I’m on Coursera! President Roth’s interview with me for this week’s lecture

Wesleyan President Roth interviewed me (and World Bank President Jim Kim) for this week’s Coursera lecture. The course is entitled “How to change the world” and this week’s lecture is on “Poverty and Development”.

You can find it here: https://class.coursera.org/changetheworld-001

There are clips of our interview in the first segments of his lecture.

How Academia Resembles a Drug Gang | Alexandre Afonso

From: How Academia Resembles a Drug Gang | Alexandre Afonso.

With a constant supply of new low-level drug sellers entering the market and ready to be exploited, drug lords can become increasingly rich without needing to distribute their wealth towards the bottom. You have an expanding mass of rank-and-file “outsiders” ready to forego income for future wealth, and a small core of “insiders”  securing incomes largely at the expense of the mass. We can call it a winner-take-all market.

 

The academic job market is structured in many respects like a drug gang, with an expanding mass of outsiders and a shrinking core  of insiders. Even if the probability that you might get shot in academia is relatively small (unless you mark student papers very harshly), one can observe similar dynamics.

Richard A. Elphick (History) Nominated for the Herskovits Award

Our very own Professor of History, Richard A. Elphick, has been nominated for the African Studies Association’s Melville J. Herskovits Award for his book, The Equality of Believers: Protestant Missionaries and the Racial Politics of South Africa (Charlottesville, and London: University of Virginia Press, 2012). The Award honors the most outstanding book published in African Studies in the previous year. The winner will be announced at the annual conference this weekend.

For more information: http://www.africanstudies.org/publications/asa-news/november-2013-56th-annual-meeting/276-2013-melville-j-herskovits-award-finalists

Campus Event: Africa in China

Colloquium – Su Zheng, Li Yinbei, Ma Chengcheng, Sun Yan

Exploring Music in China’s New African Diaspora—An Innovative U.S.-China Team Research Project

This Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Location: Freeman Center for East Asian Studies

Time: 4:15 p.m.

Since the 1990s, African traders and investors have made their way to China as a result of the rapid surge of China-Africa trade. There are now somewhere between 30,000 and 200,000 African migrants living in Guangzhou. Su Zheng led a research team of threegraduate students from Shanghai Conservatory to explore music in Guangzhou’s African communities. They will present their research on various African diasporic music scenes in Guangzhou and discuss the theoretical and methodological issues that arose in this innovative cross-cultural, cross-national team research process.

Su Zheng is associate professor of Music at Wesleyan University. LI Yinbei, MA Chengcheng, SUN Yan are graduate students in ethnomusicology from the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, China.

Thursday: “A Place at the Table” film about Hunger and Homelessness in the US

An event announcement from one of my students.

We are screening A Place at the Table, a documentary produced by the creators of Food, Inc., about food insecurity in the United States today.  It documents the experiences of three food insecure American families, while challenging the viewers to consider the options for ending American hunger for good.A place_table flyer

Workshop for Students Planning to Do Research

If you are a Wesleyan Student and are thinking about carrying out a research project involving interviewing or surveying other people (or carrying out experiments on them!) then this workshop will be useful for you.

IRB Poster

In the news: stories relevant to international environmental law

We are now moving on to International Environmental Law in our IL course. Here are some recent stories to get us thinking:

First, you may want to look at this projection of “what Earth will look like if we melt all the ice”. Florida is gone, amongst other changes.

Second, it is worth looking at the issue of fragmentation (and incoherence) in international environmental law. This is an important theme is this issue-area. Marc Benitah notes over at the International Economic Law and Policy Blog that the Faroe Islands are issuing simultaneous complaints under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and at the WTO. The WTO overlaps with a lot of other fora, so this is not entirely surprising. But the ramifications are important. One question I have is how small countries such as this can expect to have the resources to pursue such cases in multiple fora.

Finally, the West Coast is trying to do its own thing on the environment (again). This time California, Oregon and Washington are “joining” British Columbia to coordinate environmental policy. The Pacific Coast Action Plan on Climate and Energy is an attempt to deal with climate change at the sub-national level. While individual states in the US cannot pursue trade-related deals on their own, there is little in the constitution that prevents them from making these sorts of pacts. So it raises all sorts of interesting issues regarding sub-national attempts to create foreign policy (and international law) in the US.

In the news: chemical weapons, treaties, and privacy

Before my International Law class moves on to International Environmental Law, it is worth noting news from the last week that is relevant to topics we recently covered.

Bond v. United States
First, the Supreme Court heard arguments in Bond v. United States. This case should interest us for a number of reasons. One is that it deals with the ability of Congress to implement treaties using statutes that could potentially intrude on the sovereignty of individual states. This is being viewed as a contemporary version of Missouri v. Holland.

The other, very intriguing, issue is whether the Chemical Weapons Convention can apply to a conventional poisoning case. Essentially one woman poisoned another woman in Pennsylvania (for sleeping with her husband and getting impregnated). The case, which normally would be handled by local and state authorities, ended up becoming a federal case as violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention. Which on the face of it is a very odd interpretation of that treaty.

For more information, see:
        SCOTUSblog’s page on the case
        Articles in Opinio Juris by Peter Spiro and Marty Lederman
        Articles at Volokh Conspiracy

Privacy and Spying
Spying is all over the news. The US is, apparently, spying on just about everyone. Or, at least, that is what one must think after reading all of these stories. Over at Lawfare, Orin Kerr has a piece discussing whether U.S. law should protect the privacy of foreigners abroad. This is an interesting spin on the themes we have discussed in our class about the extraterritorial application of US law.

As for all of that spying on heads of states stuff, I must say I am shocked anyone is shocked. Hasn’t that always been the case? Isn’t that what we expect?