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Civil Discourse and Civic Engagement with Planet Education – Course Activities for all Disciplines

Free Webinar and Networking Event by Disciplinary Associations Network for Sustainability 

Plan to participate October 16th in a networking and learning opportunity focused on empowering faculty, students, staff, and communities through applied learning. The online gathering will feature learning activities that can be used in any course to help students engage more in their learning via civil discourse and taking actions for a better world. Speakers will describe national initiatives to engage students and the community in clean energy options, climate destabilization solutions, and making connections across the political spectrum. Sponsored by the Higher Education Associations Sustainability Consortium (HEASC).

Time: 3pm to 4:30 pm EST on October 16, 2014. Register today at https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/847362234

The AAA Process and Discussions of the Academic Boycott of Israeli Institutions

Today’s guest blog post is written by AAA members, Fida Adely and Lara Deeb

At the upcoming (December 2014) annual meeting of the American Anthropological Society (AAA), several panels will take up the issue of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, providing a context for learning about how anthropologists have been and could be further engaged in a just resolution. Several of these forums specifically focus on discussion of the call for an academic boycott of Israeli institutions. We support this boycott, but whether or not you agree with our position, we would like to clear up some circulating misinformation about how the discussion is taking shape in the AAA.

As of late, a number of people outside anthropology who are either opposed to an academic boycott, and/or opposed to any discussion or debate of such a boycott, have criticized the AAA for failing to provide “balance” in this annual meeting programming, implying that somehow this was deliberate on the part of the AAA, or at best, a glaring oversight. It is important to note that all of the panels mentioned above were vetted through the standard review process for proposed events at the annual meeting, the deadline for which was February 15 of this year (see the call for proposals). Indeed, the panel on the AAA program that, based on its title, will present an argument against the academic boycott was also submitted and vetted through this process. If there are fewer panels that seem to argue against the academic boycott rather than support it, this is because fewer were submitted by AAA members for inclusion on the program.

To those who suggest that opponents of the academic boycott were “surprised” by the multiple panels discussing the issue on this year’s AAA program: It is worth noting that this is the second year that discussion of the boycott of Israeli academic institutions has taken place in this venue. The 2013 AAA Annual Meeting included a well-attended panel of papers addressing various aspects of the boycott, and at that panel, a draft resolution was circulated and attendees were informed that further discussion of the boycott would take place at the 2014 Annual Meeting. The passing of academic boycott resolutions at the American Studies Association, the African Literature Association, the Asian-American Studies Association, the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association, and other academic associations should also have been an indication that similar discussions would arise at the AAA and elsewhere. This is not a matter that is somehow limited to anthropologists but a broader response from scholars to a call for solidarity from Palestinian civil society, in particular the Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees. Clearly a few people understood that this would be discussed at the AAAs, as there is an anti-boycott panel on the program. If people do not find that particular panel “credible,” it is not the AAA’s fault.

There are a number of possible explanations for the dearth of anthropologists from major Israeli universities on panels addressing these issues. Those scholars may not have wanted to open up discussion of the academic boycott, as indicated by a letter from the Israeli Anthropological Association that condemns the AAA for its panel selections and for focusing on Israel as a key topic of discussion at the upcoming meetings. Yet it may also, instead, be an indication that it is not an easy task for Israeli scholars to publicly advocate the boycott of Israeli academic institutions – for fear of reprisals or punishment under Israeli government anti-boycott laws. While boycott advocates are not calling for scholars working in Israeli institutions to boycott their own institutions, some scholars in Israel have spoken out in support of the boycott. More than forty Israeli anthropologists responded to that letter from the Israeli Anthropological Association in a counter-letter defending the right of their anthropology colleagues to have this discussion. Notably, quite a few of the signatories on the second letter chose to sign anonymously, highlighting the very real possibility of sanctions, especially for early career scholars. As demonstrated in the IAA letter, those opposed to the academic boycott of Israeli institutions have sought to shut down even the mere discussion of the boycott. The default “anti-boycott” position is to not address it at all. This may provide a possible explanation for why only one such panel was organized and submitted for inclusion on the 2014 Annual Meeting program.

Finally, it is worth pointing out that the demand for “balance” in the context of an academic conference such as the AAA Annual Meeting is a puzzling one. What does balance mean in this context? That every argument should have a counter-argument? That AAA should henceforth review proposals with “balance” of theoretical and ideological leanings in mind? The AAA leadership’s job is to make sure panel proposals meet minimum criteria and are vetted through an established peer review process. They are not tasked with – nor should they be tasked with – micromanaging the conference program. Those who demand “balance” are asking the AAA leadership to interfere with existing process by which the conference comes together each year, something we are certain neither Association members or those in its leadership positions think is a good idea.

Over 250 Anthropologists Join the Call for a Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions

Today’s guest blog post is by AAA member, Lisa Rofel. Please direct your questions and/or inquiries to her via email: lrofel@ucsc.edu.

More than 250 anthropologists have signed a statement endorsing the burgeoning movement to boycott Israeli academic institutions in protest of Israel’s systematic human rights violations against the Palestinian people. These violations, in which many Israeli educational institutions are complicit, include denying Palestinians their right to education and academic freedom.

The full statement and signatory list are at http://anthroboycott.wordpress.com As scholars who specialize in how power, oppression, and structural violence affect social life, and as witnesses to the State of Israel’s multiple and egregious violations of international law that constitute an assault on Palestinian culture and society, they pledge to abide by their discipline’s stated commitment to “the promotion and protection of the right of people and people’s everywhere to the full realization of their
humanity.”

These anthropologists have determined that the policies, actions, and programs of Israeli academic institutions are complicit in the occupation and oppression of Palestinians in Israel and in the Occupied Territories in multiple ways. In calling for this institutional boycott, they pledge not to collaborate on projects and events hosted or funded by Israeli academic institutions, not to teach at or attend conferences or other events at such institutions, and not to publish in academic journals based in Israel. They remain open to collaboration with individual scholars based in the Israeli academy.

The signatories of the statement call on their anthropologist colleagues to join them, along with thousands of members of a growing number of US academic associations (including the American Studies Association, the Association for Asian American Studies, and the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association), in answering the call from Palestinian civil society as well as from a number of Israeli anthropologists, to cease legitimizing Israeli academic institutions and thereby condoning their role in the continued suppression of the basic rights of the Palestinian people.

Anthropologists interested in signing this statement should visit: http://anthroboycott.wordpress.com, or email their name and affiliation to: anthroboycott@gmail.com

New Book on Race Now Available

2nd Ed. How Real is Race?A Second Edition of How Real is Race? A Sourcebook on Race, Culture and Biology [Mukhopadhyay, Henze, Moses] is now available.

Authors Carol C. Mukhopadhyay, Rosemary Henze and Yolanda T. Moses employ an activity-oriented, biocultural, approach to address the question How real is race? What is biological fact, what is fiction, and where does culture, enter? What do we mean when we say race is a “social construction?

The new edition adds cutting edge material on human biological variation, expands coverage on the social, structural, power, and inequality dimensions of race, goes beyond Black/White dimensions, and has a new chapter, “When is it racism? Who is a racist”. Visit the new book website for an online supplement with “hot” weblinks, a comments page, and other resources, including for pre-college educators.

Annual Meeting Dialogue on Israel-Palestine

Today’s blog post is by AAA Executive Director Dr. Edward Liebow.

Because violence begets violence, I have recently been looking for a better way (without bullets) to say ‘there’s no silver bullet’ to acknowledge the palpable absence of any simple remedy to the intractable latest episode in a decades-long Israeli/ Palestinian conflict. Indeed, in recent days, hopeful glimmers of an extended cease-fire are clouded by escalating negotiation demands with toweringly high stakes. This concerns me as an individual, and also as AAA Executive Director at a moment when we are opening up dialogue on Israel/Palestine inside the association.

Indeed, here at the AAA office, summer is almost over, and our planning machine is already at full speed in advance of December’s Annual Meeting in Washington. The program is available online. Judging by recent blog posts and social media exchanges, this year’s Meeting is among the more eagerly anticipated in recent memory, in no small part due to the opportunities that have been created for a scholarly consideration of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – although of course there are possibilities for discussion both before and after. Anthropologists will be tackling many of the world’s challenges at this year’s Meeting, so let me take this opportunity to provide you with more information about the events surrounding the Israel/Palestine conflict.113th AAA Annual Meeting

Paper presentations, roundtable discussions, and an open forum discussion will allow participants to unpack this conflict’s historical, cultural, and political-economic contexts, and also examine the advocacy role of scholarly societies like the AAA.

Thanks to the hard work of AAA members, the program chairs, the Executive Program Committee, and the AAA meetings and conference staff, we have aimed to make sure a wide range of perspectives will be represented in these events, which include:

For more information and session abstracts, log in to the meetings site. We invite healthy, respectful debate, and look forward to a deliberate, considered, and educational dialogue.

Haven’t registered for the 113th Annual Meeting yet? Register today! Will you be traveling from out of town? Save money by booking your hotel now at a discounted rate.

Have you seen GlacierHub?

Glacier HubGlacierHub seeks to expand and deepen the understanding of glaciers. It provides information about current scientific research, it tells stories of people who live near glaciers or who visit them, and it offers accounts of the efforts of communities and organizations to address the challenges brought by glacier retreat. It serves as well as a nexus to link people who are concerned about glaciers, so that they can communicate with each other and develop responses to the changes in glaciers. GlacierHub invites contributions—whether text, images, or sound files—from people who live near glaciers and from people who visit them, whether for research or for adventure or for the chance to see the beauty and majesty of glaciers from close up.

We humans have much to learn from glaciers, and the world we live in can benefit from our learning about them. They are found on every continent, in some of the world’s richest countries and some of the poorest. For residents of many high-elevation regions, glaciers give mountain homelands their distinctive character. For people who live further downslope, glaciers supply valuable water and can be sources of floods and landslides, reminding us of our dependence on the natural world. For both groups, and for those who live further away as well, glaciers are precious as well for their transcendent beauty.
And glaciers are endangered. In all areas of our warming world, they are shrinking, as winter snows are no longer sufficient to replenish their melting. So glaciers can become a theme for people who are trying to make sense of our changing world. As people search for ways to comprehend and address climate change, glaciers often come forward as potent elements in thought and action.

GlacierHub is managed by Ben Orlove, an anthropologist at the Earth Institute and CRED at Columbia University, with support of Nick Smith, Gina Stovall and Brad Swain.

SciCast – Crowdsourcing future development in science and technology

Today’s guest blog post is written by Alan I. Leshner, CEO, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

If crowdsourcing can raise money for research worldwide, why can’t it raise questions and predict probabilities of future developments in science and technology?

We think that’s an interesting proposition. That’s why AAAS has asked us to share information about SciCast, a research project run by George Mason University and funded by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), to develop the largest crowdsourced prediction platform for science and technology, ever. The purpose of this project is to determine whether crowdsourcing can be used to accurately predict the future of science and technology. Questions vary by discipline and focus area, and range from the more applied science and engineering advancements to the highly technical, basic science achievements.

We invite you to explore SciCast, register, answer questions, and join the SciCast community. Approximately 7000 people have already signed up and are answering questions.

If you are interested in learning more about the project or would like to join the select pool of experts who submit questions and review unpublished questions, please contact scicast@aaas.org.

 

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