Duke Digest — July 29, 2014

In this week’s issue:

  • Duke Historian Receives National Humanities Medal
  • Duke Researchers Share Expertise in White House Conferences
  • Duke Researcher to Testify Before Senate Subcommittee
  • Duke Professor Describes “Crazy Upside-Down” Immigration System
  • Duke Professor Argues that for Effective Drone Policy, ‘Threat is Key’
  • U.S. Is Ill-Equipped for Automated Warfare, Duke Professor Says

 

DUKE HISTORIAN RECEIVES NATIONAL HUMANITIES MEDAL
The esteemed Southern historian Anne Firor Scott, the W.K. Boyd Professor of History Emerita at Duke, has been awarded a 2013 National Humanities Medal.

Scott, who taught in Duke’s history department from 1961 until 1991, was selected for “pioneering the study of southern women. Through groundbreaking research spanning ideology, race, and class, Dr. Scott’s uncharted exploration into the lives of southern women has established women’s history as vital to our understanding of the American South.”

The medal honors individuals whose work has deepened the nation’s understanding of the humanities, broadened citizen engagement with the humanities, or helped preserve and expand access to important resources in the humanities.

Scott receiveD the medal during a ceremony Monday, July 28, at the White House; a video of the ceremony can be viewed here.

Read More:
Anne Firor Scott Awarded 2013 National Humanities Medal (duke.edu)

DUKE RESEARCHERS SHARE EXPERTISE IN WHITE HOUSE CONFERENCES
Two Duke faculty members will travel to Washington this week to participate in two separate meetings at the White House.

On July 28, Ben Goodman, a research scientist at the Center for Child and Family Policy, presented at a conference co-sponsored by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy that is focused on spotlighting effective, low-cost randomized controlled trials.  Goodman will share his work monitoring the impact of Durham Connects, a program that provides free nurse home visits to all infants born in Durham County.

Angel Harris, professor of sociology, will participate on July 31 in a symposium on “Transformative Family Engagement” at the White House. As part of the discussion on family engagement in childrens’ academic success, Harris will discuss his research on the effect of parental involvement on educational outcomes, which is detailed in his new book The Broken Compass.

Read More:
White House-Sponsored Conference Features Durham Connects Evaluation (duke.edu)
Parental Involvement is Overrated – opinion piece based on Prof. Harris’s book (New York Times)

DUKE RESEARCHER TO TESTIFY BEFORE SENATE SUBCOMMITTEE
Jeannine Sato, a researcher with the Duke enter for Child and Family Policy, will testify on July 30 before the Senate Subcommittee on Children and Families about the benefits of paid family leave.  The hearing, “Paid Family Leave: The Benefits for Businesses and Working Families” will take place at 10:15 a.m. in Room SD-430.

Read More:
Subcommittee Hearing – Paid Family Leave: The Benefits for Businesses and Working Families (help.senate.gov)
20 Years In, Family Leave Act Doesn’t Go Far Enough (newsobserver.com)

DUKE PROFESSOR DESCRIBES ‘CRAZY, UPSIDE-DOWN’ IMMIGRATION SYSTEM
Vivek Wadhwa, director of research at Pratt School of Engineering, writes in Politico Magazine of the need for targeted immigration reform for skilled workers. He says, “As the visa backlogs started rising, immigrant entrepreneurship began to stall. From 2006 to 2012, only 44 percent of Silicon Valley’s startups were founded by immigrants. It wasn’t that immigrants became less entrepreneurial or that graduating students didn’t want to start technology companies; their visas did not allow them to work for the companies that they might have started.”

Read more:
America’s Crazy Upside-Down Immigration System (Politico)

DUKE PROF ARGUES THAT FOR EFFECTIVE DRONE POLICY, ‘THREAT IS KEY’
Writing in The Hill, David Siegel, professor of political science, says “The threat of drone strikes thus puts terrorist groups between a rock and a hard place. Centralizing entails large operational costs but maintains control and satisfies external backers. Decentralizing minimizes operational costs but reduces control and risks the loss of external backers. The greater the government’s remote strike capability, the more likely groups will choose decentralization to avoid drone strikes and in so doing diminish their ability to function in other ways.

Read more: 
The Effectiveness of Drone Strikes (The Hill)

U.S. IS ILL-EQUIPPED FOR AUTOMATED WARFARE, DUKE PROFESSOR SAYS
During a talk at the Aspen Ideas Festival, Missy Cummings, a professor of engineering at Duke, an expert on drones and other robots, and a former fighter pilot said, “The government has virtually no experts on the inside that understand autonomous robotic systems.” It’s a systemic problem, and one that begins with the education system. “Our country,” Cummings says, “simply is not putting out enough” people—engineers, roboticists, software engineers—who have expertise in robotics. The government, in the military and beyond, isn’t doing enough to incentivize or compensate technologists. “And the ones that we do train,” Cummings adds, “are going to private companies like Google or Apple.”

Read More:
We’re Not Ready for Robots (The Atlantic)