Category Archives: University of California

Global Food Systems with Mary Robinson

Over one billion people today are undernourished. That means roughly one in seven people across the globe eat roughly one meal a day, if that.

Children in developing countries live with chronic hunger that stunts growth and weakens immune systems, while more and more people in wealthy countries grow obese. But there are starving children in wealthy countries too – families living on food stamps, making it impossible to ignore the inequality between the wealthy and the poor. As food becomes scarce, families are forced to eat cheaper, less nutritious meals, which can have devastating long-term affects on entire populations.

Within the past few years, we have witnessed food shortages like the global food crisis of 2008 and the East Africa food crisis of 2011. In Haiti in 2008, food prices rose to 50-100% of their normal price, which led to unrest, violence, and the ousting of the Prime Minister. Although some things like drought or infestations of vermin can be blamed for food shortages, many of the causes are man-made and avoidable.

Mary Robinson, formerly the first female President of Ireland and now the President of the Mary Robinson Foundation, speaks at the University of California Global Food Systems Forum to discuss these issues with experts and fellow human rights activists.

Robinson warns that climate change will only make matters worse. Rising sea levels will swallow up potential farm lands while increasing temperatures will turn farm lands to deserts. Watch “Mary Robinson – Global Food Systems” to learn more about the challenges ahead.

Check out other videos about how gardening and agriculture must feed our growing population.

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The Importance of Mentoring Women and Minority Faculty

Ever since the late 1970’s women have outnumbered men in college enrollments. That number has been steadily increasing to reach a male to female ratio of 43.6 to 56.4 in public universities and a nearly 40-60 split in private universities, based on 2008 enrollment data from the Digest of Education Statistics.

If women have consistently outnumbered men in college student populations for decades, why are the faculties of colleges dominated by men?

Dr. Shirley Malcom, head of Education and Human Resources, American Association for the Advancement of Science visits the University of California Office of the President to give a lecture in part with UC ADVANCE PAID, a program sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF), that enables campuses to recruit, retain and advance more women and underrepresented minority women faculty in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Watch as Dr. Malcom discusses “The Importance of Mentoring Women and Minority Faculty at Every Career Stage,” making the case that universities need to have a faculty that reflects the student population, meaning that they should be as diverse as the student body they teach.

Be sure to catch other videos in the series, Mentoring Faculty in an Inclusive Climate: Supporting Women and URM STEM Faculty at UC.

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Earth’s Most “Official” of Days

Climate Change on UCTVIt gives to us every hour of every day, but today – Earth Day – is the day we set aside to give back.

While it’s true that the home base for human beings has its share of challenges, many of its citizens — including researchers at the University of California — are working to preserve and conserve it for future generations.

Discover some of what these UC folk are up to at UCTV’s Climate video library. From the atmosphere up above, to the deepest parts of the sea – and everything that exists in between — you’ll discover something new about your planet on its “official” day.

Why not start out with one of these new UCTV programs?

Restoring the Gulf Marshes
UC Berkeley graduate student Thomas Azwell is helping to restore the Gulf of Mexico’s marshes after they were severely damaged by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill from April to July of 2010. Partnering with researchers and agencies in the Gulf, the Environmental Science student is staking tubes of cotton netting stuffed with pre-composted sugar cane fiber into the dying marshes of Louisiana, testing whether the environmentally sustainable waste material can give a larger variety of plants a better chance at healing the oil-damaged wetlands.

Silent Spring + 50: Lessons from San Diego’s Bees and Bays
San Diego Coastkeeper’s Jill Witkowski and Dr. James Nieh of UC San Diego address two major environmental problems in the region – water pollution and the devastating effect of parasites and pesticides (research conducted by former UCSD graduate student, Daren Eiri) on the honey bee population. Both presentations shed light on how members of the public can work with San Diego researchers to protect our natural resources and create a more sustainable community.

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UC and the BRAIN Initiative

Yesterday, President Barack Obama announced his plans to create a bold, $100 million public-private initiative to better understand the brain and the diseases that affect it. Appropriately called BRAIN (for Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies), the group brings together experts across private industry, academia and government agencies in the areas of neuroscience, neurotechnology and neuroscience.

You can bet a good portion of that research will take place within the University of California, where researchers are already deeply entrenched in unlocking the mysteries within the human brain. How do we know? Because many of these same researchers have shared their fascinating discoveries in autism, alzheimer’s, neurology, and mental health and psychiatry with UCTV viewers for years.

And it seems our viewers are always hungry for more. UCTV’s Human Brain iTunes feed consistently shows up in iTunesU’s Top 10 Collections and “What’s Hot” sections.

No doubt that President Obama’s endorsement will mean even more exciting discoveries — and UCTV programs — to come. In the meantime, subscribe to our Human Brain feed in iTunes and browse our archive of Neurology programs at our website. There’s plenty to keep your brain busy!

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And Who Invited You?: What Every Student Should Ask Before Traveling Abroad

This week on UCTV Prime’s new series “Going Places: UC Education Abroad,” we meet two students who used their experience in University of California’s Education Abroad Program (UCEAP) to change the world for the better.

One of these remarkable people is Samantha Lynne Wilson, a youth organizer and community builder who, as a UC Riverside undergraduate, enrolled in a program that took her to Hyderabad, India (you can watch her “Going Places” segment here). There she founded and currently serves as the Executive Learner of the Child Leader Project (CLP)— a non-profit organization designed to create safe spaces for young people from Southern California to South India in addressing social justice issues in their local communities.

We asked Wilson if she had some words of advice for students preparing for their own international adventures and she most certainly did. Here they are:

And Who Invited You?: What Every Student Should Ask Before Traveling Abroad
Contributed by Samantha Lynne Wilson

I have a bone to pick with success stories: they focus too deeply on one person, neglecting the ecology of people and moments that craft change. Perhaps this blog can be one step towards addressing that.

The far more important and more amazing narrative for one to know (if you are to know anything about my experience in India) are the stories of the young adults in South India expanding the work of child and youth leadership with their own experience, leadership and vision– in India, right now. They formed a young adult-led organization as our Indian partner, the Trust for Youth and Child Leadership (TYCL). This is a team of all-volunteer young adult mentors and child/youth organizers addressing systemic justice issues in their local villages, orphanages and slums.

UC Riverside and India Child Leader Project teams pose for a photo, Summer 2011.

These young men and women have taught me the most important lesson about being a foreigner in India– to whom or what do you belong?  The most important thing a study abroad student can do is ask themselves the hard question about what it means to be alive and to be accountable in their host country. Who invited you to this country? What privilege do you carry? To whom or what are you accountable to? While abroad, who are you breaking bread with? In a riff on the words of Ivan Illich, eloquent and seething critic of the benign “well-intentioned” blindness of international volunteerism– “Is your life even alive enough to be shared?”

Study abroad can give us the blog-worthy illusion of “radical” transformation. But real transformation occurs when we think critically about who we belong to, who we are accountable to and how we choose to move in a world where being from North America (and having the privilege to travel abroad) means you have a lot of privilege with a lot to learn.

This privilege does not mean authority. This privilege means responsibility to be self-reflective, critical and make changes that are uncomfortable to your own way of life– not to export your way of life or assume your life to be “the right way.”

Again– is your life alive enough to be shared?

Painting of Hindu deity Ganesh, with Tamil words, Crystal Bocheta, participant in CLP’s “Send US to India” program in 2011.

I am accountable to the incredible young adults in India who became my friends, brothers and sisters and who collaborated with me when CLP began and now lead the organization on their own. There are far too many to name here. To name only a small handful, I honor Arumugham, Amala, Shiva, Jugal, Basu, Karthik. I honor the first CLP child leaders who believed in the idea– Priya and Suhasini, Vimal and Arun… to name only some of the first twenty during that first trip to Tamil Nadu. I honor the people among them now and the people who will come after them. My gratitude and my devotion to them and the lessons they teach me –and hopefully teach you– about what accountability to a land and a people really mean.

Check out their most recent project, two short videos (with English subtitles) about the impacts of alcoholism and environmental injustice due to poor drainage in two of the villages where TYCL facilitates leadership with other child and youth leaders. You can also check out their website.

Listen more. Talk less. Wait for an invitation. Be accountable to your actions, beliefs and privilege.

I learned an important saying in Tamil on one of my most recent trips to visit TYCL– “poyttu varen.” It is said when someone is leaving. It means that “although I go, I will return– because our relationship is important to me.” Or, more sweetly, “Go… and come back.”

So, when you live a life abroad, should you choose to do so, live in such a way that your neighbors, fellow students and teachers, mentors, host families and community might say such a thing to you.

Samantha Lynne Wilson is now in the second year of her Masters in Divinity at Claremont School of Theology, with in a focus on the ministry of youth-led community organizing. She can be reached at samantha@childleaderproject.org.

Watch Wilson’s story in “Changing the World: Growing Young Leaders” and more inspiring stories at the “Going Places: UC Education Abroad” website.

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