What They Said
April 6, 2005 “Prospects for Palestinian-Israeli Peace: From Vision to Reality,” sponsored by the Christian A. Johnson Chair in International Affairs and Middle Eastern Studies
Peace is the most destabilizing element in the short run, but the most stabilizing in the long run. In the short run, the threat—or, the promise—of peace dislodges entrenched systems, and robs governments of the excuses they’ve always used to avoid accountability.
Hanan Ashrawi is a Palestinian spokesperson, legislator and author, whose autobiography is This Side of Peace: A Personal Account. She also serves on international bodies including the Council on Foreign Relations, the World Bank Middle East and North Africa Region, and the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development.
April 8, 2005"Mind Bugs: The Nature of Unconscious Prejudice and Stereotypes," part of the Science Seminar Series, presented by the Natural Sciences and Mathematics Program
If learned associations are based on the environment we live in, then if we change the environment we can change the associations. One thing that affects our degree of bias is the diversity of our friends—not the number, but the quality of those friendships. A second environmental factor that matters is the media we read and watch; more exposure to admired members of disadvantaged groups leads to less unconscious bias against that group. People who are deeply committed to equality are vigilant about the thoughts that come into their minds; over time they become practiced at catching and inhibiting thoughts they don’t want. Unconscious biases in thoughts and actions are pervasive, but not inevitable.
Nilanjana Dasgupta is assistant professor of psychology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
April 28, 2005 Olin Science Lecture, “The Evolution of Female Promiscuity,” sponsored by the F.W. Olin Fund for Science, the science department, the Friends of the Sarah Lawrence College library and the Office of the Dean of the College
A researcher looked at speciation rates in insects, dividing them into two groups: those where more than half of the females had sex with more than one male, and those where fewer than half the females were having sex with more than one male. In the group with more promiscuous females, there were much higher speciation rates—you’re generating new species about four times faster than in groups where females tend to be more monogamous.
Olivia Judson, PhD., is a research fellow at Imperial College in London. An evolutionary biologist, she is also an award-winning journalist and author whose 2002 book, Dr. Tatiana’s Sex Advice to All Creation, has been translated into 14 languages.
May 4, 2005 Craft reading, co-sponsored by the Writing and Spanish programs
On one hand, I completely agree with the famous Henry James line that the historical novel is “humbug.” But, then, why do I put so much effort into research? I think James was referring to the idea that the historical novel is humbug as a realistic novel, one that claims to show you what it was like in the past with the same authority as a realist novel written in its own time. On the other hand, the historical novel is a way of reinvestigating and imagining the past. If you become obsessed with the subject matter, you investigate in order to write with your own kind of authority your own vision of the past. It might not necessarily be how it was, but you hope it is a meaningful interpretation.
Francisco Goldman, who lives in Brooklyn and Mexico City, is the author of three novels, The Long Night of White Chickens, The Ordinary Seaman and The Divine Husband.