The News Service
Social science departments will welcome 16 new faculty for 2004-05
Ama Ata Aidoo, George Lamming and John Wideman in Africana studies; Steven Lubar in American Civilization; Stephen Houston in anthropology; Sophocles Mavroeidis, Lily Qiu, Sergio Turner and Ivo Welch in economics; James Green, Seth Rockman, Robert Self and Naoko Shibusawa in history; Pauline Jones Luong and Ulrich Krotz in political science; and John Logan in sociology.
Ama Ata Aidoo, a preeminent feminist writer and educator, comes to Brown as visiting professor of Africana studies with a courtesy appointment in creative writing.
For more than four decades, Aidoo, a Ghanaian native, has distinguished herself as an author, as well as a champion of feminism on the continent – one of the foremothers of modern African literature. Aidoo is “a pioneer in shedding light on the lives of women in African society,” says Anthony Bogues, chair of the Africana Studies Department. At Brown this fall, Aidoo will teach a course in African literature and will work with Rites and Reason Theater. Her focuses will include orality and performance, according to Bogues.
Aidoo is the author of the dramas “The Dilemma of a Ghost” and “Anowa”; the short stories “No Sweetness Here” and “The Girl Who Can and Other Stories”; and the novels Our Sister Killjoy or Reflections from a Black-Eyed Squint and Changes, which was recognized with the Commonwealth Writers Prize Best Book Award, Africa Region, in 1992. Her poetry includes Someone Talking to Sometime, for which she received the 1987 Nelson Mandela Prize for Poetry, and An Angry Letter in January and Other Poems. She is the author of the children’s books The Eagle and the Chickens and Other Stories, and Birds and Other Poems. Aidoo was awarded the Grand Medal of the Star of the Volta, Ghana’s highest civilian honor, in 1999. Other honors and awards include a Fulbright scholarship and the UNESCO/International PEN women’s committee travel fellowship, for which she was the first recipient.
A graduate of the University of Ghana, Legon, Aidoo has served as a junior research fellow at the Institute of African Studies at the University of Ghana and as a fellow of the Advanced Creating Writing Program at Stanford University. In the early 1980s, she served as a minister of education in Ghana. She has been a visiting professor at a number of U.S. institutions including Hamilton, Oberlin, Brandeis University, Smith College and Mount Holyoke. She is the executive director of Mbaasem, a foundation that supports women writers and their work.
Nearly three decades ago, James N. Green traveled to Brazil for a six-month visit but stayed six years. Around him swirled the energy of people organizing against human rights violations and he was caught up.
When Green returned to the United States after that first trip, he set out on a research track that included a master’s and doctorate in Latin American Studies and eventually led him to the presidency of the Brazilian Studies Association.
“I fell in love with the people and the culture,” said Green, who will leave his post as associate professor at California State University–Long Beach at the end of December to accept a tenured associate professorship in history at Brown.
His love of the people continues today and is evident in the titles of his papers and books.
Among the three books he is now writing is More Love and More Desire: History of the Brazilian Gay and Lesbian Rights Movement. Brazil is home to the largest gay and lesbian parade in the world – an annual event involving 1.5 million marchers – and one of the largest social movements in the country.
Before the end of the year, Green must complete We Cannot Remain Silent: Opposition to the Brazilian Military Leadership in the U.S. 1964-85, about a time period in which the American public became aware of a new image of Brazil constructed around torture.
Included in that narrative is the work of Thomas Skidmore, Brown professor emeritus of history, who played a role in standing up to the ruling regime and denouncing torture, said Green. The government briefly even denied Skidmore entrance to the country because of his activism.
Green is also familiar with the work of Luiz Valente, associate professor of Portuguese and Brazilian studies at Brown. The pair served together on the governing board of the Brazilian Studies Association, and they are now planning a fall 2005 conference at Brown on the future of Brazilian Studies.
“Brown is in the forefront setting the agenda for the future of Brazilian Studies in the United States for the next decade,” said Green. One of the things that attracted him to the University was the student exchange program with Rio de Janeiro. “I am delighted to be working with students excited about Brazilian culture.”
Green received his bachelor’s degree in political science from Earlham College in 1972 and his master’s and doctorate from the University of California–Los Angeles, in 1992 and 1996, respectively.
Archaeologist Stephen D. Houston has been known to call home on a satellite telephone while crouching beneath an umbrella to avoid the raindrops near the ruins of an ancient Maya city in Guatemala.
Since 1994, his home has been Utah, where Houston rose from associate professor to the Jesse Knight University Professor at Brigham Young University. Now he is joining Brown’s Anthropology Department as a full professor and establishing the University as his home base.
Houston performs fieldwork in a remote location at least once a year – digging in the dirt for clues to the past.
“Uncovering a hieroglyphic inscription that no human being has looked at in 1,500 years, then being able to read what they’re saying almost instantly, to me is pure joy,” said Houston during an interview with the Deseret News. “So is opening a royal tomb and seeing a place that must have been enveloped by emotion and religious beliefs over 1,000 years ago.”
In recent years, Houston’s destination has been Piedras Negras in Guatemala, an ancient city that thrived for four centuries and then collapsed. Excavations of the site indicate that the Mayan culture collapsed not from drought or overpopulation, but from the loss of a king who was captured by invaders in A.D. 800.
Houston’s ability to piece together the story of that ancient civilization from the objects he unearths has made him one of the world’s experts on the Mayan civilization, and a year ago garnered the attention of National Geographic magazine, according to David Kertzer, professor of anthropology and chair of the department.
“The things the residents of Piedras Negras left behind continue to tell their story,” according to the August 2003 article about Houston’s work, titled “Field Dispatch.” “Stephen Houston is listening.”
Houston grew up in Chambersburg, Pa., a college town near the Maryland border, and received his bachelor’s in anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1980. He then went on to Yale University and earned both a master’s and doctorate in anthropology.
His research interests include ancient Maya writing, settlement patterns, Mesoamerican culture history, pre-Columbian art, urbanism, the anthropology of art, and comparative religion.
Throughout the last two decades, Houston has received about $1.5 million in grants to fund his research. The organizations funding the work include the National Geographic Society, the Heinz Foundation, the Getty Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Piedras Negras has become part of a national park and a park headquarters has been established an hour’s walk from Houston’s site. Now researchers are encouraged to make camp at park headquarters, and accommodations have improved.
Even so, dangers remain, including toxic vipers and collapsing pits, guerrillas and bandits. And, in what continues to be a rustic environment, the duration of Houston’s field season is often at the mercy of the elements, particularly the start of the rainy season.
– Kristen Cole
Ulrich Krotz studies relationships – but not those complicated entanglements between individuals. He studies relationships between countries.
“What makes some states hang together or fall apart?” said Krotz, “and under what conditions do certain kinds of relations affect the states involved?
“Relationships have an existence of themselves and it makes a lot of sense to look at the relationships instead of just the individual actions of the states.”
After receiving his undergraduate degree at the University of Konstanz in Germany, Krotz went to Cornell University, earning a master’s in 1998 and doctorate in international relations in 2001.
Subsequently, he held postdoctoral positions at the Center for European Studies at Harvard University and the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy.
He comes to Brown from the University of Oxford, where he taught in the graduate program in international relations.
Krotz hopes to develop his dissertation into two separate books, a project on which he is currently working. Titled “Defining the National Interest: Institutionalized Relations, Interests, and Policies in France and Germany,” the dissertation argues that Franco-German relations affect the formation of French and German national interests and foreign policies.
He will teach three courses during the fall semester at Brown, including a graduate seminar in international relations theory, and two undergraduate courses, one on the international relations of Europe and the other on North Atlantic politics after the Cold War.
A slew of fellowships throughout the last decade has given Krotz the opportunity to conduct research at academic institutions within the United States, Germany, France and Italy.
“I enjoyed very much the different locations in different countries, on different continents,” said Krotz. He looked forward to returning to New England and the region’s seafood – especially the scallops. And, Krotz said, he is excited to come to Brown.
“Brown is a university with a reputation of attracting some of the best undergraduates in the U.S. – and that means the world,” said Krotz. “It seems to me the air above big American research institutions is particularly rich in oxygen.”
– Kristen Cole
George Lamming notes that one of the attractions of Brown is the University’s broad intellectual range, including “the way it incorporates the Caribbean not as an exotic destination, but as one of the cradles of the modern world.”
“In the Caribbean archipelago – literal and literary – all branches of the human family met for the first time, introducing communities and institutions based on African and Asian labor,” says the Barbados-born Lamming, who calls the late-15th century Americas the earliest stages of what today is referred to as globalization.
A writer and teacher who is the author of six novels and several volumes of critical essays, Lamming is a defining figure of Caribbean cultural and intellectual history.
“He is not simply a writer of immense importance, but also a critical intellectual of international significance, particularly in the postcolonial world,” says Anthony Bogues, Africana Studies Department chair, who is editing a forthcoming volume of essays regarding Lamming’s work. Bogues organized a 2003 conference on Lamming at the University of West Indies, Jamaica.
In the 1950s Lamming immigrated to England, where he hosted “Caribbean Voices” for the BBC Colonial Service. In 1953, he published The Castle of My Skin, which examines the effects of European colonial rule on the people of the Caribbean island. Lamming’s subsequent novels include The Emigrants and Water with Berries. In 1956 Lamming attended the landmark First Congress of Black Writers and Artists in Paris, where he was among the first to point out the link between language and colonial structures. Published in 1960, his essays in The Pleasures of Exile helped establish the discursive practice of identifying the plight of the colonized with that of Caliban from Shakespeare’s The Tempest.
In recognition of his work, Lamming has received a Guggenhiem Fellowship, the Somerset Maugham Prize for Literature; the Felix Varela Award, Cuba’s highest award in the humanities; the Companion of Honour Award, Barbados’s second-highest honor; and a Langston Hughes Festival Award from the Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture, among other honors.
Lamming, who entered academia as writer-in-residence and lecturer in the Creative Arts Centre and Department of Education at the University of the West Indies in 1967, has served as a visiting professor, writer or instructor at the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Dar Es Salaam, the University of Nairobi, the University of North Carolina, the University of Miami and City University of New York, among others. He was recently distinguished visiting professor at Duke University.
At Brown during the fall semester, Lamming will teach a course in Caribbean literature, examining themes including the plantation, the colony and the world of childhood, and Caribbean national identities through the work of Alejo Carpentier, Jean Rhys and other authors. Lamming will also have a courtesy appointment in Creative Writing.
Lamming is developing a new fictional work that engages the “discovery” of the New World through the interrogation of major 15th-century figures, including Columbus, Sepulveda and Las Casas, via a Haitian “ceremony of the souls,” which allows the living to interrogate the dead.
Just as coming to Brown will allow Lamming to engage in a never-before realized dialogue with scholars at the University, his new fictional work will allow the now-dead renowned figures to set a new future in motion through dialogue. “We look at their justifications for their journey. It’s the modern Caribbean putting the ‘discovery’ on trial,” says Lamming.
Social scientist John R. Logan documents trends that tell us about who we are and how we relate to each other. Sometimes his work disproves a negative idea, sometimes it concludes that all is not as well as we would wish.
For example, in his book Family Ties: Enduring Relations between Parents and Their Grown Children, Logan challenged the assertion that the American family was deteriorating because of diminishing family size, changing gender roles, and the rising incidence of divorce.
But Logan also told us that, as of the 2000 census, whites and blacks were still living in separate neighborhoods despite an increasingly diverse population. “We need to be aware that segregation is not going away by itself,” he said.
Logan recently accepted an appointment at Brown as professor of sociology and director of the Initiative in Spatial Structures in the Social Sciences, a post that allows him to knit together researchers from many different disciplines. In moving to Brown, he leaves the State University of New York (SUNY) system where he has spent his entire academic career.
Logan received his bachelor’s from the University of California–Berkeley in 1968, his master’s from Columbia University in 1969, and his doctorate from the University of California in 1974 while a lecturer at SUNY–Stony Brook.
At the University of Albany, Logan led the Lewis Mumford Center for Comparative Urban and Regional Research for the last five years. Since the release of the 2000 census figures, the center has reported on a number of social issues such as the continuing segregation in American neighborhoods.
“Of all of the kinds of work I have done, the most satisfying is the public-oriented research that I have been doing in the last three years as director,” said Logan. “I do have a sense of coming back around to the activities that brought me into sociology in the first place.”
The existence of segregated neighborhoods was something Logan first worked to change in the early 1970s, even before he started his career in academe.
Concern about housing discrimination drove Logan’s work as a community organizer in 1970 in East Palo Alto, Calif., a lower-middle class black suburb on the other side of the tracks from its rich neighbor and namesake. He also served as an urban planner for the Santa Clara County Planning Department.
Logan is currently writing Never a Melting Pot, an exploration of the incorporation of immigrant and minority groups in New York’s labor and housing markets from 1880 to the present.
He has published widely in key journals such as the American Journal of Sociology, American Sociological Review, Social Forces, Urban Affairs Review, and Demography. In addition, Logan’s book Urban Fortunes: The Political Economy of Place, won the Distinguished Publication Award from the American Sociological Association (ASA), and Family Ties: Enduring Relations between Parents and Their Grown Children was the 1997 William J. Goode Distinguished Book Award winner from the ASA.
Logan is now studying the exchange of help and frequency of contact within both Chinese and American families and finding they are very similar.
Steven Lubar has spent his career studying and demonstrating how societies remember their past. According to Mari-Jo Buhle, chairman of the Department of American Civilization, he has “conceived, researched and written some of the most significant exhibits mounted in this country’s most important history museum” along the way.
As the chair of the Division of the History of Technology and curator of Engineering and Industry at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History, Lubar this year directed “America on the Move,” the museum’s largest and – at $30 million – most expensive exhibit to date. He also co-curated the 1994 “Smithsonian’s America” exhibit in Tokyo, “Engines of Change: The American Industrial Revolution” and “Information Age,” among others.
“He is a most sophisticated user of cultural theory in studying the history of technology,” says Buhle.
This fall Lubar will bring his expertise to Brown and to the John Nicholas Brown Center for the Study of American Civilization, where his focus in the next two years will be on developing a new master’s degree program in public humanities.
“This will be a way to get historians’ work out to a broader audience,” says Lubar, who already has some experience with Brown – the kind of experience that has convinced him to make a move to Providence.
“Our best interns and fellows have come to us from Brown, and the more I looked, the better it seemed,” he says. “Brown is doing new and exciting things, and that’s a rare thing now. ... It’s a very attractive place to be.”
Lubar plans to teach courses on topics such as museums, public history and memorials, and he hopes establish an internship program with both local and national museums. The author of many books and articles, he received his B.S. from M.I.T and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, and he has taught history and American Studies at the University of Maryland, the University of Pennsylvania, George Washington University and Johns Hopkins University.
–Mary Jo Curtis
When locals talk about the “curse” in summer and fall, they are usually thinking of Babe Ruth, the Red Sox and the Yankees.
Not so Associate Professor of Political Science Pauline Jones Luong. When she talks about the curse, Jones Luong is talking about the “resource curse” – and she’s not sure she believes in it.
The resource curse is the widely held theory that resource-abundant economies grow much slower than other economies, are ruled by corrupt, authoritarian governments, and are more prone to civil war. “I’m one of the people who doesn’t think there is a resource curse,” said Jones Luong, who joins Brown as a tenured faculty member after six years on the faculty at Yale University. Her focus is the former Soviet Union, primarily Central Asia.
Jones Luong became interested in political economies in Central Asia while an undergraduate at the University of California–Berkeley and pursued the study of the region during her doctoral studies at the Harvard University Department of Government in 1992. While conducting research in the region for her dissertation on nascent political institutions, she witnessed an influx of foreign investors eyeing resources, including Kazakhstan’s large oil reserves.
“So much of the fate of these countries seemed dependent upon whether or not they could manage their resources effectively,” Jones Luong said. Managing the resources effectively seemed to depend on the political climate in the country.
Deconstructing the popular notion of the resource curse is the subject of a manuscript Jones Luong is now finishing, entitled “Enriching the State: Resource Wealth, Ownership Structure, and Institutional Capacity.” However, she also uses her research in the policy domain.
As a member of an international group of scholars discussing major security issues facing the Soviet successor states, Jones Luong participates in meetings with policy-makers and writes policy briefs.
“One of the things I’ve tried to do is bridge my scholarly and public policy worlds,” said Jones Luong of her appointment on the Program on New Approaches to Russian Security. “I see Brown as a place I can effectively do both.”
Much like Yale, where she began her academic career, Jones Luong said, Brown offers students who can challenge her. She will begin teaching both undergraduates and graduate students in the spring. “Teaching is one of the most rewarding parts of what I do,” she said.
At the same time, she is embarking on a new project examining the roots of Islamic radicalism. Again, she is trying to explore a widely held theory: Radicalism is a response to repression. “It’s the chicken and egg question,” she said. “Which came first?”
A few years ago, Sophocles Mavroeidis abandoned the world of investment banking for academia. A few weeks ago, he left Europe for the United States and a position as assistant professor of economics at Brown.
Although some of his classmates in the economics graduate program at Oxford University opted for a career in the financial world, Mavroeidis felt the type of work he had done at J.P. Morgan in London was too restrictive.
“Academia gives me the freedom to set my own research agenda, and I find that extremely valuable,” said Mavroeidis, who won the Young Economist Award from the Central Bank of Turkey in 2001. “Moreover, I believe that as a good academic, I would have better chances to make an impact on economic policy.”
Mavroeidis is interested in developing quantitative methods to analyze macroeconomic data such as inflation, output and interest rates. He wants to model expectations and examine how they affect economic behavior.
After receiving an undergraduate degree at Cambridge University in 1997, Mavroeidis went on to receive a master’s and doctorate in economics from Oxford. Later, as a postdoctoral research fellowship in the Department of Quantitative Economics at the University of Amsterdam, Mavroeidis was invited to present his research at the 2003 National Bureau of Economic Research Summer Institute Boston.
“From a very early stage in my academic career, I became skeptical about the empirical relevance of the various economic theories, especially since they usually rely on very unrealistic assumptions such as common knowledge and rationality,” said Mavroeidis.
“I figured out that the only way one can rigorously evaluate the relevance of any theory is by testing it against data – and this is very important if theories are to be used to advise economic policy.”
Mavroeidis has been critical of a model of inflation which posits that firms set their prices as a markup over marginal costs and face constraints in adjusting their prices. The existing findings about the model in the literature are unreliable and need to be reexamined, he said. Economists who are actively using these models to advise policy-makers have taken the criticism seriously.
With a newly minted doctorate in economics from Yale University, Lily Xiaoli Qiu will begin her appointment as assistant professor as one of a growing number of finance experts in the Economics Department.
A corporate finance researcher, Qiu provides the first empirical evidence that any class of institutional investors can influence corporate decisions. Firms with large public pension fund shareholders engage in less and better merger and acquisition activity and smaller deals, while firms with large insurance or investment company shareholders engage in more of that activity.
Her findings provide guidance for average investors who may see the value of their stock plummet at the announcement of a corporation takeover.
Qiu studied eight years of acquisition activity – more than 2,000 acquisitions within a pool of 1,363 public companies traded on the major exchanges – for her dissertation. The sample covers most Standard & Poor 1,500 firms.
Institutional investor activism has attracted both publicity in the mainstream press and substantial academic research because it has come to be regarded as the new corporate governance mechanism.
Among the questions Qiu explored was whether the purchase of one corporation by another hurt or improved the value of the stocks of the buying company. Both the long-run stock performance and the operating performance are better in corporations with higher public pension fund ownership, she found.
So the message for the average investor is: Pay attention to the representation of institutional investors when deciding where to invest. Companies with higher public pension fund ownership may deliver better value in the long run, according to Qiu.
Qiu was born in China and attended Bryn Mawr College as an undergraduate. She received her master’s and doctoral degrees from Yale and will teach undergraduates about corporate finance, applied microeconomics and microeconomic theory. Qiu also researches industry effects on the initial public offerings market and limitations of outside monitoring under information uncertainty.
When Adam Smith published his economic theory in 1776, it was considered revolutionary – even immoral. Now Smith’s concept of the free market is a cornerstone of the country’s economy.
Historian Seth Rockman charts those types of revolutionary economic changes that occurred during 18th- and 19th-century America. He teases apart who was employed within each family, the type of work they accepted, and why.
“I have fundamental questions about the economy and social justice,” said Rockman, assistant professor of history. “Looking at history and the emergence of that market has repercussions today.”
At the time Smith wrote An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, the country was experiencing the arrival of capitalism and the halting disappearance of slavery, said Rockman. It was a time in which immigrants flocked to the cities, a time of welfare reform.
Rockman’s dissertation examined the survival strategies of working men and women at the intersection of wage labor and slavery in the decades following the American Revolution.
He earned his doctorate from the University of California–Davis in 1999, with specializations in U.S. and cross-cultural women’s history, and his bachelor’s from Columbia University in 1993.
During the 2002-03 academic year Rockman served as a visiting professor in Brown’s Department of History, returning to Occidental College in California where he had been on the faculty since 1999. At Occidental College, Rockman wrote Welfare Reform in the Early Republic: A Brief History with Documents, published by Bedford Books in 2003.
This year, Rockman will teach Brown students about early American economic history and slavery and memory.
His year as a visiting professor might give Rockman’s arrival at Brown an air of homecoming, but it would be only a small part of the reason. Rockman’s appointment at Brown has erased the 3,000-mile distance between him and his wife, Tara Nummedal. Nummedal is also an assistant professor of history at Brown. She teaches early modern European history.
Historian Robert O. Self can be found conducting research at the intersection of history, urban studies and politics. That intersection now has a Brown address.
Self wrote American Babylon: Race and the Struggle for Postwar Oakland, a study of racial liberation struggles and class politics in postwar America, while he was an assistant professor of history and urban studies at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. It is based on his dissertation.
After relocating to Brown as an assistant professor of history, he learned that the book had won the American Political Science Association’s Ralph Bunche Award for the “best scholarly work in political science which explores the phenomenon of ethnic and cultural pluralism”.
Princeton University’s Nell Irvin Painter described the book for the publisher. “Robert Self’s original and fascinating case study historicizes city-suburb racial segregation as a creation within living memory. We cannot heal or make sense of the nation we live in now without American Babylon.”
The 20th century fascinates Self as someone concerned with social equity. ”I got into the modern period of the U.S. because I am most concerned with understanding politics during the period in which I live,” he said.
Self is currently writing a book about social policy and the status of men tentatively titled This is a man’s world: Los Angeles and the politics of gender in mid-century America.
He received his bachelor’s in history and English from Oregon State University, and his master’s and doctorate in history from the University of Washington. After graduation, his first post was a fellowship in the study of the North American West at Stanford University, followed by a term as a Rackham Fellow at the University of Michigan.
“I am very excited about teaching here,” said Self. “Whenever I mention Brown, people mention how wonderful the students are.”
When Naoko Shibusawa was a child in Houston, Texas, her mother would tuck her in at night, murmuring about how lucky she was that she did not grow up during the war.
The war she heard the most stories about was World War II, a time when Shibusawa’s grandmother traveled the countryside to barter heirlooms for rice, a time when her grandparents’ house burned down in Tokyo during the fire storms of March 1945.
From her personal experiences as an expatriate Japanese national through her undergraduate studies at the University of California–Berkeley and her scholarly work as an assistant professor of history at the University of Hawaii-Manoa, Shibusawa has always been trying to figure out how racial stereotyping and racial hierarchies work. This includes not only the racial stereotypes put upon people of color by the dominant society, but internalized racial hatred among the minorities themselves.
The new assistant professor of history at Brown researches how the state gets support for its foreign policies – specifically how Americans were able to accept the Japanese as a valuable Cold War ally so quickly after the brutality of World War II.
For her undergraduate thesis, Shibusawa interviewed Japanese Americans forced into American internment during World War II and and Japanese Americans who enlisted in the U.S. military and served in Europe. “I remember one decorated veteran saying he was so bitter,” said Shibusawa. “When he got home to California, the attitude of his town was ‘go back where you came from you dirty Jap.’”
Her doctoral thesis from Northwestern University explored the U.S. culture that sustained racism. “America’s Geisha Ally: Race, Gender, and Maturity in Refiguring the Japanese Enemy, 1945-1964” argues that racial stereotypes are not only malleable – reflecting the specific historical context – but inherently linked to Americans’ notion of gender and maturity.
Shibusawa is currently writing a book on the same topic for Harvard University Press. She will be able to spend her first year on the Brown faculty writing, having received an American Council of Learned Societies fellowship.
Shibusawa’s historical research has a direct and current relevance. The question of how a state gets support for foreign policies through popular culture and public discourse remains as much an issue today with America’s War on Iraq as it was during World War II, she said.
Predictably, the Brown appointment was a difficult decision for Shibusawa and her family, but not entirely because she will be leaving the sun-kissed shores of Hawaii for the mercurial weather of the Northeast.
“I grew up as a minority in Texas but I’m not a minority [in Hawaii] ... I felt at home here immediately,” said Shibusawa from her home in Hawaii. “For me it was a difficult decision, but I am flattered that the faculty want me to be part of Brown and excited about the opportunity.”
– Kristen Cole
Human behavior is neither consistent nor predictable, and that can be a problem when economists try to develop policies based on the way people act.
Often the formulation of economic policy fails to foresee that the policy’s implementation itself will change how people act, said Sergio Turner, assistant professor of economics.
“This failure can cause people’s welfare to change opposite to the policymaker’s intention,” said Turner. “My area of research focuses on adjusting tax-and-subsidy policy to account for this fact ... turning the above failure on its head.”
Turner received his doctorate in economics from Yale University earlier this year, writing a dissertation titled “Welfare Impact of Policy in Incomplete Markets: Theory and Computation.” He found that tax-and-subsidy policy can factor in people’s future reactions to the policy, ultimately benefiting everyone.
At Yale, Turner was awarded the University Fellowship and The Carl Anderson Fellowship, and was a three-time winner of the Cowles Foundation Prize. Earlier, he achieved Phi Beta Kappa in applied mathematics at the University of California–Berkeley and a German language diploma. He is a citizen of both Brazil and the United States.
Turner is one of three new faculty appointments this year to come from the Department of Economics at Yale.
– Kristen Cole
Anyone can visit Ivo Welch’s Web page at Yale University and download his new book, an introduction to finance. The book is largely written but not yet in the hands of the publisher. Welch enjoys giving it away.
Welch, who will join Brown’s economics faculty this year as a tenured professor, does not write to make money, he said.
“While I still have control of the book I like to give it away ... I like people to get excited about the subject area,” said Welch, who describes his textbook as “definitely very different” from the traditional finance textbooks. “I write for the dissemination of intellectual ideas – for changing the way the world works.”
Described as a “rising star in finance theory” by CFO magazine in a 2001 article titled “Bright Minds, Big Theories,” Welch will give Brown a strong presence in finance at a time when few economics departments outside of business schools excel in the area.
Born in Germany, Welch received his bachelor’s in computer science from Columbia University in 1985 and his doctorate from the University of Chicago in 1991. He began his career as an assistant professor at the University of California–Los Angeles, where he was promoted to full professor.
Welch will join the Brown faculty along with his partner Lily Qiu, a doctoral candidate at Yale who researches such topics as mergers and acquisitions and corporate finance.
Beginning next spring, Welch will teach introduction to finance at Brown, an area of study that looks at personal and professional questions such as the kinds of assets in which someone should invest and the ways homebuyers should finance their purchases. His research includes the pricing of initial public offerings, a process that recently received much attention with the IPO of Google.
“Finance is a field that brings together the tools and insights of the discipline of economics with technical skills and knowledge that are highly valued in the job market,” said Andrew Foster, professor and chair of the Department of Economics. “A significant fraction of Brown undergraduates in economics end up working in the finance area.”
Welch’s paper about information cascades – the tendency for economic agents to base decisions on the behavior of other agents in the presence of imperfect information – is considered one of the most influential papers published in the last 15 years, cited in more than 250 other research papers to date, said Foster. In addition, Welch ranks among the top 100 economists worldwide for the number of times his research is cited.
In addition to his post in academia, Welch is a research associate with the National Bureau of Economic Research Corporate Finance group, a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization dedicated to promoting a greater understanding of how the economy works.
He also received Yale’s 1994 Teaching Award, a reflection of his approach to the finance field. Welch calls it “vibrant” and “exciting.”
“He sees the opportunity to build something truly unique that links the intellectual curiosity of the students and faculty at a liberal arts university with a deep institutional knowledge of the corporate and financial worlds,” said Foster.
Noted as one of the foremost and most influential contemporary writers of fiction and prose, John Edgar Wideman comes to Brown this fall as Asa Messer Professor and professor of Africana studies and English.
Wideman, a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Pennsylvania in 1963, notes that coming to Brown has been an interesting possibility at least as early as the late 1980s when his son Daniel, class of 1991, was a student here.
“Almost to a person, Brown [alumni] that I’ve met over the years have been positive about their experiences,” he says. Wideman notes that students he has interacted with during visits and lectures at Brown have always struck him as particularly engaged about creative writing – a subject that he will now teach at Brown, after 18 years at the University of Massachusetts–Amherst.
Wideman expresses excitement about joining a Brown on the move. “On top of its already dynamic faculty and history, I like the idea that the institution is not sitting still and that there is an energy for the future, and for faculty and student recruitment,” he says.
Of the students he will work with, particularly those in the graduate writing program, Wideman says he looks forward to experiencing their commitment to writing. “We’ll come together and talk about something that we’re all crazy about or hooked on,” he says.
Wideman notes writing is inseparable from his life. “Writing is second nature. It’s the way I figure things out and a discipline for living in the world,” he says.
At Brown, he hopes perhaps to incorporate some forms of the craft that he has yet to tackle. “I have always had a lust to work with theater. Mounting, writing, thinking about, dreaming about a play could be a very good course,” he says, mentioning Africana studies and Rites and Reason Theater.
The author of more than a dozen books of fiction and numerous essays on literary theory and criticism, Wideman has received the 1996 James Fenimore Cooper Prize for historical writing. His Philadelphia Fire received both the American Book and PEN/Faulkner awards in 1991, and his Sent For You Yesterday was awarded the PEN/Faulkner in 1984. (He is the first two-time recipient of the PEN/Faulkner.) His story “Weight” received the 2000 O. Henry Award for best short story, and the essay “Whose War” was included in The Best American Essays of 2003. His other prizes include a Lila Wallace Reader’s Digest Grant, the Rea Prize for short fiction, a MacArthur Fellowship, and the Lannan Literary Award for fiction.
Wideman is the second African American to receive a Rhodes scholarship, receiving a B.Ph. from Oxford University’s New College in 1966.