Fordham GSAS: Grad. Life: October 2012

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Potential Graduate Research on Extreme Weather Events and Climate Science

    Yesterday, during a press conference about Hurricane Sandy, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was asked a question about the ways in which climate change may be causing recent extreme weather events that have been occurring with increasing frequency and intensity across the globe. The reporter was, of course, referring to events like the impending Hurricane Sandy, as well as Hurricane Irene, Snowtober, Thundersnow, and dozens of other events such as the earthquakes, tsunamis, and tornados that have caused so much destruction and loss of life in recent times. Governor Christie, intelligently and level-headedly, said that his immediate concern was more of the practical, rather than theoretical, nature, but that in the coming months and years we should encourage the academic community to respond to these questions. Within his response, he said, "That's why we have an academic community" -- and my impression of the comment was that he was implying that we would, and should, defer to the scholarly conversation on the subject.

      The comment made me think about the response that graduate research students might have to this reporter's important, if misplaced, question. After some research of my own -- researching research, I suppose -- I learned that the academic response to climate change issues and questions reaches across dozens of disciplines, creating an intense and intricate multi- and interdisciplinary conversation over the last few years. It involves the criss-crossing of studies of the atmosphere, geology, geophysics, sociology, socio-economics, ecology, oceanography, geo-engineering, civil engineering, chemistry, biology, meteorology, environmental studies, environmental engineering, marine geology, and glaciology -- an inexhaustive list! There are dozens of journals publishing articles and studies in the field -- check out this cool list compiled by Jim Prall, author of the "Green Herring" blog.
     In my investigation of the subject, I also learned about the IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This organization, created by the UN and the WMO, "reviews and assesses the most recent scientific, technical, and socio-economic information produced worldwide relevant to the understanding of climate change" (See the IPCC website for more information). I assume this body, with its pulse on the academic and scientific conversation on climate science, would provide the world's government leaders with the information about weather and climate related policy decisions -- information that could potentially answer questions like the one the reporter asked Governor Christie yesterday.
      To me, due to the multi- and interdisciplinary nature of the field, and both the scientific as well as socio-cultural aspects of climatology, climate studies seem like a worthwhile, fascinating, and necessary pursuit. Not only will it benefit the world, but it also seems like a good career move for an individual's academic career, as the demand for these kinds of studies will only increase over time.
      Just some thoughts I have been having as I watch the Sandy coverage and get ready to bunker down for the next few days! I want to know what YOU think! Are you currently a graduate student working on climate-related research? If so, what are your interests? Let us know, here!
      Stay safe! -- Liza

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Workshop on Online Presence for Grads to be Held on Nov. 7th

Hi Readers!
     Hope you are all busy getting ready for the Frankenstorm! Between the storm, Halloween, the World Series, and Election Day coming up, we have lots of events rising up on our cultural horizon. But don't let the maelstrom of Frankenstorm and the Presidential Election overshadow some important events coming up in our very own GSAS community. After the storm settles down and we all pick up the pieces, and have elected our President for the next four years, you may be interested in this important upcoming event on our campus. Read on:

Creating an Online Presence
     Several months ago, I posted a blog entry about the importance of creating an online presence as a graduate student within the context of an academic career. (Read the entry here.) Next Wednesday, on November 7th, there will be a workshop held on our very own campus to discuss this important topic. The Fordham Graduate Digital Humanities group and the GSAS will co-sponsor "You Online: Developing Your Online Academic Presence." The event will take place in the Flom Auditorium, in the Walsh Library at Rose Hill, from 11 to 3. From 11 to 12, there is a talk open to the entire Fordham community, by Michael Mandiberg, of the CUNY grad center. Then, after lunch, representatives from each department will participate in a workshop focusing on creating a WordPress site. More information about the entire event can be found here. Register for this event at this link! It should be a wonderful opportunity to get you thinking about how to make your academic presence known on-line, using best practices that will carve out your identity in a professional, smart, door-opening way.
     Always look for more upcoming events in the GSAS here on the Grad.Life Blog. And if you have any events you'd like Grad.Life to promote, please leave us a comment, or write in to our Facebook page, or email Liza at, and let me know the info!
Thanks, until next time, Liza

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Some links to upcoming events in the GSAS

Linked together in the GSAS!

Hi Readers,
     Wednesday is a wonderful day of the week -- closing in on the weekend, but still a decent amount of time to get things done before another week is over.
      I wanted to link the blog up with a few things going on around the GSAS in the coming weeks. These are all listed on the GSAS newsletter, which can you can sign up to receive here.
     On Monday, October 29, the second round of the GSAS's "Improv Training" will be held in the O'Keefe Commons in O'Hare Hall (at Rosehill) from 4 to 7pm. The improv training, geared towards increasing communication skills in the academic world, is based on actor/entertainer/writer/director/Fordham Alumni Alan Alda's techniques for building communication skills through creative, improvisational play and interactive exercises. Check out this article which appeared on the Fordham Notes Blog when the program was introduced at Orientation this year.You can register for the event here.Part Three of this series will be held on November 5th. Register for part three at this link.
     On Wednesday, October 31st, there is a workshop entitled "Understanding the Distinguished Fellowships," for any and all graduate students who want some detailed information on the types of fellowships available to graduate students, and the process involved in applying for and receiving one of these prizes. Register here; the event will be held from 2 to 3:30 in Dealy Hall at Rose Hill.
    The following day, on Thursday November 1, speaker Cassie Sklarz from Career Services will give a presentation entitled "How To Network." This talk will be held from 3 to 4:30, in Keating 124. Register here. 
    Next Wednesday, on November 7th, The Fordham Graduate Digital Humanities group and the GSAS will co-sponsor "You Online: Developing Your Online Academic Presence." The event will take place in the Flom Auditorium, in the Walsh Library at Rose Hill, from 11 to 3. From 11 to 12, there is a talk open to the entire Fordham community, by Michael Mandiberg, of the CUNY grad center. Then, after lunch, representatives from each department will participate in a workshop focusing on creating a WordPress site. More information about the entire event can be found here. Register for this event at this link! It should be a wonderful opportunity to get you thinking about how to make your academic presence known on-line, using best practices that will carve out your identity in a professional, smart, door-opening way.
     I hope you enjoy and take advantage of these great opportunities provided by our GSAS. 
      And don't forget to "LIKE" our Grad.Life blog page on Facebook!

      Until next time, Liza

Monday, October 22, 2012

What's So Funny 'Bout Peace, Love and Understanding?

Hello Readers!
     A busy week and weekend has brought us all to another Monday! I hope everyone in the GSAS enjoyed the crisp fall weather this past weekend in New York City.
     This morning over a little cup of joe, I was doing some research for some upcoming blog entries. Knowing that today I could, and should, write something about tonight's Presidential debate, I began reading through some commentary, trying to find an angle for my post. At first, I wanted to write about gender issues that came up in last week's debate. Mitt Romney’s now notorious phrase – “binders full of women” – caused an uproarious social media and internet response in the immediate hours and days following Tuesday night’s debate. The image that the phrase conjured, at least for me, was sort of off-putting, if not unsettling: a white-collared group of men on the Romney staff, pouring over a collection of resumes of a multitude of women, previously unknown to these men, holding a discussion about these said women’s skill sets, experience, achievements, and other qualifications, trying to decide which one (or several?) of the women was worthy enough to join them as a colleague. Instead of achieving the desired effect of making women feel appreciated and respected by Romney, the phrase actually made many women cringe. The New York Times had a great editorial on the subject, and the commentary by readers is equally fascinating, and at times inciting. Check it out here. And let me know what other responses you have found that resonated with you! 
    Gender issues may indeed continue to be the subject of future discussions on this blog. But after searching through some other debate related media on the net, I came across something that may be more relevant and interesting considering that we will all be watching the final debate tonight. What I found was the release of this year's "Memorandum of Understanding" -- ie, the list of agreed upon rules -- for the Presidential Debate, released by the debate Commission for the Debate and published in full by various sources last week, including Time and the Huffington Post. According to the Huff, this is only the 4th time that the agreed upon rules between the two campaigns have ever been released to the public. I thought it would be interesting to take a look, and get a conversation going about what rules these candidates are supposed to be following tonight, and what insights or discussion may follow from investigating them.
    One interesting rule is that the candidates are not supposed to directly address questions to each other; you wouldn't know this was a rule, however, after watching, because this rule was clearly not followed during the debate. Readers, what do you think about this rule and about the participants' breakage of it? What do you think the purpose of this rule is? I suppose ultimately it is to keep the process organized and fair. But what happens if one candidate does break the rule? Should the other candidate -- the one being addressed -- respond? If he does not respond, he runs the risk of looking passive, or not prepared to answer. Also, there is something to be said for those moments in which the candidates DID break that rule -- do you think the moments when the candidates broke this rule were the more intense and provocative than the moments when the candidates avoided interrogating each other?
     Did you also know that there is an agreed upon rule about how the candidates will be addresses, by each other, and the moderator? Obama must be addressed as "Mr. President" or "President Obama," and Romney must be called "Governor" or "Governor Romney." This rule must come in handy for the candidates during heated moments when, in a natural setting, they'd probably tend to use less respectful monikers. But it would be nice to think that there'd be enough genuine respect and civility that this rule wouldn't even have to be stated.
     Also, the candidates must not address any single individual in the audience, excepting their own family members. Is this rule in place to keep candidates from having any kind of advantage over the other? What scenarios would arise in which President Obama and Gov. Romney would be addressing an individual in the audience, to the disadvantage of the other?
    Related to this rule is that, in the first and third debates, no audience partipation is allowed. They are not even allowed to applaud or laugh! Even though the candidates themselves have no control over this rule being followed or broken, I'll be watching tonight to see how well this rule is enforced.
    The candidates are also not allowed to move tonight from their designated position at their table. I don't expect either of the two men will rise up from their table tonight -- but you never know! My question, again, is, why is this rule even needed in the contract? And, if it is broken, what will the consequence be? Perhaps the moderator will instruct the candidate to sit down, but the effect of the candidate rising or moving from his place will not be erased from the audience's mind. It kind of reminds me of when a trial lawyer says a question or statement that she knows will be disallowed by the court, but says it anyway to put it in the jury members' heads.
    These were just some of the rules that caught my attention as I read through the document. Take a look through yourself before the debate tonight, and see if it changes your viewing experience!
    And let me know what you thought!!
    Enjoy tonight!
    Until next time, yours, Liza

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Debate Night in America, Round 2

Hello to the GSAS community!
         I'm sure the Bronx-pride we feel from our connection to the Rose Hill Campus is at least making us curious, if not excited, about the Yankees' almost "must-win" situation tonight in the ALCS. Of course, there's another big-ticket program on TV that I bet most graduate students will be tuning into tonight -- no, not the The Voice "Battle Rounds," but you're warm.
         Not American Horror Story, Asylum (that's TOMORROW!), but you actually may be getting warmer....
         Yes! I am talking about the 2nd Presidential Debate.
         So, of course we, as graduate students, will most likely tune in tonight. And, as students, we will watch, and observe, and judge, and discuss. We will latch onto certain turns-of-phrase, and practice arguing the point, and we will throw away other turns-of-phrase, dismissing them for lack of substance and logic and evidence. And, as teachers, we will get mileage out of tonight's events; we may create assignments that ask students to respond to what happens tonight, or to respond to responses to what happens tonight,  or to research a topic discussed tonight, or even to hold their own mock town hall style debate.
         Yes, we graduate students will get a lot out of watching in tonight's debate, participating in our own small way in the democratic process by investing our time, thoughts, and even hearts into this stage performance that ironically can so easily affect the course of our nation's history. We will exercise our intellectual as well as our democratic muscle. We will order pizzas, drink wine, gather at each other's apartments, post witty or frustrated FB statuses and Tweets as we watch.
        But what I am actually hoping for tonight is some kind of simple moment of honesty breaking through all the spinny, mucky, moldy, crummy, rusty, dusty, dirty, smoke-screeny stuff that will surely be spewed tonight. It may be too much to ask for, but as a graduate student, the one thing I've learned if I've learned anything at all is that integrity and authenticity are two of the rarest and most precious human qualities we have in this post-modern, post-ideology, post-theory world, and we must continue to value, recognize, and celebrate these qualities when we see them exhibited by anyone, and especially by our leaders.
         So, like you, I'll be watching, and waiting. Let Grad.Life know what YOU thought! Until next time, Liza

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Grad.Life Picture Essay: Multi-Tasking on a Thursday Night

blogging for the GSAS


half-watching Yankee playoff game on the TV


intermittently flipping to VP debate on another channel on the TV

hard-boiling some eggs for tomorrow's breakfast

grading papers

mildly berating myself for not working out today


getting excited that it is Friday tomorrow


thinking about a pumpkin spiced latte


wishing I was on a beach


processing recent feedback on my dissertation in the back of my mind

Fordham GSAS Grad.Life.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Columbus Day Debate

Good morning readers! It is Columbus Day! Notice I didn't say "Happy Columbus Day!" The jury is still out on whether this holiday should even be celebrated anymore.

Yesterday, I read this essay published in the Huffington Post, and it summarizes the polarizing viewpoints on Columbus's achievements. On one hand, the article recounts:
[H]is feat and daring compare with Neil Armstrong's first steps on the moon. After all, this was a guy who really didn't know where he was going, how long it would take to get there, what he'd encounter by way of dangers along the way or even if his theory about finding land at all would hold any water, so to speak. This was still a time when most thought the world was flat and that Columbus might just sail right off of it. It was "boldly going where no man had gone before." Even Armstrong knew how many miles away the moon was from earth and about how long it would take to get there. Columbus? Really it was like taking off for the next galaxy. With no radar. No sonar. No GPS. No mechanical, steam or electrical power. No packaged or canned food. Not even any plumbing. This took a potent combination of guts and greed both on Columbus' part and on that of their Most Catholic Majesties, Isabella and Ferdinand of Spain.
On the other hand, the "discovery"
set in motion no end of ethnic cleansing, genocide, dispossession, disease and despair for Native Americans (both in North and South America) that to a great extent prevails to this day.... It also set the stage for the forceful importation of millions of blacks from Africa, their being dragged into slavery and their legacy of persecution and discrimination that has only been redressed recently.
 The essayist, Howard Barbanel, ultimately calls for some kind of middle ground that acknowledges the wrongs but also doesn't repress the memory of Columbus completely. The essay certainly got me thinking that there has to be a way to teach the history of Columbus in our culture that doesn't erase the parts of the chain of events that aren't as pretty as the other parts. What do you all think? Will you be wishing each other "Happy Columbus Day!" today?
Either way, if you have off from work, enjoy your day --- until next time, Liza

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Insight from the Presidential Debate: Preparation vs. Inspiration

 Hello on this lovely, though overcast, fall Saturday in New York City!
       So, with this October's gorgeous weather, post-season baseball, football Sundays, spooky haunted houses and Halloween candy in the grocery store aisles also comes a month of………Presidential Debates! 
Photo from
        Of course, I had a lot to say about Wednesday night’s debate, and I experienced a lot of emotions while watching it -- but one of the non-political aspects I thought might be valuable to discuss about the debate was the general sense that Obama's preparation wasn't up to snuff. In the days since the debate, it seems that it is universally accepted that Romney “out-prepared” Obama for the debate. At first, it was irritating to me that preparation, and, in turn, a lack-thereof, could become such a factor in the debate when it should be, idealistically, that these two men actually stand for real policies backed by ideas that they believe in and understand, and, therefore, should not so much as stumble when presented with an argument against those policies and ideas.
        But then I thought about it more, from the perspective of my own career as an academic professor and graduate student, and I began to change my mind.
        Every time Obama wasn’t looking up and meeting Romney’s eyes, or the camera’s lens, I could almost feel through the TV that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that I usually get when I know I am unprepared. It is the same emotion that fuels those naked-at-school nightmares.
        My husband always says that preparation outweighs knowledge, skill, talent, charisma, and intellect. Wednesday night’s debate serves as evidence for this claim.
        As I watched the debate, and then watched the commentary from the pundits, I thought about my experience with being prepared versus being unprepared. Yes…as a graduate student, I’ve learned the hard way that preparation is essential for success, and that it is especially crucial for oral performances. But I actually don’t want to write a blog on how to prepare for an oral debate, exam, or presentation. I do, however, think Obama’s performance in the debate provides us with an opportunity to discuss how important preparation is for success in almost anything you do -- in graduate school, and in life.
        I began to think about the fact that, no matter how well I know my own material, and believe in my argument in my dissertation, it will come across as a senseless disaster if I don’t rehearse my argument and practice fielding questions about it -- questions that may come in forms and from directions I hadn’t anticipated. And I will say to myself, man, I KNOW this stuff, backwards and forwards! Why am I goofing it up? But preparation for defending it means that I know it from more ways than backwards and forwards – it means you are prepared from any direction.
        The same thing happens with teaching. Do experienced, gifted, talented, charismatic teachers need to prepare for class for it to go well? You may at first say, no probably not. But the truth is that preparation makes anyone better, period. Can these individuals sometimes wing it? Can grad students sometimes wing it in class, or in a reading group meeting, without being prepared? Sure.
But it all changes when the stakes are higher.
       Your body actually reacts differently when there is more at stake. "Winging it" for orals exams, for a teaching observation, for a job-talk or an interview, is unthinkable, because preparation puts you not only at a mental advantage but also a physical advantage. Proper preparation relaxes your body and brain in a way that promotes a better performance. So after preparing properly, not only do you know your stuff well, but also your body KNOWS you know your stuff well, and it lets you do your thing of being your amazing, talented self.
     So that is my ultimate conclusion and insight – that there is something physiological that happens to promote success when you prepare yourself well enough.  What do you all think? Let me know, and keep tuning in to Grad.Life for more thoughts on what we can learn from the Presidential debates!
Don’t forget to “Like” our Facebook page!!! Until next time, Liza 

Monday, October 1, 2012

October Days in the GSAS

Happy October!
       Here are some upcoming events to put on your calendar for this month! I will feature more events as the dates get closer.
      On Friday, Oct. 12, the GSAS will hold its annual Scholarships and Achievements Celebration. Congratulations to all recipients -- you've worked so hard, and here is your chance to be honored and to celebrate! Join the GSAS in the Lowenstein Building at Lincoln Center, in the 12th Floor Lounge. The event begins at 6:30pm.  
       On Monday, Oct. 15, the Center for Medieval Studies will be sponsoring a lecture by Dr. Liesbeth van Houts, history professor, fellow, and director of studies at University of Cambridge. The talk, the second of the Medieval Studies' Lecture Series this semester, is entitled "The Fate of Priests' Sons c1100, with Special Reference to Serlo of Bayeux." Dr. van Houts specializes in Medieval History and Latin, Anglo-Norman history, medieval historiography and literature, and gender studies in the Middle Ages. According to her university profile, she also enjoys hiking in Wales and reading contemporary Dutch literature -- I wish I could go on a hike with her and find out more about her amazing career and discuss the colonial ghosts in Dutch novels! The talk begins at 5:15pm at McGinley Center, Faculty Lounge -- check it out! 
       Next, Fordham's Latin American and Latino Studies Institute will host a lecture on Wednesday, Oct. 17, by Dr. Barry Carr, entitled "Rebels, Revolutionaries, and Exiles." Dr. Carr is one of the top scholars in the field of Latin American studies, with special interest in the cultural, social, and economic histories of Mexico, Cuba, Central America, and the Caribbean. He is currently teaching a course for the LALS as a visiting professor; his course is entitled "Testimony and Revolution in Latin America: Reading Testimonios by Women and Men Activists from Central and South America, 1960-1992," and we welcome him to Fordham. SPECIAL NOTE: The LALS will be holding a Welcoming Reception for Dr. Carr tomorrow evening, Oct. 2, at 5pm in the McGinley Center, Room 236. But even if you can't make tomorrow's reception, be sure to put Dr. Carr's Oct. 17th talk into your calendars! 
       These events are sure to enrich your October here in the GSAS. Let me know if you plan on attending any of them! Plenty more to come from Grad.Life this month! 
         In the meantime, enjoy these first days of one of my favorite months of the year! 
---- Liza