vol. cxlviii, no. 71
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 18, 2013
Bergeron’s exit creates opening for online ed advocacy Fed chair Provost Mark Schlissel P’15 said a large Coursera presence is likely not in the University’s future By MICHAEL DUBIN SENIOR STAFF WRITER
Dean of the College Katherine Bergeron’s recent efforts to bolster the University’s online education presence leaves open the question of who will emerge as an advocate for online initiatives after she departs at the semester’s end. Various administrators said they were excited by online education’s potential but few expressed eagerness to assume Bergeron’s mantle. Bergeron previously told The Herald the University’s experiments in online education are “supported at the provost level.” University Librarian Harriette Hemmasi, who chaired the Committee for Online Teaching and Learning during President Christina Paxson’s strategic planning process, also said Provost Mark Schlissel P’15 would ultimately decide how the University proceeds with online education.
EMILY GILBERT / HERALD
Dean of the College Katherine Bergeron’s departure at the end of the term leaves the future of U. online efforts uncertain. Herald file photo.
“It really is in the provost’s hands to decide how he wants to direct the future,” Hemmasi said. The Office of the Provost provides much of the funding for online education initiatives, Schlissel said, adding that he attends meetings about the projects and discusses the subject with colleagues at other institutions. “This is a real hot topic in the academy right now, and that’s actually a wonderful thing because there’s more discussions about the nature of teaching and how we can improve the quality of our teaching, how we can innovate, than any time that I can remember in the past,” Schlissel said. “I think it’s being driven by people experimenting and wanting to explore the potential of online content.” But Schlissel said online education will be “one of the major responsibilities of Dean Bergeron’s successor.” Schlissel said the three Coursera courses offered this summer will almost certainly be offered again, adding that a few more Coursera courses may be developed. The University can use Coursera to connect with students unfamiliar with » See BERGERON, page 2 Inside: Professors explored the online education platform Coursera this summer. Page 3.
Defense looks to build on new talent
The defensive line coach will continue to rotate players into the game to ‘build camaraderie’ By CALEB MILLER
The football team’s defensive unit has a lot to live up to after last year’s squad allowed the fewest points per game in the Ivy League. But the lineup has retained some key players from a year ago and a crop of new faces are poised to keep the defense at the top of the league. Anchoring the defense will be defensive end and co-captain Michael Yules ’14. The preseason All-Ivy selection spent much of last season in opposing teams’ backfields, registering 15 tackles for loss to rank 13th in the country. Opposite Yules will be end John Bumpus ’14, who made the most of his time as a reserve last season with two sacks and three tackles for loss. Two newcomers to the starting lineup — Brett Polacek ’14 and Ludovic » See FOOTBALL, page 4
SHIRLEY LEUNG / HERALD
The two speakers, Randall Kennedy and Stuart Taylor, Jr., discussed the consequences of the current affirmative action process and the constitutionality of race’s integration in the college admission process.
Forum frames affirmative action
Speakers debated the merits of acknowledging race in college admissions By GADI COHEN STAFF WRITER
The Janus Forum and Political Theory Project hosted an energetic debate on the issue of affirmative action in university admission for its annual celebration of Constitution Day in a packed MacMillan 117 yesterday. Inspired by the Supreme Court’s
recent decisions on the use of race in the college admission process, the debaters — Harvard Law Professor Randall Kennedy and journalist Stuart Taylor, Jr. — discussed both the constitutionality and the policy merits of college admission affirmative action programs. Kennedy, who spoke second, justified most college admission policies as effective and constitutionally sound, praising institutions’ constructive efforts to rectify a long era of racial discrimination across the nation. “Are we talking about racial oppression in ancient Carthage?”
Kennedy said. “No — we’re talking about a university system that excluded black people and Latino people within living memory.” Taylor, on the other hand, denied that the policy’s net effect on society has been beneficial, though he was careful to frame his argument by stating that affirmative action is constitutional. “I’m not a color-blind absolutist, like Justices (Antonin) Scalia and (Clarence) Thomas,” Taylor said. “I don’t think all racial preferences violate equal protection.” » See AFFIRMATIVE, page 5
Put in Putin?
Online learning resources like Canvas and Coursera expand U. web presence
Samantha Isman ’15 disputes the value of summer internships
Sukin ’16 critiques the decision to publish an editorial by Vladimir Putin
NEWS , 3
SENIOR STAFF WRITER
candidate could bring Brown to DC
If nominated by President Obama, Yellen ’67 would be the first female to chair the Federal Reserve By BRITTANY NIEVES SENIOR STAFF WRITER
With Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s term ending this January, Janet Yellen ’67, current vice chair of the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors, is widely considered the frontrunner to fill his seat. Many Democratic politicians, including Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., have encouraged President Obama to choose Yellen when he announces his nominee this fall. Yellen’s name has gained more currency since former Secretary of the Treasury Larry Summers — widely seen as Yellen’s chief rival – withdrew from consideration for the position. If named the Federal Reserve chair, Yellen would become both the first woman and the first Brown alum to hold the position.
A promising start Yellen started her pursuit of economics at Brown in 1963, graduating summa cum laude in 1967. “She was the star of the class,” said Jeff Koshel MA’67, who was a teaching assistant for one of Yellen’s economics classes. Yellen demonstrated prescient analysis in her writing for the course, Koshel said. “The argument (for one of her papers) is that if you had a currency area that would allow some country or geographic region to change its exchange rates, it could increase trade,” Koshel said. “At the time, I couldn’t quite get my head around it, but she wrote a very thoughtful, really theoretical paper, and 35 years later, everyone is talking about how if Greece had the ability to change its exchange rates, it could probably get out of its economic slump more easily than being tied to the Euro.” Yellen always went a step beyond the required work, Koshel said, adding that she would complete all the required questions on exams and then would proceed to discuss several other topics in the area. “It was kind of striking because it was something I never did on exams,” Koshel said. “I’d answer the question as best I could, but I never went beyond it. You really have to know a lot to put a question in context, and that’s what » See YELLEN, page 3 t o d ay
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7 P.M. Fall Career Fair
Capture the Flag: Civilians v.
Sayles Hall 12 P.M.
Safewalk, Pembroke Field 8 P.M.
Make Your Own Stress Ball
Athletes in Action — Prime Time
Ruth J. Simmons Quadrangle
Pembroke Field House
menu SHARPE REFECTORY
LUNCH Chicken Fingers with Dipping Sauces, Sweet Potato Fries, Beef Barley Soup, Caramel Apple Cupcakes
Chicken Egg Drop Soup, Cream of Broccoli Soup, Italian Marinated Chicken, Vegetarian Spinach Strudel
DINNER Stir-Fry Tofu Lo Mein, Ginger Snap Peas and Carrots, Tortellini Provencal, Cheese Ravioli Salad with Lemon
Chicken Egg Drop Soup, Chopped Sirloin with Mushroom Gravy, Pastito, Rosemary Polenta, Apple Cobbler
the institution and to engage with alums, Schlissel said. “Think how cool it would be ... 10 years from now — you’re off at your job, and one of your favorite professors is offering a Coursera course online,” he said, “and now in the evening you can do that for fun.” “Despite Coursera’s utility as an alum engagement tool, I do not think in the long run that Brown will aspire to have a very large presence on Coursera,” Schlissel said. Online education will function “as an adjunct to our teaching on campus” — not as a substitute for it, Schlissel said. “I think the centerpiece of a Brown education is the face-to-face interaction between a professor and students and the interaction of those students with one another. I think that there’s a place for online content to enhance that education, but I don’t think to substantially replace it.” Schlissel said online, for-credit courses broaden the opportunities available to students over the summer, allowing those doing internships or working summer jobs outside of Providence to take a Brown course simultaneously.
THE BROWN DAILY HERALD WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 18, 2013
For example, this past summer Elizabeth Taylor, senior lecturer in English and co-director of the Nonfiction Writing Program, taught the popular course ENGL 0180: “Introduction to Creative Nonfiction” as an online seminar. Dean of Continuing Education Karen Sibley MAT ’81 P’07 P’12 may take on a larger role in shaping online education efforts, Hemmasi said. Sibley has worked on developing a number of online programs, including Taylor’s summer seminar, which became Brown’s first-ever online, forcredit course. But Schlissel said he did not envision a time when students could fulfill graduation requirements primarily through online course offerings. “I would imagine we’ll continue to produce modest numbers of online courses targeted specifically at our own students for credit, but I don’t think that will ever become a predominant part of the Brown curriculum,” Schlissel said. Like Schlissel, Hemmasi said the next dean of the College could fill the advocacy role Bergeron has recently held. But Hemmasi said she was not worried about online education disappearing from the campus discourse in Bergeron’s
absence, adding that the topic is of interest to many Univesity faculty members and administrators. “I am a very strong advocate for online teaching and learning, as are actually a number of faculty on this campus who have been involved at some level of this kind of interaction for a long time,” Hemmasi said. Executive Director of the Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning Kathy Takayama, who was the University’s “point person for Coursera” and worked most closely with the three faculty members who taught courses on the platform this summer, will continue to play a prominent role in online education initiatives, Hemmasi said. Takayama and the Sheridan Center also led the development of ECON 1110: “Intermediate Microeconomics,” a blended course taught by Professor of Economics Pedro Dal Bo being piloted for the first time this semester, Hemmasi said. Traditional lectures are held Mondays and Fridays, while on Wednesdays students watch 10-minute “microlectures” online before attending a two-hour group problem solving session, Takayama said. But Sibley said while she intends to remain active in developing online education initiatives, she does not foresee herself taking on an advocacy role similar to Bergeron’s, suggesting instead that Schlissel would lead online projects. “The provost has been consistently the guidepost and person encouraging, along with the senior deans … the exploration of online content delivery,” Sibley said. “I feel like I’ve got really interesting responsibilities and opportunities to serve Brown from a different position than that of dean of the College.” “In terms of sort of the advocacy question … it’s the provost and the president at the most senior levels, thinking about what Brown needs to do in this sort of disruptive period in higher education, and I think that’s where you’ll see leadership,” Sibley said. Leadership from others across different areas of the University will follow suit, she added. Takayama similarly said her job is not to advocate in the same way as Bergeron has but to focus on the development of tools for online teaching and learning. She said her work focuses on “building greater capacity and potential” for undergraduate and graduate teaching initiatives. While Bergeron’s role as dean of the College and overseer of the undergraduate curriculum naturally lends itself to an advocacy role, that is not the place for the executive director of the Sheridan Center, Takayama said.
university news 3
THE BROWN DAILY HERALD WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 18, 2013
Profs explore U.’s online education offerings Faculty members experimented with online for-credit courses and platforms such as Coursera By EMILY PASSARELLI STAFF WRITER
Professors stepped out of the classroom and into computer screens this summer with a variety of online class offerings. Through the learning platforms Coursera and Canvas, the University explored different methods of online education. Brown professors taught Massive Open Online Courses, also known as MOOCs, to virtual audiences on Coursera, while Elizabeth Taylor, senior lecturer in English, piloted “Introduction to Creative Nonfiction” with a group of 17 students on Canvas as Brown’s first online for-credit course. MOOCs and small groups Coursera facilitates global learning by offering free classes for students interested in mastering a subject and for adults interested in continuing their education, according to its website. Coursera connects professors from top universities to an online system of learning to reach students from around the world. MOOCs have a similar structure to normal online classes, said Norian Caporale-Berkowitz ’12, a Coursera employee involved in Course Operations. Lectures for the week are released at specific times, and homework assignments have openings and due dates, he added. Philip Klein, professor of computer science, volunteered to teach a MOOC on linear algebra. But Susan Alcock, professor of archaeology and classics, and Arnold Weinstein, professor of
» YELLEN, from page 1 she did. I was always very impressed with her.” When Yellen attended Pembroke College the University’s fledgling economics department had only eight people, said Jim Hanson, an economics professor at Brown in 1964. Both professors and students of the 19631967 economics department said they remembered Yellen’s accomplishments in the classroom and the diligence with which she approached her work. “She was certainly the best undergraduate student I ever had,” said Hanson, who taught at Brown until 1980. While at Brown, Yellen developed a “lifelong passion for economics in general and macroeconomics and international finance in particular,” she wrote in an email to The Herald. Yellen credited University professors including Professor Emeritus of Economics George Borts and former professor Herschel Grossman for inspiring her as a student. Borts “brought the department from a little local school place to the national level,” said Hanson, who taught international finance at Brown in 1964 while Borts was on sabbatical. Grossman died in 2004. The University’s economics department has since become one of the top 20 economics departments in the country, according to a 2013 U.S. News and World Report ranking. “I consider myself particularly fortunate to have had the chance not only to teach economics myself but also to apply some of the economics I
comparative literature, were asked by the University to participate in Coursera. These professors “had especially great track records for teaching,” Dean of the College Katherine Bergeron said. Online learning was a new module, and “we wanted to allow them to experiment radically with their own teaching,” she said. “I tried to convey the 360 degrees of a Brown course,” Weinstein said. To demonstrate the conversation that usually occurs on campus, he gathered a small group of his previous students and taped discussions about the books he was teaching on Coursera. “Others were very impressed,” he said. Teaching through Coursera, Klein said he learned new ways of presenting the abstract concepts of linear algebra that allowed a more tangible understanding of the subject. Speaking to a smaller audience, Taylor facilitated her seminar-style non-fiction writing course by posting videos — usually shorter than five minutes — daily on Canvas. Designing Taylor’s course was “a daunting assignment, but something that we were really quite eager to do,” said Dean of Continuing Education Karen Sibley. Similar to the demands of a MOOC, the requirements of Taylor’s online class included assignments due on a weekly basis. Taylor said she was surprised to feel more linked to her students online than in the classroom. She hosted Google hangouts with them and was able to respond directly via email to comments. “It felt more intimate,” she said.
learned (at Brown) in the real world of monetary policy, international finance and financial regulation,” Yellen wrote in an email to The Herald. ‘A remarkable career’ When Yellen was a student, Hanson said he and his colleagues encouraged Yellen to pursue macroeconomics at Yale — a path she followed, ultimately receiving her PhD in New Haven. During her early career, Yellen taught at Harvard University and later became a professor emeritus at the University of California at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. Yellen’s professional path has included serving as chairwoman of President Bill Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers, as president and chief executive officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and currently as vice chair of the Federal Reserve. “She’s had a remarkable career, both establishing herself as a highly respected academic and then moving into policy circles,” said John Kwoka ’67, currently a profesor of economics at Northeastern University. “That’s not a transition everybody makes or makes successfully, but she certainly has.” Yellen’s experience provides her with valued qualifications, both former colleagues and political commentators have said. “Janet Yellen is a very capable, all around macroeconomist,” said President Christina Paxson. Yellen’s work has focused on issues of income inequality and she has shown that she is attuned to issues of income distribution and price incentives, Paxson
Online conversations Collaboration and communication between international students allows education to be globalized and students to experience the different cultures of their peers, Coursera Co-founder Daphne Koller argued in an article published by CNN. After an assignment is posted, “the average response time is 22 minutes,” Caporale-Berkowitz said. “I had not anticipated how provocative and vigorous online discussion would be,” said Weinstein, who taught “The Fiction of Relationship.” “It was just amazing to me the way ideas took route.” Kathy Takayama, executive director of the Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning, said Weinstein’s and Alcock’s courses “were exemplars in the way online courses can really create community and bring global perspectives and depth and breadth.” Patrick Carey ’16, who took both Weinstein’s MOOC and Taylor’s Canvas course, said he enjoyed writing responses for each, and found it especially interesting to read responses from the international community through Weinstein’s course. Evelyn Sanchez ’14, who took Taylor’s course, said the biggest difference between learning online and in the classroom were the discussions. “You had to make every interaction you had meaningful,” she said. “It was the only way people got to know you, so everything we posted we tried harder to make better.” Online grading Due to the large population
said. “She has a good handle on the appropriate use of regulation to financial markets operating efficiently. She’s not left-wing or right-wing. She’s very centered in her approach, and I think that’s a good thing.” Yellen has a documented ability to predict the direction of the economy — a crucial skill for the Federal Reserve chair position, Kwoka said. According to a July 2013 Wall Street Journal article that “examined more than 700 predictions made between 2009 and 2012 in speeches and congressional testimony by 14 Fed policy makers,” Yellen’s ability to forecast the direction of the economy was the most accurate overall. “Yellen has the intellectual firepower, a deep understanding of the workings of the economy and an equally deep understanding of academic research on policy questions that the Fed has to implement,” Kwoka said. She also is independent from a “Wall Street that has steered us awry,” he said. Changing it up Summers’ decision to decline the potential nomination for Federal Reserve chair pushes the odds in Yellen’s favor, but President Obama may still decide on another candidate. National media sources including the New York Times and Wall Street Journal have reported Obama may be hesitant to capitulate to pressure by choosing Yellen. In the past two months, Obama has also floated the name of former Fed vice chair Don Kohn as another contender, though his odds of being selected are generally considered slim.
frequenting online courses, Coursera employs a system of peer grading for those assignments that cannot be checked electronically for correctness. “If you write one, you grade one,” Weinstein explained. Students grade their peers’ work on a zero-to-two scale based on a provided rubric, he added. A grade of “two” acknowledges distinction. Courses offered on Coursera will not be awarded credit at the University, Bergeron said. But students who took Taylor’s online course will receive the same amount of credit that they would if they took the same course during the semester. “The online course was as rigorous if not more rigorous,” Taylor said. Sanchez said she expected the online course to be easier than it would be in the classroom and was pleasantly surprised when it was not. “I learned how to manage my time,” she said, adding that it was harder to keep up with the work without scheduled hours to attend classes. The future of online learning Online learning is an experiment in which the University is searching to find better ways to “increase authentic responses from students in a class,” Bergeron said. But Carey said he did not complete Weinstein’s MOOC because of its lack of authenticity. “I lost interest because I wasn’t getting as much feedback,” he said, preferring Taylor’s class because of the greater amount of attention he had from his peers. He said that overall, he favored in-class discussion and the classroom model. Professors have already begun to
incorporate online modules into their Brown classrooms. In CSCI 0530: “Coding the Matrix: Linear Algebra through Computer Science Applications,” Klein plans to assign homework every day after lectures to test the material via an online system that provides immediate feedback. “By having students solve problems as soon after they are presented in class, I give them the opportunity to learn if their understanding is flawed,” he said. This semester, Associate Professor of Economics Pedro Dal Bo will experiment with a hybrid form of online learning on Canvas. “Every time you start thinking about the way you teach, you learn something,” he said. He converted the lecture section of ECON 1110: “Intermediate Microeconomics” this fall to include online videos that show him handwriting the material and include voice commentary. The idea is that by watching lectures online, class time can instead be devoted to problem solving with guided help. “It is important to have face-to-face interactions between the student and professor,” he said. Taylor said she found some online teaching tools, like discussion forums, more effective than the old-fashioned classroom methods and would like to create “hybrid” classes during the academic year. If a class was offered Tuesdays and Thursdays, she would teach Tuesday classes online and Thursday classes in person. Online education is important to explore, because it may offer better methods of learning material, Bergeron said. “We are a university, so we should be open to learning.”
Meanwhile, Yellen maintains high approval among economists at large, specifically with progressives and women’s groups. Yellen also has the support of people closer to home.
“As president of Brown I would be thrilled to have a Brown alumna in that position, and as a woman economist I would be thrilled to have a woman in that job,” Paxson said. “It would all make me very happy.”
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THE BROWN DAILY HERALD WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 18, 2013
» FOOTBALL, from page 1
Powering the defense
Richardson ’16 — will plug the interior defensive line. The duo saw considerable action last season, racking up 22 tackles and four sacks. Defensive line coach Neil McGrath P’12 pushes his units to the top of the league every year, partly because of his technique of rotating several players into the game. This technique develops young players and “builds camaraderie” on the line, Yules said. The second rotation on the line will feature Donald Sproal ’14, Zach Sparber ’15, Ryan Davenport ’15 and Jacob Walther ’16. Opponents will likely find little relief in the second tier of the defense, headed up by All-Ivy selection Ade Oyalowo ’14. A versatile weapon on the outside, Oyalowo ranks third on the team in both tackles and interceptions. “He is probably one of the most remarkable players I’ve ever seen,” Yules said. “He hits harder than anyone, and he runs around so fast sometimes you are worried he is going to hurt someone.” Roaming opposite Oyalowo at outside linebacker is Zach Lattrell ’14. The task of replacing last season’s All-Ivy team captain Stephen Zambetti ’13 at inside linebacker will fall to Daniel Giovacchini ’15 — a returning starter whom Yules described as an “animal” — and Xavior Russo ’15. Head Coach Phil Estes said the
Here are a few of Brown’s players expected to be integral to the team’s pursuit of an Ivy League title this year.
#96: Michael Yules ’14 (DE) The defensive end returns to lead the line after he stuffed opposing ball carriers in the backfield 15 times last season. Yules captains a group of new faces on the defensive front.
#39: Ade Oyalowo ’14 (OLB) Oyalowo earned All-Ivy honors after making 65 tackles and grabbing two interceptions last season. The outside linebacker's combination of strength and speed will give opposing offenses fits.
#1: Emory Polley ’14 (CB) The returning corner will be asked to shut down the top receivers in the Ivy League, but his four interceptions and league-leading 11 deflections last season show that he is up to the task.
#48: Daniel Giovacchini ’15 (ILB) The returning starter will control the crucial middle linebacker spot. He made 61 tackles as a sophomore last season.
Background image courtesy of Tomek Rakowski; Text by Caleb Miller / Herald
second line of the defense may be young, but its members are “experienced and talented.” “I feel very confident in our linebackers,” he said. While All-Ivy defensive back A.J. Cruz ’13 left some big shoes to fill,
Emory Polley ’14 appears primed to step right in. Polley intercepted four passes last season and tallied 11 defections, leading the Ivy League. “The biggest thing that we have to do is replace Cruz at the corner spot, and Emory Polley is as good as any
GREG JORDAN-DETAMORE / HERALD
corner in the league,” Estes said. While Polley locks down the opponent’s top receiver, Jay Davis ’15 and Jacob Supron ’15 are competing for the second corner spot. Eric Armagost ’15 will start at the safety position. Even with last season’s success,
Yules said the bar is set higher this season. “This defense’s goal is to be the best that we’ve ever had,” he said. “Last year’s defense was outstanding … the expectation is to pick up right where we left off.”
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» PARTNERSHIP, from page 8 between institutions. Undergraduates are also allowed to make use of CoresRI.org if sponsored by a faculty member, and some of the cores at Brown are designed particularly with teaching in mind, Snyder added. Currently, the main focus of CoresRI. org is to keep the website up-to-date, Swiatek told the Herald. Future plans include making the site easier to navigate in terms of scheduling and pricing, Snyder said, adding that
» AFFIRMATIVE, from page 1 Citing numerous studies to support his criticism, Taylor argued affirmative action injures rather than aids minority students, citing social costs like minority students’ intellectual demoralization and lack of self-confidence. “Racial preferences paper over the underlying problem,” Taylor said. Kennedy, who spoke vivaciously and often in personal terms, drew a line between “invidious” racial discrimination, which he categorized as unconstitutional, and forms of racial discrimination meant to increase diversity and mend the harms caused by long-term segregation. “I don’t think the Constitution of the United States, properly interpreted, poses any problem for affirmative action
science & research 5 a calendar of equipment and lab service availability as well as price listings for various cores are among upcoming upgrades. Snyder said he hopes the favorable rates offered by CoresRI.org will attract new biotechnology companies and drive economic development in Rhode Island. “This eventually should be a full public-private partnership, and I would love to see us grow the Knowledge District close to Brown and the hospital by bringing in biotech companies to use our cores,” he said.
as it is characteristically deployed in the United States right now,” Kennedy said. Almost 300 spectators listened as Taylor and Kennedy sparred. After the debate, audience members posed questions to the two lecturers. “We’re talking about university admissions here,” said Haakim Nainar ’14, the executive director of the Janus Forum, in an interview with The Herald. “Even though the decision affected other universities, Brown has an interest in what’s going on, and I think Brown students in particular have an interest in what’s going on.” Visiting Professor Steven Calabresi, who helped arrange the debate, introduced the two speakers with a tribute to the Constitution and its writers, praising its influence as one of the first successful written constitutions in the world.
» SLEEP, from page 8 anxiety and eating as well as the relationship between weight and sleep. This year, Carskadon is also looking at the relationship between genetics, epigenetics and sleep, she said. Carskadon said she is considering the possibility there exist genetic cues to a person’s resilience or vulnerability following major life changes “in the context of sleep.” She said she plans to analyze the data from the past five years following the conclusion of this stage of the study. Her findings may help explain the influence sleep plays in a person’s daily life and may point to the broader life effects of sleep cycle changes during a student’s first year of college. “I’m going to bed later and waking up later,” said Caitlin Richard
’17, noting that the fact that classes start later in college than in high school has pushed back her sleeping schedule. She added that her sleep habits are also affected by her dorm’s noisiness. “I have ear plugs and a noise machine and a face mask,” she said. “I can never really sleep with other people in the room.” Meryl Charleston ’17 also said she has had difficulty dealing with the greater amount of ambient noise. “The noise is really different from what I’m used to at home,” Charleston said. “People in my dorm stay up routinely until 3 (a.m.).” She said she slept less than five hours each night this weekend. Lack of sleep “really shortens my attention span and stresses me out,” she said. But Stefania Gomez ’17 said she
has not been suffering from sleep deprivation. “Today, I didn’t have class until 1 (p.m.). I can make up a lot of sleep during the week unlike during high school,” Gomez said. She added that she prefers working on homework late at night. Because she stays out late more frequently than in high school, Gomez said her homework schedule is much later. Carskadon’s research, which will likely conclude at the end of this year, may shed light on the broader effects of these sleep trends. She said she also hopes to follow up with previous participants in the study to see the way sleeping has influenced them since their first year of college. “It’s a big project, and it’s been wonderful,” she said. “We get good science out of it, but we also have fun doing it.”
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College rankings promote flawed systems This past week, the U.S. News and World Report released its annual ranking of colleges — though as usual, little change is discernible between this edition and the last. The usual big players top the lists, with Princeton, Harvard and Yale leading the national universities, and Williams College, Amherst College and Swarthmore College heading the liberal arts colleges. These rankings do offer important guidance to high school students in their college search — a kind of starting point to narrow down the hundreds of undergraduate possibilities. But the hierarchy the rankings offer is problematic in itself, in terms of the methodology it uses and perpetuates. The methodology the rankings employ is fundamentally flawed, particularly in its insistent focus upon selectivity and measures of incoming classes and superfluous spending. The rankings depend heavily upon high school class standing and test scores of incoming freshmen, variables which may indeed reflect the inherent intelligence of admitted students, but which fail to give any sort of picture of the institution itself. In fact, these factors reflect, more than anything, the wealth and background of an incoming class. Instead, the report should look at factors more able to capture the quality of a student’s experience at said college, such as professor quality, classroom size, student happiness, research opportunities or any number of other potential possibilities. In addition, U.S. News fails to take postgraduation job placement into account, a factor that certainly should be considered when ranking these schools. The rankings’ heavy dependence upon these and other factors encourage cheating by these schools in order to raise their rankings and hopefully increase the amount of applications they receive. In 2012, Claremont McKenna College announced it had been reporting falsely high SAT scores since 2005. Other schools such as the U.S. Naval Academy and Clemson University have also been discovered falsifying their numbers in recent years. U.S. News fails to account for the fact that not only are the factors upon which it bases its rankings inadequate, but also that they are open to corruption and exploitation. This is not to say that college rankings have no purpose in the college search. Indeed, they can offer a jumping-off point for students to learn more about a school’s selectivity, test score range and other admissionsrelated qualities. But to market these rankings as holistic assessments upon which one can base their conception of a school is pure fabrication. Editorials are written by The Herald’s editorial page board: its editor, Rachel Occhiogrosso, and its members, Daniel Jeon, Hannah Loewentheil and Thomas Nath. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Sunday, September 22 @ 2:30 p.m. 195 Angell St. (between Thayer and Brook) CORRECTION An editorial in Monday’s Herald (“The rise of the university-industrial complex,” Sept. 16) incorrectly labeled former Associate Professor of Medicine David Kern as a former University employee. Kern, a former clinical faculty member, was employed and fired by Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island, an institution that is affiliated with but distinct from the Alpert Medical School. The Herald regrets the error.
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“It would all make me very happy.” — President Christina Paxson See nomination, page 1. Editorial Leadership
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THE BROWN DAILY HERALD WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 18, 2013
Why a summer internship isn’t worth it SAMANTHA ISMAN opinions columnist
Every year it’s the same story. Midway through spring semester, we all start frantically visiting CareerLAB and applying for as many internships as we can. We dream big because we are told the bigger the name, the better it will look on our resumes. We hope to get internships at magazines, banks and large corporations. Most of the time, we apply for jobs hoping for one thing, but we don’t always find the results we expected when actually doing the work. Yet I’ve been wondering if we are looking at the right places to intern, or whether we should be interning at all. I am not advocating you sit around all summer watching TV, but at the same time, I believe there are many productive and learning experiences to be had outside of an office. Recently, there has been buzz about the lawfulness of unpaid internships. Whether they constitute a new form of slavery or not, we are entering the workforce as unpaid interns willingly. In an op-ed for the New York Times, writer and commentator
Ross Perlin went even so far as to say young people need to be protected from “the miserly calculus of employers.” In an op-ed for the New York Times, Thomas Friedman suggests that “experience, rather than a degree, has become an important proxy for skill … and internships give you that experience.” Yet drawing from my own experience, I haven’t learned anything at an internship that I had not learned before in a class. Granted, I interned in Brazil where short-term internships are very uncommon. I have come to believe that many of us are better off skipping the internship experience and traveling the world or doing community service. Even if those options are not possibilities, working at a local deli or restaurant will provide a more valuable experience than an office job. These experiences are more likely to push you outside of your comfort zone and teach you how to deal with the real world than working at an office will. I worked for a large publishing company in Brazil because I wanted to learn about the process a book goes through from conception to publication. Though I did some basic editing work the first week I was there, the rest
of the time I was left to my own In an article for the New York devices— to do as I pleased be- Post, Naomi Schaefer Riley arcause there was nothing I could gued that unpaid internships in help with. The work I was given large companies do not guaranwas sporadic and, as soon as I tee us valuable knowledge that handed it in, the company’s em- will help us in future jobs. She ployees forgot I was there at all. I argued that we can learn more did a few odd jobs that took me from working at a local coffee no longer than shop or a sum10 to 20 minutes “All I really gained mer camp than and then read from working at from my summer a large company. the New Yorker for the rest of the These are likelier internship was time. teach you “how the ability to write to I wasn’t learnto act professiondown a big name ally and how to ing anything new. I did not end my on my resume and deal with difficult internship with a personalities.” feeling of accom- a recommendation As Riley noted, plishment or a many people who letter.” sense that it had went on to hold in any way advanced my knowl- important positions later on in edge of publishing. All I real- life did not intern at big name ly gained from my summer in- companies when they were still ternship was the ability to write in college. The valuable lessons down a big name on my resume weren’t learned from having to and get a recommendation letter. sit in a cubicle doing meaningSome would say that I gained less work but from actually makexactly what I was supposed to ing a difference in their places gain from the internship — net- of work and engaging with the working. Yet I, like Friedman, communities in which they were believe internships are supposed working. to teach us something a class I could have easily done the cannot. Regardless of the impor- work I did in my internship from tance of the company I worked my house. I could have easily for, I cannot say that I learned done it by choice. I didn’t need to valuable skills, except learning go to the office to read whatever how to keep myself busy. I wanted to read and spend my
month frustrated with the feeling of wasted time. I felt like I could have been doing so many other interesting things in the city: exploring, learning and traveling rather than going to work. But year after year, we still believe that the key to finding the best job after college is having a list of world-renowned companies on our resumes. And yet all I have learned after this year is that a better use of my time and ability does not involve a nine-to-five job in some skyscraper downtown — wherever that might be. I think we all need to either start changing our reasons for taking a job or better yet, simply changing the jobs we are going after. Because if I were to take another job similar to the one I did this past summer, I would do it knowing that it’s only for the name and not for the experience. A better use of my time, of the freedom given to me to learn whatever I want to learn, involves a hands-on experience. And, unfortunately, internships are simply not doing that. Sami Isman ’15 isn’t trying to burst your bubble. She just thinks we could all be doing what we really want to do with our time.
Putin’s propaganda LAUREN SUKIN opinions columnist
In an unprecedented move, Russian President Vladimir Putin has opted to reach out directly to the American public. The powerful Russian leader, forgoing traditional means of diplomacy, authored a column in the New York Times directly criticizing President Obama and America writ large regarding support for intervention in Syria. The fascinating thing about this outlet is how direct of an approach it is. It reflects a change in politics that’s characteristic of our generation: Individuals no longer accept the evening news and whatever their senators or congressmen tell them as the truth. Instead, people find their information on the Internet, formulating opinions in an inherently social process that relies more and more on the reactions and conversations of an Internet-literate society than on interactions with a more immediate, physical community. There’s no more Edward Murrow to tell you how to feel about the Soviet Union. That is, except for a select number of elite editors who manage the major online news sources in the United States. That
includes the New York Times, But first, did Putin even whose circulation — online and write the piece? According to a in print — was 1,865,318 in spokesman, the majority of the April. Of that number, 676,000 piece was, in fact, penned by Puare subscribers with only a digi- tin himself. The article, though, tal plan . was delivered to the New York Anyone with the power to in- Times by the Western public refluence that many individuals lations firm Ketchum, which has — and the countless others who worked to promote the interests read the online article for free — of Russia in America and globshould be critical of what gets ally. Putin isn’t the only Russian published and what gets with- leader to co-opt the Times as a held. Putin’s article is the perfect platform for his political mesexample. sage. The New York Times took Though on rare occasions care not to dilute the message, there have been acting world and the editor, Andrew Rosenleaders who have written op- thal, noted that the article uneds, such as the piece on Libya derwent almost no editing. Then authored by President Obama, again, the original piece was British Prime penned in RusMinister David sian, so some“In a way, Cameron and where along the Putin’s article is former President line an “amazof France Nicopropaganda, and ingly good translas Sarkozy, world lation,” as Rosenthe New York leaders usually thal called it, was Times actively let their interperformed. actions play out Former Sofacilitated the through political viet President distribution of it.” Mikhail moves. What PuGortin has done — bachev has writreach out to the American pub- ten several op-ed pieces for the lic — circumvents this process New York Times since 2000 and and instead tries to influence our has commented on major polipolitics and campaign for a par- cies in both countries, criticizing ticular action. In this case, it is both the U.S. government and avoiding action in Syria. Nor- the Russian government, even mally, newspapers would report taking specific jabs at Putin. on the campaign of a candidate, The New York Times does not let them write up campaign have a history, then, which messages in print. would seem to support the edi-
torial decision to include Putin’s piece in its op-ed section. If Gorbachev can write, why would Putin be any different? The answer, perhaps, lies in the fact that Gorbachev only began to write after his political role was relinquished, whereas Putin, of course, is still in power. That means that the articles have fundamentally different purposes. Gorbachev is reflecting on events and affairs from a position of little power, whereas Putin’s implicit threats are backed by a very real finger on a very real trigger. Putin’s statement has an innate political purpose. The discourse isn’t academic in nature, but rather a calculated move meant to stir public opposition to Syrian intervention. With a power that Gorbachev or any expolitician could never have, Putin has a slim but real chance of making an impact on American political opinion and perhaps on American political action. After all, American politicians can’t just put their opposition on trial for stealing timber — they have to win real votes and bow to the wishes of their constituents. In a way, Putin’s article is propaganda, and the New York Times actively facilitated its distribution. It is a government message — even if it isn’t our government — meant to influence public attitude by presenting only
a one-sided view of events. It is possible to argue that precisely because Putin was speaking to a technologically literate generation, a generation more likely than ever to read responses and reactions to Putin’s work, that his op-ed wasn’t truthfully onesided. That is, perhaps Putin’s piece lacked power precisely because publishing it in a newspaper and in an accessible online format makes it, in a way, just one of thousands of articles that can be read on Syria. But this argument has limitations. Even if an individual did read reactions and responses and Putin’s piece, few individuals could write a piece with the power to truly refute Putin. It makes sense for the New York Times to have published the piece. It created readership and controversy and was a unique opportunity for the publication. But this article is different from others. Giving a powerful world leader a private platform from which to speak directly to the public is a bold gift. Had the New York Times rejected the article, it could have been a chance for them to commit to their views on Syria and to demonstrate the unity of America rather than to accelerate fractionalization. Lauren Sukin ’16 is a sophomore studying political science.
daily herald science & research THE BROWN
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 18, 2013
SCIENCE & RESEARCH ROUNDUP
BY KATE NUSSENBAUM, SCIENCE & RESEARCH EDITOR
Study reveals interaction of preeclampsia risk factors
JUSTINA LEE / HERALD
With current grants set to expire, members of the Class of 2017 may be the final group of students to participate in the sleep study. Students are asked to keep a sleep diary and report to the lab for six-hour sleep sessions.
Sleep study likely to end due to lack of funding The five-year study investigates how major life events affect college sleep patterns By MARGARET NICKENS STAFF WRITER
For the past five years, Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior Mary Carskadon has been watching students sleep. Carskadon has been observing first-year sleeping habits to study the way changes in sleeping patterns during the college transition influence students’ lives. Members of the class of 2017 will be the study’s final participants unless her lab receives additional grants, Carskadon said. Leaving home to attend college “opens the potential for vulnerability or resilience, and we think that sleep
may play a role in how things play out after this major life event,” Carskadon said. She said she became interested in the relationship between sleep and resilience after reading a paper about rats with abnormal sleeping schedules. Between 280 and 300 first-years participate in the sleep study each year — by the end of this semester, there will be around 1,200 students in the sample, Carskadon said. The lab refers to this six-hour testing phase as “Spit Night.” This year, it will be held Nov. 1 and 2. Students participating in the study come into the lab around the time they would normally fall asleep, but instead of sleeping, they stay up to spit. “We’re looking for when the brain says, ‘Aha, it’s night time,’ and we know that when it starts producing melatonin,” Carskadon said. Her lab has found a relationship between a person’s sleep schedule and his or
her melatonin signal. This finding is detailed in a study currently under review. Students may also opt to sleep at Butler Hospital’s sleep lab for two nights. Prior to their visit, participants must wear an actigraph, a device worn like a watch that measures activity levels, for a week, wrote Clare Kim ’15, who participated in the study as a firstyear, in an email to The Herald. She wrote she had to check in each night to demonstrate she was maintaining a regular sleep schedule. “You couldn’t take naps, which was horrible because it was spring break,” she wrote. “And you weren’t allowed to sleep anywhere but your own bed.” Carskadon cannot discuss the specifics of the lab’s findings because she does not want to influence current participants in the study, but she did note they are looking at sleep, mood, » See SLEEP, page 5
Statewide partnership connects science resources Cores RI app expands access to laboratory equipment among member institutions By ASHNA MUKHI CONTRIBUTING WRITER
A newly launched website, CoresRI. org, connects scientists to hundreds of research resources across Rhode Island. The website serves as a portal to core research facilities and services in academic and medical institutions all over the state, said Pamela Swiatek, director of research operations in the Division of Biology and Medicine. These “cores” are laboratory services or large equipment that researchers need, but are often too expensive or laborintensive for individual labs to manage. A researcher searching for access to a piece of laboratory equipment, such as “a genome sequencer or an nMRI instrument,” can visit the website and “find all the information about the instrument they are looking for, as well as contact information for it,” said Jaime Combariza, executive director at the Center for Computing and Visualization.
Researchers simply have to pay a fee to use the cores. These funds are then allocated to the personnel working at the participating laboratory facilities and are also used to upgrade and replace the cores. Researchers from outside of Rhode Island pay higher fees, said Assistant Professor of Neuroscience Kevin Bath. Institutions have been making investment decisions on their own for decades without consulting each other. But the partnerships that have formed as a result of CoresRI.org will allow for a more economic and efficient approach to scientific research, said Peter Snyder, senior vice president and chief research officer for the Lifespan health system and professor of neurology in the Alpert Medical School. “We’re at a point in time with research funding being what it is at the national level that we have to be very careful about what we spend money on,” Snyder said. To stay competitive, institutions still need to support their researchers internally, but “the silver lining in the current fiscal climate for research is that it’s forcing its institutions like ours to work a little bit more closely together,” he added. Bath mentioned that such a system
has been needed for a while. “The website makes everything much more clear and accessible,” he said. “We can now generate data based on our collaborations.” According to the website, CoresRI. org consists of 12 partner institutions: Brown, Lifespan, Care New England, the University of Rhode Island, the Providence VA Medical Center, the Rhode Island School of Design, Providence College, Bryant University, Community College of Rhode Island, Rhode Island College, Salve Regina University and Roger Williams University. The website also works closely with the Center for Computing and Visualization, which provides the “computational power to analyze the data” collected from the cores, Combariza said. “We have the applications, we have some expertise on that, and then we have the complete power to do the analysis,” he said. Though similar resource-sharing programs exist in Illinois and Michigan, CoresRI.org is the most integrated system of its kind, Bath said. Snyder said one would be “hardpressed” to find another example of such extensive state-wide collaboration » See PARTNERSHIP, page 5
A research team including a Brown faculty member has discovered how two distinct risk factors may interact to lead to preeclampsia, a condition in which pregnant women experience high blood pressure and increased levels of protein in their urine that can pose a health risk for them and their babies. The research, which was published online in August and will run in the Journal of Reproductive Immunology, was led by Elizabeth Triche, assistant professor of epidemiology. Triche’s study examined how the two specific risk factors relate to expectant women’s immune responses to pregnancy, which scientists have thought may be responsible for preeclampsia, according to a University press release. Triche, along with collaborators at the University of Iowa, examined data provided by the Study of Pregnancy Hypertension in Iowa. Their study included data from over 200 pregnant women, more than half of whom developed preeclampsia. She and her team honed in on two risk factors — the amount of mothers’ vaginal exposure to fathers’ semen and the similarity between specific genes in parents’ and fetuses’ immune systems. The study found that women who had limited vaginal exposure to the father’s semen prior to pregnancy and parents whose specific immune system genes matched their fetuses were at higher risk for developing preeclampsia, according to the press release. Though these two risk factors had been examined individually, the cumulative effects had not been studied before. Even after accounting for other risk factors, Triche and her team found that women with both risk factors were over four times more likely to develop the condition. This study suggests that couples who may want to conceive down the road use non-barrier methods of birth control that will increase the likelihood of contact between the vagina and paternal semen, Triche said in the release.
Chemistry professor honored for contributions The American Chemical Society honored Richard Stratt, professor of chemistry, as one of 96 fellows for 2013 at the society’s meeting last week. Stratt was selected for his development of “theoretical methods that provide ways to understand and analyze the ultrafast dynamics of collisions, solvation and reaction in solution as well as his service to the public and the ACS,” according to a University press release. The fellows program began in 2009, according to the program’s website. “This is an honor bestowed on members for their outstanding accomplishments in scientific research, education and public service,” said Bassam Shakhashiri, former ACS president, in a society press release.
BRAIN project progresses The National Institutes of Health released an interim report Monday outlining key goals and a more detailed guiding plan for the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies Initiative. Professor of Neuroscience and Director of the Brown Institute for Brain Science John Donoghue PhD’79 P’09 P’12 MD’16 is among the 15 researchers spearheading the effort. The goal of the initiative is to fill in the “gap in our knowledge in understanding the brain,” Donoghue told The Herald last March, after he and other scientists released a proposal to President Obama detailing the project’s initial objectives. Obama announced the initiative in April, leading to the creation of a working group. This group will refine the initiative’s goals and develop a plan for carrying out research to achieve new objectives. The report identifies eight “high-priority” research goals, including the creation of “structural maps of the brain” and the linking of “neuronal activity to behavior.” “We are at a unique moment in the history of neuroscience — a moment when technological innovation has created possibilities for discoveries that could, cumulatively, lead to a revolution in our understanding of the brain,” the report’s authors wrote. The working group plans to finalize the report by June.