BGSU College of Arts and Sciences

BGSU’s Albert Dzur to receive medal for promoting democracy

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Dr. Albert Dzur, professor of political science and philosophy at Bowling Green State University, is the winner of the 2017 Laurence and Lynne Brown Democracy Medal from the McCourtney Institute for Democracy at Penn State University. The McCourtney Institute promotes rigorous scholarship and practical innovations to advance the democratic process in the United States and abroad. The institute awards the Brown Democracy Medal annually to honor the best work being done to advance democracy in the United States and internationally. “Albert Dzur’s work represents an important new frontier in democratic theory,” noted Dr. Michael Berkman, professor of political science and director of the McCourtney Institute, in announcing the 2017 Brown Democracy Medal recipient. “When partisan rancor is at an all-time high and confidence in democratic processes is at an all-time low, Dzur shows that democracy is still an effective and empowering way for citizens to address their common problems.” Dzur argues that some of the most innovative and important work in democracy is taking place face-to-face and is encouraged by power-sharing professionals who bring citizens into their decision-making processes. These “democratic professionals” co-create institutional cultures that lead to better decisions, increased trust and less “civic lethargy.” His most recent work focuses on how democratic professionalism can better manifest itself in the operation of our criminal justice system — from juries to prisons. He rejects the conventional wisdom that more expertise and less democracy are needed in criminal justice because of the links between a fearful public, demagogic politicians and mass incarceration. Instead, Dzur focuses on the more foundational problem of “repellent” criminal justice institutions that hinder public awareness of the moral complexity, harmful effects and deeply biased implementation of punishment. He advocates, as remedies, more widespread citizen action and reflection within a revitalized jury system, restorative justice programs and community policing. Dzur’s research in democratic theory has sparked long-term collaborations and has found many practical applications. It has captured the attention of organizations in the United States and around the world. Oxford University and Leeds University in the U.K., for example, are holding a three-year series of seminars based on his concept of democratic professionalism to introduce new approaches to mental health care. Dzur is also a research fellow at the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research at the University of Edinburgh and an associate at the Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance at Canberra University (Australia). He is the author of the books “Democratic Professionalism: Citizen Participation and the Reconstruction of Professional Ethics, Identity, and Practice” (Pennsylvania…

Top scientists engage youngsters in Kids’ Tech University at BGSU

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Paul Morris knows that Kids’ Tech University presented at Bowling Green State University has a lot going for it. Each of the four weeks features an esteemed scientist who knows how to talk to children age 9 to 12 about their research. And then the kids have carefully designed activities related to the science that allow students to do the work of science themselves. Then there’s Morris’ hair. He sports a frizzy mop of white hair. Morris said he’s gotten enough comments on it, he’s decided to stop cutting his hair. “I look the part.” It’s a silly way to get across a key element of the program. “The idea that children are being directed by a real scientist that’s part of the excitement we want to capture.” Registration is now underway for the program that runs four Saturdays throughout the semester starting Feb. 11 and continuing Feb. 25, March 18, and April 8. Each starts at 10 a.m. and continues until 3 p.m. or so. Registration is $90. Visit The mission is to get children excited about science, technology, engineering and math before they get into middle school. The Feb. 11 session will feature Dr. Jennifer M. DeBruyn, who works at the Body Farm in Tennessee, a lab which studies decomposition of human bodies. DeBruyn is a microbiologist who studies how all manner of matter decomposes. Her talk is: “Life after Death: Exploring the decomposer organisms that recycle corpses back to soil.” In the afternoon, Morris said, students will do an array of experiments involved in forensics, including fingerprinting and DNA analysis with the assistance of BGSU faculty and students. “The strategy is to enable them to meet and interact with scientists who talk about what they do, and as a second component we give them a variety of hands-on activities that we run that are related to speaker’s talk.” Morris said he looks for activities “that I think the children would expect to do at a university.” That includes using lab equipment. “We do a lot of microscope work.” As far as the speakers are concerned, he has an easy measure of their effectiveness: “To what extent is the speaker interrupted with questions, and how long does the speaker section extend with questions? If no questions, it’s a failure.” When his BGSU colleague Peg Yacobucci talked about dinosaurs and climate change, the kids asked questions for 40 minutes. Only once, in the first year, has that been a problem. In the first year one speaker got…

BGSU Arts Events, through Jan. 25

Jan. 11—The Faculty Artist Series begins the semester with a performance by cellist Brian Snow. Snow has earned a reputation as a gifted and versatile performer in chamber music, orchestral and solo settings after spending the past decade performing and teaching in the New York City area. His recital will begin at 8 p.m. in Bryan Recital Hall of the Moore Musical Arts Center. Free Jan. 12—The reading series hosted by the Creative Writing Program and the Mid-American Review begins with BGSU graduate students Nick Heeb and Roseanna Boswell. They will present their work at 7:30 p.m. in Prout Chapel. Free Jan. 18—The Faculty Artist Series features Conor Nelson on flute. Nelson has appeared as a soloist with the Minnesota Orchestra, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the Flint Symphony, among others. The recital will begin at 8 p.m. in Bryan Recital Hall of the Moore Musical Arts Center. Free Jan. 19—The 59th annual Honor Band and Directors Clinic will feature the BGSU Wind Symphony in performance at 8 p.m. in Kobacker Hall. Free Jan. 19—Poet Bruce Weigl will read from his work as part of the Creative Writing Program’s Visiting Writer Series. Weigl is the author of “The Circle of Hanh”and more than a dozen other books of poetry, including “The Abundance of Nothing”(2012) and “Song of Napalm”(1988), both of which were nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. The reading will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Prout Chapel. Free Jan. 20—The Brown Bag Music Series will feature a musical theatre extravaganza by students and faculty from the College of Musical Arts. The program will begin at 11:45 a.m. in the Simpson Building, 1291 Conneaut Ave., Bowling Green. Free. Jan. 21—The 59th annual Honor Band and Directors Clinic will feature all Ohio Honor Bands. The concert will begin at 3:30 p.m. in Kobacker Hall of the Moore Musical Arts Center. Free Jan. 25—The Faculty Artist Series presents pianist Robert Satterlee. He has appeared on the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts in Chicago, San Francisco’s Old First Concert Series and the Schubert club in St. Paul, Minn., among others. The recital will begin at 8 p.m. in Bryan Recital Hall of the Moore Musical Arts Center. Free

BGSU biologist studies how ants adjust to climate change

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS The world of forest ants may provide a macrocosm of the complex reactions and interactions among species affected by global climate change, according to a research project involving Bowling Green State University biologist Dr. Shannon Pelini. As escalating amounts of carbon dioxide are introduced into the atmosphere, a chain reaction is induced, leading to increasingly warmer temperatures, Pelini said. This is taking place at an alarming rate, making it more important than ever that we understand how climate change will affect our natural world. Many scientists have attempted to tackle this issue by determining the thermal tolerance of various species, then predicting what will happen to them as our world warms. However, this approach as a way to understand nature has its drawbacks because one species never acts alone. Individuals are constantly interacting with other species and the environment in which they live, so comprehending how global change impacts these interactions is crucial to a holistic understanding. Pelini and her colleagues have made significant progress in this direction with their new study, “Climatic Warming Destabilizes Forest Ant Communities,” which looks at complex interactions of ant communities and their responses to warming. The study was published in the Oct. 26 edition of the journal Science Advances, and has received wide attention in other publications, including Harvard Forest, Phys/Org  and Science News. Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Program for Ecosystem Research and the National Science Foundation, the long-term experiment looked at the interactions ants exhibit over nesting structures in two distinctly different geographical areas. As a postdoctoral researcher at Harvard University, and in collaboration with investigators from the University of Vermont, the University of Tennessee and North Carolina State University, Pelini designed and built large warming chambers within Harvard Forest in Massachusetts. These chambers were also replicated in Duke Forest in North Carolina to provide a comparison to the cooler Harvard Forest. “It’s one of the biggest climate change experiments in the entire world, which is a really exciting thing to be a part of,” Pelini said. “We were shooting for understanding what goes on with ant communities that exist in a cooler northern latitude and how their responses compare to the same suite of species in populations that occur in the warmer lower latitude.” The researchers, led by Dr. Sarah Diamond, now an assistant professor of biology at Case Western Reserve University, placed artificial nest boxes in the warming chambers and checked them once a month for five years to measure which species of ants were utilizing them….

New interdisciplinary major focuses on how society is organized

By ALYSSA ANN ALFANO BGIN Student Contributor Choosing a major can be a tough decision for college students, but now, BGSU has a new major that might provide more opportunities. Students can start enrolling in Philosophy, Politics, Economics, and Law (PPEL) as their major in January 2017. Kevin Vallier, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at BGSU and one of the contributors in putting this major together said that “the PPEL major was inspired by similar programs at other universities, especially Oxford, which has had a PPE program for nearly a century. But in the last two years, 25 new programs have sprouted around the United States.” Vallier believes that the unique interdisciplinary focus of PPEL is what interests many students. According to Vallier, the benefits of enrolling in this major take on two forms. One benefit is that PPEL equips students to “think about the big questions about how societies should be politically, socially, and economically organized.” He believes that this will better prepare students to ask questions such as what the government should do and how the economy should function. The second benefit, according to Vallier, is vocational. Students are permitted to choose the direction they will go within the major so that they are focusing on areas in which they have career interest. Vallier explained that the template for the coursework was inspired by other large public universities, but that “the heart of the coursework” is designed to give students the basic tools of philosophy, political science, economics and law so that they can integrate these tools to other core courses within the major. In addition to benefits obtained by coursework and the tools gained from this major, the PPEL program sponsors a PPEL club that meets every other Wednesday in order to discuss political events and broad questions about political policy. A great deal of time and paperwork has gone into getting this major started because, as Vallier said, “BGSU attempts to be as careful as it can when it comes to benefiting its students.” Several students that have PPEL minors, as well as dozens of other students have expressed interest already.