Christopher Swan, Geography and Environmental Systems, Discusses Maryland Green Prisons Initiative in the Baltimore Sun

Christopher Swan, an associate professor of geography and environmental systems, is leading the Maryland Green Prisons Initiative, which was launched in partnership with the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, Baltimore Office of Sustainability and other local collaborators. As part of the program, Swan works with inmates at the Metropolitan Transition Center in Baltimore to spruce up and test wildflowers and grasses in vacant West Baltimore lots.

Swan was recently interviewed in the Baltimore Sun about the initiative. “One of the goals of the project is to bring nature into the prison,” he said. “Cities all over the place are having a problem with vacant land and what to do with it. The Baltimore Office of Sustainability has goals and we try to help them meet them by having inmates help out as a human resource in order to make that happen.”

Swan also noted the initiative will likely beautify two dozen vacant lots and said about 14,000 vacant lots exist in the city. To view a video about the project, including information on the “Portrait Garden,” by Lynn Cazabon, an associate professor of visual arts, see below. To read more about the project, click here.

UMBC Faculty Provide Perspective and Reflect on Recent Events in Baltimore

In response to recent events that have transpired in Baltimore over the last several days, several UMBC faculty have engaged in thoughtful reflection and dialogue in the news around the complex challenges facing the Baltimore community. The substantive commentaries come from different viewpoints and add various perspectives to the ongoing conversation of the past week’s events.

John Rennie ShortIn The Conversation, School of Public Policy Professor John Rennie Short wrote about three background factors that should be considered when asking why the violence and riots took place in response to the death of one young man: the momentum of the police brutality narrative, the lack of trust between police and minority black populations, and the stifled economic opportunities and limited social mobility of many inner-city residents. “This country needs to address structural issues of poverty and economic opportunity as well as immediate concerns of how we make the streets safer for all our citizens,” Short wrote.

Kate DrabinskiKate Drabinski, lecturer of gender and women’s studies, wrote about decades of disinvestment in Baltimore and uneven development that have disadvantaged largely low-income communities. “One of the dangers of seeing the riot as an event is precisely this danger of losing historical perspective about the ways the neighborhoods burning on television are the very ones that have been cut off from the growth of the city’s downtown core,” she wrote. Drabinski was also featured in a Bicycling Magazine article about her observations of Monday’s events.

Kimberly MoffittKimberly Moffitt, an associate professor of American studies, examined Baltimore City Schools and the important element of focusing on the mental health needs and frustrations of many students. “Now we are faced with the next generation of marginalized youth who demand to be heard, even as they are seen as counterproductive by those who continue to ignore their physical, academic, and psychological needs to be successful in an educational setting,” Moffitt explained. She also participated in a roundtable discussion on Southern California Public Radio about her thoughts on this issue.

Rita TurnerRita Turner, a lecturer of American studies, wrote an article for The Conversation that focused on environmental health issues: “Environmental injustice may seem like a secondary issue in the face of massive police brutality, poverty, and civil uprising, and I don’t suggest that it should preempt conversations about other forms of systemic racism. But as we talk about the devaluing of black lives and black bodies that has taken place in Baltimore and across the country and the world, we cannot ignore the ways that this manifests in a subtle and constant disregard for the health of marginalized communities,” she wrote.

Sue-Goodney-Lea__2013-239x300In a Baltimore Sun op-ed, Suzanne Lea, an adjunct professor of sociology, wrote about an in-depth study she conducted with her students to examine trends in police deadly force incidents that have occurred in the Baltimore/DC area over the last 25 years. The column outlined five key findings from the research, including the vast majority of incidents occurred early in an officer’s career. “Too often, without a video, police officers are exonerated via internal investigations based on rules that prioritize officers’ accounts. Let’s start collecting the data we need to track and systematically examine such incidents and use it to challenge and improve upon our policing until it fully reflects the integrity of our American ideal of equality under the law,” Lea wrote.

Amy BhattIn the Huffington PostAmy Bhatt, an assistant professor of gender and women’s studies, examined the question “what does it mean to be safe?” In her article, Bhatt discussed her experience living in the Federal Hill neighborhood and provided a closer look at discussions of property, race, and resources in light of recent events. “When we talk about safety, we need to look beyond our neighborhoods and ask how we decide who stays safe and who does not,” she wrote.

Tom SchallerIn his column in the Baltimore Sun, Thomas Schaller, professor and chair of political science, discussed the impact of inequality on the past week’s events. “Rather, the fact of social protest is prima facie evidence of political disgruntlement, and of an extant imbalance between those who wield power and those subjected to it. When these inequities persist and have no other form of expression, there will be unrest. And in this case, those suffering from Baltimore’s power imbalances are disproportionately black.”

Chris CorbettChristopher Corbett, professor of the practice of English, wrote a column in Reuters in which he discussed his observations and experience living in Baltimore for 35 years after moving from Maine. In his article, “Baltimore’s truth in Freddie Gray’s life and death,” Corbett examined the history and current state of many of the city’s neighborhoods in the context of the events of the last several days.

Jana Kopelentova Rehak, a visiting professor of anthropology, recently published an article on her applied anthropology collaborative project in Baltimore in partnership with Habitat for Humanity to address urban inequality, poverty, and health in relation to housing.

To read the complete news coverage, click below:

Baltimore riots: the fire this time and the fire last time and the time between (The Conversation)
Why Baltimore burns for Freddie Gray (Baltimore Sun)
Baltimore’s truth in Freddie Gray’s life and death (Reuters)
Baltimore cyclist catches riots in action (Bicycling Magazine)
Keeping ‘Us’ Safe in Baltimore (Huffington Post) 
Freddie Gray: death by legal intervention (Baltimore Sun)
The slow poisoning of Freddie Gray and the hidden violence against black communities (The Conversation)
Baltimore could become key election issue (The Philadelphia Tribune)
Black and young in Baltimore: a roundtable discussion (KPCC Radio)
With little choice, O’Malley defends Baltimore tenure (Washington Post)
Mayor Martin O’Malley Versus Governor Martin O’Malley (Governing)
Riots invoked as lobbying tool (Baltimore Sun)
Media coverage and politics (Midday with Dan Rodricks) 
Practicing urban anthropology in Baltimore

Craig Saper, LLC, Co-Edits New Publication on Critical Studies in the Humanities

ElectracyLanguage, Literacy, and Culture (LLC) Professor and Director Craig Saper, with contributions to the manuscript preparation and index from LLC doctoral students Felix Burgos and Kevin Wisniewski, has co-edited and introduced a new book Electracy: Gregory L. Ulmer’s Textshop Experiments (2015).

According to a description on the book’s website, “‘Textshop’ in the title refers to a pedagogy for teaching rhetorical invention, with application to any form of production of texts or works in Arts and Letters fields, or for teaching creative thinking in general. More specifically this book provides background and context for the published work of Ulmer, filling in gaps between his books, and showing the genealogy of Ulmer’s innovative approach to media education.”

Growing out of the book, Burgos and Wisniewski have started a peer-review scholarly journal on Textshop Experiments. To learn more about the project, click here.

Kimberly Moffitt, American Studies, Reacts to the Freddie Gray Story on The Marc Steiner Show

Kimberly MoffittOn April 23, WEAA’s The Marc Steiner Show hosted a panel discussion on reaction to the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old man who died of a spinal injury a week after being chased and tackled by police officers in Baltimore. The story has drawn national attention and has sparked widespread discussion and debate.

Kimberly Moffitt, an associate professor of American studies, participated in the discussion along with several longtime community organizers and activists, including Rev. Dr. Heber Brown, Pastor of Pleasant Hope Baptist Church and Executive Director of Orita’s Cross Freedom School; Tawanda Jones, sister of Tyrone West, a man who died while in police custody in July 2013 in Baltimore; Megan Sherman, Producer at The Real News Network; Tim Wilson, co-Director of On Our Shoulders; and A. F.  James MacArthur, blogger for the Baltimore Spectator, who spent several months in jail in 2013, following a standoff with the police.

During the program, Moffitt discussed her viewpoints on the city’s reaction to Freddie Gray’s death and analyzed some of the language used by city officials in discussing the case. To listen to the powerful segment in its entirety, click here.

UMBC Students Share Stories: Navigating College with Mental Health Challenges (5/6)

Mental Health May 6

On Wednesday, May 6,  the Children’s Mental Health Matters! Campaign, Taking Flight, UMBC YouthFIRST team, UMBC Counseling Center, the Department of Psychology, NAMI at UMBC, Maryland Early Intervention Program, and Active Minds are hosting a panel discussion titled, “Students Share Stories: Navigating College with Mental Health Challenges.” The panel takes place at 4 p.m. in the Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery. Doors to the event open at 3:40 and seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

During the event, the student panelists will share their personal journeys through illness and recovery and discuss issues of stigma and mental health advocacy. A community discussion with Q&A and refreshments will follow the panel.


Last year’s flash mob to raise awareness for mental health.

At 12 noon on the same day, a “flash mob” will take place to raise awareness of mental health at the plaza between the University Center and the Math/Psychology Building. The events take place during Mental Health Awareness Week.

Lipitz Lecture: India, Pakistan, and Nuclear Weapons: Deterrence Stability in South Asia (5/7)

Devin Hagerty Humanities/Social Sciences Forum
Thursday, May 7 | 4:00 p.m.
Lipitz Lecture
Devin Hagerty, Professor of Political Science and Director, Global Studies, UMBC 
Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery 

Recent events and scholarly analysis suggest that South Asia may be trending toward yet another nuclear-tinged Indo-Pakistani crisis. Meaningful dialogue between Pakistan and India has stalled, the disputed territory of Kashmir has seen regular exchanges of fire across the Line of Control (LOC), and Indian strategic elites worry about the possibility of another Mumbai-style terrorist attack. This talk assesses the robustness of Indo-Pakistani deterrence stability. More specifically, it analyzes the likelihood that another mass-casualty attack on Indian soil, carried out by terrorists sponsored by elements of the Pakistani state, would escalate to conventional – and perhaps nuclear – war between Pakistan and India. This question is considered in the context of previous Indo-Pakistani crises in 1999, 2001-02, and 2008; recent quantitative and qualitative improvements in Pakistani and Indian nuclear forces; the growing superiority of India’s conventional military forces over Pakistan’s; and the more muscular foreign policy adopted by the new government of Indian prime minister Narendra Modi.

Devin T. Hagerty is a Professor of Political Science and Director of the Global Studies program at UMBC. He teaches on international relations, national security policy, and South Asia. Hagerty is the author of The Consequences of Nuclear Proliferation: Lessons from South Asia (MIT Press, 1998) and co-author (with Sumit Ganguly) of Fearful Symmetry: India-Pakistan Crises in the Shadow of Nuclear Weapons (University of Washington Press, 2005). He edited South Asia in World Politics (Rowman and Littlefield, 2005). Hagerty has published in International Security, Security Studies, Current History,Asian Survey, the Australian Journal of International Affairs, and other journals. He co-edits the journalAsian Security. Hagerty has a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, an M.A.L.D. from the Fletcher School at Tufts University, and a B.A. from Rutgers University.

Sponsored by the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences; the Dresher Center for the Humanities; and the Social Sciences Forum.

Joseph Tatarewicz, History, in the Christian Science Monitor

JoeTIn light of the 25th anniversary of the launch of the Hubble telescope, Joseph Tatarewicz, an associate professor of history, was quoted extensively in a Christian Science Monitor article and reflected on the hype and drama surrounding the telescope.

In the article, Tatarewicz called it a ” “Perils of Pauline” saga with emotional highs and lows, such as the botched-mirror episode. From its very beginning, each time Hubble hit a low, it rebounded, Tatarewicz said, “but before it rebounded, to one degree or another, the future of the agency and spaceflight hung on it. It’s just a good story.”

With the telescope’s high expectations to gather crisp images with unprecedented detail, Tatarewicz said he would marvel with his colleagues at the claims the telescope’s supporters were making. “We occasionally would say the hype is getting out of hand,” he recalled. “The irony is that it has exceeded expectations on almost everything you can think of.”

To read the full article in the Christian Science Monitor titled “Hubble: The people’s telescope at 25,” click here.