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Pop­u­lar Cul­ture, His­to­ry, and Cur­rent Events

Accidental New Horizons at the North American University in the Heart of Europe

By Hannah Quinque

Pho­to Cred­it: Han­nah Quinque, Win­ter on the beach

Last fall, I had the priv­i­lege of spend­ing a semes­ter abroad. What bet­ter place to go for a North Amer­i­can Stud­ies Pro­file grad­u­ate than across the pond?

Even if said pond hap­pens to be the Baltic Sea rather than the Atlantic Ocean, my jour­ney did take me to the “North Amer­i­can Uni­ver­si­ty in the Heart of Europe”, i.e., the Repub­lic of Lithua­nia. And if you’re ask­ing your­self: “What is it doing there?” or per­haps even: “What were you doing there?” let me intro­duce you to this one-of-a-kind place called LCC Inter­na­tion­al University.

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Getting Germany Back on Track

By Markus Ziener

The Mar­shall Plan has become syn­ony­mous for mas­sive help, for bring­ing about a her­cu­la­neum task and hav­ing a coun­try rise again from the ash­es. Orig­i­nal­ly designed to help Europe get back on track after the dev­as­ta­tions of World War II, it has a much broad­er mean­ing today. In dis­cus­sions about how to rebuild Ukraine at some point in the future, there’s again talk of the need for a Mar­shall Plan. How­ev­er, it’s worth­while to take a step back and look at what the orig­i­nal Mar­shall Plan was all about.

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Homeschooling and the Pandemic

By Mukta Dharmapurikar, Johanna Eichler, and Aaron Ming Meyer

While her neigh­bors rush down the street to catch the school bus, 14-year-old Lilah Had­den starts her school day at home. After spend­ing the morn­ing on math and cre­ative writ­ing with her moth­er, she takes a vio­lin class online, fin­ish­ing her day with inde­pen­dent read­ing. For two years now, home­school­ing has worked well for her. “I’m get­ting to … learn more of what I actu­al­ly want to learn about,” Lilah says, not­ing that she’s par­tic­u­lar­ly pas­sion­ate about music. But if it weren’t for the pan­dem­ic, the idea to school at home would nev­er have crossed her mind.

Covid-19 forced stu­dents around the globe to learn with­out phys­i­cal­ly going to school, as entire states and coun­tries went through long peri­ods of lock­down. It’s sparked new inter­est in home­school­ing alter­na­tives in places rang­ing from Des Moines, Iowa, to Ham­burg, Ger­many, where home­school­ing has been banned for over a cen­tu­ry. Stu­dents have dis­cov­ered that alter­na­tive school arrange­ments can offer more flex­i­bil­i­ty to man­age dif­fer­ences, pan­dem­ic stress, and distractions.

Home­school­ing — Gustoff fam­i­ly in Des Moines

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A World Where Science and Indigenous Wisdom Collide: Some Food for Thought on Earth Day

By Savita Joshi

Robin Wall Kimmerer’s pres­ence is mag­net­ic. Step­ping out to the podi­um at the 2014 Bioneers Con­fer­ence – an annu­al forum for top­ics like cli­mate change and human rights – her sil­ver hair hangs loose­ly, fram­ing a pair of leather ear­rings dec­o­rat­ed with small pink flow­ers. She greets the crowd with a large smile, and when she speaks, the room falls silent and the audi­ence lis­tens closely:

“Let us begin today with grat­i­tude … of food to eat, of sweet air to breathe this morn­ing, the pre­cious­ness of water, the com­pan­ion­ship of clouds, and geese, and sug­ar maples. Grat­i­tude for each oth­er, for the priv­i­lege of our work togeth­er, and for the orig­i­nal peo­ples in whose home­land we meet, and for the more-than-human beings with whom we share the earth.”

Such poet­ic and ten­der, prayer-like words come as a sur­prise for some when they real­ize that these are the words of a sci­en­tist and professor.

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Taking Peace for Granted

By Michael Lederer

Pho­to Cred­it: Michael Led­er­er | Pho­to of Genia Chef’s “The Great Game,” oil on can­vas, 2013 (frag­ment)

It’s so easy to take peace for grant­ed, when we have it.

In my 2012 book, The Great Game: Berlin-War­saw Express and Oth­er Sto­ries, the char­ac­ter Cal, an Amer­i­can writer liv­ing in Berlin, com­mits the sin of lament­ing peace as dull. Board­ing the train for War­saw at Zoo sta­tion, look­ing out his win­dow as the Reich­stag and Bran­den­burg Gate slip by, he reflects on how “con­crete, barbed wire and gun tur­rets had been replaced by a cur­ry­wurst stand, shoe stores, and oth­er unre­mark­able trap­pings of the every­day. Every­thing looked so nor­mal, as if peo­ple had nev­er argued let alone fought here. The grave­yard of com­mu­nism and fas­cism looked beau­ti­ful with its flow­ers and its riv­er in the sunshine.”

But Cal – named for his safe, priv­i­leged, native Cal­i­for­nia – was frus­trat­ed. “The banal­i­ty of today’s pros­per­i­ty be damned,” he thought. “‘Orson Welles was right about the cuck­oo clocks.’ On this day, Cal was not inter­est­ed in sun­shine, flow­ers and rivers. He want­ed shad­ows, smoke and bas­tards. He want­ed danger.”

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News Deserts and the Challenge to Democracy

By Deborah Steinborn

What do Glen­nville, Geor­gia, and Youngstown, Ohio, have in com­mon? The small town in the Deep South and the mid-sized Mid­west­ern city both have lost their sole local news­pa­pers in recent years.

For more infor­ma­tion, see the UNC report “News Deserts and Ghost News­pa­pers” (or click the graphic)

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