David Leonhardt Adds Staff to ‘Times’ Data Venture (Capital)

Assistant Professor of Government Brendan Nyhan will be a contributor for The New York Times’ new “data-driven politics and policy website,” reports Capital.

The announcement of the appointment was made by the Times’ David Leonhardt, the article notes. Leonhardt says in a memo that “Brendan Nyhan has established a reputation as one of the most thought-provoking writers about politics on the web,” Capital reports.

Leonhardt says, “Our goal is to use a conversational style to demystify politics, economics, health care, and other issues. We will publish a steady stream of pieces on a website within nytimes.com.”

Read the full story, published 2/14/14 by Capital.

Pro-Vaccine Messages Actually Backfire, Study Finds (NBC News)

A new study led by Dartmouth’s Brendan Nyhan suggests that public health messages aimed at increasing childhood vaccinations are actually having the reverse effect, reports NBC News.

The study found that the messages increased fears among wary parents, the article notes. “If these messages were working, they should increase the intent to vaccinate,” Nyhan, an assistant professor of government, tells NBC News. “This highlights the extent to which we tend to overrate how persuasive facts and evidence are in all kinds of domains.”

Nyhan and his colleagues studied the effectiveness of public health messages about measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) that were designed to reduce misperceptions and increase vaccination rates. The study was published online in the journal Pediatrics on March 3.

Read the full story, published 3/2/14 by NBC News.

Study: North Carolina Voting Law Hits Black Voters (MSNBC)

Researchers at Dartmouth and the University of Florida say recent voting law changes in North Carolina will disproportionately affect African-Americans, reports MSNBC.

“We tried to figure out using publicly available voting data if the aspects we studied looked like they would have disproportionate effect on one racial group or whether they would be race neutral,” Michael Herron tells MSNBC. Herron is a professor of government and a co-author of the study, which some say will provide ammunition for legal challenges under the Voting Rights Act. Herron says all of the changes they studied “would have a disproportionate effect on African-Americans.”

Read the full story, published 2/12/14 by MSNBC.

Dartmouth Study Finds Foreign Aid Boosts Public Opinion

A new study by researchers from Dartmouth and two Australian universities provides the first empirical evidence using data from a variety of countries that foreign aid can greatly improve foreign public opinion of donor countries.

The findings are based on a U.S. foreign aid program targeting HIV and AIDS—the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)—that has substantially improved public perception of the United States in the more than 80 developing countries receiving the aid. But the findings have broader policy implications for an emerging international order in which major powers increasingly use foreign aid rather than militarized conflicts to sway global public opinion and pursue a range of objectives in foreign relations, researchers say.

The working paper, which has been accepted for publication in the Quarterly Journal of Political Science, is available on SSRN (Social Science Research Network). The study included researchers from Dartmouth College, the University of Sydney, and the Australian National University.

When History Humiliates Former Enemies (CNN)

In an opinion piece on CNN, Dartmouth’s Jennifer Lind writes that the Japanese prime minister’s recent visit to the Yasukuni shrine has stirred tensions in the region. She says Shinzo Abe’s visit “will curdle Japan’s already sour relations with South Korea or China, and indeed has already provoked the predictable outcry.”

While many countries, such as Poland and Germany, have looked for inclusive ways to commemorate the past, Lind writes, Japan has not followed that path.

“Commemoration is not the root cause of poor relations in Northeast Asia; it is a window to just how distant relations are there,” writes Lind, an associate professor of government and the author of Sorry States: Apologies in International Politics.

Read the full opinion piece, published 1/3/14 by CNN.

The Jewish State in Question (The New Yorker)

In a New Yorker opinion piece, Bernard Avishai, a visiting professor of government at Dartmouth, discusses Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s demand that Palestinians recognize Israel as a “Jewish state,” or as “the nation-state of the Jewish people.”

“Netanyahu’s demand has at least three layers to it,” Avishai writes. “The first is symbolic, without practical significance—understandable, but superfluous. The second is partly symbolic, but is meant to have future practical significance; it is contentious but resolvable. The third, however, is legal: it has great practical significance, and is, for any Palestinian or, for that matter, Israeli democrat, deplorable. We are no longer debating resolutions at fin-de-siècle Zionist congresses. Making laws requires settled definitions, and what’s being settled in Israel is increasingly dangerous. Netanyahu’s demand is a symptom of the disease that presents itself as the cure.”

Read the full opinion piece, published 1/2/14 by The New Yorker.

In the Classroom and Beyond: Sonu Bedi

Sonu Bedi, associate professor of government, reflects on his research and teaching.

My current project is on the scope of justice. Scholars often debate the principles of justice, e.g., is redistribution fair? Is race-based affirmative action just? Are paternalistic laws justifiable? In all these cases, we assume that the only kind of action worthy of interrogation is action by state or state actors. The question of scope is rarely discussed.

The project seeks to consider ways in which non-state actors, including private employers, associations, religious groups, and even individuals may violate principles of justice.

I recently published a book titled Beyond Race, Sex, and Sexual Orientation: Legal Equality without Identity (Cambridge University Press, 2013). Speaking directly to the teacher-scholar ethos, my spring 2012 seminar, titled “Race, Law, and Identity,” asked students to read chapters from the book. This both allowed students to see how my scholarly work informs the current state of the field and gave me crucial feedback as I finished the book.


Perils of Apology in International Relations (Foreign Affairs)

In an opinion piece published by Foreign Affairs, Associate Professor of Government Jennifer Lind writes about the “politics of apology,” in particular the recent controversy over reports that Kabul demanded that the U.S. apologize for its military’s “bad behavior” in Afghanistan.

The politics of apology, she writes, “are hardly limited to the United States and Afghanistan.” And apologies can sometimes makes things worse, says Lind, author of Sorry States: Apologies in International Politics.

“In the 1990s, observing the 50th anniversaries of World War II, Japan’s government issued numerous apologies, including a 1995 Diet resolution that expressed ‘a sense of deep remorse’ for the pain and suffering that Japan inflicted on its neighbors. Many Japanese conservatives denounced these gestures, asking why Japan alone should be asked to apologize, denying that Japan had committed aggression, or arguing that Koreans had welcomed their annexation into the Japanese empire. Predictably, Japan’s neighbors reacted to these remarks with outrage and expressions of deep distrust.”

Envisioning a Peaceful Israel, Scientifically (The New Yorker)

In a story in The New YorkerProfessor Bernard Avishai, a visiting professor of government, writes about a method for determining the cost of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to Israel’s economy.

“The problem is that it is difficult to determine the opportunity cost of the conflict,” Avishai writes. “How well might the Israeli economy have done if the conflict hadn’t taken place?”

Avishai’s colleague, Yusaku Horiuchi, imagines a “synthetic Israel”—a composite of countries similar to Israel in various respects, but without the conflict with the Palestinians—which can be tracked alongside the real Israel. Horiuchi, the inaugural Mitsui Chair in the Study of Japan and an associate professor of government, with the help of Asher Mayerson ’15, analyzed data from both Israeli and “synthetic Israeli,” Avishai writes.

“Cumulatively,” he writes, “from 2001 to 2010, Israel’s per capita G.D.P. was $25,513 less than that of synthetic Israel’s.

Conference Showcases Japan Studies at Dartmouth

Dartmouth will host a two-day conference, “Japan Studies at Dartmouth: Educating Global Citizens,” on November 8 and 9, celebrating the past, present, and future of Japanese studies at the College.

The conference, sponsored by the Office of the Dean of the Faculty, will commemorate the storied history between Dartmouth and the Tokyo-based company, Mitsui & Co., Ltd., which in 2011 established the Mitsui Professorship at Dartmouth.

“For more than 100 years, Dartmouth College has had a connection to Japan beginning with Kan’ichi Asakawa, Class of 1899, the first Japanese student to graduate from the College, and Mitsui has been an integral part of that long connection,” says Yusaku Horiuchi, the inaugural Mitsui Chair in the Study of Japan , an associate professor of government, and co-organizer of the conference. “We welcome the participation of anyone interested in Japan, Japanese studies, and Dartmouth’s global initiatives in general.”