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NYU Washington, DC Hosts event on Policing, Profiling, and Human Rights in the Age of Big Data

On March 1, NYU Washington, DC is hosting a dynamic panel relating to big data and rights implications. Big data has produced big change. As anyone with a phone knows, technology has exploded – and created startling amounts of data about our lives. How is this information tracked and stored, and how does that affect our rights? Algorithms trained on big data have transformed law enforcement and social services. Cash-strapped governments have proven especially eager to use automated tools. Some claim to predict crime “hot spots” and even individuals at risk. Others recommend whether to detain or release defendants before trial. And some assign children to schools and families to shelters. All these automated computing tools today play a larger role than ever before.

Fans praise these as better than fallible human judgment. But do they live up to their promise? How to judge claims by the companies who stand to make money off them? Can we really achieve transparency and efficiency? Do big data tools, as some charge, simply reinforce class and race prejudice under the guise of objectivity? Can these systems be harnessed for good? And how can affected communities gain control over how data is used and packaged?

Join the NYU Brademas Center and the Brennan Center for a discussion on the use of big data in social welfare, policing, and criminal justice, and its impact on marginalized communities. 


Tamika Lewis, Organizer, Our Data Bodies – Tamika Lewis is a community researcher for the Our Data Bodies Project, an international research project that is examining the impacts of data-based technologies on marginalized communities and their ability to meet their basic human needs. Tamika has spent the last five years in North Carolina conducing needs based assessments to help support and strengthen statewide organizing infrastructure, focusing primary on developing collaborative civic engagement efforts that prioritize youth, women, and LGB, queer and trans people of color. Overall, they have passion for using data analytics and mapping to support local initiatives, develop local youth leadership, and secure resources to advance and unify local efforts. Tamika holds degree in Social Work and an MS in the Studies of Creativity, with a concentration in Program Development from the State University of New York at Buffalo.

Rachel Levinson-Walman, Senior Counsel, Brennan Center’s Liberty and National Security Program – Rachel Levinson-Waldman serves as Senior Counsel to the Brennan Center’s Liberty and National Security Program, which seeks to advance effective national security policies that respect constitutional values and the rule of law. Ms. Levinson-Waldman is active on issues related to policing and technology, including providing commentary on law enforcement access to social media, predictive policing, body cameras, license plate readers, and other types of surveillance technologies deployed in public. Most recently, Ms. Levinson-Waldman published an article in the Emory Law Review on the intersection of the Fourth Amendment and a range of surveillance technologies, titled Hiding in Plain Sight: A Fourth Amendment Framework for Analyzing Government Surveillance in Public. Ms. Levinson-Waldman has also authored a Brennan Center report, What the Government Does with Americans’ Data, on the federal government’s use, sharing, and retention of non-criminal information about Americans for law enforcement and national security purposes. 

Ms. Levinson-Waldman regularly comments for television, radio, and print on issues relating to national security, privacy, and surveillance. Her writing has been featured in publications including Bloomberg ViewThe New RepublicWiredThe AtlanticThe Daily BeastU.S. News & World Report, and Salon.com, and she has been interviewed for Al Jazeera, Nerding Out, and Let Your Voice Be Heard, among others.    

Prior to joining the Brennan Center, Ms. Levinson-Waldman served as counsel to the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), focusing particularly on matters related to academic freedom and the First Amendment. Previously, she served as a Trial Attorney in the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, litigating matters under the Fair Housing Act.

Ms. Levinson-Waldman is a graduate of Williams College and the University of Chicago Law School, and clerked for the Honorable M. Margaret McKeown of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Cornell William Brooks, Senior Fellow, Brennan Center for Justice – Cornell William Brooks is a fourth-generation ordained minister, widely-experienced civil rights attorney, and national activist committed to prophetic social justice. Mr. Brooks serves as Senior Fellow at the Brennan Center, addressing both criminal justice and voting rights. He was recently named Visiting Professor of Social Ethics, Law and Justice Movements at Boston University, hosted by both the School of Theology and the School of Law.  Mr. Brooks also serves as Visiting Fellow with the Institute of Politics at Harvard University, directing the program on campaigns and advocacy (Fall 2017) and Senior Research Scholar at Yale Law School (Spring 2018).  He previously served as the 18th President and CEO of the NAACP.  Rev. Brooks led the organization in securing 11 legal victories against voter suppression in 12 months; a dramatic increase in the level, visibility and breadth of grassroots activism; high profile opposition to civil rights violations through testimony before the U.S. Senate, engaging/confronting the White House, and using mass civil disobedience; rapid expansion in the number, diversity, and youth of new membership; developing new programs, including a pioneering social impact investing initiative; as well as raising $80 million in new support. He is a regular Contributor for CNN, providing analysis of public affairs, as well as social justice and ethics.

Andrew Guthrie Ferguson, Professor of Law, University of the District of Columbia’s David A. Clarke School of Law; author, The Rise of Big Data Policing: Surveillance, Race, and the Future of Law Enforcement – Professor Ferguson joined the law faculty in 2010. He was granted tenure and promoted to the rank of Full Professor in 2015. His articles have appeared in the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, the California Law Review, the Northwestern Law Review, the University of Southern California Law Review, the Notre Dame Law Review, and the Emory Law Journal.

Professor Ferguson’s book Why Jury Duty Matters: A Citizen’s Guide to Constitutional Action (NYU Press) is the first book written for jurors on jury duty. (Book Review). He stars in the “Welcome To Jury Duty Video” in D.C. Superior Court seen by more than 30,000 citizens annually.

His legal commentary has been featured in numerous media outlets, including CNN, NPR, The Economist, the Washington Post, USA Today, the ABA Journal, The Atlantic (digital), The Huffington Post, and other national and international newspapers, magazines, and media sites.

Professor Ferguson twice received the “Outstanding Faculty Award” for teaching.

Prior to joining the law faculty, Professor Ferguson worked as a supervising attorney at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia. As a public defender for seven years, he represented adults and juveniles in serious felony cases ranging from homicide to misdemeanor offenses. In addition to participating as lead counsel in numerous jury and bench trials, he argued cases before the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. Before joining the Public Defender Service, Professor Ferguson was awarded the E. Barrett Prettyman Fellowship at the Georgetown Law Center’s Criminal Justice Clinic. For two years as a Prettyman Fellow, he taught and supervised third-year clinical students involved in the criminal justice clinic. Immediately after graduating from law school, he clerked for the Honorable Chief Judge Carolyn Dineen King of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

Professor Ferguson is involved in developing constitutional education projects in the Washington D.C. area. He is co-author of Youth Justice in America (CQ Press 2005, 2014), a textbook for high school students on their rights under the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments to the United States Constitution. He is on the Board of Directors of the Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop, a non-profit organization that teaches creative writing and poetry to juvenile defendants charged as adults in the District of Columbia.

NYU Washington DC Co-Hosts Global Migration Film Festival: Migration, Diversity and Social Cohesion

In December, the UN Migration Agency, IOM, in Washington D.C. partnered with NYU Washington, DC to host a screening of Bonjour Ji, an award-winning Canadian short film examining an interplay of (mis)perceptions and hurdles that are part of migrants’ daily experience around the world. The film screening was followed by a panel discussion reflecting on the role of storytelling and art as vehicles for passing on information on migration and migrants themselves. This conversation included Laura Thompson, Deputy Director General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Ahmed Badr, IOM Youth Ambassador, Veyron Pax Iranian filmmaker and refugee, and Barbara Cupisti, documentary director. The Film Festival is a partner of Plural+, the UN campaign TOGETHER and USA for IOM. Through this initiative, IOM and its partners aim at changing the negative perceptions and attitudes towards refugees and migrants.

NYU Washington, DC Celebrates Five Years!

On 7 December, NYU Washington, DC will be celebrating its five year anniversary.

NYU alumni, parents, students, and families are invited to join in toasting to the five-year anniversary of the Washington, DC campus!

Enjoy holiday music, a champagne toast, and desserts provided by local alumni entrepreneurs Meredith Tomason(CAS ’02) of RareSweets, Colin Hartman (CAS ’07) of Harper Macaw Chocolate Makers, and Connie Milstein (WSC ’69) of Dog Tag Bakery!

NYU Washington, DC director, Michael Ulrich, will also provide reflections on the campus’ signature achievements and exciting vision for the years ahead.

NYU Washington, DC Hosts Jennifer Weiss-Wolf: Periods Gone Public

In an otherwise treacherous political era for women’s bodies and health, activists and lawmakers are advancing a new, affirmative agenda – for the very first time, one that meshes menstruation and public policy. From tax reform to public benefits to corrections policy, periods have become the surprising force fueling a high-profile, bipartisan movement.

On 29 November, NYU Washington, DC hosted the Brennan Center’s Jennifer Weiss-Wolf, author of Periods Gone Public, and Malaka Gharib, Deputy Editor and Digital Strategist of NPR’s Goats and Soda, to learn more about how this campaign emerged, why the issue resonates across party lines, and what is next for “menstrual equity.” Gretchen Borchelt of the National Women’s Law Center and Congresswoman Grace Meng, (NY-6), sponsor of the Menstrual Equity for All Act of 2017 (H.R. 972), introduced the conversation. Discussion was lively and illuminating.


This program is produced by The Brennan Center for Justice in partnership with the National Women’s Law Center, the NYU John Brademas Center, and NYU Washington, DC.

N.I.C.E. Film Festival Opens at NYU Washington, DC

The N.I.C.E. Film Festival will open today at NYU Washington, DC. A number of films will be shown over the next week. NYU Washington, DC, the Italian Cultural Institute and N.I.C.E. (New Italian Cinema Events)  open the festival with a screening of Children of the Night (Figli della notte).

N.I.C.E. is a non-for-profit cultural organization that was founded in 1991 by a group of film professionals and which has consequently grown into one of the most important expressions of Italian cinematography abroad. The goal of the organization is to promote New Italian Cinema abroad, through a series of film festivals and cultural exchanges. Every year, Nice organizes festivals in the United States, Russia, England, and China. The festival in the USA, taking place every November, is the first one to be organized every year and the oldest for N.I.C.E.

N.I.C.E. is a non-for-profit cultural organization that was founded in 1991 by a group of film professionals and which has consequently grown into one of the most important expressions of Italian cinematography abroad. The goal of the organization is to promote New Italian Cinema abroad, through a series of film festivals and cultural exchanges. Every year, Nice organizes festivals in the United States, Russia, England, and China. The festival in the USA, taking place every November, is the first one to be organized every year and the oldest for N.I.C.E.

The Italian Cultural Institute in Washington DC (IIC) is an official organization of the Italian government dedicated to the promotion of Italian language and culture in the United States. It is part of a network including more than 80 cultural institutes worldwide. Since its foundation in 1980, the IIC acts as a lively go-between for Italy and United States and as a reference point for the best in Italian Art, Cinema, Music, Theatre, Design, and Performances in the DC Metro Area.

For information about upcoming films, visit the NYU Washington, DC events page here.

NYU Washington, DC Students Start Two Podcast Series

NYU Washington, DC Students Raven Quesenberry, Meagen Tajalle, Dillon Fournier, and Dominick Nardone have started two podcast series: Talk the Walk and My Friend on the Hill. Both series gather perspectives on civic engagement and activism and working in government and politics. The students talk to a diverse set of DC’s players and insiders and engage in lively discussions.

Give their episodes a listen on the NYU Washington, DC SoundCloud page: https://soundcloud.com/nyuwashingtondc

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.