A daily selection of stories about UC Berkeley and higher education that have appeared in the local and national media.
Friday, 7 March 2014
1. Extra Credit Blog: Little kid brains vs. college smarts
San Francisco Chronicle Online
An experiment led by psychology professor Alison Gopnik found that preschoolers were better able to figure out a seemingly unpredictable machine than college students. Ultimately, the researchers determined that the children were more flexible and exploratory in their thinking, while the older students got bogged down in preconceived ideas. Looking ahead, the researchers are interested in knowing what gives children that learning advantage. Link to video. Stories on this topic appeared in more than a dozen sources, including UPI, Nature World News, Futurity: Research News, and Medical Daily.
2. Ancient Egyptian Soldier's Letter Home Deciphered
A 1,800-year-old letter in the Bancroft Library's Tebtunis Papyri collection has been deciphered for the first time by a modern scholar. Rice University doctoral candidate Grant Adamson translated the fragmented papyrus using infrared images to make parts of the text more legible. He found that the letter was written primarily in Greek by a young Egyptian soldier named Aurelius Polion, who was serving in the Roman legion in Europe. In the letter, he begs his family to respond to his letters. It was found outside a temple in the Egyptian town of Tebtunis more than 100 years ago in an archaeological expedition led by Bernard Grenfell and Arthur Hunt.
3. Economix Blog: The Significance of the Minimum Wage for Women and Families
New York Times Online (*requires registration)
Business professor Laura D'Andrea Tyson focuses on issues related to women in an argument favoring a raise in the federal minimum wage. She cites a slew of eye-opening statistics and notes that rigorous studies over the last decade indicate that "a modest increase would boost the wages of millions of workers and have little to no negative effect on employment." She adds that a higher minimum wage would also "enhance labor productivity, reduce worker turnover and absenteeism, and lower the costs of recruiting and training employees."
4. Ian Haney López on the Dog Whistle Politics of Race, Part One
Moyers & Company
Talk show host Bill Moyers interviews law professor Ian Haney López about his new book, Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class. "Dog whistle politics" refers to coded racial appeals politicians use to win support for cuts to unemployment benefits and other programs benefitting the poor. According to Professor López, "It comes out of a desire to win votes. And in that sense... It’s racism as a strategy. It’s cold, it’s calculating, it’s considered, ... it’s the decision to achieve one’s own ends, here winning votes, by stirring racial animosity." Link to video. This is Part One of the interview. Part Two aired on March 5. An excerpt from the interview was picked up by Upworthy.
5. Albertsons says there are no immediate plans for Safeway closures
Business professor Jennifer Chatman, a specialist in organizational behavior, comments on the merger between Albertsons and Safeway. "They're facing a lot of pressure from some atypical competitors, Target, Walmart, these are broad retailers who weren't always in the grocery business but now are," she says. She advises the former competitors to draw on their shared history to help smooth the transition. "Both chains were founded in Idaho," she says, and Joe Albertson worked for Safeway in the 1930s before opening his own grocery store.
6. Audrie Pott: Saratoga teen's suicide spurs 'Audrie's Law' on cyberbullying
San Jose Mercury News (*requires registration)
Barry Krisberg, a juvenile justice expert and senior fellow at Berkeley's law school, weighs in on the proposed "Audrie's Law." The law is named for Audrie Pott, a 15-year-old girl who committed suicide after a sexual assault that was accompanied by cyberbullying. Krisberg says the proposed legislation is "moderate and reasonable," that it includes "some necessary fixes to the current law," and that it has an "excellent chance" of passing. He adds that other legislation inspired by sensational crimes "went overboard and ended up being a Trojan horse for what I would call extremely conservative reforms." In this case, he says, the law is "very targeted on specific problems."
7. China faces dilemma in Ukraine, where both trade and ties with Russia are in play
Political science professor Lowell Dittmer, a China and Asia specialist, weighs in on China's reticence regarding the standoff between Ukraine, Russia and the West. “China faces a dilemma, which is precisely the reason they are unlikely to help resolve the crisis or say anything at all about it,” he says. While China and Russia have a strategic partnership and a friendship treaty, he says they also have an explicit understanding that they won’t meddle in each other’s dealings with third parties, unless national interests are at stake.
8. Forum with Michael Krasny: The Music of War
To mark the centennial of World War I, Cal Performances is currently hosting the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and a series of discussions on the intersection of war, politics, art and music. Matias Tarnopolsky, executive and artistic director of Cal Performances, joins a discussion of the series. Link to audio forthcoming.
9. Op-Ed: Are Systems Bad for Flagships?
Inside Higher Ed
Chancellor Emeritus Robert Berdahl co-writes a commentary about the relationship between flagship campuses and the public university systems under which they operate. The authors write that "despite the prevalence and best intentions of systems, it's not clear that good state systems any longer lead to good university governance," and that they may in fact harm the health of flagships. UC Berkeley is noted as an example of the dilemma, and former Chancellor Robert Birgeneau is cited for a paper he wrote, proposing that the UC Regents create and delegate specific responsibilities to individual campus boards.
10. Colleges Straining to Restore Diversity
Wall Street Journal (*requires registration)
UC officials filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the Supreme Court's review of a Michigan ban on considering race in college admissions. "The UC experience is highly relevant," the brief noted. Nearly two decades after a similar ban was passed in California, "the University of California still struggles to enroll a student body that encompasses the broad racial diversity of the state." Although UC has worked hard to counteract the effects of the ban through outreach programs and financial aid initiatives, the system's leaders say they are still unable to meet their goals, particularly at UCLA and Berkeley.
11. Nation's Largest Student Co-Op At UC Berkeley May Completely Change After Drug Overdose Lawsuit
The Berkeley Student Cooperative is planning to make changes to Cloyne Court, the largest cooperative student house in the U.S., following a recent lawsuit settlement. The suit was filed by the family of former resident John Gibson, who suffered brain injuries from a drug overdose at Cloyne Court in 2010. "We are at risk of unaffordably high insurance rates or of being uninsurable. ... We need to make a direct response to this settlement to show our efforts to prevent further incidences and liability," BSC President Michelle Nacouzi said in a statement. Some of the house residents are not pleased with the proposed changes, and have launched a "Save Cloyne" campaign. Another story on this topic appeared in the University Herald.
12. Albany approves University Village project over protests
West County Times
The Albany City Council unanimously rejected two appeals to the council's approval of mixed-use development on university-owned property in Albany. The proposed development includes senior housing, as well as a Sprouts Farmers Market and other retail shops. Another story on this topic appeared in the Berkeley Patch.
13. Nikhil Arora: Co-CEO and co-founder, Back to the Roots
San Francisco Business Times
An entrepreneur profile focuses on the company Back to the Roots, co-founded in 2009 by alum Nikhil Arora. The company creates sustainable food-growing kits and had a 2013 projected revenue of $3.3 million. Its source of startup capital was a $5,000 social innovation grant from the UC Berkeley chancellor's fund, as well as personal funds.
14. The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend
The three-day residency of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra at Cal Performances is a highlighted activity this weekend. Marking the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I, the residency will include three concerts, a symposium bringing together scholars from both Berkeley and Vienna, and pre- and post-concert talks. For more information, visit: http://www.calperformances.org/performances/2013-14/orchestra/vienna-philharmonic-orchestra.php.
Another highlight for the weekend is a Sunday tour of public art on campus with community historian Steven Finacom and artist Bruce Beasley, whose "Rondo" series of sculptures are currently on display. For more information, visit: http://berkeleyheritage.com/calendar.html