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Boston University Arts & Sciences

CAS News
Earth Systems Forum Lays Foundation for Collaboration

Summit attendees (l to r) Biology Assistant Professors John Finnerty and Chris Schneider, with Biology Chair Mike Sorenson.

On February 4, CAS scientists and researchers from a range of disciplines and departments that included geography & environment, biology, and astronomy convened in the Photonics Center Colloquium Room. Their goal: identify complimentary core strengths and new, collaborative opportunities. The Earth Systems Forum gave participants an opportunity to compare notes on existing activities at BU related to the Earth's integrated physical, natural, and societal systems, and from there develop a shared vision for research, teaching, and facilities related to “Earth Systems.”

Speakers were encouraged to share ideas that would promote more interdisciplinary collaboration. John Clarke, professor of astronomy, proposed that biologists could collaborate with astronomers by modeling how life could exist under certain extreme conditions found on other planets. “There may be a $3 billion mission going to Europa,” he said. “There are underground oceans there that could have life. Maybe we could do modeling of what type of life could live in that type of environment.”

The immediate outcome of the forum will be a faculty-driven whitepaper providing a vision and planning statement for investment and development of research, facilities, and curricula at BU that build on core strengths related to the study of Earth Systems. For more information, visit www.bu.edu/esf.

Dean of Arts & Sciences Virginia Sapiro (right) with Associate Research Professor of Space Physics Timothy Cook

International Relations/Political Science to Partner in Europe-focused International Programs

Erasmus Mundus Joint Doctorate Program on Globalization

Boston University’s International Relations and Political Science departments have been named associate partners in a multimillion-euro project to establish the Erasmus Mundus joint doctorate program to be called Globalization, the EU, and Multilateralism (GEM).

GEM is funded by the Education, Audiovisual & Culture Executive Agency (EACEA) of the Commission of the European Communities under the Erasmus Mundus Framework Programme. The PhD program will be coordinated by the Free University of Brussels (ULB), with a consortium of six partner universities (ULB, Warwick, LUISS, Geneva, Fudan, and Waseda) and a number of associate partners, including Boston University.

The doctoral program will provide full three-year support for approximately nine PhD candidates annually and will feature shared training programs in support of international mobility actions, international seminars, and joint workshops. Boston University’s initial role in the program will be to vet candidates and participate in the mobility actions, seminars, and workshops.

Project “GREEN” to Study EU’s Emerging Role in the World

Boston University’s International Relations and Political Science departments have been named partners in a multimillion-euro project to study the role of the European Union (EU) in world.

The project, “GREEN,” is funded by a ten million-euro grant from the European Union Commission and will study the current and future role of the EU in an emerging multi-polar world, investigating prospective directions of emerging global governance structures and identifying Europe’s role in the process. Analysis will focus on the extant actors from the 20th century, the 21st century rising powers, the increasingly influential non-state actors (from civil and non-civil society), and the new transnational regulatory networks of public and private policy makers and regional agencies.

The project’s research will be theoretical and policy-oriented, with an interactive dissemination strategy to assure feedback from its target-publics. The work will be undertaken by a consortium of partners from Belgium, the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Denmark, Hungary, Spain, Italy, and Norway. Their work will be supported by leading institutes from the United States, Argentina, Singapore, China, Japan, Australia, and South Africa to act as hub-and-spokes for their regions.

Using the Past to Predict Global Warming’s Future

To see the future, Maureen Raymo looks back.

Three million years back, to be exact. Raymo, a CAS research professor of earth sciences, and her colleagues are trying to predict just how high the oceans will rise as global warming melts polar ice sheets. It so happens that three million years ago, the level of carbon dioxide—the most influential gas, atmospherically speaking—was about the same as today. Mid-Pliocene temperatures were about three degrees warmer than ours, so as our mercury creeps toward that ancient temperature under the influence of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, knowing how much ice melted back then might shed light on how much could melt in the future. And how many coastal cities could become underwater parks.

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Antitrust specialist Paul M. Kaplan (CAS’73) delivered a lecture on February 8 in Barristers Hall at the BU School of Law. The topic: How the Bowl Championship Series (BCS), college football’s sequence of end-of-season bowl games, is a classic monopoly that raises concerns that go far beyond the game of football.

How Strong is the Weak Nuclear Force?

After a decade of experimental development, data-taking, and analysis, an international research team led by scientists from Boston University and the University of Illinois has announced a new value for the muon (μ) lifetime. The new lifetime measurement—the most precise ever made of any subatomic particle—makes possible a new determination of the strength of the weak nuclear force. Experiments for this research were conducted using the proton accelerator facility of the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) in Villigen, Switzerland. The results were published in the January 25, 2011, issue of Physical Review Letters. An abstract of the article is available.

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Harris’ Article Picked as Top 20 All-Time by American Economic Review

The American Economic Review recently celebrated its 100th anniversary. In honor of the occasion, they put together a panel of Nobel laureates and others to choose the top 20 AER articles of all time.

CAS Professor of Economics John Harris’ article on the Harris Todaro model of migration and employment in poor countries was picked as one of the top 20. His article was the only development economics article on the list. Read the article summarizing the top 20.

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Racing to Save a Close Ancestor

For the last 18 years, biological anthropologist Cheryl Knott of Boston University has been racing against the clock. While she researches orangutans in the rainforests of Gunung Palung National Park in Borneo, the numbers of this magnificent ape steadily plummet.

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LGBTQ Faculty “On Track”

On February 10, about a dozen people who responded to Dean Sapiro’s invitation gathered for lunch to discuss the special experiences of and opportunities and challenges facing tenure and tenure-track CAS faculty who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, or queer (LGBTQ). Other faculty members expressed an interest but were unavailable to meet at that time. The wide-ranging discussion touched on general questions of the climate for diversity in the College, particular challenges, and strategies for ensuring that CAS can provide the best work life and professional opportunities possible to our entire faculty.

Specific topics included health care and other partner benefits, strategies for making sure potential faculty and students understand that BU is welcoming and supportive, and ways that faculty can be helpful to LGBTQ students who need mentoring and support. The group discussed the importance of incorporating relevant and helpful advice to graduate students facing the job market. Participants also discussed possibilities for holding regular informal social events. For more information about the experience of LGBTQ members of the BU community, see “LGBT Voices: Life stories offer messages of hope.” For more information on the lunch discussion and possible follow-up, contact Dean Sapiro.

2011 Boston University Alumni Awards Nominations (Deadline March 18)

The Development & Alumni Relations office and the Boston University Alumni Association are pleased to announce the call for nominations for the 2011 Boston University Alumni Awards. For details on how to nominate someone, click here.


Department Spotlight: Romance Studies

The Romance Studies Department sits at a unique confluence of culture and language at BU. Reaching back into the past through the literature of Spain and the Americas, the department is also at the cutting edge of today’s Spanish-language literature, art, and culture. With world-renowned faculty and an energetic, engaged student body, the department is poised to continue growing and evolving.

In particular, Romance Studies Chair James Iffland and his colleagues and students are reaching out to create new connections to both Spanish-speaking students on campus and Spanish-speaking residents of the Boston area. Thanks to a recent grant from Sovereign Bank, the department is planning to host prominent Hispanic cultural figures to campus and to work with local high school Spanish teachers to incorporate more cultural learning into their language courses.

Lectures and Events

Discoveries Lecture Series: "Political Humor Throughout the Ages"
Led by Jeff Henderson, Professor of Greek Language & Literature
7 p.m., Metcalf Trustee Center, 1 Silber Way, 9th Floor
Live Registration Link

Visit www.bu.edu/winterfest for more information.

"Skid Row: Poverty and Place"
Part of AMNESP's House and Home in American Culture Series
Presenter: Ella Howard (AMNESP'07), Assistant Professor of History, Armstrong Atlantic State University
5:30 p.m., CAS 200
For more info, contact jlroscio@bu.edu.

Full calendar

Faculty Meetings and Deadlines

Social Sciences Chairs/Directors (CCD) Meeting
4 p.m., CAS 228

Humanities Chairs/Directors (CCD) Meeting
4 p.m., STH 625

Natural Sciences Chairs/Directors (CCD) Meeting
4 p.m., CAS 132

Full Chairs/Directors (CCD) Meeting
4 p.m., CAS 211

“Notes on Mozambican Theater”
A lecture by Dr. Luis Madureira, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Presented by the African Studies Center
12 p.m., Room 505
African Studies Center
232 Bay State Road
Room 505

Faculty Meeting
4 p.m., CAS 211

Social Sciences Chairs/Directors (CCD) Meeting—Tentative
4 p.m., CAS 132

Chairs' Calendar


Oxford University Press recently published a book by Assistant Professor of History Brooke Blower titled Becoming Americans in Paris: Transatlantic Politics and Culture Between the World Wars.

Professor of Political Science Walter Clemens gave the Glasmacher Lecture on February 3 in Ottawa, Canada, at the Symposium on Conflict Resolution. The symposium was sponsored by the Centre for Research on Conflict at Saint Paul University, the Department of Law at Carleton University, and the Faculty of Law from the University of Ottawa. The topic was “Can—Should—We Negotiate with Evil? Spirituality, Emergent Creativity, and Reconciliation.” The talk enlarged on arguments in Clemens’s recent book Getting to Yes in Korea (Boulder: Paradigm Publishers, 2010), which has an Introduction by Governor Bill Richardson.

Professor of International Relations and Geography & Environment Adil Najam has been appointed to the Visiting Committee of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Corporation. Professor Najam, who is also the Director of the Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future, will serve for a two-year term on the Visiting Committee for the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning.

Keep Us in the Loop

Let us know about news or upcoming events. Please send news items to cascom@bu.edu, or call Patrick Farrell at 617-358-1185. Announcements about upcoming events can also be submitted online. Events geared toward students should be submitted to the Student Programs Office.

For all matters regarding your alumni, please contact Associate Director of Alumni Relations Kirsten Lundeen at 617-358-5525 or Alumni Relations Coordinator Lauren Hall at 617-353-1060.

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