The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

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Exploring Social Justice with the CHANGE Initiative

I had the opportunity to attend a training program for new CHANGE Leaders that took place between July 22 and July 27 in Quincy, Massachusetts. The CHANGE Initiative is a program run by Oxfam America, an international, non-profit organization that fights to end social injustices around the world using a rights-based approach. This initiative empowers college students from all around the country to be leaders on their respective campuses and promote Oxfam's mission in a variety of ways. The 2017 cohort of CHANGE Leaders comprised of 36 students from 36 different universities in the U.S. and a variety of backgrounds and experiences. 

Ugandan Dance Troupe Tabu Flo Brings the Dartmouth Community Together

When we hatched the idea of bringing Ugandan dance troupe Tabu Flo to Dartmouth to debut a dance-theater piece weaving themes of power, representation, and voice, we did not anticipate how much their presence would impact our campus. Their twelve days here were marked by testimony after testimony—from students, faculty, community members, and many others—about their ability to inspire critical reflection on our world through the art of dance. This was encapsulated in their performance of “The Speech”, which painted an evocative picture of state-run systems that afford some people the ability to speak and withhold that opportunity from others. In the piece, Tabu Flo combined passionate expression with nuanced symbolism, using costume and choreography (without uttering a word) to highlight how different institutional actors participate in this exercise of power.

Security Vulnerabilities in Modern Voting

Thanks to the Rockefeller Center, I had the opportunity to attend the DEFCON security conference this past July. Started in 1992, DEFCON now draws roughly 20,000 attendees each year. Notable speakers this year include Gary Kasparov, Elie Bursztein, and Matt Suiche. In addition to the main stage talks, DEFCON also features smaller venues within the conference center – known as ‘villages’ – dedicated to specific topics, such as hardware, networking, social engineering, and biohacking.

The newest village at DEFCON was the Voting Machine village. The objective of the village was simple: to alert the American public about security vulnerabilities in modern voting machines. Instead of focusing on what may or may not have happened during the 2016 election, we made it our mission to understand today’s voting technology and help ensure that future elections cannot be hacked.

Research Opportunities with the International Space Station

I recently enjoyed the privilege of attending the International Space Station Research and Development Conference (ISSRDC) with support from the Rockefeller Center, and I can barely comprehend how many resources and opportunities this experience has provided me. From conversing with scientists about their bleeding-edge research to listening to CEOs and politicians share their visions for the future, the sheer amount of knowledge available at this conference was simply unbelievable. Not only do I now possess a much stronger understanding of current orbital research and technology, I am also enabled with the tools and connections to potentially bring Dartmouth research to the International Space Station.

Turning Your Passion Into Your Living with a Liberal Arts Degree

On Friday, August 4th, the Rockefeller Center hosted a one-day conference entitled “How to Make Your Passion Your Living with a Liberal Arts Degree.” The purpose of the conference was to help students learn how to translate their interests into careers that have meaning and impact.

Puja Devi ’19 values a liberal arts degree “because it encourages me to both delve into my interests as well as explore fields I might not favor as much.” Even though she is a government major, she has taken classes in sociology and women’s and gender studies, studied abroad in India, and is currently searching for research projects in geography.

The conference featured remarks from Rebecca Biron, Dean of the College, about the versatility of a liberal arts degree as well as six young alumni.

Rey Allie ’11 studied Government and Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. He has developed insights to help Uber expand into new markets across the world, expanded the scope and reach of Google’s Intelligence and Investigations team, and currently advises senior leaders on strategic initiatives and opportunities at OfferUp.

Notes from the Field: Alexandrea Adams ’18

Alexandrea Adams ’18 interned with New America, a non-partisan think tank in Washington, D.C., for the Spring 2017 term. The following is an excerpt from her internship report.

Perkins Bass Distinguished Visitor Lew Feldstein Talks About Social Capital

Lewis Feldstein, the Rockefeller Center 2016-2017 Perkins Bass Distinguished Visitor, delivered the Perkins Bass 1934 Lecture on Tuesday, August 1 entitled “Viewing the World Through a Social Capital Lens: Who You Know Matters, Community Building Counts.”

Students from Exeter Academy Visit Dartmouth

The Rockefeller Center hosted 27 students from Phillip Exeter Academy’s Charles J. Hamm Leadership Program on Wednesday, July 19. Students in the Exeter Summer Program live on campus in Exeter, New Hampshire for five weeks and participate in academic studies, athletics, and personal exploration. Of the 27 students in the Hamm Leadership Program this summer, 12 of the students are international.

The Hamm Leadership Program features excursions across New England to learn about leadership outside of the classroom. While visiting the Rockefeller Center, the students participated in a campus tour, scavenger hunt, and small group discussions. There was also a panel of Dartmouth students who shared their experiences about college life. Sadhana Hall, Deputy Director of the Rockefeller Center, presented on authenticity and leadership qualities. All activities focused on leadership in action.

Faculty Research Grants in Action: Donna Coch

Original article by Charlotte Albright was published in the Dartmouth News on July 25, 2017.

When, in the nursery rhyme, Jack and Jill go up a hill, they’re teaching children more than how to fetch a pail of water. They’re also improving their reading skills.

Researchers have found a connection between knowing how words rhyme and knowing how to read them. Good rhymers tend to become good readers. But there’s more to be known about what, exactly, occurs in our brains when we encounter two words that sound alike. For example, what happens if we are shown the pictures of, say, a cat and a hat, rather than the word themselves?

That’s what Professor of Education Donna Coch and her undergraduate lab assistants are learning from an experiment they’re conducting at the Reading Brains Lab in the Department of Education. Supported by funds from the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy, the study asks participants—about 80 college students—to make decisions about whether pairs of words do or do not rhyme.

“Do you want to try it?” Coch asked me.

“Sure,” I said, hoping that as a 66-year-old avid reader, I wouldn’t embarrass myself.

Charlotte Blatt ’18 Published in Top Military Journal

Original article by Bill Platt was published in the Dartmouth News on July 24, 2017.

An analysis of military strategy in the Iraq war by Charlotte Blatt ’18, which started as a paper for Assistant Professor Jeffrey Friedman, has been published in Parameters, the top peer-reviewed journal of the U.S. Army War College.

Along the way, the paper, “Operational Success, Strategic Failure: Assessing the 2007 Iraq Troop Surge,” won the 2017 Edwin H. Sherman Family Prize for Undergraduate Scholarship presented by Temple University’s Center for the Study of Force and Diplomacy. Blatt wrote the paper for Friedman’s summer seminar “Lessons from America’s Foreign Wars.”

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