The Wrong Side of History

North­eastern Uni­ver­sity Pres­i­dent Joseph E. Aoun urged the Depart­ment of Defense on Sunday to reverse its deci­sion to halt the pro­cessing of Mil­i­tary Tuition Assis­tance pro­gram appli­ca­tions in light of the gov­ern­ment shutdown.

Upon learning of this sit­u­a­tion, North­eastern took imme­diate action to con­tact its more than 100 active duty men and women cur­rently enrolled as stu­dents and assured them that the uni­ver­sity would pro­vide what­ever finan­cial assis­tance was needed to pre­vent a dis­rup­tion in their education.

Aoun, speaking on behalf of those active duty men and women, wrote a letter to Defense Sec­re­tary Chuck Hagel in which he expressed dismay over reports the uni­ver­sity heard late Friday evening from ser­vice mem­bers that some mil­i­tary branches have advised stu­dents not to enroll in classes begin­ning after Oct. 1, or to with­draw from their cur­rent programs.

Our active duty mil­i­tary, Reserve, and National Guard mem­bers who put their lives on the line to pro­tect us deserve far better from their country than to be pre­vented from accessing the higher edu­ca­tion ben­e­fits they were promised,” Aoun wrote. “Surely DoD has existing capacity during the gov­ern­ment shut­down to review, process, and approve on a con­tin­gent basis pending TA appli­ca­tions that meet cur­rent pro­gram guide­lines. This seems all the more likely in light of recent action by Con­gress to pay civilian employees retroactively—a mea­sure Pres­i­dent Obama has pledged to sign into law.”

National ser­vice, Aoun noted, is deeply embedded in Northeastern’s values, pointing to its long­standing sup­port for the Army ROTC program—one of the oldest and largest in New England—and its strong ongoing research col­lab­o­ra­tions with the Defense Depart­ment and the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­rity, among other fed­eral agen­cies. “We believe higher edu­ca­tion has an oblig­a­tion to con­tribute to the secu­rity of our nation, and to sup­port the women and men of the armed forces who serve and pro­tect us,” Aoun wrote.

I respect­fully urge you to instruct the ser­vices to con­tinue pro­cessing TA appli­ca­tions imme­di­ately and to con­sider any alter­nate mech­a­nisms avail­able to you to ensure that no active duty per­sonnel will have their studies dis­rupted,” Aoun added.

Last Monday evening, Con­gress failed to reach an agree­ment on a budget for the 2014 fiscal year, trig­gering the first fed­eral gov­ern­ment shut­down since 1996. How­ever, North­eastern does not expect the shut­down to affect the rest of its stu­dents’ fed­eral finan­cial aid assis­tance. Pell Grants and funds from the Direct Loan pro­gram will be dis­bursed on schedule, and the majority of the U.S. Depart­ment of Education’s cus­tomer ser­vice con­tact cen­ters will remain open during the shutdown.

If the shut­down lasts longer than one week, the fed­eral gov­ern­ment will not make new dis­burse­ments of campus-​​​​based aid programs—including the Work-​​​​Study and Perkins Loan pro­grams as well as the Sup­ple­mental Edu­ca­tional Oppor­tu­nity Grant—but North­eastern will have the finan­cial flex­i­bility to manage the short­fall for the remainder of the fall semester at the least.

Aoun’s action con­tinues his national lead­er­ship in addressing issues crit­ical to higher edu­ca­tion. He recently com­pleted his one-​​year team as board chair of the Amer­ican Council on Edu­ca­tion, and he serves on an aca­d­emic advi­sory council reporting directly to the home­land secu­rity sec­re­tary that exam­ines how uni­ver­si­ties can con­tribute to America’s national secu­rity efforts. He has also coor­di­nated efforts with other col­lege pres­i­dents to sup­port crit­ical research funding in the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­rity budget, to pre­serve fed­eral finan­cial aid funding for stu­dents, and to urge cau­tion on reg­u­la­tion of unpaid intern­ships at the fed­eral level.

- See more at: http://www.northeastern.edu/news/2013/10/military-tuition-assistance/#sthash.OwlJcoPe.dpuf

Among the most common New Year’s res­o­lu­tions is better stress man­age­ment. But that’s easier said than done. We asked Chieh Li , an asso­ciate pro­fessor in the Bouvé Col­lege of Health Sci­ences school psy­chology pro­gram , for a few pointers on how to suc­ceed in stamping out stress. Li has prac­ticed and researched school psy­chology for more than 30 years, but, as she put it, it’s not what she says that makes her an expert on stress management—it’s how she lives her life. She’s been med­i­tating daily for more than two decades and couldn’t care a smidge whether her purse has gone out of style. Why does that matter? Read on to find out.

  1. Take five (minutes that is)

One of the sim­plest things you can do to reduce stress in your life, Li said, is to take five min­utes out of your day to do absolutely nothing. For some this might mean sit­ting cross-​​legged in the Sacred Space chanting “om,” while others might find con­tent­ment in sit­ting qui­etly on the couch lis­tening to music. Have a hard time sit­ting still? No problem, any repet­i­tive activity—jogging, for example, or swimming—works, too. Just make sure to let your­self “zone out” for a few min­utes each day. “There’s a nat­ural healing mech­a­nism in the body,” Li said, “but modern life is so busy, we don’t give it a chance to do its healing.”

  1. Make a budget…for your time

This is a big one for stu­dents, Li said. Often the most stressful times of the year—midterms and finals, for instance—seem to creep up out of nowhere. But if you take a look at your syl­labi and sched­ules at the begin­ning of the semester rather than the end, you can start to budget your time right from the get-​​go. Pro­fes­sors can help with this, both for their stu­dents’ sake and their own, Li said: Spacing out assign­ments and exams not only gives stu­dents an advan­tage but also helps manage the work­load of those grading all that mate­rial. Doing this can also have a pos­i­tive impact on your health, Li said, since sleep and stress are directly linked to an impaired immune system. Ever wonder why you get the flu as soon as exams roll around? Talk about stress.

  1. …and one for the money, too

It’s no secret that finan­cial wor­ries are a major source of stress for the vast majority of humans with a heart­beat. But just as with time man­age­ment, a little plan­ning can go a long way. Sub­tract your expenses from your income and the remainder is the money you have to play with. Haven’t much left over? That’s okay. Having fun doesn’t have to cost a lot. And nei­ther does giving. One of the most mean­ingful gifts Li ever received came from a young stu­dent who didn’t have enough money to buy her a card. Instead he wrapped a col­orful, hand-​​written note saying “thank you” into a tiny package for Li to open and enjoy. Years later she still remem­bers it.

For more tips on money man­age­ment, see our Take 5 on finan­cial fit­ness from ear­lier this week.

  1. Be flexible

That hand­made note­card taught Li an impor­tant lesson: We have to be flex­ible in the way we view the world and what we expect from it, our­selves, and those around us. The pur­pose of giving a gift or a card isn’t to spend a lot of money, but rather to express our grat­i­tude, care, and love for another. It’s easy to get trapped in the images that tele­vi­sion and the media tell us are ideal, but there are mul­tiple ways of doing things, Li said. Being flex­ible allows us to see the heart of a matter and find those other oppor­tu­ni­ties. The same goes for many of the stressful rela­tion­ships we encounter on a daily basis. Col­lab­o­rating with a team member who sees things dif­fer­ently from you? Try to see things from his or her per­spec­tive and you’re likely to find the common pur­pose that unites you.

  1. Quit comparing

Although often neglected, Li said, this is per­haps the most impor­tant thing you can do to min­i­mize stress: stop com­paring your­self to everyone around you. Between all the new mobile devices, runway-​​worthy fashion trends, and even our own bodies, we are con­stantly com­paring what we have with what we want. The person next to you on the tread­mill is run­ning at a faster pace, your room­mate just landed a co-​​op at a For­tune 500 com­pany, and your best friend somehow received the newest iPhone before it was even released. But keeping up with the Joneses is only stressful if you care about the Joneses. “Often people neglect what they have, they’re so eager to get what they don’t have, and then live in dis­sat­is­fac­tion,” Li explained. Start paying atten­tion to what you do have—a healthy heart, a job at a fun-​​loving startup, and a best friend—and you can start to free your­self from the stress of striving, Li said. 

- See more at: http://www.northeastern.edu/news/2014/01/stress#sthash.8ogKR1uo.dpuf

Among the most common New Year’s res­o­lu­tions is better stress man­age­ment. But that’s easier said than done. We asked Chieh Li , an asso­ciate pro­fessor in the Bouvé Col­lege of Health Sci­ences school psy­chology pro­gram , for a few pointers on how to suc­ceed in stamping out stress. Li has prac­ticed and researched school psy­chology for more than 30 years, but, as she put it, it’s not what she says that makes her an expert on stress management—it’s how she lives her life. She’s been med­i­tating daily for more than two decades and couldn’t care a smidge whether her purse has gone out of style. Why does that matter? Read on to find out.

  1. Take five (minutes that is)

One of the sim­plest things you can do to reduce stress in your life, Li said, is to take five min­utes out of your day to do absolutely nothing. For some this might mean sit­ting cross-​​legged in the Sacred Space chanting “om,” while others might find con­tent­ment in sit­ting qui­etly on the couch lis­tening to music. Have a hard time sit­ting still? No problem, any repet­i­tive activity—jogging, for example, or swimming—works, too. Just make sure to let your­self “zone out” for a few min­utes each day. “There’s a nat­ural healing mech­a­nism in the body,” Li said, “but modern life is so busy, we don’t give it a chance to do its healing.”

  1. Make a budget…for your time

This is a big one for stu­dents, Li said. Often the most stressful times of the year—midterms and finals, for instance—seem to creep up out of nowhere. But if you take a look at your syl­labi and sched­ules at the begin­ning of the semester rather than the end, you can start to budget your time right from the get-​​go. Pro­fes­sors can help with this, both for their stu­dents’ sake and their own, Li said: Spacing out assign­ments and exams not only gives stu­dents an advan­tage but also helps manage the work­load of those grading all that mate­rial. Doing this can also have a pos­i­tive impact on your health, Li said, since sleep and stress are directly linked to an impaired immune system. Ever wonder why you get the flu as soon as exams roll around? Talk about stress.

  1. …and one for the money, too

It’s no secret that finan­cial wor­ries are a major source of stress for the vast majority of humans with a heart­beat. But just as with time man­age­ment, a little plan­ning can go a long way. Sub­tract your expenses from your income and the remainder is the money you have to play with. Haven’t much left over? That’s okay. Having fun doesn’t have to cost a lot. And nei­ther does giving. One of the most mean­ingful gifts Li ever received came from a young stu­dent who didn’t have enough money to buy her a card. Instead he wrapped a col­orful, hand-​​written note saying “thank you” into a tiny package for Li to open and enjoy. Years later she still remem­bers it.

For more tips on money man­age­ment, see our Take 5 on finan­cial fit­ness from ear­lier this week.

  1. Be flexible

That hand­made note­card taught Li an impor­tant lesson: We have to be flex­ible in the way we view the world and what we expect from it, our­selves, and those around us. The pur­pose of giving a gift or a card isn’t to spend a lot of money, but rather to express our grat­i­tude, care, and love for another. It’s easy to get trapped in the images that tele­vi­sion and the media tell us are ideal, but there are mul­tiple ways of doing things, Li said. Being flex­ible allows us to see the heart of a matter and find those other oppor­tu­ni­ties. The same goes for many of the stressful rela­tion­ships we encounter on a daily basis. Col­lab­o­rating with a team member who sees things dif­fer­ently from you? Try to see things from his or her per­spec­tive and you’re likely to find the common pur­pose that unites you.

  1. Quit comparing

Although often neglected, Li said, this is per­haps the most impor­tant thing you can do to min­i­mize stress: stop com­paring your­self to everyone around you. Between all the new mobile devices, runway-​​worthy fashion trends, and even our own bodies, we are con­stantly com­paring what we have with what we want. The person next to you on the tread­mill is run­ning at a faster pace, your room­mate just landed a co-​​op at a For­tune 500 com­pany, and your best friend somehow received the newest iPhone before it was even released. But keeping up with the Joneses is only stressful if you care about the Joneses. “Often people neglect what they have, they’re so eager to get what they don’t have, and then live in dis­sat­is­fac­tion,” Li explained. Start paying atten­tion to what you do have—a healthy heart, a job at a fun-​​loving startup, and a best friend—and you can start to free your­self from the stress of striving, Li said. 

- See more at: http://www.northeastern.edu/news/2014/01/stress#sthash.8ogKR1uo.dpuf

March 4, 2014

By Mary Thompson-Jones Mary Thompson-Jones

If there is one sentence that rings true in all the coverage of Ukraine, it is President Obama’s statement that Russia’s President Putin is on the wrong side of history. The ostensible reason for the Russian invasion – there can be no other term – is to rescue ethnic Russians who have lived in Ukraine for generations.

This is the tragedy of Europe. Hitler invaded Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia for precisely the same reason. He exploited the fact that ethnic Germans were a minority in a Slavic country.

Putin should know that no good can come of following a path that Europe has walked over and over. Focusing on ethnic and linguistic divisions is the ultimate old-think. The former Czechoslovakia broke up in 1992-93 because its inhabitants succumbed to the temptation to look inward rather than outward. While Czechs, led by Vaclav Havel, wanted to wrap themselves around every Western institution as fast as possible, Slovaks weren’t so sure. Under Vladimir Meciar they steered eastward, but within a decade they had made a course correction. Slovaks soon saw that they could define themselves not only as Slovaks, but as Europeans, and today the world celebrates the legacy of Havel rather than Meciar. By 2004 Slovaks were members of NATO and the European Union, and by 2009 they had adopted the Euro as their currency, having comfortably asserted their separateness from their Czech cousins while affirming their place in Europe.

Europe is a map sprinkled with pockets of ethnic peoples. In Spain alone there are Basques, Catalans, and Galicians. Belgium is an uneasy alliance of Flems and Walloons. The Sami people migrate across the northern reaches of Scandinavia while the Roma wander through a Central Europe that is also home to forgotten tribes of Moravians, Ruthenians, and Pomeranians, not to mention large numbers of immigrant populations – Turks in Germany, North Africans in France.

The nightmare of ethnic cleaning in Bosnia should have answered for all time the idea that it is wise or possible to live in ethnically pure states. By giving primacy to ethnicity above all, Putin displays archaic credentials. The triumph of Europe is that, ever so slowly, unity has overcome ethnicity. Europeans have learned the bitter lesson that what they hold in common is more important than they ways in which they are different.

For all its flaws and bureaucratic red tape, the EU has slowly moved forward with its concept of a Europe larger and stronger than its component states. NATO, too, has played a role, by providing the security to allow member states to concentrate on perfecting an economic union.

Ideally, the inhabitants of Ukraine should be given the chance to sort out their best option without external interference. It is indeed possible that for a time, some ethnic Russians hungry for nostalgia might want to be part of Russia. But it is hard to imagine that subsequent generations, when comparing the overwhelming stability, good governance, educational and economic opportunities, would not conclude they have far more to gain in a European future than a Russian past.  

They may ultimately discover one of the best reasons for being European: that it is possible to cherish ethnicity while preventing it from defining their politics. One would think the world offers ample examples to show Putin that, without a doubt, he is indeed on the wrong side of history.

Mary Thompson-Jones is the Faculty Director of Northeastern University College of Professional Studies Master's in Global Studies and International Affairs program

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