By Emily Truax

Boston University to Host Symposium on the Legacy of the Women’s Liberation Movement

March 14th, 2014 in 2014, News Releases 0 comments

Political, literary, artistic, and legal reflections on the “Revolutionary Moment”

 

BOSTON UNIVERSITY  MEDIA ADVISORY

 For Immediate Release 

Contact:  Jaho King, 617-358-2370, jking@bu.edu

 

(Boston) — What is the legacy of the women’s liberation movement, the span between the late ‘60s and early ‘70s with no definitive start or end date that roiled the status quo and raised awareness?  An ambitious, 3-day symposium March 27-29, 2014, at Boston University will gather movement veterans and scholars of the era to reflect on and put into context the impact “women’s lib” had on our culture, politics, art, law, media and attitudes.

For media considering retrospective pieces on this groundbreaking time in our history a half-century ago, this offers a rare opportunity to interact in one place with (now aging) activists, artists, authors and academics involved with the “revolutionary moment.”  Films of and about the movement will be screened and a signature play of the period performed.

All sessions are open to the media (see http://www.bu.edu/wgs/conference2014/ for agenda and bios), including a ceremony at 6 p.m. Friday, 3/28, at which The Bette Davis Foundation will present its lifetime achievement honor to award-winning actress (and BU alum) Geena Davis for advocacy through her namesake Institute on Gender in Media.

 

Event:               “A Revolutionary Moment: Women’s Liberation in the late 1960s an early 1970s”

Date:                  Thursday-Saturday, March 27-29, 2014

Time:                 See schedule:   http://www.bu.edu/wgs/conference2014

Place:                 Boston University

George Sherman Union

775 Commonwealth Ave.

Boston, MA (with break-out sessions across the BU campus)

 

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Boston University Research Reveals Surprising Results about Kids’ Capacity for Scientific Literacy

March 11th, 2014 in 2014, News Releases 0 comments

Storybook Helps Five to Eight Year Olds Learn Natural Selection

It turns out kids can understand complex scientific concepts – like natural selection – far beyond what anyone would have expected.

To demonstrate this, Boston University cognitive developmental psychologist Deborah Kelemen and her co-researchers created a 10-page picture storybook about pilosas, a group of fictional mammals with long trunks. Then they read it aloud to five to eight year old’s.

The pilosas use their trunks to catch insects. In the past, most of the pilosas had wide trunks. Only a few had thin trunks. Then extreme climate change drove most of the insects underground, into long, narrow tunnels where only the pilosas with thin trunks could reach them.

The drama unfolds around a central question: How did the pilosas evolve over time from a group of animals having trunks of varying widths to those with thin trunks predominating?

It’s a story about adaptation by natural selection, which is one of the core mechanisms not just of evolution, but of all biology. It is also one of the most widely misunderstood concepts in science. It is generally viewed as so complex – so beyond the grasp of young children – that educational standards in the U.S. suggest that it should not be taught comprehensively until ages 13 to 18.

The kids who heard the story about the pilosas got it.

“We’re still astonished by what we found,” said Kelemen, who reports the findings in a study published last week in Psychological Science.

CAS Psychology Associate Professor Deborah Kelemen

CAS Psychology Associate Professor Deborah Kelemen

“It shows that kids are a lot smarter than we ever give them credit for.  They can handle a surprising degree of complexity when you frame things in a way that taps into the natural human drive for a good, cohesive explanation.”

“I had one child say to me, ‘Wow, I think my head is going to explode I learned so much today,’” said Boston University developmental psychology postdoctoral fellow Natalie Emmons, an author on the study.

The conventional wisdom is that young children should be taught only piecemeal biological facts, such as that food is needed for survival or that animals have useful body parts, without tying the facts together into an explanation of how the mechanism of natural selection works.

But why bother trying to explain the mechanism to young kids? Kelemen and her colleagues make the case that teaching it earlier may help head off learning problems later on.

Young children are natural explanation seekers, Kelemen writes in the study. Around pre-school age, they start intuitively thinking that natural phenomena exist for a purpose or operate by design. To a five or eight-year-old, it makes perfect sense to think that rivers exist so crocodiles have a place to live or that giraffes got long necks because they needed them to reach leaves high in the trees.

This scientifically inaccurate thinking is known as teleological explanation. While it helps young children’s everyday reasoning, Kelemen said, the kind of beliefs associated with it can impede the ability of older students – and, ultimately, adults – to understand the counter-intuitive logic of natural selection. A species evolves over time as animals with certain traits that fit better with their environment survive and reproduce at higher rates than those without the advantageous trait.

Not only did the kids understand how the pilosas evolved in the storybook, but they accomplished one of the most difficult tasks of learning: generalizing the concept. They applied what they learned from the pilosas to another species of novel animals, in some cases, even after three months.

Kelemen’s experiment, born amid the growing discussion about the need to improve science literacy in the U.S., began with this question: Was it possible to teach young children a basic concept of adaptation by capitalizing on their efforts to figure out the natural world as well as the fragmentary state of their ideas?

Most storybooks that touch on natural selection only further confuse kids, Kelemen said. They anthropomorphize the animals, skimp on the facts and dispense with explanations altogether.

Or the books are so flashy the kids can’t focus on the story. “All kinds of bells and whistles are often built into storybooks,” Kelemen said.” Everyone thinks that is going to make the storybook fun for the kid.”

Kelemen and her co-researchers carefully crafted their book, combining what they knew as developmental psychologists with the research on science education. They invented the pilosas so the children couldn’t come into the lab with pre-conceived ideas about the animals. They kept the story and the pictures simple. The narrative about how the pilosas lived and died – and the explanation of how and why they evolved over time – unfolded gradually, with one biological fact logically connecting to the next.

Current-day Wilkies (right) and ancestral Wilkies (left), fictional creatures from a study by Kelemen et al. (2014).

Current-day Wilkies (right) and ancestral Wilkies (left), fictional creatures from a study by Kelemen et al. (2014).

The researchers asked the children questions before and after reading them the storybook to assess their learning of basic biological facts – such as the link between food and health and health and reproduction — and their ability to integrate these facts into a coherent, accurate explanation of why pilosas’ bodies changed over time.

Learning was particularly striking among older students; in the second experiment, 100 per cent of the seven and eight year olds understood that the reason why the pilosas or other animals changed over time was because individuals with more beneficial traits out-survived and out-reproduced others in the group.

Kelemen’s study suggests that one way to raise science literacy in the U.S. is to start teaching earlier some key concepts that our natural tendencies of mind make especially hard to understand – and that a good place to start would be with natural selection. The concept, Kelemen said, is an important foundation for children’s understanding of other fundamentals, such as the diversity of living things and the origins of species.

“It turns out that if you put the facts into the context of a theory, the kids learn not only the facts, but they also understand the full explanation,” Kelemen said. “And they get it beyond a level we ever imagined they would, given how young they are.”

She added: “We’re not necessarily getting rid of a natural orientation to think everything exists in nature to perform a function. What we are doing is helping children also develop alternatives ways of understanding why some kinds of functions and purposes in nature exist. It is a scientifically accurate way that is going to help them in the science classroom and beyond.”

David Klahr, a professor of cognitive developmental psychology and education science at Carnegie Mellon University, who was not involved with the study, said he was “ impressed with the results,” and with the creativity with which Kelemen and her team conceived and executed the work.

“We’ve known for years that young children can extract the intended message from a coherent story,” he wrote in an email. “Everything from Aesop’s Fables to things in the typical ‘children’s bible stories’ volume exploit young children’s ability to extract meaning from well crafted tales.”

Kelemen said: “Taking insights from developmental research about how children think and applying them to the construction of educational materials can yield incredibly positive results. Early interventions like this might be key to improving scientific understanding of counter-intuitive ideas longer term.”

 

 

Contact Information:

Sara Rimer

Director, Science Media Relations, Boston University

Email: srimer@bu.edu

Office phone: 617-358-6450

Cell – 617-939-8506

 

Deborah Kelemen, Ph.D

Association Professor

Director, Developmental Science Program

Boston University

Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences

Email: dkelemen@bu.edu

 

Natalie A. Emmons, Ph.D

Postdoctoral Associate

Department of Psychology

Boston University

Email: nat.emmons@gmail.com

 

 

Boston University to Host Symposium Marking 150 Years of National Banking

February 4th, 2014 in 2014, News Releases 0 comments

BOSTON UNIVERSITY MEDIA ADVISORY

For Immediate Release 

Contact:  Richard Taffe, 617/353-2240, rtaffe@bu.edu 

Comptroller of the Currency Curry, Volcker, Bair, Dodd and Frank among participants

(Boston) — The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) commemorates its 150th anniversary at a symposium – “Building on 150 Years: The Future of National Banking” – hosted by the Boston University Center for Finance, Law & Policy on March 31, 2014, at Boston’s Hynes Convention Center.

All sessions are open to the media (see here for agenda) and individual interviews with conference participants will be considered upon request.

Participants at panels at the all-day event will include:

  • Comptroller of the Currency Thomas J. Curry
  • ex-Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker
  • ex-FDIC Chair Sheila Bair
  • ex-U.S. Sen. Christopher Dodd
  • ex-U.S. Rep. Barney Frank
  • Financial Services Roundtable President and ex-Minn. Gov. Timothy Pawlenty
  • ex-Citicorp Chairman John Reed
  • Sharon Bowles, chair of the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee of the European Parliament.

 

For media credentials, contact:

Bryan Hubbard

Director, Public Affairs Operations

Office of the Comptroller of the Currency

Bryan.hubbard@occ.treas.gov

202-649-6747

Event:               “Building on 150 Years: The Future of National Banking”

Date:                  Monday, March 31, 2014

Time:                 all day

Place:                 Hynes Convention Center, 900 Boylston St, Boston

 

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Boston University Study Examines the Development of Children’s Prelife Reasoning

January 27th, 2014 in 2014, College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, News Releases 0 comments

Evidence suggests our hard-wired belief in immortality may be the root of core religious beliefs

For Immediate Release: January 27, 2014

By Barbara Moran

Field Image - Ecuador

Photo Credit: Natalie Emmons

Most people, regardless of race, religion or culture, believe they are immortal. That is, people believe that part of themselves–some indelible core, soul or essence–will transcend the body’s death and live forever.  But what is this essence?  Why do we believe it survives?  And why is this belief so unshakable?

A new Boston University study led by postdoctoral fellow Natalie Emmons and published in the January 16, 2014 online edition of Child Development sheds light on these profound questions by examining children’s ideas about “prelife,” the time before conception.  By interviewing 283 children from two distinct cultures in Ecuador, Emmons’s research suggests that our bias toward immortality is a part of human intuition that naturally emerges early in life.  And the part of us that is eternal, we believe, is not our skills or ability to reason, but rather our hopes, desires and emotions.  We are, in fact, what we feel.

Emmons’ study fits into a growing body of work examining the cognitive roots of religion.  Although religion is a dominant force across cultures, science has made little headway in examining whether religious belief–such as the human tendency to believe in a creator–may actually be hard-wired into our brains.

“This work shows that it’s possible for science to study religious belief,” said Deborah Kelemen, an Associate Professor of Psychology at Boston University and co-author of the paper.  “At the same time, it helps us understand some universal aspects of human cognition and the structure of the mind.”

Most studies on immortality or “eternalist” beliefs have focused on people’s views of the afterlife.  Studies have found that both children and adults believe that bodily needs, such as hunger and thirst, end when people die, but mental capacities, such as thinking or feeling sad, continue in some form.  But these afterlife studies leave one critical question unanswered: where do these beliefs come from?   Researchers have long suspected that people develop ideas about the afterlife through cultural exposure, like television or movies, or through religious instruction.  But perhaps, thought Emmons, these ideas of immortality actually emerge from our intuition.  Just as children learn to talk without formal instruction, maybe they also intuit that part of their mind could exist apart from their body.

Emmons tackled this question by focusing on “prelife,” the period before conception, since few cultures have beliefs or views on the subject.   “By focusing on prelife, we could see if culture causes these beliefs to appear, or if they appear spontaneously,” said Emmons.

“I think it’s a brilliant idea,” said Paul Bloom, a Professor of Psychology and Cognitive Science at Yale who was not involved with the study.  “One persistent belief is that children learn these ideas through school or church.  That’s what makes the prelife research so cool.  It’s a very clever way to get at children’s beliefs on a topic where they aren’t given answers ahead of time.”

Emmons interviewed children from an indigenous Shuar village in the Amazon Basin of Ecuador.  She chose the group because they have no cultural prelife beliefs, and she suspected that indigenous children, who have regular exposure to birth and death through hunting and farming, would have a more rational, biologically-based view of the time before they were conceived.  For comparison, she also interviewed children from an urban area near Quito, Ecuador.  Most of the urban children were Roman Catholic, a religion that teaches that life begins only at conception.  If cultural influences were paramount, reasoned Emmons, both urban and indigenous children should reject the idea of life before birth.

Emmons showed the children drawings of a baby, a young woman, and the same woman while pregnant, then asked a series of questions about the child’s abilities, thoughts and emotions during each period: as babies, in the womb, and before conception.

The results were surprising.  Both groups gave remarkably similar answers, despite their radically different cultures.  The children reasoned that their bodies didn’t exist before birth, and that they didn’t have the ability to think or remember. However, both groups also said that their emotions and desires existed before they were born. For example, while children generally reported that they didn’t have eyes and couldn’t see things before birth, they often reported being happy that they would soon meet their mother, or sad that they were apart from their family.

“They didn’t even realize they were contradicting themselves,” said Emmons. “Even kids who had biological knowledge about reproduction still seemed to think that they had existed in some sort of eternal form.  And that form really seemed to be about emotions and desires.”

Why would humans have evolved this seemingly universal belief in the eternal existence of our emotions?  Emmons said that this human trait might be a by-product of our highly developed social reasoning. “We’re really good at figuring out what people are thinking, what their emotions are, what their desires are,” she said.  We tend to see people as the sum of their mental states, and desires and emotions may be particularly helpful when predicting their behavior.  Because this ability is so useful and so powerful, it flows over into other parts of our thinking.  We sometimes see connections where potentially none exist, we hope there’s a master plan for the universe, we see purpose when there is none, and we imagine that a soul survives without a body.

These ideas, while nonscientific, are natural and deep-seated. “I study these things for a living but even find myself defaulting to them. I know that my mind is a product of my brain but I still like to think of myself as something independent of my body,” said Emmons.

“We have the ability to reflect and reason scientifically, and we have the ability to reason based on our gut and intuition,” she added.  “And depending on the situation, one may be more useful than the other.”

 

Contact:

Natalie Emmons

Boston University, Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences

64 Cummington Mall

Boston, MA 02215

617-358-0400

E-mail: nemmons@bu.edu

 

Sara Rimer

Boston University Science Media Relations

617-939-8506

E-mail: srimer@bu.edu

Boston University Researchers Explore Possible Link between Cognitive Depressive Symptoms and Antiretroviral Therapy Uptake

December 20th, 2013 in 2013, News Releases, School of Medicine 0 comments

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Dec. 20, 2013

Contact: Gina Orlando, (617) 638-8490, gina.orlando@bmc.org

(Boston) – Researchers from Boston University’s School of Medicine (BUSM) and College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) found that among HIV-infected Russian drinkers, depressive symptom severity alone was not significantly associated with lower rates of antiretroviral therapy (ART) initiation. However, when examining cognitive symptoms of depression, results showed that high levels of depressive symptoms may be associated with delayed ART initiation. The findings are published online in the journal AIDS and Behavior.

While depressive symptoms impact on adherence to ART is widely studied, there are few studies that have investigated the impact of these symptoms on initiating ART. According to the researchers, understanding factors associated with ART initiation may be particularly useful in locations where it is not as commonly prescribed, such as Russia, which has experienced a dramatic increase in HIV infection rates during the past decade.

Led by Jeffrey Samet, MD, chief and professor of internal medicine at BMC and BUSM and principal investigator of the study, the researchers enrolled participants from the HIV’s Evolution in Russia – Mitigating Infection Transmission and Alcoholism in a Growing Epidemic (HERMITAGE) study. The 133 eligible participants had their depressive symptom severity measured at the six- and 12-month marks.

Although the results did not provide evidence that depressive symptom severity alone had a statistically significant effect on ART initiation, findings suggested a potential role of cognitive depressive symptoms in decisions to initiate ART. According to the researchers, cognitive symptoms of depression are often considered to be an index of depression that is less influenced by HIV symptoms. Further, the study demonstrated findings consistent with existing studies that show participants with co-morbid heavy drinking and injection drug use appeared to have delayed ART initiation.

“Depressive symptoms have been shown to influence progression of HIV and have been associated with poor virologic response to treatment and increased immunologic failure,” said Tracie Goodness, a doctoral student in clinical psychology at CAS and corresponding author of the study. “Timely ART initiation has been associated with multiple positive health effects, such as lower mortality, increased immune functioning and lower rates of HIV transmission,” she added.

Although more research is needed, these results provide initial evidence of the role of depressive symptoms and may contribute to the understanding of ART initiation in HIV-infected populations

The study was supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: R01AA016059, U24AA020778, U24AA020779, and K24AA15674.

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The Cost of Antibiotic Drugs for Children-A Comparison of Two Countries

December 19th, 2013 in 2013, News Releases, School of Medicine 0 comments

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, December 19, 2013

Contact: Gina DiGravio, 617-638-8480, gina.digravio@bmc.org

 

(Boston) – The 2009 costs of antibiotics covered by private insurance companies in the U.S. for children younger than 10 years old were estimated to be more than five times higher than the costs in the United Kingdom (U.K.), which are covered by a government universal health plan. These results, from Boston University’s Boston Collaborative Drug Surveillance Program, are a follow up of an ongoing comparison of prescription drug costs between the U.S. and U.K. The initial results reported on relative drug costs in 2005. The current updated results appear online in the journal Pharmacotherapy.

The implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has led to renewed attention and debate on U.S. health care costs and the cost of prescription drugs continues to be a major burden to the U.S. economy, particularly those paid by private insurance companies through higher insurance premiums.

The researchers identified 160,000 children younger than 10 years who were

prescribed at least one or more drugs in 2009 in both the U.S. and the U.K. Rates of prescribed antibiotics—75 percent of children in the U.S. compared to 50 percent in the U.K., were calculated by dividing the number of children who received at least one prescription for an oral antibiotic by the total number of children in each database in 2009. Similarly, they estimated the rate of use of each antibiotic separately.

In the U.S., the cost of each prescription was ascertained directly from a random sample of users derived from the original electronic records. In the U.K., the duration and cost of each prescription was derived from the electronic medical record and based on the 2009 Prescription Cost Analysis reported by the National Health Service and converted to dollars. Total annual cost for each antibiotic was estimated by multiplying the dollar cost per prescription by the number dispensed.

As was the case in the three prior studies, the annual costs in the U.S., estimated to be more than $2.4 million, were dramatically higher than those in the U.K., estimated to be less than $480,000. Although all of the antibiotics were available in generic formulation in both countries, the percentage of children prescribed an antibiotic was far higher in the U.S. The particular antibiotics commonly prescribed in the U.S. were regularly more costly and prescribed for longer durations.

According to the authors, a reliable comparison of relative costs between countries requires large, continuous and standardized recording systems of data that take into account age, gender, calendar time and geography among other necessary variables. ”Unlike the variability in factors related to the cost of medical procedures and hospitalizations, prescription drugs have the unique advantage in that they are typically produced by a single or relatively few international pharmaceutical companies. Furthermore, a particular drug has the same chemical structure wherever it is produced,” explained lead author Hershel Jick, MD, director emeritus of the Collaborative Drug Surveillance Program and associate professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine.

“Information on a substantial majority of drugs, including those prescribed primarily for children, can be derived from continuous reliable electronic data resources such as the ones utilized in this study. They yield critical insight into the difference in drug costs between the U.S. private sector compared to the U.K. government that can lead to creation of policy that provides greater efficiency and large cost savings,” he added.

“The impact of the ACA on private insurance prescription drug use and cost through enrollment in health care insurance exchanges can be followed in real time at modest expense using existing reliable electronic resources. Since more insurers are now participating it may be expected that the prior extraordinary high costs relative to other countries would be reduced as a result of increased market competition,” said Jick.

 

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National Academy of Inventors Announces Fellows

December 16th, 2013 in 2013, News Releases, School of Medicine 0 comments

FOR IMMEDAITE RELEASE: Dec. 16, 2013

Contact: Gina Orlando, (617) 638-8490, gina.orlando@bmc.org

(Boston) – Two Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) faculty members, David Center, MD, and William W. Cruikshank, PhD, have been named Fellows of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI). Election to NAI Fellow status is a high professional distinction accorded to academic inventors who have demonstrated a prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development and the welfare of society.

Center and Cruikshank join 141 peer innovators who represent 94 universities and government and non-profit research institutes. Together, they hold more than 5,600 U.S. patents. Included in the 2013 class are 26 presidents and senior leadership of research universities and non-profit research institutes, 69 members of the National Academies (IOM, NAS, NAE), five inductees of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, six recipients of the U.S. National Medal of Technology and Innovation, two recipients of the U.S. National Medal of Science and nine Nobel Laureates, among other major awards and distinctions.

Center is chief of pulmonary, allergy and critical care medicine at BMC and the Gordon and Ruth Snider Professor of Pulmonary Medicine at BUSM. In addition, he is associate provost for Translational Clinical Research at Boston University, where he oversees efforts to facilitate translational research and leads initiatives that identify new areas for development as well as directs the Clinical and Translational Research Institute, funded by the National Institutes of Health. His research interests include asthma pathology, mechanisms of inflammation and immune-based lung disease.

Cruikshank, director of immunology and a professor of medicine at BUSM, has been conducting basic science and translational research for the past 34 years and has authored more than 160 publications in peer reviewed journals. His research addresses the development of asthma as well as mechanistic steps involved in the onset of cutaneous T cell lymphomas. Serving as director of the Summer Undergraduate Research Program at BUSM, Cruikshank is focused on increasing diversity within the graduate programs and is providing summer research opportunities for under-represented minorities.

Center and Cruikshank were nominated by the NAI Fellows Selection Committee that comprises 13 Members including NAI Charter Fellows, recipients of U.S. National Medals, National Inventors Hall of Fame inductees, members of the National Academies and senior officials from the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Association of University Technology Managers, and the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

# # #

About The National Academy of Inventors

The National Academy of Inventors® is a 501(c) (3) non-profit member organization comprised of U.S. and international universities, and governmental and non-profit research institutions, with over 3,000 individual inventor members and Fellows spanning more than 200 institutions, and growing rapidly. It was founded in 2010 to recognize and encourage inventors with patents issued from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, enhance the visibility of academic technology and innovation, encourage the disclosure of intellectual property, educate and mentor innovative students, and translate the inventions of its members to benefit society. The NAI edits the multidisciplinary journal, Technology and Innovation – Proceedings of the National Academy of Inventors, published by Cognizant Communication Corporation (NY). www.academyofinventors.org

 

BU Prof Helps Solve Foreign Science-Textbook Need

December 16th, 2013 in 2013, College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, News Releases 0 comments

Primack&Book

For Immediate Release 12/16/13                                                                 

Contact:  Richard Primack, 617-332-1684, cell 617-636-8378, primack@bu.edu

BU PROF. HELPS SOLVE FOREIGN SCIENCE-TEXTBOOK NEED

Produces 29 foreign-language editions with co-authors translating and adding local content

(Boston) – In too many developing nations, native-language students struggle to read English-language scientific textbooks which typically don’t even include examples from the reader’s area of the world.  A Boston University biologist has created a solution that can help: Recruit professors as co-authors in the foreign country to translate the English text and insert local examples.

In the current edition of the journal BioScience, Prof. Richard Primack describes his mission to invite scientists from around the world as co-authors for foreign-language editions of his popular textbooks “Essentials of Conservation Biology” and “A Primer of Conservation Biology.”   He has  completed 29 translations in 18 languages with a dozen more in production and four in the planning stages, most financed by local publishers and foundations but some from his own pocket.

“I am somewhat obsessed with spreading the message of conservation biology to students around the world,” says Primack, widely renowned for his academic research updating records kept by Henry David Thoreau starting from 160 years ago at Walden Pond to track the impact of global warming on the flowering times of wildflowers.

In Primack’s textbook project, the co-authors first translate the books then add in local examples, case studies, and photographs to make it more relevant to their student audience, substituting them for less pertinent matter from the USA and Europe.  For example, the Indonesian edition prominently features issues associated with tropical deforestation and orangutan conservation.

Meantime, Primack says an unexpected benefit of these translated textbooks is that the best country-specific case studies have been incorporated back into the English-language versions, enriching their global perspective.

Some translated editions cover countries or regions with large populations, such as China, South Asia, the Arabic-speaking world, and Latin America, while others cover less populous countries, such as Estonia, Nepal, Greece, and Mongolia.  And many already are having had a big impact.  The Portuguese version, published in 2001, now is used by some 200 Brazilian universities.

“There have been many projects designed to build conservation biology capacity in developing countries, but we need far more than exist at present,” says Primack.  “This textbook project is one approach which would be worth extending to related disciplines,” he suggested, including ecology, environmental science, wildlife biology, forestry, and agriculture, and even perhaps geography, medicine and economics.

Founded in 1839, Boston University is an internationally recognized institution of higher education and research.  With more than 33,000 students, it is the fourth-largest independent university in the United States.  BU consists of 16 schools and colleges, along with a number of multi-disciplinary centers and institutes integral to the University’s research and teaching mission.  In 2012, BU joined the Association of American Universities (AAU), a consortium of 62 leading research universities in the United States and Canada.

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Primack’s article is published as:  Primack, R.B. 2013.  “Locally Adapted Textbooks Can Help Biodiversity.”  BioScience. 

WBUR Announces 2013 Daniel Schorr Journalism Prize Winner

October 21st, 2013 in 2013, News Releases 0 comments

Becky Vevea of NPR member station WBEZ, Chicago to be honored Nov. 7 at WBUR Gala

For Immediate Release: October 18, 2013

Media Contacts:
WBUR – Kristen Holgerson, 617.358.2011, cell 617.771.5539, kholgers@wbur.org
Boston University – Richard Taffe, 617-353-4626, cell 617-293-4082, rtaffe@bu.edu

(Boston)– Boston’s NPR news station, 90.9 WBUR, has announced reporter Becky Vevea of Chicago NPR member station WBEZ as the winner of the 2013 Daniel Schorr Journalism Prize. Now in its 12th year, the prize is named for the respected NPR senior news analyst and veteran Washington journalist Daniel Schorr, who died in 2010.

The $5,000 Schorr Prize — sponsored by WBUR and Boston University, and funded by Jim and Nancy Bildner — salutes a new generation of public radio journalists 35 years old and under, seeking to inspire them to stretch the boundaries of the medium. This year a record number of entries were received, with over 40 submissions.

Vevea’s winning series, “Chicago School Closings: Stories Beyond the Headlines” followed Chicago’s plan to close a record number of public schools in one year. WBEZ’s education reporting team took the lead on coverage and quickly became a go-to source nationally for information on the story.

Vevea’s coverage broadened the conversation around closing the schools, and it added a human voice to what was largely a top-down decision made by politicians and bureaucratic members of the fledgling urban school district. “My intent for these stories was to give context to a debate that quickly became about Chicago politics,” she said. “I hope it encouraged people to think about the bigger picture beyond City Hall and the long-term implications of this issue.”

Vevea will be honored at the 12th Annual WBUR Gala on Thursday, Nov. 7, at the Sheraton Boston Hotel in Boston’s Back Bay. An annual benefit for the public radio station, the gala is expected to raise more than $500,000 in support for independent news and programming.

“I am extremely honored to have been selected from so many talented young radio journalists to win The Daniel Schorr Journalism Prize, and it is a huge step in my career,” said Vevea.

“Becky Vevea’s coverage of the agonizing effects of shuttering more than 50 Chicago public schools was incisive and poignant, capturing with authority and sensitivity the emotional and public policy effects of the school closing crisis,” said Schorr judge Bill Marimow, most recently editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Now, as a producer for WBEZ, Chicago’s member station, Vevea still primarily focuses on education for WBEZ’s local shows, Morning Shift and Afternoon Shift. She has contributed radio reports to WBUR’s Here & Now, Marketplace, NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered and her work has appeared in The New York Times and USA Today. She was part of the reporting team that won a first place 2013 PRNDI Award (Public Radio News Directors Inc.) in “Breaking News” from the Public Radio News Directors Inc. for coverage of the Chicago teachers’ strike. She also received an award from the Education Writers Association in 2010 for contributing work to an eight-week series on teacher quality in Wisconsin for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Recent past recipients of the Schorr Prize include KUNC reporter Grace Hood (2012); NPR host David Greene (2011); Ailsa Chang, who is now a reporter for NPR (2010); reporter Chana Joffe-Walt, who covers global economics for NPR’s multimedia project “Planet Money” (2009); former NPR defense correspondent Guy Raz, who is now the host of the “TED Radio Hour” (2008); and NPR investigative correspondent Laura Sullivan (2007).

Public radio journalists from around the world competed for this prestigious recognition. Schorr had often said he was honored to have this prize bear his name, as he believed strongly in supporting talented journalists as they rose through the ranks of the broadcast industry, and particularly those who found a calling in public radio.

This year’s distinguished panel of Schorr Prize judges, in addition to Marimow, included:
• Dan Grech of Marketplace, The Miami Herald, and WLRN
• Julia McEvoy, Senior News Editor, KQED
• Manny Paraschos, Professor and former Graduate Program Director of the Department of Journalism at Emerson College
• BJ Roche, Senior Lecturer for the Department of Journalism at UMass Amherst
• Jeb Sharp, Producer on PRI’s The World

Listen to Vevea’s award-winning entry,“Chicago School Closings: Stories Beyond the Headlines.”online here

About WBUR, Boston’s NPR News Station
90.9 WBUR, Boston’s NPR news station, is the home of nationally distributed programs, On Point, Here & Now, Only A Game and Car Talk. WBUR also produces Radio Boston, a daily local news program. In addition, the award-winning WBUR Newsroom reports extensively on local stories with content that is broadcast hourly, embedded in national NPR content such as Morning Edition and All Things Considered, and shared on the station’s website, wbur.org, a Murrow Award-winner for best radio website in America. More at www.wbur.org.

About Boston University
Founded in 1839, Boston University is an internationally recognized institution of higher education and research. With more than 33,000 students, it is the fourth-largest independent university in the United States. BU consists of 16 schools and colleges, along with a number of multi-disciplinary centers and institutes integral to the University’s research and teaching mission. In 2012, BU joined the Association of American Universities (AAU), a consortium of 62 leading research universities in the United States and Canada.

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(Editors: photo of Becky Vevea available on request)

Boston University Study Spotlights Global Reliance on Remittances

October 8th, 2013 in 2013, News Releases 0 comments

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Neal Estey, 617-358-6772, naestey@bu.edu

(Boston) – Boston University’s Center for Finance, Law, and Policy and BU’s Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future today released a groundbreaking report on remittances to the world’s most unstable countries — post-conflict states that have experienced widespread population displacement and/or endemic institutional breakdown.

“Remittances to Post-Conflict States: Perspectives on Human Security and Development” outlines the main challenges to leveraging remittances for post-conflict development. It makes 19 recommendations to promote financial inclusion, foster institutional partnerships, connect diaspora networks, and reform legal and regulatory frameworks.

Tens of millions of people leave these countries — forced out by armed conflict, civil unrest, and ethnic/religious hostilities — and send money back home to relatives still living under difficult circumstances. Over the past decade, improved reporting and analysis has led to better understanding of the importance of remittances to developing countries, estimated by the World Bank to reach at least US$430 billion in 2013.

“But relatively little research has been focused on the very countries where remittances are the most important. For that reason, we organized a task force to look at these flows to the most vulnerable places on earth, and to make recommendations on how to leverage their potential development impact,” said CFLP director BU law Prof. Cornelius Hurley.

The report indicates that more than 50 significant remittance countries have been affected by prolonged conflict, including (alphabetically): Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Rwanda, Somalia, Sri Lanka, and Yemen. Egypt and Syria now have joined the list. Significant diasporas also continue from earlier conflicts in Central America, the Balkans, Sub-Saharan Africa, and South Asia.

“All together, we believe that up to US$150 billion will be sent in remittances to these countries in 2013, from as many as 70 million relatives living abroad, significantly more than the combined totals of foreign aid and investment,” said Donald F. Terry, an international remittance expert and Task Force member.

The BU report suggests a broader approach to remittance institutions that provides flexibility to adapt to specific local practices and to make broader institutional connections in an era of growing population displacement and expanding human and capital flows.

“Because of the prevailingly informal nature of remittance delivery mechanisms in post-conflict settings, the importance of remittances in the economies of these regions has been vastly underestimated,” said BU economics Prof. John Harris. “Yet, remittances could be the largest source of capital for rebuilding post-conflict countries.”

The report is the outcome of a year-long research project to research, analyze, and propose policy recommendations regarding the role of remittances in post-conflict environments and their potential to serve as a major source of development. The task force consisted of 14 members from Boston University, UCLA, the University of Hamburg, the Sustainable Development Policy Institute in Islamabad, Pakistan, and the European Public Health Association.

Conditions for more productive utilization of migrants’ remittances are analyzed, drawing on case studies from four post-conflict countries: Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Liberia, and El Salvador. It concludes with a commentary, “Dodd-Frank Act and Remittances to Post-Conflict Countries, the Law of Unintended Consequences Strikes Again.”

(NOTE: The report will be discussed at a formal presentation, “Flows to Post-Conflict States: Perspectives on Human Security and Development,” on Thursday, 10/10/13, at 10 a.m. at the Hotel Commonwealth in Boston, featuring keynote speaker Dr. Atiur Rahman, Governor of the Bangladesh Bank.)

The BU Center for Finance, Law & Policy carries out its interdisciplinary mission by engaging students, faculty and market participants in a broad range of activities. Its novel approach to the challenges facing the financial sector and the economy leverages all facets of the university community and related stakeholders. It is the successor to the Morin Center for Banking and Financial Law formerly lodged in the BU Law School.

The BU Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future at Boston
University serves as an interdisciplinary catalyst for studying improvement of the
human condition through an increased understanding of complex trends in global
interactions of politics, economics, technological innovation, and human ecology. The
Center’s work seeks to identify, anticipate, and enhance the long-term potential for
human progress—with recognition of its complexity and uncertainties.

Founded in 1839, Boston University is an internationally recognized institution of higher education and research. With more than 33,000 students, it is the fourth-largest independent university in the United States. BU consists of 16 schools and colleges, along with a number of multi-disciplinary centers and institutes integral to the University’s research and teaching mission. In 2012, BU joined the Association of American Universities (AAU), a consortium of 62 leading research universities in the United States and Canada.

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(For the full report: http://www.bu.edu/bucflp/initiatives/remittances-and-development-in-post-conflict-states/)