The Story Behind the Seal: Kevin Sweeney

Submitted on Thursday, 4/4/2019, at 2:31 PM

For a recent article in the Daily Hampshire Gazette about a legislative proposal to change the seal and flag of Massachusetts, the newspaper turned to Kevin Sweeney, emeritus professor of American studies and history, for historical perspective on why the Commonwealth’s seal features a Native American man holding a bow, with a disembodied arm bearing a sword hovering overhead.

This is actually the fourth iteration of the seal, which originally featured a Native American man, but was later changed to a British coat of arms, and then a soldier holding a sword. Sweeney said the original figure was put back following the Revolutionary War, with the sword and a Latin motto meaning “By the sword we seek peace, but peace only under liberty,” a hodgepodge of symbols to show that the citizens of Massachusetts were no longer subjects of the British crown.

“By 1780, they were saying, ‘We’re not English anymore,’” he said. “The Native American was used as a representation of America … It’s obviously a cultural appropriation, but it’s not a mascot.”

The Cold War Against Climate Change: Sherri Goodman ’81, H ’18

Submitted on Thursday, 3/28/2019, at 3:55 PM

Climate change has become, for the present age, a potential planet-killer on par with the atom bomb, Sherri Goodman ’81, H ’18 recently noted in an interview with Cambodia Times.

“In the Cold War, when I came of age, the existential threat to our planet was widely thought to be a bolt out of the blue nuclear attack by the Soviet Union,” said Goodman, an expert in bringing together the fields of military security and environmental science, as a senior fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

“We devoted billions of dollars to deterring and defending against an all-out nuclear attack. We characterized this as a low probability, high consequence event. In today’s climate era, we recognize that climate risks pose an equally existential threat to human existence. Indeed, climate risks are high probability, high consequence events, for which we, as nations and communities, are largely unprepared today.”

Sanderson on the Benefits of a Positive Mindset

Submitted on Thursday, 3/28/2019, at 3:42 PM

To discuss mastering the mindset to improve happiness and health, the Art of Manliness podcast recent spoke with Catherine Sanderson, Manwell Family Professor of Life Sciences (Psychology), author of the new book The Positive Shift. She started with debunking the idea that a positive outlook means being a Pollyanna, and covered the benefits of positive perspective, and tactics for combatting a negative outlook.

UPDATE: Sanderson spoke with WBZ-Boston’s Liam Martin and Lisa Hughes about the book, and the book received a write-up in the Daily Hampshire Gazette. For the International Day of Happiness, Today quoted her advice on not waiting for a certain event to bring happiness: "“People think it’s going to be perfect as soon as this ‘thing’ happens, but no. It has a very short-term effect,” she said. “One of the challenges is that we just adapt to it.”


On The DC Jazz Beat With Jamie Sandel ’17

Submitted on Wednesday, 3/20/2019, at 12:49 PM

The founders of CapitalBop, a grass-roots jazz advocacy organization supporting Washington, D.C.’S jazz scene, credited a recent Amherst graduate with getting the once-flagging operation’s groove back, in a recent feature by the Washington Post.

New York Times jazz writer Giovanni Russonello and jazz bassist Luke Stewart, who founded CapitalBop in 2010, had been increasingly focused on their independent careers, with the result that their efforts to provide paying gigs and other support for local musicians suffered. But this year they announced a full spring season of concert presentations, after debuting two new monthly series for local artists.

Russonello and Stewart said the most important factor to their resurgence was when they hired Jamie Sandel ’17 as the organization’s managing director.

“Jamie’s a godsend,” Stewart said. “He does all the critical day-to-day stuff that should require multiple people. ... He’s really been a game-changer.”

“I’ve been spearheading the projects that we have taken on, but I’m just the execution of Gio and Luke’s vision,” Sandel said.

“That execution requires Sandel to wear multiple hats. He manages everything from accounting and artist relations to writing news releases and checking out late-night gigs around town. He’s also developing the next component of CapitalBop’s revitalization: an educational program led by puppeteer and website contributor Majeedah Johnson,” the Post wrote.

The Mead as a Classroom

Submitted on Wednesday, 3/20/2019, at 12:47 PM

For an article about libraries and museums making innovative use of their square footage as classrooms, the Chronicle of Higher Education recently spoke with David Little, director and chief curator of the Mead Art Museum about changing the use of space —and time— at the Mead to create a learning space.

Little told the Chronicle about the Mead’s carving a classroom space out of its basement art-storage area two years ago.

“There had always been an upstairs classroom in the 1949 building, he notes, but moving works to a classroom within the storage area is quicker and less likely to cause damage. And for students, he says, ‘it’s so important for them to walk through that doorway’ and be right where the college’s artworks are stored,” the Chronicle wrote.

“Little notes that other changes the museum has made to benefit teaching don’t involve renovations at all. For instance, the Mead is open till midnight four days a week during the semester, so students can use it as study space or perhaps seek inspiration for an assignment,” the article continued.

“We get inundated with requests” to view works that have been discussed in one class or another, Little said.

Sarat: Dems Finding It Safe To Oppose Capital Punishment

Submitted on Wednesday, 3/20/2019, at 12:45 PM

After California Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order to halt further executions in his state, the move drew praise from many of the Democrats currently running for president in the 2020 election.

The Daily Beast turned to Austin Sarat, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science, an expert on capital punishment and author of the upcoming The Death Penalty on the Ballot: American Democracy and the Fate of Capital Punishment, to weigh in on a political landscape where opposing the death penalty isn’t fatal at the voting booth.

“Now you can be against the death penalty by embracing what I would describe as embracing mainstream American values,” Sarat said. “You’re against executing the innocent. You’re against sentencing people based on the race of the victim. I think it’s now just must safer for politicians to take stands against the death penalty.”

California’s own Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), both of whom have focused their campaigns in part on criminal justice reform, praised Newsom’s order, as have Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and others.

Meg Sullivan '05: Pizza and History under the Neon Sombrero

Submitted on Friday, 3/15/2019, at 12:16 PM

“Not only does Sullivan know everyone; she seems to be genuinely friends with them. With her blond ponytail, darting blue eyes and no-nonsense attitude, she has this restaurant wrapped around her finger,” wrote Smith College senior Katherine Keenan in a recent Daily Hampshire Gazette piece about Meaghan Sullivan '05, owner of Joe’s Cafe in Northampton, Mass.

Joe's Cafe, known to locals for the unusual setting of pizza and other Italian dishes served in rooms decorated with paintings of Argentine gauchos, all under a sign with a neon sombrero, has been under Sullivan's charge since her father and his business partner retired in 2011. She’s lived next door to the restaurant since graduating Amherst with a degree in history.

“While she was in college, Sullivan didn’t want to own a business. But the idea grew on her. When Sullivan finally came around, she became the first solo owner of Joe’s Cafe, and the first woman to run the restaurant since Camella and Joe Biandi opened its doors more than 70 years ago,” Keenan wrote.

World Bank Cites Sims' Forest Preservation Research

Submitted on Friday, 3/15/2019, at 11:16 AM

The World Bank recently devoted a blog post to research by Katharine Sims, associate professor of economics and environmental studies, and chair of the economics department, concerning benefits of paying landowners to help with environmental management, thereby reducing deforestation. The Payments for Environmental Services (PES) approach, pioneered in Costa Rica, has become common in Latin America.

Sims and her study co-authors “found that Mexico’s PES program has indeed reduced deforestation. Although the effect is not statistically significant in areas at low risk of deforestation, it is quite significant in areas at high risk of deforestation, where participants cut down 29% less forest than they otherwise would have. For those who have been in the program the longest, the effect is even larger: they cut down 38% less forest than they otherwise would have,” the World Bank report concluded.

Lola Fadulu ’17 a New York Times Fellow

Submitted on Friday, 3/15/2019, at 11:10 AM

Lola Fadulu ’17, most recently an assistant editor at The Atlantic, was recently selected for the inaugural New York Times Fellowship.

Starting this year, the Times is replacing its newsroom summer internship with a yearlong fellowship aimed at recent graduates of college and graduate school, to “better train young journalists, provide greater benefits for participants and our newsroom, and establish relationships that will pay off for years to come.” The fellowships are paid full-time benefitted one-year positions as journalists. They start in June.

Fadula is among a few of the fellows who will be working out of Washington, DC.

Corrales on Trump's "Leninist" Party

Submitted on Tuesday, 3/5/2019, at 12:27 PM

Citing him as “an expert on democracy, authoritarian regimes and executive power,” U.S. News and World Report spoke with Javier Corrales, Dwight W. Morrow 1895 professor of Political Science, for a piece examining Republican devotion to President Donald Trump even in the face of recent setbacks such as the House vote to nullify his border emergency declaration, damaging testimony from his former fixer Michael Cohen at a House hearing, and a failed bid to seal a denuclearization deal with North Korea.

"This is where we are with [political] polarization. You would not see this voluntarily blind following in a less polarized environment," Corrales said. "The Republican Party has turned into a Leninist party in terms of discipline and support for their leader. It almost feels like this is not a [small-d] democratic party anymore.”