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Matters of note from around Johns Hopkins


University: Weiss Named Dean of Arts & Sciences

Medicine: Hospital Traces Infections

Public Health: A Model Law for Uncertain Times

Policy: Welfare Studies Have MERIT, Says NIH With Award

Astronomy: Explosive Clues to Past Extinctions

Medicine: Lessons in Healing Communications

Humanities: A Gentle Wake-Up Call

Policy: Building a Better Neighborhood

Students: Novice Filmmakers Make Big Debut

History: The French "Cure" for Individualism

Students: Forming an Emergency Response

Wholly Hopkins Departments: Syllabus | Datebook | Academese | Forever Altered | Here & Abroad | Bottom Line | Vignette | Up & Comer | Findings | JHUniverse | Vital Signs |

Outgoing Arts and Sciences dean Richard McCarty with the next generation, Dan Weiss
Photo by Jay Van Rensselaer
Weiss Named Dean of Arts & Sciences

An art historian with two degrees from Johns Hopkins and an MBA from Yale has been named dean of the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. Professor of art history Daniel Weiss (MA '82, PhD '92) will assume his new role on July 1. He succeeds Richard McCarty, longtime Hopkins biology professor, who is eager to return to the classroom and lab. "Research is a part of my very fabric," says McCarty '60 (PhD '64), a central figure in the world of plant physiology.

Weiss has followed a rapid trajectory at Hopkins. He joined the faculty in 1993 and became chair of the history of art department in 1998. Two years later he joined the dean's office as senior adviser to McCarty; since last August he has served as dean of the faculty at Arts and Sciences.

"Ordinarily, when a dean leaves office, we do a thorough national search. In this case ... the choice is an obvious one," noted Hopkins president William R. Brody, in a broadcast e-mail message announcing Weiss' appointment.

During his tenure in the dean's office, Weiss helped oversee the creation of a strategic plan for the School of Arts and Sciences--a road map that was adopted last year by faculty, students, and alumni (a href="/ksas/website/aboutksas/strategic_plan"> Weiss says that implementing this plan will be his top priority, and adds, "We've already started [moving ahead] on several fronts."

The plan noted, for example, that the Krieger School had fallen behind its competitors in faculty compensation, particularly in the social and natural sciences, threatening its "ability to attract and retain the finest scholars, scientists, and educators." Some salary increases have already been implemented ("ahead of schedule," says Weiss), and there are plans for phasing in additional increases over the next five years. The school will also move to increase the size of its faculty by about 15 percent--or 35 positions--over the next seven to 10 years, according to the plan. During this time of growth, increasing faculty diversity will be key, Weiss says.

Hand in hand with these changes, notes Weiss, comes a greater focus on the undergraduate experience. "That includes increasing the number of seminar courses offered to undergraduates," he says, as well as "diversifying-- intellectually, ethnically, and racially--our undergraduate student body to make this a more interesting place."

The emphasis on undergraduate life will be a sustained one throughout the university, Weiss notes. In February, Hopkins' newly created Commission on Undergraduate Education--a 30-member task force--began working to produce by spring 2003 a list of recommendations aimed at significantly improving the quality of undergraduate education at Hopkins over the next two decades.

Weiss, who has twice won Hopkins awards for teaching excellence, intends to maintain some involvement in the classroom and to continue his work advising graduate students. "I'd like, if possible, to teach a little bit. Everyone in the [dean's] office will teach a little bit, because that's important." His research, however, which has focused on the art of the Middle Ages, will have to go on the back burner. "Fund raising will be a huge part of what I'm going to be doing," he says, noting that the launch of the university's new campaign will coincide with his start as dean.

After earning his MBA from Yale in 1985, Weiss took a "detour" from his academic career to work for four years for the consulting firm of Booz Allen Hamilton. That experience "has been enormously helpful in helping me to get a perspective on how large, complicated organizations operate, and how to think about budgetary problems and analyze financial situations," he says.

Weiss has appointed Adam Falk, a Hopkins faculty member in physics and astronomy, to focus on faculty issues in the newly created post of vice dean for faculty and academic programs.

As of July, McCarty will become dean emeritus and special adviser to President Brody, and will continue to work with Arts and Sciences alumni. And, perhaps best of all, in his view, he'll return to his students and research in the biology department. "I have missed active involvement in my laboratory and teaching," says McCarty, who joined the Hopkins faculty in 1990 after 24 years at Cornell. Last fall he received a five-year grant renewal from the National Science Foundation. Says McCarty, "This award has made me even more eager to spend more time in the lab." --Sue De Pasquale

Hospital Traces Infections

After tracing a surge in infections among sick and immune-compromised patients to faulty bronchoscopes, Hopkins doctors have launched a campaign to alert patients who underwent diagnostic lung procedures during an eight-month period.

In March, Hopkins Medicine sent more than 400 certified letters to patients who may have been exposed to bacteria harbored by the bronchoscopes, which are part of a national recall by the manufacturer. Between June 1, 2001, and February 4, the patients--many being treated for lung cancer, HIV/AIDS, and cystic fibrosis--underwent a procedure that allows doctors to view the inside of the lungs and extract specimens.

A review of medical records indicates that about 100 of the approximately 410 patients in the group have tested positive for exposure to pseudomonas, a two- to three-fold greater incidence than expected. Infections related to the contaminated scopes may have contributed to the deaths from pneumonia of two patients, according to Hopkins officials; because of the critical nature of their illnesses, doctors say it will be difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of death.

Pulmonologists at the hospital noted unexpected rates of pseudomonas infections last December, prompting an environmental review of the bronchoscopes, lab, cleaning equipment, and procedures. No pseudomonas was found, leaving the staff perplexed. But in late January, investigators tried flushing fluid through the bronchoscopes in the reverse direction from the industry standard and discovered contamination in three of seven Olympus bronchoscopes in the lab.

Doctors believe the contamination is related to loose ports on the bronchoscopes, recalled by Olympus in November. Hopkins did not become aware of the voluntary recall until February; the letter announcing it was sent to a wrong address at the hospital, according to news reports. The recall was prompted by a report from another medical center of bacterial contamination in its bronchoscopes.

Public Health
A Model Law for Uncertain Times

For years, Lawrence Gostin pushed to bring public health law up to date, toiling with other health policy researchers and lawyers who worried that existing laws weren't adequate to protect the public or provide guidance in a crisis.

But politicians didn't see it as a pressing issue. Then came September 11, followed by the first death from anthrax exposure. Suddenly, public health and preparedness were hot topics.

Lawrence Gostin's moment had arrived.

"The level of interest has never been this high," says Gostin, co-director of the Center for Law and the Public's Health at Georgetown and Johns Hopkins Universities. "I never thought it would happen in my lifetime."

The Model State Emergency Health Powers Act (online at attempts to balance the common good with individual rights. At the behest of the Centers for Disease Control, Gostin and Stephen Teret, Bloomberg School of Public Health professor and co-director at the Center for Law and the Public's Health, worked with center colleagues and several national associations to develop legislation that could serve as a model for states to use in drawing up or revising laws relating to public health emergencies.

In just over a month, "The Model State Emergency Health Powers Act" was pulled together and distributed with the blessing of the Bush administration, the CDC, and key state organizations such as the National Governors Association, the National Conference of State Legislatures, and the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.

Gostin says existing laws--a patchwork that varies from state to state--often don't address modern public health science or the delicate balance between public safety and individual rights. "Most laws relating to public health go back to the early 20th century. They've changed layer by layer, from smallpox to typhoid to TB to polio to AIDS."

The model act is meant to address public health emergencies relating to bioterrorism and emerging infectious diseases, with an optional "all hazards" clause for states wishing to include chemical, nuclear, or natural disasters.

Currently, says Gostin, almost half of the states are considering legislation, including Maryland, New York, and California; he believes some will pass versions of the model act by year's end.

"Ideally, it would be nice to have uniformity and consistency between the states, because pathogens don't know borders," Gostin notes. Nevertheless, he says, the model act at least provides a checklist of what topics should be addressed, and at best will be used as a framework. To that end, the committee drew on existing state statutes, eager to show they weren't reinventing the wheel. Key elements include:

Creation, by the governor, of a public health emergency planning commission to develop within six months a comprehensive plan for detecting and responding to health emergencies.

Measures to beef up the reporting and tracking of illnesses or health conditions that may cause a public health emergency.

Guidelines for a governor to declare a public health emergency, and definition of a "public health authority" to assume the lead role in an emergency.

Description of emergency powers relating to people, from allowing the public health authority to perform tests to determine a diagnosis, to requiring vaccination to prevent the spread of disease. For those refusing testing or vaccination, the act allows quarantining or isolation.

Setting out of specific emergency powers for property, including broad access to and use of private buildings and health care facilities, and the evacuation, decontamination, or destruction of facilities that pose a health risk.

Guidelines for addressing issues of funding, liability, compensation, and conflicting laws.

The model act, released in October 2001, was revised in December based on responses from legislators and public- and private-sector groups. For example, the new draft removes the word "compel" regarding powers to test, treat, and vaccinate, and eliminates criminal penalties for refusing testing or vaccination.

Still, the proposed legislation has stirred up a host of critics: groups concerned about property and ownership rights, privacy issues, civil liberties, vaccine safety, and AIDS advocates who fear the law will be applied to people with HIV.

"Our view is that most people will cooperate, but if a person doesn't, we can't allow that person to pose a threat to the general public," Gostin says. "We bent over backwards for a strong emphasis on civil liberties," he adds, noting that the model legislation often goes well beyond existing public health laws in safeguarding patient rights and providing legal recourse, and that it was not intended to address endemic diseases such as AIDS, only emergencies contained within a specific time period.

Notes Gostin, "With the focus on civil rights, liberty, autonomy, and privacy, we've forgotten another important American tradition, the common good, focusing on what we can do to make people healthy." --Mary Mashburn

NIH recognizes economist Robert Moffitt's research Policy
Welfare Studies Have MERIT, Says NIH With Award

Professor of economics Robert Moffitt has spent years studying whether welfare benefits have an impact on out-of-wedlock births. The National Institutes of Health recently recognized the importance--and superiority--of his scholarship with its prestigious MERIT award. The award provides Moffitt with significant funding over the next decade: $675,000 during the next five years, and an amount at least equal to that for the succeeding five years.

NIH has granted the award to fewer than 5 percent of NIH-funded researchers during the last 16 years, and most of those grants have gone to people working in the hard sciences. "It's a signal from us that he has arrived as a scientist," says Jeffery Evans, a senior project officer at NIH's National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

In Moffitt's initial studies of welfare's impact, he found only a small correlation between welfare benefits and bearing children outside of marriage. He found a stronger correlation between declining earnings and employment rates among less-

educated men, and an increase in out-of-wedlock births; unemployed men are simply less attractive as husbands, Moffitt says.

The economist is poised to begin researching a new trend: an increase in the rate of marriage during the last five years. A stated goal of the nation's 1996 welfare reform legislation was to decrease out-of-wedlock births. Moffitt would like to know if the increase in the marriage rate is attributable to welfare reform or other factors.

Says the NIH's Evans, "[Moffitt] will be a central figure in assessing whether welfare reform and its future modifications affect marriage and fertility behavior." --Dale Keiger

The star Antares, lower left, may be the next of the Scorpio-Centaurs OB association to explode.
© Anglo-Australian Observatory, Photograph from UK Schmidt Plates by David Malin
Explosive Clues to Past Extinctions

Approximately 2 million years ago, as the Earth moved from the Pliocene epoch to the Pleistocene, there occurred a massive die-off of plankton, mollusks, and other marine species. Scientists have proposed varied explanations: climate change due to the emergence of the Panama isthmus, or the effects of northern glaciation. Now a pair of Hopkins astronomers believe they may have the answer: a supernova-- an exploding star, possibly more than one--in the cosmic neighborhood.

Narciso Benítez, an associate research scientist in the Hopkins physics and astronomy department, and Jesús Maíz-Apellániz, an astronomer with the Hopkins-based Space Telescope Science Institute, have combined observations from astronomy, paleontology, and geology to hypothesize that one or more massive explosions near our solar system could have so damaged the ozone layer that the plankton died off. This could have led to the subsequent catastrophic decline in mollusks that scientists know took place 2 million years ago, based on the geologic record.

Maíz-Apellániz had been fascinated by what astronomers call the Local Bubble. Within a 300-light-year radius of the sun, there is a relative absence of matter; that is, the interstellar gas in our neck of the woods is far less dense than the galactic norm. Maíz-Apellániz was curious about the possible role of supernovae in creating such a bubble.

A type of star cluster called an OB association contains large numbers of giant stars (types O and B) that tend to burn out fast and then explode. One such cluster, the Scorpio-Centaurus OB association, had attracted the attention of Maíz-Apellániz. When he plotted its trajectory back through time, checking on where it had been, so to speak, he found that roughly 2 million years ago, stars from a Sco-Cen subgroup would have been about 150 light-years from the sun. In astronomical terms, they'd have been right in the neighborhood.

So a star cluster that regularly produced supernovae had been nearby. Maíz-Apellániz mentioned this to Benítez over lunch, and Benítez became curious: Might there be something in the geologic or biologic record that indicated supernovae from this same time? He searched an Internet database and turned up a paper by German scientist Klaus Knie. Knie had drilled deep into the sea floor and found deposits of a rare isotope of iron, designated 60Fe, which in significant quantities results only from supernovae. Knie found the isotope in sediment that was about 2 million years old--which meant it had been deposited just when Sco-Cen and its pool of potentially explosive stars were closest to Earth.

Benítez reasoned that had one or two supernovae occurred at this time, creating the Local Bubble (by more or less blowing away interstellar gas) and depositing 60Fe on Earth, there should be record of alterations to the biosphere as well, since the exploding stars would have generated enormous amounts of cosmic radiation. Benítez mentioned this to his wife, Matilde Cañelles. She is an immunologist at the National Institutes of Health, but her master's thesis had been on microscopic algae. Because scientists had already predicted that one result of radiation from supernovae could be an extinction of plankton, she searched the paleontological record for evidence of this kind of incident occurring when Sco-Cen was nearby.

Sure enough, 2 million years ago there had been a massive die-off of plankton and other marine organisms. (Ca–elles also did most of the calculations that found the amount of 60Fe expected from Sco-Cen supernovae matched well with what Knie had found.)

Now Benítez and Maíz-Apellániz had a three-way conjunction: a star cluster that astronomers know produces supernovae had swung close to Earth, a record of iron deposits that could only have come from supernovae, and an extinction that could have been caused by the cosmic rays produced by exploding stars, all occurring at about the same time. That could be coincidental, but Benítez and Maíz-Apellániz don't think so. They presented their findings at the American Astronomical Society winter meeting, then spent the next two months answering questions from journalists who called from all over the globe, as well as from paleontologists and astrophysicists.

The plankton extinction is the weakest link in the evidentiary chain because there could be other explanations for it, Maíz-Apellániz says. "The best way to confirm these results would be better measurements of the supernova-related isotopes in deep ocean sediments." Also, he notes, only one neutron star--of the 20 or so left over after the supernovae--has been identified, "so it would be useful to detect the rest, to confirm the total number of supernovae that took place." --DK

Lessons in Healing Communications

At the Johns Hopkins Outpatient Center, premed Michael Lu is getting his first lesson in physician-patient communication.

"This is a tense visit for Tommy. If the medications haven't helped his pulmonary functions, he'll have to get an IV for the first time," Hopkins physician Beryl Rosenstein tells Lu, as the two head into an examining room. Inside, Rosenstein, a specialist in pediatric pulmonary disease, talks quietly with the skinny 14-year-old, who has cystic fibrosis. At one point Rosenstein asks, "So, have the medications improved your basketball abilities?" The young man grins and nods, and visibly relaxes. Everyone in the room, including Lu, can't help smiling.

Illustration by Wesley Bedrosian Moments like these give testament to the quiet power of the Master Clinician program, a January experience that pairs Hopkins premeds with experienced physicians at Johns Hopkins, Mercy, and Union Memorial hospitals. The goal: to allow these aspiring doctors to discover that connecting with patients is fundamental to the healing profession. Now in its third year, the program is the brainchild of Ronald Fishbein, assistant dean for preprofessional programs at Homewood, who signed on as a premed adviser five years ago following a long surgical career at Hopkins Hospital.

"Often, patients would come to me because a resident hurt their feelings. The residents don't mean to, they just never learn how to communicate with someone who is feeling vulnerable," says Fishbein. "It is one of the most neglected areas in medicine today."

This year, some 100 Hopkins premeds signed up to participate in the Master Clinician program during Intersession. Only 25 students were chosen, by lottery, for the coveted positions. Students, singly or in pairs, observed physicians with specialties ranging from pediatric oncology to plastic surgery at one of the three hospitals. In all, more than 80 physicians volunteered their time.

Says Hopkins professor of surgery Gershon Efron, who serves as mediator for class discussions, "Even residents and medical school students don't have this kind of opportunity. These undergraduates are able to spend a week observing doctor-patient relations, then we all get together at the end of the week to discuss what they learned."

On the final Friday, a group of students met in Garland Hall to talk about all they'd seen and heard. Efron started the conversation on a philosophical note: "You have to know about the human condition. Don't get lost in the science--be a part of the world," he urged. The students were subdued at first, but soon the recollection of the week's experiences brought an animation and conviction to their discussion. There were many doctors they admired--like the one who used his sense of humor to put patients at ease--and a few they did not. Some doctors seemed to lack sympathy and warmth, the students said. Two young women told of a reconstructive surgeon who simply left the room when a patient, unable to afford the recommended procedure, began to cry. Another harried physician tended a homeless man's leg ulcers reluctantly and with obvious distaste. Efron encouraged the students to think about more positive ways the situations could have been handled.

Concluded Vinita Takiar '03, "Each doctor has his or her own approach. When we get to observe doctor-patient interactions, we get a taste of what it really means to be a doctor. It's totally different from what you see in a textbook." --JK

A Gentle Wake-Up Call

Excerpted from Choosing Civility: The Twenty-five Rules of Considerate Conduct, by P.M. Forni, co-founder of the Johns Hopkins Civility Project, St. Martin's Press, 2002.

Rule No. 2: Acknowledge Others

Acknowledgment comes in many forms: remembering someone's name, paying a thoughtful compliment, summarizing what was just said for a newcomer to the conversation, holding a door open, welcoming, thanking, and just plain saying hello. We can't feel

gregarious every moment of our lives. And that's all right. We can, however, do without the invisibility game.

Rule No. 9: Respect Even a Subtle "No"

Learn to recognize a "no" when it's not stated in the most explicit of ways. If your in-laws appear less than enthusiastic at the news that you are planning to leave your children with them for the weekend, don't ignore their clues. They are tactfully expressing their "No." Realize that you may have been taking them for granted, apologize, and make other plans.

Rule No. 16: Apologize Earnestly and Thoughtfully

Apologizing is one thing; exculpating yourself is quite another. Don't mix the two. How many times do we hear pseudo-apologies such as: "I'm sorry I yelled at you on the phone. But I'm under a lot of stress these days"? This is how a real apology sounds: "I want to apologize for yelling at you. There is no excuse for that. I can only say that it won't happen again."

Rule No. 18: Avoid Personal Questions

Taboo questions continue to make the rounds, kept in business by our inexhaustible curiosity about the business of others: Do you believe in God? How much do you make? How old are you? Do you date? Why not? What are you seeing the doctor for? Why haven't you married yet? Seeking permission to ask an intrusive question doesn't make the question any less intrusive.

Rule No. 22: Refrain From Idle Complaints

Pessimism is like deliberate trudging in the mud. When you complain, you stick your unfortunate listeners in your own mud and you drag them along with you for no good reason. Tranquility, joy, and happiness are, to a large extent, gifts we give to ourselves. There is no way to erase misery from the face of the earth, but you can always focus on the glory that remains. To do that, begin by letting go of unproductive complaining.

P.M. Forni is a professor of Romance Languages and Literatures at Johns Hopkins. His work with the Johns Hopkins Civility Project was featured in "Are We a Nation of Boors?", the cover story in the June 1998 issue of Hopkins Magazine. --SD

Silhouetted on a formstone wall, a tree grows in urban Baltimore.
Photo by Christopher Myers
Building a Better Neighborhood

Contrary to conventional wisdom, declining population in some of America's most prominent cities doesn't necessarily translate into overall urban decline. It might just depend on the neighborhood.

That's the conclusion of graduate students at Hopkins' Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), who recently completed a study of Baltimore for their first-year project for the Master of Arts in Policy Studies (MAPS) degree. The students looked at how population and other factors help define a neighborhood's health or decline.

Baltimore, formerly an East Coast industrial base, has seen a steady decline in population since the 1950s. The city lost about 85,000 residents during the 1990s alone, or nearly 12 percent of its total population. That drop was the biggest loss among the nation's 30 largest cities, according to the Hopkins report.

So, for many years, the city has been assumed to be in a downward spiral. Yet Baltimore also shows indications of a city on the mend. Neighborhoods like waterfront Canton and historic Federal Hill have become hot destinations, drawing higher home prices and millions of dollars in commercial investment. Overall, average home prices in the city have jumped more than $20,000 to $90,000 over the past few years.

"If you look below the surface, you may find a less negative story," says Sandra J. Newman, director of IPS and Hopkins policy studies professor. Newman, who has assigned the MAPS project since 1994, notes that a deeper understanding of who is drawn to certain neighborhoods and why could spur "alternative futures for the city."

MAPS student Amy Buck explains it this way: "Baltimore has very idiosyncratic neighborhoods that attract different people. The way for Baltimore to become stronger is to focus on how neighborhoods can market themselves to different types of households."

Overall during the past decade, the number of households in the city with children decreased 28 percent, to about 60,000. Yet in some of the city's "hottest" neighborhoods, like Canton, students found the shift to childless households did not indicate decline.

City planning director Charles Graves noted that the students' findings are similar to his office's observations, prompting a dilemma: "A city without children is an interesting concept," Graves says. "Single individuals come here, find their first or second job, and then move into a trendy neighborhood. But we lose those same households when they think about family matters: schools and safety. Our challenge is to make this city a destination for married couples with children, too."

Other data collected by the students could aid those efforts. Using U.S. Census and city real estate data, students contrasted five neighborhoods "on the move" with five "in distress." The class also interviewed more than 100 residents, business owners, and civic leaders.

The three-month analysis yielded a report titled "Population Dynamics in Baltimore Neighborhoods: The Good, the Bad, and the Neutral," set to be published this spring as part of the IPS Occasional Paper Series. --JCS

Jeff Novich and Jesse Himmelstein
Photo by Will Kirk
Novice Filmmakers Make Big Debut

Jeff Novich '02 could register only surprise when he received notification that his movie had been accepted by an internationally respected film festival. Novich, a Hopkins undergraduate double majoring in physics and computer science, had never seriously considered film as more than a hobby.

Novich's film debuted February 12 in Manhattan at the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival, alongside films with big-name movie stars like Robert Downey Jr. and Noah Taylor. Jeff Makes a Movie was one of 250 films selected from nearly 2,000 movie submissions from around the world, said Stuart Alson, founder and president of the film festival.

More than 76 minutes in length, the movie relates a film student's last-minute struggle to complete a film for graduation after his original work is destroyed by a Hopkins van.

Novich's partner in the project, Jesse Himmelstein '02, possessed even less academic background in filmmaking yet wrote the entire 70-page script in only a few days, basing its characters on actual Hopkins students. "The characters were exaggerations, caricatures, of people we know," says Himmelstein. "The events never happened--that was made up."

Novich has submitted his movie to other film festivals. He hopes to gain admittance to film school, depending on the critics' view of Jeff Makes a Movie.

"It really depends on how this movie plays out and how successful it is," says Novich. For more information, visit --Jessica Valdez '04

The French "Cure" for Individualism

Nationalism is a relatively recent invention. Hopkins historian David Bell places that invention--defined as a political program to construct a new state and remold a population to conform to a new ideal--in the 18th century, and cites France as an exemplar. A century-long process culminating in the French Revolution (1789-1790) started to transform a culturally and linguistically diverse set of provinces into a nation. Bell has detailed that process in a new book, The Cult of the Nation in France: Inventing Nationalism, 1680-1800 (Harvard University Press, 2001).

Before the 18th century, Bell says, European nations saw themselves as the earthly component of a hierarchy uniting heaven and earth through a divinely ordained monarch. But around 1700, he observes, French intellectuals began to develop ideas that posited God as absent from daily human affairs. This "disenchantment," as Bell calls it (drawing on work from Marcel Gauchet, among others), opened the door for novel and powerful concepts of human autonomy. As the century wore on, a new sort of France seemed possible, even desirable: a nation forged by free will, constructed by a political program that campaigned for conformity to a new ideal of the French citizen.

Bell is not the first historian to examine French nationalism, but his book marks off its own intellectual turf by treating nation-building not as a social process but a political program. His work also departs from that of other historians by tracking the development of French nationalism from much earlier in the 18th century. The profound changes in religious thought began around 1700. As the century wore on, the proliferation of printing led to wide circulation of philosophical and political pamphlets and articles. When Louis XV dissolved the aristocratic courts of justice, the parlements, in 1771, critics of his regime asserted the concept of the nation as having sovereign rights.

But it was during the French Revolution and its aftermath (especially 1792-1794) that the most vigorous assertion of political will took place, with the ambitious programs of the radical Jacobins. During the revolution, a 1,300-year-old monarchy collapsed in a matter of months. "That created an incredibly overweening arrogance among the Jacobins," Bell says.

Bell examines the Jacobin program to produce loyalty and conformity among 28 million people who had been "French" under the now-deposed monarchy, but who were predominantly illiterate subsistence farmers. These groups of peasants spoke German, Flemish, Breton, Basque, Catalan, Italian, and more than a dozen dialects of French and Occitan, and had nothing in common with Parisian intellectuals. The Jacobins drafted plans for vigorous indoctrination under the mantle of education. Although they despised the Roman Catholic Church, Bell notes, they modeled their program on the Church's evangelizing of peasants during the Counter-Reformation of the 16th and 17th centuries.

The radicals believed the French populace had degenerated from an earlier golden age that was never precisely sited, but seemed to have been somewhere back in the time of the Franks, or even earlier. The typical Frenchman, in the eyes of the radicals, was indolent, too ardent in pleasure, too effeminate, and much in need of a moral overhaul.

"They would have felt right at home with the Rev. [Jerry] Falwell, at least in terms of his moral proscriptions," Bell says. The radicals advocated equality under the law and the elimination of corruption. But they had no interest in promoting individualism. Their goal was mass conformance to what they had decided was the ideal citizen. Bell notes that even the more moderate Girondins advocated mass conformity. As Anacharsis Cloots, a German-born Girondin who styled himself "the spokesman of the human race," said, "France, you will be happy when you are finally cured of individualism." -- DK

[Note: See for a full bibliography, documents, and artwork that were part of Bell's research for his book.]

Eulogy for Euroculture

"Just as there can be no global culture, there can be no 'Euroculture.' ... Recall that the U.S.S.R., with all its power and resources, was unable to stifle nationalism during its 75 years of existence. And even in a globalized world, it is unlikely that we shall be looking for restaurants that identify themselves as specializing in 'human food,' nor is it likely that we will be frequenting purely European restaurants, ordering generic European wine, or European cheese, or wearing generic European suits. ... Euroculture would be to true culture what homeopathy is to modern medicine--a belief in the curative powers of highly diluted substances." --Historian Frank Ninkovich, in Does Euroland Have a Culture? An American-European Exchange, published by Hopkins' American Institute for Contemporary German Studies (AICGS) in 2001. The collection of essays from various international scholars was born of a recent AICGS workshop, as European nations prepared to adopt the new monetary unit, the euro.

Gregory Fuller, left, and Raymond Chai, founders of the new Red Cross Corps at Hopkins. Interest in the club is high following terrorist attacks on America.
Photo by Tamara Hoffer
Forming an Emergency Response

On a Monday night in mid-February, 80 students have packed a conference room on the Homewood campus, a few munching on potato chips or store-bought cookies. They are the genesis of the Red Cross Corps at Hopkins. And, in the wake of the terrorist attacks last fall, they are ready to help.

"I guess there are so many people here, especially after September 11, who are interested in doing something," says Raymond Chai, president of the fledgling organization. Chai, who last summer served as a Red Cross volunteer in Palo Alto, California, returned to Hopkins last fall in search of a Red Cross club. While the Red Cross regularly sponsors blood drives at Hopkins, Chai found there was no campus-based group to address disaster relief, community health programs, and international aid.

"A Red Cross club is something that's really needed at Hopkins, a school that's so focused on public health and international services," notes Chai, a junior majoring in biology with medical school in his sights. So, he decided to found the American Red Cross Corps of Johns Hopkins University (ARCJHU).

Launched in January via the group's Web site,, the club has an ambitious agenda. Leaders are recruiting volunteers to serve on disaster relief teams, teach CPR and first aid classes at area schools, help refugees resettle in Baltimore, and gather classroom supplies to send to AIDS orphans in Malawi in southern Africa.

The club's Web site drew 700 hits in its first week, Chai says. So far, mostly students have shown interest, though the corps is open to Hopkins faculty and staff. The group is joining projects organized by the American Red Cross of Central Maryland, which is co-sponsoring the corps along with the Hopkins Office of Community Relations and Volunteer Services. "We are simply a resource for leadership training," says William Clarke, manager of youth services at the Red Cross Central Maryland chapter. "We give them a few parameters and they take it and run, as these guys have obviously done."

The corps' disaster relief efforts, for example, will start locally, with current Red Cross volunteers training students to help provide relief--food, shelter, clothing, or rental assistance--to Baltimore city and county residents who suffer house fires or disasters such as floods.

"This is a good opportunity to volunteer [to help] people who have a demonstrated need. People put out by fire have no shelter, no food, and they need medical prescriptions," Gregory Fuller, a senior public health major and the group's vice president, told the students assembled at the February meeting. "It might be annoying getting a call or page at 2 in the morning or when you are going out to a party, but what everyone has said when they actually respond is that it's an incredible opportunity to give back to the community."

Chai says he hopes the corps will become a permanent part of campus life. He, at least, is thinking about spending the year after he graduates as a Red Cross volunteer before applying to medical school. "If you want to be a physician, it will be about helping people," he says. "This is really a great way." --JCS

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