Governor-Elect’s Policy Summit Hosted at Eastern

Governor-elect Ned Lamont

By Michael Rouleau

Nearly 500 people convened on Eastern’s campus on Nov. 27 for Governor-elect Ned Lamont’s public policy summit. The gathering consisted of the incoming administration’s transition team as well as concerned citizens from a range of economic sectors and political affiliations. Fifteen policy committees met across campus with the goal of establishing a roadmap for the incoming governor.

President Elsa Núñez welcomed Lamont and gave the opening remarks. “’Public’ is the most important aspect of our mission,” she said to the Betty R. Tipton Room audience in the Student Center. “We at Eastern build a middle class for Connecticut; that’s really the business we’re in.”          

Núñez applauded Lamont’s emphasis on jobs, workforce and economic development, and cited Eastern’s partnership with Cigna — in which students work a paid on-campus internship that often leads to full-time employment — as a prime example of how higher education and industry can work together.    

Lt. Governor-elect Susan Bysiewicz

Speaking of the transition team, Lt. Governor-elect Susan Bysiewicz said, “We’ve brought together smart, competent, experienced people. You’re here to help us develop a roadmap to move our state forward.”

“This is a fresh start for Connecticut,” said Lamont. “I hope the outcome of today’s work is not just a nice report that gathers dust on a bookshelf.”

The policy committees concerned a range of issues, including transportation, energy, education, health care, human services, criminal justice, jobs/economy, women, environment, digital strategy, agriculture, shared services, arts/culture/tourism, housing and public safety.

The policy summit recommendations and transition memos from various commissioners in the current administration will be used by Lamont and his team to craft a plan of action in the coming weeks. “I’m looking like a laser beam at ways we can impact economic development in Connecticut,” Lamont said.

Eastern Professor Patrick Vitale Wins Ashby Prize

By Raven Dillon

Patrick Vitale, a geography professor at Eastern Connecticut State University, recently won the Ashby Prize for the most innovative paper of 2017 in the journal “Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space.” Vitale’s article is titled “Making Science Suburban: The Suburbanization of Industrial Research and the Invention of ‘Research Man.’”

The article traces the invention of the modern “tech worker” to an unlikely location: the suburbs of Pittsburgh. In the early 1900s, Pittsburgh’s industrial firms began to move research laboratories away from plants in crowded urban areas and into suburbs.

Vitale explains that workers, scientists and engineers had once worked alongside each other in factories. However, starting in the early 1900s, they increasingly worked in different places, lived in different communities, and began to see themselves and their labor as different. These new “labs” created a geographic and social division between mental and manual work.

“The class, race and gender relations of the suburbs were essential and invisible components of science and engineering,” Vitale writes. “In capitalist economies now and in the past, science and engineering are rooted in injustice, misery and inequality; the very problems they are supposed to solve.”

Industrial firms even created a new title for scientists and engineers – “research men” – and argued that they needed to be isolated from the factory to do their work. “Many of the most prominent industrial scientists in the United States embraced their identity as ‘research men’ to cement their own place within industry and society,” writes Vitale. “Scientists and engineers actively adopted a class position that industry was producing for them.”

Vitale notes: “In the present, when local and state governments are offering billions of dollars to attract technology firms, it is important to realize that these companies are built on inequality and injustice.”

Vitale’s article is a part of a larger research project: a book manuscript titled “The Atomic Capital of the World,” which explores the role of science and engineering in the remaking of Pittsburgh during the Cold War.

Westinghouse Research Laboratories (depicted here in the 1940s) is a research firm that fled the urban areas of Greater Pittsburgh for the suburbs.

Vitale is an urban, economic and historical geographer whose research broadly examines the effects of suburbanization, science and technology, and war on North American cities. He has published his work in academic journals including “The Annals of the Association of American Geographers”; “Journal of Urban History”; and the “International Journal of Urban and Regional Research.”

“Environment and Planning A” is an interdisciplinary journal of economic research. Articles focus on regional restructuring, globalization, inequality and uneven development. The Ashby Prize was established in 1990 and is awarded to the most innovative paper published in the calendar year.

Trump at the G-20 Summit in Argentina

By Will Toomey

The G-20, Group of Twenty, is an international forum in which governments, central banks governors, heads of state, and finance and foreign ministers meet annually to discuss key issues and elements of the global economy. The G-20 was established in 1999, and has since expanded in order for more economic leaders to discuss the international stability of the developed wealthy countries. Nineteen countries along with the European Union make up the body of the G-20, and its current Secretary is President Mauricio Macri of Argentina. Due to his current position of power, the G-20 summit was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, making it the first ever meeting of the nations in South America.

Source: Nationalpost.com. Steffen Kugler/German Government via AP. Accessed on 12/10/2018.

The policies and issues discussed during this summit on November 30th of 2018 told us a lot about the current relationships between the countries with the larger economies in the world, including the United States represented by President Donald Trump. The World Trade Organization (WTO) was called for reform, and this will be furthered discussed in June of 2019 at the next Summit. The final statement made regarding the WTO did not mention protectionism, though, due to Trump’s objection and constant criticism. However, the trade relations between China and the U.S. were altered as Trump agreed to hold off plans of tariffs and organize a 90 day truce in their trade battle. China is interested in buying a substantial amount of products from the U.S. such as agriculture, energy, and more to reduce the countries trade deficits.

Trump also objected the Paris Accords on climate change, in opposition to the other 19 participating and signatory nations that reaffirmed their environmental commitment to this agreement. The importance placed on the subject was evident, for all 19 other representatives fully supported the movement while the United States continued to hold out. This was concerning to others because according to many scientists the U.S. is among the larger contributors to climate change, and not respecting the Paris Accord will continue to be detrimental to a larger and unified global response. The lasts significant negotiation for Trump and the U.S. was with Canada and Mexico regarding the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) , as Trump has been discussing abolishing what he labeled as a “disaster” for some time. The revised treaty regarding trade seems to cause concern for many democrats in Congress, but Trump’s plan to terminate the original treaty puts lots of pressure on them. The summit produced interesting outcomes as expected, for President Trump has shown that he is still not afraid of standing as an outsider.

 

Candidate for Lieutenant Governor Monte Frank visits ECSU

By Alyssa Wessner

Three weeks before the election, ECSU welcomed the third party candidate for Lieutenant Governor: Monte Frank. Eastern students were excited to hear the platform of this third party candidate. While most of the Connecticut voters chose to cast their ballots for the either the Democratic or Republican Party, this was a historic moment for third party candidates. Monte Frank raised awareness of the benefits of having more options for party affiliation. Students at ECSU will continue to welcome candidates with different party alignments.

Candidate for Lieutenant Government Monte Frank discusses the political platform of his independent party with polisci students Samuel Esteva (Freshman) and Ariana Perez (Sophomore).

This election demonstrated a turning point in Connecticut politics. It showed that third party candidates have the ability to gather a strong base of voters. However, from the start it was clear that the Governor and Lieutenant Governor offices were going to be awarded to one of the two major political parties. Regardless, the emergence of Oz Griebel and Monte Frank suggests a shift away from the traditional two party system.

It is important to keep in mind that this one midterm election is not entirely indicative of future elections in Connecticut. But it certainly inspires hope of a new type of political system in which there are more party options. In my opinion, a more diverse group of parties would make the government function more efficiently. The extreme bipartisanship among elected officials discourages any compromise whatsoever. I believe that with more party options for people to align with, it ensures a more diverse representation of the American public.

Candidate Monte Frank sharing the perils of political campaigning. 

 

Polisci students represent Eastern at prestigious policy competition at Yale University

By Alyssa Wessner

Last October, Eastern Connecticut State University was proud to sponsor a group of six Political Science majors to attend and compete in the Yale undergraduate International Policy Competition (Yale/IPC). The students who attended were Leigh Generous, Megan Hull, Nour Kalbouneh, Zoe Marien, Jacqueline Pillo, and Joahanna Vega lbarra. There were over 300 undergraduate students from a variety of universities and colleges at the event, including Yale, Harvard, Rhode Island College, Bard College, Bryant University, and West Point. The designated topic for this conference was the maritime crisis in the South China Sea and its implication on regional and global security.

Eastern students saw this experience as truly a transformative.  According to Leigh Generous (2019’) “…this event exposed me to what it might be like to work with future colleagues in the field of foreign policy, as well as both the challenges and rewards to such teamwork”. Leigh hopes to pursue a Master’s degree in International Relations and Security Studies so this event was extremely beneficial in helping her to gain some experience and work with experts in this field. For Zoe Marien (2019’), the event was a unique opportunity of policy application. Zoe highlighted the generosity of nearby coffee shops and restaurants near Yale which offered discounts to the students working on their proposals, which was a necessity for the extensive policy discussion among group members. Zoe kindly acknowledged Eastern’s sponsorship mentioning that  “…I would not have been able to attend had our Department not sponsored our team, and I am honored to have been selected to attend”. She plans to learn more about International Human Rights Law after she graduates from Eastern.

The inaugural meet at the Yale 2018 International Policy Competition (Source: Yale/IPC).

We are extremely proud of the work of our students at this event. They represented Eastern in a professional and intelligent way through their presentations and proposals, addressing issues relevant not only in the class room but beyond, like China’s growing domination in the South China Sea. Eastern will continue sponsoring events like this that allow our students to represent our school and gain invaluable practical experience.

New class: Activist Research Lab

What is an Activist Research Lab?

By Patrick Vitale

In the last few days several students have written to ask me a very good question: what is an activist research lab?

We will not be experimenting on activists in this class! Instead we will experiment with research projects that advance social and political change.

We will first address some very broad questions: How do activists use research in their work? How can social scientists develop projects that promote social justice? What are some of the political and ethical dilemmas of activist research? How can we create research that amplifies voices that are not always heard in the university?

We will answer these questions by looking at the examples of research projects in the Bay Area, Detroit, Toronto, New Haven, New York City, and other locations.

After we address these questions, we will put our learning into practice by developing a collaborative research project on the politics of poverty and homelessness in Willimantic. We will broadly investigate the experience of people who are struggling to survive in Willimantic.

As part of our research we will, among other tasks, meet with local residents; visit the Covenant Soup Kitchen, the No Freeze Shelter, and other local organizations; interview police officers and town officials; map out the availability of affordable housing; and visit the Windham Mill Museum to develop an understanding of the longer history of homelessness and poverty in Willimantic.

The final product of this class will be a collaborative research project that documents the struggles of people facing poverty and homelessness in Willimantic and exposes the laws, institutions, structures, and people who create obstacles in their daily lives.

The inspiration for this class is geographer William Bunge’s Detroit Geographical Expedition. Over the course of several years in the 1960s and ‘70s, Bunge worked with residents to document the ongoing struggle for survival in the poor and predominantly African American neighborhood of Fitzgerald. His team included artists, cartographers, anthropologists, historians, photographers, writers, and most importantly the residents themselves. The goal of the Activist Research Lab is to follow the example Bunge and his co-researchers set in Fitzgerald.

Please feel free to contact Professor Vitale if you have any questions about this class: vitalep@easternct.edu