Faculty News

Eye on the Bay visits Nick Geist’s Western Pond Turtle Project

Biology Professor Nick Geist’s long running Western Pond Turtle “head start” project with the Oakland Zoo was the subject of an Eye on the Bay report this summer.

Begun five years ago, the partnership focuses on raising and then releasing Western Pond Turtles back into the wild. Turtle eggs are collected each year from a site in Lake County and transported to the university for incubation. Once the eggs hatch, the tiny turtles are raised by zoo keepers at both the Oakland and San Francisco zoos. It has become a model for the role that zoos can play in the conservation of imperiled local species.

The Real Jerry Brown and Political Campaign Pioneers Topics of Library Talk

Political Science Professor David McCuan joins Chuck McFadden for a conversation about McFadden's new book called Trailblazer: A Biography of Jerry Brown on October 16 at 12:00 p.m. in Schulz 3001.

McFadden, a former Associated Press reporter, will discuss Jerry Brown's legacy. McCuan will address the broader landscape of the environment that the Governor is operating in, over his decades in California politics. Trailblazer is currently available as an eBook at the University Library.

The discussion will also touch on McCuan’s work on the "common birth mother" of political campaigning, the highly successful firm called CAMPAIGNS INC., founded in California by husband-and-wife team Clem Whitaker and Leone Baxter.

The talk presents research for a book-length manuscript about these first “political professionals." The firm of CAMPAIGNS, INC. is acknowledged as the first operation of its kind organized as a political consulting firm. However, little is known about the firm and scholarship about the role, impact, and growth of Whitaker Baxter.

"Most coverage of the firm consists of journalistic accounts of campaigns managed by the firm or brief paragraphs," he says. "We know, therefore, little about the substance and pioneering role of Whitaker and Baxter as the firm ushered in a permanent, professional role for political campaign and public affairs consultants."

The firm operated during the heyday of early applied public relations theories where marketing theories joined with election campaigns to generate political advertising. McCuan says "Whitaker and Baxter were iconoclasts who challenged traditional notions of political campaigning and ushered in a new era where politics meets marketing that carries forth even today."

The professor has found that "while true pioneers of 'new campaign techniques,' the firm is poorly understood without much attention devoted to its central role in more than four decades of California and national electoral politics."

Torres Conducts Drunk Driving Study, Develops Social Science Web Site

Carlos Torres, lecturer in the anthropology department, is also a contract ethnographer for the Prevention Research Center in Oakland, California. He is working on a study to help determine if greater neighborhood social disorganization relates to greater rates of drunken driving and aggression among bar patrons. So far, he has found that bar culture is subject to "varying degrees of libertarian thought where personal responsibility often times trumps the importance of community values for safety and responsible drinking."

"I am also finding that social coherence in a bar, whether the bar patrons are friendly with bartenders and staff, often works to prevent drunk driving by providing transportation support; more importantly, however, sober friends and associates have a significant impact upon the bar patrons and drunk driving behavior," he says. “Isolated drinking behavior is often times a precursor to drunk driving."

Social Science News Web Site

Torres has also developing a news and information website, dedicated to academically reviewing, incorporating, and disseminating information on newsworthy global events through the use of alternative news reporting sources.

These include primarily social science researchers who work in the geographic field of news coverage, global media posting sites (like YouTube), and from local citizenry, who report on their own localities.

Torres says “It is our goal that, by combining first-hand testimony with the corpus of academic research, we present news that is testimonial but is also deeply contextualized. This site will also be dedicated to employing undergraduate social science students seeking applied media training and engagement.”

One of the site's goals is to demystify information about ongoing social works projects at the grassroots level being undertaken presently worldwide.

“Citizen’s media producers are transforming the global political landscape, and www.socialsciencenews.org is dedicated to the continued democratization of media access, disclosure, and social empowerment,” he says.

Romesburg leads efforts to write LGBT history for K-12

Women and Gender Studies chair Don Romesburg is leading the effort to bring LGBT-inclusive revisions to the California Department of Education K-12 history and social sciences framework, in order to bring it into compliance with the FAIR Education Act (Fair, Accurate, Inclusive, and Respectful Education Act).

Romesburg is the current co-chair of the Committee on LGBT History, a national affiliated society of the American Historical Association.

The project comes from a multi-year effort with the Gay-Straight Alliance Network www.gsanetwork.org, a key advocacy group pushing for passage and implementation of the FAIR Act. GSA Network secured funding for the framework revision project and will release the final report.

Early this summer, Romesburg created the implementation plan and built the Executive Committee. Since then, the committee has been working with a team of more than a dozen scholars of queer history from around the country. They have made suggested revisions based on their areas of expertise ranging from Early America through the Cold War.

Now, the Executive Committee is drafting, editing, and finalizing the final report, which will be completed this month and submitted to the California Department of Education.

“This obviously has a big potential to transform awareness of LGBT history and historical scholarship from elementary school up, and to establish the California standards as a precedent-setting leader as efforts for similar reform occur across the nation,” Romesburg says.

Robert Girling Serving on Two Non-Profit Boards

Business professor Robert Girling is now serving on the boards of two Bay Area non-profits.

They include:

Bay Area Green Tours provides educational tours and events that demonstrate the sustainable economy in action, inspire the support of local green businesses, and empower people to incorporate environmental responsibility and social justice into their personal and professional lives. The group led a tour of 12 members of the Australian Parliament to Napa Valley wineries this summer. Girling is the author of The Good Company, 18 inspiring case studies of new as well as established companies and social enterprises from around the world that are meeting the human needs of their employees, suppliers and customers. The book is available in the library.

Youth Spirit Artworks (YSA) is an art jobs training program located in Berkeley, California which is committed to empowering and bettering the lives of homeless and low-income San Francisco Bay Area young people, ages 16-25. The mission of Youth Spirit Artworks is to use art and jobs training to empower and transform the lives of youth, giving young people the skills, experience, and self-confidence needed to meet their full potential.