Visual Artist Toyin Ojih Odutola to Join Barnard College as Orzeck Artist-in-Residence

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NEW YORK, Sept. 28, 2017 – Toyin Ojih Odutola, the Nigerian-born visual artist whose pen-and-ink sketches explore the concept of race—most recently in response to the violent Charlottesville protests—is joining Barnard College as the Lida A. Orzeck ’68 Distinguished Artist-in-Residence. Ojih Odutola’s exhibition “To Wander Determined” will open at the Whitney Museum of American Art on Oct. 20 and marks her first solo exhibition at a New York museum; in her role at Barnard, she will lead a variety of artistic and academic activities, including guided tours of the exhibit and host a public talk on her forthcoming book The Treatment. Ojih Odutola is the second Orzeck Artist-in-Residence, following the world-renowned dancer Wendy Whelan.

Toyin Ojih Odutola. Photographed by Abigail The Third, 2017.“We are honored that Toyin will be a part of the Barnard community for the next year,” Barnard College President Sian Beilock said. “We are particularly excited that her residency will begin just as her exhibit at the Whitney opens, as this will give students a unique opportunity to take advantage of Barnard’s location in New York City to view Toyin’s work up close and interact with a rising star in the art world.”

“I’m thrilled to be chosen for this residency, and grateful to Ms. Orzeck for her support of the arts and arts education,” Ojih Odutola said. “I came into my own as an artist when I was in college, so I look forward to learning from and with Barnard students as they are developing their artistic voices.”

In March 2015, Lida Orzeck, Ph.D., endowed The Lida A. Orzeck ’68 Distinguished Artist-in-Residence Fund with a substantial gift. Orzeck is the cofounder of Hanky Panky, a lingerie company that is celebrating its 40th anniversary, manufactures exclusively in the United States and currently employs more than 165 people. She currently serves on the Barnard board of trustees and has given generously to the College over the years, including a scholarship fund in her name, support to the annual Athena Film Festival and many other initiatives.

“I love Toyin’s work and am so pleased and honored to have my name connected to hers,” Orzeck said. “As a visual artist, Toyin will bring an entirely different perspective to campus. I’m thrilled to help bring distinguished voices to Barnard and expose students to world-class talent.”

Professor of Art History Anne Higonnet, who was instrumental in connecting Ojih Odutola with Orzeck earlier this year, commented, “Toyin has a unique, timely perspective on racial identity and we’re excited to dive more deeply into her inspiration. Her majestic scale, her inventive uses of pastels and ballpoint pens, and her compressions of realistic space into strangely perfect abstract compositions, all work together to create portraits with a new grandeur for a modern era.”


About Barnard College

Founded in 1889, Barnard was the only college in New York City, and one of the few in the nation, where women could receive the same rigorous and challenging education available to men. Today, as the world-renowned liberal arts


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Barnard Welcomes New and Returning Faculty

This fall, Barnard’s academic departments welcomed a number of new faculty, as well as returning faculty taking on new roles. Their diverse research and teaching interests as well as their extensive expertise will expand the depth of course offerings and research on campus, and will be invaluable to Barnard’s continued pursuit of academic excellence. Read more about each of them below.

New Faculty

Thea Abu El-Haj
Associate Professor, Education

Thea Abu El-Haj is an Associate Professor of Education. Her research explores questions about belonging, rights, citizenship, and education raised by globalization, transnational migration, and conflict. In addition to being published in multiple academic journals, Abu El-Haj has also authored Unsettled Belonging: Educating Palestinian American Youth after 9/11 (University of Chicago Press, 2015) and Elusive Justice: Wrestling with Difference and Educational Equity in Everyday Practice (Routledge, 2006). She was recognized by the American Educational Studies Association in 2016 as the recipient of the Critics Choice Award. Abu El-Haj has a BA in history from Swarthmore College, an MA in clinical and developmental psychology from Bryn Mawr College, and a PhD in the anthropology of education from the University of Pennsylvania.


Christina HeathertonAssistant Professor, American Studies

Christina Heatherton is an Assistant Professor of American Studies who has previously worked at Trinity College. Heatherton is an historian of anti-racist social movements with interests in transnational social movements, neoliberalism and urban insecurity, race, culture, and imperialism, and the history of capitalism. She has edited various texts, including Policing the Planet: Why the Policing Crisis Led to Black Lives Matter (Verso Books, 2016) and is completing her first book, The Color Line and the Class Struggle: The Mexican Revolution, Internationalism, and the American Century (University of California Press). Heatherton is also the recipient of numerous awards and grants, including a postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for Place, Culture and Politics at CUNY Graduate Center, the Grayson and Judith Manning Endowed Fellowship from the University of Southern California, and the W. M. Keck Foundation Fellowship from the Huntington Library. Heatherton has a BA from the University of California, Berkeley and an MA and a PhD from the University of Southern California.


Alison Pischedda
Assistant Professor, Biology

Alison Pischedda is an Assistant Professor of Biology who has previously worked as a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She has interests in sexual selection, sexual conflict, animal behavior, and evolutionary genetics and genomics. Her work has been published in several academic journals, including Evolution, PLoS ONE, and the Journal of Evolutionary Biology. Pischedda has also twice been named a Kavli Frontiers of Science Fellow, an honor awarded by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences to outstanding young scientists. She has a BS in mathematics and biology as well as an MS in biology from Queen’s University, and a PhD in ecology, evolution and marine biology from the University of California, Santa Barbara.



Michael Wheaton
Assistant Professor, Psychology

Michael G. Wheaton is an Assistant Professor of Psychology and has previously worked as a postdoctoral clinical researcher at the Anxiety Disorders Clinic of the New York State Psychiatric Institute and


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Message from President Beilock: Barnard's Response to New Travel Restrictions

Dear Barnard Community,

Yesterday, President Trump announced new restrictions on travel to the United States, replacing his previous executive order issued in March. When the restrictions take full effect on October 18, each of eight countries—Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Chad, Venezuela and North Korea—will face its own set of travel restrictions. In most cases, citizens of these countries will be unable to immigrate to the United States, and many will be barred from coming here to work, study or vacation. This action follows visa restrictions on Cambodia, Eritrea, Guinea and Sierra Leone, imposed on September 13.

As we have stated before in response to earlier efforts to limit immigration, this latest action undermines Barnard’s commitment to the active engagement of students and scholars from around the globe. It introduces direct and unnecessary obstacles into the lives of those who should have the freedom to travel to this country—and to this campus—to undertake work of real purpose and value and to engage in the open exchange of ideas. Simply put, unwarranted constraints on the ability of international scholars to work and study in the United States is detrimental to our mission and the academic excellence we strive to achieve.

It will take time to fully understand the breadth of implications brought on by this new executive order. We do know that the new action will affect legal challenges that previously delayed full implementation of the March executive order and may render moot certain aspects of the case before the Supreme Court. Please know that we are closely tracking these policy changes and their implications, and we will keep you updated as information becomes available. 

Holders of U.S. visas are exempted from the new restrictions for the duration of their current visas. Even so, international students who have any concerns about their visa status or who are contemplating foreign travel should contact Dean Wendy Garay in the Office of International and Intercultural Student Programs, Faculty should consult with Dean Giorgio DiMauro in the Provost’s Office, Robin Beltzer in Human Resources,, will assist staff. These administrators can also arrange initial legal consultations for members of the Barnard community, free of charge.

Many of you attended today’s presentations by immigration law expert David Ware. We will continue to organize information sessions as circumstances change. Other resources are listed online.

The creation of knowledge, which sits at the center of a liberal arts education, is enhanced when we embrace a global perspective. This necessitates that individuals with a diversity of ideas, experiences, and cultural backgrounds can participate freely in campus life. Barnard is committed to doing everything we can to support our international students, scholars, and other community members affected by these federal actions.


Sian Leah Beilock

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Barnard Professors Help Revolutionize the Economics Curriculum

economicseducation In the wake of the unpredicted worldwide financial crisis that began in 2008, and in response to critics—many of them current students—who complain that the concepts they’ve learned don’t always apply to a post-2008 world, economists began to reevaluate not just the content but also the delivery method of the classic economics curriculum.

Professor Rajiv Sethi is part of an international group of scholars involved with the CORE (Curriculum Open-access Resources in Economics) Project; they have created an innovative curriculum and accompanying interactive (and free) e-book that frames basic economics concepts in light of current trends in technological innovation, environmental sustainability, and various forms of inequality. In March, Sethi received a Teagle Foundation grant to establish the first branch of CORE in the United States; he and Assistant Professors of Economics Homa Zarghamee and Belinda Archibong will build a coalition of faculty members and graduate students to engage with the new material and further develop it for widespread use.

Zarghamee recently wrote in the academic news outlet The Conversation that one of those inequalities—gender inequality—has meant that an estimated 300,000 women in the United States alone have forgone studies and careers in economics due to rampant sexism in the field. A motivator for the project, she said, was to find out “if radically new content in first year economics courses can get the missing women back” by engaging them in real-world economic and social problems.

Another article, in The New Yorker, examines the curriculum’s delivery method. Traditionally, economics textbooks begin with lengthy explanations of general doctrines and move to modern-day applications later, leaving students confused when they see free-market principles fail in a world of uneven progress and wealth distribution. Instead, CORE is lauded for its multiple discussions of the causes and consequences of innovation, globalization, environmental change, and historic economic crises. The CORE project is also praised for the variety of scholars who contributed, including Sethi, Associate Professor of Economics Suresh Naidu from Columbia University, and scholars not only from Western Europe and the United States but also from South America, the Middle East, and Asia.

In interviews with The Economist, Sethi and Zarghamee note the benefits of teaching the curriculum. While the old model can be frustrating for both students and teachers due to its insistence on economic principles that often only exist in a vacuum, CORE is designed to address common exceptions to these principles from the start. Sethi remarked that the new method feels more “honest” to him and paints a realistic picture of what an economist’s work looks like, and Zarghamee pointed out that even students who do not complete the course will still walk away with a better understanding of the field due to its comprehensive, global focus.

Zarghamee has also written two articles for the CORE website that analyze the gender gap in the economics field. They may be viewed here and here.

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Carol Dweck ’67 Receives $3.9 Million Education Prize

alumnaepsychology Carol S. Dweck ’67, Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford University and this year’s keynote speaker at Convocation, is one of two inaugural laureates named by the Yidan Prize Foundation in China. She will receive HK$30 million—approximately USD$3.9 million—in recognition of her contribution to education and to help fund future research.

Dweck is known for her work on mindset theory: the idea that one’s implicit view of their own intelligence contributes to their success. At Convocation, she explained to the Barnard student body that intelligence is elastic and can be developed, and that as opposed to a mindset of fixed intelligence, a “growth mindset” enables people to seek more challenges, show more resilience, and achieve at a higher level when facing difficulty.

Dweck will receive the award at a prize ceremony in Hong Kong in December; the event is part of a summit that includes dialogues and debates about new frontiers in education. For more information on the Yidan Prize for Education Research, click here.

Watch as Carol Dweck explains mindset theory and offers advice to Barnard students:


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Response to the U.S. Department of Education's Announcement on Title IX Regulations

The following email was released to students on Friday, September 8, 2017.

Dear Barnard Students,
Yesterday, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced that the Department intends to develop new regulations to govern how colleges and universities respond to reports of sexual harassment and sexual assault under Title IX. Nothing is expected to change before the Department has conducted an extensive process of review and public comment. During this period, Barnard’s policies and practices in this area remain the same and will be carried out as dictated by existing state and federal regulations.

Whether or not federal requirements change in the future, Barnard College will remain strongly committed to providing a safe environment free from violence. We will continue to respond promptly and thoroughly to reports of sexual assault and misconduct.

It is also important to note that New York state regulations governing these matters are the strictest in the nation, so much so that they exceed the existing federal guidance. Based on statements from Governor Cuomo and other public officials, we do not anticipate state policy will change.

We would also like to remind you of the resources available on campus and encourage you to seek support as needed.  

Resources include:

Title IX & Equity Office
Being Barnard
Furman Counseling Center
Primary Care Health Services
Dean of Studies Office
Please also feel free to consult the College’s Policy Against Discrimination and Harassment and related procedures at 

Avis Hinkson
Dean of the College

Molree Williams-Lendor
Executive Director for Equity
Title IX Coordinator

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Message from COO Goldberg and Provost Bell: Welcome Back

Dear Members of the Barnard Community,

Welcome back to those who have been away, and a warm welcome to all as we start the new academic year. We hope that you had a productive and restful summer.  

Now that the fall semester is upon us, we want to share with you progress and key developments that happened over the summer months.

We are just about one year away from officially opening The Milstein Center in time for fall classes in September 2018. Over the summer, work focused on installing the façade, and we are only weeks away from finishing this phase of the project. You can now see how the building will look from the outside. Work underway on fitting out the interior spaces will continue in full force in the coming months. This fall, elevators will be installed, enabling us to remove the large exterior hoists on the Claremont Avenue side of the building that carry people and materials to each floor. Even more exciting, we can look ahead to landscaping work beginning in the spring semester, which will include the restoration of the lawn.  Milstein Center updates can be found on the Barnard website, and please contact with any questions.

As you know, in March the Board of Trustees voted to divest holdings in our endowment from fossil fuel companies that deny climate science or otherwise seek to thwart efforts to mitigate the impact of climate change. This approach positions Barnard as the only college in the country adopting this unique approach to divestment. Clearly, the onus is on us to develop clear and rigorous criteria that we can use to evaluate companies’ statements, actions, and attitudes towards climate science and climate change. Working with a group of students, faculty, and trustees, we are in the process of developing a set of key criteria so that we can begin implementation in earnest later this year.

We are also about to undertake an effort to become a more sustainable campus. We are pleased that Professor Sandra Goldmark, Barnard’s first-ever director of sustainability and environment, will lead Barnard’s efforts to become more sustainable. Professor Goldmark will work with the entire community to develop ideas to reduce our carbon footprint, reduce waste, change our behaviors and set specific goals that we can achieve together.  Look for more on this in the next few weeks.

The Council on Diversity and Inclusion was constituted this summer and will meet for the first time on September 14 with the purpose of expanding the dialogue on campus around diversity, inclusion and equity to systematically and purposefully include the entire Barnard community of students, faculty, staff, and alumnae. As evidenced by the horrific events in Charlottesville this summer, there is work yet to be done. The group will promote and coordinate campus-wide participation in the College’s diversity and inclusion efforts and advise Barnard’s senior leadership on ongoing and new initiatives to create a more diverse and inclusive campus community. We


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In Support of Undocumented Students

immigration Dear Members of the Barnard Community,


Today, the U.S. Attorney General announced that the administration plans to rescind the important program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). This wrong-minded decision will adversely impact hundreds of thousands of young people who deserve the opportunity to build successful lives here in the United States. It also puts at risk one of our highest priorities as a liberal arts college: helping to foster talented individuals from all backgrounds to pursue their scholarly ambitions.


In the wake of President Trump’s decision, Congress should act quickly to ensure that DACA protections continue before the program expires on March 5, 2018. We strongly support such legislation already introduced that offers many of the same protections as the DACA program. We are in contact with our Congressional delegation and will take other opportunities to make our voice heard on this issue.


Here on campus we remain committed to supporting our undocumented students. At Barnard, these students receive full financial support, which will continue. Barnard will continue to protect the privacy of all members of our campus. As a result, we will never share confidential student records except as authorized by the student or required by court order or subpoena. We will not allow federal agents or law enforcement to have access to nonpublic areas of the College without a lawfully issued judicial warrant or as required by federal regulations. We will not ask our public safety officers to assist federal immigration enforcement officials in detaining or questioning any individual solely on the basis of their immigration status.


To help support members of our community, we have identified legal counsel who can provide free advice to students, faculty and staff who have questions related to changing immigration policy, including the latest action on DACA. For students who have legal questions, please contact Wendy Garay, associate dean for international and intercultural student programs, at For faculty with questions, please get in touch with Giorgio Di Mauro, dean for international and global strategy, at Staff should get in touch with Robin Beltzer in Human Resources, at


For more information on the status of immigration enforcement and for access to relevant resources and support services, please see our Immigration Updates and Resources page:


We live in challenging times. We must ensure that all members of our community are given the opportunity to learn and thrive in an environment free of fear. Changes in national policy that adversely affect us–be it ending protections for undocumented students, degrading the rights of our transgender community, or cutting federal student aid and support for research–are assaults on our mission and must be challenged. We will work closely with students, faculty and staff in the coming days to speak out in support of our community and our institutional values.


Sian Leah Beilock

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Message from President Beilock: A New Academic Year

Dear Barnard Community —

I am pleased to welcome you back to campus for the start of the 2017-18 academic year. I hope you had an enjoyable and productive summer, and I look forward to starting off the fall semester together. 

Since this is my first academic year at Barnard, I am only beginning to experience what is so special about this campus community. I know you have questions for me. I have questions for you too.  With that in mind, I want to take time this semester to learn as much as I can about Barnard. I have been engaged in a listening tour of sorts, both on campus and off, so that I can hear from the community and exchange ideas. This is an exciting and ongoing process and it’s the best way I can think of to build my sense of the College in order to plan with you for the future.

I’m grateful to those of you I’ve met already for welcoming me with warmth and enthusiasm. I look forward to learning more from faculty, staff, students, families and alumnae throughout this academic year. In turn, I have the honor of welcoming returning students back to Barnard—and greeting the wonderful Class of 2021 and new transfers, with whom I will always share the bond that comes from beginning this adventure together. 

As I think about our campus in a national and global context, I want to take a moment to revisit the deeply disturbing recent events in Charlottesville that resulted in violence and death and left many in our community and across the nation fearful. We must unequivocally reject white supremacy, racism, anti-Semitism and related violence, bigotry and intimidation. We work to create space for open dialogue and understanding because it is vital to our scholarship and learning. Everyone should be able to work, think and develop to their fullest potential in a community free of fear, hate and violence. There is work yet to be done. The new Council on Diversity and Inclusion is one group that can help us focus our efforts. I look forward to coming together with faculty, students, staff and alumnae to listen to one another and find active and constructive ways to enhance the College’s diversity and inclusion work and to stand together against hate.

This year, we will need to come together around many important issues that affect our community. For example, we await word from Washington, DC concerning the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which allows eligible undocumented immigrants who arrived in this country as children an opportunity to legally live, work and study here. Barnard, along with many other colleges and universities, has advocated strongly for the continuation of this important program. I am committed to advocating for the well-being of our community members and will continue to do everything possible to help them safely flourish.

Later this week you will hear from Provost Linda Bell and COO Robert Goldberg with an update on several Barnard initiatives and activities. These range


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Beyond Borders: Barnard Professors & Students Participate in Study Programs Across the Globe

globalperforming artsstudentstranslation Over the past decade, the Barnard curriculum has expanded its global influence by increasing opportunities for faculty and students to gain educational, work, and volunteer experience. The innovative programming takes students abroad in the context of a course, a major, or a research project. Recent programs sent students to Oslo, Norway and Stockholm, Sweden to take in architecture with Professor Karen Fairbanks, and to Lausanne, Switzerland where the Barnard-Columbia Chorus performed under the leadership of Professor Gail Archer. Today, Barnard’s global footprint reaches to more than 65 countries.

This summer, six professors led students to five countries to explore dance, gender studies, language, metacognition, and theatre. Programs ranged from one to four weeks and took place in Austria, Barbados, France, The Netherlands, and South Korea.


Prof. Irene Motyl-Mudretzkyj, Vienna, Austria (May 12-19)

The Barnard German Department awarded $1,000 scholarships to four students for a one-week program in Austria called Vienna Stories: Filming Identities and Voices. Led by Senior Associate in German Irene Motyl-Mudretzkyj, students used their German-language, film, and digital skills to gather ethnographic material to produce a short German-language documentary on identity, the notion of homeland, and stereotypes.

Students interacted with native Austrians as well as the city’s recent immigrant population, conducted and filmed interviews, and worked on a field study project on Viennese coffee houses. The capstone program’s innovative approach—using technology for foreign language and cultural learning—served as a pilot for a Advanced German language course, which will be offered in the spring semester of 2018, in which students will produce a documentary film in German. This course will fulfill the Foundations curriculum’s “modes of thinking” requirement in the category of  “Thinking Technologically and Digitally” and will contain a study abroad component. Watch a short video of “Vienna Stories 2017.”


Prof. Laurie Postlewate, Paris, France (May 22-June 8)

Senior Lecturer in French Laurie Postlewate hosted students from Barnard and Columbia and universities in Canada, England, and France on a three-week workshop in Paris where they attended five theatre events and translated plays from French to English. Students discussed translation theory applied to theatre and shared their work with one another. This program was sponsored by the Geen Family Foundation.

“This pilot experience was significant in that it allowed us to expand the robust program in translation studies and practice to include theatre in both text and performance modes and to sponsor collaboration with students coming from different countries with somewhat distinct translation cultures,” says Postlewate.



Prof. Colleen Thomas-Young, Paris, France (June 1-30)

Associate Professor of Professional Practice in Dance Colleen Thomas-Young traveled with students to Paris, for the seventh year, with the “Barnard Dance in Paris” program. Students participated in morning dance technique classes and workshops, with international artist Anna Chirescu and others, and attended more than a dozen dance performances. Among this year’s highlights were The Paris Opera, the Batsheva Dance Company, Crystal Pite, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, and companies from Algeria, Lebanon, and Syria. Following a choreography course, students created solo dances based on a personalized


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Summer Research: Institute Supports Nearly 150 STEM Students

careerSTEM Barnard’s 2017 Summer Research Institute supported 147 students who conducted scientific research, working closely with faculty mentors in labs at Barnard and around the New York City area for 10 weeks. Now in its fourth year, the fully subsidized program provides an immersive opportunity for students in biology, chemistry, environmental science, mathematics, neuroscience and behavior, physics and astronomy, and psychology. In addition to their lab work, participants attend lectures and showcase their work.

“The Summer Research Institute is designed to actively build on Barnard’s long and successful history of faculty-student research collaborations, and to provide students with exposure to a range of scientific research and methods beyond their laboratory work,” says Provost and Claire Tow Professor of Economics Linda A. Bell. “Our goal, and what will build on the successes of the Institute will be to fully fund SRI such that any student who finds a research mentor will be assured of paid summer science lab research and participation in the SRI.”

In these videos, students with the guidance of their mentors share their research. Featured are Meera Desai ’19, who worked with Helen Goodhart Altschul Professor of Physics & Astronomy Reshmi Mukherjee; Imma Duverger ’19, who worked with Professor of Chemistry Christian M. Rojas; Eloise West ’20, who worked with Assistant Professor of Psychology Koleen McCrink; and Ana Lam ’20, who worked with Columbia University’s postdoctoral mentor Sam Robinson.

Summer Research Institute 2017


President Sian Beilock addressed this year’s SRI student-scholars on July 19, presenting her cognitive science research on how to perform one’s best under stress. She discussed how the brain and mind drive our performance and what societally we can do to improve girls’ and women’s performance, particularly in mathematics.

On July 28, the student-scholars shared their abstracts at the capstone “poster session” event. Eden Tesfaye, Youth Community Liaison from Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office, spoke on behalf of the mayor, congratulating the participants and applauding the College for providing leadership opportunities in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). Read the letter here.

Funding is secured through various sources including: The Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation, Con Edison, The Howard Hughes Medical Institute, The Henry Luce Foundation, and the Mellon Fund for Enhancing the Sciences at Barnard, as well as a number of anonymous donors.  


A look back at the inaugural year


Photos from 2017’s event:

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Break This Down: Q & A with Prof. Kaiama Glover on Haiti, Zombies, and Benign Denials

caribbean, central and south americanorth americarace and ethnicity Prof. Kaiama Glover


In August 1791, the Haitian Revolution began, and more than ten years later, it ended with Haiti becoming the first colony in the region to win independence. To mark the anniversary, French and Africana Studies Professor Kaiama Glover reflects on her latest research, in this special “Break This Down” interview, on dystopian Haiti, zombies, and how pop culture perpetuates and reinforces incorrect and negative narratives about Haiti and the wider “black” world.

Glover is also author of Haiti Unbound: A Spiralist Challenge to the Postcolonial Canon and is working on the forthcoming monograph “Disorderly Women: On Caribbean Community and the Ethics of Self-Regard.” She is the co-editor of Transition magazine’s special issue New Narratives of Haiti; co-editor of Translating the Caribbean, a volume of critical essays on translation in the Americas; and first editor of Revisiting Marie Vieux Chauvet: Paradoxes of the Postcolonial Feminine, a volume of critical essays published in Yale French Studies.

Your article, “Flesh like One’s Own,” addresses zombies and zombie culture— but what is a “zombie” exactly?

A zombie is a mythical creature. The literal zombie myth originated in sub-Saharan Africa and migrated through the Middle Passage to the slaveholding plantation Americas. The myth took root in Haiti and became a meaningful element of Haitian culture. The Haitian zombie is a revived corpse exhumed through black magic and made to serve an evil sorcerer, kept suspended indefinitely in a state of living death. The zombie can perform basic life functions—eat, hear, speak a little bit—but has no memory of its past nor awareness of its present condition. The creature is pitied and reviled by other members of the community, condemned to eternal servitude.

According to Haitian writers, the zombie is a metaphor for the disenfranchised subject, rendered abject by colonial enslavement and by postcolonial phenomena of internal political and economic corruption, state violence, and international exploitation.

It is important to keep in mind that in neither its literal nor its metaphorical iteration is the Haitian zombie the monster we see in contemporary cinema. It belongs to no group and is not a predator. It’s a lonely and long-suffering victim.

The article includes the subtitle “benign denials of legitimate complaint.” Please explain this concept.

The idea here turns around these words “benign” and “legitimate.” In the article, I question the notion of the benign (that which is “non-threatening to life”) when it comes to how we think about and engage with Haiti—and more broadly, with the non-white, so-called emerging, “post” colonial world—and how it is portrayed in the news media, in social awareness contexts like humanitarian telethons, or through popular entertainment (like zombie films). I argue that these discursive scenarios are anything but “non-malignant” because they rely explicitly on misrepresentations of the Other, including the denial of that other’s justifiable right to complain as a political subject, as opposed to as a merely abject being in need of aid. A big part of what I try to do in this piece is


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A Message from President Beilock and Provost Bell on the Charlottesville Tragedy

Dear Barnard Community,

This weekend’s events in Charlottesville defy reason or explanation. Our functioning as a civil society depends on free expression and open debate, which are utterly preempted by expressions of hatred and acts of physical intimidation and violence. We deplore the acts that cost three lives and many injuries, and we abhor the bigotry that fueled them. Our hearts go out to all those who have been touched by the events that have taken place.

The fact that ​a university campus was selected as the place to express hatred drives home to us the important values we as members of the Barnard College community must vehemently affirm. In fact, we insist on them: freedom of thought and expression in which all are able to participate fully and equally, as well as an emphasis on critical thinking and critical inquiry that can help us elevate our discourse to a productive level.

We must also demonstrate our caring for each other as human beings deeply affected by the words and actions of others and by the state of the larger society. In no way can we allow the events we have witnessed in Charlottesville to intimidate or silence our fellow students, our colleagues among the faculty and staff, or members of the communities of which we form a part. Let us stand together and for the work that we do that serves and enhances our common humanity.


Sian Leah Beilock

Linda Bell

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Best-Selling Author Jeannette Walls ’84 Discusses The Glass Castle, the Movie

alumnaewriting Journalist and author Jeannette Walls ’84 is back in the news discussing her best-selling 2005 memoir, The Glass Castle, which has been made into a movie and stars Academy Award-winning actress Brie Larson as an adult Jeannette. The movie premieres in theaters nationwide on August 11.  Walls recently visited Barnard’s campus to film a segment for CBS Sunday Morning and told CBS correspondent Martha Teichner, “I so desperately needed what Barnard had to offer me” – a respite from the chaotic, impoverished childhood that she chronicled in the memoir. She later told New York Magazine that it was a job at The Barnard Bulletin during her first year of college that drove her to apply for a paid position at New York – and from there a career was born.

Watch Walls’ CBS interview:

Jeannette Walls ’84 films a CBS segment on campus.One point that Walls has addressed in a number of interviews is her trepidation around making the book into a movie. In a column for The Los Angeles Times, Walls shared a warning that a friend shared when her book was published: “Don’t let Hollywood get its hands on your story. It’s too complicated. They’ll Hollywoodize it.”  Walls assured fans of the book, however, that the film’s director had a “passion for authenticity,” making the film feel true to life. Indeed, she told Vanity Fair and The Wall Street Journal that actor Woody Harrelson, who portrays her unstable, alcoholic father Rex, so accurately captured her father’s personality and body language that she cried after watching Harrelson in character during a visit to the film set.

Nearly 30 years after trading a cabin in Welch, West Virginia, for New York City, Walls now lives on a horse farm in Virginia with her husband, author John Taylor; she told The New York Times that her mother Rose Mary lives in a cottage on the property. Reflecting on her hardscrabble upbringing, she said, “I know I’ll be O.K. here. I wanted a place where I could go broke and still grow vegetables, bail water out of the creek and shoot deer. If worse comes to worst, I’ll survive.”

Additional coverage on Walls and The Glass Castle have run in The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, Bustle, People, HuffPost, The Dallas Morning News, NBC’s Today, and more.

Watch a New York Times TimesTalks panel featuring Jeannette Walls, Brie Larson and Naomi Watts:

Watch the trailer for The Glass Castle:


Lede image photo credit: John Taylor/The New York Times


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Chemistry Professors Awarded National Science Foundation Grants

chemistryneuroscienceSTEM Rachel Austin, Mary Sever, Christina Vizcarra and Andrew Crowther have been awarded National Science Foundation grants.

Profs. Austin, Sever and Vizcarra are collaborating to learn more about the connection between lead exposure and the brain. To that end, they have been awarded a three-year, $294,000 NSF grant. Children exposed to lead in early childhood can become developmentally impaired, and some researchers believe childhood lead exposure may be linked to autism and schizophrenia. The Chemistry of Life Processes Program in the NSF’s Chemistry Division is funding the team to study the neurochemistry of a small brain-specific protein, metallothionein-3 (also known as MT-3) that has been identified because of its ability to inhibit the growth of neurons. “It is important to understand the factors that control the development of neurons and to understand how toxic metals damage the brain,” says Austin.

Prof. Mary Sever

The brain functions in part because neurons connect to one another. Too many or too few connections can cause the brain to malfunction and can lead to disorders. Lead has been shown to affect the way that neurons grow. In this grant the three professors, with Sever as the principal investigator, will study the way that MT-3, a small protein that regulates the growth of neurons, works when it is bound to zinc and copper, which are thought to be the metals it normally binds to, and lead, a metal that has no known beneficial function in brains. In particular they will look at how MT-3 interacts with actin, another protein involved in cell growth.

Actin is the most abundant protein in many cells and performs an impressive list of roles—from helping cells move to separating cells when they divide into two. Thousands to millions of actin proteins assemble into long, stick-like structures, which cells can use to perform mechanical work. There are hundreds of accessory proteins in human cells that control the timing of actin assembly. MT3 has an enigmatic interaction with actin that Vizcarra, Austin, and Sever seek to understand in greater detail.

Prof. Rachel AustinAustin, the Diana T. and P. Roy Vagelos Professor of Chemistry, joined the faculty in 2015. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. In addition to studying the role of metals in the brain, her lab develops and studies catalysts for biofuel production, and studies enzymes that degrade oil in oil spills. Here she discusses how she became interested in the field of chemistry. Austin is also involved with active learning methods to be effective to the broadest possible student population; the Barnard Library and Academic Information Services honored her for these efforts.

A graduate of Knox College with a Ph.D. from Purdue University, Sever joined the Barnard faculty in 2010. She studies the effects that metal ions and small molecules have on signal pathways in neuronal cells.

Prof. Christina VizcarraVizcarra graduated from the University of Kansas and holds a Ph.D. from Caltech. She joined Barnard in 2015. Her lab focuses on actin, and abnormalities that are linked to hereditary deafness.

Prof. Andrew Crowther was recently


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