Monthly Archives: February 2013

So you want to organize a conference?

I\’ve always known that writing my dissertation was the most all-consuming period of my academic career. Nothing else came close to the sustained effort required for that task. Nothing, that is, until I decided to organize an academic conference. That conference commemorated the 50th anniversary of Japan Study, a partnership between Waseda University at Tokyo […] … learn more→

Let\’s get small

At the end of \”The Incredible Shrinking Man\” (1957), our unfortunate hero — having survived encounters with a house cat and a spider on the way down — finds himself smaller than an atom, with no end in sight. We see him awaken on what looks like a planet, made up (one reckons) of even […] … learn more→

Connection in China – I

Just before the semester began I traveled to Beijing to deliver a lecture entitled \”Why Liberal Education Matters\” at the Institute for Humanistic Studies at Peking University. I didn’t quite know what to expect. It was intersession there, and I was told that there might be a dozen faculty and graduate students in attendance. Imagine […] … learn more→

Publicity, Part 3: How to get publicity

Imagine for a moment that you get your hometown newspaper, open up the business page, and are happily stunned to see a big article about you and your work. Now imagine that it\’s not your hometown newspaper—it\’s actually 5000 miles/8000 kilometers away from where you live. Thrilled? You should be! I certainly was when I […] … learn more→

Making the case for Wall Street

The first thing that strikes you when you re-read the “Declaration” issued in autumn 2011 by the Occupy protesters assembled in Zuccotti Park in downtown Manhattan is how little of it actually relates to Wall Street. Many of the “demands” inserted into the manifesto drafted by the various grassroots organisations behind the protest have no […] … learn more→

Rhino horn and tiger blood: conservation in the Mekong

When Australians think of the Mekong they think cheap holidays or Vietnamese restaurants. Biodiversity-wise however, the Mekong is a frontier, a place where biological riches collide with human pressure. This month ten remarkable freshwater worms were described in Thailand, while in 2011 scientists found 126 new species, including five mammals. At the same time the […] … learn more→


The one very minor positive for me in the current economic cliffhanger is that my vocabulary has expanded to include sequestration and I even find myself unfortunately using this word on a regular basis. In the next few weeks, I may even get to the point of asking friends and acquaintances how they are and […] … learn more→

Divesting in carbon-based assets – another perspective

As the debate about climate change continues to boil, a new call is in the offing to persuade colleges and universities to divest endowment holdings in fossil fuel related companies. There is little doubt we must create a more coherent energy policy and reduce the burning of fossil fuels to mitigate climate change. How best […] … learn more→

Mo money, mo problems: how the Oscars ruin cinema

Like many students of film, I have a love/hate relationship with the Academy Awards. I eagerly read all of the predictions on various blogs, get into heated debates among friends over the nominees and love the pomp and ceremony. But there is a lot to hate about awards season, and there always seems to be […] … learn more→