Alumni CLASnotes Fall 2007
In This Issue:

Campus Views

Campaign 2008: Presidential Inauguration Seminar Series

Campaign 2008: Presidential Inauguration Seminar Series

From January 10-21, Sharon Austin, Associate Professor of Political Science, accompanied 19 University of Florida students to Washington D.C. to participate in the Campaign 2008: Presidential Inauguration Seminar Series.

Sponsored by the Washington Center, this seminar examined the new administration of President Barack Obama and the role of the media in determining the outcome of the 2008 election and the candidates' use of it during their presidential campaigns, the political and policy changes that are likely to result from the 2008 election, the potential relationship between the new president and Congress, the role of the new vice-president during the next four years, the impact of this presidency on the war in Iraq and the war on terror, and the ability of the new presidential administration to address economic problems in America. Approximately 800 students from the U.S. and Guam and 100 professors participated in the program's activities.

During daily morning sessions, the participants listened to lectures by speakers such as Ambassador Hussain Haqqani of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, CBS News Correspondent Bob Schieffer, CNN Correspondent Dana Bash, Sam Donaldson of ABC News, former ABC Nightline host Ted Koppel, Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Clarence Page, FOX News commentators Brett Bayer and Juan Williams, and USA Today columnists Cal Thomas and Bob Beckel. Two of the morning sessions were televised on CSPAN's Washington Journal Live. Students participated in brown bag discussions facilitated by Dr. Austin, and in the afternoons, they visited historic sites in the District of Columbia such as the Canadian Embassy, the Center for American Politics, the Chamber of Commerce, the Chinese Embassy, the Israeli Embassy, the Fund for Peace, the Newseum, the U.S. Capitol, the U.S. Supreme Court, and the White House.

At the end of the program, the students had the option of attending commemorative activities celebrating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the inauguration of President Obama. "It was a very busy week because the students also visited college campuses and found out about internships and jobs in Washington," said Dr. Austin. "The organizers of the program wanted them to learn things that would change their lives forever. I think they accomplished their mission."

Smocovitis Wishes Darwin Happy Birthday

DarwinBetty Smocovitis, as a Phi Beta Kappa Society visiting scholar, has been visiting campuses throughout the U.S. to deliver lectures and seminars commemorating the bicentennial of Charles Darwin's birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his On the Origin of Species--specifically on his theory in popular song and musical production.

Attendees to her lectures enjoyed a lighthearted look through song and film at Darwin and the issues and controversies regarding his theory of evolution. The lectures were designed to introduce a general audience to the life of Darwin, offer new insights into his life and work and provoke thought about the relationship between science and American popular culture. At many of the events, Darwin birthday cake was served.

This multidisciplinary scholar, who holds joint appointments in history and biology, capped off the academic year with yet another honor--she was selected as the 16th Distinguished Alumni Professor. She receives an award of $20,000 from the UF Alumni Association and monetary support from the Office of Academic Affairs. Smocovitis' research focuses on the history, philosophy and sociology of the 20th-century biological sciences, especially evolutionary biology, systematics, ecology and genetics, as well as the history of American botany.

An Everglade ProvidenceMarjory Stoneman Douglas

Jack E. Davis (History) has written the first comprehensive biography of Marjory Stoneman Douglas, whose life and writing were instrumental in the preservation of the Everglades. In An Everglades Providence he finds that the intertwined stories of Douglas's life and south Florida's wetlands illuminate the way Americans changed their views on ecology and conservation over the course of the twentieth century.

While reconstructing this larger picture, Davis recounts the shifts in Douglas's own life and her instrumental role in the making of a positive wetland image, the creation of a national park, the expanding influence of ecological science, and the rise of the modern environmental movement.

Haitian Creole ExpressHaitian Creole Express

Benjamin Hebblethwaite (Languages, Literatures, and Cultures) was the principal subject matter expert and editor of the development team for Haitian Creole Express, a multimedia distance-learning course designed to provide U.S. Government employees and family members assigned to work in Haiti with basic familiarization with the Haitian Creole language and Haitian culture.

The courses, based on the traditional Familiarization and Short Term (FAST) courses offered in the classroom at the U.S. Department of State Foreign Service Institute, prepare the learner to get things done despite limited linguistic ability by making use of essential language and cultural knowledge.

Latina Activists across BordersLatina Activists across Borders

Milagros Pena, director of the Center for Women's Studies and Gender Research and professor of sociology, was awarded a Distinguished Book award from the Latino/a section of the American Sociological Association (ASA), the premier organization in the field. Pena's book, Latina Activists across Borders: Women's Grassroots Organizing in Mexico and Texas. The ASA awards committee noted that they were impressed with the theoretical contributions, methodological rigor, and substantive findings on pastoral as well as secular feminist movements among Latinas in the border area.

A Place to BeA Place to Be

Philip Williams (Political Science) are co-editors of A Place to Be: Brazilian, Guatemalan, and Mexican Immigrants in Florida's New Destinations--the first book to explore migration dynamics and community among Brazilian, Guatemalan, and Mexican immigrants in America's new South. The authors adopt a fresh perspective to explore patterns of settlement in Florida, including the outlying areas of Miami and beyond. Stellar contributors from Latin America and the United States address the challenges faced by Latino immigrants, their cultural and religious practices, as well as the strategies used, as they move into areas experiencing recent large-scale immigration.

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