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In the Spotlight: Ia Dübois

It was deep budget cuts during a recession that led to one of Ia Dübois’ most enduring classes at the University of Washington.

Not long after starting with the UW in 1992, Dübois brainstormed with a colleague about how to bring more students into classes in the Department of Scandinavian Studies, a part of the College of Arts & Sciences. “What is selling?” Dübois remembers her colleague asking. “Well, sex,” she replied, half-jokingly. That planted the seed for “Sexuality in Scandinavia: Myth and Reality,” which has since become Dübois’ most popular class.

It started with about 45 students that first term in the mid-90s, but “Sexuality in Scandinavia” has grown over the years, reaching 235 students for fall quarter. Throughout the term, Dübois compares and contrasts laws and legislation regarding sexuality in a handful of Scandinavian countries. “It’s a wonderful thing, to teach the differences between the Scandinavian countries, because each country has a different value system,” Dübois said.

She tries to bridge the cultural divide by screening documentaries on subjects with which students might have only a passing familiarity or faint understanding. Those films touch on subjects such as homosexuality, prostitution and trafficking — and how they impact life in Scandinavia. She hopes that students connect those issues to what happens in their own communities. “I really see our teaching as not only the facts, but also to teach the students to become good citizens,” Dübois said.

Dübois, who is a senior lecturer and undergraduate adviser today, also tries to educate students about legal developments and media portrayals that may have informed their own thoughts on sexuality. “I don’t want you to change your mind,” Dübois tells students each quarter. “But, be aware of what is forming your opinion.”

Dübois remains busy outside of the classroom, as well. In October she attended a conference put on by the Association of Swedish Teachers and Researchers in America. It was the kind of eye-opening experience that keeps Dübois motivated after 20 years at the UW. “To be in an environment where you are exposed to really new research, new thinkers, and new interpretations of literature and of culture, I still have to pinch myself at times,” Dübois said.

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Dawg Dash 2012!

A new course and uncertain fall weather didn’t stop nearly 4,000 runners from lining up for the annual Dawg Dash on Sunday, Oct 21. We lucked out with amazing weather—sunshine mixed with crisp fall air—and tremendous enthusiasm for this year’s course. A great group of spirited runners, walkers, dogs and supporters shared the beautiful day on our gorgeous campus. Here are some fun facts/figures from the 27th annual Dawg Dash:

  • 3,762: runners
  • 43: degrees at the start of the 10K
  • 118: kids participated in the Kids Dash
  • 354: photos in our Dawg Dash album
  • 1: years the Dawg Dash finish was in the UW Quad and the Post Dash Bash was held on Red Square

UW President Michael K. Young got the race off on the right foot.


Kids had a blast running alongside Harry!


We look forward to seeing you next year! For all of the latest updates *like* the Dawg Dash page on Facebook!

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A Bond for the Ages

Everyone who attended UWAA Member Night at “Skyfall” last weekend received a special bonus. We handed out a program featuring an essay that examined how each James Bond actor reflects our times and hopes about the future. The piece was penned by Andrew Tsao, head of the School of Drama’s BA program and host of UWTV’s Backstory: A Filmmakers Vision. Here is Andrew’s essay:

Andrew Tsao

As the Bond franchise continues to update itself, it is worth doing our own bit of detective work as we go along for the ride. What does the latest installment say about our times, and how does the man who plays Bond embody our own hopes and fears about the future?

Connery was a Scottish Bond, lending a roguish edge to the otherwise loyal servant to Her Majesty. To the English, the Scots have always been feared and loathed as barbarians from the north. Having Connery don the Savile Row suits was in itself a bit of social irony.

George Lazenby was Australian. An outlier from the frontiers of England’s cast offs. He was the Bond who lived through the loss of his wife and forever made Bond’s quest for justice personal.

Roger Moore was quintessentially proper, and embodied something shallow and self-absorbed about England, which of course mirrored the England of his Bond’s time (1973-1985) as it went from the anarchic Punk era to the Iron Lady’s cold hand of social Darwinism.

Timothy Dalton brought a brooding darkness to Bond in the late 80’s, perhaps presaging the crisis of purpose the character and England was going through then. Although the Falklands conflict was in 1982, it took the end of the Thatcher era to bring home the permanent decline of Great Britain as a world power.

Pierce Brosnan was Bond from 1995 to 2002. The Blair / Clinton world of micro wars and regional conflict where the enemy and the mission were both confused. He was a bothered Bond, often questioning his superiors and his own motivations.

There were of course other less well-known Bonds, including David Niven and Barry Nelson, on television.

Now we have Daniel Craig. The son of working class parents, he was raised in decidedly un-posh Liverpool. He brings a Stanley Kowalski-like roughness to Bond, yet seems to relish the finer things that are so much a part of Bond’s lifestyle. He is the post 9/11 Bond, and the films he has starred in are defined by an almost celebratory mayhem that continues to surpass itself with each film. Entire city blocks are leveled in chase scenes and massive destruction accompanies the dogged pursuit of villainy. It is as if the cataclysmic destruction we have now experienced in the west due to mass terror attacks has seeped into the Bond films as a kind of pop-catharsis. Craig is not ruffled by the chaos, however. He remains stoic amid the ruins, as if to say: “This is the world we live in. No use fretting about it, let’s just do what we have to do.”

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In the Spotlight: Phillip Thurtle

Phillip Thurtle

Phillip Thurtle

It’s not often that a molecular immunologist feels like their career isn’t challenging enough. But that’s exactly where Phillip Thurtle found himself in the early 1990s. “I found myself, as a practicing scientist, really only thinking about one amino acid and one molecule,” Thurtle said. “I wanted my intellectual world to be much larger.”

Read more…

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Crocodile Cafe Collection spotlights a slice of Seattle music history

John Vallier, head of distributed media, UW Libraries

John Vallier, head of distributed media, UW Libraries

There’s a computer tucked away in the UW’s media center on the third floor of Suzzallo. It doesn’t look like much, but the computer serves as a digital Rosetta Stone for one segment of Seattle’s storied music scene. On the computer is the UW’s Crocodile Café Collection, which contains five years’ worth of recordings – more than 4,000 tracks in all – made at the iconic Seattle venue. The list is daunting to scroll through – it totals more than 120 continuous days of live music – but there’s a good chance you’ll find a show from your favorite band – maybe even before they were your favorite band.

It’s hard to know where to begin. Do you start with performances by Seattle legends like Mudhoney or the Presidents of the United States of America? Do you seek out popular regional acts, like Death Cab for Cutie and Built to Spill? Do you jump straight to the buzz bands caught on the road to stardom, like Neko Case and Franz Ferdinand? Maybe you track down a hilarious karaoke performance that you gave as a junior in 2003.

No matter where you start, you have plenty of choice in sifting through the recordings, which have been archived at the UW since August 2009. Making your decisions more difficult, the Crocodile Café Collection has expanded over the past year to include more than 200 live videos shot during some of the club’s halcyon days.

The project got its start in 2002, when audio engineer Jim Anderson began recording the vast majority of the shows at the iconic venue, which closed for about 15 months in December 2007. Less than a year after the club’s closure, Anderson donated his collection – five years of high-quality soundboard recordings – to the UW.

It was unlike any donation John Vallier, the head of distributed media at the UW, had ever received. Unsure how to best share this piece of Seattle history, he remembers thinking, “There’s gotta be a way to make this work.” Copyright laws prevented UW from putting the entire collection online, but Vallier, along with Laurel Sercombe of the UW Ethnomusicology Archives, was determined to find a home on the UW campus for the recordings.

The expansive collection was donated to the UW Ethnomusicology Archives in spring 2009 and unveiled in the Suzzallo that summer. Available only on one computer in the media center, it showcases the range of talent, from an early band’s raw energy to the seasoned sounds of a maturing band. “You can tell when a band’s playing their first show and when they’re on the 100th show of the tour,” Vallier said.

Learn more about the project, view a complete roster of artist performances, and sample recordings by Harvey Danger – made up of UW alumni – at the Crocodile Café Collection website.

Are there any shows you’d like to relive? Let’s hear it in the comments!

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In the Spotlight: Prof. Peter May

Peter May

Professor Peter May encourages students to participate in the real-world political process.

As the chair of UW’s political science department, Peter May understands the importance of education continuing outside the classroom walls. It’s why he’s been closely involved with—and a vocal champion of—the department’s internship programs since joining the UW 33 years ago. In that time, interns to pass through the UW have included King County Executive Dow Constantine, radio host John Carlson, and Seattle City Councilmember Bruce Harrell. “All different political stripes,” he proudly notes.

As far as May’s concerned, education doesn’t end after each quarter; in his eyes, it’s just beginning.

It’s that commitment to students and his active interest in real-world experiences that led one former student to nominate May for a feature in this space.

Owing to his duties as department chair, May isn’t slated to teach this year. But he’s long been a champion of students taking their education outside of classroom walls; “broader educational experience” is a favorite phrase. Strengthening the department’s internship program is one way of accomplishing that. Elsewhere, he encourages students to sign up for campaigns and service learning programs. “The reality is, one doesn’t get a job these days based on a political science degree,” he said. “They get a job based on what kinds of experiences they’ve had.”

Time spent in class, however, remains critically important to May. He works with faculty to ensure a positive experience for students raised on laptops and smartphones. He accomplishes that by encouraging interaction (even in large lecture halls), angling for better communication through chat rooms and online courses, and developing analytical skills that come with new technology (evaluating websites, for instance). “One needs to think more creatively about interactive and multimedia kinds of things,” he said. “That’s part of the modern world, and I think, for the most part, our faculty and TAs have embraced that and have done well with that.”

May acknowledges that the faltering economy has taken its toll on the political science department but remains upbeat. He encourages faculty to apply for grants and fellowships, holds seminars and community discussions, and helps provide seed funding for research and travel to special events. “We’re building something,” he said. “You’re not building it in the old way – hiring more faculty, getting more state funds coming in, building new buildings, and things like that. You’re building it through the collective energy of our faculty and our graduate students.”

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In the Spotlight: Linda Martin-Morris


Dr. Martin-Morris

At first glance, it would have been easy to mistake Dr. Linda Martin-Morris’ neuropharmacology class for a drama or English course.

After all, it’s not every day that a biology teacher works skits and magazine publishing into the syllabus.

But outside-the-box assignments helped make Dr. Martin-Morris a well-regarded lecturer with the thousands of students she’s led since joining the UW in 1994. Not just that, but Dr. Martin-Morris’ friendly demeanor and passion for science led one UWAA member to nominate her for a feature in this space.

Dr. Martin-Morris’ projects and emphasis on team learning in Biology 100 helped students from other majors understand–and enjoy–the brainier side of biology and how drug use impacts neurological functions. “I’ve got drama people in the class, and I’ve got artists in the class,” Dr. Martin-Morris said. “I wanted to make assignments that honor the various skills they bring to the table, not just research and writing skills.”

The long-running class was shelved after the winter 2009 term, despite a student-driven petition to keep the course going. “What my students lost—and what my future students lost—is the opportunity to take a course that was relevant to their world,” Dr. Martin-Morris said. She currently teaches courses on cellular and molecular biology, and how to teach biology.

The spirit of the class lives on. Dr. Martin-Morris, a senior lecturer who will on Sept. 16 be promoted to principal lecturer, is in the third year of a four-year grant project funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The grant enables Dr. Martin-Morris to train 18 high school teachers around the state as part of the UW in the High School program, which allows high school students to earn UW credit. She led the latest workshop in early August, and is excited that the lessons are finding new audiences. “I refer to this grant project as ‘Bio 100 goes worldwide,’” she said. “There’s a rebirth.”

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Feeling stressed? UW research shows meditation can help you do your job better.

Meditating Person

Research by UW Information School professors suggests that meditation training can help people working with large amounts of complex information. Image by Flickr user Myyoganonline via UW Today.

UW Professors at the Information School recently published research suggesting that training in meditation can make multitasking easier and work smoother and less stressful.

Do you meditate? How does it affect your work life? Let us know in the comments!

Curious about meditation? The Henry Art Gallery is offering free half-hour lunchtime drop-in meditation sessions on the second Thursday of each month. Registration is not required, so drop on by!



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