SEOUL — Speaking in South Korea to conclude a five-day visit to Asia, Harvard President Drew Faust urged greater worldwide educational opportunities for women, telling an audience of more than 500 at Ewha Womans University that “the challenge is not only to educate females, but to create opportunities for their skills and talents to help build better and more prosperous societies, as well as improved women’s lives.”Ewha, the world’s largest women’s university, designated Faust only the second distinguished honorary Ewha fellow during a ceremony Friday that included remarks from Ewha President Kim Sun-Uk, a performance of traditional Korean music, and a roundtable for Faust and Kim with 20 young women studying at Ewha.In her speech, “Educate Women; Change the World,” Faust said it was important to continue to make the case for educational opportunities for women at a time when they remain dramatically underrepresented in many areas, including business and government.“How we define success in the education of women, whether in the United States or South Korea or worldwide, remains an open and pressing question,” said Faust. “Dramatic gender gaps persist. No society, no nation, has fully freed us from the question: Why educate women?”Faust highlighted the potential global economic benefits that would accrue from greater access to education for women. She pointed to the 2012 Global Gender Gap Report, which concluded that reducing the male-female employment gap in developed countries could lead to a GDP increase of as much as 9 percent in the United States and 13 percent in the eurozone.“Every nation’s long-term competitiveness depends on how well it educates and brings into play its women and girls,” said Faust.“The most valuable resource in the world is human talent. Unleashing that talent is one of society’s great challenges,” she said. “A growing body of analysis shows that for all kinds of reasons, any society that leaves out the wide talent pool of females is undermining its effectiveness — whether it loses the benefits of balance in corporate leadership roles, or the superior creativity and problem-solving capacities of diverse working teams.”Faust also discussed the importance of education beyond the economic impact.“We educate women not only because it is fair and efficient. We educate women because it is transformative,” she told the audience of students, faculty members, administrators, and special guests, including a number of ambassadors to South Korea. “The purposes of learning extend beyond quarterly reports and the bottom line, and even the economic and social benefits of a good job or a rising GDP.”“In America and South Korea alike, our zeal for achievement, what you call ‘education fever,’ can distort the deeper purposes of learning and narrow our definition of success,” she said. “When education becomes too focused on immediate measurable outcomes, on grades and awards, or when it becomes merely a path to money or prestige, we risk forgetting the inherent value of learning, and our broader aspirations.”Ewha, which has 20,000 undergraduate and graduate students, was founded in 1886 as Korea’s first educational institution for women. Kim hailed the partnership between Ewha and Harvard that includes academic exchanges between the universities. She also noted that Ewha’s motto — “Where change begins” — aligned with Faust’s remarks on how women can transform the world.The award ceremony was the final Asian stop for Faust, who also hosted a meeting of Korean university leaders and conducted a question-and-answer session with more than 300 Harvard alumni in Seoul.South Korean students represent the third-largest group of international students at Harvard, and the University has more than 1,000 alumni in the country.For the full text of President Drew Faust’s speech at Ewha Womans University.
Australian photographer Stephen Dupont has spent years documenting dissonance.Dupont began working in Papua New Guinea in 2004, spending time with the gangs of Port Moresby, the nation’s capital and one of the world’s most crime-ridden cities.More recently, in 2011, Dupont traveled around the country, documenting a culture in transition as a Robert Gardner Fellow in Photography from Harvard’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. The fellowship, which supports a documentary photographer in an in-depth endeavor examining “the human condition anywhere in the world,” was created by documentarian and author Gardner in 2007.Dupont’s project examines the impact of globalism and the creep of Western lifestyles into a nation where traditional ways have long held sway.Dupont has long been interested in the clash of cultures. Living in Australia, he was first drawn to Papua New Guinea after two friends, a filmmaker and a photojournalist, traveled there. During his fellowship year, he focused on three areas: Port Moresby, a melting pot of the nation’s many tribes, rife with modern urban problems including crime, slums, unemployment, and AIDS; the fishing communities along the Sepik River, the country’s longest; and the tribes of the remote highlands, whose rugged terrain and isolated valleys still provide some insulation from the outside world. He took thousands of images using five different photographic formats, including Polaroid film and large-format, 4-by-5 cameras.Dupont’s work is on display through September at the Peabody Museum. The exhibition features diaries and large images that take the viewer to a country in flux, and also chronicle daily life — mothers sitting with their children, people dashing for shelter from a sudden downpour, a rugby team praying together before a match.The images hold echoes of Australia’s influence on the lowlands and the highlands’ eroding traditions. Dupont, who will participate in an online “webinar” on his work on June 27, found fertile ground at Sing-Sings, cultural events created by colonial authorities as a way to get highland tribes to interact peacefully. The events, which Dupont described as “tribal Woodstocks,” draw thousands to observe and participate in tribal dance, singing, and other competitions.To document the Sing-Sings, Dupont set up a portable portrait booth, using black or white sheets as backgrounds to isolate the subjects. But instead of using physical supports to hold the backdrop, Dupont had bystanders hold up the sheet. He then pulled back the frame to include the helpers around the edges. Where a portrait against a neutral background might be taken anywhere in the world, this technique allowed him to incorporate the flavor of the setting within the images.The Sing-Sing pictures show the subtle — and sometimes not so subtle — intrusion of Western influence into what is intended to be a traditional tribal display: one woman wears a white brassiere with otherwise traditional garb, while a man wears a drum made from a large plastic container on a sling around his neck.Dupont said the Sing-Sings have visibly changed since his first visit to the country in 2004. In addition to the Western items working their way into people’s dress, advertising is everywhere, with Digicel, the country’s leading mobile phone carrier, surpassing even Coca-Cola.“I was there in 2004 and there was far less advertising there,” Dupont said. “How will this look in 10 years’ time?”To get a sense of how people dress while away from the competitions, Dupont visited a traditional tribal area in the southern highlands. But a nearby liquid propane plant had brought in roads and infrastructure and moved people off their land. While some older people maintained traditional dress, most of the younger people wore Western clothes, adorned with a lone piece of traditional jewelry.“It’s the death of their culture. How long will it be before it’s completely gone?” Dupont asked.He may be around to find out. Though he has already done a lot of work there, the intersection of globalization and traditional culture is a rich subject area, and the diversity in Papua New Guinea means there’s still plenty to do.“New Guinea has really gotten into my blood,” Dupont said. “I feel as if I’ve only scratched the surface.”
While Harvard’s Farmers’ Market is known for transforming the Science Center Plaza into a farm fresh mecca, it also hosts a weekly read-aloud where children of all ages can enjoy stories read by a Cambridge Public Library (CPL) staff member.Recently, the CPL’s Julie Roach read to an audience of six children who gathered around on a green rug decorated with cartoon vegetables.“The title of this book is ‘It’s Me, Parsnip.’ Do any of you know what parsnip is?” Roach asked.The children, who ranged in age from 7 months to 3 years old, enjoyed Roach’s animated storytelling. Mia Kimmel’s curiosity got the better of her — she wandered over for a closer look at the pictures. By the third reading of Roach’s selections, Kimmel had made friends with fellow 1-year-old Helen Lepionka — the two shared a rubber duck as they played in the center of the rug.The food-themed readings happen every Tuesday from 2:30 to 3 p.m., and often feature simple cooking activities with ChopChop Magazine. All ages are welcome.“I like to see kids get excited over a book,” said Roach. “There’s something magical about that.”The Harvard Farmers’ Market season, Tuesdays, noon to 6 p.m., continues through Oct. 29. The Allston Farmers’ Market is Fridays from 3 to 7 p.m. through Oct. 25 at 168 Western Ave.
Why does dating have to be so awkward?There’s so much anxiety surrounding meeting someone for the first time. There’s what to wear, obviously. Then, what to talk about? How much do we reveal about ourselves? And what about those dreaded uncomfortable silences?In an attempt to circumnavigate or subvert this modern dilemma, Lauren McCarthy discovered that dating doesn’t have to be the hive-inducing stressor we make it out to be. Not with the help of the virtual world to back you up.For a month, McCarthy went on a series of dates with suitors from the popular dating site OkCupid. She surreptitiously live-streamed the entirety of the dates, seeking the feedback of strangers paid to watch and offer their input.“Tell him a secret,” one viewer wrote. “Have a bit more excitement and interest,” said another.If this sounds weird, or perhaps perfectly normal, that’s the point.McCarthy is an artist and programmer, and life’s uncomfortable moments fascinate her, she admitted, partly because she’s a bit uncomfortable herself.McCarthy studied computer science and art at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and said she was fine in that inner circle of academia and … nerdishness. “But in the real world I didn’t have any social skills,” she said. “I thought, ‘Maybe I can hack my way out of a situation.’ ”One early project involved designing a hat that detected if McCarthy was smiling — and delivered pain to her if she wasn’t. But more recently, McCarthy’s work has toyed with identity and social interactions and the ways those converge with our dependence on technology.In a Tuesday lunchtime talk at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, McCarthy discussed her work with center co-founder and director Jonathan Zittrain and confessed that while her projects deal with larger, dystopian issues, they’re also personal.“The dates got confusing because I was being myself,” she said of the crowdsourced dating experiment. “But I was also getting these instructions.”And why not?“What responsibility do we have to maintain an acceptable model of behavior?” McCarthy wondered, clarifying that her seemingly outrageous ideas all stemmed from “me thinking about what I didn’t do well.”In 2010, McCarthy created Conversacube, a box that prompts each user with “directions or lines to keep the conversation running seamlessly with minimal awkward or uncomfortable moments.”“I’d started to think about getting feedback on conversation,” she said. “We do this all the time in other ways — liking, favoriting, retweeting — but shifted into physical space.”Then in 2013 came us+, a Google Hangout app “that analyzes speech and facial expression to improve conversation.”“It’s kind of terrifying to think about,” said McCarthy, “because what if it actually works?”Her latest endeavor is Crowdpilot, a downloadable app that allows friends, Facebook friends, or strangers to eavesdrop on your activities — be it on a date or a phone call — and send you their feedback.While her work has been interpreted as humorous and at times invasive, there’s something poignant about her tools, which are focused on creating meaningful connections.“I’m always trying to make something serious, and earnest, and optimistic,” McCarthy said. But ever the self-conscious MIT grad, she added, “Basically, I’m trying to create my own personal hell with these projects and seeing if I can survive.”
For many, the name Fritz Lang is synonymous with the image of a futuristic female robot, the haunting poster child for his 1927 science fiction classic “Metropolis.” But the Austrian-born director was a master of many genres, as visitors to the Harvard Film Archive (HFA) will see for themselves in the coming months.Beginning Friday and running through Sept. 1, the HFA will present a complete retrospective of Lang’s silent and talking feature films. With almost 40 works in total, the series is a tribute to the director’s remarkable range. It includes science fiction, spy thrillers, crime dramas, Westerns, and fantasy.In “1000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse” Peter van Eyck and Dawn Addams attempt to solve a series of mysterious crimes and avoid becoming victims themselves.An in-depth look at Lang, whose career spanned almost 50 years, has long been a goal at the HFA. Following the success of last summer’s Alfred Hitchcock retrospective, the time was right.“It’s hard to imagine Hitchcock without Lang,” said David Pendleton, the HFA’s programmer and a big Lang fan. Hitchcock carefully studied the director’s work, Pendleton said, in particular Lang’s exploration of “ethical and moral gray areas,” and his treatment of outlaw types.“So often the police are less sympathetic than the criminals,” said Pendleton, “even though the criminals are repulsive in Lang’s films.”Lang (1890-1976) studied art early in life and started drafting screenplays while recuperating from wounds he sustained during World War I. His wife, screenwriter Thea von Harbou, was a collaborator on some of best-known German Expressionist films of the 1920s and early 1930s. The two eventually divorced, and Lang left Germany for Paris in 1933. Not long after that he decamped for Hollywood.Peter Lorre’s chilling turn as a serial killer who hunts children in Lang’s 1931 film “M” brought the character actor international fame.Critics agree that Lang did more than inspire some of the most memorable psychological thrillers in film; many also consider him the grandfather of the big-budget megahit. Much of Lang’s silent work, said Pendleton, “pioneered a lot of the genres that Hollywood now relies on for their summer blockbusters.”“People don’t even realize how influential he is.”Pendleton singled out “Metropolis” as the blueprint for any number of dystopian science-fiction films that followed. It still resonates 85 years later. The early 20th-century classic and 2012’s “The Hunger Games,” he said, both “represent this future with this extreme class difference in a technocratic society.”The series kicks off with a restored version of “Metropolis” that includes its original orchestral score as well as several minutes of previously missing footage. The new material fleshes out various subplots, secondary narrative strands that were stripped away when the movie was shortened for foreign export. The longer cut makes for a richer work, said Pendleton, and “offers the audience a sense of the complexity that Lang was trying to achieve with the film.” (The remainder of Lang’s silent works in the series will feature piano accompaniment.)Paul Richter plays the visionary swordsman Siegfried who wants to marry Kriemhild, the princess of Burgundy (Margarete Schön), in the first part of “Die Nibelungen.”Many movie buffs think Steven Spielberg is indebted to Lang for the unforgettable character Indiana Jones from the “Raiders of the Lost Ark” films. Visitors can draw their own comparisons on Aug. 23 when Lang’s silent film “The Spiders” (1919) screens at the archive. The two-part picture (a four-part series was the original plan) portrays a millionaire adventurer named Kay Hoog who travels to exotic locales seeking hidden treasures.Alfonso Cuarón’s Oscar-winning “Gravity,” from last year, carries echoes of Lang’s “Woman in the Moon” (1929). Lang’s movie — a “highly scientific film about space travel,” Pendleton said — highlights the director’s fascination with technology. His serious approach to the subject even compelled Nazi scientists working on the V-2 rocket to study the film in some detail.In the wrong place at the wrong time, Ray Milland and Marjorie Reynolds are caught up in complicated rings of espionage, murder, and the supernatural in “Ministry of Fear.”“Fury” (1936), a dark drama with Spencer Tracy, was the first of Lang’s U.S. films. The noirish “The Woman in the Window” (1944) and the love triangle “Clash by Night” (1952) were among the more than 20 others.If it????s a Western you’re looking for, try “The Return of Frank James” (1940), which screens July 28. The film, Lang’s first in the genre and his first in color, stars Henry Fonda in the title role, bent on revenge for his brother’s death.Pendleton picked the “often overlooked” 1937 feature “You Only Live Once” as his favorite. Set to screen on Aug. 9, the picture is “one of these ‘great lovers on the run’ films,” Pendleton said, a dark story that swirls with themes of injustice and redemption. But it’s also “tender and emotional, which is not always a quality we associate with Lang. And so I think it shows another side.”In “The Return of Frank James,” Clem (Jackie Cooper) and Frank James (Henry Fonda) seek revenge for his infamous brother Jesse’s death.Films are screened at the Harvard Film Archive in the Carpenter Center, 24 Quincy St., Cambridge. For a complete schedule, visit its calendar.
Harvard University recently launched an effort to address chronic hunger among its neighbors in Cambridge and Boston by partnering with the local nonprofit Food for Free to donate nearly 2,000 nutritious meals each week to families in need. The initiative builds on Harvard’s long commitment of community engagement, which includes extensive partnerships with local schools and creating and preserving affordable housing.To ensure that breakfast, lunch, and dinner are available for every undergraduate, Harvard University Dining Services regularly purchases more food than is actually consumed. In the past, excess fresh food has been composted. The new program ensures that untouched food is instead provided to those who need it.Graphic by Georgia Bellas/Harvard Staff“This is a new initiative ― a new type of idea,” said Sasha Purpura, executive director of Cambridge-based Food for Free. “The food from Harvard is very healthy, easy to reheat, and simple to serve. None of it has to be cooked from scratch, which is not only time-consuming, but oftentimes not possible as some of our recipients live in motels or on the street where cooking options don’t exist. This is a new way of doing food redistribution and it has really been making a difference in the battle on hunger.”According to surveys, one in nine residents of Eastern Massachusetts doesn’t know where the next meal will come from, with nearly half of the group made up of children and seniors. The Greater Boston Food Bank alone has seen a 21 percent increase in requests for food assistance since 2008. Meanwhile, roughly a third of the food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted, according to the United Nations Environmental Programme.“Every day, too many families and individuals are forced to make very difficult choices — choices between eating or paying rent or utility bills,” said Meredith Weenick, Harvard’s vice president for campus services, which oversees HUDS. “At the same time, Harvard is aggressively seeking to minimize consumption and waste while implementing sustainable programs that increase efficient use of all that we consume on campus. Our partnership with Food for Free assures that any food we offer our students beyond what is utilized also serves our neighbors, so this really is a win-win for everyone involved.”In Harvard’s 14 undergraduate dining halls, the challenge is to maintain a menu that matches the demand of students, nearly 98 percent of whom live on campus and participate in the meal plan. As such, every location has a modest amount of food beyond what is consumed ― including salads, soups, main dishes, and sides. On an average day, the dining halls feed breakfast, lunch, and dinner to more than 6,600 students. That comes to nearly 20,000 meals a day.While HUDS continually monitors consumption, it is impossible to predict precisely how many students will eat and how much they will eat at any given meal. Since 2005, a student peer-to-peer outreach program designed to reduce food waste has halved the amount food being discarded that could otherwise be donated. (Composting has been and will remain part of Harvard’s extensive waste-reduction efforts.)Harvard tested the program last summer using the excess from Annenberg dining hall. Based on its success, all 14 dining halls on campus were brought into the program. In a typical week during the academic year, Harvard may donate up to 2,500 pounds of quality food that was never served. Given that the average meal is 1.3 pounds, each week approximately 2,000 meals are donated to needy families. In the six months since the program began, Harvard has donated more than 40,000 pounds of food.“HUDS has long been committed to giving back to the local community through food donations and various philanthropic activities,” said Managing Director David Davidson. “But this new Harvard food program formalizes and greatly enhances this giving in a way that is more effective, more wide-reaching, and more in line with the University’s commitment to sustainability.”The Harvard Sustainability Plan, released in October 2014, set an on-campus per capita waste-reduction goal of 50 percent by 2020. The Harvard Food Better campaign is engaging the entire University community in a dialogue about the food system, including waste. The Deans’ Food System Challenge, hosted by the Harvard Innovation Lab, is bringing together teams to develop solutions that make the food system more healthy and sustainable.“This new program further demonstrates Harvard’s interest in partnering with providers in the community to create innovative efforts to support local families,” said Kevin Casey, associate vice president for public affairs and communications. “This is a wonderful example of what can happen when local organizations work together to help meet an important community need.”“This is a sustainable program that reflects Food for Free’s mission to address the needs of local families on a daily basis,” said Purpura. “It is a model that is replicable and we hope that our pilot program with Harvard will both feed families and raise awareness at other institutions of higher learning and organizations in Cambridge. We are incredibly excited about this partnership and are looking forward to doing much more in the coming months.”The Cambridge Community Center, which is adjacent to the Peabody Terrace complex, is one of the local organizations receiving donations. The center serves 40 families a week through its after-school program, and has also served the food during family night gatherings and other special events. Eventually the center will have the ability to send after-school students home with meals for their families. A contribution from Harvard helped the center purchase a commercial freezer for storing donations.“These meals can make a real difference for some of our most vulnerable families. We are proud to work with Harvard, Food for Free, and other local organizations in helping to feed our community healthy, wholesome, and delicious food,” said Darrin Korte, director of programs at the Cambridge Community Center.
When Harvard Law School (HLS) Professor Lawrence Lessig was named director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics in 2008, he said he would create a limited-time project to research the problem of institutional corruption in the United States. He launched that project, the Edmund J. Safra Research Lab, in 2010, as a five-year effort to study the issue and come up with tools to understand it and respond to it better.On Friday and Saturday, a two-day conference called “Ending Institutional Corruption” will mark the end of that project, with dozens of speakers from academia, law, government, media, mind sciences, and citizen groups discussing the topic. The conference is free and open to the public, but registration is required.In addition to concluding the lab, Lessig is stepping down as the center’s director. (He will be succeeded by Danielle S. Allen, who has been appointed to the Faculty of Arts and Sciences as a professor in the Government Department.) Lessig, author of the 2012 book “Republic, Lost,” which addressed congressional corruption, will continue teaching at HLS as the Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership.He also will remain active in the Mayday PAC, which he launched last year with the goal of reducing money’s influence on politics and government. Harvard Law Today spoke with Lessig recently about the lab and his future plans.HARVARD LAW TODAY: What were your specific goals when you set up the lab?LESSIG: I think the most important goal was to create an awareness of the kind of corruption that people are likely to miss or not think of as corruption. You can have an institution filled with totally non-corrupt people, but the institution itself has become corrupted because it’s opened itself to inferences that undermine its purpose or undermine the public trust in the institution. That’s the dynamic of corruption we’re trying to make salient, and to think about in a wide range of contexts, from the academy to scientific research, to the way courts function, to the way Congress functions, to any institution in principle that could be subject to this kind of corruption. We’re trying to find a way to understand it and respond to it.HARVARD LAW TODAY: Was the creation of the lab connected to the work you were doing in researching and writing “Republic, Lost”?LESSIG: I think of the lab as applying the problem that I wrote about with Congress to a wide range of institutions. Congress, I think, is a paradigmatic example of a corrupted institution, in the sense that it’s not necessarily filled with any criminals, but it’s become so focused on the objective of raising money to fund its campaigns that that dependency conflicts with the intended dependence — on people generally, and not on the funders of campaigns. That’s the dynamic I call dependence corruption, which is a perfect instance of this example of institutional corruption more generally.HARVARD LAW TODAY: To what extent do you think you’ve been successful in raising this awareness?LESSIG: It’s been incredibly successful in giving people an idea of this different sense of corruption and opening up a bunch of different research around it. Also, I think it’s been successful in just offering a vocabulary that has given people a way to talk about this without making it personal. If you talk about corruption, people’s immediate reaction is, “I’m not corrupt,” and the response should be, “I’m not talking about you; I’m talking about this institution and the way this institution is being defeated in its objectives.” I think that has turned out to be a really powerful way to think about a bunch of different institutions and the problems they face.HARVARD LAW TODAY: What’s your assessment of Mayday PAC after its first year of operation?LESSIG: Mayday PAC was an experiment, and remains an experiment, about ways that we can intervene to bring about a change in Congress to address this issue. We did one version of that experiment last year, and we’re launching another one this May 1 and will continue to experiment with ways until we find one that works.We were involved in eight races [in the 2014 mid-term elections], successful only in two. We were testing whether we could make this issue salient in the context of a partisan election. We could see a move to the ball, that people were much more focused on this issue than they were in other districts, but not enough to change things in a partisan fight. So that sent us back to thinking about other ways to address this issue.HARVARD LAW TODAY: So what happens May 1?LESSIG: We’re basically engaged in a pretty massive citizen lobby campaign to recruit members [of Congress] to co-sponsor reform. So it’s not about engaging political campaigns; it’s about trying to close the gap between the majority and the number who are committed to reform. The idea is that makes it easier to imagine actually winning when it comes to 2016.HARVARD LAW TODAY: Do you have any more books in the works?LESSIG: I gave a series of lectures at the University of Chicago last year that were on the subject of institutional corruption. The title was “America: Compromised,” and I’m publishing a book of those at the end of the summer. And there’s a version two of “Republic, Lost,” that will be coming out in January.
An independent group of 19 international experts, convened by the Harvard Global Health Institute and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), today issued a scathing analysis of the global response to the 2014-15 Ebola outbreak in West Africa.The members of the Harvard-LSHTM Independent Panel on the Global Response to Ebola said that while the 2014-15 Ebola outbreak “engendered acts of understanding, courage, and solidarity,” it also caused “immense human suffering, fear and chaos, largely unchecked by high-level political leadership or reliable and rapid institutional responses.”The report, published in the prestigious British medical journal The Lancet, is especially hard on the World Health Organization (WHO), which the panel contends failed to provide the leadership and support needed to deal properly with the outbreak of hemorrhagic fever that infected more than 28,000 people and claimed more than 11,000 lives.The authors of the report, who were affiliated with, but functioned independently from, such disparate organizations as the Council on Foreign Relations, Médecins Sans Frontières, Indiana University law school, and the AIDS Health Care Foundation, reminded readers that the Ebola epidemic “brought national health systems to their knees, rolled back hard-won social and economic gains in a region recovering from civil wars, sparked worldwide panic, and cost at least several billion dollars in short-term control efforts and economic losses.”“The most egregious failure was by WHO in the delay in sounding the alarm,” said Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, K.T. Li Professor of International Health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. “People at WHO were aware that there was an Ebola outbreak that was getting out of control by spring … and it took until August to declare a public health emergency … Those were precious months,” said Jha.The panel was co-chaired by Professor Peter Piot, director of the LSHTM and co-discoverer of the Ebola virus. Piot said, “We need to strengthen core capacities in all countries to detect, report, and respond rapidly to small outbreaks, in order to prevent them from becoming large-scale emergencies. Major reform of national and global systems to respond to epidemics are not only feasible, but also essential so that we do not witness such depths of suffering, death, and social and economic havoc in future epidemics. The AIDS pandemic put global health on the world’s agenda. The Ebola crisis in West Africa should now be an equal game-changer for how the world prevents and responds to epidemics.”Liberian Mosoka Fallah of Action Contre la Faim International and a member of the panel said, “The human misery and deaths from the Ebola epidemic in West Africa demand a team of independent thinkers to serve as a mirror of reflection on how and why the global response to the greatest Ebola calamity in human history was late, feeble, and uncoordinated. The threat of infectious disease anywhere is the threat of infectious disease everywhere. The world has become one big village.”The global response to Ebola is being examined by a number of different panels, Jha said, including a group at WHO and another at the United Nations. During the height of the epidemic in fall, 2014, Jha met with Julio Frenk, then the dean of the Harvard Chan School, and Suerie Moon, research director and co-chair of the Harvard Kennedy School’s Forum on Global Governance for Health, and a Harvard Chan faculty member. Together, they “decided this deserves independent examination; we can’t let this happen again,” Jha said.“The Ebola outbreak is a stark reminder of the fragility of health security in an interdependent word,” the report reads, “and of the importance of building a more robust global system to protect all people from such risks.“A more humane, competent, and timely response to future outbreaks requires greater willingness to assist affected populations, and systematic investments to enable the global community to perform four key functions: strengthen core capacities within and among countries to prevent, detect, and respond to outbreaks when and where they occur; mobilize faster and more effective external assistance when countries are unable to prevent an outbreak from turning into a crisis alone; rapidly produce and widely share relevant knowledge, from community mobilization strategies to protective measures for health workers, from rapid diagnostic tools to vaccines; [and] provide stewardship over the whole system, entailing strong leadership, coordination, priority setting, and robust accountability from all involved actors.”Though it pulls no punches in its criticism of the ways institutions and nations responded to the Ebola crisis, the Harvard-LSHTM report is also a positive document, offering 10 concrete recommendations to strengthen public health systems and future responses.Those recommendations fall into four areas: preventing major disease outbreaks; responding to outbreaks; producing and sharing data, knowledge, and technologies; and improving the governance of the global health system, “with a focus on the World Health Organization.”One recommendation is that WHO create a dedicated center “for outbreak response, with strong technical capacity, protected budget, and clear lines of accountability,” and that that center be governed by a separate board independent of the WHO bureaucracy.“Our primary goal is to convince the high-level political leaders, north and south, to seize the moment to make necessary and enduring changes to better prepare for future outbreaks, while memories of the human health costs of inaction remain vivid and fresh,” the report said.“There is a high risk here of not learning our lessons,” said Jha. “We’ve had outbreaks like this before, and often you get thoughtful reviews, and august bodies that look at it, and people say, ‘We will get to this right away,’ and then other things draw our attention. I think we owe it to the more than 11,000 people who died in West Africa to see that that doesn’t happen this time.”
Elizabeth Garcia ’16 was raised on 12th Street, a poor, drug-infested neighborhood in Palmetto, Fla., she described as “a dead end.”“My friends were teenage mothers before they were teenagers themselves,” she recalled, sharing her powerful story at the 10th annual Celebration of Scholarships dinner on April 8.Her journey from Palmetto to Harvard was dramatic, and Garcia, who was born to immigrant parents who left school in the second and seventh grades, said the financial aid she received was life-changing.“I knew I had entered the land of opportunity,” she said, of arriving at Harvard. “You believed in me.”The annual dinner at Annenberg Hall is a chance for students who get support from Harvard’s Financial Aid Initiative to connect with their donors. Co-hosted by Tim Barakett ’87, M.B.A. ’93, and his wife, Michele; Lloyd Blankfein ’75, J.D. ’78, and his wife, Laura; Ken Griffin ’89; and Jerry Jordan ’61, M.B.A. ’67, and his wife, Darlene, the evening drew more than 300 guests, including Harvard President Drew Faust, Michael D. Smith, Edgerley Family Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and William R. Fitzsimmons, dean of admissions and financial aid for Harvard College.Harvard President Drew Faust (center) attended the dinner, which was co-hosted in part by Jerry Jordan ’61, M.B.A. ’67 (left), and Tim Barakett ’87, M.B.A. ’93 (right).“Harvard’s mission — educating citizens and citizen leaders — demands we bring together students with profoundly different life experiences. This is a necessary condition for us to be able to prepare each of them to succeed and lead in a diverse world,” said Smith, who encouraged the crowd to match Griffin’s leadership challenge to endow 600 new scholarships.Since launching the Financial Aid Initiative in 2005, Harvard has awarded nearly $1.5 billion in grant aid, and has increased its financial aid budget by 112 percent, from $80 million to almost $170 million. Students whose annual family incomes are below $65,000 pay nothing to attend, and each member of the incoming class of 2020 with that level of support will also receive $2,000 from a new start-up grant as freshmen to help ease the transition to college life.“Our financial aid program has never been more important to the country than it is right now and, to be honest, who we are as an institution,” said Fitzsimmons.In Annenberg Hall, beneath the Gothic trusses and the colorful flags marking each of Harvard’s freshman dorms, students such as Garcia and Shori Hijikata ’16 spoke about the impact financial support has had on their experiences at Harvard. Others performed. Andy Troska ’16, who plans to pursue a music career, sang “Ostrovok (The islet), Op. 14 No. 2” by Sergei Rachmaninoff, while Josh Bean ’16 accompanied singer Joshuah Campbell ’16 on piano for a beautiful rendition of the jazz standard “I Wished on the Moon.”Before the dinner, Jarrod Wetzel-Brown ’16, an English concentrator who plans to go to medical school, said the financial support he received as a beneficiary of the Thomas J. Schneider Scholarship Fund allowed him to be more reflective, and make more thoughtful decisions about his future.“In the moment, some things are more important than worrying about a test score or a project,” he said. “I learned not to just exist, but to learn, to really connect with professors and peers. I learned to linger and appreciate.”,For Bernadette Lim ’16, who is concentrating in human evolutionary biology, financial support has allowed her to have transformational experiences — studying in Kenya, studying low-income African-American families in Los Angeles for her senior thesis — outside the classroom.“Every time I do something like that I think, ‘This is the Harvard experience I never thought was possible,’” said Lim, a Kushner Family Undergraduate Scholar, before the dinner.Scholarship donor Bruce Menin ’84, a real estate developer, said the small part he contributes toward helping deserving students is rewarding, which makes the Celebration of Scholarships an “extraordinary” night to attend.“Students are so impressive and their intentions so unique and imaginative and often directed at helping the world in significant ways. They are going back to states or countries of disrepair, hoping to solve big problems,” he said. “They are eminently qualified to make an impact and you realize the world will be a better place. They are dreaming big.”He might well have been talking about Garcia, a Cabot House resident who told the audience that, along with her school studies, she found time to mentor low-income students in South Boston and serve as a co-director of the Harvard Square Homeless Shelter.“I’ve learned — there’s no doubt,” she said. “I have a lot to pay back.”
Following last year’s devastating earthquake, a student commits to improving health care in his native countryWhen Ramu Kharel, M.P.H. ’16, was seven years old, his father won the lottery for an immigrant visa to become a permanent resident of the United States. That serendipity ultimately brought Kharel from a small village in Nepal to America, to medical school in Texas, and ultimately to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health to learn the skills he is now using to improve health care delivery back in his native Nepal.Currently enrolled at University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, Kharel took a break after his third year to study global health at Harvard Chan School. His awakening to issues of public health came during the year he spent in India as an undergraduate, when he worked in impoverished neighborhoods with a Muslim women’s rights organization. Among other health issues, Kharel witnessed a lack of basic hygiene and heavy smoking among the residents and realized there was more to being a doctor than just treating individuals; some of these problems needed to be addressed at the population level.When it came time to choose his medical specialty, he decided on obstetrics and gynecology because he had enjoyed that rotation in medical school and because of his work with women in India. After Nepal suffered a devastating earthquake in 2015, however, he now plans to specialize in emergency medicine, with a focus on disaster preparedness and disaster management. Read Full Story