20 September 2004

We know we live in a world where geography means less and less, and where information is the fuel that charges a global economy. Cultural lines blur as popular culture and icons penetrate consciousness everywhere, even as group identity seems resurgent as a source of hostility and violence. Technology allows us to communicate constantly, yet time for reflection remains elusive, and one wonders if Americans are losing their capacity to hear what others have to say.

In an interdependent, information-fed world, our media are morphing at a rapid rate. How well do the changes underway serve the cause of democracy? Will a press that maximizes choice and invites everyone to co-produce their own content re-ignite participation, or kill it? Are technologies that know no borders creating durable forms of community, or lessening a sense of place and political relevance? Is it possible to develop a global perspective alongside powerful group or national loyalty? Can media be a force for reconciliation in such a profoundly troubled world?

Stephen Sayler has been at the forefront of public media in the United States for more than two decades, first as a senior manager at WNET/Thirteen in New York, and then as president of Public Radio International (PRI), based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. His own international perspective has formed through a variety of experiences including a Watson Fellowship following graduation from Davidson College, which took him to four countries in Sub-Saharan Africa studying development policy and practice, and a U.S.-Japan Leadership Fellowship from the Japan Society, during which he worked with the Sony Corporation in Tokyo and wrote on the digital revolution in Japan.

In 1999, he helped found and currently chairs the Board of Public Interactive, an internet application service provider to the public broadcasting industry that provides publishing tools, content and streaming to more than 275 radio and television station websites across the United States. Mr. Salyer has led the development of numerous public television programs, ranging from The Brain to Thomas The Tank Engine and Friends at WNET, and in public radio from Marketplace to The World, a co-production with the BBC. He is presently engaged in creating new channels for both XM and Sirius Satellite Radio, and exploring the creation of an on-demand audio service.

Mr. Salyer is a graduate of Davidson College and Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. He studied law at New York University as a Root-Tilden Scholar. He serves on the Boards of PRI, Public Interactive, Davidson College, MacPhail Center for Music, and Philanthropic Research, Inc. (


7 October 2004

Few of us today think of the Parthenon as a “replacement building” but it was, in fact, constructed upon the ruins left by the Persians and their surprise attack on the Acropolis in 480 B.C. The Greeks left their “Ground Zero” untouched for more than 30 years, to stand as a reminder of the atrocities committed upon their sacred shrines in the very heart of their city. This paper presents the long view from history, considering the experience of New Yorkers in the aftermath of September 11th in relation to that of fifth century Athenians. It explores the trajectory of destruction, loss, memorial and rebuilding alongside the development of a strong civic identity in the face of adversity.

Archaeologist Joan Breton Connelly  holds the Lillian Vernon Chair for Teaching Excellence at New York University. She is the author of Votive Sculpture of Hellenistic Cyprus and the forthcoming Portrait of a Priestess: Women and Ritual in Ancient Greece. She has written for the Wall Street Journal and the New York Daily News. In 1996, Connelly was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship for her work in Greek art, religion and myth, particularly for her groundbreaking reinterpretation of the Parthenon sculptures.  Connelly has excavated throughout Greece and Cyprus and, since 1990, has directed the NYU Yeronisos Island Expedition and Field School in Cyprus. She is a member of the French Archaeological Mission to Failaka, Kuwait, where she consulted on the design of the Kuwait National Museum’s Hellenistic galleries and published material from the fortress established by the successors of Alexander the Great.

Connelly is a graduate of Princeton University and holds a PhD from Bryn Mawr College where she later served as Assistant Dean. She has been a visiting fellow and at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University. She is a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, the Royal Geographical Society, the Explorers Club and the Society of Women Geographers. She is a trustee of the Society for the Preservation of the Greek Heritage. She holds Honorary Citizenship from the Municipality of Peyia, Republic of Cyprus. In 2003, she was appointed to the President’s Cultural Property Advisory Committee, U.S. Department of State.


14 October 2004

AIDS is a new disease caused by a new virus—HIV. While much of our attention is devoted to stopping this deadly plague, there are some important reasons to figure out its origins: where did HIV come from? And why now? The answers that are beginning to emerge – through the study of history, medicine, and economics – tell a strange story of good intentions and unintended consequences.

Ernest Drucker is an esteemed member of the CUSP Board of Advisors.  For his biographical information please see our Board of Advisors’ page.


10 November 2004

Today we face an American Empire more powerful than ever, and certainly as ruthless as in the days of Haiti’s occupation in the early 20th century. Under the Bush administration’s global war, we are witnessing the suppression of self-determination for nations of the Global South and the real possibility of re-colonization; massive poverty and the disappearance of viable welfare states in the face of structural adjustment policies; privatization of the commons, resulting in imperialist control over indigenous resources; unbridled corporate destruction of the environment resulting in global warming, droughts and epidemics; and the suppression of movements for social justice and transformation. Given the current situation, why are there so few African Americans involved in anti-imperialist and anti-globalization movements?  Where are the progressive black movements concerned with influencing U.S. foreign policy and promoting internationalism?  What happened to the black freedom movement’s longstanding commitment to Third World solidarity and Pan-Africanism?  At this presentation, Dr. Kelley discussed the history of African Americans’ struggle against United States imperial designs; the current position of African Americans vis-à-vis the United States empire’s presence in Iraq; and the irony of President Bush appointing Colin Powell to position of Secretary of State and Condoleezza Rice to National Security Advisor at a time when a black progressive critique of United States foreign policy has diminished.  

Robin D.G. Kelley is a full professor in Columbia’s Anthropology Department, an award-winning author and a leading United States African-American studies scholar. Before arriving at Columbia in 2003, Professor Kelley served as the chair of the History Department at New York University from 2002-2003 and professor of history and Africana Studies since 1994. As a distinguished visiting professor in African-American studies, he taught at Columbia in 1996 and served as Columbia's Louis Armstrong Professor of Jazz Studies in 2000-2001. He also held associate and assistant professor positions at the University of Michigan and at Emory University.  In addition to his now seven books in print, including the award-winning Race Rebels: Culture, Politics, and The Black Working Class, Kelley has written more than 100 essays, opinion pieces, and book reviews for TheJournal of American History, The Nation, New Politics, The New York Times, Black Music Research Journal, The Chronicle of Higher Education and other publications. He has edited and co-edited copious works and is on the editorial board for a dozen publications on music, popular culture, African studies and American history, including the Institute for Research in African-American Studies Journal, Souls. Kelley has received numerous awards for his writing over the years, and has served as an advisor for more than a dozen film projects, including Ken Burns' "Jazz" and Peter Jennings' "The American Century."

Dr. Kelley has a Ph.D. in United States history and an M.A. in African history from UCLA, and a B.A. in history from California State University, Long Beach. Dr. Kelley is currently drafting a detailed biography on jazz musician Thelonious Monk entitled Misterioso: In Search of Thelonious Monk (under contract, The Free Press). 


30 November 2004

Philip Gourevitch is a staff writer at The New Yorker, where his work has appeared since 1995. His first book, We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda—published in 1998—won a number of major prizes, including the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and, in England, the Guardian First Book Award. His second book, A Cold Case, an account of a three-decades-long investigation of a double homicide in New York City, was published in 2001, and is being developed as a feature film. Both books have been translated in half a dozen foreign languages.

In addition to his work for the New Yorker, Gourevitch’s reportage, essays and short fiction has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies at home and abroad. He was educated at Cornell University and Columbia University, and now lives in Brooklyn and Millerton, New York.


2 February 2005

‘a/k/a Mrs. George Gilbert’ extends Coco Fusco’s in-depth examination of racialized imagery. Fusco combines fictional and documentary source materials to reflect on the use of electronic surveillance against black intellectuals and activists in the 1960s and 1970s as part of covert FBI operations that bear a striking resemblance to the current Patriot Act-inspired activities of American law enforcement. ‘a/k/a Mrs. George Gilbert’ is the story of an FBI agent who confesses his involvement in the nation-wide search for Angela Davis, the black philosopher who was fired from UCLA in 1969 at the order of then governor Ronald Reagan, and in 1970 was placed on the FBI's “Ten Most Wanted List," after which she went underground. During the two months that Davis was a fugitive, hundreds, if not thousands, of other women were incorrectly identified by law enforcement officials and many were arrested as Miss Davis. Her case culminated in one of the most famous trials in recent history and she was acquitted of all charges in 1972. Fusco weaves together archival footage, simulated surveillance footage of many Davis “look-alikes,” actual trial transcripts, FBI records and press clips with memorabilia from the international campaign to free Davis to create an imaginative recreation of a crucial political moment in US history. She collaborated with Rick Moody, the author of The Ice Storm, on the writing of the script.

Coco Fusco is a New York-based interdisciplinary artist and writer. She has performed, lectured, exhibited and curated around the world since 1988. She is the author of English is Broken Here (The New Press, 1995), The Bodies That Were Not Ours and Other Writings (Routledge/inIVA, 2001) and the editor of Corpus Delecti: Performance Art of the Americas (Routledge, 1999) and Only Skin Deep: Changing Visions of the American Self (Abrams, 2003). Dr. Fusco is a recipient of a 2003 Herb Alpert Award in the Arts.

Dr. Fusco's performances and videos have been included in such events as The Whitney Biennial, Sydney Biennale, The Johannesburg Biennial, The Kwangju Biennale, The London International Theatre Festival, and the National Review of Live Art. Her 1993 documentary about her caged Amerindian performance with Guillermo Gómez-Peña, “The Couple in the Cage,” has been screened in over two hundred venues around the world. She recently curated a comprehensive exhibition on racial taxonomy in American photography for the International Center for Photography, Only Skin Deep: Changing Visions of the American Self, which is currently on tour. Her latest video, a/k/a Mrs. George Gilbert, was selected for the 2004 Shanghai Biennale and will screen at the Museum of Modern Art in 2005.

Dr. Fusco’s writings have appeared in a wide variety of publications, including The Village Voice, The Los Angeles Times, Art in America, The Nation, Ms., Frieze, Third Text, and Nka: Journal of African Art, as well as a number of anthologies. She is the co-founder and co-moderator of Undercurrents, an on-line discussion about feminism, new technologies and globalization. Fusco is an associate professor in the Visual Arts Division of Columbia University’s School of the Arts.


28 February 2005

It’s no secret—the cost of campaigning for elected office is growing exponentially. Despite the 2002 passage of the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform bill which promised to reduce the influence of money in the electoral process, the political money train has continued to gain speed, with no signs of slowing down. Last year, according to the non-partisan Alliance for Better Campaigns, candidates, political parties and independent groups spent at least $1.6 billion on TV ads—more than double the previous record of $771 million set in 2000.  From County Legislature to Congress to the White House, campaign war chests are growing. The reason is clear: the rising cost of TV ads, political consultants and the ever-expanding human infrastructure necessary to get elected. Carl McCall knows about the impact of money in politics because he has lived it. In 2002, Mr. McCall made history as the first African American major party candidate for Governor of New York. During that historic campaign—and two earlier statewide campaigns for New York State Comptroller—Mr. McCall experienced first-hand the toll big-money takes on the political process.

In his address, Mr. McCall detailed his experiences on the campaign trail, recounting the time spent raising campaign funds; the excessive influence wielded by major fundraisers and the threat to our democratic process posed by the current system. Finally, Mr. McCall offered insight into the obstacles to “real” campaign finance reform, and offered solutions to overcome them.

Carl McCall was the Democratic Candidate for Governor of New York State in 2002. He served as Comptroller of the State of New York from May 1993 through December 2002. As Chief Fiscal Officer of the State, he was responsible for governmental and financial oversight and pension fund management. As sole Trustee of the 880,000-member State and Local Retirement Systems, Mr. McCall was responsible for investing a pension fund valued at $112 billion. Under his leadership, the value of the fund more than doubled. At the same time, the fund launched a campaign to improve corporate governance through regulation, legislation and direct engagement with corporations. Mr. McCall also organized a coalition of institutional investors to develop a landmark initiative to eliminate Wall Street conflicts of interests and protect investors. Mr. McCall has had a distinguished career as a public servant. From 1991 to 1993, he served as President of the New York City Board of Education where he set policy for the largest school system in the nation. He served three terms as a New York State Senator representing the upper Manhattan district of New York City; as an Ambassador to the United Nations; as a Commissioner of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey; and as the Commissioner of the New York State Division of Human Rights.

From 1985 to 1993, Mr. McCall was Vice-President of Citicorp/Citibank. Initially, he managed retail business in New York City and later was responsible for state and local government relations. McCall served on the New York Stock Exchange Board from 1999-2003. In the wake of a rash of corporate scandals, the NYSE called on McCall to spearhead corporate governance reforms for the Exchange and its listed companies. Those reforms—adopted by the full NYSE Board in 2003—ushered in a new era of accountability and transparency at the Exchange. In August 2003, after being named Lead Director and Lead Spokesman for the NYSE, Mr. McCall made additional reform recommendations to the Board that restored confidence in the world’s biggest exchange. Mr. McCall currently serves on the Boards of Directors of the reorganized TYCO International, New Plan Realty and Standard Commercial Corporation. Mr. McCall is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He was educated at Dartmouth College, Andover Newton Theological Seminary and the University of Edinburgh. Mr. McCall is married to Dr. Joyce Brown, President of the State University of New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York City.


24 March 2005

With the Millennium Development Goals for health a mere 11 years away, the poorest countries of the world face enormous hurdles to achieving health for their citizens. From childhood health to maternal health, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, the developing world remains a morbid and deadly place for the world's poor. While current trends point toward deterioration in health for nearly a billion people, for the first time in history, the financial and technological resources to deliver health seem within reach. However, the public health institutions, capacity, and know-how remain woefully inadequate. Public health as we know it, particularly in developing countries, requires a radical reframing of scope and approach. The skills of the private sector in management, systems design, monitoring and oversight are particularly critical given the major new efforts underway. Without a rapid transformation in management style, the Millennium Development Goals may prove to be goals for the next millennium.

Josh Ruxin is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Public Health at the Mailman School of Public Health and is based at the Center for Global Health and Economic Development, a joint venture between the Earth Institute and Mailman School at Columbia University. Dr. Ruxin focuses on scaling up national health programs and currently directs three related projects. The first is called MacroHealth and applies the findings of the Commission on Macroeconomics and Health in collaboration with the World Health Organization. He is also the coordinator of the UN Millennium Project task force focused on HIV/AIDS. Prior to joining Columbia, Dr. Ruxin was Harvard-based and directed the Access Project for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. He continues to direct the Access Project at Columbia where it provides technical expertise to several countries including Rwanda and Nigeria. Before joining Harvard, Dr. Ruxin was Vice President at ontheFRONTIER, a strategy consulting firm that he co-founded. During his five years there and at Monitor Group, he led projects in a dozen developing countries and was an advisor to government and private sector leaders on business strategy and economic development. Dr. Ruxin received a B.A. in the History of Science and Medicine from Yale University, where he was a Truman Scholar. He also holds a Master of Public Health from Columbia University, and a PhD in History from the University of London where he was a Marshall Scholar. After Yale, Dr. Ruxin was a Fulbright Scholar in Bolivia. Dr. Ruxin serves on the Board of Directors of FilmAid International and Orphans of Rwanda.


11 April 2005

With the start of the Industrial Revolution, humankind began a vast global climate experiment of which we are only now realizing the effects. Combustion of fossil fuels, burning, and land-use changes over the past centuries have led to increases in greenhouse gas concentrations to levels that the earth hasn’t seen for over 25 million years (when there were crocodiles in the Canadian arctic and palm trees in London). Greenhouse gases warm the planet by an amount equivalent to having two little tree lights burning continuously on every square meter of the planet. This may not seem like much but over the last 150 years the Earth’s surface temperatures have risen by nearly a degree centigrade with the majority of the rise taking place in just the last fifty years. A true though seemingly improbable statistic is that all of the ten warmest years on record have occurred since 1990. Present global average temperatures are very likely warmer than at any time in the past millennium.

As a group, climate scientists have been reluctant to claim even the soundest global warming projections as incontrovertible facts. The climate system is by definition exceedingly complex, and theories must always be open to revision as new observations become available. For example, when he was a graduate student, Mr. deMenocal learned that the warming that defined the end of an ice age occurred very gradually, over the course of many thousands of years. This view of sluggish climate changes was shattered just a few years ago when scientists discovered that the main warming events that ended the last ice age took place within less than a decade! In Greenland, air temperatures warmed by about fifteen degrees centigrade within the time it takes to complete a college degree.

Still, most climate scientists today agree that Earth’s climate is warming and changing as a result of human activity, and that the projected changes in coming decades will affect nearly all parts of the globe. This combination of exceptional risk and uncertainty has led to a lack of clear consensus among policy makers on how to address the global warming crisis. National-level planning and preparation for current and future climate change remains mired in dysfunction and polarized along a scientific/political divide. There are those who are convinced there is a big problem and those who would make the case that there is no problem at all.

This lecture provided an overview of the global warming issue by discussing what we know about the signatures and causes of present human-forced climate changes within the context of what we know about large and abrupt natural climate changes that have occurred over past millennia.

Peter DeMenocal is a Professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences of Columbia University. His research uses ocean sediments to reconstruct past changes in climate over timescales ranging from decades to millions of years. At shorter timescales, he has been studying the patterns of climate change during the current Holocene warm period - the last 10,000 years - to address the causes and signatures of natural (preanthropogenic) climate variability. Over longer, several-million year timescales, his current research investigates past changes in African climate and their impacts on the evolution and adaptation of African mammalian fauna including early human ancestors.

He received his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1991, and an M.S. in Oceanography from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He is presently one of the Directors of Undergraduate Studies for DEES and is also a member of the Earth Institute Academic Committee. He serves on the National Science Foundation Earth System History planning committee and was co-chair of the National Academy of Science "Frontiers in Science" program (2002). He presented three of the core-curriculum “Frontiers in Science” lectures of the Spring 2005 semester on the demise of the dinosaurs, human evolution and African climate change, and global warming.


27 April 2005

Many experts believe that if political Islam is to be reconciled to Western modernity—and vice-versa, it will be achieved by diaspora Muslims in the West. Muslim women are on the front lines of this process. They are the crucibles of conflict, the sites of contestation between personal liberty, religious values and universal rights. Many Muslim women are actively forging new identities, challenging both traditional Islam and the West, and in the process, transforming both. In Europe and in the United States, no less than in the larger Muslim world, Muslim women are tackling such issues as the wearing of headscarves (hijab), sexual freedom, even wife beating. At the same time, there is no doubt that the West is being transformed by political Islam.

The United States has embraced pre-emptive war and the adoption of a "national security state" that restricts civil liberties and even violates civil and human rights at home and abroad in the name of security. Western Europe struggles over how to integrate growing Muslim populations whose exclusion from the full fruits of citizenship renders them vulnerable to militant Islamic proselytizers. In response to political Islam, questions about the proper relationship between religion and the state have provoked deep divisions between partisans of secular democracy and politicized Christian movements in the United States and in Europe. Can "the West" as a unified, transatlantic entity survive its confrontation with political Islam, or will Europe and the United States be further driven apart? Will secular democracy survive or will the 21st Century be, as André Malraux once said, "religious or not at all"?

Award-winning writer and current affairs commentator Mira Kamdar is a Senior Fellow at the World Policy Institute at New School University where she is Executive Director of the Program on Citizenship & Security. Her memoir Motiba's Tattoos: A Granddaughter's Journey from America into her Indian Family's Past, won the 2002 Washington Book Award and was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection. Her current work focuses on the Indian diaspora and on issues relating to citizenship and security in a transnational, post-9/11 world. She is Book Review Editor of India Review and is a member of the editorial boards of World Policy Journal and The Subcontinental magazine. Her work has appeared in publications around the world, including the International Herald Tribune, Times of India, Los Angeles Times, World Policy Journal, Chicago Tribune, Connecticut Journal of International Law, Seminar and Tehelka and she has provided expert commentary for CNN International News, TV Ontario, TV Asia, the BBC, including "The World" with Lisa Mullins, and KPFK Radio Los Angeles. More on Dr. Kamdar at

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