The 15th Annual Summer Urban Program (SUP) Auction raises funds for PBHA’s Summer Urban Program (SUP). SUP began in 1980 and serves about 900 urban elementary, middle, and high school students in its seven-week programs in Boston and Cambridge. The summer program has 11 summer day camp sites and provides an evening program to teach English as a second language to immigrant and refugee teens. PBHA’s Boston Refugee Youth Enrichment and Refugee Youth Summer Enrichment both target low-English-proficiency students and have been recognized by Boston Public Schools as alternatives to summer school. All participants come from neighborhoods affected by poverty and violence in Cambridge, Chinatown, South Boston, Dorchester, Mission Hill, Roxbury, and the South End. About 95 percent of participants are eligible for free or reduced priced lunches.Every year, the Auction honors community leaders for their investment in the lives of Cambridge and Boston families through the SUP Impact Awards. Horace Small, founder of the Union of Minority Neighborhoods (UMN), and the Mission Hill / Fenway Neighborhood Trust (MHFNT), will be honored this year. The auction, which will take place at Harvard University’s Knafel Center on April 19, raises money for PBHA’s award-winning summer camps for low-income families.Horace Small is the founder and executive director of the UMN, a Boston-based community organization founded in 2002 to increase activism, empowerment, and opportunity in communities of color. UMN’s efforts are designed to strengthen democracy and rebuild communities of color, where the pernicious effects of discrimination continue to exist as barriers to equal opportunity, through skills training and organizing. Since 1974, Small has gained a reputation as one of the savviest organizers in the country and has done trainings and workshops for the U.S. Congressional Progressive Caucus, the American Bar Association, the AFL-CIO, the Blackfoot Nation, the Council of State Governments, and the State of California.The Mission Hill / Fenway Neighborhood Trust, Inc. was established in 1995 to administer and operate a fund that gives grants to community-based Mission Hill and Fenway non-profit organizations, community development corporations, and other civic groups dedicated to promoting and enhancing quality of life in the community through projects and programs for residents in the arts and education, youth sports and recreation, activities for seniors, community gardens, affordable housing, social services, and whatever the board of MHFNT deems appropriate. Since 2001, the board has distributed grant awards that have included PBHA’s Mission Hill Summer Program.SUP employs 130 college students who direct and staff all of the summer camps. This involves planning field trips, teaching a classroom of 10 students, fundraising, and managing parent and community relationships.You can RSVP to the 15th Annual SUP Auction by visiting the Phillips Brooks House Association’s website and clicking on the “SUP Auction” Event Page for more information.
“‘Politics has become a much bigger subject than the Super Bowl,’ [President] Trump boasted in the run-up to the big game. ‘This is usually Super Bowl territory, and now they’re saying that the politics is more interesting to people,’ he said. ‘So that’s good.’” — Mark Leibovich, writing in The New York Times Magazine last Aug. 28As a club of rich businesspeople and lucky heirs operating a billion-dollar cash cow, the last thing that team owners in the National Football League (NFL) wanted was to be swept into a political maelstrom, with the president pressing them to punish players who protested violence against African-Americans by kneeling during the national anthem.But that’s exactly what happened in 2017 and 2018 when President Trump seized on the protests, brought into the national spotlight by then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in 2016. Trump’s efforts both galvanized his supporters and unsettled the NFL, which had rejected his attempts to become an owner, beginning in the late ’80s and continuing through 2014, when Trump wanted to buy the Buffalo Bills.Yet as much as the owners tried to keep politics away from the pigskin, Mark Leibovich, a longtime political writer for The New York Times, wasn’t surprised that effort failed. Best known for his 2013 best-seller “This Town,” a sharply funny look at smug, self-aggrandizing denizens of the nation’s capital, Leibovich took a break from politics to study New England Patriots star quarterback Tom Brady and the NFL’s inner workings for his latest book, “Big Game: The NFL in Dangerous Times.”Leibovich will visit the JFK Jr. Forum at Harvard Kennedy School Tuesday evening to discuss the politics and business of the NFL.A lifelong Patriots fan from Newton, Mass., Leibovich spoke with the Gazette about his experiences as an outsider trying to pierce the NFL’s tightly controlled corporate “shield.” He also discussed the future of the sport and how Patriots fans may be contributing to the hatred directed at the team by other fan bases, the media, and some team owners.Q&AMark LeibovichGAZETTE: Has your impression of the NFL changed from when you looked at it as a fan versus now, after you’ve seen the inner workings?LEIBOVICH: I certainly learned stuff about the league that I didn’t particularly admire, especially some of the people who run it and own it. I thought that there’s not a lot of real forward or courageous thinking going on at the highest levels of the league. I think there are some real moral and existential issues that they have to grapple with, or should grapple with, around health and safety and a lot of greed. A lot of the owners who I spent time with were not the most savory group I’ve ever been around. But having said that, the game does still seem to survive in spite of the people who run it. And I still have whatever addiction it is.I think the game has a way of regenerating and putting the focus back on not just the field of play, but also the little “reality TV shows” that seem to sprout up around the NFL all the time. Now all anyone is talking about is “Should they replay the New Orleans-L.A. [NFC championship] game?” I personally think they should. That’d be a lot of fun. The game endures; it’s a great game; it’s perfect for television; it’s perfectly attuned to the psyche of America circa 2019, and here we are.GAZETTE: You wrote lengthy profiles of both Brady in January 2015 and his Deflategate nemesis, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, a year later. What was that like? Was there real animosity between the two, or was that overstated?LEIBOVICH: I think it’s real animosity. I think Tom legitimately got screwed in that deal. The time I spent with him was all leading up to that. It was that season, and then I got a few conversations with him after the you-know-what hit the fan. They’re both athletes in their own way. Goodell is sort of a corporate athlete. He’s a terrible person to interview. He’s very controlled and doesn’t give you much. But if you think about it in terms of reality TV, this was a great TV show for the offseason of 2015‒2016, and it was one of the big sports stories in the country at a time when there were no games. It was, I think, the stupidest sports scandal in history.GAZETTE: How much of Goodell’s zeal in pursuing punishment against Brady and the Patriots over something the league’s own investigation couldn’t prove might have been to ingratiate himself to the owners who detest the franchise, after Goodell’s handling of the Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson domestic-violence incidents, among other PR mishaps?LEIBOVICH: Yes, exactly. One of the reasons I wanted to do this book was it was an escape from politics. But you realize pretty early on that there’s no escaping politics inside the NFL. Roger Goodell, if nothing else, is a politician. He’s sort of like a Senate majority leader who has to keep 50 senators happy. All Goodell has to do is keep 32 billionaires happy and he’s going to keep his job and get paid insane amounts of money to do it. So yeah, appealing to an anti-Patriots strain within the NFL among owners is a pretty easy political move, and that’s what he did.GAZETTE: After several years of self-inflicted scandals and PR problems — including revelations about the pervasiveness of traumatic brain injuries for players, declining TV ratings in 2016 and 2017, and, more recently, the controversy over players kneeling during the national anthem — ratings soared last weekend for the conference championship games. What’s the state of the NFL now?LEIBOVICH: Insomuch as they will always measure the state of the league in terms of profits and ratings points, I mean, sure. They’ve had a good year. But if you measure the state of the league in terms of the bad will it generates around the country, despite how obsessed people are, there’s a whole lot of people who do not like the NFL. Many of them live in New Orleans this week. But there are large groups of people who root The Daily Gazette Sign up for daily emails to get the latest Harvard news. Off-field experiences sharpen NFL players’ criminal justice focus Bill Belichick’s endlessly efficient management style holds lessons for business Law School conference hears from coalition on roots of activism, ideas for improving police-community relations for many different teams who have very real grievances against the league — not to mention parents of kids who are at terrible risk, and there are a lot of very real existential issues around health and safety and youth sports leagues not getting insurance — to put behind them. There’s just a lot they’re going to have to work out. But in the short term, Americans love a good TV show and a good drama. So I guess the numbers that they care about, which are how much money they’re going to get out of this, they can feel good about. Insomuch as the owners are generally very old, mostly men, who are going to maximize their already ridiculous wealth by whatever ratings points they achieve this year, that’s their short-term thinking.I don’t think football is going to go away and die. But I do think when you look at how younger people are turning away from sitting around and watching football on TV on weekends, it’s a very different entertainment landscape that we have. If you were looking to the future, something like the NBA or even soccer has much bigger room to grow, and there’s not the same amount of bad will there as toward the NFL, so I think that’s a problem.GAZETTE: What’s similar and what’s different about writing and covering politics as opposed to football? In many ways, it seems like a lot of the access issues, the horse trading, the thirstiness, goes on in both. What was your impression?LEIBOVICH: It was more similar than I would have anticipated. Ultimately, there are a lot of the same fragile egos, money, power, and control — control from a journalistic standpoint, control over the story. You mentioned access. Access is a big deal. They don’t need me, but at the same time I do think that everyone, whether in politics or sports, feels like they have a story to tell, and they want to tell it as best they can. And in some ways, I was dangerous to people inside the NFL because I was not telling any kind of official story. I was an outsider. To some degree, it’s always important to try to position yourself as an outsider because otherwise you get so cozy and so steeped in the conventional wisdom. You just don’t want to be part of the club. In that regard, it was an easy inside/outside game for both. But, look, it’s basically the same tension between people wanting to tell their story in a certain way and a reporter trying to write something that more closely approximates the truth.GAZETTE: Why were team owners so easily rattled by Trump’s attacks on the league over players who protested police violence against African-Americans? They acted like they weren’t a bunch of millionaires who controlled the country’s most popular sport.LEIBOVICH: It was pathetic to watch. I think what the owners were rattled by is that Donald Trump, for better or for worse, has the ability to control a pretty large segment of the population. His base is, say, 30 or 40 percent of the population, and many of these are older, white men, and that overlaps pretty big with football watchers. The NFL, unlike Trump, cannot just play to its base. The NFL needs everybody — it needs Democrats, Republicans, men, women, Hispanics. You have this very bizarre situation where a president who has personal history with the league — NFL owners have never wanted Donald Trump to be part of their club — all of a sudden has the bully pulpit of the White House, and his Twitter feed. And all of a sudden he can be this puppeteer and drive these people who wanted no part of him crazy. Trump loves that. The owners just had no clue. You just sensed that these people had no power, and even though they were printing money in their league, they were reduced to blithering.GAZETTE: Is that “culture war” issue over, or could the president revive it?LEIBOVICH: I think Trump could revive it at any minute. I’m actually sort of surprised that he didn’t make it more of an issue this season, coinciding with the midterm elections. I think one of the best things the NFL had going for it this year was that Trump was preoccupied with the midterms, and now the shutdown, and he just decided to move on. And the league, obviously, was thrilled with that.GAZETTE: You had to step away from covering politics full-time for a few years to write “Big Game.” Given how news-making and chaotic the Trump era has been, do you regret that decision? Did you ever feel like you missed your shot to write the first “Fire and Fury”?LEIBOVICH: No, I would drive myself crazy if I thought about all the books I could have written. The truth is people come up to me and say, “Wow, this is the biggest, greatest political story ever. You must be completely in heaven!” The first year of the Trump administration I was mostly focused on writing the book, and clearly I missed out on some big stories. But at the same time, I don’t find it as fun or as edifying as others might. I find a lot of it pretty depressing. It wasn’t as terrible a time to be walking away from politics as you might have thought. Good for Michael Wolff, he wrote “Fire and Fury,” one of the many books I wish I had written and thought of at the time.GAZETTE: Will you revisit the subject, or has the tone change in D.C. made that critique off-key?LEIBOVICH: I’m actually thinking of revisiting that. That’s an ongoing question. Certainly, the swamp hasn’t been drained. We have this reality TV show going on right in the middle of everything, which is just weird. But if you walk around D.C., it’s the same — a very, very prosperous, very, very cozy city. And K Street is doing very well. It’s an incredibly affluent and prosperous part of the country right now. Whatever pain is being inflicted on the D.C. area is coming pretty directly from the [government] shutdown-related stuff right now, which is huge. But also, part of it is karmic pain. What’s happening here is just so unprecedented, it’s very unpalatable in many ways. There’s corruption, there’s potential crimes. It’s pretty serious stuff beyond the giggles of the reality show.GAZETTE: You are a lifelong Patriots fan, who goes back to the Schaefer Stadium, Jim Plunkett days, when the franchise was so abysmal it was blacked out on local TV because it couldn’t fill the stands.LEIBOVICH: Yeah, I didn’t go to many games. I think I went twice to Schaefer Stadium. That was my age. They were bad.GAZETTE: Is there a part of you that misses rooting for that sad underdog, or are you happy with all the Lombardi trophies?LEIBOVICH: First of all, I definitely do miss the Patriots’ old uniforms and the old helmets. I loved that helmet. Insomuch as I own any paraphernalia, it’s always the old logo instead of the new logo. That is one thing I miss.There’s definitely some real bad will toward the Pats, and it’s not entirely jealousy. I think a lot of it is arrogance, and we’re not the most likable group of fans in America, I would say. I try to be self-aware about that. I do think that on a whole it’s an incredible privilege to be able to sit and watch these playoff games. Even when they lose, it’s a great story. We’re just so spoiled, and it’s going to end soon, or one day.GAZETTE: OK, what’s your Super Bowl prediction?LEIBOVICH: I was actually thinking about this. In the eight Super Bowls the Patriots have played this century, the margin has never been more than a touchdown, so I think it’ll probably be close. I will say that the Pats will win 33 to 31, how’s that?GAZETTE: And how long does Brady keep playing?LEIBOVICH: Until he’s 45 years old. He’s 41 now. I just sounded much more definitive and specific than I thought. But I figured if I sounded definitive and specific, I’d have much more authority [laughs].The interview has been edited for clarity and length. Related At Cambridge diner, political scientist and friends regularly talk football Doing his job Theda Skocpol, superfan
In pursuit of healthy aging Critical step found in DNA repair, cellular aging Experiments in mice suggest way to thwart DNA damage from aging, radiation Related Harvard study shows how intermittent fasting and manipulating mitochondrial networks may increase lifespan For this new study, the researchers looked at the rDNA, the most active segment of the genome and one that has also been mechanistically linked to aging in a number of previous studies. Lemos and lead author Meng Wang, a research fellow in the Department of Environmental Health, hypothesized that the rDNA is a “smoking gun” in the genomic control of aging, and might harbor a previously unrecognized clock. To test the idea, they examined epigenetic chemical alterations (also known as DNA methylation) in CpG sites, where a cytosine nucleotide is followed by a guanine nucleotide. The study homed in on the rDNA, a small (13-kilobase) but essential and highly active segment of the genome, as a novel marker of age.Analysis of genome-wide data sets from mice, dogs, and humans indicated that the hypothesis had merit: Numerous CpGs in the rDNA exhibited signs of increased methylation — a result of aging. To further test the clock, they studied data from 14-week-old mice that responded to calorie restriction, a known intervention that promotes longevity. The mice that were placed on a calorie-restricted regimen showed significant reductions in rDNA methylation at CpG sites compared with mice that did not have their diet restricted. Moreover, calorie-restricted mice showed rDNA age that was younger than their chronological age.The researchers were surprised that assessing methylation in a small segment of the mammalian genome yielded clocks as accurate as clocks built from hundreds of thousands of sites along the genome. They noted that their approach could prove faster and more cost-effective at determining biological and chronological age than current methods of surveying the dispersed sites in the genome. The findings underscore the fundamental role of rDNA in aging and highlight its potential as a widely applicable predictor of age that can be calibrated for all mammalian species.Importantly, the clocks respond to interventions, which could allow scientists to study how biological age responds to environmental exposures and lifestyle choices. Ascertaining an accurate biological age can indicate of how much better or worse an individual is doing relative to the general population, and could potentially help monitor whether that person is at heightened risk of death or a given disease. Work in Lemos’ lab has been partially supported by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the Lawrence Ellison Medical Foundation, and the Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation, though the authors received no specific funding for this work. A newly discovered ribosomal DNA (rDNA) clock can be used to accurately determine an individual’s chronological and biological age, according to research led by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The ribosomal clock is a novel biomarker of aging based on the rDNA, a segment of the genome that previously has been mechanistically linked to aging. It has potentially wide applications, including measuring how exposures to certain pollutants or dietary interventions accelerate or slow aging in a diversity of species, including mice and humans.“We have hopes that the ribosomal clock will provide new insights into the impact of the environment and personal choices on long-term health,” said senior author Bernardo Lemos, associate professor of environmental epigenetics. “Determining biological age is a central step to understanding fundamental aspects of aging as well as developing tools to inform personal and public health choices.”The study was published online today in Genome Research.Aging is exhibited by organisms as diverse as yeast, worms, flies, mice, and humans. Age is also the major risk factor for a plethora of diseases, including neurological diseases, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer. There are two types of age: chronological age, or the number of years a person or animal has lived, and biological age, which accounts for lifestyle factors that can shorten or extend lifespan, including diet, exercise, and environmental exposures. Overall, biological age has been shown to be a better predictor of all-cause mortality and disease onset than chronological age. Overall, biological age has been shown to be a better predictor of all-cause mortality and disease onset than chronological age.
Painting unveiled of College’s first African-American graduate Recognizing prominent architect Julian Abele and his role in designing Harvard’s Widener Library In 1968, a black student group placed an advertisement in the Harvard Crimson calling for the College to give black students, faculty, and scholarship more support and greater representation on campus. Following months of negotiations, amid a general atmosphere of student unrest and demands for change, the campaign eventually led to the creation of the Afro-American Studies Department in 1969.In the ensuing decades, the interdisciplinary department has changed its name to African and African American Studies (AAAS), established a strong identity on campus, and expanded in size and influence, nationally and internationally, across fields more numerous than its name might suggest.To mark its 50th anniversary, AAAS will launch a two-day symposium beginning Friday, commemorating its history and celebrating the continuing work of its students and scholars. The events, which include panel discussions, musical performances, gallery displays, and keynote addresses, are free and open to the public.“In many ways, I wanted to emphasize the things that have changed” in the past decades, said Tommie Shelby, Caldwell Titcomb Professor of African and African American Studies and of Philosophy. Shelby serves as department chair of AAAS and organized the event with input from its faculty, students, and staff. “This department was initially established as one that was focused on North America, and now it is very much part of our mission that, in addition to African American studies, we also try to cover much of the Caribbean, Latin America, and Africa as well. We want to highlight the breadth of what we’re covering and the fact that the department is now so much bigger than it was.”,“No one could have imagined that 30 years ago we’d be where we are now,” said Henry Louis Gates Jr., Alphonse Fletcher Jr. University Professor and director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, who joined the department in 1991 and served as its chair for 15 years. “African and African American Studies is inextricably intertwined with the intellectual life and culture of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard.”Events will include a roundtable discussion with founders, performances by the Kuumba Singers of Harvard College, panels on scholar-activism in the field and the future of graduate studies, and keynote addresses by Columbia University Professor Farah Jasmine Griffin ’85 and Wale Adebanwi, a professor at Oxford University.Today, the department has the largest African languages program in the world, 41 full-time faculty members, more than 40 undergraduate concentrators, and 35 doctoral candidates.Its origin story began with student-led demands for change at all levels of the University. In 1968, an ad hoc committee of black students negotiated with University leadership on a path forward. After further protests and changes to their requests, the faculty approved the students’ demand to establish the department. The first class of 14 Afro-American Studies concentrators graduated in 1972; the graduate program was developed in 2001, and African Studies and African American Studies merged in 2003.,In his 1985 report for the Ford Foundation on the first decades of the department and the struggle for black studies across U.S. campuses, historian and former Afro-American Studies department chair Nathan I. Huggins wrote: “The demand of black students was for a discussion of what they saw to be the inherent racism in … normative assumptions for a shift in perspective that would destigmatize blacks and reexamine the ‘normalcy’ of the white middle class.”This reexamination came in the form of new courses and areas of study that examined the African American experience across history, literature, sociology, and other humanities and social sciences fields. In its first year, the department offered 25 courses. This year students can choose from more than 200, including 18 African language classes.The department was at the forefront of major Harvard milestones in the 1970s and the 1980s, including the hiring of musicologist Eileen Southern, who served as department chair for four years in the 1970s and was the first black woman granted tenure at the University. But it also faced challenges such as declining concentrator numbers and a lack of tenured faculty members, due to the complications of hiring established scholars in an emerging discipline.By the mid-1990s, the department looked very different than it had a decade earlier. There were more than five tenured faculty members, including Gates, historian Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, sociologist William Julius Wilson, and philosophers Kwame Anthony Appiah and Cornel West.,“I say that the ‘church’ of Harvard’s African and African American Studies Department was designed by Kwame Anthony Appiah, Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, and [Lawrence] Bobo, but our pews were filled by Cornel West,” said Gates.Henry Rosovsky, Geyser University Professor, Emeritus, in the Department of Economics, who served as chair of the faculty committee on African and Afro-American Studies in the late 1960s, credited Gates and former Harvard President Derek Bok with being instrumental to the growth and success of the department.Neil Rudenstine, who was president of Harvard from 1991 to 2001, also highlighted the importance of Gates’s recruiting top talent throughout the 1990s. He said the visibility of AAAS illustrates its important role as an intellectual and cultural cornerstone of the Harvard experience.“It was really [Gates’s] vision and the people he brought with him who made the whole thing work, because they had the sense that they were like everybody else in terms of what they wanted for Harvard, and what they wanted for the department,” said Rudenstine. “They did not want to be an enclave that was to be separated out [from the rest of the School]. They wanted their own identity that was special, but they wanted to be integral to the place. The impact was profound, and there was a sense that something had been created, which was not just unusual but really extraordinary, and it was deeply felt throughout the institution.”,Gates also pointed to the work and support of others, including former President Drew Faust, former Edgerly Family Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Michael D. Smith, and Harvard students who lobbied for change throughout the department’s existence, for playing key roles in the growth and development of AAAS.“Having the president behind you gave all the right signals throughout the University that this was not a token effort. This had nothing to do with making noises about ‘diversity.’ This was a very genuine intellectual commitment,” said Gates.Today, the department’s influence can also be seen across Harvard in spaces including the Hutchins Center for African American Research and the Cooper Gallery of African and African American Art. Multiple faculty members hold chair appointments and deanships across the humanities and social sciences, including Edgerly Family Dean of Arts and Sciences Claudine Gay, who is a professor in AAAS and government, and Lawrence D. Bobo, W.E.B. Du Bois Professor of the Social Sciences and divisional dean of social sciences, a former AAAS Department chair.“It is obvious that African and African American Studies is now recognized as a successful department” both at Harvard and in wider scholarly communities, said Rosovsky.Rudenstine echoed the sentiment, saying, “I think there cannot be any question that what happened at Harvard made a difference to African American studies nationally.”In addition to its standing in the field, the department has also been integral to student life on campus. For Sangu Delle ’10, the department was a crucial social and intellectual space while he was an undergraduate living far from his home in Ghana. “Having the president behind you gave all the right signals throughout the University that this was not a token effort. This had nothing to do with making noises about ‘diversity.’ This was a very genuine intellectual commitment.” — Henry Louis Gates Jr. Shining a light on a genius “The AAAS Department played multiple roles for me. It was my academic home, but more than that, it was a place where I really felt at home as a student of color,” said Delle, an entrepreneur and clean-water activist who received a bachelor’s degree in African studies. “Beyond having the world-class faculty and access to resources, what differentiated the department were the additional benefits of having so many faculty of color who could be great advisers. Many students have an emotional, sentimental attachment to the department that you would probably not find in many other places.”Delle, who also received a law degree and M.B.A. from Harvard, was one of the first students to participate in the department’s Social Engagement Initiative, launched in 2006 under the direction of Higginbotham, Victor S. Thomas Professor of History and of African and African American Studies. The program served as a way to bridge intellectual pursuits and civic responsibility for students in the department through coursework and theses.“The scholarship that came out of the Social Engagement Initiative is rooted in transforming communities, being embedded in them, and implementing intellectual questions” learned in academic environments, said Higginbotham, pointing to successful thesis projects in places as diverse as Zimbabwe and Detroit, by students with strong connections to the communities in which they worked. Founding director Bunch recounts the creation of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture Portrait of a trailblazer: Richard Theodore Greener, Class of 1870 The story of a museum and of America Related “The department was founded out of a demand for scholarship on the conditions of black people in the United States and around the world, and more scholarship that could be useful in our communities,” said Higginbotham. The Social Engagement Initiative and other community-based scholarship in the department are examples of ways for students “to be successful and do good. We can be generous in helping others with our expertise, and social engagement gives a way to bring knowledge to people on their terms.”As the department celebrates its history, students and faculty are also looking to the future of the discipline and its place at Harvard, as the political and academic landscape shifts again.“We’ve moved beyond the debate over legitimacy for the field in academia, and I want to turn our attention to questions of training, curriculum development, and methodology,” said Shelby. “I’m hoping this event can be an opportunity to talk about some of those things with people in the field, from Harvard and outside. It’s the beginning of a dialogue.”
Chan School’s Koenen discusses rising mental health concerns in the coronavirus era A summer like no other Keeping safe from pandemic during the holidays Feeling more anxious and stressed? You’re not alone This Thanksgiving, it may be better to forget about even trying to pretend things are normal.Instead, Karestan Koenen suggested acknowledging up-front that it will be different, difficult even. Family traditions will be disrupted, gatherings — when they occur at all — will be smaller and stranger, possibly in chilly November backyards, masked and a little awkward among those you know best. If there are empty seats at the table, the Harvard psychiatric epidemiologist said it’s important to communally remember loved ones lost during this COVID year.Koenen, a professor of psychiatric epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, addressed the upcoming holiday as well as the broader issue of mental health in the pandemic’s autumn and winter depths during a Facebook Live event Tuesday. Sponsored by The Forum at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and PRI’s” The World,” the event featured moderator Elana Gordon and viewers online asking Koenen questions about COVID-19’s mental health toll.Koenen suggested trying to find ways to make this Thanksgiving something positive. Reach out to family members you might normally be sharing the day with via phone, videoconference, or even an online game. Plan an activity to give the day meaning, even if it is different from your annual rite. Koenen, for example, is foregoing what has been her family’s big yearly gathering but is considering alternatives like delivering meals to those less fortunate.“[I’ve been] thinking about ways that I can give back, that might make me feel better and actually be helpful,” Koenen said. “And at the same time just recognizing that it’s going to be hard and that’s OK and thinking about creative ways that you can still do things that you used to enjoy.” “The 1918 pandemic was horrible, and it ended. … There will be an end. We will not be in this forever, keep our eye on that.” — Karestan Koenen, psychiatric epidemiologist Efforts across the University aim to reassure, entertain, connect Harvard’s Lipsitch urges public to ramp up social distancing, increase coronavirus tests Epidemiologist offers tips for family gatherings at Thanksgiving and in December You can have outdoor fun in the COVID era, Chan School expert says, but keep your distance Social distance makes the heart grow lonelier Harvard experts discuss ways to ease the rising sense of isolation and feel more connected Bringing (virtual) normalcy to the community Related Americans are dealing not only with the coronavirus’ threat to their health, but also bereavement from lost family members and friends. Distancing and other public health measures have disrupted daily lives, millions are out of work, and the early government stimulus is running out.There’s also been a summer of social unrest around racial-justice issues and one of the most bitterly contested presidential elections in memory. Despite all of that, she said, there’s been little support for mental health care from federal and state governments, even though there’s demonstrable need. Koenen said more Americans are reporting feeling depressed and anxious — an August survey by the CDC showed 40 percent of respondents suffering mental health impacts — and increasing numbers having seriously considered suicide.Most of the response to this dimension of the crisis has been at the grassroots level, leaving clinics at maximum capacity and waitlists long. On the positive side, insurers have approved telehealth visits for therapy for the first time, helping providers reach patients reluctant to come to the office, and the market has created an array of interventions in the form of smartphone apps for things like mindfulness and yoga.Ironically, Koenen said, if state and federal lawmakers are looking for the best intervention, it wouldn’t be targeted mental health legislation but rather another shot of economic stimulus. That’s because two of the biggest stressors in life are losing a job and the roof over one’s head. Providing assurance that won’t happen, she said, would go a long way toward easing the pressure on Americans. ‘Worry about 4 weeks from now,’ epidemiologist warns On a personal level, Koenen said it’s important to understand that you have tools at your disposal to salve your own mental health. Acknowledge emotions and take care of the body with exercise and diet. Taking a short walk can help ease stress and boost health, while some might also consider taking a breather from society’s constant, aggravating drumbeat: Koenen takes breaks from the news and recently deleted Twitter from her phone. For those feeling exhausted and listless, she suggested thinking of things that made you feel better in the past and trying those.Despite the dread that the coming cold, dark months may instill, Koenen said to keep reasons for optimism in mind. We know a lot more about the virus than we did during the spring surge; we know how to prevent its spread — even if we don’t always take that advice. We know a lot more about treating it and have more tools at our disposal to do so, with new treatments on the way. In addition, she said, surveys of health care workers show lower levels of negative mental health outcomes than expected at this point in the pandemic.“We’ve been amazed, actually, at how resilient the providers are,” Koenen said.In addition, she said, news about vaccines has been positive, highlighting a key lesson from earlier pandemics.“I try to remind myself that there is a light at the end of the tunnel,” Koenen said. “The 1918 pandemic was horrible, and it ended. … There will be an end. We will not be in this forever, keep our eye on that.”