Constantine Vaporis, Asian Studies, Op-Ed in Al Jazeera America

As President Obama begins a week-long visit to Asia, Asian Studies Program Director Constantine Vaporis writes in an Al Jazeera America op-ed that the trip is aimed at reassuring allies in the region that they remain top priorities on his agenda. Vaporis writes adding South Korea and Japan to the itinerary has made the trip even more important as tension between the two countries lingers over the history wars.

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“The U.S. administration has made clear that it will not act as mediator between the two sides. Nevertheless, Obama has acted assertively to try to prevent a further erosion of relations between them,” Vaporis writes.

As Obama visits Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and Malaysia, Vaporis offers suggestions for the president for how he should approach all four visits, but writes it will be important to keep one overarching theme in mind.

“Obama’s four-nation trip sends an important message about the U.S.’s commitment to Asia. Only through cooperation and mutual respect will these countries meet the regional challenges they face from China and North Korea,” he adds.

To read the full column titled “Obama seeks to rebalance ‘pivot to Asia,’” click here.

Justin Vélez-Hagan, Public Policy, Op-Ed in Fox News Latino

In his latest column published in Fox News LatinoPublic Policy Ph.D. student Justin Vélez-Hagan writes historians may view this as Puerto Rico’s “lost decade” if no changes are made to its economic policies. Vélez-Hagan is executive director of the National Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce. He writes Puerto Rico’s economic woes may be rooted in production.

“Many believe that Puerto Rico’s weak economy is partly attributable to a lack of investment in the production of exports, often considered one of the major factors behind the original ‘lost decade,’” Vélez-Hagan writes.

In the article, Vélez-Hagan also contends that even with its economic struggles, it is unlikely Puerto Rico will go through a substantial economic collapse.

“Although it won’t be bailed out by the IMF or World Bank, its economy still has something the rest of the world envies: the financial backstop of the greatest economic powerhouse that ever existed, one that is unlikely to allow a U.S. territory with nearly four million of its citizens to suffer through a Latin American-style economic collapse,” he adds.

To read the full column in Fox News Latino, click here.

Constantine Vaporis, Asian Studies, Named Smithsonian Journeys Expert

Asian Studies Program Director Constantine Vaporis has been selected as a Smithsonian expert for tours of Japan. As a director, the Smithsonian Journeys program will periodically ask Vaporis to lead tours in Japan, with the first one set for 2015.

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Vaporis’s research focuses on the Edo period and he is interested in the entire range of Japanese history. He is author of Breaking Barriers: Travel and the State in Early Modern Japan; Tour of Duty: Samurai, Military Service in Edo and the Culture of Early Modern Japan; Nihonjin to sankin kôtai [The Japanese and Alternate Attendance]; and Voices of Early Modern Japan: Contemporary Accounts of Daily Life during the Age of the Shoguns.

You can learn more about the Smithsonian Journeys program and Vaporis’s tour expert selection by clicking here.

Laura Hussey, Political Science, on MarylandReporter.com

A Maryland Democratic gubernatorial candidate forum held at Towson University April 17 drew attention to college student participation in the upcoming election.

Laura Hussey

Laura Hussey, an assistant professor of political science, was interviewed for an article posted on MarylandReporter.com, and she noted interest groups and political parties tend to notice when candidates devote their time to appealing to younger voters – the generation that will serve as the future workforce behind their causes.

“The Obama campaign benefited from appealing to college students greatly,” Hussey said. “There are benefits beyond the actual votes.”

To read the full article  on MarylandReporter.com, click here.

Thomas Schaller, Political Science, Op-Ed in The Baltimore Sun

In an op-ed published in The Baltimore Sun on April 15, Political Science Professor Thomas Schaller writes about how the increased use of credit cards will likely lead to more consequences than fraud. In addition to loss of consumer privacy, Schaller writes relying exclusively on credit cards leads to another big cost: the burden of servicing credit debt.

Tom Schaller

“When big banks get over-leveraged, they turn to the government for bailouts. And guess what? So do individuals: Americans’ average credit card balance dropped after the financial crisis — which sounds like good news until you learn that the decrease resulted from millions of people simply defaulting on their debts,” Schaller wrote.

He added the banks holding debts have to make up for their losses, so “even if you diligently pay the full monthly balance on all your credit cards, indirectly you’re subsidizing not only Visa and MasterCard, but the banks covering their losses from credit card defaulters.”

To read the full column titled “Paper or plastic?” in The Baltimore Sun, click here.

Piotr Gwiazda, English, Publishes a Review in The Times Literary Supplement

Piotr Gwiazda, Associate Professor of English, has published a review of Beautiful Twentysomethings by Polish writer Marek Hłasko (1934-1969) in the April 4, 2014 issue of The Times Literary Supplement.

Professor Gwiazda describes Beautiful Twentysomethings as “primarily a literary memoir. Hłasko adeptly recreates the world of his fellow writers, poets, critics, actors, film directors — the ‘beautiful twentysomethings’ of his title who, despite the repressive political climate of the 1950s, ‘kept faith that the moment would come when it would be possible to say: ‘No.’” He also notes that the book “shines a spotlight on emigration as a major theme in Polish literature.”

Kate Brown, History, Wins the 2014 Ellis W. Hawley Prize from the Organization of American Historians

On Saturday, April 12 in Atlanta, History Associate Professor Kate Brown was awarded the 2014 Ellis W. Hawley Prize from the Organization of American Historians (OAH) for the best book-length historical study of the political economy, politics, or institutions of the United States, in its domestic or international affairs, from the Civil War to the present.

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Brown received the award for her book, Plutopia: Nuclear Families, Atomic Cities, and the Great Soviet and American Plutonium Disasters (Oxford University Press, 2013), in which she tells the stories of Hanford, Washington and Ozersk, Russia. The Soviet and American governments created these communities to produce the plutonium that fueled the nuclear arms race during the Cold War.

In a press release announcing the award, OAH stated: “Brown notes that the major accidents at Hanford and Ozersk were largely unknown to the public, in contrast to the recognition today of Chernobyl and Fukushima. But the costs to the well-being of the workers and the environment were arguably far higher. This revelatory history provides a highly readable and deeply researched model of transnational history.”

Last month, Brown was awarded the 2014 George Perkins Marsh Prize from the American Society for Environmental History (ASEH), also for her book, Plutopia.

George Derek Musgrove, History, Op-Ed in The Washington Post

Washington, D.C. hasn’t directly funded its shadow delegation to Congress, the city’s official statehood lobby, since the first elections for the positions were held in 1990. However, just last week, Mayor Vincent Gray released a budget for fiscal 2015 that includes $100,000 for the delegation.

Derek Musgrove

George Derek Musgrove ’97, history, assistant professor of history, wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post titled, “D.C.’s shadow delegation: It’s not the money, it’s the strategy,” in which he argued the money could help the delegation, but only if it changes its approach.

“Since its creation, the shadow delegation has focused its energy on lobbying members of Congress on Capitol Hill. Though its efforts get support from the small number of members who already favor statehood, the delegation has never been able to persuade those on the fence, let alone outright opponents, to support their cause,” Musgrove wrote.

Musgrove wrote in order to attain its goals, the delegation must learn from lessons in D.C.’s history, such as the campaign for the D.C. Voting Rights Amendment.

“The 2015 budget could give the shadow delegation funding it needs to expand its lobbying operation. But the history of the struggle for D.C. self-determination teaches that, to have any success, it needs to adopt a strategy that can reach the folks back home,” he adds.

To read the full op-ed in The Washington Post, click here.

Jessica Berman, English, Appointed to the Modern Language Association’s Publications Committee

Jessica Berman, Director of the Dresher Center for the Humanities and Professor of English, has been appointed to a three-year term to serve on the Modern Language Association’s (MLA) Publications Committee.

The committee oversees all of MLA’s book publication programs, including its “Approaches to Teaching World Literature” and “Teaching Languages Literatures and Cultures” series. It assesses prospectuses and approves final manuscripts and it’s also charged with consulting on priorities and policies for the scholarly communication program and assisting with new initiatives in scholarly communication. Congratulations, Dr. Berman!

Robert Provine, Psychology, in The New Yorker

An article published April 15 in The New Yorker explores the surprising science behind yawning and what makes it so unique. Psychology Professor Robert Provine, author of Curious Behavior: Yawning, Laughing, Hiccupping, and Beyond, was interviewed for the article and commented on his research studying the concept.

Robert Provine

“Yawning may have the dubious distinction of being the least understood, common human behavior,” Provine observed. The article discusses Provine’s studies that explored contagious yawning, one of which found eighty-eight per cent of people who were instructed to think of yawns yawned themselves within thirty minutes. It also examines how the contagious nature of yawning may be highlighted by something very different than empathy, but rather as a form of communication.

“We’re getting insight into the human herd: yawning as a primal form of sociality,” Provine said. “It’s often said that behavior doesn’t leave fossils,” he added. “But, with yawning, you are looking at a behavioral fossil. You’re getting an insight into how all of behavior once was.”

To read the full article in The New Yorker, click here.