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People on the move: USC people, making news, making an impact (8/30/2000)

Drawing the line in multi-culti California

Cultural-defense expert Alison Dundes Renteln was quoted in an Aug. 27 Los Angeles Times piece on the uses and misuses of cultural defense in an increasingly multi-culti California. “Renteln,” said the column’s author, Patt Morrison, “draws the line at violence. Her standard is Hippocratic � do no harm. … For her, a valid cultural defense doesn’t necessarily mean ‘the person should be excused, but [that] it should be taken into account.’” Said Renteln: “For things which are innocent, like folk medicine or what kind of animals people eat or what kind of religious symbols they wear � why should the assumption be that people should become Americanized?”

Not a magic bullet, but a shot in the dark for ADD

Virtual reality expert Albert “Skip” Rizzo’s high-tech research into Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder) was the subject of an Aug. 19 NBC “Nightly News” profile. “It’s not being called a magic bullet, but one more tool to help diagnose and treat a disorder … which affects about 4 million children,” began the piece. “We can really more specifically measure the kinds of attention ability issues that occur with these kids,” said Rizzo of a technology that may help doctors and psychologists more accurately diagnose the disorder and lessen their reliance on psychotropic drugs. “That’s what really drives these researchers,” said Isaac Maya of the School of Engineering’s Integrated Media Systems Center. “It’s the excitement that comes from being able to apply non-medical tools to solve medical problems.” Also featured in the piece were USC/Childrens Hospital psychologists Jason D. Williams and Haleh Homayounjam. Rizzo’s virtual reality research was also featured in the Aug. 14 Washington Post.

USC urbanologists featured in cover story

The Chronicle of Higher Education prominently featured urban social policy expert Michael Dear in an Aug. 18 cover story on whether Los Angeles should be seen as the archetypal city of the 21st century. Dear is among a growing number of scholars who argue that Los Angeles’ model of urbanism has replaced the Chicago School of urbanism developed by sociologists in the 1920s and 1930s. “When you consider what cities are going to be, and how policies are going to develop,” Dear said, “all our old rules tend to be turned upside down. You can’t stop Los Angeles from growing. One of the next stops is Las Vegas. How far can Southern California go? It’s an infinite development.” But urban historian Philip J. Ethington, also quoted in the article, said Los Angeles is not unique. “Queens is every bit as diverse as any section of Los Angeles,” Ethington said. Urban planning and development expert Jennifer Wolch said overcrowding amid urban sprawl has led to a rise in homelessness. She described Los Angeles as the “homeless capital of the country.”

The case of the weak case thwarts prosecutors

Prosecutors failed to get a guilty verdict against a Laguna Niguel woman accused of killing her 8-month-old baby because they couldn’t prove it was murder, criminal procedure expert Erwin Chemerinsky said in an Aug. 15 Los Angeles Times article. The existence of letters threatening suicide “doesn’t prove murder,” he said. “If that’s all the prosecutor had, it’s a very weak case.”

Hotter and hotter

USC’s selection as one of the nation’s “hot” schools � in Kaplan/Newsweek’s “How to Get Into College” guide � was mentioned in an Aug. 7 USA Today article. Students interested in film, theater, engineering and music are particularly interested in USC, said the guide.

Accentuating the positive

Those with Spanish or other non-English surnames have the right to pronounce their names with an accent, communication expert Geoffrey Cowan said in a July 18 Los Angeles Times article, “Life, Liberty and the Right to Roll Your Double R’s.” “At [Voice of America] we changed the rules since we felt that there is no one ‘American’ accent; indeed, that is one of America’s strengths,” said Cowan, dean of USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and former director of VOA, the broadcast service of the U.S. Information Agency.

The bright side of the downside

Recent layoffs in the newsgathering business are healthy, on-line journalism expert Larry Pryor said in a June 8 Boston Globe article.”Specialize, concentrate, focus,” Pryor advised on-line journalists. “Come up with a quality product that fills a specialty niche.”

Assimilating while staying connected

Religion can inspire people to strive for economic progress, Donald Miller said in a July 16 Los Angeles Times commentary. “Ecstatic worship and biblical literacy may be just the formula for giving people a vision and sense of purpose,” Miller said. “In the slums of developing countries, it is rather common to observe upward social mobility as an indirect consequence of conversion.” Miller also wrote an Aug. 6 Times commentary on how religious institutions are helping new immigrants assimilate while maintaining connections to their homeland.

People on the move: USC people, making news, making an impact (8/30/2000)

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