The Maine Edge published a report about sexual harassment research conducted by Amy Blackstone, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Maine and chairwoman of the Sociology Department. In a recent study, Blackstone examined how perceptions of sexual harassment at work are linked to an individual’s age, experience and historical backdrop. She found age is important because how perceptions shift over time links to several age-related processes such as maturity and historical context. Blackstone’s findings were documented in an article published in the Mid-South Sociological Association’s journal “Sociological Spectrum.”
The Maine Edge reported CHISPA-Centro Hispano’s seventh annual Hispanic Lecture Series for Latino Heritage Month will be held at the University of Maine in September and October. Lectures start at 6:30 p.m. Thursdays and are free and open to the public. The series kicks off Sept. 18, when Luis Millones-Figueroa, an assistant professor of Spanish and Latin American studies at Colby College, will speak about “The Story of the Bezoar Stone: A Wonder Medicine from the Andes.” Other speakers are clinical psychiatrist Minerva Villafane-Garcia on Sept. 25; Carlos Villacorta Gonzáles, an assistant professor of Spanish at UMaine, on Oct. 2; and Claudia Paz Aburto Guzmán, Spanish Department chair at Bates College, on Oct. 9.
Ask University of Maine School of Policy and International Affairs students what they did in class and the reply could be “helped save the world.”
SPIA graduate students have assisted refugees in South Africa, worked to ensure free and fair elections in the Middle East, compiled security briefings for the FBI, tracked threats directed at the Olympic Games in London and helped reforest Katmandu.
“We tell them, ‘Dream big. Think big.’ It’s there for the taking,” says director Jim Settele with the assuredness that comes from nearly three decades serving on active duty in the U.S. Navy.
Capt. Settele, who logged more than 3,000 flight hours and more than 600 carrier-arrested landings, was military assistant to the Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld at the Pentagon during operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.
Now he helps SPIA students’ dreams take flight.
Settele asks the 25 SPIA students with a multitude of interests where they want to be two years after graduation. “And we figure out how to get them there,” he says.
When they get there, they’ll be armed with a Master of Arts in Global Policy and a concentration in international environmental policy, international trade and commerce, or international security and foreign policy and they’ll have experience and connections from internships and conferences around the globe.
Like Kate Kirby, an Orono, Maine, native who earned her degree in 2013. SPIA afforded her “space to dream big and the resources to achieve her ambitions,” she says.
“I was provided with unprecedented access to experts in the field on a regular basis,” says Kirby, who concentrated in sustainable community development in the International Environmental Policy track.
She participated in a Mercy Corps’ Fishing for Change pilot project that sought to increase income and protein consumption through improved fishing and agricultural productivity in Timor-Leste. Kirby assessed potential impacts of inland aquaculture development on protein intake by managing a questionnaire administered to fish farmers.
She conducted field visits and interviews with farmers as well as with nongovernmental organizations, international nongovernmental organizations, officials with the Timorese government and United Nations agencies.
“I learned that I could make a lasting impact on people’s lives working in the NGO sector, and that I really enjoy the daily challenges,” Kirby says. “That said, I concluded that with my particular skill set, I could potentially make a larger-scale impact in my short time on Earth.”
So Kirby set out to make her impact by exploring policymaking and enacting positive change through documentary filmmaking. During her final semester at UMaine, Kirby flew to Bolivia to film the daily lives of a quinoa-farming couple.
She sought to learn how the global rise in demand for Andean quinoa — a superfood trendy with health-conscious and gluten-free consumers — was impacting the couple and other growers in Bolivia. Since then, Kirby founded Kindred Planet Productions “to capture the interconnectedness of a 21st-century world, raise awareness around social justice issues and inspire action.”
The SPIA experience, she says, provided her with a “better understanding of the challenges and complexities we face as a global community, and possible solutions for solving these problems.”
Benjamin Levelius agreed. He’s on track to graduate in spring 2014 with a concentration in international security and foreign policy.
The 26 year old says SPIA helps people who want to make a difference in the world access the knowledge, people and positions that will enable them to do so. “Don’t give up on idealistic intentions just because they seem far-fetched,” he says.
Levelius, from Stratford, Wisconsin, has attended conferences in the United Arab Emirates, Maine and Washington, D.C. He’s worked in India and Nicaragua and visited Bangladesh to observe work performed by NGOs in an urban setting. His internship was in Kerala, India, with Yearoutindia, an NGO that concentrates on water, sanitation and hygiene initiatives in tribal communities. He met with the new king of the Mannan Tribe and helped open a new base of operations with the Mudhuvan Tribe.
“As India emerges as a worldwide economic powerhouse, the cost of construction materials, food and transportation has risen faster than the wages of the people in this region, which has hindered the influx of volunteers and slowed the speed of development,” says Levelius, who researched alternative cost-saving toilet construction methods that suited the rainforest climate.
Classes were valuable, as well, Levelius says, including one in which the professor and students tracked developing situations, such as in the Ukraine in spring 2014, and one in which he learned to write grants. “Whether through the connections you can make through faculty and administrators, class work, conferences or internships, it will act as a catalyst to help you get to where you need to go,” Levelius says.
The United Nations is where SPIA student Hamdane Bordji wants to be. And that’s where he is.
In spring 2014, Bordji, who calls Algeria home, interned at the UN in New York City. In an April blog on the SPIA website about his internship he wrote, “The nature of my work … can be summed up in the following: Think differently and act as one … I have realized that it is with no doubt that I want to be a member of the UN community, to be surrounded with this type of people at my workplace, and to be in the midst of world affairs.”
In March, Bordji, who is on track to graduate in December 2014 with a concentration in international security and foreign policy, was in the midst of the International Women’s Day events at the UN. He shook hands with Ban Ki-moon, the eighth Secretary-General of the United Nations and saw former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who during her address to the UN, said gender equality is the “unfinished business of the 21st century.”
Bordji blogged that he has applied much of what he learned with SPIA to his internship, “but there are so many things to learn outside of the classroom.”
“This experience did throw me into the profound workings of the United Nations — in a pool of deals and ideas made by contributions from a diversified group of prominent intellectuals, practitioners and policymakers of our times,” he wrote.
First-year SPIA student Shelby Saucier heard firsthand a speech delivered by one of the most prominent spiritual leaders of the time, the Dalai Lama. The Cumberland, Maine, native attended the January 2014 conference “Bounds of Ethics in a Globalised World” at Christ University in Bangalore, India, where the Dalai Lama delivered the keynote.
“The global economy has made our world one,” reads an excerpt from the speech he delivered. “We need a corresponding sense of the oneness of humanity. If we are realistic, truthful and honest, we can communicate with anyone and everyone.”
Saucier, who is concentrating in International Security and Foreign Policy with a special interest in development, plans to promote education advocacy and family planning education in East Africa. “SPIA is composed of dreamers,” she says, “… and the program nurtures the dreams and facilitates them.”
Settele says SPIA’s accomplished board of advisers helps students achieve dreams by forging connections. And primary benefactor Penny Wolfe’s funding enables students to travel to, and participate in, conferences and internships around the planet.
One member of the SPIA Advisory Board, His Excellency, Dr. Jamal Al-Suwaidi of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, is director general of the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR). The ECSSR has funded two trips for graduate students to Abu Dhabi, Settele says.
“I have high expectations,” Settele says of SPIA, which admitted its first class in fall 2010. “We (SPIA) have a small footprint but cast a big shadow.”
Students aim to be a significant positive influence, as well.
“If you can point to a person in the world who is doing exactly what you want to do, you can do it too, and SPIA will try to move mountains to get you to where you want to go, but you gotta be down there, pushing with them,” says Levelius.
Marie Hayes, a University of Maine professor of psychology, spoke with Reuters about an invited commentary she co-wrote with Dr. Mark Brown, chief of pediatrics and director of nurseries at Eastern Maine Medical Center, for the Aug. 25 Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). The commentary, “Legalization of Medical Marijuana and Incidence of Opioid Mortality,” references a study in the same JAMA issue examining the link between medical marijuana laws and unintentional overdose mortality from opioid analgesics. “Because opioid mortality is such a tremendously significant health crisis now, we have to do something and figure out what’s going on,” Hayes told Reuters, adding efforts that states are making to combat deaths, such as prescription monitoring programs, have been relatively ineffective. “Everything we’re doing is having no effect, except for in the states that have implemented medical marijuana laws,” she said. Fox News and the Bangor Daily News carried the Reuters report. Live Science, Boston.com, Los Angeles Times, Science Codex and The Washington Post also reported on the JAMA articles. The Portland Press Herald carried the LA Times article.
The Portland Press Herald spoke with University of Maine political scientist Mark Brewer for an article about a federal judge siding with four supporters of independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler who sued the state over campaign contribution limits for non-party candidates. Brewer told the Press Herald he wasn’t surprised by the ruling and has often wondered why the provision wasn’t challenged sooner. “That said, I don’t know that this will affect the (governor’s) race,” he said. “Where this is more important is the precedent it sets.”
CHISPA-Centro Hispano’s seventh annual Hispanic Lecture Series for Latino Heritage Month will be held at the University of Maine’s Arthur St. John Hill Auditorium (165 Barrows Hall) in September and October.
Lectures start at 6:30 p.m. Thursdays and are free and open to the public.
The series kicks off Sept. 18, when Luis Millones-Figueroa, an assistant professor of Spanish and Latin American studies at Colby College, will speak about “The Story of the Bezoar Stone: A Wonder Medicine from the Andes.”
Other lectures are: “Ventajas del bilingüismo — Advantages of Bilingualism,” by clinical psychiatrist Minerva Villafane-Garcia on Sept. 25; “Alicia, esto es el capitalismo: When fiction depicts economy,” by Carlos Villacorta Gonzáles, an assistant professor of Spanish at UMaine, on Oct. 2; and “Immigration Issues Impacting the Latino Community” by Claudia Paz Aburto Guzmán, Spanish Department chair at Bates College, on Oct. 9.
Co-sponsors of the Hispanic Lecture Series include UMaine’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Department of Modern Languages and Classics, Department of History and the University of Maine Humanities Initiative.
The mission of Bangor-based CHISPA is to educate the state on Latino culture, heritage and language. For more information about CHISPA-Centro Hispano, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Angel Loredo at 207.478.1019.
The potential for medical marijuana to curb the growing incidence of opioid analgesic-associated deaths is the focus of an invited commentary in the Aug. 25 Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), co-authored by a University of Maine psychology researcher and a physician at Eastern Maine Medical Center.
The invited commentary, “Legalization of Medical Marijuana and Incidence of Opioid Mortality,” by Marie Hayes, a UMaine professor of psychology, and Dr. Mark Brown, chief of pediatrics and director of nurseries at EMMC, references a study in the same JAMA issue examining the link between medical marijuana laws and unintentional overdose mortality from opioid analgesics.
This is the second time in the past two years that Hayes has been tapped for commentary by JAMA as a result of her research on substance-exposed newborns. And in 2013, she also was the co-author on a JAMA research paper.
“The striking implication is that medical marijuana laws, when implemented, may represent a promising approach for stemming runaway rates of nonintentional opioid analgesic-related deaths,” write Hayes and Brown.
Use of medical marijuana to lessen the drive to use opiates at lethal levels in individuals with psychiatric, nonpain-related conditions is particularly promising, the Maine researchers write. That’s critically important for states like Maine, where the rates of opioid analgesic overdose deaths are high, and addiction and related psychiatric disorders represent an estimated 50 percent of opioid analgesic-related deaths.
The question that needs more study, says Hayes, is whether marijuana provides improved pain control that decreases opioid dosing to safer levels.
Since 2009, research led by Hayes and Brown has included the collection of genetic data as part of a longitudinal study of mothers and their substance-exposed newborns. In 2011, Hayes and Brown began collaborating with Drs. Jonathan Davis and Elisha Wachman at Tufts Medical Center to determine which genes would be most helpful in predicting severity of withdrawal symptoms and, ultimately, most effective treatments and lengths of hospital stays.
Their research is part of a $3 million, multi-institution National Institutes of Health (NIH) study led by Davis at Tufts Medical Center and Barry Lester at Brown Medical School. Hayes is a member of the steering committee on the associated clinical trial, providing expertise on genetic polymorphisms and developmental outcomes in neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) infants.
The first findings of the collaborative research with Wachman and Davis at Tufts Medical Center, and Hayes on the genetics of neonatal abstinence syndrome were reported in JAMA in 2013. The research team also included Jonathan Paul, a former UMaine doctoral researcher under Hayes who helped develop the genetic model and who is now an NIH postdoc at the University of Texas Medical Branch.
A year ago, JAMA featured an editorial by Hayes and Brown, “The Epidemic of Prescription Opiate Abuse and Neonatal Abstinence,” detailing the challenges of caring for this vulnerable population, cautioning against defunding maternal treatment programs, and calling for stepped-up research into effective medications and other protocols.
Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745
WLBZ (Channel 2) reported in its community section, that the Mount Desert Island Historical Society and the University of Maine will announce a new partnership at the society’s annual meeting Aug. 27 in Northeast Harbor. With funding from the University of Maine Humanities Initiative (UMHI), the organizations will create a collaborative internship to engage students of history, new media and other disciplines. The outcomes of the project will depend on the interests of students and faculty, and could range from a redesign of the society’s website, to the development of guided historical tours for handheld computer applications, to ways to explore and present historical research projects, according to the report. “This is precisely the sort of project the Public Humanities Grant program aims to support. We are especially excited about the opportunities for student engagement with Mount Desert Island Historical Society resources and the community,” said Justin Wolff, UMHI director.
Daniel Williams, executive director of the University of Maine’s Collins Center for the Arts, spoke to Mainebiz about the Bangor region becoming an entertainment destination. Williams said he remembered when the Collins Center opened its doors in 1986 under the name Maine Center for the Arts. “It changed our community overnight. I believe the MCA was the start of a cultural experiment that has been wildly successful. Ten or 15 years ago, we heard a lot of talk about the creative economy. I think we are seeing that concept in full swing in greater Bangor,” he said. Indigenous arts at CCA’s Hudson Museum and fine arts at the University of Maine’s Museum of Art in downtown Bangor were also recognized in the article. An economic impact study on Bangor’s Waterfront Concerts conducted by UMaine economics professor Todd Gabe also was cited in the article. Gabe found from 2010 to 2013, the series drew more than 300,000 people to the region.
When it comes to recognizing instances of sexual harassment in the workplace, age is a fundamental factor in shaping individuals’ perceptions of interactions, according to a University of Maine sociologist.
Amy Blackstone, an associate professor of sociology and chairwoman of UMaine’s Sociology Department, found age is important because how perceptions shift over time links to several age-related processes such as maturity and historical context.
“When it comes to how we understand harassment and how we respond to it, age, maturity and experience matter,” Blackstone says. “Our study suggests that employers should consider tailoring harassment training and interventions to the specific needs and experiences of workers at different life course stages.”
Blackstone worked with Jason Houle, a UMaine alumnus who is now an assistant professor of sociology at Dartmouth College, and Christopher Uggen, a Distinguished McKnight Professor of Sociology at the University of Minnesota, to examine how perceptions of sexual harassment at work are linked to an individual’s age, experience and historical backdrop.
The findings were documented in the article, “‘I didn’t recognize it as a bad experience until I was much older’: Age, experience, and workers’ perceptions of sexual harassment,” which was published in June in the Mid-South Sociological Association’s journal “Sociological Spectrum.”
As many as 70 percent of women and 1 in 7 men experience sexual harassment at work, according to previous findings cited in the article. To study changes in perceptions of related experiences, the researchers analyzed data from 33 women and men who were surveyed over the course of 14 years and interviewed in 2002 about their workplace experiences from adolescence into their late 20s.
Three themes emerged among participants: As adolescents, respondents perceived some of the sexualized interactions they experienced at work as fun; while participants did not define some of their early experiences as sexual harassment at the time, they do now; and participants suggested prior work experiences changed their ideas about workplace interactions and themselves as workers.
The researchers used data from interviews with 33 participants in the Youth Development Study (YDS), a longitudinal survey of 1,010 adolescents in Minnesota that began in 1988, when respondents were 14–15 years old and in ninth grade, the article states. In the 2000 administration of the survey, when respondents were 26–27 years old, they were asked if they experienced sexual harassment in jobs held during and since high school. In 2002, when respondents were 28–29 years old, the researchers interviewed 14 men and 19 women of varying races.
Looking back at jobs held during adolescence, the majority of interviewees recast some of their early workplace experiences as sexual harassment, but said flirting and other sexually charged behaviors were considered normal interactions because they were at a point in life when sociability was believed to be an important aspect of the work experience. The participants also viewed some interactions as acceptable for adolescents but inappropriate for adults, the researchers found.
While some respondents attributed their shift in perceptions to role or status changes — growing older, marriage or parenthood — others cited the importance of historical context and landmark sexual harassment cases that altered workplace policies and garnered national attention, according to the article.
Public consciousness about sexual harassment may have heightened during the time participants were in high school, the researchers suggest, as a result of high-profile events such as the 1991 televised hearings of Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas and the Civil Rights Act of 1991 that included amendments to Title VII that allowed for compensatory damages in cases of sex discrimination.
Interviewees reported that at least some of the sexualized interactions they experienced at work were not perceived as problematic because the interactions occurred among peers. Several participants said they enjoyed some of the workplace flirting and joking.
One participant said she and her co-workers at an an ice cream shop talked about sex because most of the workers were ‘‘at the age where people are starting to become sexually active so that’s a big deal.’’
Upon reflection, some respondents said they have redefined some experiences during adolescence as sexual harassment, and some participants — both men and women — felt they may have offended co-workers in the past, according to the researchers.
Based on the findings, the researchers suggest sexual harassment training and policies would be most effective if they were better tailored to workers at particular life stages, and further research should be considered.
Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747