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UC Riverside Conference Focuses on Issues and Benefits of Diversity

May 6-7 event is open to the community and concludes a two-year research project funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
By on April 27, 2016


The Mellon Advancing Intercultural Studies Conference May 6-7 will examine issues and benefits of diversity.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – A two-year research project exploring issues and benefits of diversity at the University of California, Riverside and in Southern California will conclude with a conference May 6-7 in downtown Riverside that is open to the public.

The Mellon Advancing Intercultural Studies Conference, sponsored by the UCR Center for Ideas and Society, will present research conducted by nearly 50 UCR faculty and graduate and undergraduate students. The public is invited to join the discussion, which will focus on these topics: “Beyond Diversity: Are We There Yet?”; “The Public Practice of Immigrant and Minority Religions in Southern California”; “Civic and Political Engagement”; and “Migration, Displacement & Movement.”

Activities will begin at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, May, 6, and conclude at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 7. The event will be held in the Barbara and Art Culver Center of the Arts, located in UCR ARTSblock, 3824 Main St., Riverside. The conference is free and open to the public. Attendees may RSVP by emailing with the subject line AIS Conference.

The research project, Advancing Intercultural Studies, was funded by a $208,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support a two-year series of seminars that examined changing perceptions of ethnic, cultural and cosmopolitan identities, the practices of immigrant religions, and developments in civic and political engagement at UCR and in Southern California.

“This culminating conference of the Advancing Intercultural Studies project will, we hope, be of interest to educators, religious and political leaders, and all members of the Southern California community,” said Georgia Warnke, director of the Center for Ideas and Society and professor of political science. “Questions we will be addressing include: Does diversity in education mean simply accessibility or a rethinking of traditional forms of knowledge? How far does religious tolerance extend? What new forms is civic participation taking? How do immigration and migration feel to immigrants or migrants themselves? We hope both to engage and learn from the public in considering these issues.”

Keynote speakers will be John L. Jackson Jr., a filmmaker and dean of the School of Social Policy and Practice at the University of Pennsylvania, and Gaye Theresa Johnson, who teaches at UCLA and is a housing and civil rights advocate for residents of L.A.’s Skid Row.

John L. Jackson Jr.

John L. Jackson Jr.

Jackson will discuss “Dissertations, Digitality, and Diversity: What Multi-Modal Scholarship Means for Academic Inclusivity” at 4 p.m. on May 6. He is the Richard Perry University Professor at Penn, and has produced a feature film, documentaries and short films that have screened at film festivals around the world. His most recent film, co-directed with Deborah A. Thomas in 2012, is “Bad Friday: Rastafari After Coral Gardens,” which examines the history of violence in Jamaica through the eyes of its Rastafarian community. Among his books are “Thin Description: Ethnography and the African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem” (2013); “Racial Paranoia: The Unintended Consequences of Political Correctness” (2008); and “Real Black: Adventures in Racial Sincerity” (2005). His work also explores how film and other non-traditional or multi-modal formats can be most effectively used in scholarly research projects.

Gaye Johnson

Gaye Johnson

Johnson will discuss “From Shared Pasts to Radical Futures: The Perils and the Promise of Coalitional Politics” at 11 a.m. on May 7. She is associate professor of African American Studies and Chicana/o Studies at UCLA, and is an activist with the Los Angeles Community Action Network , which presented her with its Freedom Now Award in 2013.  She is the board president of the Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy, and an advisory board member for the Goldin Institute and the Rosenberg Fund for Children. Johnson is the author of “Spaces of Conflict, Sounds of Solidarity: Music, Race, and Spatial Entitlement in Los Angeles” (2013). She has two forthcoming books, “The Futures of Black Radicalism” (co-edited with Alex Lubin) and “Let’s Get Free:  Musicians on Activism in the 21st Century.” She is also working on a book titled “These Walls Will Fall: Protest at the Intersection of Immigrant Detention and Mass Incarceration.”

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April 27, 2016|

Show and Prove: Tensions, Contradictions, and Possibilities of Hip Hop Studies

Conference coming to UC Riverside, set for April 8-10
By on March 22, 2016

Dance performance during the 2012 Show and Prove Hip Hop conference. Photo Courtesy: Amanda 'Lafotographeuse' Adams-Louis

Dance performance during the 2012 Show and Prove Hip Hop conference. Photo Courtesy: Amanda ‘Lafotographeuse’ Adams-Louis

RIVERSIDE, Calif. ( – The University of California, Riverside is hosting the Show and Prove Hip Hop Studies conference, scheduled for Friday, April 8 to Sunday, April 10. The conference is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Complimentary parking permits are available at the kiosk near the University Avenue entrance to campus. The themes for this year’s conference are “spirit” and “performance;” and are focused on cultivating the necessary and critical dialogues for the development of hip hop studies.

This is the first year Imani Kai Johnson, assistant professor of critical dance studies at UC Riverside, has coordinated the conference at UCR. She has organized the conference twice, in 2012 and 2014, during her time at New York University.

“As universities have adopted classes about hip hop, and an increasing amount of scholarship gets published, this series was created for those with a vested interest in the culture – including artists and practitioners, students, scholars, and community activists – to interrogate, complicate, and critically negotiate what it means to bring Hip Hop into the academy,” said Johnson.

Show and Prove Hip Hop conference, 2012. Photo Courtesy: Amanda 'Lafotographeuse' Adams-Louis

Show and Prove Hip Hop conference, 2012. Photo Courtesy: Amanda ‘Lafotographeuse’ Adams-Louis

Founded by Johnson, the conference is co-sponsored by the UCR dance department, Center for Ideas and Society, African Student Programs, UC Humanities Research Institute, and UCR’s history, gender and sexuality studies, ethnic studies and theater, film & digital production departments.

Conference events will be held at the ARTS and INTS buildings on the UCR campus, with evening performances at the Barbara and Art Culver Center of the Arts at 3834 Main Street, Riverside, CA.

For the full schedule, and detailed information, please go to the Show and Prove conference website.

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March 22, 2016|

“Sea Seed”: An Entertaining Education

Highlander/ Jeffrey Chang

Highlander/ Jeffrey Chang

There are very few places that get as dark and empty as downtown Riverside on a Tuesday night at 8 p.m. When I arrived at the Culver Center to watch “Sea Seed,” a staged reading composed by the Sons of Semele Ensemble, a small trickle of visitors to the evening’s play occasionally went from the darkness outside to the white brightness of the Culver Center.

The third reading in a series, this was the final reading of the play — which has been edited after each audience reading to make it more relatable “based on audience feedback, the company fine-tuned and polished the text.” This reading was the culmination of a two-year creative process on behalf of Dr. Erith Jaffe-Berg and the Sons of Semele Ensemble. Jaffe-Berg, who is the head of Theatre, Film and Digital Production at UCR, was inspired by the themes set forth by fellow faculty member Dr. Susan Ossman, in her book “Moving Matters: Paths of Serial Migration.”  All the characters — as well as symbols and ideas from the play — embody what it is like to be a serial migrant (a term coined by Ossman to define a person who “travels between three or more countries, living in different languages and experiencing repeated patterns of movement and migration”).

When the lights faded and the cast stood in a line and started to remark on the strange things people bring to the airport: a change of underwear in the carry-on, an emergency skirt, I started immediately to connect those things with my own experiences of traveling. However I feel as if someone who has little experience with international travel may lack a certain connection with the play. It is majorly concerned with a sort of cosmopolitan migratory experience which most university students see little of.

It was a staged reading of the play, which means that the cast carried their scripts around and had a strange lack of props, which was only obvious to me at two points: when the cast members used a Kleenex box to symbolize a piece of art, and when they were allegedly proposing a toast with invisible glasses. Most of the time, the use of folding plastic chairs was not much of a distraction, as sooner or later I found myself more immersed in what the characters were saying and doing than the esoteric props.

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February 22, 2016|

UC Riverside Presents “Sea Seed”

The original play will be presented at the Barbara and Art Culver Center of the Arts on Feb. 16
By on February 12, 2016

Erith Jaffe-Berg

Erith Jaffe-Berg

RIVERSIDE, Calif. ( – Erith Jaffe-Berg, chair of the theatre, film and digital production department, will present an original play called “Sea Seed” on Feb. 16 at the Barbara and Art Culver Center of the Arts. The play was developed by members of the theater group the Son of Semele Ensemble and Jaffe-Berg, and inspired by Moving Matters Traveling Workshop (MMTW), an arts collective that has developed exhibitions, performances and participatory artworks.

Sponsored by the Center of Ideas and Society, the event is free and open to the public. The play begins at 8 p.m. at 3834 Main St., Riverside.

“‘Sea Seed’ explores the topic of repeated migration, or serial migration, and the experiences of those who have lived in several countries throughout their lives,” explained Jaffe-Berg.

The concept of serial migration was developed by Susan Ossman, an anthropology professor at UC Riverside, in her book, “Moving Matters: Paths of Serial Migration.” Ossman describes a serial migrant as one who travels between three or more countries, living in different languages and experiencing repeated patterns of movement and migration. The concept and book also sparked the creation of MMTW in Riverside in 2013.

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February 12, 2016|

Oxford Professor of Poetry, Simon Armitage, gives reading on campus

By on

One of England’s leading poets and current professor of poetry at Oxford Simon Armitage gave a reading followed by a book signing last Wednesday at INTS 1113. He read about 10 poems that spanned his career, from his early work in “Seeing Stars” to his translation of “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.” The crowd was decent sized, with about 40 people which included students as well as professors, many of whom were familiar with Armitage’s wide body of work. Overall, the entire event was intimate and inviting, with Armitage being very open to questions.

The first poem he read was titled “Thank You for Waiting” which was a wonderfully witty and sly poem, recited as if the narrator was a flight attendant. As Armitage began his reading, he invited us into his comic world. In between poems, Armitage would offer some background information on the poems, the frame of mind that he was in when he wrote them as well as various opinions he holds when it comes to poetry or politics. This background information really helped place his poems in context, and made his reading accessible for people who are very familiar with his work, as well as those who are not.

These tangents were always incredibly insightful, and made the reading more of a master class in poetry by one of its best practitioners, than a performance. One insight I found very interesting was when he introduced his third poem, “An Accommodation” by comparing it to song lyrics. He began, “Some people here consider song lyrics to be poetry, and talk about Leonard Cohen or Bob Dylan as poets, but I’ve never thought so. Song lyrics aren’t poetry because even though they have the same fabric of language, and texture, poetry comes with its own little score that song lyrics don’t have because they always come with music.” I found this interesting, because many people, myself included, usually do not distinguish between the aesthetic pleasures that song lyrics give, as opposed to poems. His tangent ended up changing my own opinion on the subject.

The poems ranged from funny, to impressionistic, to celebratory. However, the last poem, titled “Columbine” was the most memorable. A moving pean to the victims of the Columbine shooting, Armitage’s poem narrates the event in the style of a news report. However, he replaces every mention of guns and bullets with the word “flowers.” The poetic inversion really highlighted the tragedy of the Columbine Massacre.

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October 20, 2015|

Huntington Library and UC Riverside

By Larry Gordon, LA Times

In an effort to promote scholarship in the humanities, the Huntington Library will subsidize the hiring of two professors at UC Riverside and host them as researchers for two years.

Plans being announced Wednesday describe the program as a way to help support the study of humanities at a time when some departments are facing cutbacks as more attention is paid to science and technology on college campuses.


October 15, 2015|


Congratulations to UCR’s Jose Medrano, Hispanic Studies, for being one of six students selected for the Humanists@Work graduate student advisory committee!

Humanists@Work is a UC-wide initiative geared towards UC Humanities and humanistic Social Science MAs and PhDs interested in careers outside/alongside the academy. Learn more

June 22, 2015|

“Colliding Worlds: When Art, Science and Technology Meet at UC Riverside” Excerpt

Two programs supported by the Center for Ideas and Society, Science Studies Coffee Hour and the upcoming Comics and Medicine Conference, have been featured in the UCR Magazine article “Colliding Worlds: When Art, Science and technology Meet at UC Riverside” By Michelle Woo. Read the following excepts with their mention:

Bonding Across Disciplines

Bust of Lorenzo de' Medici.Connections at UCR form through natural, open- ended conversation, which blooms through programs such as Science Studies Coffee Hour, an intimate forum where faculty, researchers and graduate students of all disciplines can delve into the areas of science, technology and medicine. The group — composed of scientists, science fiction writers and scholars of culture — has toured an artificial septic system in the Bourns College of Engineering, discussed new research on personhood and immunity, and read about innovations in rice production. “The world is becoming more and more techno-scientific, and we need new tools to grasp it, to make connections across the disciplines,” Dana Simmons, associate professor of history and a member of the group, says. “Scientists have deep technical expertise but may not be equipped to grasp the social impact or cultural factors shaping their research. Humanists understand social issues but may lack empirical knowledge. We want this to be a space for building new bridges.”

Helping People Understand the World

And art is able to do that like no other medium can. Juliet McMullin, an associate professor in the department of anthropology, examines how graphic novels about cancer not only illuminate the “ordinary, chronic, cruddy” life experiences of those with the disease, but they can also contribute to the nuances of discourses on health care inequalities. “Being able to see the imagery alongside the words allows the reader to pause and think more in-depth,” she says of the genre. This summer, McMullin will host the International Comics & Medicine Conference at the Culver Center of the Arts from July 16 to 18. This will explore the idea of space as a critical element in health care and comics.

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May 29, 2015|

Grant Aims to Increase Faculty Diversity

students on campus

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded UCR a four-year, $500,000 grant to support a research and mentoring program for undergraduates aimed at increasing diversity among faculty in American universities.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – The University of California, Riverside has been awarded a $500,000 grant by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support a research and mentoring program for undergraduates aimed at increasing diversity among faculty in American universities.

The program, The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF), to which institutions are invited by the foundation to apply, is the centerpiece of Mellon Foundation initiatives to increase faculty diversity.

“We are excited about this opportunity, which will help us build on our commitment to diversity and to preparing underrepresented students for positions of leadership in California and the nation,” UCR Chancellor Kim Wilcox said. “We share The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s commitment to improving the diversity of graduate students and faculty, and are also pleased that these fellowships will give even more of our undergraduates the chance to engage in research projects where they will work closely with faculty mentors.”

The four-year grant will fund research fellowships each academic year and for each of two summers for five juniors and five seniors. Students who enroll in selected Ph.D. programs within three years of completing a bachelor’s degree are eligible for some student loan repayment. Eligible fields of study are primarily in the humanities and selected sciences and social sciences.

Participating students will: be mentored by a UCR faculty member who will guide an in-depth research project; participate in a summer research program; receive coaching to develop the research and analytical writing skills necessary to be successful in graduate school; receive guidance in choosing a graduate school, completing applications, and preparing to take the GRE; have an opportunity to develop and teach a 2-unit course during their senior year, under faculty supervision; and continue to receive mentoring and other support while in graduate school.

The first five students, selected from this year’s sophomore class at UCR, will begin the program this summer. The online application is available here.

“The core of this fellowship program is research,” said Georgia Warnke, principal investigator on the grant and director of the Center for Ideas and Society, where the program will be housed. “It is a reflection of the increased recognition UCR is receiving for the quality and diversity of our student body. The program will help our students undertake rigorous research earlier than they might have otherwise, will socialize them to the life of an academic, and help them develop a network of support with MMUF participants at other universities.”

The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for UCR students who intend careers as professors, said Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education Steven Brint, a co-principal investigator on the grant.

“The program we have developed will provide the mentoring and research experiences that students need to be successful in the very best graduate programs in the country,” he explained. “During the application process, 12 of our students met with the Mellon program officers. After the meeting, the program officers told us that the students were as strong as those in any other institution with a Mellon Mays program already in place. I am quite sure that the impression our students made on the Mellon officials is the major reason why UCR received this prestigious grant. It is a recognition of the talent and potential of our students.”

The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship program was established in 1988 at eight institutions and has grown to include nearly 50 colleges and universities. Participating institutions include UC Berkeley, UCLA, Brown, California Institute of Technology, Harvard, Duke, Oberlin College, Princeton, Rice, Smith College, Stanford, University of Southern California, a consortium of historically black colleges and universities, and three South African universities.

UC Riverside’s selection as an MMUF university recognizes the excellent work of the campus to add value and transform students’ lives, said Yolanda Moses, associate vice chancellor for diversity, excellence and equity and a co-principal investigator on the grant.

“When our students come to us they sometimes have a very narrow and limited understanding about what kinds of careers are open to them as graduates,” she said. “This wonderful fellowship will guide them through the academic and developmental processes of understanding what it means to be a professor and what the pathway is to get there. This is a tremendous opportunity for the students and for our university.”

UCR is a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI), a designation awarded to colleges and universities where Hispanic students comprise at least 25 percent of total enrollment. UCR is known nationally as an outstanding research university and as a university whose mission is explicitly linked to providing opportunities and educational success for underrepresented and first-generation college students. More than half of UCR students come from low-income households and receive Pell Grants and other needs-based scholarships and grants.

Pell Grant students also graduate at nearly the same rate as non-Pell students, as do first-generation students when compared to those whose parents attended college. UCR is one of three campuses in the country with graduation rates among African American students that exceed those of white students.

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December 15, 2014|

Conference to Examine Latino, Latin American Objects of Devotion

photo of pilgrimRIVERSIDE, Calif. – Scholars, artists and museum curators will examine sacred objects, rituals and visual culture of Latin America and Latinos in a conference at UC Riverside’s Culver Center of the Arts on Dec. 12-13.

The conference, “Objects of Devotion/Objetos de Devoción,” coincides with an exhibition by Mexican-British photographer Alinka Echeverría, whose photographic series “The Road to Tepeyac” captures pilgrims and the objects they carry on their backs to Tepeyac Hill in Mexico City to honor the Virgin Mary on her feast day.

“There’s something about these photos that has captured people’s imaginations,” said Jennifer Scheper Hughes, associate professor of history at UCR and co-organizer of the conference. “This conference picks up themes from Echeverría’s work about devotion, Latin American religion and sacred vision.”

The conference is free and open to the public. Registration is recommended and may be done online. The Culver Center is part of UCR ARTSblock, located in downtown Riverside in the 3800 block of Main Street. ARTSblock is a cultural complex composed of the Culver Center, the California Museum of Photography and Sweeney Art Gallery.

Conference sessions begin at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 12, and conclude with a screening of “Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago,” a 2013 documentary that follows six pilgrims ranging in age from 3 to 73 on a 500-mile pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. A discussion will follow with co-producer Annie O’Neil and UCR art history professor Conrad Rudolph, both of whom have made the pilgrimage.

photo of pilgrim

On Saturday, Dec. 13, the first conference session begins at 9 a.m. The day concludes with the final screening of “Walking the Camino” at 7 p.m. A conversation about the film will follow. “Walking the Camino” also screens at 3 p.m.

The conference features the participation of three Latin American/Latina women artists: Echeverría, who speaks on Friday and Saturday, in Spanish; Alma López, a visual and public artist whose work has appeared in more than 100 exhibitions around the world; and Colombian artist Adriana Salazar, who builds kinetic sculptures.

During the two-day conference national and international scholars will present more than 30 papers addressing many dimensions of religious materiality in the Latin American and Latino context, such as: relics, devotional practice, pilgrimage and iconography, visual and votive culture, contemporary engagements with the Virgin of Guadalupe, transgressive saints, and sacred objects and materials of the pre-Hispanic period. Plenary sessions will include conversations with artists and national/international scholars. One conference session on Dec. 13 will be held in Spanish.

“It was important to us in planning this conference to highlight the connections between Latin America and U.S. Latino experiences,” explained Jennifer Nájera, associate professor of ethnic studies and co-organizer of the conference. “Latino immigrants and their children maintain, challenge, and infuse new meaning into their religious practices and iconographies.”

The Road to Tepeyac. c Alinka Echeverria 2010 Courtesy of the artist and Gazelli Art House

On Thursday, Dec. 11, Luis León, author of “The Political Spirituality of Cesar Chavez: Crossing Religious Borders” (University of California Press, November 2014), will discuss the life and beliefs of the late farmworker advocate and union activist in a pre-conference lecture at 4 p.m. At 7 p.m. Teatro Latino will present a staged reading of the Migdalia Cruz play “The Have-Little.” The one-act play is a coming-of-age story about a 14-year-old girl growing up in a South Bronx tenement.

The Dec. 12 opening day of the conference coincides with the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a religious observance that honors the belief that Mary, the mother of Jesus and Mexico’s patron saint, appeared to a poor Indian in Mexico City twice in 1531.

Hughes, who studies Latin American religious practice, said that Mexican and Mexican American religious practices are often stigmatized in the U.S. because of their strong visual component.

“The history of this country is rooted in Protestantism, which has traditionally been against iconography and the religious image,” she explained. “The Puritans did not have an image of what Jesus looked like. For them, the image of Jesus was a blinding light. That has sometimes led to disrespect for Mexican religious practices. The Mexican relationship to the Virgin Mary is very complex and nuanced, but has been disparaged as idolatry. We’re trying to explain that these are complex positionalities. An image can be holy. It is never just an icon. At one point it is God, it’s a painting, it’s a representation.”

photo of pilgrim

Hughes said she was inspired by Alinka Echeverría’s images of people making a pilgrimage to Our Lady of Guadalupe on Tepeyac Hill in Mexico City. The photographer’s series of 300 images of people and objects they carry on their backs to the shrine, “The Road to Tepeyac,” has been exhibited all over the world. It will be on display at the California Museum of Photography through Jan. 24, 2015.

Echeverría was named International Photographer of the Year in 2012 by the Lucie Awards, won the HSBC Prize for Photography in 2011, and has been nominated for the Paul Huf and Prix Pictet Awards.

Her work has been widely exhibited internationally, including at Maison European de la Photographie,Paris, National Portrait Gallery, London, and as part of the Moscow Photobiennale. She earned her M.A. in social anthropology at the University of Edinburgh in 2004, and studied photography at the International Center of Photography, New York.

View the conference schedule here.

Conference sponsors are: University of California Humanities Research Institute, and from UCR the Culver Center of the Arts, California Museum of Photography, the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, UC MEXUS (University of California Institute for Mexico and the United States), the Center for Ideas and Society, the UCR Tomás Rivera Chair, the Latin American Studies Program, and the departments of Ethnic Studies, History and History of Art.

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December 3, 2014|

Salton Sea threatened by inaction, experts say

By Jim Steinberg, The Sun

RIVERSIDE >> Experts speaking at UC Riverside on Monday say the problem with a shrinking Salton Sea was identified some 50 years ago but the remoteness of the site has partially kept it off the fix agenda.

“Here we are at almost 2015 and the clock is ticking to 2017 and we have no consensus about what to do,” said Mark Matsumoto, a UCR professor of chemical and environmental engineering.

In two years a court order will kick in greatly accelerating the shrinking of the sea.

Gregor Yanega, an ornithologist and academic adviser to the UC Irvine Salton Sea Initiative, said the low population base of Imperial County and the remoteness of the site have made it a low priority in the state’s allocation of sparse resources.

Yanega and Matsumoto were among the speakers at a panel discussion about Salton Sea stainability held Monday at the campus’s Center for Ideas and Society.

Experts have said that not acting will be far more costly than fixing the problem.

A study by the Oakland-based Pacific Institute released in July said that the cost of doing nothing to reduce the shrinkage could range between $29 billion and $70 billion.

A $9 billion state plan to preserve and restore the Salton Sea has been on the back burner for years.

The Pacific Institute Study said that the costs of inaction over 30 years would result in adverse impacts to public health, property values, agricultural production, recreation revenue and the wildlife habitant, especially birds.

Yanega said he has concerns that elevated levels of selenium in small habitant-study areas being created on the edge of the Salton Sea will have harmful effects on bird reproduction rates.

This happened in the Central Valley during the 1980s in water with similar salinity issues, he said.

“Many, many birds will move from the Salton Sea,” Yanega said.

With the low water levels, coyotes and other predators have been able to reach cormorant nesting areas at the Salton Sea.

So they have moved elsewhere, he said.

It may be that 35 percent of the large fish-eating birds in the west will perish with the Salton Sea’s shrinking and the lake experience a die-off of tilapia due to rising saline levels, he said.

“I think people don’t want to see that happen, but how much are they willing to pay to prevent it?” Yanega said.

Officials at the Imperial Irrigation District, which own much of the lake bed, are proposing fees from the development of geothermal power from the Salton Sea be used to fund some of the preservation expenses.

But in an interview, Karen Douglas, a California Energy Commission commissioner said development of the sea’s massive geothermal potential faces many challenges, including how to carry that power to metro areas.

Another challenge is that geothermal power is constant, day and night.

The state is likely looking at a surplus of power during the day, when solar power plants are operating.

The operations of a geothermal plant may only add to that abundance during the day, but become valuable during the evening, when solar power shuts down, she said.

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November 12, 2014|

Salton Sea Sustainability Issues Addressed

pelicans at the Salton Sea

Sustainability issues of the Salton Sea will be discussed Nov. 10. Photo courtesy of USGS

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Created by accident and once a popular tourist destination, the Salton Sea has been the receptacle for run-off of salt, fertilizers and pesticides from the nearly half a million acres of agricultural land that surrounds it. The Salton Sea Initiative at the University of California, Irvine is a multidisciplinary group investigating the sustainability challenges that face the Salton Sea region.

The Center for Ideas and Society at UC Riverside will host a panel on the ecological challenges facing the sea and the communities that surround it on Monday, Nov. 10, from 4 to 5:30 p.m. in College Building South. The event is free and open to the public. Parking permits may be purchased at the kiosk on West Campus Drive at the University Avenue entrance to the campus.

The panel will feature Gregor Yanega, an ornithologist and academic advisor for the Salton Sea Initiative at UCI; Mark Matsumoto, UCR professor of chemical and environmental engineering; and Michael Anderson, UCR professor of soil chemistry.

The Salton Sea is one of the world’s largest inland seas and, at -227 feet below sea level, one of the lowest places on Earth. It is located in a geological depression between the Imperial and Coachella valleys that has alternated between freshwater lake, saline lake, and dry desert basin for hundreds of thousands of years.

The current sea formed when the Colorado River breached canal gates leading into the Imperial Valley in 1905-06. Marine life was introduced and the Salton Sea became a popular tourist destination during the 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s. It remains an important stopover for migratory birds. However, increasing salinity in the last half of the 20th century has left the Salton Sea uninhabitable by most marine fish.

In 2013 UC Irvine established the Salton Sea Initiative to help address multiple sustainability issues facing the region, among them desalination, biological remediation, nutrient removal, public health issues, economic development, land use, and water allocation.

The Salton Sea panel is part of a series of lectures, seminars and workshops the Center for Ideas and Society will present in 2014-15 exploring “the nature of nature” in a world where the distinctions between what is natural and man-made grow increasingly blurred, said Georgia Warnke, professor of political science and director of the center.

This exploration includes a collaboration with Proteus Gowanus, an interdisciplinary gallery and reading room in Brooklyn, N.Y., that supports artists and non-artists in creative engagement with a diverse public, she said.

“The initiative and the Proteus series will ask the question, ‘What is natural?’” Warnke explained. “The institutions will share speakers and resources in order to examine the premises, presuppositions and concerns behind efforts to restore native plant habitats, to reintroduce wild species into environments from which they have been displaced, to re-create extinct species, to re-create ourselves and more.”

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October 31, 2014|

Immunologist to Discuss Ebola Nov. 4

Ilhem Messaoudi will explain history of current outbreak, prospects for treatments and vaccines

Ilhem Messaoudi

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – The history of Ebola virus infections that led to the outbreak in West Africa this year and prospects for new treatments and vaccines will be discussed in a lecture presented at UC Riverside on Tuesday, Nov. 4.

Ilhem Messaoudi, an associate professor in the Division of Biomedical Sciences at UCR, will discuss “Ebola 2014: Facts and Myths & Are We at Risk?” at 4 p.m. in Interdisciplinary South 1113.

The lecture is free and open to the public. Reservations are requested, however, as seating is limited. RSVP to Parking permits may be purchased at the kiosk on West Campus Drive at the University Avenue entrance to the campus.

The event is co-sponsored by the UCR Center for Ideas and Society and the School of Public Policy.

Messaoudi studies host-pathogen interactions in a variety of viral infection models including herpesvirus (herpes simplex I, simian varicella virus, varicella zoster virus), orthopoxvirus (monkeypox), flavivirus (yellow fever), alphavirus (chickungunya), orthomyxovirus (influenza.

She will provide an overview of Ebola virus structure and how the disease develops, followed by the history of Ebola virus infections leading to the outbreak that has spread beyond West Africa to Europe and the United States. She also will discuss projections for the current outbreak and development in vaccine and therapeutics.

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October 24, 2014|

Seminars to Explore Diversity at UCR, Southern California

Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awards $208,000 grant to Center for Ideas and Society

By on October 10, 2014

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – UC Riverside’s Center for Ideas and Society has been awarded a $208,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support a two-year series of seminars exploring diversity at UCR and in Southern California.

The seminar series – “Advancing Intercultural Studies” – will examine changing perceptions of ethnic, cultural and cosmopolitan identities, the practices of immigrant religions and developments in civic and political engagement, said Georgia Warnke, distinguished professor of political science and director of the center.

As one of the most diverse public research universities in the country, UCR is uniquely positioned to explore questions about the benefits and challenges of diversity, she said, among them, “how do we capture the contributions of a diverse student population, and how do we enhance learning from that?”

Because of UCR’s undergraduate demographics – 42 percent are under-represented minorities – the inclusion of undergraduate and graduate students in the seminars is important in its creation of a pipeline to increase the diversity of American university and college faculty, Warnke said.

Georgia Warnke

“The seminars of ‘Advancing Intercultural Studies’would help prepare UCR undergraduates for the sort of work they will do in graduate school by offering them the opportunity to interact with faculty and graduate students as equal partners in a scholarly inquiry while, at the same time, providing mentorship support for their research endeavors,” she explained.

“And, as colleges and universities in the 21st century come to mirror the diversity of UCR, it will be critical that future faculty participate in developing multi-cultural and multi-ethnic ways of thinking, researching and teaching.”

The first of four quarterly seminars will begin meeting in January. Each seminar will be composed of four faculty members, and four graduate and four undergraduate students, each of whom will write a paper based on research produced during the quarter. The seminars are not open to the public, but a concluding conference in spring 2016 will be held at UCR’s Culver Center in downtown Riverside and will be a public event.
Seminar topics are:

  • “Beyond Diversity: Are We There Yet?” – This seminar examines the contours, challenges and opportunities of UCR’s diversity. Through student surveys, interviews, focus group discussions and the insights of student participants, the seminar will explore the ways in which diversity continues to change UCR in creating new forms of research and teaching. Winter 2015.
  • “The Public Practice of Immigrant and Minority Religions in Southern California” – Focusing on expressions of religious hybridity and the politics of cultural appropriation, this seminar will examine how diverse minority and immigrant communities in the multi-ethnic urban context of Southern California inhabit, claim and contest sacred and cultural spaces. Spring 2015.
  • “Civic and Political Engagement” – Historically, immigrants along with Native Americans and African Americans have had a difficult time exercising the idea of citizens as democratic participants. This seminar explores the question of what it means to be an American in terms of the civic and political participation of immigrant communities and minority citizens. Fall 2015.
  • “Migration, Displacement and Movement” – This seminar adopts the perspective of the person on the move and takes advantage of the number of scholars and students at UCR in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, Peace and Conflict Studies, Mediterranean Studies, social history and economic theory. Winter 2016.
  • Conference – A two-day, culminating event at the Culver Center will be held in conjunction with the Department of Art’s annual Senior Show.

The New York-based Andrew W. Mellon Foundation makes grants in five core program areas: Higher Education and Scholarship in the Humanities; Arts and Cultural Heritage; Scholarly Communications; Diversity; and International Higher Education and Strategic Projects.

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October 10, 2014|

“Surfing the Middle East” Author to Speak Oct. 22

jesse aizenstat
Journalist, filmmaker, author and surfer Jesse Aizenstat will deliver the Mosten Lecture on Oct. 22.
Photo courtesy of Jesse Aizenstat
RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Jesse Aizenstat, author of “Surfing the Middle East: Deviant Journalism from the Lost Generation,” will present the Forrest S. Mosten Lecture in Conflict Resolution and Peace Studies at UC Riverside on Wednesday, Oct. 22, at 1 p.m. in Humanities 411.

His lecture, “Surfing the Middle East: Finding Your Life’s Work After Graduation,” is free and open to the public. Parking permits may be purchased at the kiosk on West Campus Drive near University Avenue.

Aizenstat is a journalist, filmmaker, award-winning author, and avid surfer. When he graduated from UC Santa Barbara in 2009 with no job prospects, he decided to cover surfing in the Middle East as a freelance journalist.

The book that resulted from that experience “is both educational about the politics of the Middle East and adventurous in how it reads,” said UCR theater professor Erith Jaffe-Berg. “‘Surfing the Middle East’ is a page-turner which brings together the unlikely subjects of surfing and politics. Jesse explores what it means to forge connections among different peoples in war-torn regions while catching waves in an unlikely part of the world. As a UCSB graduate, Jesse also models how a recent college graduate initiates a career opportunity for himself by combining his interests and passions.”

Aizenstat’s lecture is offered in conjunction with Jaffe-Berg’s course “Staging the Middle East,” which is offered as part of the Peace and Conflict Studies program, the Middle East and Islamic Studies program and the Department of Theatre, Film and Digital Production.

The lecture is sponsored by the UCR Center for Ideas and Society through a generous gift by Forrest and Jodi Mosten. The lecture series is named for Forrest S. (Woody) Mosten, a Los Angeles attorney who earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from UCR in 1969.

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October 3, 2014|

Oct. 1 Lecture to Address Ukraine Crisis and Post-Cold War Politics

UCR Provost Paul D’Anieri will assess the possibility of a new cold war

By on September 18, 2014

Paul D'Anieri

UCR Provost/EVC Paul D’Anieri will discuss the crisis in Ukraine in a lecture Oct. 1.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – UC Riverside Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Paul D’Anieri will discuss “Anarchy in

[the] Ukraine: How Ukraine’s Crisis Represents ‘Post-Post-Cold War’ Politics” in a lecture Oct. 1 presented by the UCR School of Public Policy and Center for Ideas and Society, the humanities research center at UCR.

The lecture will be held from 4 to 5:30 p.m. in the Interdisciplinary Building, Room 1128. The lecture is free and open to the public. Parking permits may be purchased at the kiosk on West Campus Drive at the University Avenue entrance to the campus.

Since November 2013, Ukraine has moved rapidly from protest to revolution to state collapse to foreign intervention, said D’Anieri, a political scientist whose expertise is in Eastern European and post-Soviet affairs.

“We can now ask seriously whether a new cold war is emerging, and what that might mean,” he said. “However, Ukraine’s experience in 2014 is far from unique. Rather, it brings together a set of dynamics that we see emerging around the world, including the emergence of hybrid democratic-autocratic regimes, the diffusion of protest, the weakness of states, innovation in information warfare, and the erosion of traditional notions of war. Is this the future of world politics?”

D’Anieri joined UCR on July 1, having served previously as dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Florida. He earned a bachelor’s degree in international relations at Michigan State, and a master’s and doctorate in government at Cornell University.

He serves as the chief academic and operating officer for UC Riverside, providing academic leadership to the entire university, managing day-to-day operations of the campus, overseeing resource allocation, and serving as a member of the campus leadership team. In the chancellor’s absence, the provost serves as the chief executive officer.

D’Anieri’s lecture launches the School of Public Policy Seminar Series – whose speakers will include FAA administrator Michael Huerta on Oct. 17 and former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich on Feb. 10, 2015. It also launches the Center for Ideas and Society’s public programming for the year, highlights of which include a discussion of the future of the Salton Sea, a roundtable on the conflict in the Middle East, and two “Dueling Disciplines” events: one contrasting the views of philosophy and neuroscience on consciousness and another contrasting the views of dance and religious studies on yoga.

Anil Deolalikar, dean of the School of Public Policy, said the policy seminar series will feature talks by leading researchers and policy-makers on timely and pressing policy challenges facing the region, the nation and the world.

“We are pleased to kick off our seminar series for academic year 2014-15 with a talk by UCR’s new provost/EVC, Paul D’Anieri, on how the current anarchy and unrest in Ukraine represents post-Cold War politics and hot it is likely to affect the United States,” he said.

The Center for Ideas and Society is delighted to co-host this event as part of its mission to engage the wider public in the important humanities and social science research taking place at UC Riverside, said Georgia Warnke, professor of political science and director of the center. “We look forward to additional cross-campus collaborations,” she added.

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September 18, 2014|