Author Joshua Henkin says that when it comes to families, Tolstoy was right — it’s adversity that keep them interesting. “All happy families are the same, unhappy families are unhappy in their own way,” says Henkin, citing the iconic Russian novelist to describe his latest novel, “The World Without You.” Henkin, who directs the MFA program in fiction writing at Brooklyn College, discusses his book, which revolves around a family mourning the death of their son in Iraq and how a calamity impacts family members for years to come. “Tragedies do big things to the most stable kinds of people.”
Third Way initiatives that would combine both liberal and conservative ideas could help the millions of Americans who are out of work, said Robert Cherry, co-author of a new book, Moving Working Families Forward: Third Way Policies That Can Work. “We propose that the government buy up a million housing units and turn them into subsidized housing,” says Cherry, professor of economics at Brooklyn College and at the Graduate Center. “This policy would combine the liberal view that government should spend money to help people move forward and the conservative idea of efficiency-it’s the cheapest way for the government to create affordable housing.”
Anita Hill, whose riveting allegations of sexual harassment almost derailed the confirmation of Clarence Thomas as a U.S. Supreme court justice 20 years ago, told a crowd at Brooklyn College: “I assure you: Nowhere on my bucket list was the ambition of testifying before a Senate Judiciary Committee about my own personal experience. Nevertheless, as the nomination proceeded, I realized what was at stake. At the heart of my testimony was the integrity of the court … [which] is only as good as the integrity of the people who are sitting on the court,” she said at the Shirley Chisholm Day celebration. Chisholm (Brooklyn College, 1946) was the first black woman elected to Congress, in 1968, and the first woman to make a serious run for the Democratic presidential nomination, in 1972. Hill, a professor at Brandeis University, also discussed the role that gender and race continue to play, particularly in the current foreclosure crisis.
Childhood trauma can make you a sick adult. “Physical and sexual abuse, harsh language and chaos in the home lead to heart disease, propensity for smoking, obesity, drug abuse, high risk for AIDS, depression, anxiety, anger, and other forms of antisocial behavior,” says professor Bruce S. McEwan, who heads up the Harold and Margaret Milliken Hatch Laboratory of Neuroendocrinology at the Rockefeller University. Speaking at Brooklyn College’s Children’s Studies Center for Research, Policy and Public Service for the Social Justice for Children, which convened a National Consultation to End Childhood Abuse and Violence Against Children, McEwan was among a group of experts from the fields of neuroscience, social sciences and public health, who presented recent findings on violence against children.
Lightning-rod defense attorney, Harvard law professor, author and commentator Alan Dershowitz embodies “chutzpah” – Yiddish for audacity, gall and nerviness, and one of his book titles. He’s never avoided controversy, and he’s never forgotten where he comes from. That’s why he chose Brooklyn College, his alma mater, to house the papers – case files to photos to hate mail (answered back, of course) from his illustrious 50-year legal career. “In My Own Defense: The Papers of Alan Dershowitz,” will be on view at Brooklyn College until Jan. 3, 2012.
What if scientists discovered a disease that affected millions of children and the exposed could pass it on to their own children? asked James Mercy, acting director of the Division of Violence Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “If we had a disease in the headlines that was framed like that, what do you think we would do? But the truth is we have such a disease. It’s called violence against children.” He spoke at the National Consultation to End Child Abuse and Violence Against Children organized by the Children’s Studies Center for Research, Policy and Public Service at Brooklyn College.
The Occupy Wall Street protests, which began on September 17, have shown some distinctive policing strategies, according to Alex Vitale, a Brooklyn College associate professor in sociology who specializes in police response to demonstrations. One thing “has been the use of supervisors — so-called white shirts, lieutenants and up — to do a lot of the arrests and be kind of a front line of interaction, rather than having patrol officers do it,” said Vitale, in an interview at the center of the protests in Zuccotti Park in Manhattan’s financial district. “I think, in part, it’s an attempt to avoid the overuse of force and escalation of conflicts but, unfortunately, some of those supervisors have made mistakes and have escalated the conflict.”
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For 2011 Rhodes Scholar Zujaja Tauqeer, the dream of becoming a doctor — like both her parents — was instilled in her and her older sister at a very young age. “We had to finish our education and become doctors, and nothing has changed except that we’re in a different country,” says Tauqeer, a senior, studying medicine and history at Macaulay Honors College at Brooklyn College. As victims of religious persecution in Pakistan, the family was granted asylum in the U.S. in 1998, eventually settling in Staten Island. Tauqeer, who is the seventh student in CUNY’s history to win a Rhodes Scholarship, plans to attend the University of Oxford in England this fall and hopes to return someday to her native Pakistan. “I’d like to work there to improve social stability through medicine.”
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Protein amyloids, partly-crystalline protein fibers formed from identical sequences in molecules of the same protein, are best known for their link to neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, says Brooklyn College biology Chair Peter Lipke. “Protein amyloids were discovered as the hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease,” said Prof. Lipke at the Serving Science Cafe Lecture Series. “Cells in the central nervous system look for amyloid formation and try to get rid of them, but if they can’t, the cells commit suicide and lead to terrible medical consequences.” In his lecture “Protein Amyloids in Yeast Infections, Sherry, Mad Cow Disease, Ale, and Alzheimers,” Prof. Lipke said they can also be put to good use, as when beer, champagne or sherry yeasts use amyloid proteins to stick together, enabling brewers and vintners to easily remove the aggregates from the brew.
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Recently installed Brooklyn College President Dr. Karen L. Gould is preparing to launch a five-year strategic plan this fall that will create new schools of business, sciences and art while building on the Flatbush institution’s “wonderful tradition of excellence and affordability,” she says. A new branding campaign for the 80-year-old college, using old and new technologies to promote school, faculty and student accomplishments, is part of the mix. Dr. Gould, Brooklyn’s ninth, and first woman, president, said, “It’s a very important time for us to be looking at the image we want to project in all our communications …. but we also need to determine where we’re heading and how best to communicate those new directions.” The former California State University, Long Beach provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, who took over at Brooklyn in August, discussed key initiatives and the challenge of running a large public institution during an economic crisis.
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