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A Visit to the Hilltop

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I had a great time last weekend at the closing dinner of Hoya Saxa weekend, an event offered to admitted first year students of color. The multiday activity is organized by the Center for Multicultural Equity and Access, as one of the efforts to recruit talented students to Georgetown.

Coming into the final dinner allowed me to observe how the seventy or so prospective Hoyas had already built bonds among themselves. They had shared the experience of bunking in dormitory rooms (often in sleeping bags), of getting a taste of Georgetown classes, of visiting some of the attractions of the nation’s capital, and of going to a variety of social events.

At each table there was a current student and a faculty/staff member. I sat at a table of six of the admittees. At our table, we talked about what they were interested in studying (a wide diversity from pre-med to philosophy), how they reacted to Washington (the West Coasters feeling a faster pace, maybe a hint of less friendliness), and how they were thinking through their decision before the May 1 deadline (some anxiety, some quiet thought, others proudly and happily noting they had committed to Georgetown).

I learned that the logistical challenges of getting scores of high school seniors from their hometown to Georgetown were daunting. Some of the students were rookie travelers; many at my table had never been to DC. Each of the students was housed at Georgetown, through the generosity of current students sharing their dormitory rooms. Recruiting the student hosts was its own task. There were group activities and buses to be coordinated; there were meals and social events to be planned. It was clear that the CMEA organizers had bonded with the group; they were the rock stars in the room.

I was proud to be part of a university with such giving staff. To my mind, they communicated perfectly the distinctive character of Georgetown.

There was a delicate balance required in communicating the attractive features of Georgetown without creating a “hard sell” that might fail to acknowledge the unique needs of each student. I was happy to hear several speakers, in different ways, communicate that, while they wanted the admittees to come to Georgetown, they also knew that it has to “feel” right to the person. Did it seem like the place where they could grow into the person they were capable of being? Did they feel comfortable or did they imagine they could become comfortable?

After an energetic game of Georgetown trivia, I left the dinner not really knowing how many of my table mates would eventually decide to come to Georgetown. But I got a glimpse of how valuable the weekend might be for the students. Seeing your potential classmates, who share some of your own traits, offers a great way to “try on” the university to see if it fits you. It would be interesting to talk to them after May 1, to get a sense of how they weighed their options and what role Hoya Saxa weekend played in their decision.

Refugees, Migrants, and Us

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A recent gathering of alumni at the John Carroll weekend was the locus of several sessions led by Georgetown faculty and other experts concerning events in the world today.

One of the most meaningful to me was a briefing on the migration of millions of refugees and migrants from Africa and the Middle East to Europe, seeking a better life.

The panel consisted of experts from a variety of institutions attempting to serve the needs of the displaced people and to discern and address the underlying causes of their movement from their homes.

The session began with a video portraying the treacherous passage across the Mediterranean to Europe, the meeting of their boats by officials, medical examinations given to them, the administrative processing of refugees, and their entry into camps for temporary (or longer) stays. The images of children with fear on their faces were the most poignant.

Ironically, the session was occurring at the same time as Pope Francis was visiting the island of Lesbos, to meet with refugees and listen to their stories.

The discussion at the session focused on public reaction to the refugees stimulated by the Paris and Brussels events. The linkage in the minds of many between the immigration and the destruction and deaths that occurred has led to widespread fear of the immigrants. No one knows, we hear in the media, how many of the refugees might want to harm those in Europe. Given the ignorance, all are feared.

There was some discussion of the camps in the Middle East where now children are being born to adults who themselves were born in the camps. The camps are clearly not temporary phenomena. For those small countries, the additional refugees from Syria posed more fundamental problems.

The dominant belief among the panelists was that the numbers of immigrants did not themselves pose a “crisis” for Europe. Some panelists asserted that the events did, however, require of leaders active management and coordination of services. This, in their opinion, was currently inadequate.

At the end of the panel presentations, the first question from the audience, from a European alumna, was “What can I do as an individual, to help?”

The first answer was to do everything possible to meet the people enduring the refugee experience. Turn the phenomenon away from an abstraction of masses of unknowns seeking entry into one’s country, to real people facing intolerable situations in their homes and fleeing for safety and welfare. Know them as people, learn their stories. Through that, the panelist was arguing, the natural tendency of welcoming can emerge as a balance to uncertainty and fear about terrorism.

After that, several other European alumni noted that they themselves were meeting with refugees, to help in any way their station in life permitted. It had allowed them to see the refugees as individuals, each with their own dignity.

It was notable, I thought, that as the panel was meeting, Pope Francis was preparing to bring into his protection and care a set of refugees on Lesbos.

It started me wondering about what I could do, what we could do, at Georgetown to be helpful to the world at this moment of massive displacement of people.

Four Years, Eight Semesters

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Most undergraduates at Georgetown complete their baccalaureate experience in four years, completing two semesters of courses each year.

An interesting change seems to be occurring at Georgetown over the years. The percentage of seniors who are taking a reduced load in their eighth and last semester is increasing, from roughly 15% five years ago to almost 30% now.

One of the schools asks students to specify why they are reducing their course load in the last semester. The most popular answers are that they want to have more time for an internship in the spring of senior year, they look forward to a reduced tuition burden, they want to concentrate on their senior thesis, and that they want to enjoy nonacademic, extracurricular activities.

Analysis shows other attributes related to a reduced load – students with more “advanced credits” (i.e., transferred credits from AP exam performance or International Baccalaureate experience) tend to take reduced load, students who are not on financial aid tend to take a reduced load, and students with higher GPA’s tend to take a reduced load.

However, it seems likely that the four-year baccalaureate curriculum was not planned to incorporate a reduced load for the senior year spring term.

One wonders whether Gerogetown might serve its undergraduates more effectively if a “reimagined eighth term” were designed more purposively. In addition to finishing requirements, could the eighth semester be a set of experiences that synthesize all the activities of the prior four years, to provide some thoughtful guidance about their implications for life direction? Are there a set of courses that could be mounted to bridge the gap between the exciting intellectual exchanges that are routine on a university campus and the day-to-day work life of most graduates? Could there be a more formal treatment of the leadership and group interaction experiences common to extracurricular activities? Could there be more opportunities for reflection and synthesis to help students make sense of the totality of their four years? Could there be a set of multidisciplinary, team-taught courses, rich in experiential learning that focus on key issues facing society, with a more practical bend? Would the eighth term be a good locus for a set of bridge courses to work life – skills needed for being part of a work organization like reading and developing budgets, web-based coding and analytics, working with diverse groups, preparation for graduate and professional school examinations, design-based thinking techniques, proposal writing, etc.? Could it be a context for connecting graduating seniors and young alumni, making that boundary more porous?

Indeed, could the “design” of the eighth term be a formal part of each student’s planning responsibility? Could it be a challenge to them to personalize their learning experience, to fit the eighth term to their past academic and work experiences, and to propel them forward as a more fully-formed adult?

If we conceptualize the eighth and final term as not just “finishing up” but the bridging step of a graduate (looking back and looking forward), how could we enrich it?

Academic Rituals and Community

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Universities, especially those founded long ago, have rituals. These events, repeated each year, often signify passages of one sort or another. They are sometimes highly orchestrated, with each action prescribed in a fixed order.

Some such events are designed to highlight individual accomplishments (e.g., commencements for graduates, teaching and research awards for faculty). Others are well-established invited lectures, for which luminaries convey messages to the university faculty, students, and staff.

Georgetown just experienced such an annual event – the Spring Convocation. At this event, those faculty and staff with 20 years or more of experience at Georgetown are honored with Vicennial Medals. New inductees into the 1789 Society, honoring our most generous benefactors, are presented. In addition, a major address reflecting on a life of learning is given.

This was a particularly wonderful event this year. I appreciated the opportunity to stop the deluge of day-to-day transactions that are part of modern life, to detach from the ever-present electronically communicated demands, and to take a few moments to remember why we do what we do.

For the vicennial medalists, a video is presented. The medalists tell their story of what Georgetown has meant to them. These comments often mention the strength of bonds with colleagues, the appreciation toward mentors throughout their career, and the mission that motivates them. They comment on how much students have taught them over the years, how much pleasure they derive from the intellectual and spiritual growth they observe in students over time.

The 1789 society is a diverse group of individuals. Some have given back to Georgetown in appreciation of what they gained from the University as students. Others represent organizations or nation-state agencies that seek to help the University achieve its goals. Their generosity makes many important activities of the institution possible.

This year’s reflection by Professor Tom Beauchamp was a tour de force highlighting the value of multi-disciplinary collaboration in revolutionizing the ethical treatment of human subjects of research.

The juxtaposition of these two groups – faculty of long standing and benefactors of the institution – reminds one of the importance of sustaining a vibrant community for a university. Administrators come and go; students come and go; the faculty are the heart of a university. Those faculty who devote large portions of their career to one university are key to defining the culture of the institution. They pass on from cohort to cohort the meaning of the mission of the organization. They define norms of social interaction and collegiality.

The benefactors of a private university are its lifeblood. They supply the means by which faculty can enjoy an environment that supports their work. The combination of benefactors and faculty permits excellent teaching, deep scholarly work, and service to the social common good.

This ritualized event has meaning. Such gatherings of the “tribe” remind us all of the power of collectivity. They display the strength of the intellectual diversity of a university. They prompt attention to our dependence on the generosity of others. They force us to reflect on the value of time in the building of community, the very foundation of the work of Georgetown.

Privacy, Information, Policy

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One of the central issues of the coming years is whether the vast amounts of data being collected on human behavior will be used for good or evil.

Common good uses of social media, web-scraping, and consumer transaction data must address the issue of how to prevent the uses of said data from leading to abuses. How can people have rest assured that data retrieved about them will not be used to harm them?

It’s common to observe that digital technologies are morphing at speeds faster than any regulation governing them can match. Laws protecting personal data seem naïve when reviewed in the context of what we know about technological capacities. Those who wrote the HIPAA regulation were well-intentioned in setting up rules to prevent reidentification of personal medical data by stripping off identifiers from the records. However, it’s fairly easy to demonstrate that removal of those data fail to assure that outcome. Research into reidentification has researchers assuming the role of an “intruder” to identify a person in a data set that is omitting obvious personal identifiers. The typical finding undermines any belief in the possibility of achieving “anonmyzied” data.

This area seems to be ripe for interdisciplinary work. There are multiple, albeit loosely connected efforts going on in different fields.

Computer scientists have been developing the idea of “differential privacy” as an antidote to undesired disclosure of the identity of someone in a record base when statistical analyses are mounted. The approach increases statistical uncertainty of information extracted from the data. The most beneficial advantage is that once certain parameters are set, the holder of a data set can know the level of risk incurred by revealing attributes of individual records. It formally acknowledges that repeated queries from the same data increases the risk of identification. But from computer science alone, there is no guidance on what level of risk is appropriate to incur.

Other computer scientists are creating working production systems where multiple data sets are combined for purposes of joint analysis but no linked product can ever be extracted. This is especially attractive when two data holders have no rights to access each other’s data, but share a desire for statistical products from a combination of the two data sets.

Statisticians have taken a different approach. Instead of altering the analysis outcome to protect privacy, they have used models to create “synthetic” data. The synthetic data sets are created to mimic the statistical properties of the real data set. That is, the averages of all variables in the real data are replicated in the synthetic data. Relationships among two variables are maintained, and so on. The synthetic data, although derived from real data describing real people, contains no data from those individuals. To improve the efficiency of analysis and to measure greater uncertainty due to its synthetic nature, often many synthetic data sets are created from the same real data set. However, this technique faces issues of how similar a synthetic data record can be to a real data record before the method has indeed revealed an individual.

Legal scholars and practicing lawyers are inventing regulatory frameworks that protect the privacy of individuals whose records lie in data sets, but also permits the extraction of information from analysis of the records.

Finally, some philosophers are taking on the issue of articulating principles of data ethics. How should individuals whose records are held by them think through risks of disclosure and benefits of having access to data? How should researchers who wish to behave ethically approach issues of privacy of data they hold? Who possesses the right to control what analyses are conducted on data? What promises of privacy can be kept and which cannot be kept?

It seems that creating a group of computer scientists, statisticians, legal scholars, and philosophers – all thinking about the same issues, but each from a different perspective – might be a great vision, in order to make progress on the issues of privacy, information, and policy formation.

Working Alone; Working Together

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One of the interesting attributes of scholarly life that I’ve observed over time is the variety of ways disciplines conduct their scholarship.

Some scholars in the humanities work totally by themselves, creating new forms of literary products. Others toil alone in archives, gathering the information that allows them new descriptions and interpretations of past events. Those in the visual arts create objects often in solitary work. Others engage in deep reading of ancient texts, attempting to discern meaning and understand connections among different works. Scientists who focus on theory development often work at their desk, by themselves, discovering mechanisms that affect observable phenomena through analytic work.

At the same time, other fields work in teams of researchers, with each researcher assigned a role to design a project, conduct the inquiry, analyze the results, and disseminate the findings. Teams can be large (a 2015 article in experimental physics has over 5,000 authors); teams can be small. The teams often entail collaboration across disciplines. The focus of the team is often a problem that requires knowledge of multiple disciplines. Sometimes the problem is “solved” by creating an object or process; this is commonly the case in engineering. Sometimes the problem cannot really be “solved,” but the group work is focused on discovering ever more deeper insights into the issue.

Some of the “teaminess” of scholarship is dictated by the nature of observation or inquiry within the field. It’s difficult to be a solitary observational astronomer because of the need to collaborate on the use of very, very large facilities used to gather data on the nonearth entities. Large accelerators like CERN cannot be operated by a single investigator. Large scale social and economic surveys need teams of experts in statistical design, measurement, fieldwork logistics, analysis, and modeling. Drug discovery requires both basic lab work, but also the design of clinical trials, and clinician evaluation.

Those happiest in fields that require solitary scholarship seem to thrive in those times of quiet, individual work. Those happiest in fields that require teams seem to like the interchange of unlike minds.

A related attribute of team-oriented fields is that external funding is often needed to support the different people involved. Grants and contracts often involve competitive and peer-review processes. This implies that not all good ideas are pursued, but bad ideas (in the opinion of peers in the same field) are almost never pursued. These grants or contracts also often enforce a discipline of deadlines and schedules, which moves along the work. Unfunded solitary work is driven by the time and discipline of the individual scholars. They choose the project to pursue without censoring devices of peer review at the moment of inception of a project. Peer review comes heavily at the output stage of the scholarship.

For universities that want to integrate education and research, these different styles pose different challenges. Can research teams integrate students into their groups and offer valuable experiences? How can students best learn how to be a scholar in a field where scholarship is a solitary act?

Another interesting problem for academic campuses is how to evaluate the product of solitary scholars as well as team scholars. It is commonly the case that scholars working in teams produce more research products per unit of time. However, evaluating the contribution of each researcher in the team is more difficult than is true of solitary scholars. Generally, evaluations seek to find examples of leadership of the faculty member on some projects and non-leader contributions to others. Clever network analyses of faculty who are “magnets” for collaborations often identify some who offer a perspective of ubiquitous value to many fields (these are often technical). In a real sense, such team members make their colleagues better by their contribution of skills and techniques to help multiple disciplines. They need to be valued for this contribution, in my opinion.

For a university, the point of these observations is that different styles of scholarship contribute to the diversity of thought on university campuses. They should be honored and supported. Our evaluative processes need to be sensitive to these differences in order to preserve this diversity.

Pedagogical Innovation Made Real

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One of the hopes of the Designing the Future(s) Initiative was that the program might liberate faculty to mount courses in ways that made great pedagogical sense but did not fit the usual mold of a 3-credit, 15 week class, centered in a single school within Georgetown.

The Red House on 37th Street is used as the incubator for the ideas, and design assistants help to shape the ideas of the faculty into rigorous new practices. Since some of the courses truly span all schools, we needed to create new faculty academic review procedures to make sure perspectives from multiple schools were used in initial evaluation. Overall, we want to balance the need to get creative experiments into the system with an inclusive and deliberative process. The initial successes show how important wide faculty consultation assists experiments meant to flex our own model.

There are themes emerging in this work: enriching face-to-face interactions between students and faculty, maximizing experiential and research-based learning, combining theory and practice, fostering support for team-teaching and interdisciplinary collaboration.

All the work is now bearing fruit that offer new learning experiences for Georgetown students in the near term.

One example is a course that involves faculty from multiple departments on the main campus and multiple groups of the Medical Center. The course needs an interdisciplinary approach because multiple fields have contributed to the knowledge now viewed as key to understanding. The field in question is childhood, specifically children’s physical health, and cognitive, emotional, and behavioral development. These topics are covered with a keen interest in the interplay between these attributes of children and the social contexts in which they live, learn, and play. This is one example of scores of issues which have been studied from many different perspectives, each in itself focusing only on a part of the issues.

The design exposes undergraduate students across the university to this issues from multiple points of view–in both classroom and community (forcing students outside their comfort zone). The design lies outside the one-size fits all 15 week 3-credit course but retains a commitment to coherence and connection among the parts. It uses a set of 1-credit modules to give students flexibility in putting together an experience that links theory with practice with policy formation challenges.

A group of five faculty members coordinated the content of four one-credit modules. The first, “Principles of Challenges in Childhood and Society,” is required of all students. Those who desire only an introduction can take only that module. However, those who want a deeper exploration of the topic have three other modules (1-credit each) from which to choose. They are offered as four-week bundles, with 3-hour meeting blocks in each week. Some are mixes of multimedia-based learning and face-to-face interaction. One is a community-based learning module, with field placements in social service agencies, schools, and community-based organizations. Another is centered around a “hot topic” in the news related to children (e.g., cyber-bullying, school shootings), where students examine the existing research literature and attempt to apply theories to real events. Another is centered around policy issues, where students are asked to reflect on the real-world experiences they had in field placements or the Challenges course to prepare Congressional-style testimony or suggest a new set of policies improving child welfare.

Experiential learning, quick application of existing literatures to new events, exposure to multiple fields’ thinking on the same topic, theory and practice – all guided by talented, passionate faculty. This new structure and others like it hold great promise for Georgetown students. I am pleased to see it being offered next semester.

Making Interdisciplinarity Easier

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Almost all major research funding is moving away from single discipline support to support of interdisciplinarity. This arises, no doubt, partly from the observation that the major unsolved problems facing the world appear to be clusters of issues in multiple knowledge domains. For example, handling epidemics like Ebola requires not just understanding the biological and biochemical mechanism of disease transmission, but also the cultural norms that guide personal behaviors, the nature of the infrastructure for public health, the legitimacy of government organizations, and the belief systems of the population. Addressing income inequality is not just a matter of understanding wage and salary distributions, but also links between education and occupation, impacts of technology on needed skill mixes, and effects of globalization on enterprise location.

What are the key components of success that universities have discovered in sustaining interdisciplinarity? First, interdisciplinary teams are fueled by people who can navigate multiple domains of knowledge. Hence, throughout the campus Georgetown is attempting to build an environment in which such education and research can take place. For the Graduate School, this means the mounting of new graduate programs educating students in new packages of knowledge that combine features of existing disciplines. For research activities, it means investing in clusters of faculty and students from different fields to work together on the same problem. The Georgetown Environment Initiative funds proposals for collaborators from multiple disciplines. The McCourt School Massive Data Institutes funds collaborators between computational sciences and the social sciences. The Designing the Future(s) experiments are creating new clusters of knowledge across fields and courses that promote interdisciplinary approaches. The Beeck Center brings together multidisciplinary teams to design and build sustainable processes for social good. The Law-Med-Main campuses are collaborating in funding new joint appointments across units.

Second, by definition, one can’t have interdisciplinarity without disciplines. Basic research and scholarship in the existing disciplines must continue to be supported.

Third, those faculty who seek to work in interdisciplinary teams need support. The work is not for all faculty, but those who choose to do it must be protected from the fact that universities are structured in ways counter to interdisciplinary work. Departments, fields, and schools are powerful organizations. They define reward systems for scholarship, even dictating what questions are most important to ask. They retain autonomy to judge the quality of work. They choose what form of output is desirable (e.g., books, articles, data resources, objects). In some sense, all interdisciplinary work threatens those discipline-based norms and value systems. Hence, universities have to put in place protections for the career advancement of those who do interdisciplinary work. We’ve redefined joint appointment criteria to assure that at promotion times, such candidates are treated fairly.

Fourth, similar protections need to be put in place for interdisciplinary educational degree programs, which are of increasing interest to students. Just like traditional departments delivering a curriculum, those programs need assurance that faculty interested in teaching in the programs can commit to teaching. We are constructing more formal multi-year agreements between their home units and the interdisciplinary programs. The agreements must be sensitive to the needs of the home unit (that will lose some of the activities of the faculty member) and the needs of the interdisciplinary group of interest to the faculty member. These agreements should give unit heads and the faculty more predictability.

The history of the academy teaches us over and over that interdisciplinary groupings mature into new fields. This is true of computer science, statistics, public policy, communication studies, and many others. Before they experience such maturation, however, they need special nurturance. The world’s problems are calling for our help; those who seek to solve them by combining knowledge from multiple domains need to be allowed to do so.

Reflection and Productivity

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A common refrain I hear at Georgetown in response to the greeting, “How are you doing?” is “Oh, I’m so far behind in my work; I’m overwhelmed.” I know this is also true at other campuses, but we certainly have the bug here.

I’ve written about this phenomenon among our undergraduate students before. A video they made about themselves mocks their tendency to be an officer in multiple clubs, have two internships at the same time, compete for scholarship prizes, and garner as many certifications of their capabilities as possible (e.g., multiple majors, minors, research placements).

The same fact applies among many academics because their passion for their scholarship provides endless and infinitely large goals for new projects. It’s easy to have many “irons in the fire” at the same time in various stages of completion. With that situation, deadlines can easily slip, and the guilt of being tardy is common.

Finally, Georgetown is in Washington, D.C., and shares some of the frenetic pace of national and international politics, the 24 hour news cycle, and event-driven attention. Not keeping up with the latest news alert, tweet, or Instagram posting of note can be viewed as a source of concern among one’s friends.

Of course, it doesn’t help that new technologies have given us the capability of knowing what’s happening throughout the world on a minute by minute basis, that the same technology is producing information for us to consume at volumes that exceed any one person’s capacity, and that the devices gradually addict us to near constant attention to them. (Walking across campus risks physical injury as passersby glue their faces to little screens instead of the path ahead of them.)

So, here we are, a Jesuit institution, with strong roots in the Ignatian tradition of contemplation in action, the allegiance to moments of reflection to review our actions, to assess them regarding our true selves and individual purposes, and to return to fulfilling our missions. How can we return to those roots for our own benefit?

It’s helpful that new science is showing the value of “mindfulness” and the value of consistent sleep patterns on well-being and productivity. There’s a similar message in those findings as in the Ignatian tradition of reflection. There are even iPhone apps that can be used to assist us.

We all seem to know in our hearts that a discipline of reflection would be good for us, but the day-to-day demands seem to shout with a louder voice. We are constantly busy but we sometimes lose why we are doing things.
It’s worth thinking about how we might integrate moments of reflection into our daily routines. I suspect they would allow us all to discern the important from the trivial, the work of lasting import from that with fleeting results.

Honoring Mid-career Excellence

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The life of an academic is unusual in its phases. Many tenure-line faculty have only two events in their life when their institutions visibly recognize their contributions to teaching, research, and service. The first is when they are successfully promoted from assistant professor to associate professor with tenure; the second is when they are promoted from associate professor to full professor. It is true that there are annual merit reviews and the ongoing feedback from their peers about their scholarly work (through accepted book manuscripts or articles).

When I arrived at Georgetown in 2012, it seemed that we were missing a meaningful way to honor associate professors who were excelling in the combination of teaching, research, and service. Last year we created the designation of “Provost Distinguished Associate Professor,” to be awarded to a small set of unusually successful associate professors. This was designed as an honorific title held for five years or until the honored associate professor is promoted to full professor.

We sought nominations from faculty and units from throughout the main campus. A strong set of nominations were forwarded to a group of University Professors (our most distinguished faculty) to review the accomplishments of the nominees. We selected four initial nominees. They are the following:

James Habyarimana, McCourt School of Public Policy

James Habyarimana joined the McCourt School Public Policy in 2004 after completing doctoral studies at Harvard University. His main research interests are in Development Economics and Political Economy. In particular he is interested in understanding the issues and constraints in health, education and the private sectors in developing countries. In health he is working on understanding the impact of policy responses to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa and evaluating a number of health improving interventions in road safety and water, sanitation and hygiene.

In education, his work focuses on identifying programs and policies to improve access and quality of secondary schooling. His primary regional focus is Africa.
He has been a non-resident fellow at the Center for Global Development. At the McCourt School, James teaches the second course in regression methods and courses on the history of development and education and health policy in developing countries.

Diana Kapiszewski, Department of Government

Diana Kapiszewski received her PhD in political science from UC Berkeley in 2007. Her research interests include public law, comparative politics, and research methods. Her first book, High Courts and Economic Governance in Argentina and Brazil (Cambridge University Press, 2012), which received the APSA Law and Courts Section’s C. Herman Pritchett Award, explores high court-elected branch interactions over economic policy in Argentina and Brazil in the post-transition period. Her current work examines judicial politics and the uses of law in Latin America. One project analyzes institutions of electoral governance and another investigates informal workers’ use of legal strategies in the region; each focuses specifically on Brazil and Mexico. She has also co-edited Consequential Courts: Judicial Roles in Global Perspective (Cambridge University Press, 2013).

In the area of research methods, Kapiszewski co-directs the Qualitative Data Repository and co-edits the new Cambridge University Press book series, Methods of Social Inquiry. In 2013 she was awarded the APSA Qualitative and Multi-Method Research section’s Mid-Career Achievement Award.

Shiloh Krupar, School of Foreign Service

Shiloh Krupar is a Geographer and an Associate Professor of Culture and Politics in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. Her teaching and research interests, which span geography, architecture, performance studies, the medical humanities, and environmental justice, have explored several interrelated areas: military landscapes, such as decommissioned military sites and nuclear facilities; model cities and urban-environmental projects in China; cities in aftermath and the impacts of environmental, juridical, and financial disasters on the urban environment; and, lastly, biomedicine, specifically environmental biomonitoring, medical hot spotting, and medical geographies of waste.

The recipient of a Quadrant Fellowship, her book Hot Spotter’s Report: Military Fables of Toxic Waste (University of Minnesota Press, 2013) explores the politics of nature conservation, environmental memory, contamination and compensation issues at decommissioned military sites in the western United States.

Her collaborative long-term art project “The National Toxic Land/Labor Conservation Service” (with Sarah Kanouse, University of Iowa) works at the intersection of art, research, and government policy to address the toxic afterlife of U.S. militarism and has been included in the Institute for Wishful Thinking (NYC, 2011), “Ecocultures” exhibition (George Mason University, 2011), Figure One Gallery (Champaign, IL, 2013), and is a Finalist in the traveling show “Monument to Cold War Victory” during 2014-16 (Cooper Union, NYC, October 2014; Wende Museum, Los Angeles, 2016).

Micah Sherr, Department of Computer Science

Micah Sherr is an associate professor and director of the Georgetown Institute for Information Assurance. His academic interests include privacy-preserving technologies, electronic voting, wiretap systems, and network security. He participated in two large-scale studies of electronic voting machine systems, and helped to disclose numerous architectural vulnerabilities in U.S. election systems. His current research examines the security properties of legally authorized wiretap (interception) systems and investigates methods for achieving scalable, high-performance anonymous routing.

Micah received his B.S.E., M.S.E., and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Pennsylvania. He is a recipient of the National Science Foundation CAREER award.

In addition to these faculty members, I also congratulate a group of associate professors in the McDonough School of Business who were recently awarded term chairs, also in recognition of their distinguished records:

Volodymr BabichLapeyre Family Term Associate Professorship
Jason BrennanRobert J. and Elizabeth Flanagan Family Term Associate Professorship
Victor JoseSonneborn Term Associate Professorship
Jason SchloezterSonneborn Term Associate Professorship
Debora Thompson, – Beyer Family Term Associate Professorship

Please join me in congratulating these mid-career colleagues for their accomplishments.

Office of the ProvostBox 571014 650 ICC37th and O Streets, N.W., Washington D.C. 20057Phone: (202) 687.6400Fax: (202)

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