3 years ago

American Magazine: August 2014


syllabus INTERNATIONAL SERVICE 419 Conflict Cuisine The best way to win hearts and minds might be through the stomach. Last semester, 19 School of International Service students whet their intellectual appetites with a first-of-its-kind course on gastrodiplomacy: the use of food to foster cultural understanding. The undergrads munched their way across D.C. to learn how conflicts in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, and El Salvador influenced local cuisine and the diaspora who prepare it. “Sitting around the table with the chef . . . who can explain the history of a cuisine or a specific regional dish is an invaluable way to understand the course of a nation’s history,” says scholar in residence Johanna Mendelson-Forman. SIS students aren’t the only ones taking a bite out of gastrodiplomacy. In 2012, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton organized a corps of 80 chef ambassadors who travel abroad on public diplomacy missions. Next course HEALTH AND FITNESS 535 Global Nutrition On students’ plates: a survey of the nutrition-related aspects of infectious and chronic diseases in developing countries. MANAGEMENT 596 The Business of Water Kogod students are lapping up this class about the $450 billion water industry. Topics include regulation and sustainability. 14 AMERICAN MAGAZINE AUGUST 2014

wonk Q. Why is it important that humankind continue space exploration? A. We don’t exist on the surface of the Earth anymore. We exist from the surface of the Earth about 25,000 miles out in geosynchronous orbit. We keep our weather satellites and our communication, global positioning, and navigation systems in space. It’s as much a part of our existence as going to Chicago, only with Chicago you travel across the globe, and with space you go up. Space exploration is important for commercial reasons, for scientific reasons, for national security, and for national prestige. We’d also like to diversify humanity onto more than one orb. The big move for NASA right now is public-private partnerships. NASA has tried since 1972 to reduce the cost of space access and they haven’t yet been successful. The new technique is to farm it out to entrepreneurs like Elon Musk and Richard Branson. SpaceX has already successfully docked cargo carriers with the International Space Station. Out of that hopefully will come technological breakthroughs that conquer the money barrier in space. It costs about $10,000 to launch a pound of material into space—we need to be able to move large structures into space less expensively. The prestige of the space program is still terribly important in the geopolitical forum. A great nation, a great economy, it is thought, has to be a space-faring nation. You can see this in China, Russia, and other nations that are coming up like Brazil and Thailand. One of the amazing things about the Air Malaysia loss is that it caused a lot of nations that you didn’t think had space assets to reveal them. It’s a club, and if you’re going to be a major world power, you want to be a leader in the club. HOWARD MCCURDY School of Public Affairs professor and winner of the American Astronautical Society’s 2013 John F. Kennedy Astronautics Award “Public interest in space exploration has been fairly constant since the Apollo years: 30 to 40 percent of the population favors space exploration and an aggressive space program. It’s a sizable enough block to keep the government program for civil space alive at about $17 billion a year. Military spending for space is even greater than that.” FOLLOW US @AU_AMERICANMAG 15