CCNY Student is 2017 Truman Scholar

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CCNY Junior Claire Lynch is Selected for Prestigious Public Service Scholarship 

At a surprise meeting outside his office, President Vincent Boudreau had the pleasure of telling City College junior Claire Lynch that she is the recipient of a 2017 Truman Scholarship for Public Service. “Congratulations, Claire, you are a Truman Scholar. This is a huge deal.”

Boudreau told Lynch, who is a double major in political science and Jewish Studies, “This is life-changing. We’ve had Truman Scholars here at City College and we speak to them five, ten, fifteen years down the line, and they tell us it changed everything.”

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Q-and-A: Colin Powell on Vietnam service, Iraq and Afghanistan, and Black History Month

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Colin Powell didn’t sign up with four stars in mind. The New York City native and son of Jamaican immigrants had a much simpler objective.
“I came in the Army to be a good soldier. And what I've tried to do every day of my 35-plus years in services is to be a good soldier every day, and let the Army decide how far they wanted me to go.”
As it turned out, the Army wanted him to go very far. And Presidents George H.W. and George W. Bush needed him to serve further still. Today, at 80 years old and “retired,” Powell is still finding ways to serve.

The first (and so far only) African-American to serve on the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the first African-American to serve as secretary of state, recently shared insights from his incredible career as part of Military Times' Black Military History Month.

Sipping on the Indian Haterade: Hindu American Whiteness and Support for Trump

trump-indian-american-afp_650x400_51476604221 Unlike other communities of color in the United States, it has not been so easy for South Asian Americans to organize and act as one.  The very complexity of South Asia and the myriad of internal politics make mobilization a difficult issue.   Even during my time in Atlanta conducting ethnographic research on the South Asian American sporting community, organizations like South Asians for Unity struggled to collectively engage the heterogeneous ethnic, class, and religious South Asian American community in Atlanta.  Sikh American elders and I (a Christian Tamil) shared a sentiment of feeling minimally included in the discussions about peace on the subcontinent.

Thus, even the coming together as South Asian Americans during these precarious times is difficult.  Similarly, in her work on Asian Americans, Linda Vo, in Mobilizing Asian America (Temple University Press, 2004), illuminates the struggle with organizing the multiple nationalities, ethnicities, languages, and histories of migration into one political voice.  Taking Vo’s important work and extending it to understand South Asian American life in the U.S. proves informative and allows us to make sense of contemporary events, such as the Hindu support of Donald Trump.  While South Asian America is not singular nor uniform nor tied politically to a single bloc, I argue here that the small segments who support Trump, particularly Hindu fundamentalists and nationalists, seek wages from that relationship that will not secure rights for the rest of South Asian America, especially Muslim Americans.

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Public Policies for Humans by Professor Matthew G. Nagler

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This past summer I served as an Academic Affiliate of the Social and Behavioral Sciences Team (SBST). A cross-agency group of applied behavioral scientists authorized to advise Federal agencies by an Executive Order of President Obama, SBST applies findings from the social and behavioral sciences to improve Federal policies and programs. For me – an economist whose research incorporates psychological research findings into models of economic behavior – this gig offered an opportunity to see directly how my research interests could be put to real-world use. SBST’s job is an important one. Many Federal programs face serious challenges when it comes to the way in which real-live people interact with them. Websites often present constituents with information about Federal programs that is daunting to read and sort through. Intended beneficiaries often fail to find out about key Federal programs, causing the money allocated to help them to go unutilized or to go to people whose need is not as great. Perhaps you can recall a time when someone told you about a Federal program you should consider taking advantage of, but you didn’t because you feared having to navigate the various web pages, publications, and forms. SBST’s task is to provide Federal agencies the help they need to make government work better for real humans, so that we humans can benefit more – and more easily – from what government does.

The key to SBST’s strategy is to leverage what we know about human behavior. People are not perfect, rational information-processing machines. Our attention is limited. We respond differently when the same information content is displayed or framed in different ways. The accumulated understanding of social and behavioral scientists provides pathways for making policy tools and government communications more effective. SBST’s standard approach is to propose behaviorally-informed interventions, test them, and then implement the most successful interventions. (These interventions are what have sometimes been popularly referred to as “nudges.”)

One prominent example of an SBST intervention arose from the recognition that only 44% of military service members were enrolled in the Federal retirement plan, TSP, as compared to 87% of civilian Federal employees. The trouble was service members changed bases frequently and so never had the wherewithal to focus on TSP enrollment. To boost participation, the Department of Defense and SBST tested having service members make an active “yes” or “no” choice to enroll upon their arrival at a new base. The behavioral research suggests that “forcing an issue” can make it salient, inducing individuals to take actions they intended to but did not focus on. The test led to an increase in TSP enrollments of 8.3 percentage points. DOD has not yet implemented this intervention everywhere, but SBST estimates that when they do the benefits to service members could be quite substantial.

During the summer I worked on designing exploratory interventions relating to healthcare, secondary education programs for homeless students, and transportation safety. These projects paired me with agency partners at the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Education, and the Department of Transportation. I found I needed to take account of not only the limitations of the real humans who were trying to navigate Federal programs, but also those imposed by the realities of the Federal bureaucracy. The work was not easy. Sometimes Federal agencies were resistant to doing things in new ways. Often the data I needed in order to figure out the best way forward was simply not available. And the summer was short: there was not enough time for me to champion an intervention from start to finish. But I did get the chance to get the ball rolling on several initiatives, and I contributed directly on many more.

Two proud moments for me were SBST’s planning retreat in mid-August and the release of our 2016 Annual Report in mid-September. At the first event, I got to work with my team colleagues on SBST’s plans for the future – what we thought we could best accomplish and how we might go about it. At the second event, I got to reflect on my team’s significant achievements during the past year. Both gave me a chance to get the “big picture” with respect to what I was doing and to appreciate that I was a part of something meaningful. When I talk to my students about my experience in Washington this summer, what I will try to convey to them is what I saw firsthand: that by working earnestly and applying one’s capabilities toward a worthy goal, a person can truly make a difference.

[1] The opinions expressed in this article are my own, offered in my personal academic capacity, and are not the views of the Social and Behavioral Sciences Team.

Colin Powell School to Revitalize NGO Initiative

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Photo caption: Fnu Duojizhand, Anasimon Takla, Juan Pablo Celis and Anne Joost In 2013 the City College of New York (CCNY) became one of a handful of colleges in New York to be associated with the United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI) as a nongovernmental organization (NGO). This year, the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership and its interdisciplinary International Studies Program are revitalizing the NGO initiative.

Since 2013, CCNY NGO has worked on becoming an active member of international civil society and on promoting the participation of its academic community in United Nations activities. CCNY NGO complements other campus initiatives such as Diplomat-in-Residence, CCNY membership in the UN Academic Impact, and the Model United Nations (MUN), all of which are dedicated to educating future leaders in global affairs.

CCNY NGO status opens multiple opportunities for students: from attending regularly scheduled DPI-NGO briefings to participating in the UN Youth Representatives program. Selected CCNY students take part in youth panels, attend NGO conferences, speak at special events, and cooperate with UN volunteers. The school’s Dean, Dr. Vincent Boudreau, acts as the organization’s Faculty Advisor and Johanna Ureña, acts as the Designated Representative.

CCNY NGO nominates two youth representatives and one regular delegate to the UN. They are issued UN Grounds Passes allowing them access to meetings and conferences including General Assembly and Security Council sessions. Students involved with CCNY NGO represent the highest standard of intellectual inquiry and embody CCNY values of hard work, perseverance, and competence. Currently, Anasimon Takla, Anne Joost and Fnu Duojizhandou serve as CCNY NGO Youth Representatives. Juan Pablo Celis serves as advisor to the CCNY NGO.

The CCNY NGO is recruiting for all three positions. Combined with an independent study or an internship, they can turn into college credits and valuable experience in multilateral diplomacy. For more information, application process, and job description, please visit CCNY&theUN.

According to Professor Rafal Szczurowski, at the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership who leads the CCNY NGO, the program offers an excellent opportunity for all students, regardless of their major. CCNY NGO is uniquely positioned to promote global citizenship, which is one of the top priorities of the UN Secretary-General’s Global Initiative on Education as well as a key theme of the Colin Powell School, said Mr. Szczurowski.

For more information and media inquiries, please contact: Dee Dee Mozeleski at dmozeleski@ccny.cuny.edu