Voices of the College

Leon Fink

Leon Fink. Photo by Grant Therkildsen

Leon Fink, a UIC distinguished professor in the Department of History, has won a 2012-13 Lloyd Lewis residential fellowship for research in the collections of the Newberry Library. The U.S. labor historian will be working on a study entitled “The American Way of Class War: Workers, Business and State Regulation during the Long Gilded Age, 1880-1920.” Examining the peculiarities of American political-economic developments within a larger contemporary world context, the study will include essays on “Grand Illusions: Free Labor in the Long Gilded Age,” “The Stakes of the Game: Why Leadership Mattered in Industrial Conflicts,” “Roads to Nowhere: Labor’s Frustrated Search for Legitimacy,” “Exceptional Reformers: American Academics as Progressive Activists,” and “Radicals in a Revolutionary Age: Labor’s Search for a New World Order.”

Fink is the author of eight books, most recently Sweatshops at Sea: Merchant Seamen in the World’s First Globalized Industry, from 1812 to the Present and Workers Across the Americas: The Transnational Turn in Labor History. He directs the PhD concentration in the History of Work, Race, and Gender in the Urban World and is a Fulbright Senior Scholar and past NEH Fellow.

Maria Krysan

Maria Krysan. Photo by Kathryn Marchetti

Maria Krysan, interim head of the Department of Sociology, was awarded the 2012 Oliver Cox Award from the Racial and Ethnic Minorities Section of the American Sociological Association. Does Race Matter in Neighborhood Preferences? Results from a Video Experiment” was penned by Krysan and several co-authors and published in the American Journal of Sociology. The Cox Award recognized the work as “the best research article in the sociological study of race and ethnicity published in the past three years.”

Krysan’s work, which focuses on racial residential segregation and racial attitudes, has been funded by the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, Russell Sage Foundation and the Ford Foundation. She serves on the editorial board of Public Opinion Quarterly and Social Problems and has been a member of the Board of Overseers of the General Social Survey.

James Pellegrino and Susan Goldman

LSRI co-directors James W. Pellegrino and Susan Goldman. Photo by Kathryn Marchetti

Among the many projects, studies and initiatives in which researchers at the Learning Sciences Research Institute are engaged, two have recently received media attention.

LSRI investigators Leilah Lyons and Tom Moher, in collaboration with the Chicago Zoological Society and other organizations and scholars, participated in a National Science Foundation-funded project to survey more than 7,000 visitors at zoos and aquariums around the country to determine if people who visit those facilities care more about environmental issues and if that environmental concern is tied to their feeling of connection with the animals. The findings, which were analyzed by the Climate Literacy Zoo Education Network, indicated that 64 percent of visitors expressed concern over global warming compared to 39 percent of the general public. These results and additional findings are published in the final report, “Global Climate Change as seen by Zoo and Aquarium Visitors.”

The research findings also suggest that there is a good opportunity to educate the zoo and aquarium visitor population on consumer and environmental behaviors that address climate change. A national initiative to create education materials is being developed. Susan Goldman, LSRI co-director and UIC distinguished professor of psychology and education, will serve as co-principal investigator with Michael E. Mann of Pennsylvania State University on the initiative which is being led by Alejandro Grajal, senior vice president of conservation and education for CZS. A free e-book written by Grajal, Goldman and Tracy Marks, Climate Change Education: A Primer for Zoos and Aquariums, is available for download at lulu.com.

On July 10 James W. Pellegrino, co-director of LSRI, LAS distinguished professor of cognitive psychology and distinguished professor of education, was at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington D.C. to announce the release of a report by the National Research Council. Pellegrino chaired the committee that wrote Education for Life and Work: Developing Transferable Knowledge and Skills in the 21st-Century. He also served as co-editor of the publication with Margaret Hilton.

The report describes how 21st-century competencies foster learning in mathematics, English and science as well as success at work and in life. These competencies include thinking and reasoning skills; intrapersonal skills such as self-management of emotions and behavior; and the interpersonal domain of communications—expressing information and interpreting and acting upon messages appropriately.

The report also describes a process of “deeper learning” through which a person develops the ability to take what was learned in one situation and apply it to new situations.

“The fundamental issue we highlight is that of transfer of knowledge and skills, which is not a new issue but is one that has taken on special relevance in contemporary society,” said Pellegrino. “Transfer doesn’t come easily. It depends on well-designed instruction that supports the process of deeper learning.”

The study concludes that competencies in the cognitive domain strongly correlate with positive educational, career and health outcomes, but that more research is needed to establish a direct causality between skills and outcomes. The full report is available at www.nap.edu.

Deirdre McCloskey

Deirdre McCloskey. Photo by Roberta Dupuis-Devlin

Deirdre McCloskey, distinguished professor in the Departments of Economics, History, Communication and English, has this year received honorary degrees from four universities in recognition of her scholarly work. In April she received the Doctor Honoris Causa in the History of Capitalism from the Copenhagen Business School. The month of May saw an Honorary Doctorate from the Universidad Francisco in Marroquin, Guatemala and an Honorary Degree of Humane Letters from Southern Illinois University. In September she was in Sweden to receive an Honorary Doctorate from Jönköping University.

McCloskey is a free-market economist, historian and rhetorician whose critique of statistical significance contributed to a landmark 2011 Supreme Court decision. “The Bourgeois Era” is her four-volume work on the history and vision of capitalism; volumes one and two were published by University of Chicago Press in 2006 and 2010 respectively. McCloskey discussed her views and her work in the Fall 2011 AtLAS.

Dick Simpson

Dick Simpson. Photo by Thomas J. Gradel

Dick Simpson, a professor in the Department of Political Science, followed up his report on corruption in Chicago and Illinois with “Green Grass and Graft: Corruption in the Suburbs.” The study was conducted by Simpson and fellow researchers at UIC. It documents public corruption involving more than 130 public officials and police officers, including 17 mayors and village presidents, in more than 60 suburbs in Cook and surrounding counties. The team looked at corruption convictions back to the early 1970s, with most convictions having occurred in the last two decades. The criminal behaviors include ties to organized crime; nepotism and patronage; police officers aiding criminals; kickbacks and bribes; and theft of public funds. The report, released in June, suggests creation of a suburban-based independent inspector general to investigate illegal and unethical dealings and to recommend follow-up by state and federal prosecutors. This suggestion was endorsed by the Chicago Sun-Times in a July 2 editoral. Co-authors of “Green Grass and Graft” include David Sterrett, Melissa Mouritsen Zmuda and Thomas J. Gradel. A team of UIC student researchers contributed to the report.

Simpson has been on faculty at UIC since 1967 and is the recipient of several awards for excellence in teaching. A former Chicago alderman and an expert on Chicago, state and urban politics, he is a regular commentator on current events. Simpson is the author of numerous studies and publications on electoral politics and political ethics.

Voices of the College includes material adapted from articles published in UIC News.