News and Notes by Date
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Bard Model United Nations team successfully competed in the McGill University Model United Nations Assembly (McMUN) in Montreal, Canada, January 22–25. Bard fielded a team of five delegates who served on committees simulating events in 1930s China, the 1815 Congress of Vienna, Nintendo's business strategy, and the UN’s Special Political and Decolonization Committee. Delegates from Bard were Sophia Foster (BRIDGE student), Jeremy Kaplitt '17, Brian Strigel '15, and Jess Zaccagnino '17. Gabriel Matsakis '15, Bard Model UN president, served as head delegate and James Ketterer attended as faculty adviser. Their next conference will be at Brown University from February 26 to March 1.
Al-Quds Bard College for Arts and Sciences bestowed 39 bachelor of arts degrees and 59 master of arts in teaching degrees at its January 26 commencement ceremony. The event took place at the Al-Quds University campus in Abu Dis, West Bank, and was attended by Al-Quds University President Imad Abu Kishik; President of Bard College Leon Botstein; U.S. Consul General Michael A. Ratney; USAID representative Bob Davidson; Dean of Al-Quds–Bard College Munther Dajani; and members of the faculty.
Addressing the graduates and the crowd of family and friends who gathered to celebrate, Dr. Abu Kishik acknowledged the great achievement of the Al-Quds–Bard (AQB) partnership, noting, “We live in one of the most challenging countries in the world in what might be our most trying times. Even in an ideal situation, to accomplish a partnership of this sort one must enjoy great courage, considerable perseverance; one must have the patience to develop new and budding partnerships; and most important, one must have the open-mindedness and foresight to imagine the endless possibilities of such a collaboration as Al-Quds–Bard.” He spoke of deepening the partnership through establishing a future Palestinian center for language and thinking.
Timothy Cardinal Dolan, the archbishop of New York, received an honorary doctorate of divinity and delivered the commencement address Saturday, January 24 at the Bard Prison Initiative’s (BPI) 12th commencement ceremony. The graduation was held at Eastern New York Correctional Facility in Napanoch, New York. Bard College awarded degrees to more than 50 students—14 bachelor of arts and 37 associate in arts degrees. Among the B.A. candidates, nearly half majored in mathematics. Bard College President Leon Botstein presided over the ceremony along with representation from the College’s Board of Trustees. Brother Jesus Alonso, professor and head of the Center for Educational Outreach at Holy Cross College in Indiana, offered the invocation and benediction.
Bard College’s 5th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Engagement on Saturday, January 17, included numerous volunteer activities on campus and at 20 sites in the Hudson Valley. More than 175 first-year students—who are on campus for three weeks of Citizen Science courses—and a number of upperclassmen, faculty, and staff leaders participated. The day's activities included grooming horses at local farms, organizing science projects with area schoolchildren, doing some heavy lifting for the electronic waste collection day for the towns of Tivoli and Red Hook, and tending to the woodland trails around the Bard College campus.
The third annual Bard Works program runs from Sunday, January 18, to Friday, January 23, offering opportunities for students to gain valuable career tools as they near graduation. Juniors and seniors participate in a series of workshops, networking events, and other professional development activities. With the support of mentors from the campus community and beyond, students hone their business etiquette and job searching skills, work on public speaking and workplace leadership, and explore how to translate their undergraduate education to the global marketplace. Participants include more than 50 alumni/ae, parents, and local professionals. On Thursday, January 22, the program takes place in New York City with a day of panels and a networking reception hosted by the Bard College Alumni/ae Association Board of Governors. Read More
The Bard Globalization and International Affairs Program (BGIA) in New York City provides a unique opportunity for university students and recent graduates from around the world to engage in the study and practice of international affairs. Students take advanced courses with leading foreign affairs experts and participate in substantive internships in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors.
As part of Bard College's Citizen Science Program, all first-year students return to campus in January to take part in a rigorous three-week course that introduces them to natural science and the ideas underlying the scientific method. This year’s theme, “Reducing the Global Burden of Infectious Disease,” explores the biology of infectious disease and the myriad of impacts that outbreaks and subsequent management can have on our global society. As a health emergency with global implications, one topic that will be central in this January’s course is the Ebola epidemic and crisis in West Africa.
Jonian Rafti came to Bard to broaden his horizons. He’d grown up in New York City and attended Brooklyn Technical High School, where he was immersed in the STEM fields as part of a student body of more than 5,000. He wanted a more intimate setting where he could get to know his peers and his professors. He also decided that it was time to change the focus of his studies. “I came to Bard because I really wanted a different experience and different outlook,” he says. “I was well versed in the sciences because of my high school, but other parts of my education were lacking. Bard’s focus on the liberal arts was definitely a deciding factor.” As a joint major in economics and history, his mathematical background has proven useful: his Senior Project is a study of the 1937 recession in the United States, and incorporates both qualitative and quantitative methods.
Jonian has found that the varied backgrounds of Bard students make for interesting and enlightening conversation, both inside and outside the classroom. “Just look at our student clubs—we have so many for a small school,” he observes. “The challenge is learning how to agree or disagree with all your peers since there are so many different beliefs on this campus. That’s an essential life skill: to understand where someone’s coming from and to be able to express your views in a meaningful way.”
Getting to know the student body began early in Jonian’s college career. First-year seminar made an immediate and long-lasting impression. “In FYSEM, first-years were taking the same course and reading the same books. We lived in dorms where everyone was going through the same thing, had the same questions, and had essays to write at the same time,” he says. The shared first-year experience created an immediate sense of community. “It was a grounding and very common experience that we all benefited from, and we all helped each other.”
Getting involved in student activities comes naturally to Jonian. He serves as a peer counselor and as the treasurer of the student government. He works for Bard’s Center for Civic Engagement (CCE), where he has organized local outreach events for the annual Citizen Science program. With Citizen Science, first-year students spend the month of January in an intensive science literacy workshop on campus, during which they also participate in numerous volunteer activities in the Hudson Valley.
He has also been instrumental in the success of [email protected], the student-led voter registration initiative on campus. Jonian reached out to the Andrew Goodman Foundation and helped forge a partnership between the voting rights organization and CCE. Now the foundation funds voting efforts on campus, including paying a stipend to Jonian and another student as “vote everywhere ambassadors.” Jonian also recently spoke at the foundation’s 6th Annual Hidden Heroes Awards, which commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Civil Right’s Movement’s Freedom Summer. The [email protected] team registered more than 400 students to vote between August and October, 2014, and Jonian was moved by the strong support of student volunteers. “The willingness of Bard students to give their time to things that they believe in really contributes to an atmosphere that’s supportive and engaged.”
Jonian’s work in voting rights has helped lead him to the next chapter: law school. He plans to take a gap year for a civic engagement project after graduation in May, and then head back to school in 2016.
The Bard College Citizen Science Program presents two lectures this month. Both lectures take place at 6:30 p.m. in the Richard B. Fisher Center’s Sosnoff Theater. They are free and open to the public; no reservations are necessary. On Wednesday, January 14, Gautam Dantas, assistant professor at the Center for Genome Sciences and Systems Biology at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, will present “Networks of Exchanging Antibiotic Resistomes in Human and Environmental Microbiota.” On Thursday, January 15, Michael Specter, staff writer at the New Yorker and visiting professor in the Environmental and Urban Studies Program at Bard, presents “Relying on Reality: Separating Fact from Fiction in Daily Life.”
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