Union College News Archives

News story archive

Navigation Menu

“Theme Park Utopias” kicks off Ethics lecture series Thursday

Posted on Apr 30, 2007

Bob Baker, the William D. Williams Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Center for Bioethics at Union

Michael Pinsky, professor of Literature and Popular Culture at the University of South Florida, will discuss “Great Big Beautiful Tomorrows: A Century of Theme Park Utopias,” to kick off the four-part spring lecture series for the Rapaport Ethics Across the Curriculum initiative.

Michael Pinsky, ethics speaker, May 2007

The talk is Thursday, May 10, at 7 p.m. in F.W. Olin Center 115 and is free and open to the public.

The Rapaport Ethics Across the Curriculum initiative incorporates ethics into the lesson plans to help prepare students to face the world of tough decisions and empower them to exercise moral leadership. The initiative also offers grants to professors who explore ethics in their courses.

“The initiative encourages faculty to discuss everyday ethics as it is interwoven into the fabric of the subjects that they teach," said Robert Baker, the William D. Williams Professor of Philosophy and director of the Center for Bioethics at Union. “We believe that these discussions prepare students to recognize, to articulately discuss and to more successfully negotiate the ethical challenges they will inevitably encounter later in life.”

The program is coordinated by Baker along with Anastasia Pease, an expert in Russian and English who designed and taught a course, "Diversity and Equity in America" encompassing many of the ethical issues facing people across the globe.

The program was made possible last year by a gift from Michael Rapaport ’59, an entrepreneur and real estate lawyer from White Plains, N.Y. Rapaport believes that colleges need to discuss ethics in realistic, everyday contexts, not segregate them into philosophy courses.

The idea for the program grew out of a 2003 pilot project by Economics Professor Harold Fried, who introduced ethics into the economic curriculum using a gift from Rapaport.

To date the Rapaport Ethics Across the Curriculum program has funded ethics segments in 11 courses in all four divisions of the college, plus the Spring Term Ethics Across the Curriculum Series.

Other spring offerings:

Tuesday, May 15 at 5:15 p.m. in Reamer Auditorium – Dr. Bonnie TuSmith of Northeastern University will give a lecture titled “Humor, Pathos and the Face of Difference.” (co-sponsored by the COT and UNITAS)  

Tuesday, May 22 at 6:30 p.m. in F.W. Olin Center 115 – Walter Palvo, former MCI executive convicted of wire fraud and money laundering will speak on his experiences involving the manipulation of financial records within a large corporation.

Thursday, May 24 at 7 p.m. in Reamer Auditorium – Dr. Bruce B. Svare of University of Albany will give a lecture entitled “What everyone should know about the Anabolic Steroid Abuse Crisis”

Thursday, June 14 and Friday, June 15 in Old Chapel – Two-Day symposium on exploring new curricula in Engineering Ethics, Bioengineering, Environmental Engineering and Liberal Education.

For more information, visit Rapaport Ethics Across the Curriculum or contact Dean Cherrice Traver (518) 388-6530.

Read More

Union students take second in Tech Valley Collegiate Business Plan competition

Posted on Apr 30, 2007

A group of student entrepreneurs behind a new medical device that promises to dramatically improve the way a patient’s blocked airway finished second in the prestigious $50,000 Tech Valley Collegiate Business Plan competition.

Gordon Single ’07, Shane Hubbell ’08 and Jay Shah ’08 created Second Breath Inc., a company that would produce Cric-Kits to aid in a cricothyroidotomy, an emergency procedure performed on patients suffering from an obstructed airway, usually caused by a trauma accident. The kits would include the new device, along with an endotracheal tube and a scalpel.

Business plan competition

The start-up company would market the kits primarily to hospitals and ambulance service companies.

The students had 20 minutes to make their pitch to a panel of venture capitalists May 3 at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. The competition was sponsored by the Severino Center for Technological Entrepreneurship at Rensselaer’s Lally School of Management and Technology.

Union's entry tied for second with Greensulate, which has developed an environmentally friendly organic insulation. This patented combination of water, flour, minerals, and mushroom spores could replace conventional foam insulations, which are expensive to synthesize and harmful to the environment. The team is composed of two engineering students from Rensselaer.

Each company received $3,500.

The winner of the competition was Innovative Engineering Solutions, which is creating a foot scanning device that could aid diabetic patients with early identification of foot disorders caused by the disease. The team is composed of three engineering students from Rensselaer. 

The winning team received $5,000 and has the opportunity to receive $20,000 in seed funding, $15,000 in legal, patent, and financial services, and ancillary expenses for travel to a national business plan competition. The other $10,000 is awarded based on the company’s progress in implementing the business plan.

Earlier, Second Breath Inc. took top honors at Union’s annual business plan competition, beating out five other start-up companies proposed by Union students. The winning team won a trip to New York City, where they had lunch with Devin Wenig ’88, COO of Reuters Group P.L.C. They also won a night at the Cornell Club.

This marked the second year of Union's business plan competition, which was sponsored by the College’s Entrepreneurship Club. The competition consisted of both an “elevator pitch,’’ in which students had one minute to present their idea, and a 15-minute Powerpoint presentation. The club’s advisor is Economics Professor Hal Fried.

Read More

Feminist author and film critic Molly Haskell here Wednesday

Posted on Apr 30, 2007

Molly Haskell, feminist film critic, April 2007

Virginia-born film critic and author Molly Haskell will present a guest lecture Wednesday, May 2 at 6 p.m. in Arts 215, sponsored by the Women’s and Gender Studies Sadock Women in the Arts Grant as part of Union’s feminist film series.

Haskell worked at the French Film Office in the 1960s, writing a newsletter about French films for the New York press and interpreting when directors came to America for the opening of their films. She went to The Village Voice as a theatre critic and movie reviewer, and from there to New York Magazine and Vogue.

Now residing in New York City, Haskelll has written for The New York Times, Esquire, The New York Review of Books and other publications. She is the author of three books, including the influential "From Reverence to Rape: The Treatment of Women in the Movies" (1974; revised and reissued in 1987); a memoir, "Love and Other Infectious Diseases" (1990); and a collection of essays and interviews, "Holding My Own in No Man’s Land: Women and Men and Films and Feminists" (1997).

Haskell teaches in the graduate writing program at Sarah Lawrence College.

Read More

Union RAs promote “30 Days” of tolerance

Posted on Apr 30, 2007

Students in Union College’s first-year residence halls have launched  “30 Days” of cultural awareness, diversity and tolerance education in the Davidson North lounge.

“This programming series is a byproduct of an increased focus in Student Affairs on diversity and social justice,” said Todd Clark, director of Residential Life. “What’s special in this case is the ownership shown by our student leaders, and how they are bringing the educational mission of the college into the student's homes.”

The program involves the weekly showing of the television program “30 Days” in the freshmen dormitories followed by discussions with Residence Hall Advisors (RAs) and faculty on that week’s subject.

“Diversity and multi-cultural awareness are paramount concerns in college,” said Joe Martel ’08, a mechanical engineering major and head RA of West College. “By using faculty and administrators to facilitate discussion it will be more like an extension of the classroom and hopefully easier for students to join in.”

Created by Morgan Spurlock, the director of “Super Size Me”  the TV show “30 Days” brings people of opposing viewpoints together to take an inside look at socially-significant situations.

 “We didn't want pizza and a movie,” said Michele Goldman ‘07, a neuroscience major and head RA at Davidson House/Webster House. “Facilitation can be difficult when it's peer to peer, but having an administrator or professor present, takes the program one step further; they might be able to reach the students on a different level.”

“Civility is most difficult to encourage during the first year at college,” explained Jon Thatcher ’07, a history major and head RA in Richmond. “Amid all the excitement of transitioning to college, first-year students often forget there are consequences to their actions.”

Six different one-hour episodes will be shown commencing Monday, May 1 at 7 p.m. with the remaining weekly episodes shown according to the schedule that follows:

May 1 –    “Binge Drinking Mom” shown in Davidson North Lounge

A strait-laced mother takes up binge-drinking in a desperate last-ditch attempt to show her teenage daughter how ridiculously dangerous her excessive behavior can be.

May 10 –     “Anti-Aging” shown in Richmond Basement Lounge

A former athlete tries to get back to his ideal body weight, after a decade- and-a-half, by participating in an anti-aging program while dealing with his family and his career.

May 15 – “Minimum Wage” shown in West 2nd Floor South Lounge

Show’s creator, Morgan Spurlock, and his fiancé Alex try to survive 30 days on minimum wage.

May 22 – “Muslims and America” shown in Davidson North Lounge

David Stacy is a West Virginian Christian who lives for 30 days in a large Muslim community.

May 29 – “Off the Grid” shown in Richmond basement lounge

Two young, hip, environmentally-unaware consumers from New York City spend 30 days on an ecological farm to learn about the difference that one person can make in the world.

June 5 –  “Straight Man in a Gay World” shown in West 2nd Floor South Lounge

A 24-year-old straight man moves to San Francisco, home to one of the largest gay communities in the country.

“I’m very proud of our staff for coming up with a unique, creative way to educate our residents about a number of current social issues,” said Clark. “I’m even more encouraged by the support that our faculty and administration has shown volunteering to lead discussions during the series.”

“We can always do more as a campus community to promote tolerance,” Thatcher agreed. “I think there will be a benefit to connecting members of the larger Union community to the students that live in each of the residence halls.”

For information about the program, or to lead a session, contact Joe Martel at martelj@union.edu.

Read More

Students stake out Iraq War memorial

Posted on Apr 30, 2007

For the third year, Campus Action, Union's social action group, has constructed the Iraq War Memorial display, which includes 3,336 stakes along the walkways at the center of campus. There were 2,399 stakes set out last year.

Iraq War Memorial 2007

The stakes have the name and age of every American soldier that has died in Iraq. 

In addition, a display in the front of Schaffer Library contains 100 nameless stakes; each blank marker represents a group of Iraqis who have been killed in the war. The Campus Action group said estimates of Iraqi deaths range from 62,000 to 655,000.

Iraq War memorial 2007

Campus Action aims to support the growth of social change on campus, within the community and in society at large. Members say the display should "make the consequences of the Iraq War more comprehensible to all who view it."

"The war is still going on and we wanted to display for everyone the consequences and the costs of war," said Ian Kennedy '07, who has helped plan the three memorials.

 The Iraq memorial will be in place until Friday, May 4.

Read More