John Rennie Short, School of Public Policy, Discusses Cities’ Impact on Climate Change in The Conversation

In the wake of the visit of 65 mayors to the Vatican to discuss climate change, School of Public Policy Professor John Rennie Short wrote an article for The Conversation reflecting on the central role of cities in climate change discussions.

John Rennie Short“Cities house more than half the world’s population, consume 75% of its energy and emit 80% of all greenhouse gasses. But cities are not just sources of problems; they are innovative sites for policy solutions,” wrote Short, who is an expert on urban issues and environmental concerns.

In his article, he wrote that many cities are on the front lines of climate change impacts, which has spurred action to address environmental concerns and form urban networks to learn which policies are working.

“The brute facts of climate change vulnerability in cities are prompting a new and more pronounced urban environmental sensitivity. Cities are responding with both climate change mitigation and adaption. Mitigation focuses on reducing the concentrations of greenhouse gases by using alternative energy sources, encouraging greater energy efficiency and conservation, and through the promotion of carbon sinks by planting trees.

Separately, cities are adapting to the effects of climate change. Chicago has developed policies anticipating a hotter and wetter climate by repaving its roads with permeable materials, planting more trees and offering tax incentive to encourage green office roofs,” Short wrote.

Read “Why cities are a rare good news story in climate change” in The Conversation.

Joseph Tatarewicz, History, Provides Historical Context for Pluto Flyby Mission in The Conversation

On July 21, Joseph Tatarewicz, an associate professor of history, published an article in The Conversation analyzing the history of space exploration in light of the recent NASA New Horizons Pluto mission. Professor Tatarewicz teaches the history of science and technology, policy, and public history. He has done extensive work in public history, including eight years as a Smithsonian museum curator and ten years in private practice. He is author of Space Technology and Planetary Astronomy

JoeT“The boomers are the first generation to witness the initial exploration of our solar system and the last to be taught that standard phrase, ‘the nine planets.’ During the last half-century, scientific research and Cold War politics brought to a head changes in scientific disciplines and organization that had been maturing for centuries,” Tatarewicz wrote in the article.

Tatarewicz stated that the New Horizons voyage marked the end of the Copernican revolution, but there is still plenty to discover: “The entire New Horizons mission over 15 years cost about US$700 million, or $47 million per year – less than Americans spend on soft drinks. All of space exploration is but spare change, and this mission’s tariff almost invisible on anybody’s ledger. Like the Romans, we demanded bread and circuses during the space program’s heyday in its first decade or so. This circus is already quite a bargain. Throw some spare change into the next model of an orphan mission of exploration. You will need to have patience, but you will be rewarded.”

Read “New Horizons brought our last ‘first look’ at one of the original nine solar system planets” in The Conversation.

Kate Drabinski, Gender and Women’s Studies, Writes About Preserving Baltimore’s LGBTQ History in City Paper

During Pride Week, Kate Drabinski, a lecturer of gender and women’s studies, wrote a column in City Paper about the work being done to document and preserve Baltimore’s LGBTQ history.

Kate DrabinskiIn her article, Drabinski described the work of several local activists who are conducting research and publishing articles and books related to LGBTQ history in Baltimore, including Louis Hughes, Louise Kelley, Jodi Kelber, April Householder, and Betsy Nix. Drabinski wrote that as gay bars have been closing in Baltimore, the public history work being done should be reflected in contemporary conversations.

“Yes, we may be saying goodbye to the Hippo this year, but we are not saying goodbye to the histories that supported that bar, or the harder histories that come along with it as the LGBTQ movement has struggled with its own racism, sexism, and classism. It’s different now, but how it got to be that way is the result of a whole lot of work that must be remembered and taken forward in contemporary organizing. And that is work that should be celebrated this Pride season,” Drabinski shared.

Read “Recording the Rainbow Revolution: As gay bars in Baltimore shut their doors, activists work to document LGBTQ history” in City Paper.

Michele Osherow, English, and Manil Suri, Mathematics, Explore “The Mathematics of Being Human” on WYPR

On Thursday, July 16, Michele Osherow, associate professor of English, and Manil Suri, professor of mathematics, were guests on WYPR’s Humanities Connection to discuss their play “The Mathematics of Being Human,” which debuted at UMBC last fall. The play explores how mathematics and the humanities offer valuable perspectives on what it means to be human, perspectives that at first glance are highly distinct, but that create entry points for conversation and shared understanding over time.

Photo by Marlayna Demond.

Photo by Marlayna Demond.

“The idea of pairing mathematics with humanities subjects like literature may seem odd. But, we found that there are many exciting opportunities for joint exploration. The humanities can help put mathematical inquiry into a human, accessible context and allow people to relate to a subject that too often seems obscure,” Osherow explained.

“For example, creative works like film and literature can generate real curiosity about mathematical ideas. Movies like Darren Aronofsky’s Pi, plays like Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia and books like Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time expose non-mathematicians to the mystery and complex beauty of mathematics,” Suri added.

Suri was also recently interviewed by SPAN Magazine about the play, which is scheduled to be performed at the Bridges Conference in Baltimore on July 29. Suri and Osherow have previously performed the play in New York City and San Antonio, with plans to bring the production to Mumbai and New Delhi early next year in partnership with the U.S. Embassy. Read “From STEM to STEAM” in SPAN Magazine.  

Kate Brown, History, Describes Her Experience Writing Plutopia in Process History Blog

Kate Brown, a professor of history, was recently interviewed by Process, the blog of the Organization of American Historians (OAH), the Journal of American History (JAH), and The American Historian (TAH), about her award-winning book Plutopia: Nuclear Families, Atomic Cities, and the Great Soviet and American Plutonium Disasters (Oxford University Press, 2013).

Kate BrownThe posted interview is in Q&A format and Process asked Prof. Brown about her inspiration, research process, and difficulties in writing the book: “…it was difficult to integrate labor, urban, cultural and environmental history with the history of science and medicine, and to do so in the context of two national histories. I worried initially that I was missing a lot, making major mistakes in this or that historical subfield, and that generally I was trespassing where I did not belong.

And then I stopped worrying about it. I have long believed that histories written to define or protect professional expertise manage only to distance historians from their audience, but in researching Plutopia, I was also was well aware that the compartmentalization of knowledge into discrete fields caused many of the environmental and health problems at both plants.”

Brown received several awards for Plutopia, including the American Historical Association’s 2014 Albert J. Beveridge Award. Read Kate Brown’s complete interview in Process.

Donald Norris, School of Public Policy, Shares eGovernment Research with Citizen 2015

Donald Norris, professor and director of the School of Public Policy, recently shared insight into the future of eGovernment with Citizen 2015, a new blog that explores how citizens interact and engage with government. In the interview, Norris discussed how the local eGovernment revolution has yet to reach its stated claims of more open, efficient, and effective governments. According to Norris, a chief reason is limited citizen demand: “Citizen participation, under the best of circumstances, is very difficult to achieve.”

Norris was also recently in the news in the Washington Post and WJZ-TV commenting on Gov. Hogan’s political strategy in Baltimore and the potential head-to-head Baltimore mayoral race between current Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and former Mayor Sheila Dixon. To read and view complete coverage, see below.

EGovernment Revolution? Not Quite Yet. (Citizen 2015)
Gov. Hogan’s decisions cause rift with Baltimore leaders (Washington Post)
Former mayor Slams Rawlings-Blake after violence spike (WJZ-TV)

UMBC Student Entrepreneurship Featured in the Baltimore Sun July Education Supplement

The economics department Student Investment Fund was highlighted in a Baltimore Sun July education supplement article featuring student entrepreneurship at colleges and universities in Maryland. The fund began in 2010: “The primary objective of the fund is to provide participating students an opportunity to gain valuable hands-on experience in security research, valuation of risky assets, asset allocation, and portfolio management, and, in turn, to increase the marketability of UMBC students in industries such as equity research, investment banking, commercial banking and corporate finance,” said Chunming Yuan, an assistant professor of economics and faculty adviser to the program. Student Investment Fund Bradlee Kilgore ’15, economics, is also quoted in the article and participated in the fund as an undergraduate. He is now an associate analyst at T. Rowe Price. “We are able to act as security analysts and portfolio managers, which gives those of us who want a career in the financial industry hands-on experience,” he said. Michael Gardner and Nathan Hefner, founders of NeighborhoodNet, were mentioned in the article for winning the second annual Cangialosi Business Innovation Competition coordinated through the Alex. Brown Center for Entrepreneurship. They won $5,000 and a membership at Betamore for their software platform that supports community association websites. Michael Leung, a junior computer science major who served as team lead for HueBots, was quoted in a separate article featuring colleges and universities staying ahead of the curve with technology. He talked about how many people at the Microsoft Image Cup were impressed with the UMBC team’s game because it was fully completed while others were still in the development stages. “The judges were blown away and everyone loved it. Even though we did not win first prize, they all know who UMBC is now.” To read more about the HueBots competition, read “Gaming Gets Real,” on the UMBC website. Note: The online version of the Baltimore Sun education supplement is not yet available.