Society

Grossman Has Optimistic Outlook for “Abenomics”

Richard Grossman

Richard Grossman

Professor of Economics Richard Grossman provided an “expert view” on the question “Will Japan’s economy rebound under Abenomics and resume its growth?” in an issue of SAGE Business Researcher on “Doing Business With Japan.”

Japan’s economy has performed poorly during the past two decades, and many wonder if it will ever “recover its former glory.” Grossman took the affirmative view, arguing “there is good reason to believe that Japan will emerge from its funk and achieve growth rates similar to those of its counterparts in the developed world.” He writes that the prospects for success depend on the effectiveness of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s “three arrows”: expansionary monetary policy, expansionary fiscal policy, and structural reforms. Grossman goes on to describes Abe’s strategy and progress in these three areas.

 

“Words after War” Symposium Offers Conversation, Workshops, Panel Discussions

The Office of Equity and Inclusion sponsored a day-long writing symposium on “Words after War: Storytelling for Life, Business and Politics” Oct. 10 in Usdan University Center.

The symposium, which was open to military veterans, Posse Veteran Scholars, Wesleyan students and community writers, provided thoughtful, diverse conversation and writing about conflict and how to bridge the veteran/civilian divide. More than 45 people registered for the event.

The symposium featured panel discussions and breakout workshops with authors. Participants learned valuable and practical writing techniques and left with a newfound sense of empowerment and inspiration in producing art that builds community, makes an impact, and reaches a wider audience.

The event included panel discussions on “Art of the Interview,” and “Elements of Craft,” and breakout workshops on “Writing Your War (Memoir and Creative Nonfiction),” “Blogging, Social Media, Public Relations, and the Business of Writing” and “Writing in the Academy and Journalism, Politics and National Security.”

Moderators from Wesleyan included Anne Greene, University Professor in English, director of the Wesleyan Writers Conference, and William “Vijay” Pinch, professor of history, professor of environmental studies, chair of the College of the Environment.

Other instructors included Brandon Willitts, executive director and co-founder of Words After War; Lauren Katzenberg, managing editor of Task and Purpose, a digital news and culture publication covering military and veterans issues; Kristen Rouse, the founding director of the NYC Veterans Alliance; Peter Molin, a retired West Point English faculty member and officer with deployment experience to the Sinai, Egypt, Kosovo and Afghanistan; Vanessa Gezari, managing editor of Columbia Journalism Review and an adjunct professor at Columbia Journalism School; Thomas Gibbons-Neff, national security journalist for the Washington Post and former Marine infantryman; and authors/editors Adrian Bonenberger, Sara Nović, Maxwell Neely-Cohen and Matt Gallagher. View the instructors’ full bios here.

Photos of the event are below: (Photos by Will Barr ’18)

Words After War Writing Symposium at Wesleyan University, Oct. 10, 2015. (Photo by Will Barr '18)

Jennifer Tucker Talks Gun Control in Boston Globe op-ed, on WNPR’s ‘Scramble’

Jennifer Tucker

Jennifer Tucker

Associate Professor of History Jennifer Tucker is the co-author of an op-ed in the Boston Globe titled, “What the Clean Air Act can teach us about reducing gun violence.” Tucker and co-author Matthew Miller of Northeastern University write, “The recent scandal over Volkswagen’s polluting engines vividly illustrates the contrast between the way Americans, and in particular elected officials, treat guns and the way we (and our elected officials) treat cars — both of which kill approximately 32,000 Americans every year.”

The Clean Air Act, passed in 1970, has averted tens of thousands of premature deaths though “a systematic and scientific approach to the impact of the actors of private actors (from auto owners to power station operators) on the health of their fellow citizens. The force of the law was then used to ensure that these externalities were borne by the companies contributing to the problem.”

Tucker and Miller argue the same approach should be applied to regulating firearms. At present, legislation now exempts guns from federal consumer-safety laws and provides immunity for gun manufacturers and dealers from liability lawsuits. And since 1996, the Centers for Disease Control has been effectively barred from funding research into the cause of firearm-related deaths.

Tucker also was a guest this week on WNPR’s “The Scramble” in a discussion about gun control, following the mass shooting at a community college in Oregon.

“Our nation’s lax attitude toward gun proliferation is partly the result of a Hollywood version of gun technology,” said Tucker. “There’s a 1953 movie ‘Shane,’ which has had a powerful influence. Shane is a gun fighter and in a conversation about gun control, he says ‘A gun is just a tool. It’s as good or bad as the man who uses it. We’ve heard this notion a lot, but that’s certainly not a notion… that we apply to other consumer products in America. We could take, for example, the recent scandal over Volkswagen’s polluting engines to illustrate this difference. So after Volkswagen’s recent admission that it used illegal devices to cheat on admission testing of diesel vehicles in the United States, the company faces billions of dollars of fines along with expensive recalls and class action lawsuits and criminal charges.”

Tucker describes the passage of the Clean Air Act in 1970 as having a major impact on public health, averting tens of thousands of premature deaths. “It succeeded because it took a scientific approach to the impacts of the activities of private actors on the health of fellow citizens. In contrast to that, while the impact of automobiles on the public’s health and safety is closely regulated, astonishingly, the firearms that are used to kill Americans are not subject to government oversight.”

Tucker is also associate professor of science in society, associate professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, associate professor of environmental studies. She recently authored an op-ed on the history of gun control published on Inside Sources.

Bonin Keynote Speaker at Banking Workshop

John Bonin, the the Chester D. Hubbard Professor of Economics and Social Science.

John Bonin is the Chester D. Hubbard Professor of Economics and Social Science.

John Bonin, the Chester D. Hubbard Professor of Economics and Social Science, was the invited keynote speaker at the 5th annual CInSt Banking Workshop, hosted by the Center for International Studies at the National Research University Higher School of Economics in Moscow, Russia on Oct. 2.

The theme of the conference was “Banking in Emerging Markets: Challenges and Opportunities.” Bonin’s talk was titled, “Did foreign banks ‘cut and run’ or stay committed to emerging Europe during the crises?” Bonin presented research he did together with Dana Louie ’15. They examined the lending behavior of foreign banks during the global financial crisis and at the onset of the Eurozone crisis in eight new EU countries, known as “emerging Europe.”

At the conference, Bonin also served as a discussant on a paper titled “Market Discipline in Russian Regions: In Local Authorities We Trust?”

Tucker on the Wild West, Hollywood and Gun Control

Jennifer Tucker

Jennifer Tucker

At a time when gun deaths are spiking and Congress has failed to enact significant legislation to tackle the problem, Associate Professor of History Jennifer Tucker writes an op-ed looking at how we got here. She contends that it is Hollywood’s version of history—not reality—that is behind the belief that guns have been a critical part of American culture over centuries. She writes:

The 1953 movie “Shane” exemplifies the narrative of a “good man with a gun.” Responding to a woman’s wish that guns be banished, Shane replies: “A gun is just a tool, Marian. It’s as good or bad as the man that uses it.”

This notion is central to the National Rifle Association’s worldview. But it is a classic and tragic example of what Oxford professor Margaret McMillan has called “bad history,” or picking only a small part of a complex story.

In reality, the 19th century Wild West was the setting for the passage of some of the nation’s first gun control laws, and it was widely understood that civilized people did not walk around carrying guns. It wasn’t until the 1980s when laws liberalizing concealed carry swept the country, and the most profound changes in gun law occurred in 2008 and 2010.

Tucker concludes:

Our “gun industrial complex” is not the inevitable outcome of two centuries of gun-possession; it is the result of changes in the law and cultural attitudes over the past couple of decades.

Today, 36 states have adopted “shall-issue” laws.

Texas allows unlicensed people to carry semi-automatic rifles in public. In May, the NRA fought the efforts of Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin to restrict guns at parks, fairgrounds and recreational areas. And with a proliferation of guns in homes — which is associated with a twofold increase in the risk of homicide — 2013 saw 1,670 children die by gunshot and an additional 9,718 injured.

Guns might not kill people but guns get people killed.

Gun owners should familiarize themselves with the true history of the frontier. Regulation advocates should make more of the fact that history is on their side.

Tucker is also associate professor of science in society, associate professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, and associate professor in the environmental studies program.

4 Faculty Panelists Discuss European Crisis in Historical Perspective

As the Syrian war draws on and the ranks of displaced people grows ever larger, Europe arguably faces its largest refugee crisis since World War II. The movement of people across the Mediterranean and the Balkans has alternately revealed official incapacity, reactionary violence, and outpourings of voluntarism and support. In recent weeks, some commentators have objected to the characterization of those in flight as migrants, insisting that the term misrepresents their movement as voluntary as a way of denying them basic human rights.

On Sept. 17, four faculty panelists discussed “Refugee or Migrant? The European Crisis in Historical Perspective,” as part of the Department of History’s History Matters series. The faculty questioned “how can other instances of voluntary and involuntary migration shed light on the current crisis?”

The four scholars, Bruce Masters, Marguerite Nguyen, Laura Ann Twagira and Peter Rutland, put the European crisis in historical perspective by analyzing varied experiences of displacement, from the persistent plight of African asylum seekers in Europe to the Southeast Asian diaspora in the United States.

The four scholars, Bruce Masters, Marguerite Nguyen, Laura Ann Twagira and Peter Rutland, put the European crisis in historical perspective by analyzing varied experiences of displacement, from the persistent plight of African asylum seekers in Europe to the Southeast Asian diaspora in the United States.

Berger ’90 Lectures on “Birthright Citizenship” during Constitution Day

Bethany Berger ’90, the Thomas F. Gallivan, Jr. Professor at the University of Connecticut School of Law, delivered the annual Constitution Day Lecture on Sept. 17 in Olin Library's Smith Reading Room. Her topic was “Birthright Citizenship on Trial — Immigration and Indigeneity.” Egged on by Donald Trump, the majority of Republican candidates have supported ending birthright citizenship. This talk looked at this 14th Amendment right, its constitutional origins, and the different things it meant for American Indians and immigrants.

Bethany Berger ’90, the Thomas F. Gallivan, Jr. Professor at the University of Connecticut School of Law, delivered the annual Constitution Day Lecture on Sept. 17 in Olin Library’s Smith Reading Room. Her topic was “Birthright Citizenship on Trial — Immigration and Indigeneity.” Egged on by Donald Trump, the majority of Republican candidates have supported ending birthright citizenship. This talk looked at this 14th Amendment right, its constitutional origins, and the different things it meant for American Indians and immigrants.

Berger started her research on birthright citizenship after developing an interest in the different ways the system works for native people and immigrants, and the different ways the process works for these groups—and the similarities. The topic of birthright citizenship, she observed is a topic that has become "unexpectedly open to debate," she said, referring to the Republican presidential runners. "They've opened a debate about the worth of birthright citizenship and whether we really have to do it," implying that the U.S. is the only country that offers this path to citizenship.   Birthright citizenship in the U.S. came out of British Law, when British citizens immigrated to the U.S. If one was born in the U.S., you become a citizen, however this did not apply to slaves. However in 1968, the 14th Amendment was ratified and birthright citizenship became the law of the land, excluding children of Ambassadors, children of soldiers on U.S. soil (fighting against the U.S.), Native Americans and Asians. It wasn't until the 1950s that Asian and Native Americans could naturalize.

Berger started her research on birthright citizenship after developing an interest in the different ways the system works for native people and immigrants, and the different ways the process works for these groups—and the similarities. The topic of birthright citizenship has become “unexpectedly open to debate,” she said, referring to the Republican presidential candidates. “They’ve opened a debate about the worth of birthright citizenship and whether we really have to do it,” implying that the U.S. is the only country that offers this path to citizenship.
Birthright citizenship in the U.S. came out of British Law, when British citizens immigrated to the U.S. If one was born in the U.S., you become a citizen, however this did not apply to slaves. However in 1968, the 14th Amendment was ratified and birthright citizenship became the law of the land, excluding children of Ambassadors, children of soldiers on U.S. soil (fighting against the U.S.) and Native Americans. Native Americans only became birthright citizens by statute in 1924. Although Asians could be birthright citizens, those not born in the U.S. could not become citizens until restrictions on non-whites naturalizing were lifted in the 1950s.

Richard Adelstein, the Woodhouse/Sysco Professor of Economics, introduced Professor Berger to the audience. Berger graduated from Wesleyan in 1990 with a major in government, and from Yale Law School in 1996. After law school, she became the director of the Native American Youth Law Project at DNA-Peoples Legal Services, which serves the Navajo and Hopi reservations, and later the Managing Attorney at Advocates for Children of New York. Her articles on legal history, race, gender and jurisdiction in federal Indian law have been cited in testimony to Congress and several briefs to the Supreme Court. 

Richard Adelstein, the Woodhouse/Sysco Professor of Economics, introduced Professor Berger to the audience. Berger graduated from Wesleyan in 1990 with a major in government, and from Yale Law School in 1996. After law school, she became the director of the Native American Youth Law Project at DNA-Peoples Legal Services, which serves the Navajo and Hopi reservations, and later the Managing Attorney at Advocates for Children of New York. Her articles on legal history, race, gender and jurisdiction in federal Indian law have been cited in testimony to Congress and several briefs to the Supreme Court.

Berger showed a map of the world, highlighting the countries that do have laws in place to grant birthright citizenship. The Americas—South, Central, and North—were prominent. She asked the audience what these countries have in common. "They are immigrant nations; they are Colonial Nations," she said. "People come here and make it great, and traditional people lose land," she said, pointing out the paradoxical quality of the situation created by an influx of immigrants. In 1887, the Davides Allotment Act—divide up tribal lands, all Indians accepting a land allotment would become citizens—which started the boarding school for Indian children, so they would become "good citizens" and lose their native language.

Berger showed a map of the world, highlighting the countries that do have laws in place to grant birthright citizenship. The Americas—South, Central, and North—were prominent. She asked the audience what these countries have in common. “They are immigrant nations; they are Colonial Nations,” she said. “People come here and make it great, and traditional people lose land,” she said, pointing out the paradoxical quality of the situation created by an influx of immigrants. In 1887, the Davides Allotment Act—divide up tribal lands, all Indians accepting a land allotment would become citizens—which started the boarding school for Indian children, so they would become “good citizens” and lose their native language.

In honor of Constitution Day, all educational institutions receiving federal funding are required to hold an educational program pertaining to the U.S. Constitution. The Friends of Olin Library annually supports and coordinates the event, which is free and open to the public. Pictured in foreground is Sam Rosenfeld, visiting assistant professor of government. 

In honor of Constitution Day, all educational institutions receiving federal funding are required to hold an educational program pertaining to the U.S. Constitution. The Friends of Olin Library annually supports and coordinates the event, which is free and open to the public. Pictured in foreground is Sam Rosenfeld, visiting assistant professor of government. (Photos by Will Barr ’18)

Read more about Berger here and past Constitution Day speakers here.

Student, Experts Speak on the Social Justice Movement

Three experts and a Wesleyan student led a panel discussion on “After Charleston: Next Steps for the Movement for Social Justice” Sept. 17 in Memorial Chapel. The event was sponsored by the Allbritton Center for Public Life’s Right Now! series. The talk featured Clemmie Harris, visiting assistant professor of African American studies; Tedra James ’18; activist and filmmaker Bree Newsome and Connecticut Bishop John Selders.

Bree Newsome is a graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts where she received a BFA in film and television. While still in high school, Newsome created an animated short, THE THREE PRINCES OF IDEA which earned her a $40,000 scholarship from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. In August 2012, Newsome wrote and recorded a rap song, “SHAKE IT LIKE AN ETCH-A-SKETCH!”, skewering presidential candidate Mitt Romney and criticizing the Republican Party for policies that promote classism and bigotry. A staunch advocate for human rights and social justice, Newsome was arrested last year during a sit-in at the North Carolina State Capitol where she spoke out against the state’s recent attack on voting rights. She continues to work as an activist and youth organizer in North Carolina, serving in the capacity of Western Field Organizer for the youth-led organization Ignite NC.

Bree Newsome is a graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts where she received a BFA in film and television. While still in high school, Newsome created an animated short, THE THREE PRINCES OF IDEA, which earned her a $40,000 scholarship from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. In August 2012, Newsome wrote and recorded a rap song, “SHAKE IT LIKE AN ETCH-A-SKETCH!”, skewering presidential candidate Mitt Romney and criticizing the Republican Party for policies that promote classism and bigotry. A staunch advocate for human rights and social justice, Newsome was arrested last year during a sit-in at the North Carolina State Capitol where she spoke out against the state’s recent attack on voting rights. She continues to work as an activist and youth organizer in North Carolina, serving in the capacity of Western Field Organizer for the youth-led organization Ignite NC.

Davis Foundation Supports Academy for Project-Based Learning

Lisa Dierker, professor of psychology and director of pilot programs for the Center for Pedagogical Innovation, received a grant from the Davis Educational Foundation in July. The three-year grant worth $300,000 will support the new Academy for Project-Based Teaching and Learning.

The Academy for Project-Based Teaching and Learning, which is under development, will encourage students and faculty to build knowledge and skills by investigating and responding to complex questions, problems, and challenges within and across disciplines. The cornerstones of the project-based approach include significant content at the heart of each academic discipline, and cutting edge competencies in problem solving, critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity/innovation.

Dierker will oversee this program and work with Wesleyan faculty, faculty at collaborating institutions, educational consultants, and supporting staff, to coordinate pedagogical and curricular development efforts. The Academy will be housed within and supported by Wesleyan’s new Center for Pedagogical Innovation and Life Long Learning Center.

The Davis Educational Foundation grant will support faculty stipends, course relief or course overload pay in the academic year for faculty participants, honoraria and travel support for outside consultants, travel support for faculty and collaborators, evaluation and a culminating meeting of project participants.

The grant was received from the Davis Educational Foundation established by Stanton and Elisabeth Davis after Mr. Davis’ retirement as chairman of Shaw’s Supermarket.

Kleinberg’s Essay the Featured Reading Material for Modern Intellectual History Webinar

Ethan Kleinberg

Ethan Kleinberg

An essay by Ethan Kleinberg, professor of history, professor of letters, is the featured reading material for the H-France network’s fall 2015 webinar on “Modern Intellectual History.” H-France’s mission is to promote scholarly work and discussion on the history and culture of the Francophone world through digital form.

Kleinberg also is director of the Center for the Humanities and executive editor of History and Theory.

The H-France webinar will take place at 3 p.m. Sept. 18. Designed particularly for graduate students, H-France webinars are open to anyone. Participants are expected to read Kleinberg’s essay prior to the seminar and consider related questions.

“After Charleston: Next Steps for the Movement for Social Justice” Topic of Sept. 17 Panel

Pictured, from top, left to right: Bree Newsome, Clemmie Harris, Bishop John Selders and Tedra James '18 will lead a panel at 8 p.m. Sept. 17.  (Click to enlarge poster)

Pictured, from top, left to right: Bree Newsome, Clemmie Harris, Bishop John Selders and Tedra James ’18. (Click to enlarge poster)

Three experts and a Wesleyan student will lead a panel discussion on “After Charleston: Next Steps for the Movement for Social Justice” at 8 p.m. Sept. 17 in Memorial Chapel. The event is sponsored by the Allbritton Center for Public Life.

The talk will feature Clemmie Harris, visiting assistant professor of African American studies; Tedra James ’18; activist and filmmaker Bree Newsome and Connecticut Bishop John Selders.

“The idea is to spur conversation with the audience about the killings in Charleston, reactions to killings, debate over the Confederate flag, and protests in Ferguson,” said Rob Rosenthal, director of the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life, John E. Andrus Professor of Sociology. “The question that each speaker will address is, ‘What now? Where are we in this long, long, long struggle for social justice—that is, equal rights, equal opportunities for everyone in the country—and what needs to happen next?’ Each panelist will speak for about 10 minutes, and can respond to anything the other speakers said. Then it will be up to the audience to state their own opinion, and ask questions of the audience.”

Clemmie Harris earned a PhD in history from the University of Pennsylvania. He holds graduate certificates in urban studies and Africana studies and has received fellowships for research in areas such as democracy, citizenship, and constitutionalism and Africana studies. His research interests include the long African American freedom struggle with an emphasis on electoral and protest politics, race and social inequality in the 20th century industrialized urban north; African American political leadership, and black urban political economy.

He is currently working on two book projects: We Will Be Heard: The Struggle For Political Recognition and Civil Rights in Philadelphia, which examines the African American quest for electoral power and community control from 1911 to 1984.

Sheehan-Connor Advocates in Orlando Sentinel for Raising the Gas Tax

Damien Sheehan-Connor

Damien Sheehan-Connor

Assistant Professor of Economics Damien Sheehan-Connor is the author of an oped in the Orlando Sentinel (available to subscribers) arguing that raising the gas tax would not only help the environment, but would save lives on the road.

Sheehan-Connor considers the findings of a new study out by the National Safety Council, which suggested that automobile accidents are on the rise again after years of decline. While many factors could potentially contribute to this reversal, he writes that it’s likely that two seemingly positive developments–lower gas prices and stricter fuel economy standards imposed by the government–have played an important role. How? Lower gas prices have encouraged consumers to buy bigger, less fuel-efficient vehicles, while government regulations require automakers to produce lighter, more fuel-efficient vehicles. The end result: greater divergence in the weights of vehicles on the road.

He writes: “Whether a given two-vehicle accident is fatal depends critically on how well matched are the weights of the vehicles involved. The results of a paper I authored in last month’s Economic Inquiry make the point starkly. It found that in severe accidents between two vehicles of average weight, 25 percent of vehicle drivers are expected to die. But in severe accidents between full-size pickup trucks and compact cars, the death rate is a whopping 40 percent—or 60 percent higher.”

To counter this, Sheehan-Connor suggests turning to higher gas taxes, rather than stricter fuel economy standards.

The politics of gasoline taxes are difficult, but the benefits are compelling. First, the environmental benefits from reduced carbon emissions would exceed the cost of foregone gasoline consumption. Second, the efficiency of the tax system could be improved by implementing the tax in a revenue-neutral fashion. Income tax rates, which do impose some efficiency costs to the economy, could be lowered and the revenue replaced by the gasoline tax, which has efficiency benefits. Third, gasoline taxes are far simpler, and thus less costly to implement, than the 577 pages of regulations that make up the most recent fuel economy standards. And finally, our roadways would be made safer. Other than the word “tax,” what’s not to like?