2002: Features (print version)
Campus of the Big Ideas
launch of The Chicago Initiative-the University's five-year, $2 billion
fund-raising effort-was marked by an April 12 event that focused on
Chicago's intellectual initiatives.
symposia offered an opportunity to experience, in President Don M. Randel's
words, "the richness and the profound joy of academic life."
Crisscrossing disciplines and divisions, some of the campus's best thinkers
gathered to consider big issues and big problems. In search of new knowledge
and transformative ideas, they demonstrated Chicago's-and the Chicago
the beginning: what do our origins tell us about ourselves?
human beings are curious about how things began," said Michael
Turner, the Bruce V. and Diana M. Rauner distinguished service professor
in astronomy & astrophysics and physics.
did things really begin? Approaching that deceptively simple question,
the panel brought together a cosmologist (Turner), a geneticist (David
Ledbetter, the Marjorie I. and Bernard A. Mitchell professor and chair
of human genetics), and a mythologist (Wendy Doniger, the Mircea Eliade
distinguished service professor in the Divinity School and South Asian
languages & civilizations).
scrawled overheads, Turner explained how technological advances have
revolutionized our understanding of the physical universe. Although
we are made of "star stuff"-as the late Carl Sagan, AB'54,
SB'55, SM'56, PhD'60, famously put it-star stuff is now known as "ordinary
matter," making up just 4 percent of the universe. The rest is
"exotic dark matter" (30 percent) and "dark energy"
21st-century cosmologists, dark energy is a main puzzle of the universe-which
may actually be a "multiverse," with a six-dimensional or
even ten-dimensional structure. Warned Turner: "Until we understand
dark energy, we don't understand our destiny-and maybe we won't even
the audience recovered from the revelation that our star stuff is ordinary,
Ledbetter noted that, genetically speaking, we're mainly chimp: "We
share 98 percent of the same genes. The human-chimp divide is mostly
in our heads."
more humbling, the Human Genome Project (HGP) has shown that humans
have an unexpectedly small number of genes. "There are only 30,000
to 40,000 genes in humans," Ledbetter said, "while a worm
has 18,000, a fruit fly 13,000, and rice has 50,000." For HGP researchers,
the small number is a pleasant surprise; but for biotechnology companies,
"business plans were based on revenue per gene," Ledbetter
explained, "so they were not too happy at the news."
sort of origins do we look for when we look for our origins?" asked
Doniger, next at the podium. For religious scholars, part of this search
is for the origin of the texts themselves-for "the Urtext."
may be disconcertingly new in the sciences, but in the ancient Indian
tradition, Doniger's specialty, it's not. The Rig Veda (1000 B.C.),
one of the oldest creation myths, is "open-ended and vague,"
with lines like "There was neither nonexistence nor existence then"
and "Who really knows?" That "charming humility"
may appeal to today's audiences, Doniger said, but some Hindus were
troubled enough to invent a god named 'Who,'" a semantic solution
that "reminds me of the old Abbott and Costello routine."
myths-including even the Big Bang-share an essential problem, she said:
they never really explain how we get from nothing to something. "Myths
fudge this. After the appearance of the original 'something,' myths
have a system of baroque detail that's so complex, you get caught up
in it." The Laws of Manu begin with "vague undifferentiated
chaos," Doniger noted, that the creator organizes in very specific
ways. "But," she persisted, like a child in Sunday school
class, "where did the creator come from?"
sapiens: are we really rational creatures?
through a consideration of a question as old as human thought, session
moderator Saul Levmore, dean and William R. Graham professor in the
Law School, noted that although "to at least some people rationality
means predictability," humans are often unpredictable. Which may
be why so much thought has gone into making sense of how humans behave.
question is not whether humans are rational or irrational," declared
John Cacioppo, the Tiffany & Margaret Blake distinguished service
professor in psychology, "but under what conditions they are rational."
Cacioppo studies the hierarchical nature of cerebral processing at both
its molecular and social levels. This approach, he pointed out, helps
explain why the same humans who won't willingly put their hands over
a flame will walk through flames to reach a crying child. Or why, hiking
in the woods, you'll start at the sight of a snake-shaped stick. "On
a lower level, you notice something that may be dangerous and look closer."
That look "can prompt rational or irrational behavior," responses
and emotions based on contextual clues and cultural conditioning.
Cacioppo studies individual behavior, Gary S. Becker, SM'53, PhD'55,
University professor in economics and sociology, analyzes how groups
of individuals respond to changes in institutions, public policy, and
other social stimuli. The tool that he uses is rational-choice theory.
not going to be shy about it," the Nobel laureate said. "It's
the most valuable theory that we have" to do such work. After defining
the theory (a way to "analyze how individuals maximize utility
based on their preferences for outcomes in a forward-looking fashion"),
Becker explained what it is not: it's not "a theory of the selfish
individual" nor one "that's devoid of allowing people to have
emotions" or "of the individual in isolation from society."
Rational choice wouldn't be at "the center of so many discussions,"
he argued-from why California energy prices peaked in summer 2000 to
how cigarette taxes affect smoking rates-"if it weren't concerned
with real life."
up was Martha Nussbaum, the Ernst Freund distinguished service professor
in the Law School and a philosopher who sounded themes from her recent
book Upheavals of Thought: The Intelligence of Emotions (2001)
to argue that emotions are not unthinking: "They have an object.
They embody a way of seeing this object." Love "is accompanied
by all sorts of beliefs" about its object, including an appraisal
of the loved one "as valuable to the thinker's happiness."
"much more complex question," she said, is whether such thought
is reliable. That question gives rise to others: How do past emotions
enter into the present? How responsive are we to what we see in front
of us? Are we, as rational-choice theory would have it, really forward-looking?
For Nussbaum, the day's discussions of rationality and emotion return
to age-old questions of moral philosophy: "What is it for humans
to live well? What is worth caring about?"
the physical and biological sciences: what lies ahead?
is immutable and one is evolving. One is largely theoretical, the other
often observational. One is hard and pristine, the other tends to the
soft and sticky.
scholars from the physical and the biological sciences met to talk about
how their fields, once quite distinct, have begun to blur-and why that's
a good thing.
session grew out of two campus projects, one small and one huge. The
small project was an effort by plant geneticist Daphne Preuss, professor
in molecular genetics & cell biology, to understand pollen's elective
affinities. Why, she wondered, does a grain of pollen stick to the slippery
female parts of one flower yet slide right off another? Each plant's
pollen, she found, carries tiny surface markers, like molecular Velcro,
that let them latch on when they land on a related species but lack
sticking power with nonrelatives.
the markers work is an interesting question, but not one the tools of
biology equipped her to answer. So Preuss brought in David Grier, an
associate professor in physics, to measure the strength of the tiny
attachments, which turned out to be more powerful than any glue, and
Milan Mrksich, an associate professor in chemistry, to isolate and purify
teamwork underlies a much more massive endeavor. Now in the planning
stages, the Interdivisional Research Building will be the largest research
facility in the University's history, and at its center will be the
Institute for Biophysical Dynamics, a haven for division-crossing projects.
biology has shifted its central focus to smaller and smaller objects-from
organisms to tissues to cells to proteins and genes-by physical science
standards, these substances are still comparatively large. Physicists
have spent decades perfecting ways to manipulate far smaller molecules
and single atoms.
example, Grier makes optical traps-precisely focused, minute beams of
light that he uses like chopsticks to capture and move particles measured
in nanometers. He has used the traps to measure, among other things,
the elasticity of DNA. Meanwhile, Milan Mrksich borrows techniques from
the semiconductor industry to develop tools that assess cell-surface
proteins and even carbohydrates, such as those on pollen. The protein
and carbohydrate arrays can be used to identify molecules that control
cell migration, which is useful for wound repair-and also responsible
for the spread of cancers.
chemistry and physics to biological problems is not only, as Grier joked,
a "back door to a more lucrative area." Collaboration lets
both divisions move forward at an unprecedented pace, with results likely
to have medical and scientific payoffs. Biologists can go after once
inaccessible, fundamental problems. And physical scientists, accustomed
to dealing with theoretical problems and immutable laws, can study moving
targets-or, as Grier put it, they can "dive into systems that are
highly evolved, evolving, and evolvable."
will such efforts lead? "We simply don't know," warned Eugene
Goldwasser, SB'43, PhD'50, the Alice Hogge & Arthur A. Baer professor
emeritus in biochemisty & molecular biology. He's experienced in
imprecise predictions: soon after World War II he set out to isolate
erythropoietin, the hormone that prompts red-blood cell production.
He thought it would take a few months; it took 25 years. He then collaborated
with someone equally unable to predict the future: a University administrator
who never acted on Goldwasser's request to patent his discovery. Sales
of erythropoietin now exceed $2 billion each year.
services, or laws: how do we improve lives?
floor, exposed duct work, low ceiling-one look told Edward Lawlor and
his colleagues that the basement of the Oriental Institute would be
a fitting place to talk about poverty, crime, and the state of public
a sociologist and dean of the School of Social Service Administration,
and his panel colleagues are scholars but also activists. Their element
is not just the library but also the failing school, the crumbling high-rise,
the overcrowded jail. And although they discussed some of the nation's
most intractable problems, their conversation was tinged with hope.
Mayer, for example, gave a spirited defense of the War on Poverty. Mayer,
the incoming dean of the Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies,
focuses on children and poverty. A self-described "money person,"
she insisted that the War on Poverty did not fail, contrary to what
many people think: "Big efforts directed at big problems produce
child of 1960s idealism, the War on Poverty gave us food stamps, Medicaid,
and other programs for America's poorest. Yet the number of children
living in poverty increased. But if the War on Poverty did not increase
the income of America's poor, Mayer said, in some ways it made their
lives better. Today most poor children have enough to eat and access
to medical care. Just as important, the War on Poverty broadened opportunities.
Poverty is no longer inescapable destiny.
irony is that these successes made future progress more difficult. Today's
poor are increasingly entangled in what Mayer called "multiple
disadvantages": mental-health problems, substance abuse, low skill
levels. Big solutions can no longer yield big results. "It was
easy when poor children's problems were general, requiring things like
more money, more food; much harder when what they need is the adults
in their lives to be willing and able to be good parents and good role
and schools often go hand in hand, and Anthony Bryk, the Marshall Field
IV professor in sociology and director of the Center for School Improvement,
described the center's work in the city's public schools. "Poor
and minority students, even in our most disadvantaged neighborhoods,
can do the work," Bryk made plain. "There's no question."
fail children, not the other way around, he said. In many schools, teachers
"have been there for long periods of time, have tried lots of things,
and they have come to the conclusion that nothing works." But better
teachers are not enough, Bryk noted. Rooted in communities, schools
need broader support. Bad schools often reflect a distrust between teachers
and the community, as well as high crime rates, weak social institutions,
and other blights.
need to create new institutions in these communities," said Bryk.
He and his colleagues are putting their ideas to the test at the North
Kenwood/Oakland Charter School, a public school the University began
five years ago, hoping to improve urban schools by training better teachers
and by linking school and neighborhood in ways that help both to thrive.
approaches to law enforcement in poor neighborhoods, suggested Tracey
Meares, JD'91, a professor in the Law School and director of the Center
for Studies in Criminal Justice, could improve community life-having
police arrest the people who buy drugs, rather than concentrating on
the dealers who sell them, would spread the social cost of enforcement
to wealthier communities rather than concentrate it in the poor communities
where the dealers tend to predominate.
conversation recalled some of Chicago's earliest traditions, when scholars
like education reformer John Dewey combined research with social activism.
But an old rift needs mending, noted Lawlor. A century ago, a divide
grew between Dewey's education reforms and the settlement house movement
of Chicago social reformer Jane Addams. Since then, social services
and public education have taken separate paths. Today, Lawlor said,
social services must be centered in community institutions, like schools,
not dispersed in a hodgepodge of agencies. The divorce between Dewey
and Addams no longer works. "Maybe it makes sense," suggested
Lawlor, "to put them back together."
genes, and stem cells: can we find the path to the greatest good?
quick response to this session's query-at least judging from the panelists'
takes on the topic-is, how can we know until we're allowed to try?
that a snappy rejoinder resolves it. Indeed the discussion raised as
many questions as it answered. Stem-cell research, noted Lainie Ross,
associate professor in pediatrics and the MacLean Center for Clinical
Medical Ethics, is still "at the real embryonic stage-pun intended."
the nonscientists in the audience, she reviewed the basic science involved
in "harvesting" stem cells, which can generate and renew tissue
and are present in every organ, including those in the adult body. "The
source matters," said Ross. Embryonic stem cells can be procured
from the inner cell mass of a "blastocyst," an early-stage
embryo, or from an aborted fetus. Stem cells can also be obtained from
the placenta, and adult stem cells can be procured from many tissues
in the human adult patient. The more mature the organism from which
the stem cells are derived, the less malleable they are and the more
likely to induce an immune response if placed in another person's body.
Nevertheless, adult stem cells are much more "plastic"-and
hold more promise-than scientists once thought, but they're neither
as ubiquitous nor as "pluripotent" as embryonic stem cells,
which can grow into any kind of cell.
those who find it morally repugnant to start a human life only to end
it at blastocyst stage for research, the controversy is a cut-and-dried
issue: federal funding for research with embryos should be banned. The
National Academy of Science disagrees, supporting embryonic stem-cell
research for therapeutic purposes. Leaving his scientist-colleagues
to argue for therapeutic cloning, Robert Richards, PhD'78, professor
in history, philosophy, psychology, and the College, instead questioned
whether reproductive cloning is such a bad thing after all: "Physicians
already intervene and thwart nature," parents already "design"
their babies by choosing mates with good looks and smarts, and "repugnance,"
he said, is an unreliable moral guide. "It's doubtful reproductive
cloning would be undertaken except for fertility reasons," and
after much thought his view is, "Why not?"
not? was the question of the afternoon. As a silver-haired gentleman
in the audience asked, "Why do legislators have to be involved
in scientific research at all?" The answer is economics. Panel
moderator Janet Davison Rowley, PhB'45, SB'46, MD'48, the Blum-Riese
distinguished service professor in medicine, reminded attendees that
no U.S. scientist can now get federal funding to learn how embryonic
stem cells "do what they do." She warned of an impending "brain
drain," as researchers leave the U.S. for countries more open to
their work. And Ross noted the irony in scientists scurrying to private
funding sources: "Doesn't it make more sense to keep controversial
research in the public sphere, where you can maintain higher levels
positive result of the controversy, noted Olufunmilayo Olopade, an associate
professor in medicine who studies the genetics of cancer, is that researchers
no longer assume they'll receive funding. "We have to be honest
with Congress and educate the public. It's not enough to say we need
this funding so we can cure every disease imaginable. We're a long way
from that." Whether they'll be allowed to try is a question still
to be answered.
will technology change the way we work and live?
future was running behind. At 3:55 p.m., people were still choosing
seats to hear a 3:45 talk. By four o'clock authorities and audience
had settled, but no futuristic technology was immediately apparent in
the spartan Pick Hall classroom.
Laumann, the George Herbert Mead distinguished service professor in
sociology, stood to read aloud, without audio or visual support, a handwritten
paragraph about organizational structure and the impact of computer
technology. But as the session got rolling, it was apparent that the
future had already arrived.
are all already "on the grid," pointed out Rick Stevens, professor
in computer science, referring to the Internet. Tall and thin, dressed
in black, and sporting a ponytail and beard, Stevens was a futurist
from central casting, there to explain the anticipated shift from mere
access to the sharing of virtual worlds.
access has unleashed a vast and growing amount of information, he said.
But soon we will see better methods of acquiring and sharing information,
new ways to collaborate on problems, and the eventual consolidation
of services worldwide. One promising application will involve devoting
massive computing power to biological systems, first to understand them
and ultimately to modify them. This could bring a more theoretical approach,
Stevens suggested, letting physicians conceive, design, and test therapies.
networks of interconnected powerful computers will allow "radical
delocalization," he promised, making armchair travel a reality
and "virtualizing" institutions. It won't happen right away.
Progress towards this future is "going to look linear for a long
time," Stevens cautioned. "Then a phase transition occurs."
have already revolutionized the study of language helping linguists
analyze the written and spoken word in new ways, noted John Goldsmith,
the Edward Carson Waller distinguished service professor in linguistics.
And the pace of innovation is quickening. Language was invented about
35,000 years ago, writing around 3,000 B.C., the printing press around
1450 A.D., the telephone in 1876, the word processor in 1979, and the
Internet in 1990.
also are learning to translate from one language to another, a tremendously
difficult activity. They are not very good at it yet, as Goldsmith demonstrated
with his own talking computer, but given a basic grammar and enough
practice and correction, they, like humans, can learn from their mistakes.
does all this mean to the business world? asked Austan Goolsbee, professor
of economics in the Graduate School of Business. The wealth of information
helps consumers discriminate, reducing search costs. Yet it could undercut
wages-even in skilled jobs. Computer technology has advanced from threatening
clerical workers to endangering accountants, who already lose tax-time
work to programs like TurboTax.
three presenters agreed on several aspects of the future. Computers
have already increased the ability of researchers and businesspeople
to communicate and collaborate. And students, with their insatiable
appetites for new technologies, will continue to drive progress, forcing
their mentors to keep up.
do we dig up the past?
dig up the past because we're human," quipped Paul Sereno, professor
in organismal biology & anatomy. "We're curious about where
we came from and where we're going, what's possible, what could have
been, what could be. No other living thing can think about the past.
It's what makes us human."
Sereno digs for bones of dinosaurs that, long before humans came along,
"clamored around" the swamps in what is now the Sahara Desert,
his fellow panelists dig to learn more about our species.
earliest seeds of urban civilization have lured McGuire Gibson, AM'64,
PhD'68, professor in Mesopotamian archaeology, to northeastern Syria
and a dig at Tell Hamoukar. There he studies "the way people stopped
being hunters and gatherers, stopped living in caves, and how civilizations
came about." Among the remains of a mud-brick city wall and a large
two-story building with institutional-sized ovens, he has assembled
evidence challenging the view that urban civilization began circa 3500-3100
B.C. in the Sumerian city-state of Uruk in modern-day southern Iraq
and then spread through the ancient Near East. Instead, he argues, urban
activity was under way in northeastern Syria at about the same time-or
even earlier, between 4000 and 3700 B.C.
the fascinated murmurs elicited by Gibson receded, Michael Dietler asked
the group to put on their critical-thinking caps and consider momentarily
"the good, the bad, and the ugly"-that is, the human-motives
of archaeology. Dietler, associate professor in anthropology, studies
the Celtic speaking peoples of Iron Age Europe, digging at the site
of Lattes, near Montpellier in the Languedoc region of France. "Archaeologists
have too often been the weapons of identity politics," he said,
citing not only the notorious digs of Nazi-financed archaeologists but
also France's own rising nationalism and the zeal to make national heroes
of the native Gauls who fought the colonizing Romans. "I can't
help but wonder," he said, "what layers were thrown aside,
what layers were left undug" to validate a national identity.
the bad and ugly, Dietler said he digs for the good: because "archaeology
is the only antidote to historic myopia." By the early 20th century
"half the surface of the earth's continents were under colonial
dominance." Dietler digs to learn more about colonialism, particularly
precapitalist colonial encounters. In his material studies of early
Roman colonies in France, he has found among the objects, art, and self-representations
made by the Celts "the only means to restore a voice to those who
were written out of history."
for the "where we're going" aspect of digging up the past,
Susan Kidwell, professor in geophysical sciences, hopes to find some
answers. Describing herself as an earth-sciences historiographer, she
studies the "recent" fossil record (10,000-100,000 years ago)
to judge its completeness and its skew, working to understand the resilience
of the biosphere. Changes in climate, tectonic activity, ocean circulation,
and mass extinctions are "huge natural experiments run by nature,"
she explained. "From them we can learn what determines resilience
and what precedes failure." Her recent collaborations with ecologists
and conservation biologists compare the current environment with the
past, in an effort to determine how much present-day change is part
of natural cycles and how much is caused by humans. She doesn't have
firm answers yet-except to say that humans have been altering the environment
for a very long time.
the novelist Russell Hoban, Kidwell summed up the human desire to dig
in this way: "If the past cannot teach the present..., then history
need not have bothered to go on, and the world has wasted a great deal
does it mean to be an artist at a university primarily dedicated to
research? How does art contribute to the life of the mind?
panel moderator Bill Brown, master of the Humanities Collegiate Division
and the George M. Pullman professor in English, the "Chicago caricature"
would suggest that mind and senses are entirely separate. In fact, Brown
pointed out, as early as 1934 John Dewey argued in Art and Experience
that we cannot think of art as distinct from thinking or science as
separate from art.
Allen, associate professor in classical languages & literature and
the Committee on Social Thought, demonstrated perhaps most clearly the
falseness of the Cartesian distinction. A scholar of democracy and political
theory, Allen is also the organizer of "Poem Present," a contemporary
poetry series at the U of C, and a published poet.
the days after 9/11, Allen said, U.S. poet laureate Billy Collins was
asked what poetry could do for the nation-and his answer was "nothing."
"I could not disagree with him more," Allen said, reading
from W. H. Auden's war poem "September 1, 1939."
did Auden's poem circulate so widely after 9/11?" she asked. "It
spoke to our emotions at a time when we needed solace and resolution."
Poetry has another, equally practical purpose, she said: "Poetry
teaches me how to look at politics," because "it puts pressure
on words." After the attacks, Allen, like the rest of the nation,
was "glued to the television," waiting to hear what President
Bush and other world leaders would say. "Words mattered,"
she said. "Based on words, the shape of events would change."
panelists spoke of the equally artificial division between creating
art and studying it. At many conservatories, history and analysis are
considered a waste of time, said Philip Gossett, the Robert W. Reneker
distinguished service professor in music; the attitude is "you
should be practicing." Similarly, many universities have "built
barriers to performance. Professors actually frown on practicing music."
Chicago is different: the music department sponsors student ensembles
from gamelan to Middle Eastern music, as well as two professional groups
in residence. "To write about art," agreed photographer Laura
Letinsky, associate professor in the Committee on Visual Arts, "it's
important to try to make it."
Shulamit Ran, the William H. Colvin professor in music and a Pulitzer
Prize-winning composer, the lure of on-campus performance groups proved
irresistible when she was asked to join the faculty 30 years ago. "A
painter or sculptor can see the work evolving," she said, "while
a composer sees dots on paper." Performance groups can fulfill
"a composer's dream-hearing one's own sounds."
with colleagues in other departments, Ran said, are just as valuable.
Struggling with the writing of her opera, Between Two Worlds (The
Dybbuk), she talked with Michael Fishbane, the Nathan Cummings professor
in the Divinity School and the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, about
a style of ecstatic Hassidic prayer. His insights, she said, provided
"fuel to what was churning inside me. I'm so grateful to be part
of a university community where we have such fruitful conversations."
the realm of the senses: how do we understand what we see, hear,
feel, smell, and taste?
goal, said James Chandler, AM'72, PhD'78, the Barbara E. & Richard
J. Franke professor in English and director of Chicago's Franke Institute
for the Humanities, was to "try to make sense of the senses."
To that end, four scholars tackled sound, smell, touch, and sight. (Taste,
Chandler joked, would have to wait for the post-symposia reception.)
are what we sense, suggested William Wimsatt, professor in philosophy.
Or are we? In the 1974 paper, "What Is It Like to Be a Bat?",
philosopher Thomas Nagel argued that a bat's conscious experience-a
world perceived through echoes of high-frequency sound signals-is so
different from the conscious experience of humans that we can never
fully imagine it. Yet, Wimsatt noted, human technology and instrumentation
"is very productively seen as an extension of our senses,"
allowing us to experience the world in ways that our physiology doesn't-in
ways, for example, that mimic a bat's sense of things.
we culturally biased against certain senses? Take smell. "I want
to champion the causes of odor and communication," said Martha
McClintock, the David Lee Shillinglaw distinguished service professor
in psychology and director of the Institute for Mind and Biology. In
her research on chemosignals and pheromones, McClintock said, she has
tried to show how smell can "influence humans positively."
Most recently her team has demonstrated that women prefer the odor of
males to whom they are genetically similar-but not identical-over those
who are either nearly identical or completely unfamiliar, work that
may help explain how certain genes influence mating choice.
from 21st-century experiments to 19th-century medical history, Alison
Winter, AB'87, associate professor in history, began with a paradox:
although nitrous oxide or "laughing gas" was well known by
the 1790s it wasn't until the mid-1840s that the anesthesia began to
be widely used to blunt the pain of the surgeon's knife. Winter's tale
of mesmerists and medicine argued that anesthesia's adoption "was
not a medical watershed as much as a sea change in sensibility,"
the result of a change in how humans felt about pain, "a different
set of expectations of what the senses could do and what we could do
to the senses."
changing perception of the power of the senses was also the theme limned
by Tom Gunning, professor in art history and the Committee on Cinema
& Media Studies. The infancy of American cinema, he said, coincided
with a "deep-rooted suspicion of the visual senses," a suspicion
that prompted a 1915 Supreme Court censorship ruling to inveigh against
film as "capable of evil," especially where "susceptible
publics"-women, children, and the poor-were concerned. The Supreme
Court's argument, Gunning noted, implied that the new medium was exempt
from the First Amendment because it was more powerful than print
and "the visual might somehow overwhelm the verbal."
story from moving-picture days may seem quaint, but Gunning pointed
to a contemporary moral, arguing that "training the senses, realizing
their unique forms of knowledge," remains an important task in
the 21st century.
we protect civil liberties in wartime?
Adams locked up political rivals under the 1798 Alien and Sedition Act.
Lincoln suspended habeas corpus during the Civil War. Thousands of dissenters
went to jail during World War I. Some 110,000 Japanese Americans spent
World War II in internment camps, and the Cold War spawned McCarthyism,
loyalty oaths, and the ban of the Communist Party.
measures are worth recalling during the current War on Terrorism, said
Geoffrey Stone, the Harry Kalven Jr. distinguished service professor
in the Law School, who brought six colleagues to Breasted Hall for a
conversation about the post-September 11 tension between freedom and
security. His outlook was uneasy.
Justice Brandeis observed, fear breeds repression," warned Stone."[A]n
often exaggerated sense of the danger that we face" can lead to
the "temptation to too quickly sacrifice civil liberties-in particular
the civil liberties of others."
that sober introduction, the discussion took on the lively give-and-take
of a classroom, with Stone quizzing the gathered experts in international
law, foreign policy, human-rights law, Constitutional law, and the First
Amendment like a coach rapping grounders to his infielders.
if the government might try to stifle dissent, Law School professor
Adrian Vermeule responded, "Look at what's happened since September
11." President Bush sprang to the defense of Arab Americans; Congress
exercised "responsible oversight" by forcing the Administration
to place narrow restrictions on the use of military tribunals. The government
increased national security but also protected civil liberties. "There's
every reason to be optimistic," Vermeule said, "about how
the political process has accommodated these questions."
could get worse, cautioned David Strauss, the Harry N. Wyatt professor
in the Law School and a First Amendment expert. "If we began to
feel we were more or less continuously under threat of being attacked
on our own soil by terrorists," he said, "the sense that we
all have to be united and that anyone who is not completely behind what
the government is doing is aiding the enemy" could lead to "repressive"
legislation. Jill Hasday, an assistant professor at the Law School,
worried less about laws than about the "chilling effect" of
of the talk centered on the military tribunals ordered to try those
accused of complicity in the attacks. Why military courts? Law School
professor Jack Goldsmith noted that the civilian legal system allows
a certain "slack" that military courts do not. "We let
defendants go free even though they're guilty, in order to protect the
innocent." In wartime, the cost of letting the guilty go free is
tribunals will also allow prosecutors to submit evidence that the defendant
may not see (although his appointed military lawyer may). The panelists
seemed to agree that at least some secret evidence is okay. "I
wouldn't get all religious myself about that," said Cass Sunstein,
the Karl N. Llewellyn distinguished service professor of jurisprudence
in the Law School. The important Constitutional issue, he said, is whether
the defendant receives overall a "full and fair" trial, with
a vigorous defense and an independent tribunal. With that standard,
secret evidence alone probably is not enough to secure a conviction:
"The prosecution, if they're going to be doing their job, had better
come up with more."
sensitive cases where some evidence against a defendant might be secret,
said Law School professor Mary Anne Case, U.S. judges might take their
European counterparts as an example. In Europe, she noted, a judge doesn't
simply render a verdict but is also an investigator, taking a more active
role in uncovering the truth.
audience was eager, even feisty, and raised pointed questions. One woman
asked about a civilian-court trial involving Global Relief Foundation,
a Chicago-based charity accused of ties to terrorism. Was secret evidence
okay in that trial too? "I would be surprised if that is upheld,"
questioner pressed the panelists about limits on reporting. Since Vietnam,
journalists have increasingly been barred from battlefields, limiting
access to first-hand information. Sunstein said such restrictions might
be bad for democracy, but they do not violate the Constitution. "It's
pretty clear that the deal is, essentially, with only a slight exaggeration,
that the press has no First Amendment right to get its hands on information,"
he said. If the press does get information, "it has a First Amendment
right to publish it. Period."
of the panelists seemed less troubled than their audience by visions
of civil liberties trampled, satisfied that the government, with its
checks and balances, had so far met the demands of national security
without fraying the Constitution. For the moment, freedom was safe.
Strengthen a Community of Scholars and Teachers
first of the Chicago Initiative's four priorities goes to the heart
of the University: $275 million to provide funds to recruit and retain
the world's most exciting teachers and scholars and to provide the faculty
with first-class research tools and resources.
The goal includes 35 endowed professorships and funds for visiting professors,
guest artists, term appointments, and lectureships.
Ensure Access to a Chicago Education
Chicago Initiative has targeted $290 million to help the University
meet its long-standing commitment to a need-blind admissions policy,
one that brings to the University the brightest undergraduate and graduate
students regardless of their financial background.
half of Chicago's undergraduates require financial aid, with an annual
average need-based grant of $14,000 per student-a drain on a University
budget that also must compete for the nation's most talented Ph.D. students,
who typically receive offers that include full tuition, a substantial
stipend, and, increasingly, fringe benefits such as health insurance.
Transcend Barriers in Science and Research
half of the Chicago Initiative's $2 billion goal-or $955 million-is
earmarked for facilities, equipment, and programs in the physical and
natural sciences. Just as Chicago made an indelible mark on the science
of the 20th century-from developing carbon-14 dating to proving that
chromosomal defects can lead to cancer-so the University hopes to lead
the scientific advances of the 21st century.
key element will be the Interdivisional
Research Building (IRB). By bringing together biological
and physical scientists under one roof, in 425,000 square feet of research
space, the IRB will make it easier for Chicago's researchers to break
down the boundaries of traditional scientific disciplines.
main areas of support are sought: $445 million for research support
(including funds for laboratories and scientific equipment), $380 million
for core research-oriented programs in the biological and physical sciences,
and $130 million for facilities, including the IRB and the Comer
Children's Hospital, a new 155-bed facility scheduled to
open in early 2004.
4. Cultivate the Landscape for Learning through the Master Plan
in 1999 the University of Chicago Campus Master Plan outlines crucial
physical-space needs-and sets forth a plan for meeting those needs that
reinforces a University-wide commitment to creating a campus that maximizes
the intersection of people and ideas. $390 million is targeted to help
turn the plans into reality.
the drawing board-and, in two cases, already under construction-are
three major projects:
$125 million, 400,000 square foot Graduate
School of Business campus has been designed by Rafael
Viñoly to encourage discussion, debate, and creative collaboration,
bringing together people now scattered throughout four different
buildings to a location in the center of the main campus.
Gerald Ratner Athletics Center, scheduled to open in
fall 2003, meets increasing demand for intramural, club, and varsity
sports, as well as physical fitness and recreational use. Designed
by Cesar Pelli, the center will include an Olympic-regulation pool,
fitness center, workout rooms, dance classrooms, and a 2,500-seat
gymnasium that will do double duty for special events and sports
and performing arts facilities are in the planning
stages. Building on Chicago's interdisciplinary tradition, the facilities
will emphasize intermedia exchange through new and expanded spaces
for the visual and performance arts.
year-out, the annual gifts of alumni and friends to the University have
enormous impact-in 2001, for example, alumni and friends made annual
gifts totaling more than $13.7 million, providing ongoing support for
student scholarships and graduate fellowships, faculty research and
teaching programs, and research and computer labs.
the institution with the greatest flexibility to support its academic
mission, all gifts to the annual funds of each division, unit, or school
throughout the Chicago Initiative will be included in the Initiative
totals. The goal: $90 million.