What keeps the peace among Democracies?

first_img Read Full Story Politicians and scholars have long accepted the notion that democracies are less likely to go to war against each other, yet there remains questions as to the reasons why. In a new Harvard Kennedy School Faculty Research Working Paper, “Information, Popular Constraint, and the Democratic Peace,” co-authored by Professor Matthew Baum, an argument is made that the political systems themselves are only one contributing factor accounting for the rapport amongst fellow democratic nations.“Our research represents a first step in helping policymakers determine what it is about democracy that matters in inter-state conflict behavior, thereby hopefully allowing them to refine the policies they promote abroad,” writes Baum. “Emphasizing aspects of democracy that are likely to actually lead to a reduction in interstate war, while deemphasizing, or at least not prioritizing, those that appear not to facilitate pacific behavior.”Baum and his co-author Phillip B.K. Potter found two key institutional features influencing democracies’ conflict behavior – strong political opposition, which the authors call “whistle blowers,” and a mass media widely accessible to the population.“Leaders, both democratic and autocratic, have clear incentives to hide their foreign policy actions when they fail or conflict with the public’s preferences,” write the authors. “Minimizing their capacity to do so requires heterogeneous and autonomous political elites with both independent access to foreign policy information and the incentive to reliably alert the public when leaders stray too far from their preferred policies.”last_img read more

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Researchers shed new light on schizophrenia

first_imgAs part of a multinational, collaborative effort, researchers from the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), and scores of other institutions from all over the world have helped identify more than 100 locations in the human genome associated with the risk of developing schizophrenia in what is the largest genomic study published on any psychiatric disorder to date.The findings, which are published online in Nature, point to biological mechanisms and pathways that may underlie schizophrenia, and could lead to new approaches to treating the disorder, which has seen little innovation in drug development in more than 60 years.Schizophrenia, a debilitating psychiatric disorder that affects approximately one out of every 100 people worldwide, is characterized by hallucinations, paranoia, and a breakdown of thought processes, and often emerges in the teens and early 20s. Its lifetime impact on individuals and society is high, both in terms of years of healthy life lost to disability and in terms of financial cost, with studies estimating the price of treating schizophrenia at more than $60 billion annually in the United States alone.Despite the pressing need for treatment, medications currently on the market treat only one of the symptoms of the disorder (psychosis), and do not address the debilitating cognitive symptoms. In part, treatment options are limited because the biological mechanisms underlying the illness have not been understood. The sole drug target for existing treatments was found serendipitously, and no medications with fundamentally new mechanisms of action have been developed since the 1950s.“This level of cooperation between institutions is absolutely essential,” said Steven E. Hyman, Harvard’s Distinguished Service Professor of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology, director of the Broad’s Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research, and a former director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). “Because of the genetic complexity of schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders, we need a large sample size to conduct this type of research. If we are to continue elucidating the biology of psychiatric disease through genomic research, we must continue to work together.”In the genomics era, research has focused on the genetic underpinnings of schizophrenia because of the disorder’s high heritability. Previous studies have revealed the complexity of the disease (with evidence suggesting that it is caused by the combined effects of many genes), and roughly two dozen genomic regions have been found to be associated with the disorder. The new study confirms those earlier findings, and expands our understanding of the genetic basis of schizophrenia and its underlying biology.“By studying the genome, we are getting a better handle on the genetic variations that are making people vulnerable to psychiatric disease,” said NIMH Director Thomas Insel, whose institute helped fund the study. “Through the wonders of genomic technology, we are in a period in which, for the first time, we are beginning to understand many of the players at the molecular and cellular level.”In the genome-wide association study (GWAS) published in Nature, the authors looked at more than 80,000 genetic samples from schizophrenia patients and healthy volunteers and found 108 specific locations in the human genome associated with risk for schizophrenia. Eighty-three of those loci had not been linked previously to the disorder.“In just a few short years, by analyzing tens of thousands of samples, our consortium has moved from identifying only a handful of loci associated with schizophrenia, to finding so many that we can see patterns among them,” said first author Stephan Ripke, a scientist at the Broad’s Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research, a member of the faculty at Harvard Medical School, and a member of the Analytic and Translational Genetics Unit at MGH. “We can group them into identifiable pathways — which genes are known to work together to perform specific functions in the brain. This is helping us to understand the biology of schizophrenia.”The study implicates genes expressed in brain tissue, particularly those related to neuronal and synaptic function. These include genes that are active in pathways controlling synaptic plasticity — a function essential to learning and memory — and pathways governing postsynaptic activity, such as voltage-gated calcium channels, which are involved in signaling between cells in the brain.Additionally, the researchers found a smaller number of genes associated with schizophrenia that are active in the immune system, a discovery that offers some support for a previously hypothesized link between schizophrenia and immunological processes. The study also found an association between the disorder and the region of the genome that holds DRD2 — the gene that produces the dopamine receptor targeted by all approved medications for schizophrenia — suggesting that other loci uncovered in the study may point to additional therapeutic targets.“The fact that we were able to detect genetic risk factors on this massive scale shows that schizophrenia can be tackled by the same approaches that have already transformed our understanding of other diseases,” said the paper’s senior author, Michael O’Donovan, deputy director of the MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics at Cardiff University School of Medicine. ‘The wealth of new findings have the potential to kick-start the development of new treatments in schizophrenia, a process which has stalled for the last 60 years.”The study is the result of several years of work by the Schizophrenia Working Group of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium (PGC), an international, multi-institutional collaboration founded in 2007 to conduct broad-scale analyses of genetic data for psychiatric disease. One-third of the samples used in the study were genotyped at the Broad Institute, but a total of 55 datasets from more than 40 different contributors were needed to conduct the analysis.The 80,000 samples used in this study represent all of the genotyped datasets for schizophrenia the consortium has amassed to date. The PGC is currently genotyping new samples to further study schizophrenia and additional psychiatric diseases, including autism and bipolar disorder.Core funding for the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium comes from the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health, along with numerous grants from governmental and charitable organizations, as well as philanthropic donations. Work conducted at the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research was funded by the Stanley Medical Research Institute, Merck Research Laboratories, the Herman Foundation, and philanthropic donations.last_img read more

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American Academy announces 234th class

first_imgHarvard’s Joanna Aizenberg, Graham T. Allison Jr., Helen Hardacre, Amy Hempel, Vicki C. Jackson, Jill Lepore, Ann Marie Lipinski, Alvin Francis Poussaint, Bernardo Luis Sabatini, and Sarah Elizabeth Thomas were among the 164 influential artists, scientists, scholars, authors, and institutional leaders who were inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences at a ceremony in Cambridge on Oct. 11.“The induction ceremony recognizes the achievements of today’s most accomplished individuals,” said Academy President Jonathan Fanton. “The distinguished women and men who were inducted this weekend have engaged in innovative research, examined every aspect of our society, and continue to pursue solutions to the most pressing challenges of the day. They are all leaders of the respective fields and the Academy offers them an opportunity to work together to advance the common good.”Founded in 1780, the American Academy is one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious learned societies, and an independent research center that draws from its members’ expertise to conduct studies in science and technology policy, global security, the humanities and culture, social policy, and education.Members of the 2014 class include winners of the Nobel Prize; the Wolf Prize; the Pulitzer Prize; National Medal of the Arts; MacArthur, Guggenheim, and Fulbright Fellowships; and Grammy, Emmy, Oscar, and Tony awards.An alphabetical list of the new Academy members is located at: https://news.harvard.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/alphalist2014.pdf. The new class listed by discipline is located at: https://news.harvard.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/classlist2014.pdf.Since its founding by John Adams, James Bowdoin, John Hancock, and other scholar-patriots, the American Academy has elected leading “thinkers and doers” from each generation. The current membership includes more than 300 Nobel laureates, some 100 Pulitzer Prize winners, and many of the world’s most celebrated artists and performers.last_img read more

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HSPH faculty member, alumnus, among Ebola fighters named Time’s ‘Person of the Year’

first_imgPardis Sabeti, associate professor in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), and Mosoka Fallah, M.P.H. ’12, were among the Ebola fighters — doctors, nurses, caregivers, scientists, and directors — named Time’s 2014 “Person of the Year.”Sabeti, who also is a senior associate member at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT and an associate professor at the Center for Systems Biology in Harvard’s Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, was named to the list of “The Scientists” for her leadership in the effort to sequence the Ebola genome and track its mutations.Fallah, one of “The Doctors,” grew up in Monrovia, Liberia, and returned to the capital city to help contain the spreading Ebola epidemic.In the award article, online December 10, 2014, Time’s Nancy Gibbs writes, “The rest of the world can sleep at night because a group of men and women are willing to stand and fight. For tireless acts of courage and mercy, for buying the world time to boost its defenses, for risking, for persisting, for sacrificing and saving, the Ebola fighters are Time’s 2014 Person of the Year.” Read Full Storylast_img read more

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Turning Harvard virtual

first_imgDuring the last week of February, as it was becoming clear that a novel coronavirus was spreading quickly around the world, University officials started preparing a contingency plan for the remainder of the semester that involved evacuation and turning Harvard into a virtual campus, one that could run without students, faculty, and staff on University grounds.The whole scenario was unprecedented. There was no playbook for how to move approximately 5,000 classes online and keep the University’s operations running remotely without interruption. Anne Margulies, University chief information officer and head of the Harvard University Information Technology (HUIT), would be facing one of most complex, difficult challenges of her career.After the University’s decision on March 10 to send students home for the remainder of the semester and later to close down the rest of campus, HUIT staff worked feverishly to execute the plan’s key steps. It was no small feat.“We were planning with a lot of things changing rapidly and without knowing exactly what our target was,” said Margulies of the first few days in the process. “Rapid planning amid so much uncertainty was one of the hardest things I had to do.”As difficult as it was, that the University had experience with online learning helped. The Extension School had been offering online courses since 1997, and the free online learning initiative HarvardX launched the first of its Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) in 2012. In addition, recent IT investments within the University, from improving information security to moving some systems to the cloud to implementing the learning management system Canvas at every School, played a major role in the shift.Still, the task was daunting. Harvard has more than 36,000 undergrads, graduate students, and fellows, along with 18,000 employees, including faculty and staff. “The first week that Harvard went online went as smoothly as we could have hoped for. We felt genuinely relieved.” — Anne Margulies Harvard’s Waldo says the public flight to remote work will stress-test the internet — and some parts will need repair Bits of the socially distanced lives of staff and faculty, from a LEGO model of the Music Building to Gov. Andrew Cuomo as Henry V to cereal for dinner — in the shower Though they vary in their missions, they report few serious problems and some pleasant surprises in the move to online learning Related HUIT’s strategy consisted of three steps: increase the University’s IT infrastructure; prepare training resources; and set up contingency plans — and all of it had to be executed within two weeks. To ensure that the business of the University would proceed seamlessly, HUIT staff quadrupled the virtual private network (VPN), rolled out the instant-messaging platform Slack to give faculty, staff, and students an additional way to communicate with each other in real time, and secured with vendors the continuity of services. To sustain thousands of classes and meetings, the University scaled up its capacity on the online-meeting service Zoom, as well its service desk systems. To help the community make the online shift, HUIT trained 600 people in Zoom, and, with the Office of the Vice Provost for Advances in Learning, created online training resources for students, faculty, and staff and posted them on the site Teach Remotely. The Extension School also helped produce training material.Bharat Anand, vice provost for advances in learning, said the work has been a collective effort: Each School set up its own command-and-control center, but they leaned on each other for ideas and shared best practices on technology and pedagogical resources.“It’s been Harvard — indeed, One Harvard — at its best, not just in terms of communication and coordination, but also in the level of skill, resourcefulness, and generosity,” said Anand, who is also the Henry R. Byers Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School.“Faculty are leaning into the technology rather than simply living with it. The learning curve around Zoom has been steep. Student attendance rates and engagement are high, and perhaps most interesting, faculty members are discovering and sharing new pedagogical approaches that leverage technology.”A key aspect of the process was to integrate Zoom into Canvas to ensure that all classes could move online, said Margulies. Students and professors were already using Canvas to post things like calendars, grade books, assignments, and course materials, and to even host chats and discussions. March 23, the first day of online learning, was called Super Bowl Day, and HUIT staff were at the ready to offer real-time support, but they were unsure of what might happen.“Harvard wasn’t the only school that was going fully online.” said Margulies. “There were many major employers and universities making the same shift at the same time Harvard was. People were understandably concerned that the whole internet was going to break up or that the Zoom platform couldn’t possibly support the load. There were big unknowns.”,On the first day, calls to HUIT’s help desk numbered 1,200, only about 20 percent more than a typical day. HUIT officials had been ready to deal with a 400 percent increase. By Wednesday, calls were down to normal, and that day, the University held a record number of 8,000 meetings/classes via Zoom, with more than 90,000 participants. During the first week, more than 30,000 meetings and classes were held online without much trouble, said Margulies.“The first week that Harvard went online went as smoothly as we could have hoped for,” she said. “We felt genuinely relieved.”Over the two first weeks of remote learning, there were more than 73,000 Zoom-based classes and meetings with a cumulative number of participants that surpassed 630,000. The biggest problem has been one that’s out of HUIT’s control: local network limitations that affect 7 to 10 percent of students who live in low-bandwidth areas. HUIT has offered tips on how to test and increase network strength.To prevent “Zoombombing,” in which unwanted intruders disrupt a meeting by sharing inappropriate content, HUIT has activated enhanced security features on all Harvard Zoom accounts. All meetings have password protection, and only meeting hosts control screen-sharing permissions. So far, only two cases of unauthorized access have taken place. HUIT assistant director for communications Tim Bailey is reminding community members to avoid sharing or posting meeting invitations in publicly accessible locations.center_img ‘There will be cascading failures that get fixed on the fly’ Notes from the new normal Zooming through the grad Schools Overall there have been more highlights than stumbles, said Margulies. Her office has received positive feedback from students, who said they enjoy being able to see fellow classmates’ faces rather than the backs of their heads, and getting a glimpse into their classmates’ lives. Faculty also report students’ high engagement and participation and reaching a level of intimacy uncommon in large lecture classes.In the third week of Harvard online, HUIT continues to be vigilant. “I hope we can continue to support Harvard online without any major disruptions in technology,” said Margulies. “We continue to closely monitor the situation so that if anything falters, we can quickly take action. But I just hope it continues to be as stable as it has been.”last_img read more

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Fatal encounters with police

first_imgBecause there is no central repository of data on police-related deaths, Albrecht and Battles used material from a nonprofit called Fatal Encounters, which collects information about fatalities involving police as a way to fill a national information void. What set Fatal Encounters apart, Albrecht said, is that each entry links to a news article about the incident and attaches a brief summary to each name with details of how the death occurred. The dataset involves not just incidents when police seem clearly at fault, but rather surveys the broad landscape of deaths occurring when police are involved, including everything from gunshots to drownings, auto accidents to suicides. The broad view, Albrecht said, allows visitors to better understand the problem and create their own view.Located at TheirNames.org, visitors to the site are at first struck by the stark-looking landing page, filled with small white names on a black background. Scrolling brings screen after screen of additional names. Moving the cursor over a name highlights it in red and a small summary appears. Clicking on the name brings you to the source material, like NPR’s story about the shooting of 107-year-old Monroe Isadore in Pine Bluff, Ark., bearing the headline “How Does a 107-Year-Old Die In a Police Shootout? Details Emerge.”Battles, metaLAB’s associate director, said though the dataset details a broad array of tragic circumstances, one thing that becomes clear is the overrepresentation of minorities and African Americans.“There are a lot of different ways that people die in this database, but the racial disparities are still the strongest signal, demographically,” Battles said. “The morbidity associated with policing in the U.S. falls disproportionately on communities of color and African American communities in particular. It emphasizes that this is not a few bad apples, but a systemic issue.”Battles said they want the site to add to the national conversation on the problem, one they hope this time leads to real change. To encourage exchange of views, they collect visitor feedback via a questionnaire that polls attitudes toward policing in America.“This is raw stuff to work with, and we’ve only worked with it for a couple of weeks,” Battles said. “It really makes us appreciate of the work of activists and researchers who’ve been contending with state-sanctioned violence for whole careers. The work carries a lot of trauma and it takes a lot of courage and resilience to address it.” Why America can’t escape its racist roots Harvard expert says ‘bystander effect’ emboldens toxic culture of police violence The oldest person on the list is a 107-year-old African American man, who in 2013, upset at being asked to move from the house where he was living, barricaded himself in a bedroom with a handgun. He fired at police when they entered the room and was killed when they returned fire.Among the youngest is a 5-month-old African American girl who died in 2018 when the car in which she was riding fled police, crashed into a garbage truck, and burst into flames. The driver, her father, who had reportedly shoplifted from a grocery store, also died.The list contains 28,000 names of those killed in police-related violence from Jan. 1, 2000, until May 25, 2020, the day George Floyd was killed during an arrest by Minneapolis police. It includes 6,000 African Americans; 9,000 white people; thousands of Latinx people, Pacific Islanders, Native and Asian Americans; and thousands more whose ethnicity is unknown. It is sortable by age, year, gender, ethnicity, location, and cause, with gunshots by far the largest number of deaths.But numbers aren’t the point of the project, a stark-looking work of data visualization called “Their Names,” according to its creators, Kim Albrecht and Matthew Battles of metaLAB(at)Harvard. In the weeks since Floyd was killed, lots has been said about police violence, and statistics about the problem have been offered from various sources. Battles and Albrecht said “Their Names” seeks to add to the conversation by being about the people behind the numbers.Albrecht, a data visualization designer at metaLAB, which is a project of Harvard Law School’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society, said Floyd’s death resonated because people were able to connect to his story, which illuminated a problem much larger than that single case. “Their Names” seeks to magnify that personal connection and scale it up to show the true human impact.“The visualizations on this data all focus on analysis, on statistics, and how this problem developed over the years. We didn’t want to focus on that,” Albrecht said. “The morbidity associated with policing in the U.S. falls disproportionately on communities of color and African American communities in particular. It emphasizes that this is not a few bad apples, but a systemic issue.” — Matthew Battles Orlando Patterson says there’s been progress, but the nation needs to reject white supremacist ideology, bigotry in policing, and segregation Waiting for someone else to speak out Related Rewriting history — to include all of it this time Panel on dispossession of African Americans says burying truth keeps Black Americans dispossessedlast_img read more

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Three new professors named in math

first_img Teaching to remain online for 2020-21 It’s not really a case of déjà vu, but three new faculty members in the math department are experiencing a bit of nostalgia.For Laura DeMarco, Ph.D. ’02, and Mihnea Popa, Harvard is where they first met 20 years ago when DeMarco was a Ph.D. student in her final year, and Popa had just started as a postdoctoral research fellow. Now married, the pair are returning to the Department of Mathematics as tenured professors.“We feel really familiar with the place so it’s exciting,” said Popa, who like DeMarco was at Northwestern University. “It’s like coming home somehow.”Joining the department, also as an incoming professor of mathematics, offers Melanie Matchett Wood the chance to reunite with one her earliest supporters. Wood was 16 when she became the first female to make the U.S. International Mathematical Olympiad Team, an opportunity that helped make math her biggest passion. At a training program the team runs for students in the summer, Wood received a letter from a girl who’d done the program the year before. The letter welcomed her, let her know what to expect, and encouraged her to stick with the program.“[She] had been the only girl at the program the previous summer,” said Wood, who comes to Harvard from the University of California, Berkeley. “The letter meant a lot to me, because I had never met another girl my age who was as interested in math as I was, and having a sense of connection to someone made a big impact.”The letter’s author was Lauren Williams ’00, would herself grow up to become a Harvard professor. Williams, whose work focuses on algebraic combinatorics, joined Harvard in 2018.All three incoming professors will bring a focus on theoretical research and a knack for mentoring students when they start their new appointments.,“Many exciting breakthroughs in mathematics today are emerging from new perspectives on classical — but still mysterious — problems. All three of these outstanding researchers are leading new developments of this type,” said department chair Curt McMullen, the Cabot Professor of Mathematics. “Wood is making striking connections between number theory and random phenomena; Popa is solving classical problems in algebraic geometry with deep methods ultimately rooted in physics; and DeMarco is the lead architect of the new field of arithmetic dynamics.”“All three are great communicators, and we are delighted to welcome them to the department this fall.”DeMarco grew up in Arlington, Va. She attended the University of Virginia before earning a master’s at the University of California, Berkeley, and finally her doctorate at Harvard. Since then she’s been on the faculty at the University of Chicago, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and, most recently, at Northwestern.DeMarco’s research is in dynamical systems, a branch of mathematics that studies systems that evolve over time, like models of weather patterns or the motion of the planets in the solar system. She received the American Math Society Ruth Lyttle Satter Prize in Mathematics for her work in 2017. A year later, DeMarco was invited to speak at the International Congress of Mathematicians, and this year she was elected to the National Academy of Sciences.But, she says, “What I’m most proud of is, perhaps, my work with my students at all levels — at the Ph.D. level, the master’s level, and with my undergraduate students. It is amazing to see students develop into independent researchers, and I work hard to encourage students to pursue projects or careers where they show talent or passion, even if they never imagined going in that direction.”The same can be said for Popa, who takes great satisfaction in working with students and seeing them become established mathematicians. In his case, the career path was established when he was very young in his native Romania.“Math has always had a great tradition in Romania,” said Popa. “I knew I wanted to be a mathematician very early on … I never really thought of any other career.” “They are some very old questions in mathematics that people have been considering for a very long time, and there are so many of them that we don’t know the answers to.” — Melanie Wood Related Will succeed Huntington D. Lambert, effective next month FAS dean outlines three possible paths to return to residential life Popa received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 2001, where he won an award for best Ph.D. thesis. After that, he came to Harvard as a Benjamin Peirce Fellow, and won an American Mathematical Society Centennial Fellowship. He was at the University of Chicago in 2005, the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2007, and Northwestern in 2014. Popa is an honorary member of the Institute of Mathematics of the Romanian Academy.Popa is noted for his research on algebraic geometry, a vast branch of math that combines geometry and algebra. He’s published more than 50 papers on the topic.Since middle school, Wood has been a math whiz. In the seventh grade, she won a citywide math competition for middle schoolers in her hometown of Indianapolis. She took first in the state-wide contest that same year and placed 40th at the national level. The next year, she placed 10th among American middle schoolers. With the International Olympiad team, she won silver in 1998 and 1999.“I loved solving the mysteries of interesting problems and finding new approaches and different ways to solve problems or different ways to look at problems,” Wood said. “That has always been fun for me.”That passion catapulted Wood through college and eventually to Princeton University, where she earned her Ph.D. in 2009. Along the way and in various professorships, she’s racked up a number of accolades. Some of them were firsts for female mathematicians, like the Putnam Fellow award she received from the Mathematical Association of America in 2002 or the Morgan Prize she received for outstanding research as an undergraduate in 2003.Others were quirkier but significant nevertheless, like Dove soap naming her a role model for young girls in 2012. At the time, she was a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she had a reputation for mentoring female graduate students through research programs and encouraging undergraduates to get involved in math research, as well.Wood received a National Science Foundation Career Award in 2017. Her research is largely focused on number theory, a theoretical branch that deals with the properties and relationships of numbers.“They are some very old questions in mathematics that people have been considering for a very long time, and there are so many of them that we don’t know the answers to,” she said. She said that is why, “if you watched me, I’d probably be at the blackboard with my notebooks and papers trying different things [and equations].” Nancy Coleman named new dean for Division of Continuing Education The outlook for Harvard online learning In a Q&A, Vice Provost Bharat Anand recaps the spring’s pivot to digital, and the planning underway for falllast_img read more

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Creating community in the virtual classroom

first_img Faculty shape online classes to engage with COVID, race reckoning, election Reinventing courses that are harder to teach remotely The Daily Gazette Sign up for daily emails to get the latest Harvard news. Gearing up for a consequential fall Relatedcenter_img Providing emotional and academic support for students is an integral part of Marya T. Mtshali’s planning for her fall seminar, “Sex, Race, and Romance in the U.S.” During her spring and summer teaching, the lecturer on Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality used Zoom breakout rooms to host icebreaker activities at the start of some class meetings. She plans to continue the practice this fall, along with interactive blogging assignments and a course Slack channel. These tactics, she said, will give students multiple avenues to interact with each other.Another tactic that proved successful in the summer that Mtshali plans to use again is a precourse student survey that let students inform her of participation limitations, such as internet connectivity issues or unsafe home situations.“We’re talking about topics like race, gender, sexual orientation, racial discrimination, [and] in some cases, sexual violence in the history of America. So it’s a class that necessitates a certain level of comfort and trust amongst peers, and I do try to foster that in some way, despite how inorganic it may feel on an online platform,” she said.Norman E. Vuilleumier Professor of Philosophy Edward J. Hall also plans a precourse survey to get to know students in his Gen Ed course on understanding and mastering ethical arguments, “Reclaiming Argument: Logic as a Force for Good.” Hall said that the survey will be the starting point for helping students form study groups and establish open communication with the teaching team.“We’d like for students to feel like they’ve got a group of fellow travelers in this course. And to make that happen, we need to do some investment up front even before classes start,” said Hall.For some, creating community in the classroom involves forging direct virtual ties between students and the world around them. In her seminar “African Voices for Freedom, Citizenship and Social Justice,” AAAS College Fellow Bojana Coulibaly will assign students to interview youth activists across Africa about their work and create multimedia presentations based on their findings. Each student will also create a chapter for a collaborative class book created on Scalar, a digital publishing platform.“We are building a community, but not only on the local level. It’s more like a global exchange,” said Coulibaly.,In Heidi Vollmer-Snarr’s advanced undergraduate research course “Experimental Chemistry and Chemical Biology,” students would normally travel to Washington, D.C., to meet with members of Congress and gain experience working on direct science advocacy. This fall, that work will happen online. Small groups of students will arrange, prepare for, and attend virtual meetings with representatives to advocate for existing bills related to their research projects.“Not only does this teach the students the importance of communicating about their research in more general terms to nonscientific audiences, but it also teaches them the importance of advocating for change,” said Vollmer-Snarr, director of advanced undergraduate laboratories and senior preceptor in chemistry and chemical biology.Bruno Carvalho hopes students in his first-year seminar, “Back to the Future: How the Past Imagined the Cities of Tomorrow,” will use their physical environments as the foundation for collaborative digital story map projects. Carvalho, who is a professor of romance languages and literatures and AAAS, and an affiliated professor in urban planning and design at the Graduate School of Design, will assign self-guided outdoor tours around the Carpenter Center or a neighborhood walk if they don’t live on campus.“Hopefully the limitations of technology allow us to have richer conversations about the value of things that we sometimes take for granted, like social gatherings, chance encounters, and certain physical spaces that we have in the city and on campus, including the seminar room,” he said.Director of the Mahindra Humanities Center, Morton B. Knafel Professor of Music, and Harvard College Professor Suzannah Clark partnered with Dean of Arts and Humanities, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and Shirley Carter Burden Professor of Photography Robin Kelsey to emulate a seminar room environment through a new humanities sophomore tutorial called “Making It.” They plan to mail notebooks out to their students as a “tangible reminder” of their shared experience, said Clark. Another campus connection is also in the works: Kelsey and Clark plan to collect fall leaves from Harvard to send out for use in a future assignment.Carpenter said the upheaval of the current moment could lead to further innovations in any type of classroom.“We can’t change the fact of COVID-19 and can’t change the fact of remote learning, but we can change how we adapt and move forward into the next phases of our lives. It just so happens that this moment is also a critical moment in our democracy, and I want to seize that opportunity as an instructor,” said Carpenter. “[This] has forced me to rethink and reshape my own approach to teaching in ways that will make me a better teacher.” Faculty devise ways to increase interactivity, flexibility, student contact This story is part of a series about the ways in which faculty are innovating and planning for fall classes online.Daniel Carpenter relied on serendipitous encounters among classmates to fuel his students’ learning beyond his lectures. But this fall, the Allie S. Freed Professor of Government is creating a space for those key moments online in his Gen Ed survey of the history and theory of modern republican governmental structures, “Res Publica: A History of Representative Government.”In addition to breakout rooms for small group discussions during lectures and more intimate section gatherings with teaching fellows, Carpenter plans to host “Hangouts in the Republic,” optional gatherings for students to both discuss course themes and get to know each other without the pressures of being graded. The space will facilitate student interactions and mutual learning about America’s democratic republic, he said.As students prepare for an academic year that will be entirely virtual, many Harvard faculty members have, like Carpenter, reconceived and redesigned their courses to offer students ways to find community in the absence of in-person learning.Michelle Rosen and her teaching team will organize informal study groups, host small group meetings, and assign large- and small-scale team projects that mimic the camaraderie of a lab setting in her introductory SEAS course, “Computer-Aided Machine Design.” Without access to labs, lecture halls, and the campus machine shop, Rosen’s team looked for ways to foster collaboration among the group of mostly first-year students.“These opportunities for them to get together when they aren’t being graded are important because they can talk and really express their ideas,” said the lecturer in mechanical engineering design. “The plan is to create some spaces for the students to have that kind of organic interaction.”,In the arts, faculty and students face a semester away from campus studio spaces. Music Professor of the Practice Claire Chase, assistant professor of art, film, and visual studies Karthik Pandian, and senior lecturer on Theater, Dance & Media and Director of Dance Jill Johnson came together to create “The Garden,” a new cross-disciplinary arts course focused on individual mentorship for students working on independent projects.“The roots of this course are the practices of the students who might especially need more support [because] they can’t access studio space [or] practice rooms,” said Pandian. Working closely with each student, he said, is “a way to attend to the complexity of [their] situations” while also providing guidance on theoretical and practical questions as they would in person.“The most important course outcome is that we learn to nourish ourselves and one another, to see the values of reciprocity, generosity, and trust, and to take risks,” said Chase.The team also invited Charles Warren Professor of American History and Professor of African and African American Studies (AAAS), Vincent Brown, John R. and Barbara Robinson Family Director at the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, and lecturer on AFVS Dan Byers, and Makeda Best, Richard L. Menschel Curator of Photography at the Harvard Art Museums, as faculty residents who will also serve as “gardeners,” teaching on the connections between arts practice and theory from their own disciplines in small groups and larger lecture settings.“This is a time to give students an opportunity to share their ideas in a cypher-like community as opposed to a top-down” environment, said Johnson. The unique course structure offers “a collective that is intergenerational and interdisciplinary. We hope to meet a very real need for care and reflection in this extraordinary time [and] we’re hoping the course will be an artistic home for all involved.” “We’d like for students to feel like they’ve got a group of fellow travelers in this course. And to make that happen, we need to do some investment up front even before classes start.” — Edward J. Hall, philosophy professorlast_img read more

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3 Secrets to Fast Tracking Your IT Priorities

first_imgSmall and medium businesses know that the road to success is filled with distractions and roadblocks. According to IDC, the three major IT priorities for small and medium businesses are improving efficiency, improving revenue growth, and reducing expenses.1 Most small to medium businesses don’t have dedicated IT personnel on hand to tackle these priorities.You are a business owner and already wear too many hats. And when it comes to IT, that hat is often worn by either you or the most technical individual on your team.Luckily, you can put your IT hat back on the shelf with the entry-level PowerEdge T140 and PowerEdge T340 tower servers. These servers are specifically built for your small and medium businesses’ everyday needs. Here’s how they help you accomplish your three major IT priorities. Easy efficiencyPowerEdge tower servers are built to process and transmit data quickly. This will enable your everyday business applications to run faster and reduce the amount of interruptions. They simplify team collaboration, giving you peace of mind that you are working on the latest revision. They also save data automatically, reducing the threat of re-work.PowerEdge towers are ideal for on-site, remote, and branch office use. By managing multiple remote servers via one intuitive platform, you can save a trip across town, states, or even countries, depending on your office locations. Additionally, you can choose to conveniently receive alerts and access hardware remotely anytime and anywhere, saving you time and money.With the ProDeploy suite of services, you can let Dell EMC do the heavy lifting while you focus on your business. Simply tell Dell EMC what applications you’d like to run, and we’ll configure and deploy the server in your office. Set up as much as 66% faster with our ProDeploy suite of services.2 Our team is here to answer any questions and help you plan for your future growth.PowerEdge towers offer automated proactive and predictive support technology. Resolve potential issues with up to 72% less IT effort using ProSupport Plus and SupportAssist.3 This technology can automatically notify Dell EMC of a potential threat to get a jump start on a solution. Revenue growth made easierYou run critical business applications that enable you to connect with your customers, prospective customers, and your team. The PowerEdge towers are ideal for most business applications such as file and print, point of sale, collaboration/sharing, databases, mail, and messaging.PowerEdge towers enable business applications to run quickly with powerful computing capability. These tower servers enable multiple team members to work on the same file and print multiple documents efficiently. The servers also enable faster and reliable payment processing with a secure infrastructure. It allows you to collaborate and connect quickly and efficiently with customers and colleagues around the world.Time is money. As a business, you never want any of your business applications to stop working. PowerEdge servers are reliable and can reduce the risk of downtime with a hot plug drive option. This would enable your server to work while being serviced. This will keep your business operating around the clock, allowing you additional opportunity to drive your business. The easy choice for expense reductionOne of the key IT business priorities is to reduce expenses. Among many important things to consider while reducing expense, IT security is imperative. It’s important to not take IT security for granted given all the recent data breaches. One of the best ways to keep expenses down and customer loyalty up is to avoid a security breach.The average total cost of a data breach in the United States is $7.9 million. The global average total cost of a data breach increased 6.4% from the previous year to $3.86 million.4 With the purpose of protecting our customers, every PowerEdge server come with built-in security. Simply bolting security on after the fact doesn’t work. PowerEdge towers can protect your server from malicious changes with iDRAC9 Enterprise Server Lockdown mode. You can also have peace of mind that your data is backed up automatically.PowerEdge tower servers can be safer and cheaper than public cloud alternatives. As a matter of fact, Independent research commissioned by Dell EMC uncovered that over 50% of midmarket organizations that have moved a workload from a public cloud service back to on-premise infrastructure cited security and/or cost as a reason for this decision.5Additionally, PowerEdge tower servers help with future expense reduction because they are made to grow with your business over time. As you continue to scale your business with more demanding business applications, more customers, and more employees, your servers’ will also be able to scale with you.If you are a small business that requires an easy to use and affordable server for everyday business applications like file and print and point of sale, explore the PowerEdge T140 tower server and associated services. If you are a growing business or have remote/branch offices that require reliability and scalability for your everyday business applications like collaboration/sharing and databases, take a look at the PowerEdge T340 tower server and associated services.Focus on your business. We’ll handle IT.1 IDC, SMB Digital Transformation: Attitudes, Priorities, and Assessment in Seven Countries, 2018.2 Based on a November 2017 Principled Technologies Test Report commissioned by Dell EMC comparing in-house deployment vs. Dell EMC ProDeploy for Enterprise deployment service for Dell PowerEdge R730 servers, Dell Storage SC9000 and SC420 and networking components. Actual results will vary.3 Based on June 2018 Principled Technologies Report commissioned by Dell EMC, “Save time and IT effort resolving server hardware issues with ProSupport Plus and SupportAssist”, compared to Basic Warranty without SupportAssist. Actual results will vary. Full report: http://facts.pt/olccpk.4  Independently conducted by Ponemon Institute LLC, 2018 Cost of a Data Breach Study: Global Overview, July 2018.5 ESG Master Survey Results, Tipping Point: Striking the Hybrid Cloud Balance, September 2018.last_img read more

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Re-imagining Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom – Welcome to Weir’s Digital Mine

first_imgHands up – who enjoyed “Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom” movie? I don’t know about you, but my favorite scene was the cart chase down the mine tunnel with the baddies in hot pursuit! When we picture a working mine, we see images like those depicted in the movie – deep caverns, tough conditions, workers wearing mining hats with head lamps, tram tracks and heavy machinery.Of course, some of those stereotypical images are based on reality but did you know that technology is now being used to monitor remote mining equipment in some of the world’s most challenging industrial environments, allowing experts to make more informed decisions, based on data?Leveraging technology down the minesTake one of the world’s largest engineering companies, The Weir Group. A global market leader, Weir provided trusted technology and services to help make mining operations more productive and profitable. For example, the company designs and manufactures sophisticated machinery involved in dewatering the mines, crushing and grinding rock as well as classifying, separating and transporting materials. As you can imagine, this is high-value, mission-critical equipment – if anything goes down for whatever reason, the mine may have to stop operations, which has obvious significant cost implications for customers.Predictive maintenanceThe good news is that by using the Internet of Things and Dell Gateways, Weir can now monitor the condition of the equipment second by second and help operators predict when maintenance should take place. The end-customer gains better insights about the likely timing of machinery servicing and the need for replacement parts, which results in increased uptime plus more informed capital expenditure planning. Win-win all round!Excited about the potential of IoTHow did this heavy engineering and technology partnership begin? Established over 150 years ago, Weir places a huge focus on innovation and is constantly looking to develop new and more efficient ways of working. Back in 2013, the company was already exploring the potential of the IoT and had designed and produced a prototype platform with sensors to digitally connect its field assets.A global partnershipWeir was so impressed with the initial test results that it wanted to move to mass production. However, the company was aware that gaining worldwide regulatory and safety certification in 120 countries would take time and knew that it would benefit from identifying a world class IT partner. Weir enlisted Dell Technologies OEM & IoT as its global partner to manufacture the units, simplify the development process, handle logistics and provide support.A modular, cost-effective solutionOur solution for Weir is designed, customized and built in a modular fashion. A relatively small number of blocks can be configured into many different solutions – all fully tested and certified for every country of operation. The customer gets consistency, a scalable, modular platform, built on open standards, using cost-effective, off-the-shelf compute blocks that can be used across all its business divisions. We manage the entire program from initial order and sourcing of third-party components through manufacturing, customization, delivery and post-sales support.Digitizing heavy mechanical machineryWhile I can’t promise you a cart chase through the mines like the movie, I believe that Weir’s technology solution – built on Dell Technologies OEM & IoT, Intel and Microsoft infrastructure – is just as exciting. The solution changes how Weir interacts with assets in the field, delivers increased efficiencies and opens the potential for even more innovative products and services. It’s part of Weir’s digital journey and is transforming how the company serves its mining, oil, gas, infrastructure and industrial customers.According to Weir, the internet of things offers a powerful competitive advantage, which will help drive its future growth. And, there’s more to come. Read what my colleague Bryan Jones has to say about the merging of IoT and Artificial Intelligence. Are you using IoT to transform your business? Please join the conversation. I’d love to hear your comments and questions. If you’re attending Hannover Messe, please stop by to say hi to our team from Dell Technologies and VMware plus partners from IOTech, SAS, Bormann, Teamviewer, ActionPoint,Tridium and Alleantia. We’ll be at Hall 6, Booth C40, April 1-5.Experience our amazing, interactive demo to learn how Dell Technologies infrastructure can help you harness the power of IoT and AI in your operations at scale.Learn more about Dell TechnologiesLearn more about next gen solutions from Dell Technologies OEM & IoTJoin our LinkedIn OEM & IoT Solutions Showcase pageLearn more about The Weir Group’s innovative engineering solutionsFollow us on Twitter @DellEMCOEM and follow Dermot @DermotAtDelllast_img read more

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