University President Judith Rodin led the celebration yesterday for the newest travelers on the information superhighway. A new program, called "Link to Learn," works to introduce and maximize the use of technology, especially computers, in area schools. It is a joint effort between the Center for Community Partnership -- which won the supporting grant -- and the West Philadelphia Partnership. Link to Learn demonstrates the University's commitment to "making education happen at every level," Rodin said at the kickoff celebration at West Philadelphia's Shaw Middle School, her alma mater. Students and their teachers from six area schools, including Shaw, West Philadelphia High School, Sayre, Sulzberger and Turner middle schools and Wilson Elementary School, gathered to demonstrate to University and Philadelphia school officials how they applied the newly available technology. Shaw students showed their "Flight" project, in which students plan a virtual trip to locations throughout the country each week. They use the Internet to find flight information and then go to different sites that relate to their "destination." On a recent trip, students "visited" the White House and wrote the president over e-mail. White House staffers responded by sending the students a book about the White House and a poster. Other projects focused on community service. Some schools designed community newspapers using desktop publishing software, while others created geographic information systems (GIS) about areas near their schools. Khalita Haggard, a 10th grader at West Philadelphia High School who created a GIS map of her neighborhood, said the best part of the program involved using the technology to better the community. "I liked helping the city by showing them things that they couldn't come and see themselves," she noted. According to Janis Butler, the leader of the West Philadelphia Cluster, the program has spurred a dramatic increase in access to information. "We're happy to see the type of projects that can have such a richness because of the information the students can retrieve," Butler said. The funding for the program came in the form of a Technology Testbed Grant, which is part of Gov. Tom Ridge's Link to Learn Initiative. The University -- whose goal is to expand the use of technology in classrooms throughout the state -- was the only recipient of the grant in Philadelphia. According to Peter Bonasto, Link- to-Learn's project manager, the state awarded the grant to the University because of its extensive work with the Philadelphia school districts and its partnerships with many businesses in the city. The University solicited the help of four local companies, Bell Atlantic Corp., Cabletron Systems, Tri-State Telecommunication and DCAnet, to install and maintain the computers and Internet access. The Thomas Penn Foundation donated the hardware used throughout the schools. Administrators hope to have the Link to Learn program up and running in schools throughout the district by fall of next year, according to Butler.
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History buffs from all over the world converged on the University Friday to celebrate the 450th anniversary of the publication of the first Lithuanian book. For the occasion, the Penn Language Center and the Philadelphia Chapter of the Lithuanian-American Community co-sponsored "Colloquium: 450th Anniversary of the First Lithuanian Book, Catechismus 1547 by Martinus Mosvidius" at Houston Hall's Bodek Lounge. The selection of the University as host was not arbitrary. "The tradition of a Lithuanian connection to Penn goes way back," said Terese Gecys, who heads the Philadelphia chapter of the Lithuanian-American Community. "The library of Penn has one of the largest, if not the largest, collection of Lithuanian publications outside of Lithuania," Gecys added. About 50 people turned out to hear four guest speakers discuss the significance of Catechismus, a translation of a religious text. The colloquium attracted members from the United States' Lithuanian community, as well as professors from Penn and colleges throughout the world. According to Oakland (Michigan) University History Professor Leonardas Gerulaitis, oral traditions played a more important role in Lithuania than anywhere else in the Western world. "What we are really celebrating today is Lithuania [stepping] into the brotherhood of written language," Gerulaitis said. Dainora Pociute-Abukeviciene, an ancient literature and folklore professor at Lithuania's University of Vilnius, discussed how the Lithuanian version of Catechismus shows the difference between the Protestant Reformation in Lithuania and in other European countries. William Schmalstieg, a professor emeritus at Penn State, continued the discussion of the significance of translation. He contrasted the difference in the translations of the Ten Commandments made by Mosvidius and English religious reformer John Wycliff. "For the Christian religious reformers, the rendering of the Ten Commandments was and is a serious matter generating much controversy," Schmalstieg said. Celebrating the importance of the publication of Catechismus, the Lithuanian government declared 1997 the "Year of the Book," according to Petras Anusas, Lithuania's consul general. He emphasized the significance of Catechismus for the entire world. "The book's publication has been named one of the most notable dates in the history of world publication." The Free Library of Philadelphia at Logan Square, as well as libraries in Berlin, Paris, New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C., are holding exhibitions of Lithuanian books as part of a larger celebration of the book. The Lithuanian government also held an international bookplate competition in which 133 artists from 27 countries depicted through art what the publication of Catechismus meant to them. Many of these works were on display at the colloquium. And at the end of the colloquium, Anusas presented a medallion on behalf of his government to Harold Schiffman, director of the Penn Language Center.
Racial and age discrimination are the two largest issues facing the civil rights movement as it heads into the next century, the top U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission official and University Trustee said yesterday. In a speech entitled "Civil Rights in the 21st Century," the official, Gilbert Casellas, described the changing nature of the civil rights movement to more than 50 students and professors in Steinberg-Dietrich Hall. Casellas said the hostile attitude many Americans, including Congressional leaders, have toward the civil rights movement is the most pressing issue it must confront. He cited California's Proposition 209, which outlaws affirmative action, and initiatives to make English the official language of both individual states and the nation as examples of the difficulties facing the civil rights movement. "People now seem to be promoting division and diatribe instead of discussion," said Casellas, a 1977 Law graduate. Casellas said the EEOC faces a particularly daunting task because the workforce is the only place where people of different races and ethnicities consistently come together. Another issue the EEOC must confront in the next century is the growing complexity of "racial categorization," according to Casellas. He noted that more and more Americans now label themselves as a specific race, such as Latino, Asian or mixed, instead of the old binary classification system of black and white. The success of the civil rights movement in the future "depends on whether we can transcend the categories of the past," Casellas added. Beyond racial discrimination, the agency also now faces the increasingly important issue of "ageism." As the nation's baby boomers reach 50, complaints of age discrimination in the workplace continue to increase. Casellas emphasized that the continuing cutbacks in federal funding for the EEOC will force the agency to rank the relative importance of the different types of discrimination, further complicating its efforts. "If the underfunding continues, the agency will have to answer the question of who's more deserving of protection," he said. Responding to criticism levied at the EEOC by both the public and Congress, Casellas said the agency will never be popular because civil rights groups think it is not doing enough and businesses think it is doing too much. During a question and answer session following his speech, many audience members questioned Casellas about affirmative action. In response to one question, Casellas challenged the negative stereotypes surrounding the issue. "Affirmative action wasn't designed to fight discrimination. It was designed as a remedy," he said. "When we enforce antidiscrimination laws, we will seek certain remedies and sometimes that remedy is affirmative action." While Medical and Social Work Professor Aileen Rothbard said she enjoyed Casellas' talk, she said she was not convinced by his argument that affirmative action can successfully resolve racial inequalities. "My feeling is no one has a problem with affirmative action when it is about meritocracy," Rothbard said. "The difficulty is when it gets enacted when people don't necessarily have equal skills."
The possibility that Philadelphia could someday become an ocean city drew dozens of professors and students to a lecture Friday on global climate change. In his speech, entitled "Global Climate Change: Will Philadelphia be a Coastal Community in the 21st Century," Michael McCabe, a regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency, said it is unlikely Philadelphia's climate will change that drastically. But despite the humorous title of the lecture, sponsored by the Institute for Environmental Studies and held in Steinberg-Dietrich Hall, McCabe emphasized the seriousness of the effects of climate change, as well as its lack of publicity. "Twenty-five years ago, we were certain pesticides weakened the shells of eggs and toxins poured into rivers were harming our water supplies," McCabe said in reference to the less complex environmental problems of the past. "But this generation faces the far less certain effects of climate change." Over the past half century, the average global temperature has increased approximately one degree Fahrenheit, affecting everything from precipitation to animal habitation patterns, according to McCabe, who explained that climate change affects seasonal weather on a yearly basis. McCabe said humans can help prevent harmful climate change by reducing the rate at which greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, are pumped into the atmosphere. This method and others will be the topic of the International Conference on Global Climate Change to be held in Kyoto, Japan, in December. The governmental summit will include representatives from about 160 nations, including the United States. According to McCabe, one of the most serious problems facing the conference is the unwillingness of many people to make the lifestyle changes necessary to improve the environment. "If we go to Kyoto and nothing happens, it will be a greenhouse conference that's nothing more that hot air," McCabe said. "If something real happens, Americans will have to make the most important lifestyle choice for our children and grandchildren." Emphasizing the difference every person can make in the fight against climate change, McCabe stressed that "local actions can have important effects, though they might seem small in the context of the world." "If each American were to turn off a 100-watt bulb for an hour a day, it would be the equivalent of planting a million trees," McCabe noted. Heather Tack, a first-year engineering graduate student at Drexel University, agreed that it would be difficult to get Americans to change their habits but stressed that she was glad to "learn how many things we can do to fight the problem on an individual level."
Hip-hop aerobics, fashion and friendship all come together at the University each month as part of "Fitness and Fashion with Funk." The program, organized by second-year Social Work graduate student Janice Ferebee, emphasizes good health, self-respect and community support to girls from the Philadelphia area. "The goal of the program is to help build self-esteem and self-confidence in girls and young women," said Ferebee, a graduate fellow at the W.E.B. DuBois College House. "I want to promote the importance and the benefits of physical, mental and spiritual fitness." About 30 girls, ranging in age from 9 to 17, attended this month's event, held in DuBois' multipurpose room Saturday morning. During the program, Ferebee had the girls participate in low-impact rock aerobics and brought in two speakers. Jennifer Titus, a booking agent for Askins Models, spoke about the importance of having self-confidence. "Everyone will perceive you the way you feel on the inside," she said. And discussing the importance of proper dietary habits, Julianna Taylor of the Black Women's Health Project noted that "nutrition for young ladies is very important so that you can grow into healthy adults." When the girls first arrived, they browsed tables displaying information on fitness, fashion and self-esteem and watched a video about black women in sports. Fitness and Fashion with Funk is based on the ideas found in Ferebee's book, Got It Goin' On. She said she feels her program is especially effective in meeting the needs of young women. "There are so many programs out there that don't reach kids because they don't like what is being done and they're boring," she noted. Fashion and Fitness with Funk meets these problems by focusing on "fashion, which is something a lot of [young women] like, and the hip-hop music, which is something they all like," Ferebee said. "Not only is it important to look good on the outside but feel good on the inside," she added. "That is why I put the two together." Pre-adolescent and adolescent girls are especially in need of help, according to Ferebee. "I don't think there are enough programs that support their specific needs," she said. "I think our children are growing up too fast without morals and positive self-images and it reflects on everything they do. This is a time when they need extra special care." April Weaver-Horton, a 14-year-old participant in the program, supported Ferebee's ideas. "I got everything," she said. "You get to meet new people, work out and have fun." Yvonne Marbury, a Philadelphia community member who brought her niece to the program, agreed that the program is a rare resource for children. "There were a lot of things going on in the '60s and '70s to keep kids out of trouble," she said. "Now we get nothing." The next event in the series is a holiday brunch scheduled for December 6. Fitness and Fashion with Funk will culminate with a "Fashion and Funk Lawn Jam" outside DuBois in April. After realizing how much helping young girls has enriched her own life, Ferebee said she would encourage other University students to do the same. "I'm inviting women of all ages to get fit," she said. "[The program] is an excellent opportunity to share experiences with girls from the Pennsylvania community."
Sexually transmitted diseases, eating disorders, smoking and domestic violence were the order of the day at Monday night's "National Collegiate Roundtable on Women's Health." Approximately 100 female undergraduate and graduate students gathered at the Penn Tower Hotel to discuss the many issues affecting their health. "This roundtable series allows us to provide a safe and friendly place to allow women to ask questions about their health, get answers and support each other," said Saralyn Mark, the senior medical advisor to the U.S. Public Health Service's Office on Women's Health, a sponsor of the event. During the program, participants questioned a panel of experts on a variety of topics related to women's health. Many of the questions focused on different birth control methods and their effectiveness. "Having sex using withdrawal is not a whole lot better than using prayer," said panelist Janice Asher, director of the Women's Health division of Student Health Services. Some participants also asked whether they can avoid using birth control by planning their sex life around their menstrual cycle. But Obstetrics and Gynecology Professor Michelle Berlin noted that "it doesn't matter what time of the month it is, you still need to use protection." Other sex-related topics included the availability of "morning-after" contraceptives, which can prevent impregnation if used after sex, and the myth that antibiotics and birth control cannot be used together. Turning the focus to nutrition, Mark criticized the typical college diet. She noted that most students consume too little calcium, which helps prevent osteoporosis, and too much caffeine and protein, which harm the body's ability to absorb calcium. Another side effect of the typical college diet and lifestyle is lack of energy. "You are what you eat, and you're turning into pizzas and beers," Archer said. The program also included an award-winning video called "Get Real: Straight Talk About Women's Health," which focused on the entire spectrum of women's health issues. "I loved the video," College junior Emily Eisenstein said. "I like the way they combined so many aspects of women's health into a coherent and enjoyable presentation." During discussions following the video, students raised and addressed various questions and spoke about issues with their peers. The roundtable was part of a nationwide series, and "Penn was chosen because they were named a National Center of Excellence in 1996 [by the Public Health Service's Office on Women's Health]," Mark said. She added that "Penn has a very active student body committed to the discussion of women's health issues." The Panhellenic Council sponsored the event as part of its initiative focusing on women's health. "I thought the program was very successful," College senior and Panhellenic Council President Jessica Lennon said. "The way we had discussion allowed people to ask honest questions." Other sponsors included Student Health Education Services, the Greenfield Intercultural Center and the Women's Center. Mark said she hoped participants got a sense of how important their lifestyle choices are to their health. "You have opportunities today to make choices about how you will look and feel tomorrow," she noted.
Marking the one year anniversary of the suicide of local peace activist Kathy Change, the "Friends of Change" organization held the first annual "Tribute and Memorial" for her yesterday. Change killed herself by lighting her body on fire in front of Van Pelt Library in an effort to call attention to her political views last October 22. Change, 46, had been a campus fixture for years, where her colorful dancing and banners endeared her to many students, few of whom realized she was protesting the American government. As part of yesterday's events, Friends of Change held a memorial program at the Christian Association. Approximately 25 people gathered to hear local performers, activists and friends of Change perform tributes to her memory. Among the different performances were speeches, poems, songs and dances that paid tribute to Change and her work. "I think Kathy's life was about change and transformation and I want tonight to be about change and transformation," local activist Lynne Robinson said in a speech remembering Change's legacy. Many performances centered around the theme of how Change's suicide had affected the lives of others. "Since that day, my life was transformed,"said Anita King, a member of Friends of Change. The group also highlighted many causes Change might have supported if she were still alive, such as human rights violations in Third World countries. Robinson discussed the difficulty Change and other activists, such as herself, encounter in attempting to get people involved in such causes. "I don't want to burn out, but I almost have," Robinson said. Earlier in the day, several people turned out for a memorial service at the Peace Sign. They observed a moment of silence at 11:48 a.m., the time of Change's death. After the service, some group members performed a scene from Change's play, The Transformation. "I thought [the play] was so brilliant," local activist Bob Harris said. "It brought me back to a certain energy." In conjunction with the Asian Pacific Student Coalition and the Penn Chapter of Amnesty International, Friends of Change also sponsored a discussion session and a "Transformation Workshop." The day's events ended with a drum circle around the Peace Sign last night. During her life, Change founded and led the Transformation Party, which advocated a peaceful overhaul of America's present political system. She wanted the country's population to congregate and create an ideal government based on the idea of direct democracy. Shortly before she died, Change delivered a package of her papers, including a work about the reasons for her suicide, to six students, two local residents and several news organizations, including The Daily Pennsylvanian. "I truly believe that my death will make people more sympathetic towards me and interested in my work and ideas," she wrote in one paper.
There's a significant difference between preaching and teaching, Provost Stanley Chodorow emphasized in a lecture on undergraduate education Monday. In his address, "The Purpose of Undergraduate Education at Penn," Chodorow spoke about the need to teach Penn students civic duties -- but added that this is not the role of classroom professors. "One of the problems I think we have is we [combine] academic and moral tutorship in the academic office," Chodorow said. "We don't create a separate space where the other kind of tutorship, moral, can take place." Chodorow shared his views with about 40 students and professors in Houston Hall's Bodek Lounge. When one audience member asked how he would respond to someone with an opposing viewpoint, Chodorow retorted, "I'd kick his ass." He added that the planned conversion of the University's residences into college houses will help eliminate the need to teach civic duties in academic courses. "One of the things we are trying to do with the college houses is to embed a type of [moral] education [that should not be] presented in the classroom," he said. Chodorow noted that because of the way universities were set up centuries ago, professors teach civic responsibility in their courses in addition to academic material -- a combination that belongs in the new college houses. Raising several concerns about civic teaching in the classroom, Chodorow said professors' power to grade can easily increase the influence they have on students. "No one can take the power away from the professor to make that judgement [of a grade]," he said, adding that students may feel compelled to adopt their professors' moral views. Although Chodorow said he opposes moral preaching, he cautioned that this does not mean faculty members cannot discuss controversial issues in their classes. But they should approach these issues as part of an analytical, "rational discourse" without bringing their own opinions into the discussion. Despite his wish for increasing the separation between academics and civic teaching, Chodorow said he noticed a trend in American universities towards integrating the two teaching duties. "The fastest growing part of universities in the last 25 years is student services," he said. "The university is absorbing more and more [aspects of] the life of undergraduate students." A question-and-answer period followed Chodorow's speech. One student challenged Chodorow's initial assertion that all professors are "dictators." Hearing this, Chodorow conceded that he "should have used the word 'constitutional monarch'." Rinaldo Jose, a fourth-year Engineering graduate student, said he appreciated hearing the thoughts of a scholar from a different academic discipline. Chodorow specializes in medieval history. "I thought it was very interesting to see what the provost thought about certain things," Jose said. Chodorow's speech, the first "Teaching Talk" of the year, was sponsored by the Graduate Student Teaching Resource Network, the Student Committee on Undergraduate Education and the Writing Program.
The Supreme Court came to Philadelphia yesterday as two of the nation's most famous lawyers debated two controversial issues of the day. Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz and former U.S. Attorney General Richard Thornburgh were the featured guests at the program, "A Citizens' Supreme Court," which was sponsored by the Annenberg Public Policy Center and the World Affairs Council. The two debated actual Supreme Court cases on the Communications Decency Act of 1996 -- which sought to regulate indecency on the Internet -- and California's Proposition 209 -- which banned affirmative action programs in public employment, education and contracting. During the first case, Janet Reno, et. al., v. American Civil Liberties Union, et. al., Dershowitz -- a Democrat who was part of O.J. Simpson's defense team -- spoke passionately against the CDA. He argued that, despite the risk of children accessing indecent material on the Internet, it was worth protecting "the most democratic form of speech ever known to humankind." The act was passed in the first place, according to Dershowitz, because "gutless congressmen and senators" and an "uncourageous president" assumed it would be struck down by the courts. Thornburgh -- a Republican and former governor of Pennsylvania -- countered Dershowitz's argument by noting that without the law a de facto censorship of the Internet will occur. "Because of the [indecent] images, parents are going to force [their children] to forgo the Internet altogether," he argued. Thornburgh also called on the computer industry to step up its efforts to help parents screen indecent material. "I can't believe that [Microsoft CEO Bill] Gates, if he applied his mind and his money, could not solve the problem we are debating today," he said. The citizens' court charged with deciding the victor consisted of people of all genders, ages, and racial backgrounds. After hearing each side, it ruled in favor of the ACLU and Dershowitz, 8-1. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the defendant this summer. In the second case, The Coalition for Economic Equity, et. al., v. Pete Wilson, et. al., Thornburgh argued for Proposition 209 on the basis that it did not end all affirmative action -- just such allegedly illegal acts as quotas. Arguing that the act singled out two groups, women and African Americans, Dershowitz came out against the "unconstitutional" proposition. Weighing both sides of the argument, the citizens' court again sided 8-1 with Dershowitz. The program, according to Annenberg Dean Kathleen Hall Jamieson, who moderated the debate, aims to examine "what the Constitution says and [how] might the Supreme Court or a citizen's court rule on critical issues that affect us personally." After the debate, which was held at the Arch Street Meeting House at 4th and Arch streets, College senior Brian Levine said, "It was an exhilarating experience to see two of the greatest legal minds of our time debate two issues central to the Constitution."
Douglas Massey's interest in Latin America has led him to become chairperson of the Sociology Department, a leading researcher, an award-winning author -- and the adoptive father to a 6-year-old girl who immigrated from Paraguay. "Having to work through the immigration department personally gives you an idea that you wouldn't get from reading a book," said Massey, who nevertheless is co-writing a book entitled, Worlds in Motion, to be released in late next year. Although the work, according to Massey, "is a study of all developed nations who now receive immigration," his particular concentration is the inflow of Mexicans to the U.S. He frequently makes trips south of the border, where he has headed a research project since 1987. "[Massey] has by far the largest research project in that area and has the most important results in that field," Sociology Professor Sam Preston said. "He is one of the country's leading sociologists," he added. "We were very fortunate to recruit him back to Penn." Bringing his interest in Mexico to the University, Massey chaired the committee that established the Latin American Studies major. In addition to studying immigration, he also focuses on "racial segregation of American cities and its consequences for groups such as African Americans." Out of this research, Massey published his award-winning book American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making of the Underclass in 1993. The book -- which has been assigned throughout the years in sections of Political Science 1, "Intro to the Study of Politics" -- won both the 1995 Distinguished Publication Award and the 1994 Otis Dudley Duncan Award from the American Sociological Association. "We all hope that [our books] win awards and win recognition," Massey said. "I felt that it was a good book, but there are a lot of good books. I was pleased when it won." Besides academic pursuits, Massey devotes much of his time toward heading the Sociology Department. "Inevitably, chairing a department takes time away from teaching and research," said Massey, who added that he also chairs the search committee for a permanent dean for the School of Arts and Sciences and plays an administrative role in the Population Studies Center. But despite his many commitments, he still finds the time to interact with students, especially through departmental advising. "It is very refreshing to have an advisor who encourages you and your research," said Nolan Malone, a graduate student in demography and sociology.
Academics can have a powerful impact on politics, Harvard University Professor and former Clinton administration official Mary Jo Bane said Friday in a lecture sponsored by the Sociology Department. Bane -- now a public policy professor at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government -- served as assistant secretary of Health and Human Services for Children and Family from 1993 to 1996, when she resigned to protest the president's signing of the welfare reform bill. In Friday's address -- entitled "Expertise, Advocacy and Deliberation: Lessons from Welfare Reform" -- Bane denounced the controversial welfare reform law, which converted much of welfare to "workfare" and passed responsibility for program administration to state and local governments. "I believe and will continue to believe that it is an abandonment of our duty to poor children," she said. Drawing from her more recent experiences as a professor, Bane focused much of her speech on the flawed roles academics often play in shaping national policy. She said that a central problem occurs when, in debating a national issue, both political parties solicit their own academic experts, thus devaluing any expert testimony. "Research and information come into that debate by people who play the role of dueling experts," she said. In order for academics to be effective advocates, they "must learn how to do politics and be effective in their testimony," she added. To help alleviate the contentious environment of partisan politics, Bane recommended more discussion of public-policy issues. "The notion is to have deliberation which can help us gain understanding of shared values and shared fact," she said. "What we ought to do with the different values represented is compromise." Bane's speech, which attracted a crowd of more than 75 students and faculty to the McNeil Building, was the first in a new lecture series sponsored by Sociology Department. The Beth and Richard Sackler Lectures will feature "a prominent intellectual who has high qualifications in the social sciences and at the same time is engaged in important public policy issues," said Sociology Department Chairperson Douglas Massey, who also directs the series. After sustained applause, Bane took questions from the audience on a wide range of topics, including what role she believed academics should play in state and local governments. College freshman Stephanie Jones called Bane's presentation "effective."