Friday, September 28, 2012

Beschloss shares views on length of presidential terms

Beschloss talks of presidential character

Prominent author and historian Michael Beschloss talked with more than 200 students and faculty on the main campus and another 200-plus at UNC Charlotte Center City on Sept. 27. The visits comprised the second edition of the annual Chancellor's Speaker Series. Beschloss spoke largely on the topic of presidential courage and other qualities of character. He said the four key qualities for a good president are 1) presidential courage to do what is right, but unpopular; 2) oratorical skills that can sway opinion and drive behavior; 3) a sense of history that helps him/her avoid making major blunders and helps guide prudent decisions; 4) the ability and actual interest in working with those in other parties and with differing positions.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

"Stack of Books" Comes Alive in Center City

On Saturday, Sept. 22, UNC Charlotte Center City hosts the second annual Community Day, beginning at noon. UNC Charlotte staked its claim as a key resident uptown when it opened its 11-story facility two years ago. The Center City campus at Ninth and Brevard is home to MBA programs, continuing education, urban education graduate programs, an art gallery and special events. Saturday's event is a chance for neighbors in the Third Ward, Fourth Ward and throughout Charlotte to enjoy arts and culture with UNC Charlotte students, staff and faculty. Come see us.

Cultural shifts in America's suburban neighborhoods

Research suggests that suburbs are serving as natural laboratories for interacting among diverse, bipartisan social groups.

Cultural shifts in America's suburban neighborhoods - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Reality check on Jesus and his ’wife’

Religious Studies professor and author James Tabor comments re role of women in early Christianity: Reality check on Jesus and his ’wife’

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Discussion: Women’s Role in Middle East Elections, Revolutions, Empowerment

By Lynn Roberson

International leaders spoke on Sept. 5 to over 100 students, faculty, staff and community members at UNC Charlotte’s Cone University Center on “Elections, Revolutions, Empowerment: The Role of Women in Tomorrow’s Middle East.”

The event was part of the 49er Democracy Experience, in partnership with the National Security Network. Panelists were Dr. Tamara Wittes, Brookings Senior Fellow and Director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy and Dr. Franziska Brantner, Member of the European Parliament. Dr. Gregory Starrett, Professor of Anthropology in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, moderated. Starrett’s research focuses on cultural politics of Islam in the Middle East.

Dr. Franzisk Brantner (left); Dr. Tamara Wittes
During the discussion, the panelists addressed the mobilization of women, youth and others in the Arab Spring movements in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and other parts of the Arab world.

“This unrest was driven by some deep, underlying changes in Arab society,” Wittes said. These included demographic changes, a youth “bulge,” increased literacy and education for women and a delay in the age at which women have children, she said.

The changes saw a rise of a young generation with aspirations, who looked around and saw political repression and other issues. “They found the reality was very, very far from what they hoped to achieve,” she said.

Protests occurred outside the normal constructs of these societies, Wittes said. She noted the impact of social media on the movements, citing as an example an Egyptian worker who organized a strike through the use of Facebook and became a leader in the broader movement.

A challenge now is transforming these past actions into permanent and meaningful change, requiring the formalizing of equality and inclusion efforts, she said. The United States can play a role in helping women learn how to participate in government and to operate businesses, and by creating models of what women’s leadership looks like, she said.

Wittes served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern affairs from November of 2009 to January 2012, coordinating U.S. policy on democracy and human rights in the Middle East for the State Department.

Brantner is spokeswoman for foreign affairs of the Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament and Parliament’s standing rapporteur for the Instrument for Stability. This is a strategic tool designed to address a number of global security and development challenges.
In the past, “it was not about democracy or human rights; it was about stability,” she said. Policy priorities have now shifted as a result of the movements, she said.

Women have played critical roles in the uprisings, she said. Now, women’s rights over their own bodies, who they marry, how they dress and other rights are threatened, such as in Tunisia’s draft constitution that describes women as “complementary to men.”

Brantner noted that supporters must consider women’s personal decisions on how they will participate, such as in labor movements. “We have to be careful to support women in whatever struggle they have chosen,” she said.

Asked why a focus is centered on women, the speakers said issues of equality offer fundamental insights into prospects for stability.  “If the women lose out in these countries, democracy won’t stand for long,” Brantner said.

International studies major Cole Garde said he gained insights from the panel into how policies and priorities are established by the U.S. and other governments. For international studies and philosophy major Charles Williamson, the discussion brought home the need to continue to address women’s rights in the U.S. “I feel like it’s going to impossible to promote women’s rights in the Middle East or internationally,” otherwise, he said.

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Lynn Roberson is director of communication for the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Dubois Talks About the Importance Morrill Act

Inside UNC Charlotte - 49er Democracy Experience Special Report #1

Community Day Coming to Center City

UNC Charlotte Center City will hold a second Community Day celebration from noon to 4:30 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 22.

Billed as an interactive afternoon, the celebration will feature UNC Charlotte alumnus and national poetry slam master Boris Rogers, along with an appearance by Norm the Niner, as well as local DJs, the band Vess, radio station La Raza and cultural and departmental stations.

“We’re inviting all students, family members, faculty, academic departments and the community at large to attend this year’s event,” said Donell Stines, community outreach coordinator for UNC Charlotte Center City. “Last year, approximately 200 attendees participated in our inaugural celebration. This is a great opportunity to meet new people, experience the surrounding local flavor, connect with local artists and learn more about UNC Charlotte Center City and the eclectic area around it.”

New for this year will be the “Center City Scavenger Hunt” that will take participants through the 11-story building.

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Inside UNC Charlotte - 49er Democracy Experience Special Report #2

Lumina Foundation panel seeks solutions for higher education

By John D. Bland

As part of the 49er Democracy Experience this reporter observed a panel discussion with state and national higher education leaders on Sept. 4 in uptown Charlotte. Hosted by the Lumina Foundation, the panel talked about the role of higher education in the social and economic future of North Carolina and the United States.

The Lumina Foundation works to ensure that all students who come to college graduate with meaningful, high-quality degrees and credentials that enable them to contribute to the workforce, improve society and provide for themselves and their families. It seeks to help develop college educated citizens who are more ethical, healthier and less reliant on public assistance.

Based on the premise that college degrees are the currency of our democracy, the panelists and attendees shared ideas for solving engrained problems facing K-12 and higher education. Panelists included Lumina Foundation President Jamie Merisotis; Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce Director Anthony Carnevale; Former North Carolina Central University Chancellor Charlie Nelms; American Chamber of Commerce Executives President Mick Fleming, and Young Invincibles Executive Director Aaron Smith

One of the Lumina Foundation’s primary objectives in its College Advantage initiative is to increase the percentage of Americans with high quality degrees and credentials to 60 percent by 2025.  In 2010, only 38.3 percent of Americans had such credentials (which include four-year college degrees or better, as well as professional certifications and licensures.) In the Charlotte-Gastonia region, that percentage is 43 percent.

If the Lumina Foundation achieves its objective of boosting the attainment of college degrees and credentials of Americans to 60 percent by 2025, the Foundation says that would add $500 billion to the U.S. GDP.

Some of the highlights, according to the panelists:
Two-thirds of people without college educations in 1980s still ranked as middle-class. But since 1983, the wages of such people have steadily declined, while the wages of college educated people increased. That trend continues.
Unemployment for those with a high school education or less is three times worse than for the college-educated, during the recent recession as well as the nascent economic recovery.
Today’s labor market demands more college educated and highly credentialed workers – innovative people, not just those who are technically trained.
Access to higher education is no longer the burning issue – attainment and completion of degrees and other credentials is the more pressing now.
Education attainment is a “consuming issue” among Chambers of Commerce. In the past, business leaders tended to view higher education in a “too-personal” way – seeking to locate interns and graduates only for their organizations. Now, business interests are beginning to take a more global view in shaping and supporting education policy.
Business leaders are increasingly looking for educated workers who have well developed “soft skills,” and critical thinking capabilities. Business is looking for a “new inventory” of smart, capable people.
Leaders in education, business and philanthropy agree that young people should become active in shaping education policy.
Female participation in higher education has bested that of males for many years; Men are beginning to make gains, though it will take them more than 10 years to match the rate of female participation. The increase in male participation in higher education is very important because it is now much harder for males without college degrees to find substantive, sustainable work.
States must be careful to educate their resident citizens, and not rely too heavily on “imported” talent provided by educated people who move in from other states or countries; those people can just as easily relocate again.

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Monday, September 3, 2012

Dubois discusses bright spots, concerns

PBS News Show Tapes on Campus

With the Democratic National Convention ready to kick off, the focus on the U.S. presidential sweepstakes moved to the UNC Charlotte campus on Friday with the taping of the PBS weekly show, “Washington Week with Gwen Ifill.”
Nearly 300 students, faculty and other guests filtered into the Anne R. Belk Theater to watch Ifill discuss the latest political news with a panel of veteran reporters: Karen Tumulty of the Washington Post; Jeff Zeleny of the New York Times; John Harwood, chief Washington correspondent for CNBC and a political writer for the New York Times; and Alexis Simendinger, of RealClearPolitics.
Ifill arrived on the UNC Charlotte campus earlier Friday, after wrapping up her duties as co-host of  PBS's Republican convention coverage from Tampa with her “PBS NewsHour” colleague, Judy Woodruff. They will continue those same roles at the DNC in Charlotte, starting next Tuesday, Sept. 4.
After being introduced by Chancellor Philip L. Dubois, Ifill engaged the audience with her humor, telling them she was looking forward to introducing the panel of “sleep-deprived journalists.”
Once the roundtable conversation began, she questioned her colleagues on topics ranging from whether Republican nominee Mitt Romney succeeded in raising his likability rating in Tampa to what President Obama needs to do in Charlotte to help him win a second term.
Harwood said he felt Romney did show off his human side at the Republican National Convention.
“He showed some emotion and he talked about his family and his parents,” he said.
“His favorability ratings are in the mid 30 percent range, which means he is the arguably the most unpopular presidential nominee in history,” said Tumulty, citing polling results by her newspaper.
Ifill asked Zeleny what President Obama needed to accomplish at next week’s convention.
“He needs to reach out and reconnect with the same people who voted for him next year,” he said. “And he needs to be more forward looking.”
Following the taping of the “Washington Week PBS Election 2012” special, a second half-hour program was taped featuring Ifill and the panelists fielding questions from the audience. The “Washington Week Extra-North Carolina Edition” will be available on the “Washington Week” website:
On Thursday, UNC Charlotte held a special in-depth “Behind the Scenes View” for students with the TV show’s producers as part of the university's 49er Democracy Experience. The 49er Democracy Experience brings together expert faculty, civic-minded students and community partners to develop educational programming to enhance the public understanding of and participation in our nation’s democratic process.
“Washington Week,” the critically acclaimed PBS program, is in its 45th year on the air, making it the longest-running primetime news and public affairs program on television.
Ifill is moderator and managing editor of “Washington Week” and senior correspondent for the “PBS NewsHour.”  She is also the best-selling author of “The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama” (Doubleday, 2009).

Why Charlotte? Because it's Engaging, Diverse, Determined

The simple question “Why Charlotte?” was the topic of a lively and compelling political discussion at UNC Charlotte Center City.
More than 200 students, faculty and top University leaders were on hand as Provost Joan Lorden moderated a panel on why North Carolina’s largest city was selected to host the upcoming Democratic National Convention.
Former Charlotte mayors Harvey Gantt and Richard Vinroot and Charlotte Chamber President Bob Morgan were the panelists for the discussion; each provided his perspective on the convention’s value to the community and UNC Charlotte. They also encouraged students to become more involved in their communities.
“There are 15,000 young people helping put on this convention,” said Vinroot, a Republican who served as mayor of Charlotte from 1991 to 1995. “Hopefully this will inspire them to engage.”
For his part, Gantt suggested one lasting legacy of the 2012 Democratic National Convention will be promoting diversity. A Democrat, Gantt served as mayor of Charlotte from 1983 to 1987.

“Charlotte created a directory of diverse businesses that wanted to do business with the DNC – much more than Denver – because we were very intentional about it,” he said.
Morgan said the DNC’s economic impact is estimated at $100 to $150 million, but the long-term impact will be much larger because the national spotlight will shine on the city for several days.
“There are 6,000 delegates coming and many of these people have never been here,” he said. “Some 15,000 media have never been here. And many corporate big shots are coming here as well as 350 representatives from foreign governments who will be here for the first time.”
Morgan said UNC Charlotte will become one of the top economic drivers in this region, much like the role Charlotte-Douglas International Airport has played in the growth of the region’s economy.
The panel discussion, part of the University’s 49er Democracy Experience, was held in partnership with the Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars, which provides students with transformational experiences that foster academic and professional achievement, leadership and civic engagement.