on ordinary Iraqis and sought to find more peaceful alternatives to change Iraq’s regime. He has appeared on major television and radio shows including CNN, MSNBC, Fox, The News Hour, NPR, and Pacifica. He has been published in various major newspapers and journals, including the Washington Post, NY Times and Christian Science Monitor. Andy Shallal is also the co founder of The Peace Cafe which promotes Arab and Jewish dialogue and improved understanding. Since its inception in 2000, the Peace Café has become the largest Arab Jewish dialogue group in the Washington metropolitan area with over 900 members. Anas Shallal has worked with the Seeds of Peace program which brings Arab and Israeli youth from the region to the United States during the summer to learn how to co exist. Andy Shallal also speaks extensively on social entrepreneurship and sustainability.

As an artist Andy Shallal has worked with a variety of materials. His most recent work is political collage. His murals have been featured in many publications including the Washington Post and are displayed at Busboys and Poets, The Institute for Policy Studies and DC Vote. He is a graduate of The Catholic University of America and attended Howard University Medical School before dropping out to pursue his entrepreneurial dream. He has received numerous human rights and peace awards and is proud to be doing his part to make living on earth a bit more bearable. Founder, Iraqi Americans for Peaceful Alternatives Co-founder, The Peace Cafe Peace Fellow, Seeds of Peace Founder, Mesopotamia Cultural Society Spokesman, Education for Peace in Iraq Center Advisory Board, International Occupation Watch Center Board of Trustees Chair, Abraham’s Vision National Advisory Board, Arab American National Museum.

GLS student Michael Leonetti Discusses his Experiences Studying in Washington, DC and Volunteering in Lesvos

image1 (1)1. What is your school affiliation and what year are you? What is your major (if declared)?
I am a sophomore in the Global Liberal Studies program with a concentration in Politics, Rights, and Development. I’m choosing between History or Spanish as a second major, and looking at minors in public policy.
2. You started your time at NYU studying in Washington, DC via the Global Liberal Studies (GLS) Program. What inspired you to study in DC? 
Choosing my site for freshman year took weeks, and I changed my mind several times. I eventually settled on DC because it’s close to my lifelong home in southeast Pennsylvania while still offering an entirely different living experience than I’d ever had, and because of the internship opportunities in politics.
3. How was your experience in DC? What was most inspiring, surprising, or rewarding about your time there? What did you find challenging?
I had just spent the summer taking classes in New York, and assumed that DC would be somehow less vibrant or memorable. Before moving there my only experiences in DC had been elementary and middle school field trips to the Capitol and memorials, or short meetings with smarmy Pennsylvania representatives. I dumbly thought that there was not much more to the city than its government and bureaucratic aspects. The most rewarding part of living in DC was gradually throwing out that mindset by getting to know and respect the different neighborhoods, locals and longtime residents, and distinctive parts of the city. I spent the spring semester interning for a Council member on the DC government, which involved frequent trips around the city, daily conversations with constituents, and a working knowledge of local problems. That internship helped me get to know DC even more and introduced me to many of the people who live and work there.
4. Were there any significant or memorable experiences during your year in DC that you would like to share?
At the time I was interning at the DC government, the staff was finalizing a program that the Council member had created early in his term called Books From Birth. The program provided a free, age-appropriate book every month to any child in the city, delivered to their door. The goal was to help the city’s children grow their vocabularies and increase their interest in reading, while also encouraging more interaction between parents and their kids. One of the first events that I went to as an intern in the office was the kickoff for BFB. I met parents who had signed up as soon as they heard about the program, some of whom had never been able to read with their children due to illiteracy or lack of resources. There are over 5,000 children enrolled in the program now. To see simple policy have a real effect on the lives of local families help reaffirm my views on government.
Michael (at the front with a coffee and bandage on his arm) and fellow volunteers.

Michael (at the front with a coffee and bandage on his arm) and fellow volunteers.

5. I understand that this summer you have been volunteering in Lesvos working with refugees. How did you come to do so?

At the end of the spring semester I started looking for independent volunteering opportunities related to the refugee crisis in Greece. I searched online for a while and talking with more experienced volunteers on a Facebook page for all volunteers in Greece. They guided me through the bureaucratic parts of international volunteering, e.g. age requirements set by the Greek government, registering with local police, and informed me about the current situation in different camps and cities. Through this I found out about Lighthouse Refugee Relief. Lighthouse is a Swedish organization that operates two refugee camps on the mainland and one transit camp on Lesvos, which meets incoming boats and helps the arriving people recover from their journey. The organization also works to clean the beaches of Lesvos, which are littered with deflated dinghies, clothes, shoes, trash, and other debris. I completed their online humanitarian training, got a flight to Mytilini, and planned to be on the island for around five weeks.
6. What did your volunteer work involve? Can you describe the experience overall?
I chose to live in the transit camp, which is a free option for any Lighthouse volunteer. When the camp is not in use by arriving asylum seekers, we used it as our home. I kept my pack and sleeping bag in the massive tent that female refugees changed in after arriving on the beach, and slept on the floor next to some other volunteers. Others chose to sleep in the men’s changing tent, the children’s clothing tent, and so on. Over the course of the month I moved from my original spot to a tent, then to a spot under a tree on the hill above camp.
When I arrived, the main focus was the beach cleaning effort. The group of volunteers was small, around seven to ten people. We woke up early, hiked for1.5 hours to the beach we were then working on, and went to work cutting up the boats and collecting the debris. The boat material is used by another organization as material for bags, jewelry, and other items. On the days we could secure a skipper of fisherman to pull our dinghy from our camp around the coast to the beach cleanup site, we would spend the day loading the dinghy with all the collected trash and taking it back to town, where we processed it and left it for the local trash services to pick up.
Shortly after I arrived, boats from Turkey started to arrive more regularly. Skala Sikamineas, the town I was in, is a popular landing spot for boats coming from Turkey because of its proximity. From Skala, you can very clearly see details such as trees and mosques on the Turkish coast-it’s only a five kilometer distance. I joined a landing team. We were responsible for hearing the alert from local authorities that a boat was arriving over the radio, quickly and methodically packing a camp car with food, water, clothes, diapers, and such, and going to meet the boat as it hit the shore itself or was escorted into the harbor by Greek authorities, Proactiva (a search and rescue organization), or Frontex (EU border patrol). After making sure that the people had the resources they needed, we escorted them to our camp. Volunteers not on the landing team would have prepared the camp for full service by the time the refugees arrived. We then served tea, provided bathrooms, and encouraged the people to rest as much as possible before continuing onto the next refugee camp, where they would register with Greek authorities. The adults usually took the chance to sit or lie down; the kids were usually too excited to do so and preferred playing soccer with the volunteers. After a short time buses would arrive to take the people to the next camp. We helped the authorities with this step by making sure to keep families together and trying to spot any possible cases of human trafficking.
Every landing followed this general pattern. On my very first one, the boat we were meeting had gotten through the coast guard unspotted and as such had landed on its own at a tourist beach just east of camp. We rushed there to find the people relaxing on the beach, the adults calling home to share the news of their arrival and the children splashing in the water, jumping off the sides of the dinghy. There were some mothers clutching their infants in the shade, eagerly accepting diapers and crackers from the volunteers.
Playing with the rescued little girl.

Playing with the rescued little girl.

At a landing later in the month, a fellow volunteer and I got into an energetic game of soccer with a three-or-four year-old girl who had just arrived in a dinghy on the beach right outside camp. We ran around with her while her parents relaxed at a table in the center of camp. She lightened the mood more than any volunteer could have, simply by laughing and smiling at everyone. When it came time for them to proceed to the next camp, the girl reached down, picked up the ball, and walked to the bus with a grin. Meeting her in camp was one of the highlights of my time in Greece. A few days after she passed through, we got news that a small boat heading for the southern coast had sank undetected. It was eight hours before a search and rescue team found them. Six people drowned, including a four year-old girl. For weeks I couldn’t stop picturing the girl from camp over and over in my head, thankful for her safe arrival and heartbroken by the fate of the other. Her death was a sobering reminder to all the volunteers of our responsibilities on the island.

Bringing a boat ashore.

Bringing a boat ashore.

During this time, we generally fielded one boat per day, usually in the early morning. Several months before, the scene was much more grim. Hundreds of boats arrived daily, carrying thousands of asylum seekers. The international organizations and humanitarian groups had not arrived yet; local fisherman became the search and rescue teams that pulled children out of the water in the dead of night after boats sank, and bar owners converted their spaces into field hospitals if the situation called for it. I now know many of these people personally, have heard their harrowing stories, and consider them the true and earliest heroes of this crisis. Despite their efforts, over a thousand people died in the Aegean Sea between Turkey and Lesvos. The situation may return to the dire levels of this past winter in October, as the president of Turkey is threatening to open the borders and allow two million more refugees to make the journey if the European Union does not grant visa-free travel within the EU to Turkish citizens.

About two weeks into my time on Lesvos, I started spending three or four evenings a week at a nearby camp for unaccompanied, male minors who had made the journey from Turkey to Lesvos. The boys were from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria, and Iran. In their camp, the job of Lighthouse volunteers was simply to play sports, paint, talk, and generally be friends with them. We were there as lightning rods for their endless energy. Each time I walked into the camp I tried to predict if they’d choose to completely wear me out through basketball, soccer, or the inevitable hybrid of the two. I struggled for a week or so to find my place in the camp. I was the volunteer closest in age to the boys, who were mostly between fourteen and eighteen, and found it difficult to ignore the injustice of the situation. We were similar in many ways besides age; we had siblings to talk about (in their beginner English and my embarrassing attempts at Farsi/Urdu/Arabic) and show each other pictures of, homes that we loved, many of the same hobbies and interests, and so on-the biggest difference, obviously, was that I had not been displaced by war, had a passport with a seal on it that allows me to go virtually wherever I want, a future of certain education and probable success, and had not lost friends and family to violence. After a week or so, we found ways to ignore this divide and form friendships that have lasted past my return to the U.S. I learned a few days ago from the camp manager, a woman from Save the Children, that all of the boys have been relocated to safe shelters in Athens. Getting off the island is a huge step in their journey. Soon after she sent the notification to the volunteers, I started to see the social media flurry on my accounts from the boys-selfies on the ferry from Lesvos to Athens, group shots in cafes in the city, and the like. I am extremely happier for them, but that happiness is tinged with knowledge of the reality of their situation. Many asylum seekers have made it to the country they hoped for, only to be greeted with racism, violence, political fury, and discrimination.
The graveyard of life vests.

The graveyard of life vests.

After returning from Lesvos, I’ve had the time to reflect on my month there. I see it now as a perfect and horrific symbol for the refugee crisis- a place where the desperation of the war-stricken and impoverished places around the world meets the relative opulence of Europe and the West; where refugee boats land next to sunbathing French tourists and people drown just a few thousand meters from Greek resort hotels and hot springs. It is very much a frontline of the refugee crisis, like Italy in the Mediterranean or the border between Spain and Morocco. Being there revealed the failure of the West in responding to this crisis.

7. Did your time in DC and / or your connections with the GLS and NYU community contribute to wanting to become involved with in Lesvos and personally take action in relation to this international crisis?
GLS, being a global program, helped orient me outwards towards crises that I cared about instead of looking to stay stateside. It most influenced my decision to go to Lesvos by showing me the importance of having firsthand experience in crises such as this one. I think that in the same way a federal politician should experience local politics first, anyone looking to work up the ladder needs experience at the first rung. This is why I interned at the DC government instead of applying to federal offices. As someone who might have a career in humanitarian work or international relations, I recognize the importance of being a volunteer. It informed my position on the crisis and added a human element to it, which is impossible to feel from the West. I gained an immense respect for asylum seekers and the people that try to make their journey easier.
8. What are your plans – academically and personally – for the remainder of your time at NYU?
I’m currently in the process of starting a student club that will provide free tutoring to refugee families settled in the New York metro area. I am hoping to get the help of the International Rescue Committee, which helps these families with education, employment, housing, and cultural adjustment, for this effort. Academically, I will be looking for areas of study that allow me to focus on human rights, issues of refugees and asylum, and crisis response.
9. Have your experiences in DC or in Lesvos influenced how you are thinking about your future studies or career? If so, how?
At this point, I am looking for internships in humanitarian organizations such as the IRC, Save the Children, Amnesty International, and some others. My ideas for possible careers are all geared towards humanitarian work. I’d like to keep working at the bottom of the international humanitarian organizational structure for now, which will allow me to be directly involved on the ground in areas of crisis.

NYU Washington, DC Celebrates Constitution Day with Stephen Solomon

constitution dayOn Thursday, 22 September, the NYU Brademas Center at NYU Washington, DC will celebrate Constitution Day, an American federal observance that recognizes the adoption of the United States Constitution.  Stephen D. Solomon, associate director of the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute of NYU and director of the M.A. program in Business and Economic Reporting, will provide a dialogue on his newest book, Revolutionary Dissent: How the Founding Generation Created the Freedom of Speech.

solomonStephen D. Solomon is associate director of the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute and director of the M.A. program in Business and Economic Reporting, which he founded in 1999. His new book, Revolutionary Dissent: How the Founding Generation Created the Freedom of Speech, was published by St. Martin’s Press in April 2016. It explores how the raucous political protest of the nation’s founding period gave meaning to the freedoms of speech and press at a time when the crime of seditious libel was used to punish criticism of government.

Steve received his B.A. degree from Pennsylvania State University and his J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center. In addition to business journalism, he teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on the First Amendment. He was awarded NYU’s Golden Dozen Award for excellence in teaching.His last book,Ellery’s Protest: How One Young Man Defied Tradition and Sparked the Battle Over School Prayer, explores the landmark 1963 case (Abington School District v. Schempp) in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that state-sponsored prayer and Bible reading in the public schools violated the religious liberty protected by the First Amendment. The case still inflames passions today as Americans debate what role, if any, that religion, prayer, creationism, intelligent design, and the Ten Commandments should play in the public schools.

Steve was a writer at Fortune magazine and has written for many other national publications including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times Magazine, The New York Times Book Review, and Inc. His articles have won the two most prestigious awards for business writing, the Gerald Loeb Award and the John Hancock Award for Excellence, as well as the Hillman Prize. He is also co-author of Building 6: The Tragedy at Bridesburg, an investigation of the working conditions that caused the deaths of 54 men from respiratory cancer at Rohm and Haas, at the time a Fortune 500 chemical company in Philadelphia. The revelations in the book led to legal action by victims’ families against the company, and they received a multi-million dollar settlement.

Revolutionary Dissent: How the Founding Generation Created the Freedom of Speech

When members of the founding generation protested against British authority, debated separation, and then ratified the Constitution, they formed the American political character we know today—raucous, intemperate, and often mean-spirited. Revolutionary Dissent brings alive a world of colorful and stormy protests that included effigies, pamphlets, songs, sermons, cartoons, letters and liberty trees. Solomon explores through a series of chronological narratives how Americans of the Revolutionary period employed robust speech against the British and against each other. Uninhibited dissent provided a distinctly American meaning to the First Amendment’s guarantees of freedom of speech and press at a time when the legal doctrine inherited from England allowed prosecutions of those who criticized government.

Solomon discovers the wellspring in our revolutionary past for today’s satirists like Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, pundits like Rush Limbaugh and Keith Olbermann, and protests like flag burning and street demonstrations. From the inflammatory engravings of Paul Revere, the political theater of Alexander McDougall, the liberty tree protests of Ebenezer McIntosh and the oratory of Patrick Henry, Solomon shares the stories of the dissenters who created the American idea of the liberty of thought.

More information about the event is available here.