July 9, 2006
Starting in August I’ll be working for Columbia Housing and Dining to formalize the Eco-Reps program. I’ll be conducting the majority of the outreach here on the blog, and encouraging people with opinions and feedback to provide them in the form of comments. Once classes start, I plan to shift the ‘events’ content of the site over to a web-based calendar like that offered by Brown Bear Software, and shift the posted content here to focus on things like event wrap-ups, outreach and collaboration among student groups, and policy discussion. Check out the cuenv project page on my personal site or send me an email if you’re interested or want to help out.
April 27, 2006
Aditi reminded me that Sunil Gulati's famous end-of-the-semester Principles of Economics lecture is today (Thursday 4/27) at 2:40 PM in 417 IAB. This lecture is something unequivocally everyone should see at least once before they leave Columbia.
April 26, 2006
Urban Research Workshop 2006 Findings: Sustainability in an International Urban Context (Mexico DF and NYC)
Profs. Sudhir Venkatesh, Pablo Piccato, and Sumila Gulyani will co-host tonight's (4/26) presentation of the findings of this year's Urban Research Workshop at 6 PM in Wien Lounge:
Sustainability in an International Urban Context: Mexico City and New York City
Following a brief presentation of the research findings of the twelve workshop participants, Professor Pablo Piccato and Dr. Sumila Gulyani will address the research through an interactive panel discussion. Professor Piccato is an Associate Professor of History at Columbia and Dr. Gulyani is an Assistant Professor of Urban Planning in Columbia's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation.
Light refreshments will be served.
The excellent and erudite Hannah Roth will be presenting, and in general I'm incredibly excited to hear about the findings.
This may at first appear only tangentially related to sustainability issues, but–as many of you are no doubt aware–it is increasingly clear that understanding thought patterns on the individual and cultural levels is a critical part of raising the awareness necessary to achieving global sustainability. The work of Harvard evolutionary psychologist Steven Pinker makes strong claims about the nature of these thought patterns that we would probably all do well to consider and understand–regardless of whether we agree with his ideas–and his resulting policy recommendations–or not:
Pinker argues that modern science has challenged three views that comprise the dominant view of human nature in intellectual life:
- the blank slate
- the noble savage
- the ghost in the machine
Much of the book is dedicated to examining fears of the social and political consequences of his view of human nature:
- the “fear of inequality”
- the “fear of imperfectibility”
- the “fear of determinism”
- the “fear of nihilism”
Pinker claims these fears are non sequiturs, and that the blank slate view of human nature would actually be a greater threat if it were true. For example, he argues that political equality does not require sameness, but policies that treat people as individuals with rights; that moral progress doesn’t require the human mind to be naturally free of selfish motives, only that it has other motives to counteract them; that responsibility doesn’t require behavior to be uncaused, only that it responds to praise and blame; and that meaning in life doesn’t require that the process that shaped the brain must have a purpose, only that the brain itself has purposes. He also argues that grounding moral values in claims about a blank slate opens them to possibilty of being overturned by future empirical discoveries; and that belief in a blank slate human nature encourages destructive social trends such as persecution of the successful and totalitarian social engineering.
He’ll be here tomorrow Thursday 4/27 to discuss his book and work at 7 PM in 104 Jerome Greene Hall (Proskauer Auditorium). Doors open at 6:30 PM; seating is first-come, first-serve.
The seniors in the Environmental Engineering department will be presenting their design projects in 918 Mudd from 1 to 3 PM this Friday 4/28. Like the environmental poster session last weeek at Barnard, this event should be a great way to (quickly) learn about some of the cutting-edge intellectual work that's happening on campus–not to mention to find out what the seniors will be up to when they go out into the world!
April 18, 2006
Feel like working for the UN? Check it:
The Center for Career Education has organized a site visit to the UN where you will get a chance to hear about career paths and job opportunities at the UN and speak to Human Resources representatives about the variety of opportunities available at the UN.
April 10, 2006
The ever-mysterious pubaff reports:
The First Annual University Research Symposium for Understanding Fundamental Disparities in Health will be held Monday 4/24 from 8:45 AM to 5 PM in the Low Library Rotunda.
Keynote Speakers will be Antonia C. Novello, MD, MPH, DrPH, New York State Health Commissioner and 14th Surgeon General of the United States, and David Satcher, MD, PhD, Interim President, Morehouse School of Medicine and 16th Surgeon General of the United States.
The purpose of the symposium is to stimulate thinking about the underlying themes or fundamental social causes of health disparities and to initiate the development of cross-disciplinary Working Groups that could coalesce and continue after the Symposium.
Advance registration is required (and free for university students, faculty, etc.). Register here.
This sounds like an amazing seminar that I would be going to if I had heard about it earlier. Please, somebody go–and tell us about it!
Earth Institute Fellows Seminar: Shahid Naeem, Chair and Professor of Ecology, Dept. Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology (E3B) on Nature Disentangled and the Decline of Environmental Reliability
Monday 4/10, 4:30 to 5:30 PM in the Hogan Hall Conference Room (enter from Broadway Entrance), Broadway & 114th
April 9, 2006
Peter Tak-Shing Yum, Dean of Engineering and Professor of Information Engineering at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in Hong Kong will discuss The Story of Hong Kong & Shenzhen tomorrow at 12 PM in 918 IAB:
With a combined population of 20 millions, the twin city of HK-SZ has many interesting stories everyday. In this seminar, I will share information and insights that are typically not found in guidebooks. I will talk about history, identity, education, economics, the government, the media, how people live, how they see each other and how they see the world. I also offer advices on experiencing the twin city through student/ faculty exchange with universities in Hong Kong. The stories will be amply illustrated by pretty pictures.
Dean Yum is also apparently a Columbia alumnus.
April 3, 2006
Coping With Globalization
A panel featuring
- Robert Solow, Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics, 1987
- Sylvia Nasar, John S. and James L. Knight Professor of Business Journalism and author, A Beautiful Mind: The Life of Mathematical Genius and Nobel Laureate John Nash
- Jagdish Bhagwati, Columbia University Professor of Economics and Law and author, In Defense of Globalization
- Peter Krugman, Princeton University Professor of Economics and New York Times Columnist