Johns Hopkins is mostly known as a staid old Baltimore institution famous for the breakthroughs of its medical researchers but the university’s alumni magazine shows a campus that is more new age than old guard.
President Bush did speak there, a rarity in an academy that loathes the Republican chief executive, but the appearance did not sit too well with students and alums. “The sheer narcissism, risk-aversion, deference, and partisanship of the event and its report in the magazine betray the intellectual and political standards Johns Hopkins values,” Sayres Rudy, a visiting scholar at Amherst College writes. “I know that [the School of Advanced International Studies] SAIS is a policy school, and I am glad that some students there ‘signed a memo’ that ‘respectfully criticized’ Bush’s foreign policy.”
“But it is a disgrace if Johns Hopkins or SAIS is obsequious enough to slave for the president without mentioning publicly—even as a minority criticism—that Iraq ‘fell’ to illegal and murderous invasion and occupation by a war-criminal administration carrying out a vicious and self-defeating ‘war on terror’ with equally thuggish allies and uncounted civilian corpses to show for it.” Rudy, a 1990 SAIS graduate, may have a better handle on “intellectual and political standards Johns Hopkins values” than the rest of us.
But wouldn’t it be interesting to know if Rudy participated in the time-honored SAIS tradition of short sheeting the hotel beds of visiting dignitaries? Believe it or not, the reaction to this prank by former U. S. Secretaries of State breaks down along party lines though not as you might expect: Republican Henry Kissinger thought it was funny, Democrat Madeleine Albright did not.
For her part, JHU lecturer Joanne Cavanaugh deals with unruly students by sparing the rod but not the karma. “Because I teach elements of communication—literature and writing—I’m wondering how to help my students focus,” Cavanaugh writes in Johns Hopkins magazine. “Multi-tasking, after all, is the anti-Zen,” she explains.
“Living—really living [italics in original]—requires concentration, not distraction,” she elaborates. It seems that students spend their class time with Cavanaugh paying more attention to their cell phones and i-pods than they give her.
“So instead of keeping pace with the Multimedia Madness, I want to alter the rhythm—bring in a yoga instructor and assign more readings in transcendental meditation,” Cavanaugh concludes.
Cavanaugh strives to achieve empathy with her students. “But didn’t we all have distractions as college students?” she asks. “TV. Significant others. CDs. Wine coolers with Skittles chasers.”
Meanwhile, a new school at JHU may add a new twist to the old doctor-patient relationship. “So researchers at Hopkins and elsewhere began to formulate a new ecological health paradigm,” Dale Keiger writes. “They began to move away from the old model, of marshalling and conveying facts to persuade individuals to make sounder decisions, toward attempts to change social norms.”
“The outcome was that on August 1, 2005, the new Department of Health, Behavior, and Society figuratively hung out its shingle,” Keiger reports. “HBS began life with a chairman, David Holtgrave, recruited from the federal Centers for Disease Control, 20 core faculty members, 67 graduate students, and that $20 million endowment.”
“Its stated purpose is to study how behavior shapes health, how special forces shape behavior, and how public health specialists can intervene to encourage wise choices.” What really bothers the researchers is that people still smoke.
Malcolm A. Kline is the executive director of Accuracy in Academia.