College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in the news

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Archaeologists excavate site of demolished Civil War-era log cabin in Detroit

The City of Detroit demolished an abandoned house that the Hamtramck Historical Commission wanted to save. As a concession, the city gave a team of archeologists one day to excavate the site and learn as much as they could. Wayne State associate professor of anthropology Krysta Ryzewski led the dig. "We're hoping today to find a couple of different sources of information. We're hoping to find artifacts that date to the period when the log cabin would've been occupied," Ryzewski said. 

5 big lessons from Slovakia’s presidential elections

Kevin Deegan-Krause, associate professor of political science at Wayne State University, co-wrote an op-ed about Slovakia’s presidential elections. On March 16, Slovakia held the first round of voting for its largely ceremonial Slovak presidency, with 13 candidates competing for the slot. Even though the country’s real executive power lies with a prime minister, the presidential election reveals the mood and changing politics of Slovakia. Two candidates are left standing: an anti-corruption crusader and a candidate promoted by the ruling party, Smer. The pair will face-off in the March 30 second round.
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Are controversial programs in Detroit actually reducing crime?

Detroit’s Project Green Light now has 500 businesses signed up around the city. Mayor Mike Duggan, Police Chief James Craig and other officials say there’s no question the program is helping businesses keep crime away. But is that backed up by data? A new study from researchers at Wayne State University’s Department of Criminal Justice shows blight demolition in Detroit neighborhoods has reduced crime. Charles Klahm and Matthew Larson are the Wayne State researchers who conducted the study. They discussed their findings on Detroit Today.
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Jewish, Muslim migration explored in lecture series

Years and generations separated Jewish and Muslim migrations to the United States in the last century. Now, a Metro Detroit lecture series starting Wednesday explores how both groups faced similar, sometimes hostile, views of foreigners that affected their acclimation. “When reflecting on it, there are some real parallels between the debate over Muslim immigration now and the debate over Jewish immigration maybe 80-90 years ago,” said Howard Lupovitch, an associate history professor at Wayne State University. “There are a lot of similarities and in the way those communities transplanted themselves.” He and his academic colleague at the school, Saeed Khan, are exploring those common characteristics during a three-part series this month.
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Study shows what happens after blight is removed from Detroit neighborhoods

Violent crime and property crime drop in areas where blighted homes are razed in Detroit — and the more vacant, dilapidated houses that come down in an area, the greater the crime reduction. That's according to a study done by two Wayne State University criminologists who examined nearly 9,400 home demolitions throughout the city over a five-year period. The study, published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Criminal Justice, provides the first data-driven examination of the connection between the city's massive demolition program and its impact on crime. Matthew Larson and Charles Klahm IV, associate professors in Wayne State's Department of Criminal Justice, reviewed 9,398 demolitions completed by the city from 2010 to 2014, then looked at violent and property crime statistics from 2009 to 2014 in the same locations down to the "block-group" level, a U.S. Census Bureau designation equating to a group of five to 12 city blocks, usually contiguous, that contain between 600 and 3,000 people.
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Why Is the Genie in ‘Aladdin’ Blue?

The story of Aladdin is one of the most well-known works in One Thousand and One Nights (Alf Layla wa Layla) or Arabian Nights, the famous collection of folk stories compiled over hundreds of years, largely pulled from Middle Eastern and Indian literary traditions. Genies, or Jinn, make appearances throughout the stories in different forms. A rich tradition in Middle Eastern and Islamic lore, Jinn appear in the Qur’an, where they are described as the Jánn, “created of a smokeless fire,” but they can even be found in stories that date back before the time of Muhammad in the 7th century. The pop culture genie of Nights we recognize today, however, was shaped by European illustrators, beginning with the frontpieces done for 18th-century translator Antoine Galland’s Les Mille et Une Nuits. At the time, French writers often used what was then referred to as the Orient—a term indiscriminately used to refer to North Africa, the Middle East, and the Far East more generally—to allude to its own society and monarchy, explains Anne E. Duggan, professor of French at Wayne State University, who’s studied the visual evolution of the genie. “
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Asian-American community sees signs of resurgence in Detroit

“People moved to other neighborhoods and the suburbs to escape the increased crime in the area,” said Krysta Ryzewski, an associate professor of anthropology at Wayne State University. Chinese Detroiters lived all over downtown but their cultural base was the On Leong Association building at 162 Randolph. In 1917, the association bought surrounding land for stores and apartments, unintentionally creating the city's first Chinatown at Third and Porter. The intersection no longer exists, Ryzewski said. There, Chinese Americans came together from 1920 to the 1950s, creating a vibrant community when the Detroit Housing Commission condemned the neighborhood as part of their "slum clearance" program to make room for the Lodge freeway. Local merchants hoped to relocate Chinatown to the nearby planned International Village, an initiative by the city in the 1960s featuring different ethnic restaurants, shops and a destination for tourists and convention-goers. "The city actively recruited different ethnic groups to move into that area, but only the Chinese-Americans wound up gravitating there, mainly because their downtown neighborhood was destroyed around that time," Ryzewski said. "The plans for International Village fell through in the late 1960s around the time of the riots." Ryzewski created a video during her research of Detroit's Chinatown in 2016. It serves as a time capsule of the recent past. 
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Why is suicide on the rise in the United States, but falling in most of Europe?

Professor of Criminal Justice Steven Stack wrote an article for The Conversation on the rising number of suicides in the U.S., which now ranks among the top 10 leading causes of death. Stack wrote: “There is evidence that rising suicide rates are associated with a weakening of the social norms regarding mutual aid and support. In one study on suicide in the U.S., the rising rates were closely linked with reductions in social welfare spending between 1960 and 1995. Social welfare expenditures include Medicaid, a medical assistance program for low income persons; Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, which replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children; the Supplemental Security Income program for the blind, disabled and elderly; children’s services including adoption, foster care and day care; shelters; and funding of public hospitals for medical assistance other than Medicaid.”
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When the suffrage movement sold out to white supremacy

As the historian Liette Gidlow, associate professor at Wayne State University shows in her revelatory study of the period, the files of the Justice Department, the N.A.A.C.P. and African-American newspapers were soon bursting with letters, investigations and affidavits documenting the disenfranchisement of black women, especially in but not limited to former Confederate states. In Virginia, Gidlow writes, a college-educated mother of four named Susie W. Fountain was required to take “a “literacy test” that consisted of a blank sheet of paper; the registrar subsequently determined that she had failed. She later told an N.A.A.C.P. investigator she was “too humiliated and angry to try again.” A Birmingham, Ala., teacher, Indiana Little, was arrested and sexually assaulted after leading a large crowd to the registrar’s office. As Little said in a sworn affidavit, she was “beat over the head unmercifully and … forced upon the officer’s demand to yield to him in an unbecoming manner.”
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What a 16th-century mystic can teach us about making good decisions

Annmarie Cano, professor of psychology and associate provost for faculty development and faculty success, wrote an article for The Conversation about decision-making and employing the strategies used by St. Ignatius of Loyola. Ignatius advises three steps in the process of decision-making: Rely on reason and feelings, imaginative reflection and seek confirmation. Cano wrote: “In today’s hurried world, a 16th-century Catholic mystics’ advice may seem quaint or his process tedious. However, many modern psychological approaches confirm the value of such reflective practices.”

Netflix you: Why has there been a backlash against beck?

Wayne State University’s Harold Geistman argues the popularity of shows like You and the appeal of stalker characters like Joe has its roots in decades of Hollywood movies. “There is a long history of ‘romantic’ films in which the ‘hero’ wins the girl through dogged determination,” the criminal justice lecturer told Newsweek. Movies like The Graduate show women “giving in” to men who pursue them with behaviors that would be legally recognized as stalking, he added. It’s a common romcom trope seen in hit movies like Say Anything and There’s Something About Mary: a man worms his way into “every aspect” of a woman’s life until she gives in to his advances, Geistman explained. 
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Trump calls border a ‘crisis of the soul’: 3 scholars react to his Oval Office address

President Donald Trump’s address to the nation on Wednesday night from the Oval Office announced no new initiatives either to end the government shutdown or to build the wall that’s caused the shutdown. Sylvia Taschka, senior lecturer of history, wrote a piece reacting to President Donald Trump’s address. “American presidents have traditionally made Oval Office speeches only under the gravest circumstances, such as during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis or after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. So when Trump said he would address border security in a nationally televised speech, critics who see authoritarian tendencies in this president understandably got worried. They feared he would declare a national emergency, abusing his executive powers to build a wall along the Southern border. Instead, viewers got a rather measured – if somewhat hastily and awkwardly delivered – speech by a softer version of a president better known for provocative, vicious rhetoric and obsessive daily tweets. Trump sat behind the Oval Office’s iconic, heavy wooden desk, framed by his beloved golden curtains, American flags and photos of his parents.”
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Mysterious tale of man accused of spying in Russia

Paul Whelan, an executive with the auto parts manufacturer BorgWarner in Auburn Hills, was picked up by Russian authorities on Dec. 28 on suspicion of spying. “Russia has arrested some people for coming in on a wrong visa or not registering. But this, the Russian media reports, was a spy sting," he said. "So something must have happened. Who knows? They’ve done this a couple of times with some U.S. diplomats and some British diplomats, but they were all eventually deported and not arrested.”
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How to handle the return of a long-lost family member during the holidays

Humans are social animals who crave connection with others. It’s a drive that seems hard-wired into our systems so that when we experience rejection or estrangement from others, the experience can feel much like physical pain.The desire to avoid these painful feelings may be why many people go out of their way to reconnect with wayward family members during the holidays, even if this reconnection risks discomfort, hurt feelings or disappointment. This does not mean that we should avoid welcoming home family members but suggests it does mean that a dose of realistic expectations, with some proven techniques, can make for more peaceful holiday visits with estranged family members.
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Why do so many people fall for financial scams?

In hindsight, David carter sees the deal differently. The 63-year-old has a Master’s degree in technology. A successful career meant he found a six-figure salary offer perfectly plausible. He knew from reading newspapers that tech stocks were up and the job market was hot. So when an email offered him a job with a Swiss firm at a $100,000 salary, he took it. Carter never saw a penny. Instead he owes $80,000, which he is paying off from his retirement savings. The job was too good to be true. All he had to do was use his credit card to buy iPhones and iPads. He started in June, buying them at Best Buy and Walmart and sending them from his home in Maryland to an address in California. The company paid his credit-card bill—for a few weeks. In July those payments were voided. His bank said the debts were his. The company’s website vanished. The people he had spoken to stopped answering the phone. Peter Lichtenberg, a psychologist at Wayne State University who was one of the first to examine psychological vulnerability to fraud, argues that prevention and treatment should take their cue from medicine. He points to a technique called “motivational interviewing”, which involves asking questions designed to help people come up with their own solutions and which has been shown to help get alcoholics into treatment. Questions could be crafted to open fraud victims’ eyes to what is going on, for example by asking them to explain what is happening in their own words, and then to discuss any similarities with articles they have seen in the press.
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Want more easy protein? Go eat a bug

In 2013, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations issued a lengthy report, "Edible insects: Future prospects for food and feed security." In the foreword, the authors say: “It is widely accepted that by 2050 the world will host 9 billion people." In 2018, the total is 7.6 billion. "To accommodate this number, current food production will need to almost double." The report details how edible insects may be a solution. "Being able to use our resources more efficiently is going to be key to making sure there is food available for everyone," says Julie Lesnik, Ph.D., an assistant professor of anthropology at Wayne State University, whose research focuses on the evolution of the human diet, especially eating insects. She organized a conference for professionals, Eating Insects Detroit, in 2016. "Any way to reduce our reliance on livestock is a key part of that," she says. "We don't have nearly the insect biomass here, in the continental U.S., as in the tropics," Lesnik says. "In Europe, insects are not a very widespread food. Meat is a big part of the traditional ancestral European diet."
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These three women are changing the way we think about education

There are currently over 13 million children in the United States at risk of going hungry, an issue that not only leads to sickness and decreased attention spans, but can set back whole classrooms, leading to community­wide deficits in test scores and more. Suzanne Baker, an anthropology professor at Wayne State University, has been able to make a substantial impact on their lives. Baker is one of 10 unpaid volunteers who run Blessings in a Backpack­-Livonia, an organization that buys and packs weekly grocery bags full of easy-­to-­make meals such as cereal, canned veggies and peanut butter to tide kids over for the weekend. “When I was younger, I wanted to change the world,” Baker said. “We do a lot of volunteerism in our family. But this was the first [time] where I thought, ‘I’m not just going to volunteer. I have the capacity, and there’s a need here...I gotta do this.’” By sending qualifying students home with accessible food to tide them over, Baker and her fellow volunteers are helping set up a whole generation of kids in her community to succeed against the odds.
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Demographic shift of political parties apparent in Michigan midterms

With the midterm election in the rearview, significant shifts among certain groups of Michigan voters appear to show a political realignment in the works. Wayne State University associate professor Jeffrey Grynaviski said. "What's interesting about suburban voters to me in Michigan is that it's really purple," he said. "I think a lot of the changes in the suburban electorate, the voting patterns we're seeing, is attributable to the changes in voters in the suburbs." Grynaviski said there's been a major shift towards the Republican party among non-union residents without college degrees who have successful careers in small business or trades. 
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What the first Thanksgiving dinner actually looked like

Julie Lesnik, assistant professor of anthropology, wrote an article about the menu of the first Thanksgiving held nearly 400 years ago in Massachusetts. Lesnik points out that there is only one original account of the feast chronicled in a letter written by Edward Winslow on Dec. 11, 1621. In it he described the first Thanksgiving event held by the pilgrims. Winslow describes how the Puritans celebrated by feasting on waterfowl, eating goose and duck rather than turkey. The letter also recounts that the Wampanoag leader Massasoit Ousamequin was present, along with “some ninety men,” and that they gifted deer to Governor William Bradford.