“Every age seems to need a bogeyman, some negative image against which good people measure themselves,” writes President Michael Roth ’78 in this op-ed. Roth compares today’s bogeyman, the “woke” college student, with those of past eras—the “welfare queen” and “dirty hippie”—and seeks to build understanding and dispel negative misperceptions of activist college students. “The images of the welfare queen and of the woke student are convenient because they provide excuses to not engage with difference, placing certain types of people beyond the pale,” he writes. “These scapegoats are meant to inspire solidarity in a group by providing an object for its hostility (or derision), and educators and civic leaders should not play along.”
As yet another food-borne E. coli outbreak sickens Americans, Fred Cohan, the Huffington Foundation Professor in the College of the Environment and professor of biology, and Isaac Klimasmith ’20, argue in this op-ed that more can and should be done to prevent dangerous contaminations of our food supply. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has rolled back rules that “would have required monitoring and treating irrigation water for E. coli,” a major cause of these outbreaks. “We should not be surprised that a regulation-averse administration would disregard the science of food safety, but it is concerning that consumers have become complacent about yearly outbreaks of E. coli contamination and largely silent about the rollback of food safety regulations,” they write.
Stephen Angle, director of the Fries Center for Global Studies, professor of philosophy, and the Mansfield Professor of East Asian Studies, is interviewed about Wesleyan’s efforts to promote language study, including the new Cultures and Languages Across the Curriculum (CLAC) initiative, through which students can study a range of disciplines in other languages. For example, Angle teaches a Mandarin-language section of Classical Chinese Philosophy, a course historically taught in English. Read more about CLAC and Wesleyan’s language instruction here.
Every spring, the Japanese celebrate Ohanami, or “flower viewing,” during the time when sakura (cherry blossoms) are in bloom. On April 18, Wesleyan’s Japanese community hosted its annual Ohanami outside the College of East Asian Studies.
This event was open to current and former students in Japanese classes, native speakers of Japanese, and CEAS faculty members.
Wesleyan faculty frequently publish articles based on their scholarship in The Conversation US, a nonprofit news organization with the tagline, “Academic rigor, journalistic flair.” In a new article, Professor of Government Mary Alice Haddad writes that the recent election of many pro-environment mayors was a promising sign for our country’s response to climate change. She describes the progress that cities in the U.S.—and around the world—have made in this area in recent years, at a time when the federal government is moving backwards. Haddad is also professor, environmental studies, and professor, East Asian studies.
Americans elected mayors who care about climate change
Being pro-environment was a winning strategy for this country’s mayors.
Twelve mayors in America’s 100 largest cities faced re-election battles during the 2018 midterms, and mayors – both Democrats and Republicans – who followed pro-environmental policies were rewarded. All six mayors who had demonstrated their commitment to the environment by signing the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy – including Stephen Adler of Austin, Texas, Greg Fischer of Louisville, Kentucky, and Libby Schaff of Oakland, California – won re-election. The other big city mayors in re-election battles weren’t so fortunate – two won, two lost, and two are facing runoffs.
Of course, voters consider many issues when they cast their ballot. It’s unlikely that the environment was the deciding issue in these races. However, mayors that prioritize the environment seem to be making changes in their cities that please constituents. The positive election results in 2018 were not an anomaly – all 15 mayors who signed the covenant and sought re-election in the last two years have been victorious at the ballot box, usually by large margins.
Mayors with pro-environmental agendas aren’t just popular. I believe they are an important part of the answer to the global challenge of climate change.
As a scholar of civil society and environmental policy – this is just one of the positive signs I see not just in American cities, but around the world.
Climate change is urgent
A month before the election, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued its latest report about the risks associated with climate change. The news was bad. Our planet is now expected to reach a 1.5 degrees Celsius increase in average global temperatures as early as 2030. One billion people will regularly endure conditions of extreme heat. Sea levels will rise, exposing between 31 and 69 million people to flooding. Seventy to 90 percent of coral reefs will die. Fishery catches will decline by 1.5 million tons. And that is if we are lucky and keep the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, which will not be easy.
As my colleague Gary Yohe reflected in a recent New York Timesarticle, “2 degrees is aspirational and 1.5 degrees is ridiculously aspirational.” At exactly a time when we need to become more ambitious in our efforts to tackle this global problem, the United States has pulled out of the Paris agreement and is dismantling many of its clean energy and other climate policies at home. One of my students recently expressed a common feeling of helplessness: “It makes me wonder if the best thing I can do is just go out in the backyard and compost myself.”
So, I’d like to say: There is hope. While the president of the United States may not be making much progress, many other people are. The election of pro-environment mayors and governors is one excellent sign.
Cities take the lead
A number of U.S. cities have gained global reputations for their innovative responses to the challenge of climate change.
San Francisco, which reduced its carbon emissions by 30 percent between 1990 and 2016, cemented its global leadership position by hosting the 2018 Climate Action Summit this past September, which gathered 4,500 leaders from local governments, nongovernmental organizations, and business together to address climate change. The summit resulted in numerous corporate and city commitments to become carbon neutral, as well as trillions of dollars of investment in climate action.
New York City reduced its emissions by 15 percent between 2005 and 2015. Its residents have a carbon footprint that is only one-third that of the average American. The mayor of the financial capital of the United States has also become a champion of oil divestment.
As in the U.S., global cities are also making significant progress on climate change. Tokyo reduced its energy consumption more than 20 percent between 2000 and 2015, with the industrial and transportation sectors making astounding 41 percent and 42 percent reduction respectively. By 2015, the city of London had reduced its emissions 25 percent since 1990, and 33 percent since peak emissions in 2000.
These cities are not waiting for presidents and prime ministers to act, they’re making changes right now that are improving the lives of the tens of millions of their own residents by improving air quality, reducing flooding risk, and expanding green space, all while helping to bend the global emissions curve downward.
Joan Cho is one of 11 U.S.-Korea NextGen Scholars in the country.
As a 2018-19 U.S.-Korea NextGen Scholar, Joan Cho, assistant professor of East Asian studies, will develop public policy skills and learn how to provide commentary and expertise on issues related to Korea.
The U.S.-Korea NextGen Scholars Program is a unique two-year non-resident program that provides opportunities for mid-career Korea specialists to discuss issues of importance to U.S.-Korea relations with policymakers, government officials, and opinion leaders in Korea and the United States, learn how to effectively engage with the media, participate in the policymaking process, gain experience as public intellectuals helping to bridge the scholarly and policy communities, and address issues of importance to the U.S.-Korea relationship.
“As a Korean-American scholar of contemporary Korean politics, it is my goal to better inform Koreans and Americans that the U.S.-Korea relationship is not limited to foreign relations on a national level,” Cho said. “The NextGen Scholar program will provide me with the opportunity to engage with key policymakers in Washington and Seoul. I’ll also be able to network with like-minded scholars from diverse backgrounds, and collaborate on various research/policy-relevant projects while learning to become a public intellectual.”
Wesleyan faculty frequently publish articles based on their scholarship in The Conversation US, a nonprofit news organization with the tagline, “Academic rigor, journalistic flair.” In a new article, Mary Alice Haddad, professor and chair of the College of East Asian Studies; Joan Cho, assistant professor of government, assistant professor of East Asian studies; and Alexis Dudden, professor of history at the University of Connecticut provide historical context to the negotiations happening between North and South Korea, and argue that the focus now should be on peace and trade. Haddad also is professor of government, professor of environmental studies.
This article emerged as a direct result of Visiting Assistant Professor of Music Jin Hi Kim’s One Sky IIproject. Haddad, Cho, and Dudden spoke on a panel April 17 at a Music Department Colloquium on the current political conflict, and U.S. and North Korean policy, as well as Korean urban culture.
The goal in Korea should be peace and trade – not unification
Last week, the world witnessed a first tangible step toward a peaceful, prosperous Korean peninsula.
On April 27, 2018, Kim Jong-Un became the first North Korean leader to step foot in South Korea – where he was welcomed by South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
The intentions of these two leaders is key. For while Donald Trump and Xi Zinping and Vladimir Putin may tweet and hold meetings, it is the nearly 80 million Koreans who will determine the future of how they will share their peninsula.
Madison McClain-Frederick ’20, pictured third from left, and Bethlehem “Betty” Bekele, pictured fourth from left, won prizes at the Five College Korean Language Speech Contest.
Two Wesleyan students received top prizes in the Five College Korean Language Speech Contest held April 14 at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. This was Wesleyan’s second year participating in the contest.
The recipients include Madison McClain-Frederick ’20, who took first prize for the beginning level with her speech titled “My Red Sneakers,” and Bethlehem “Betty” Bekele ’19, who took second place at the intermediate level with her speech titled “My Country Ethiopia and Korea.” Bekele is supported through a Center for East Asian Studies language study grant to spend this summer studying language in Korea.
The contest is sponsored by the Five College East Asian Language Program and is open to any college student in New England who is currently enrolled in Korean language classes. Contestants cannot be native Korean speakers nor heritage learners. Participating students must write their own short speeches in Korean.
Hyejoo Back, assistant professor of the practice of East Asian studies, served as the team’s advisor. “My students worked very hard to prepare for the contest,” Back said. “We’re very proud of them.”
During the 2017 College of East Asian Studies Student Conference, held March 30 in Beckham Hall, four panelists discussed “Inside/Outside: The Changing Boundaries of Asia and Asian America in a Divided/Globalized World.”
Photos of the conference are below:
Panelists included Long Bui, visiting professor of American studies; Abigail Boggs, assistant professor of sociology; Kia Lor, assistant director of Language and Intercultural Learning; and Takeshi Watanabe assistant professor of East Asian studies.
Masami Imai, chair and professor of economics, professor of East Asian studies, presented a paper at the 19th Annual International Banking Conference held at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago on Nov. 4. This year’s theme was Achieving Financial Stability: Challenges to Prudential Regulation, giving Imai the opportunity to speak on “Japan’s Regulatory Response to Banking Problems.”
At the 12th Annual Workshop on Macroeconomics Research at Liberal Arts Colleges, held at Williams College in August, and at the Japanese Economic Association Meeting held at Waseda University College in Tokyo, Japan in September, Imai discussed “The Effects of Ethnic Chinese Minority on Vietnam’s Regional Economic Development in the Post-Vietnam War Period.”
His work examined the impact of the Hoa, an ethnically Chinese, economically dominant minority on regional economic development in Vietnam following the Vietnam War. Imai found that the ethnic group had a positive impact on the development of Vietnam, but the “post-Vietnam War exodus of ethnic Chinese is likely to have had long-term negative economic impacts.”
Imai teaches courses on money, banking and financial markets, economy of Japan, economies of East Asia, and quantitative methods in economics. His research interests include money and banking, political economy, and the economy of Japan.
This month, the Association for Asian Studies honored Phillip Wagoner, professor of art history, professor of archaeology, with the Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy Book Prize.
Wagoner and his co-author Richard Easton received the award for their book, Power, Memory, Architecture: Contested Sites on India’s Deccan Plateau, 1300-1600, published by Oxford University Press in 2014. The Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy Book Prize honors a distinguished work of scholarship in South Asian Studies that promises to define or redefine the understanding of whole subject areas. The book’s subject matter must deal with South Asia (India, Pakistan, Nepal, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh).
Power, Memory, Architecture is the first comprehensive exploration of history and archaeology in the Deccan Plateau. The book integrates socio-cultural history with architecture and archaeology.
Power, Memory, Architecture: Contested Sites on India’s Deccan Plateau, 1300-1600,
The Association for Asian Studies is a scholarly, non-political, non-profit professional association open to all persons interested in Asia and the study of Asia. With approximately 8,000 members worldwide, representing all the regions and countries of Asia and all academic disciplines, the AAS is the largest organization of its kind.
Through its publications, online resources, regional conferences, and annual conference, the AAS provides its members with a unique and invaluable professional network. Wagoner will receive the prize during the AAS’s annual conference in Seattle in early April.
A book by Stephen Angle, the Mansfield Freeman Professor of East Asian Studies, was recently published in Chinese translation by Jiangxi People’s Press. Titled, “Contemporary Confucian Political Philosophy: Toward Progressive Confucianism,” the book was originally published by Polity in 2013. The Chinese version includes a new preface.
According to the blurb for the English-language version:
Confucian political philosophy has recently emerged as a vibrant area of thought both in China and around the globe. This book provides an accessible introduction to the main perspectives and topics being debated today, and shows why Progressive Confucianism is a particularly promising approach. Students of political theory or contemporary politics will learn that far from being confined to a museum, contemporary Confucianism is both responding to current challenges and offering insights from which we can all learn.
The Progressive Confucianism defended here takes key ideas of the twentieth-century Confucian philosopher Mou Zongsan (1909-1995) as its point of departure for exploring issues like political authority and legitimacy, the rule of law, human rights, civility, and social justice. The result is anti-authoritarian without abandoning the ideas of virtue and harmony; it preserves the key values Confucians find in ritual and hierarchy without giving in to oppression or domination. A central goal of the book is to present Progressive Confucianism in such a way as to make its insights manifest to non-Confucians, be they philosophers or simply citizens interested in the potential contributions of Chinese thinking to our emerging, shared world.
Angle is also professor of philosophy, professor of East Asian Studies.
Artwork by Keiji Shinohara, artist in residence, is on display at Roger Williams University through Oct. 28. After two separate showings at Odakyu Shinjuku Art Salon in Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan and Art Zone-Kaguraoka in Kyoto, Japan, Shinohara’s “Color Harmony/ Color Woodcut” exhibit comes to a close at Roger Williams’ SAAHP Exhibition Gallery.
Shinohara describes his work as “employing ancient methods, while diverging from tradition by experimenting with ink application and different materials to add texture,” thus creating what he calls “a fusion of Japanese aesthetic and Western modernism.”
“Color Harmony / Color Woodcut” focuses on his perception of different landscapes. The aim, he says, is not to portray “realistic accuracy,” but to concentrate on the “feelings and emotions behind these abstract landscapes.”
Shinohara is on the faculty in the Art and Art History Department and Department of East Asian Studies.
Seventy years later, it is widely believed that President Harry S. Truman made a decision to authorize the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The truth, writes William Johnston in the Hartford Courant, is that he never did, at least not explicitly.
Johnston, professor of history, professor of East Asian Studies, examines in an op-ed how history has been rewritten surrounding the bombings. In fact, Truman’s first explicit decision about atomic bombs was to later order that their further use be stopped without his “express authority.” But in summer 1946, Johnston explains, the need arose to write an alternative narrative, as the bomb’s horrific effects on the people of Japan were revealed, and critics started asking whether the atomic bombings had been necessary, or even truly effective in ending the war.
The historian’s job is to explain the past using the most complete evidence available. That evidence shows both that Truman’s most substantial atomic decision was to demand his express authority for future bombings and that the bombings’ role in ending the war was ambiguous.
We may not like it when history is fuzzy, but that’s how it is.
It is more important now than ever that we understand history’s ambiguities, especially when it comes to the history of World War II and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Our country today faces many national security threats, from terrorism to global warming. A healthy democracy requires a well-educated populace, and history plays a major role in that education. Science, technology engineering and math cannot replace it.
The 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Japan is a good time to recall their history and meaning. We need to remember where we have been while keeping an eye on the future. It is hard for those who are blind to the past to have a clear vision for the future.
Johnston is also professor of Science in Society, and professor in the Environmental Studies Program.