In the middle of nothing—that is, nothing but sand stretching in every direction—there is a peculiar oasis. It has huge palm trees with thick rough trunks and wild leafy tops placed in a grid: six by six. No oasis anywhere in the desert has palm trees that grow in a grid like a Cartesian plane. But here at New York University (NYU)-Abu Dhabi, this oasis of sorts is both the center of a contemporary university campus and the perfect metaphor for the unique type of global education that the university offers. Is this the kind of global education that will bring together the next generation globally? I’m not sure.
I was visiting NYU-Abu Dhabi as a stopover to visit my mentor, Carol Gilligan, and her husband Jim, on the way home from a visit to India. The two contexts, side-by-side, present … Read More »
This past weekend, I had the pleasure to meet two teen girls adopted from China by friends of mine. The girls are poised between childhood and adulthood where the big questions—who am I? What am I going to make of my life?—are looming. During a conversation, someone mentioned something about “girl brains.” The phrase went by quickly, and I almost didn’t notice it. Then one of the girls asked directly: “Are the differences between the sexes biological or cultural?”
After our conversation, I began to wonder: how does this popular notion that women and men have different brains affect these girls’ ambitions, hopes, and dreams? Despite all of the celebration of how great the female brain is—how it will be much more useful in the world of the future—it seemed that she had already begun to wonder if she had gotten … Read More »
Thomas de Zengotita’s 2005 stealth bomb Mediated: How the Media Shapes Our World and the Way We Live in It leaves a permanent crater in your consciousness–after reading it, you awaken to a haunting perspective on the narcissistic self-referentiality of postmodern media culture. You know what I mean: the world where reality TV isn’t and yet is creating reality at the same time; or where authenticity is a brand for those who dare to be real… We pegged the book as an instant classic–time will tell, but at this point it is far too underappreciated. We have considered ourselves very fortunate to have Tom write for us on occasion (check here or read a review of Mediated.) We had followed his writing since the days that he wrote–crafted?–lengthy breakthrough pieces for Harper’s magazine before it joined the Political … Read More »
Imagine what it must be like for Caster Semenya, the top South African female runner who was in the news recently because her sex has recently been challenged. By “sex” I am not referring to her sexuality, but to the physical, biological characteristics that determine whether one is male or female. That basically comes down to whether one has testes or ovaries. Her fantastically impressive victory in the 800 meters in Berlin recently raised questions about her sex—questions that she herself shrugged off as “a joke.” Semenya has no penis; all of her life, she has thought she is a girl—a very athletic girl who loves to run and compete. Actually, to say that she “thinks she is a girl” probably misrepresents that unthinking sense of simply being who you are, living the life that you have, in the context … Read More »