Professor of History William Pinch spoke to TheNew York Timesfor a story about Hindu holy men, called Sadhus, who spoke recently at a religious festival, Kumbh Mela, about the importance of detaching oneself from family. Pinch told the Times that Sadhus are part of religious orders that were once mercenary armies that terrified parts of northern India centuries ago.
“They are the ghosts of armies past,” Pinch said. “And they were often employed as assassins.”
These armies often stole or bought children to fill their ranks, Pinch said. And the rituals of joining the orders usually involved cutting all ties to family, he said.
In the wake of a recent announcement by the National Institutes of Health that about 450 research chimpanzees under its purview would be retired and moved to sanctuary, the media has featured a new website by Prof. Lori Gruen. The site, “The Last 1,000” Chimpanzees, documents 1,000 chimps by name that are currently housed in biomedical and behavior research labs, and tracks their movement to sanctuary.
Gruen is professor of philosophy, professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, professor of environmental studies. She previously created a website, “The First 100,” memorializing the first 100 chimps used in scientific research.
The New York Timespublished an op-ed by Andrew Curran, dean of the arts and humanities, professor of romance languages and literatures, on the legacy of Enlightenment era philosopher and novelist Denis Diderot. Curran writes of Diderot: “His message was of intellectual emancipation from received authorities — be they religious, political or societal — and always in the interest of the common good. More so than the deists Voltaire and Rousseau, Diderot embodied the most progressive wing of Enlightenment thought, a position that stemmed from his belief that skepticism in all matters was ‘the first step toward truth.’ He was, in fact, the precise type of secular Enlightenment thinker that some members of the Texas State Board of Education have attempted to write out of their high school curriculum.”
In an op-ed published inThe New York Times/International Herald Tribune, Peter Rutland, Colin and Nancy Cambell Professor in Global Issues and Democratic Thought, professor of government, professor of Russian and Eastern European studies, contradicts the popular narrative that the current conflict in Mali is caused by militant Islam. Rather, he writes, “the core of the conflict is the nationalist secession movement of the Tuareg people — one that in recent months has been hijacked by Islamist radicals.”
Rutland reminds readers: “In the Cold War, the West had a hard time separating out communism from nationalism. That failure led to a string of disastrous interventions, from Cuba to Vietnam. It was easier to see leaders such as Fidel Castro and Ho Chi Minh as tools of Moscow than try to deal with their legitimate nationalist demands.” He argues, “The same mistake is now being made in the ‘war on terror.'”
The New York Times Magazine features the late Alex Okrent ’05 in “The Lives They Lived,” published December 29. He was working for the 2012 Obama campaign when he collapsed at his desk on July 13 and was pronounced dead at a Chicago hospital from what was later determined to be a cardiac arrhythmia. “If there was a single moment that unified our campaign and knit us together, it was this horrific event,” said David Alexrod, the campaign’s chief strategist.
In his New York Times column titled, “Gifts That Change Lives,” Nicholas Kristof invites readers to donate to Shining Hope for Communities this holiday season. The foundation, started by Kennedy Odede ’12 and Jessica Posner ’09, operates a girls’ school, clinic, water and sanitation program and job training classes in the Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya. Learn more at http://shininghopeforcommunities.org.
President Michael S. Roth recently spoke to The New York Times about the financial pressures facing Wesleyan and other smaller elite colleges. Though Wesleyan must change its financial aid model, it is committed to preserving financial assistance for students who need it. “We could easily have remained need-blind, kept the label, by simply being less aggressive about pursuing diversity, or admitting people and not meeting their full need, or increasing loan levels,” Roth said.
Associate Professor of English Deb Olin Unferth recently reviewed a new book by Benjamin Anastas in The New York Times. She writes: “Too Good to Be True is a Job-style lament, as much the story of Anastas as that of 21st-century America (which also turned out to be too good to be true), with its great promises and subsequent disappointments: the bountiful credit that became mountainous debt; the ultra-innovative technology that now enslaves us; broken families; two-household children.”
Peter Rutland, professor of government, Colin and Nancy Campbell Professor in Global Issues and Democratic Thought, professor of Russian and Eastern European studies, writes in an op-ed published in the New York Times and the International Herald Tribune about two recent symbolic events in the Caucasus region that threaten to ignite hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
In an OpEd for The New York Times, President Roth discusses the recent calls to further specialize education and narrow what we teach students from K-12 and on to college at the exclusion of the liberal arts, especially the humanities. Roth says this drive to turn students into “human capital” is not a new and in fact the esteemed 19th Century educational philosopher John Dewey argued against the very same calls, saying in part “that learning in the process of living is the deepest form of freedom.”
Writing for The New York Times OpEd pages, Associate Professor Jennifer Tucker says that the science behind Missouri U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin’s comments on rape is completely sound, at least from the perspective of the 12th Century. Tucker, who is an associate professor of history, associate professor of science and society, chair and associate professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, says that what may be worse is that, as a current member in the House of Representatives, Akin sits on the House Science and Technologies committee.