The College of Arts and Sciences' communications office works closely with Cornell's Media Relations Office. As the College's representatives to media, we connect faculty experts and thought leaders to local, regional, national and international media organizations.
Linda Glaser, Publicist
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Current press statements from Arts & Sciences faculty:
Populists reshaping EU politics
Aggressive populists to reshape EU politics by obstruction - May 21, 2019
This week, voters from the 28 European member states will cast their ballots to elect new representatives for the European Parliament. While electoral campaigns differ within each country, observers have pointed to the rise of populist, right-wing parties across Europe and their commitment to “reform” the European system from within.
Mabel Berezin, professor of sociology at Cornell University and author of “Illiberal Politics in Neoliberal Times: Cultures, Security, and Populism in a New Europe,” says that, once voted in, nationalist parties could now reshape EU politics by obstruction.
“By the end of Sunday evening, the last day of voting in the European Parliamentary elections, the headlines will likely focus on the now understood fact that populist parties across Europe are poised to gain as many as 30 percent of the seats, not enough to control the Parliament but certainly enough to block legislative initiatives.
“None of this should be surprising. Populist parties have been on the move since 2015. But what is new is the presence of an aggressive right-wing party, the Lega in Italy, who under the leadership of Matteo Salvini is rallying the parliamentary group of the Europe of Nations and Freedom under the banner of a ‘Europe of Common Sense.’ In contrast to 2014, populist or eurosceptic parties now want to ‘reform’ Europe from within.
“No group really ‘wins’ the European Parliamentary elections, or national parliamentary elections for that matter either. In multi-party groupings, coalition building around legislative issues is the name of the game. A large grouping of cross-national populist and nationalist parties could reshape what Europe means simply by obstruction. No matter what the outcome next week, it creates a huge shift in the perception of who defines Europe and what Europe is.”
Mona Krewel, assistant professor of government at Cornell University and an expert on European politics, says that the upcoming elections are all but boring.
“Although European elections are usually known as a dull affair due to their low and dropping turnout as well as the media’s and the parties’ lack of interest in them compared to national elections, the importance of the 2019 European elections cannot be underestimated.
“Europe’s future is at stake with eurosceptic parties possibly making significant wins and forming a new joint group in the European Parliament, which would allow them to unpleasantly interrupt EU business in the future. At the same time, the elections are overshadowed by the Brexit chaos in the UK and can partly be considered a proxy for a second referendum.
“Beyond that, in Germany the elections will be a tough test for Merkel’s grand coalition. If the Social Democrats is defeated again, the voices within the party who push for going into the opposition to regain voters’ trust will become louder again.”
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NY's "aid in dying" bill
NYS ‘aid in dying’ bill: Ethically complex and gaining support - May 16, 2019
Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently announced his support for The Medical Aid in Dying Act, which would allow terminally ill adults in New York to request and obtain prescriptions for life-ending medication from their doctors.
Clinical ethicist Dr. Kim Overby says given the complexity of aid in dying, it’s critical that the consequences of new legislation be evaluated. Professor of wildlife health and health policy, Steven Osofsky, shares a personal experience related to aid in dying.
Dr. Kim Overby is a clinical ethicist, professor of the practice at Cornell University and an expert on ethical issues encountered in contemporary healthcare settings with a particular focus on disability, chronic illness, and the healthcare experience of vulnerable and marginalized populations.
“Aid in dying raises a number of challenging ethical issues. In addition to different views on the underlying morality of this practice, people disagree about how best to balance the competing ethical values raised such as the right to self-determination, the importance of doing no harm, and our responsibility to protect vulnerable individuals and groups.
“Health care professionals are increasingly divided about whether their support and participation in this practice fundamentally conflicts with the goals of medicine and undermines the trust and fiduciary relationship between clinician and patient.
“On the societal level, much of the disagreement about this issue centers on how we perceive the broader social consequences of making aid in dying widely available and whether current protocols and safeguards are adequate to prevent unintended negative consequences for both individuals and groups.
“Given the ethical complexity of this issue, it is critical that we continually evaluate the consequences of new legislation. As the number of states that legalize aid in dying grows and more people utilize this option, a larger more diverse and nationally representative database will become available to better examine the potential benefits and harms of this practice.”
Steven Osofsky, veterinarian and professor of wildlife health and health policy, recently wrote an op-ed sharing his personal experience with a death in the family and why he believes New York must change its position to allow sane, thoughtful people to decide when they would like to leave this earth.
“Each day, my terminally ill father told me, his doctor, and hospice staff that he wanted to die, on his own terms. When it comes to medical aid in dying, sane, thoughtful people who’ve reached old age and feel that they’ve had full lives, but see the discomfort and even agony of terminal illness as something they’d prefer to avoid, should not be hindered from deciding when they would like to leave this earth.
“Yes, there can be complicating factors related to mental competence, pressure from family members with selfish motives, etc. But we live in a system of checks and balances — laws and ethical guidelines. Electing to safely, comfortably and peacefully end one’s life before an aggressive disease becomes overwhelming seems like an extremely rational decision, one that should be left up to each of us if or when that time comes.”
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65h Anniversary of Brown vs. Board of Education
After 65 years, is the dream of Brown v. Board dead? - May 15, 2019
Friday marks the 65th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling that struck down the “separate but equal” school segregation policy, requiring schools across the country to desegregate
Noliwe Rooks, professor of American studies at Cornell University and author of the book “Cutting School: Privatization, Segregation, and The End of Public Education,” says that segregation persists in American schools in large part due to white parents’ unwillingness to send their children to schools where they would have Black classmates.
“As we look back over the past 65 years following the Brown v. Board decision in 1954, we have to be honest in saying that in many areas that are rural and urban, schools are as segregated as they were in the 10 years following the landmark educational decision.
“In some areas of our country, white children attend schools where 80 to 90 percent of their classmates are white and wealthy. In those same districts, children who are Black, Latinx and economically vulnerable attend schools with students who are likewise situated.
“In large part, the issues with achieving and/or sustaining any meaningful or large-scale success with integration is because the vast majority of integration efforts over the past 65 years have relied on white parents choosing, volunteering, or agreeing to send their children to schools with Black children. Time and time again they have refused. Sometimes they have closed whole school districts to avoid integration. In other instances, they have moved to overwhelmingly white suburban communities and made it difficult, if not impossible, for Black children to attend the schools in the district. We have not achieved the dream of Brown v. Board and increasingly, it looks as if it may no longer be a priority for us to even try.”
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50th Anniversary of Apollo 11 Moon Landing
Apollo 11 inspired one generation, still challenges the next - May 15, 2019
This July marks 50 years since Apollo astronauts landed on the moon for the first time — marking a definitive milestone in space exploration and sparking the imagination of future scientists and engineers, with eyes to the cosmos. Today, the first moon landing still inspires, and informs new endeavors into space.
The following Cornell University researchers are available for interviews ahead of the July 20 anniversary.
Mason Peck is professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and former NASA Chief Technologist. He says the NASA of the Apollo era looked like a space startup and that the startups of today are the Apollo missions of this decade.
“Even though no more than half of Americans were supportive at the time, we look back on Apollo as a project where the entire nation pulled together to achieve an extraordinary goal. The goal was audacious. And audacious, mostly young, people achieved it. In fact, in those days, NASA looked a lot like a space startup: committed, vigorous, and enthusiastic — maybe even a little naïve.
“Those brief visits to the moon set a high bar for NASA and for all space exploration since. Apollo embedded an idea in our culture: that space is ours. Now, at long last, grandkids of Apollo are rethinking space, taking ownership of it once more, democratizing access to it, and working to make space our permanent home. Space startups from SpaceX to Planet Labs, students launching their own spacecraft, and the discovery of new worlds are the Apollo missions of this decade. I’d argue it’s all thanks to the Apollo missions that ‘came in peace for all mankind.’
“Even those who are skeptical about space science and the prospects for success among startup companies can’t deny the value of the technology that has spun off of our nation’s exploration. We’ve come to understand that investing in space doesn’t mean leaving dollars on the moon. That money is spent right here, on Earth, building up our technological capabilities and advancing the interests of all of us. Thousands of new solutions to everyday problems, from infant formula to smartphone cameras, owe their existence to Apollo and NASA’s successes since. So, in celebrating Apollo’s 50th anniversary, we’re recognizing not only a 20th century achievement but 50 years of innovation that will continue to shape the 21st century.”
Elizabeth Bilson, former administrative director of space sciences, worked with Professor Thomas Gold, a principal investigator in the Apollo sample analysis program. She recalls studying the composition of lunar samples.
“With my family, I watched the lunar landing and Neil Armstrong taking his first steps on the lunar soil, an unforgettable event. A few months later the first lunar soil and tiny rock samples arrived in the lunar laboratory.
“There were several objectives of the lunar sample analysis in Gold's laboratory. The most interesting was to find an explanation for the relatively low reflectivity of the lunar surface, that was mostly covered by a fine dust layer. A very capable colleague and I worked several years on this problem and found that the soil particle's surface was enriched in iron and some other heavy metals.”
Peter Thomas is a visiting scientist at the Cornell Center for Astrophysics and Planetary Science. He says the Apollo program succeeded in part because of its well-defined goal.
“The Apollo program to land men on the Moon was a particular action within the Cold War that tapped cultural enthusiasm for technology and exploration, and fit into a view of fulfilling ancient dreams. It succeeded because it had a well-defined goal, had substantive technical and intellectual foundations, and was popular enough to withstand major setbacks. Controversial technical decisions were allowed to stand on merit and largely avoided effects of political second-guessing.
“For someone growing up in the 50’s and 60’s, the race to the moon was an exciting realization of dreams. Five more landings followed Apollo 11; these vastly expanded the scientific output of the program. Apollo lunar samples still generate new science.
“Fifty years later the human perspective on space has been transformed by robotic missions throughout the solar system and by detection of thousands of planets around other stars.”
Philip Nicholson is professor of astronomy and deputy director of the Cornell Center for Astrophysics and Planetary Science. He recalls the first moon landing as among the biggest news stories of the 1960s.
“I was an undergraduate in Australia at the time of the Apollo 11 landing, but I still recall it quite well. Public TV screens were not nearly so ubiquitous then, so the Physics department set up several closed-circuit TVs in one of their big lecture halls, generally used to show lab demonstrations. There must have been 400 or so people crammed into the lecture hall to watch Armstrong's Big Step for Mankind broadcast live from the U.S., via satellite. The black and white picture was so grainy it was hard to make out any details, but enough to see him jump down to the lunar surface!
"Apart from Cuba, the Kennedy assassination and the Vietnam War, it was the biggest news story of the 1960s, that I recall. Definitely NASA's finest hour!"
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