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Professor’s book inspires film on mass incarceration of poor

March 10, 2021

Most of us have minimal understanding of the criminal justice system but think that felonies are serious, and misdemeanors are not. Alexandra Natapoff would beg to differ. The Lee S. Kreindler Professor of Law at Harvard Law School published a book in 2018 about how the misdemeanor system punishes the poor and people of color, exposing the inner workings of an often-overlooked aspect of the criminal justice system. Now the work, “Punishment Without Crime: How Our Massive Misdemeanor System Traps the Innocent and Makes...

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The history and importance of the Black Church

The history and importance of the Black Church

March 9, 2021

Excerpted from “The Black Church: This is Our Story, This is Our Song” by Henry Louis Gates Jr. (Penguin Press)

Political activists — including Malcolm X, of course, but especially the Black Panther Party in the latter half of the 1960s — have debated whether the role of the Black embrace of Christianity under slavery was a positive or negative force. There were those who argued that the Black Church was an example of Karl Marx’s famous indictment of religion as “the opium of the people” because it gave to the oppressed false comfort and hope, obscuring the...

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Harvard researchers use everyday mobility to predict homicides

Harvard researchers use everyday mobility to predict homicides

March 8, 2021

Criminologists have long studied links between socioeconomic conditions and crime rates. The work has led to the long-held belief that a neighborhood’s well-being is directly related to its levels of poverty, inequality, education, and racial isolation. But since no neighborhood is an island unto itself, many sociologists argue that’s far from the full picture.

A new study led by Harvard sociologist Robert J. Sampson builds on that by developing a new concept exploring how cross-neighborhood, urban mobility mixed with an area’s...

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New open-source database tracks data on slaves, slavers, allies

New open-source database tracks data on slaves, slavers, allies

March 4, 2021

Vele was 16 when she embarked a slave ship in 1832 at Cameroons River in West Africa. Precillia Cozzens, 35, was registered as a slave in New Orleans in 1846. Domingos, age 6, was listed in an inventory of enslaved people at Aguiar Plantation, Brazil, in 1806.

The records of these three are among more than 750,000 of people, places, events, and sources available to search in a new open-source database called Enslaved: Peoples of the Historical Slave Trade (Enslaved.org), a repository of information and stories about those who were enslaved or enslavers...

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Two mayors share lessons learned  through Bloomberg initiative

Two mayors share lessons learned through Bloomberg initiative

March 2, 2021

In the past year, the spotlight has been trained on the nation’s mayors. American towns and cities faced unprecedented challenges brought by the medical, financial, and educational fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, a national reckoning on equity and race, political unrest, and natural disasters connected to climate change.

To offer additional support to municipal leaders,  Harvard and Bloomberg Philanthropies have announced a new Bloomberg...

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COVID-19’s long-term impact on our emotional landscape

March 2, 2021

With more than 500,000 dead, the COVID-19 pandemic has created a nation touched by grief, compounded by the trauma of job loss, financial trouble, and everyday confusion, a mix that a Harvard psychologist said creates a complex and troubling picture of the country’s emotional landscape.

Christy Denckla, a research fellow at the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and a postdoctoral fellow in the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Department of Epidemiology, said that with so many having died from the pandemic, few Americans at this...

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Report lays groundwork for recommitment to civics education

Report lays groundwork for recommitment to civics education

March 1, 2021

State standards for civics education in the U.S. usually require that K-12 students learn hard dates and facts, like the events of Shays’ Rebellion or the details of the Stamp Act.

A group of scholars and educators wants to change that approach by prioritizing knowledge over the number of facts, and asking “driving questions” that integrate information, conceptual reasoning, and critical inquiry. In a report released today, “A Roadmap to Educating for American Democracy,” researchers at Harvard, Tufts, and other...

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The challenge of troubling images in education

March 1, 2021

The great room depicted in the image from 1864 will be instantly recognizable to many: a vaulted 9,000-square-foot space of elaborately carved wood topped by a stenciled ceiling. In the photograph, the interior of the banquet room in Harvard’s Memorial Hall (today the first-year dining facility Annenberg Hall) is flooded by sunlight streaming through two giant stained-glass windows at the far end of the frame; decorative lights hang down from above, portraits and marble busts adorn the wooden walls.

It is a quiet vision of architectural splendor, taken as the nation was embroiled in the...

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