May 20, 2019

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A child's hand holding a small sea star

Estuary and Ocean Science Center drums up ‘hope for the Bay’

Between acidifying waters, invasive species and changing shorelines, the future of San Francisco Bay can seem bleak. But an event at SF State’s Estuary and Ocean Science (EOS) Center shows that there’s reason for hope. Over 1,000 visitors attended the center’s Discovery Day Open House April 28 to learn about what scientists are doing to understand, conserve and restore the waters around us — including unveiling a new partnership with the nonprofit Mission Blue.

The theme of the open house was “Hope for the Bay.” For the many children attending, the event was a chance to hold tiny green crabs and sea stars, stick their hands into a massive tank of eelgrass and climb onto a research vessel to learn how scientists collect plankton. EOS Center leaders also announced the designation of San Francisco Bay as a “Hope Spot,” one of a number of locations around the globe selected by nonprofit advocacy organization Mission Blue to inspire marine conservation efforts. Renowned marine biologist and Mission Blue founder Sylvia Earle spoke to attendees via a video, and EOS Center Executive Director Karina Nielsen was named a “Hope Spot Champions.” As part of the designation, Nielsen and other EOS Center researchers will help advance renewed conservation action plans to restore habitats, adapt to a changing climate and protect local species.

“Despite a legacy of environmental degradation, San Francisco Bay is full of marine life thanks to the efforts of dedicated people who work to create, protect and restore natural habitats and improve water quality,” said Nielsen. “But we need to expand collaborative approaches and include new voices in our conservation planning.”


Maria Jose Lozano Sanabria (left) and Alexis Adsit (right)

Hoods, student Commencement speakers announced

Twelve outstanding graduates will be onstage at Oracle Park during SF State’s 118th Commencement ceremony on Tuesday, May 28, to represent their more than 8,700 peers in the class of 2019. The honor is part of a longstanding tradition in which each of the University’s six academic colleges selects two students, one undergraduate and one graduate, for the honor of representing their classmates during the ceremony by wearing their college’s academic hood. Two of the 12 honorees — undergraduate representative Maria Jose Lozano Sanabria (left) and graduate student representative Alexis (Lexi) Adsit — will deliver comments during the ceremony to their classmates and an estimated 30,000 friends and family members.

Sanabria moved to the United States from her native Colombia when she was 14. That experience as a child migrant informs the work and research she does today around migration policies. Sanabria served as managing director of the International Relations Journal as well as the project assistant for the College of Liberal & Creative Arts’ Social Science Alliance. Fluent in English, Spanish and French, she will attend the prestigious Sciences Po University in Paris for graduate school. 

As a Mexican American, Adsit says she chose San Francisco State’s College of Ethnic Studies not only because of its rich history but also the welcoming environment it offers to people of color. She has worked with local arts organizations such as Peacock Rebellion, an East Oakland-based crew of artists and activists who are queer and trans people of color. Adsit also received her undergraduate degree from SF State in women and gender studies, and as a transgender woman she was active with the LGBTQ community on campus, contributing to the creation of the Queer & Trans Resource Center. She has received two fellowships to pursue a doctorate in feminist studies at the University of Minnesota.

You can read about this year’s other academic hoods here.


Female student dressed in a white wig and gold-plated glasses resembling Benjamin Franklin.

Unique course turns the classroom into a time machine

Role-playing’s not just for Dungeons & Dragons fans anymore. Department of History Lecturer Steve Harris is using it to bring the past alive for students.

“During lectures I sometimes see a lot of students who sit in the back texting, and they may or may not do the reading. They’re passive,” Harris said. “I wasn’t happy with that as the only way of teaching.”

While at a conference a few years ago, Harris stumbled across a possible solution: the concept known as “Reacting to the Past” curriculum (“Reacting”). Pioneered in the late 1990s by a history professor at Barnard College and now used in around 400 colleges nationally, the method uses game-based course materials to draw students away from their phones and into the past. By role-playing historical events and acting out the philosophical and intellectual beliefs of their assigned historical figure, the students get up close and personal with their subjects in a fun yet substantive way. Harris tried out Reacting in his courses on global democracy and Western civilization, and currently he’s using it in his course on American Constitutional history.

In Reacting, students are provided with supplemental readings that include primary sources and profiles of the key historical figures involved in the game. Students then form groups and, through speeches and discussions, attempt to sway their fellow role-playing classmates to agree with their stances. This semester, the topics have ranged from the debate over the presidency at the Constitutional Convention of 1787 to the abolition of slavery in 1865. The students who are able to woo the majority of the class win the game. According to Harris, it’s not uncommon for students to get so wrapped up in their parts they spend hours outside of class crafting strategies to persuade their classmates.

“These are students who are engaging with the issues,” he said. “They’re thinking and they’re working together as a democracy.”

Read more about how students have responded to “Reacting to the Past.”


CampusMemo summer schedule

Next week’s Campus Memo will be sent out on Tuesday rather than Monday because of the Memorial Day holiday. It will be the last issue of the spring semester. During the summer, CampusMemo will be published twice: on June 17 and July 15. Regular weekly publication will resume on Aug. 12.


Chaudhuri receives CEETL teaching award

Professor and Chair of the Department of Economics Anoshua Chaudhuri was presented with the CEETL High Impact Teaching Award earlier this month. Chaudhuri was recognized for her outstanding commitment to experiential education. Through her Health Economics Research and Analysis classes she partnered with City Surf Project (CSP), a nonprofit that encourages underrepresented youth to adopt healthier lifestyles through surfing, to collate and digitize their existing mental health impact-evaluation data. She will continue to work with CSP through 2019 as one of this year’s Call to Service grant recipients.


Call for Applications: Writing PIE Learning Community

The Division of Undergraduate Education and Academic Planning (DUEAP) invites applications for the Fall 2019 Writing PIE (Pedagogies of Inclusive Excellence) Learning Community, a new faculty development program designed to provide support to those teaching (or interested in teaching) writing-intensive courses. Through regular group meetings with this interdisciplinary group, participating faculty will have the opportunity to share ideas and insights, discuss writing pedagogy and learn about best practices in disciplines across campus.

Eligible faculty members will have varying levels of experience and expertise in teaching writing and will have plans to teach writing-intensive courses in the near future. All faculty (tenured, tenure-track and lecturers) interested in joining this program for the fall of 2019 are encouraged to apply. Compensation for participation in this program is $500, and faculty will then be eligible to pursue a Writing PIE Certificate and be designated a certified Writing Fellow on campus.

The program is designed as a hybrid with some sessions online and the sessions below in person. Please make sure you are available for all of the following:

  • Thursday, August 22, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
  • Friday, September 13 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
  • Friday, October 11, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
  • Friday, November 8, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.

Those interested in applying should submit the following application by Friday, May 27. Email wac@sfsu.edu if you have any questions. Successful applicants will be notified by the end of June.


Academic Senate report

The Academic Senate met Tuesday, May 14, in the Nob Hill Room of the Seven Hills Conference Center. Among the meeting highlights:

  • Chair Nancy Gerber discussed an update on the presidential search and discussed vacancies on the Academic Senate.
  • The Senate approved by general consensus the Resolution Commending and Honoring Sacha Bunge, Dean of Faculty Affairs.
  • The Senate approved by general consensus the Resolution Commending and Honoring Leslie Wong, president of San Francisco State University.
  • The Senate approved by general consensus the Resolution Commending and Thanking Outgoing 2018-2019 Academic Senators.
  • Student Services Professional Jennifer Arin of the College of Liberal & Creative Arts presented the 2019 Distinguished Faculty Awards.
  • The Academic Senate elected the following officers:
    • Nancy Counts Gerber, chair of the 2019-2020 Academic Senate
    • Teddy Albiniak, vice chair of the 2019-2020 Academic Senate
    • Kim Schwartz, secretary of the 2019-2020 Academic Senate
    • Tom Thomas, at-large member of the Executive Committee of the 2019-2020 Academic Senate
    • Rachel Small, at-large member of the Executive Committee of the 2019-2020 Academic Senate

A complete list of action items from the meeting is available online.


Faculty administrative search and service pool reminder

The Academic Senate has created a Qualtrics survey to gather information about faculty interest in shared governance opportunities on our campus. Faculty can register interest in one or more of the Academic Senate appointments on committees across campus. This will help the Senate match faculty interests with opportunities as well as increase the diversity of its committees.

Faculty in the faculty service pool are also eligible to be a nominee for administrative searches across the University. The Senate encourages all campus faculty to add themselves to the list by filling out the form here.


LCA Undergraduate Research Showcase report

More than 350 students from 22 academic programs participated in the College of Liberal & Creative Arts Undergraduate Research Showcase, held May 8 at the Seven Hills and Towers conference centers. Students presented their research on topics such as emojis, zombies, YouTube makeup tutorials and primate behavior while others showed off their talents in comics, dance, opera singing and graphic design.

The showcase also celebrated winners of several grants that provide funding for student research. View the full list of award winners here.


New Downtown Campus room rates for SF State departments

The College of Extended Learning (CEL) is pleased to announce new rates exclusive to SF State departments, effective June 1. CEL now offers discounted pricing (lower than for nonprofits) and the ability to rent per hour for many of its rooms. If you would like to host your next event at the Downtown Campus, please request a quote or contact Ally Nguyen or Julie Briden with any questions.


Addressing the Human Side of Role Change, May 29

The office of Professional and Organizational Development invites all managers to participate in a training workshop to help them successfully transition new managers. This workshop has been created to address the different states of change that new managers experience when engaging their new role. Mangers who have direct reports are encouraged to apply.

Organizational Development Manager Lisa Ike will host the workshop.

The workshop will be held Wednesday, May 29, from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in LIB 244. Please RSVP online to secure your spot in the workshop.


Online Records & Tools research series in June

An upcoming four-part series in the Library will explore a rich array of online resources and tools for genealogists, researchers and historians, including useful websites, tips and tricks to help build successful searches. The first discussion in the Online Records & Tools series, focused on newspapers, will be held Wednesday, June 5. The three other discussions will be:

  • Land Records, June 12
  • Passenger Lists and Immigration, June 19
  • Archives and Government Records, June 26

All four discussions will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Sutro Library Reading Room on the Library’s fifth floor. RSVP through Eventbrite.

Wagstaffe ponders protections for journalists

School of Journalism Lecturer James Wagstaffe was quoted in multiple Chronicle articles last week about California’s journalist shield law. The articles were sparked by a police raid on the home of a journalist to investigate a leaked report on the death of outspoken public defender Jeff Adachi. The degree to which the reporter would be protected under the law was murky due to his status as a freelancer. “There are gray areas and there are black-and-white areas,” Wagstaffe said. “I understand there are people who post things on Facebook. That’s gray. If it’s their livelihood, if they perform as a journalist, that person is in the black-and-white area, regardless of how they get their paycheck.” Read more here and here.


Jeung and Mar have a “Great” interview

Professor and Chair of Asian American Studies Russell M. Jeung and Assistant Professor Eric Mar appeared on the KTSF talk show “Great Family” recently to talk about the 50th anniversary of Asian American Studies at SF State and its impact on the community. They also discussed the new book they worked on as co-editors, “Mountain Movers: Student Activism & the Emergence of Asian American Studies” (UCLA Asian American Studies Center, 2019). Jeung has another book coming out in June: “Family Sacrifices: The Worldviews and Ethics of Chinese Americans” (Oxford University Press) details the key values and relationships of Chinese people in the U.S.


LeBuhn looks at declining biodiversity

Professor of Biology Gretchen LeBuhn discussed human impacts on biodiversity and her research on native and non-native plants in the Presidio in a recent San Francisco Examiner article. “We all know this is happening,” LeBuhn said of an alarming new United Nations report on plant and animal extinctions. “We’re managing the environment in such a way that’s going to lead to decreases in biodiversity.” Read more here.


Tuman discusses tax-cut rollout misstep

A recent Los Angeles Times article about a sales tax exemption backed by California Governor Gavin Newsom quoted Professor of Communications Studies Joseph Tuman. Though the sales tax exemption on diapers and tampons is seen as a boon to low-income families, the governor’s announcement failed to mention that the tax cut would only last for two years, leading to criticism. “I don’t want to compare Newsom to Trump, but I will for just a second,” said Tuman. “I must say this is a characterization you see in both of them, which is running to report something and make headlines before you’ve dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s.”