John Rennie Short, Public Policy, in New York Observer

On December 10, New York Observer published an article on the “Second Gilded Age” in New York City, in which it describes recent increases in spending among the wealthiest New Yorkers. Research by Public Policy Professor John Rennie Short is extensively quoted in the article. The full excerpt is below:

John Rennie Short“In the collection of essays, Geographies of the Super-Rich, published last year, John Rennie Short, a professor of public policy at the University Maryland Baltimore County, refers to this period as the ‘Second Gilded Age.’ Mr. Short estimates that 103,000 people worldwide have a net worth in excess of $30 million, and this upper, upper class owns about 40 percent of global assets. The holdings of the 66 New Yorkers on the most recent Forbes 400 list (led by David Koch with $42.9 billion) adds up to an astounding $390.67 billion dollars—more than the gross domestic product of Thailand, a nation with 67 million people.

Mr. Short detects similarities between the two eras. Striking inequality was seen as evidence of Social Darwinism. And it is again, he suggests. ‘Wealth is justified not simply as a result of luck or connections,’ he writes, ‘but as a ‘natural’ phenomenon and hence immune to political change and social debate.’

He also notices contrasts. It was de rigueur for elites in the late 19th century to live a life of leisure, but today’s captains of industry flaunt their industriousness. ‘The hardworking rich replace the idle rich,’ as Mr. Short puts it.”

To read the full article titled “Gilded Age 2.0: New York’s Richest CEOs, Artists, and Pro Athletes,” click here.

Anne Rubin, History, on Journal of American History Podcast

Through the Heart of DixieThe Journal of American History (JAH) produces a monthly podcast interview with an author of a JAH article or author of a book on a historical topic. Anne Rubin, an associate professor of history and author of Through the Heart of Dixie: Sherman’s March and American Memory (UNC Press 2014), was the guest on JAH’s November podcast. She was interviewed about her book and discussed how she first became interested in researching Sherman’s March in graduate school.

“The endurance of it is the power of Sherman’s March as a metaphor,” Rubin said. “In the South, people feel it very viscerally obviously in Georgia and the Carolinas. But elsewhere it has come to be this symbol of devastation, and destruction, and fire.”

Rubin’s book analyzes stories and myths about Sherman’s March, one of the most symbolically potent events of the Civil War, as a lens for examining how Americans’ ways of thinking about the Civil War have changed over time. She analyzes stories from travel accounts, memoirs, literature, films, and newspapers to highlight the metaphorical importance of Sherman’s March in American memory.

To listen to the complete podcast interview conducted by JAH editor Edward Linenthal, click here.

Jeffrey Davis, Political Science, in the New York Times

Jeffrey DavisIn the wake of the release of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee report on C.I.A treatment of detainees in secret prisons following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, Political Science Associate Professor Jeffrey Davis wrote a letter to the editor in response to the December 10 New York Times article, “Panel Faults C.I.A. Over Brutality and Deceit in Terrorism Interrogations.” The complete text of the published letter is below:

Prosecuting those who commit torture is not optional. Article 7 of the Convention Against Torture, signed by President Reagan in 1988 and approved by the Senate in 1994, requires the United States to prosecute those found within our borders who commit torture. The foundation of our democratic system is one of laws. If we regard those laws — be they the laws prohibiting torture or the laws mandating prosecution — as optional, that foundation is eviscerated. The Senate report released this week paints a clear picture of the depravity that thrives when our basic laws are ignored.

To read Davis’s letter, along with other responses to the New York Times article, click here.

UMBC Humanities Faculty Discuss Serial in The Guardian

Serial, a spin-off show from NPR’s “This American Life,” is a podcast in which reporter Sarah Koenig reinvestigates the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee, a Baltimore County high school student. In the series, Koenig, a former Baltimore Sun staff writer, conducts numerous interviews and delves deeply into figuring out what led to the conviction of Adnan Syed, Hae’s ex-boyfriend, for her murder. An article published December 8 in The Guardian looks into why the podcast has drawn so much interest.

Nicole King

Nicole King

Nicole King, an associate professor of American studies, is quoted in the article and comments on the narrative style of the podcast when looking at it in the context of Baltimore.

“People are so caught up with ‘whodunnit’,” she tells [Nicky Woolf, the article’s writer]. “The Hollywood ending.” For people here, she says, there will need to be some sort of a payoff – a denouement – which real life rarely, if ever, provides.

Steph Ceraso

Steph Ceraso

In addition, Steph Ceraso, an assistant professor of English, and Tanya Olson, a lecturer of English, are both referenced in the article as having started to use the podcast as a teaching tool in the classroom.

Tanya Olson

Tanya Olson

“The podcast raises all kinds of interesting questions about storytelling, memory, ethics and the research process,” Ceraso said. She discovered that some students in her class knew the families involved in the case and it sparked a heated discussion about ethics and storytelling.

To read the complete article “In Baltimore, Serial’s murder mystery is not just a whodunnit-it’s real life,” click here.

Dale Bittinger, Admissions, Describes “House of Grit” on Midday with Dan Rodricks

Dale Bittinger, assistant vice-provost for admissions and orientation, visited WYPR’s Midday with Dan Rodricks to discuss the concept of “grit” in education. He was joined by Elaine Tuttle Hansen, executive director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth, and Natalia Walker, principal of KIPP Baltimore.

The conversation began with a discussion of grit and how it has become a buzzword in education. Bittinger shared the history of grit at UMBC and how it has been a part of our campus culture since its founding in 1966. Bittinger also described “House of Grit,” UMBC’s new admissions marketing campaign. “The House of Grit campaign really allowed us to focus on the individuality of the students on our campus, but at the same point in time, the community that makes UMBC such a place that it is.”

Bittinger emphasized that intelligence and grit are not mutually exclusive. He gave the example of Billy Heavner, goalie on the men’s soccer team, and how he excels in academics with a 4.0 G.P.A. and also has grit on the soccer field.

Click here to listen to “Grit in Schools” on Midday with Dan Rodricks. Find out more about the “House of Grit” here.

MLLI Faculty and Students Featured in Russia Beyond the Headlines, Voice of America

Russian fashion show

On December 7, the UMBC Russian Club presented an evening of Russian song, cuisine, and fashion to promote cross-cultural understanding and to look beyond recent news headlines of strained diplomacy between the United States and Russia. The event was held in the University Center Ballroom, with support from the Modern Languages, Linguistics, and Intercultural Communication (MLLI) department, the Russian Embassy, and the Russian Center for Science and Culture.

The event received news coverage from Russia Beyond the Headlines and Voice of America (article in Russian). Russian instructor Vira Zhdanovych and Elena Volosina ’15, MLLI, brought the event to UMBC to bring awareness to Russian culture and were featured in the news coverage along with MLLI Associate Professor Steven Young.

“I believe that the real culture of a nation, you can’t learn by watching the news or only paying attention to politics, but by talking to real people, eating food, listening to music,” said Volosina, president of the UMBC Russian Club. “From this conversation comes a deeper cultural understanding. This is how you introduce your culture to outsiders.”

In Voice of America, Zhdanovych and Volosina expressed the hope that “they have been able to initiate a new tradition to strengthen the mutual understanding of peoples through culture and beauty(translation).”

Russian Chorus

Fashion designer Evgenia Luzhina-Salazar headlined the evening and presented a collection of her work. The event featured musical interludes from the UMBC Russian Chorus, the Lada Children’s Theater, singer Victoria Sukhareva and Russian composer and virtuoso guitarist Sergey Kirichenko.

The ballroom was filled with UMBC students, faculty, and staff, as well as many people from off-campus, including representatives from the Russian Embassy and Russian Center for Science and Culture.

To read “Maryland university highlights connection with Russia in cultural evening,” click here. To read the article in Voice of America, click here (article in Russian).

Note: Randianne Leyshon, the author of the Russia Beyond the Headlines article, graduated from UMBC in 2009 with a B.A. in MLLI, magna cum laude.

School of Public Policy Hosts Forum on Maryland’s Health Services Cost Review Commission (HSCRC)

Public Policy Forum

Maryland is in the process of implementing a new all-payer model for hospital payment. Under this system, the federal government permits the statewide Health Services Cost Review Commission (HSCRC) to regulate hospital prices. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) approved the all-payer model effective January 1, 2014.

On Friday, December 5, the UMBC School of Public Policy hosted a forum at the Columbus Center in downtown Baltimore to examine how hospitals and health care providers are adapting to the new model and its effect the people it serves.

Robert Murray, President of Global Health Payment LLC, and Donna Kinzer, Executive Director of the HSCRC, provided detailed overviews of the history of hospital payments in Maryland and a description of the new system and how it shifts focus to patients with the goal of improving health outcomes and controlling costs. Kinzer discussed how the new model will increase efficiency and will align payment with new ways of organizing and providing care.

Following Murray and Kinzer’s presentations, Stephen Jencks, an independent consultant and member of the Maryland Health Services Cost Review Commission, shared how the new model can save costs by increasing care such as prevention, effective management of chronic disease, and care that responds to family and patient preferences.

Stuart Guterman, Vice President for Medicare and Cost Control, The Commonwealth Fund, examined trends in hospital spending nationally and discussed the relationships between hospital payments and costs to talk about the HSCRC’s impact in Maryland in a national context.

The forum, titled, “Controlling Hospital and Health Care Spending in Maryland in the Era of Budget Caps,” was sponsored by the UMBC School of Public Policy, the Maryland Institute for Policy Analysis and Research (MIPAR), the Hilltop Institute, CareFirst, and LifeBridge Health. The event was organized by UMBC Public Policy Professor David Salkever. For more information, click here.