Inaugural Solomont Lecture, featuring U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi

On April 8, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) delivered the inaugural Solomont Lecture, part of the celebration of the 10-year anniversary of Tisch College.

Pelosi, who was the first-ever female Speaker of the House, reflected on her life and career in public service in a discussion with lecture namesake Alan Solomont, A70, U.S. ambassador to Spain and Andorra.

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$100K Business Plan Competition

The seventh annual $100K Business Plan Competition, sponsored by Tufts Gordon Institute, was held April 6 at the Aidekman Arts Center. The 11 business plan competition finalists pitched their business plans to a panel of judges. Six teams competed in the classic competition, and five in the social entrepreneurship competition. Teams included alumni, graduate and undergraduate students from AS&E and The Fletcher School.

We live-tweeted the presentations from the classic competition.

Congratulations to the winners!

  • Roof for Two in the classic competition
  • Sanergy in the social entrepreneurship competition

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The Inaugural Vannevar Bush Dean’s Medal Lecture: Richard Meserve, A66

On Apr. 4, Dr. Richard A. Meserve, A66, president of The Carnegie Institution, received the Vannevar Bush Dean’s Medal from the School of Engineering and spoke on “The Fukushima Nuclear Accident and Its Implications.”

Read a recap and watch video from the event.

We had hoped to tweet live from the event, but faced some technical difficulties. Nonetheless, we decided to post our reporting of the event here:

  • Today in Nelson Auditorium, Dr. Richard A. Meserve will be honored with the Bush Dean Medal.
  • He will also present “The Fukushima Accident and Its Implications,” a lecture on the recent nuclear power accident in Japan.
  • Meserve humbly accepts the award, and speaks to the audience about Vannevar Bush’s contributions to Tufts and society.
  • Bush is acknowledged to have been a visionary of the Internet.
  • Dr. Meserve: “If you were to envision a list of people who most influenced the 20th century, Bush would be on it.”
  • 30% of Japan’s electricity comes from nuclear power.
  • During the accident, Reactors 4,5 and 6 were luckily shut down for maintenance and inspection.
  • The sea was supposed to be the ultimate heat safe of the reactors.
  • The fission of Uranium produces an incredible amount of energy.
  • Even if you shut down the plant, reactors will continue to operate and release energy.
  • If you could convert leftover energy to electricity (you can’t), that electricity could power a whole city.
  • Dr. Meserve illustrates the components of a nuclear power plant through projected diagrams.
  • Dr. Meserve: “So, what happened?”
  • “The earthquake hit, and the nuclear reaction shut down. Ideally, the heat would have been absorbed.”
  • “But then the tsunami hit. It was 14 meters high.”
  • “The plant was designed to deal with a tsunami of 5.7 meters.”
  • There are still unknowns about what exactly happened.
  • “I have heard various inconsistencies.”
  • “We don’t know the whole story about the decision making.”
  • On a US reactor, there is a venting system which leads to a stack to release steam. We don’t know to what extent this was a part of Japan’s plan.
  • Now, Japan is dumping water on the reactors to cool them and prevent a hydrogen explosion.
  • This releases radioactive contamination into the environment.
  • “There’s a bit of mystery as to how this all happened.”
  • Dr. Meserve begins a discussion of the health effects of the radioactivity following the disaster.
  • While doses of those exposed in Japan, especially workers, are above NRC limits, acute deaths are not occurring.
  • Serious questions remain about how this disaster will be cleaned up.
  • “That will be an expensive task.”
  • “It is important to keep health effects in perspective.”
  • In the example of Chernobyl, thyroid cancer increased but other increases in cancer were not seen.
  • Dr. Meserve explains that in comparison with other cancers, thyroid cancer is more manageable.
  • He hopes that there will be serious lessons learned from the event such as how to handle extreme events, important safety measures for nuclear plants, etc.
  • Major nuclear construction projects are happening in China, Russia, India, South Korea and Japan.
  • The US is not currently pursuing construction due to economic problems.
  • Meserve does not expect that projects will altogether stop, but thinks that scientists and policymakers will learn from what happened in Japan.
  • He fears that the greater lesson of prioritizing preparation for extreme events will not be learned.
  • He identifies climate change and elevated seawater as central causes of an increase in natural disasters.
  • Meserve thanks the audience and opens the floor up to questions.
  • An audience member asks about the correct rules of engagement between public and private authorities in situations like Japan.
  • Meserve answers that there were grotesque failures of communication in this situation, and that communication is key to the disaster response.
  • Someone asks: “Is there any possibility of a nuclear explosion?”
  • Meserve: “[With regard to nuclear fission] It’s highly unlikely. You have to do some tricky things to make a nuclear weapon.”
  • An audience member wants to know: “Do you personally support nuclear power?”
  • Meserve responds affirmatively: “I do – but I am one of the few people who believe in climate change. You have to do it safely.”
  • Meserve compares the dangers of nuclear power with those of using coal for energy, which kills thousands of people.
  • Finally, he thanks the audience again and the conversation is moved to a reception area.

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Wikileaks and Beyond: Rebooting Public Diplomacy

On March 14, The Fletcher School hosted a panel discussion featuring Gavin MacFayden, director, Centre for Investigative Journalism and media partner of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. The event, “Wikileaks and Beyond: Rebooting Public Diplomacy,” was live-tweeted by Christine Shepherd, F11, via the Fletcher School Live twitter account.

Here’s the live-reporting recap of the event:

  • Christine Shepherd coming to you from @fletcherschool event “Wikileaks and Beyond”. #wikileaksandbeyond
  • Crocker Snow, director of Murrow Center’s opening remarks: “Assange is held in higher esteem outside the US” #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Gavin Macfayden, investigative journalist and media partner of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange speaking now. #WikiLeaksAndBeyond
  • Macfayden sharing information about what Iraq warlogs – reports from US soldiers on the ground – showed #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • “Torture continued after Abu Ghraib….lots of civilian deaths…” recorded by the Iraq warlogs. #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • “681 Iraqi civilians killed (by US forces) at roadblocks alone…their families were never compensated” #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • “Information from Iraq warlogs has consequences.” #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Macfayden’s group created film about Iraq Warlogs but there was no interest in showing it in the US. #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • “NYT only covered a fraction of the Wikileaks” #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Macfayden mentioned several times the extreme rhetoric by members of congress to “assassinate” Assange. #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Now moving to respondents. The French consul, Mr. Guilhou speaking now from the diplomatic angle. #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Guilhou: “diplomacy is based on trust.” Wikileaks worked to hurt this trust. #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Now @fletcherschool student, Elise Crane, F11 speaking. #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Crane sees 3 implications for diplomacy after Wikileaks. #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • 1. “undermines trust” 2. “prevents info sharing” 3. “keeps diplomats from doing real jobs – they’re mending relations” #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Macfayden: interesting that diplomats worry about hurting feelings and maintaining secrecy when corrupt regimes exist. #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Question: who holds the whistleblowers accountable? #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Gavin MacFayden: journalists are held accountable. If the info is wrong, they are held accountable. #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Audience member: “no evidence that Wikileaks has put people in danger” #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Question: “How does PJ Crowley’s recent resignation relate to Wikileaks” #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Gavin answers question about distinction b/t “on and off the record”: very difficult to make distinction. #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Crowley steps in: is there still a distinction in the age of Wikileaks?#WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Gavin: sources should be kept secret but maybe “arms sales to Saudi Arabia” might not need to be secret. #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Respondents want to stay away from the PJ Crowley question.#WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Question: “is there any evidence that what diplomats are worrying about is happening?” #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Guilhou: “I guess so…” #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Audience Member: “Wikileaks seemed motivated to embarrass diplomats rather than promote transparency” #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Question: post Wikileaks, will training of diplomats have to change?#WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Guilhou: in a sense yes. Diplomats will need to work with journalists.#WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Question: is Wikileaks like the new napster? Will it be irrelevant in a few years. #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Not a clear answer to the napster/Wikileaks question.#WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Audience member: “diplomatic services often forget the core value of freedom of the media.” #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Guilhou: “position of French gov’t is not to accept or deny Wikileaks”#WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Guilhou: “often wonder when you write a cable back to your gov’t whether or not cable will be published.” #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Gavin has last words – “there will be more history unfolding b/c many new documents have been pouring into Wikileaks”#WikileaksAndBeyond
  • “Wikileaks model is replicable- one in Indonesia, brazil, San Diego…..” #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • In closing, Gavin asked for volunteers to the Wikileaks org (half joking). #WikileaksAndBeyond

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Medicine at the South Pole

On March 16, the Tufts Premedical Society hosted Dr. Mark Klinker, M85, who recently served as the physician for the U.S. Antarctica Program at the South Pole. The discussion centered on following your passions in medicine.

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We Are Egypt

Lillie Paquette, F08, was in attendance for a March 8 screening of her documentary “We Are Egypt” at The Fletcher School. The film “goes beyond the recent headlines” of Egypt’s revolution “and gives the story through the eyes of Egypt’s young activists, labor movements, and political opposition figures.”

This flyer [PDF] has more information about the film

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CEEO Lecture: Eric Mazur

On March 7, as part of the Center for Engineering Education Outreach (CEEO) lecture series, Eric Mazur, Professor of Physics and Applied Physics at Harvard University, gave a presentation titled “The Scientific Approach to Teaching: Research as a Basis for Course Design.”

You can always watch video of this and past talks on the Tufts STEM Lecture website.

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Images of the Holocaust on Stage and Screen

On March 7, the Communication and Media Studies Program welcomed Israeli filmmaker Yael Hersonski to join a panel of Tufts University professors Barbara Grossman, Joel Rosenberg, and Jonathan Wilson to discuss portrayals of the Holocaust in both the performance and film mediums.

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Counterculturalism and the Formation of American Muslim Identity

As part of Tufts Chaplaincy’s continuing Forum on Religion in America series, Professor Ingrid Mattson, a professor of Islamic studies and Muslim-Christian relations at the Hartford Seminary spoke about “Counterculturalism and the Formation of American Muslim Identity” on March 2 in Goddard Chapel.

Mattson was also the first woman president of the Islamic Society of North America.

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The Science of Kissing: What Our Lips Are Telling Us About Us

On March 1, Tufts’ Environmental Studies Program hosted Sheril Kirshenbaum – research scientist, author, and 2002 Tufts alum – for a discussion of her new book “The Science of Kissing: What Our Lips Are Telling Us.” The book draws upon evolutionary biology, classical history, psychology, popular culture, neuroscience, and the author’s own research.

Interested in learning more? You can read an excerpt of the book, a profile of Kirshenbaum from Tufts Now, and our tweets from the talk.


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