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The conversion of Pope Francis

Nancy Scheper-Hughes, anthropology professor | July 2, 2018

When Pope Francis arrives in Ireland this August to officiate at the Vatican’s triennial World Meeting of Families, the pontiff will be landing in a country that has changed almost beyond recognition over his lifetime. Jorge Mario Bergoglio, S.J, first visited Ireland in 1980 when Ireland was still one of the most observant Catholic countries in … Continue reading »

For the love of the local newspaper

John Temple, director of the Investigative Reporting Program at the Graduate School of Journalism | June 29, 2018

Regional publications do work that really matters to their communities. And local journalists know it in their bones. A fatal single-engine plane crash in a corn field was the first story I ever covered for a local newspaper, the Kalamazoo Gazette. Life and death. That’s the bread and butter of local newspapers. The obituaries are among … Continue reading »

MLK: an enduring and great teacher

john a. powell, director, Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society | April 4, 2018

This is cross-posted from the Haas Institute Blog of the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society. This week people all across the world are pausing to acknowledge the incredible life and the tragic death of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I always deliberately include the “Reverend” in his title as we … Continue reading »

Focus on the source of most satisfaction, not consumption

Clair Brown, Professor emerita of economics | March 27, 2018

Buying stuff can make you happy for a short time. But you will revert to needing another happiness boost by buying even more stuff. We can, however, replace the boom and bust of a consumption-driven search for satisfaction with lives that are more fulfilling and economically sustainable.

Facebook and the humanities: Pondering what would Oedipus do

Timothy Hampton, professor of French and comparative literature, director of the Doreen B. Townsend Center for the Humanities | March 21, 2018

No less disturbing than the recent news that the personal data of millions of Americans was culled from Facebook by the shady research firm Cambridge Analytica and provided to the Trump campaign, has been the behavior of the masters of Silicon Valley.  The CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, has so far been mostly silent. This … Continue reading »

Why doesn’t the American public use its power over the gun business?

Brian DeLay, Associate professor of history | March 7, 2018

As teenagers in Parkland, Florida, dressed for the funerals of their friends – the latest victims of a mass shooting in the U.S. – weary outrage poured forth on social media and in op-eds across the country. Once again, survivors, victims’ families and critics of U.S. gun laws demanded action to address the never-ending cycle of mass shootings and routine violence ravaging American … Continue reading »

Billy Graham’s missed opportunities

David Hollinger, professor emeritus of history | February 22, 2018

As one of world Christianity’s most admired leaders, the Rev. Billy Graham, who died on Wednesday at 99, had extraordinary opportunities to affect the character of the Christian religion and to pronounce on its implications for personal conduct. He scored at the top of lists of “most respected” Americans decade after decade. He was loved … Continue reading »

Nationalism and the future of higher education

John Douglass, senior research fellow, Center for Studies in Higher Education | November 20, 2017

(These remarks were delivered at the opening of a Nov. 16-17 conference observing the 60th anniversary of UC Berkeley’s Center for Studies in Higher Education, held in partnership with University World News, and exploring the influence of nationalism on major national universities around the world.) With varying levels of intensity, university are extensions of the … Continue reading »

Explaining Orthodox Jews’ growing support for the Trump presidency

David Henkin, professor of history | November 9, 2017

(This is cross-posted from the site, Public Books, where it appeared as the 24th installment of The Big Picture, a public symposium on what’s at stake in Trump’s America, co-organized by Public Books and NYU’s Institute for Public Knowledge.) Exit polls conducted during the 2016 election yielded a fact about the political allegiances of American Jews that … Continue reading »

Dogless Donald

Peter Sahlins, professor of history | October 31, 2017

Trump really missed his chance when he didn’t get a dog. He should have followed Jupiter, as Emmanuel Macron is called, when the newly elected French president formed his government over the summer, gave up the family dog and officially adopted a rescue animal from a local pound, First Dog Nemo, a Labrador Griffin cross. … Continue reading »

Summer of Love language: Still compelling after all these years

Geoffrey Nunberg, professor in the School of Information | October 11, 2017

If you’re into counterculture kitsch, you might want to check out the nostalgia-themed resort hotel at Walt Disney World in Florida. It features a “Hippy Dippy” swimming pool, surrounded by flower-shaped water jets, peace signs and giant letters that spell out “Peace, Man,” “Out of Sight” and “Can You Dig It?” Fifty years after the … Continue reading »

Coevolution of human and artificial intelligences

Edward Lee, professor of electrical engineering and computer science | September 18, 2017

Vladimir Putin, president of Russia, in an open lesson to more than a million schoolchildren on Sept. 1, said that “Whoever becomes the leader in [artificial intelligence] will become the ruler of the world.” Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, states that AI represents an existential threat to humanity and urges government regulation before it’s too late. Clearly, AI … Continue reading »

The false media focus on violence: If it bleeds it still leads

Jen Schradie, research fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse | September 7, 2017

On Sunday, August 27, in downtown Berkeley, I witnessed thousands of protesters raising their voices against a planned white supremacist “Patriot Prayer” rally. In my decades as a documentary filmmaker of activism and now an academic studying movements and media, it was one of the most positive, diverse and unifying gatherings I ever experienced. While … Continue reading »

Houston, we all have a problem

Kristina Hill, associate professor of landscape architecture and environmental planning | August 29, 2017

The problem Houston represents for all of us this week is that we don’t know enough about the impacts that localized, intense rainfall will have on cities.

How far we’ve come, yet still how far to go

Camille Crittenden, Deputy Director, CITRIS | August 26, 2017

A joint resolution of Congress in 1973 declared August 26 “Women’s Equality Day,” an annual commemoration of the passage of the 19th amendment granting women the right to vote. In retrospect, the official recognition seems remarkably progressive, considering only 3 percent of congressional seats were held by women at the time. The president gave his … Continue reading »

On statues, and what can and cannot be said

Andrew Shanken, professor of architecture | August 18, 2017

I’ve been loath to write about what’s happening with Confederate statues, but a few sleepless nights cured my diffidence. As an architectural historian who works on memorials and has dabbled in the history of historic preservation, I’ve vacillated over the years between a Ruskinian position (“let it moulder”) and a Rieglian position, trying to establish … Continue reading »

Losing the past or changing the future? Archaeologists and modern monuments

Rosemary Joyce, professor of anthropology | August 16, 2017

As images of white supremacists rallying to protest the planned removal of monuments to the confederate past filled the news, some people on social media began to argue that archaeology– my discipline, my profession— should oppose the destruction of these things. The argument goes that archaeologists have a responsibility to oppose any destruction of potential … Continue reading »

Sincerely, Niccolo Machiavelli: an open letter to Donald Trump

Peter Sahlins, professor of history | February 26, 2017

“I must commend you on your masterful victory over your opponents. But some of my lessons you’ve failed to learn.” So wrote Liam Frölund, a freshman at Berkeley, using Machiavelli’s voice and texts, in a masterly fulfillment of his class assignment, published last week in Salon Magazine. I’ve been teaching History 5, “Western Civilization Since … Continue reading »