Directives – the Ebola edition

I’m pleased to see that The Columns now has a food reviewer. I’ll second the recommendation for Nick’s, best pub food in town and they really make an effort regarding sustainability (co-owner Susan Bright visited the Food Committee last year). Not mentioned in the review are their specials which are usually the best things on the menu. Best of all: gumbo on Tuesdays and jambalaya on Wednesdays.

Sticking to the food theme, the IMU will host a Fall Harvest Farmers Market next Wednesday, October 22nd at the IMU on the North entrance patio from 10AM – 2PM with fresh local produce plus preserves, salsas, honey etc., free hot cider and roasted vegetable flatbread samples. Look for coupons starting on Monday. The IU Office of Sustainability’s Food Working Group, of which I am a co-chair, will have a table. So I’ll be there too, for some of it at least.

Friday looks packed. The Food Committee meeting in the Coffeehouse (5-6pm) overlaps with the Great Pumpkin Festival (4:30-7:30) in the Courtyard. Then at 8 you can choose between the Dark Place marathon in the Cinema and a bonfire, again in the Courtyard.

Looking beyond Collins, US anxiety about Ebola seems to be increasing now that a third case has been reported. Be careful if you go near (Black people in) Dallas, especially if you drive a car there. US auto fatalities run over 30,000 per year (in other words about another 9/11 every month) and yet we suffer little anxiety about that figure. Of course it would be inconvenient if we did.

Almost forgot, go see Puccini’s La Boheme this weekend (or next). It is a great first opera (if that is what it will be): wonderful arias engaging plot (tragic love story of course).

Finally next week: “Local-Sustainable Foods-Moving Beyond the Low-Hanging Fruit” with Brent Cunningham, Columbia Journalism Review in the Collins Coffee House 3:30-5:30 pm (including reception). This is a themester event.

Carl Ipsen
Professor of History
Director, Collins LLC
15 October 2014

Directives – The mid-term edition

Glorious day today (Wednesday). I wonder if this will be the last one before colder weather sets in for good. The day is made even better since the SF Giants beat the Nationals – I always want to call them the Senators – last night to win their NL Division Series. I don’t want to see any Cardinals hats around Collins next week. (Being director should be good for something.)

Mid-term week is a good for instructors. Instead of preparing classes (which takes a chunk of time for me even if I’ve taught the class a half dozen times), I hold a review session (no prep needed) and then write an exam. For students I guess it’s different. Maybe I’ll find time to catch up on other things.

The Sustainable Food Committee had a great turn out on Friday. Joe and company prepared several excellent pizzas and we enjoyed hearing from Annie Corrigan about her Earth Eats program on WFIU. We also learned that if anyone is interested in picking up some water buffaloes locally, you can probably get them cheap. On another food topic, next Monday the IU cinema is screening King Corn at 7pm.

BOEP on Sunday was equally well attended. The Board is setting up instructor consultations as we near the course proposal submission deadline (Oct. 15); then we’ll have 2-1/2 weeks to read over the proposals in preparation for First Cut (Nov. 2). Come to the next meeting to learn more.

On the culture front, the Kinsey exhibit of Robert Mapplethorpe photos opens in the Grunwald Gallery (Fine Arts, just N of the Showalter fountain) on Friday (10/10); the opening reception is 6-8pm.

Finally, and following up on last week’s comments. I didn’t include the observation that Coke pays IU $10m for a ten-year exclusive contract. Would IU accept $10m from Philip Morris in exchange for installing cigarette vending machines in the residence halls?

Carl Ipsen
Professor of History
Director, Collins LLC
8 October 2014

Directives – The Coke and Marlboro issue

So the Columns missed a week and then I missed a week and so now hopefully we are both back on track. Big Collins weekend coming up: the Food Committee on Friday at 5 with special guest Annie Corrigan who, among other things, produces WTIU’s Earth Eats (Saturday at 7:30 but mercifully also as a podcast). Sunday BOEP meets at 4pm for the usual fun and games. Hopefully we’ll find time to discuss Candace Bertotti’s (Collins 1996) idea to start a program of 5-minute speeches at Collins (following a model from Lowell College at Harvard).

In my Edible Education” class this week we are reading mostly about fructose, and I find myself wondering, as I have in the past, if we might some day think about soft drinks the way we do today about cigarettes. Studies suggest a close link between increased consumption of sweetened beverages and rising levels of obesity. According to some estimates, US per person calorie consumption has increased between 300 and 500 calories per day since about 1980 or the beginning of the so-called obesity epidemic. Sweetened beverages account for about half of that increase. Not only do those calories not make you feel less hungry, there is evidence that fructose blocks the normal sense of satiety (being filled up). So the soft drink consumer wants to eat not less food but more. Still more distressing, there is evidence that this sort of short-circuiting may be transmitted to children in the womb so that obesity truly does become a disease passed on from generation to generation. Breaking that cycle then becomes one of the great public health challenges modern societies face. In the words of one researcher: “’Eat less, exercise more’ does not work.” Which is to say that while that is good advise for individuals, it will not solve the larger social problem of obesity. Have a Coke.

On another food topic, I wonder how many of you have done this interesting word problem: If 1280 I-bucks cost $3200 (standard meal plan) and I get a 60% discount when I buy dinner, how much does a $10 meal cost me. By my calculation, each I-buck costs $2.50. If a $10 meal is discounted 60% that comes to 4 I-bucks or, magically, $10. But you probably knew that.

In case you missed the opera last weekend, there is a bit more Rossini on Friday and Saturday as part of the Fall Ballet. It looks like an exciting program: 8pm both nights at the Musical Arts Center plus a Saturday matinee at 2.

Carl Ipsen
Professor of History
Director, Collins LLC

Directives – The 9/11 edition

You’d think that after 20 year I’d have the hang of things. But this week and last I’ve been behind, scrambling even to get ready for class. This column, for example, is going in past deadline and so may be too late for publication.

I can’t help but be flattered by the fact that I have at least two readers: Pearl is back and the anonymous annotator of last week’s Directives. Thanks to Pearl and others for filling me in on Anis Mojgani. Clearly I am not hip enough (some might say at all). I do hope, Pearl, that you (and others) come to some of the Edible Education session. I may continue the series next semester. If I do and you take, I’ll include a group project in your honor.

BOEP met again on Sunday and had another good turnout. Michel Chaouli from Germanic Studies and talked to us about extending the reach of the Center for theoretical studies in the humanities to undergraduates, specifically with two seminars this year at Collins, one on Marx and one on Freud. More info to follow.

The Food themester is going full steam ahead with the visit today from chef Edward Lee from 610 Magnolia in Louisville, a Korean-Southern fusion restaurant. I haven’t been but look forward to going next time I visit the home of the slugger and derby. Today was also Big Red Eats Green. Good crowds and no rain. I hope you could make it.

I guess you saw today’s front-page piece in the IDS about the fates of Brown and Green. I’ve already had e-mails about some of the factual errors. But I guess it was generally a useful and well-done piece. There will be one more Town hall meeting about the future Clubhouse in Hillcrest and then we leave everything in the hands of the architects and space planners. I’m hoping the change will be a positive one and draw both more people to the Clubhouse and Hillcrest more into the life of Collins. Keep an eye out for details.

Tomorrow is 9/11. I could write a column just on that. Our history since 2001 has been a troubling one (when is history not troubling?) and I wonder when we (and the world) will get beyond both the event and the miss-steps that have been made since. Enough said.

Carl Ipsen
Professor of History
Director, Collins LLC

Directives – The don’t drink the punch issue

As some of you know IU Bloomington is one of 55 US universities being investigated as part of a nationwide inquiry regarding of sexual harassment on college campuses. As far as I know the criteria used for compiling the list have not been released. One could imagine that schools with particular or frequent problems might be included or alternatively schools perceived to have a good record of dealing with assault cases. Either way the problem is out there at any large (or small for that matter) university, and the federal investigators will be on campus soon. A recent study I heard cited on NPR found that 6% of university men confessed in a survey that they had carried out sexual assault, many of them repeatedly. That is a distressing figure: 6% of IU male undergraduates comes to about 1000 men. Some may argue that sexual assault is in the (bleary) eye of the beholder, but what the study found was that these men readily confessed to having supplied women alcohol (often disguised in very strong sweet punches) for the purpose of overcoming potential resistance to sexual advances, i.e. to rape them. Women, you may want to drink and have sex – that is your business – but be aware that these predators (many of them doubtless cute boys) are out there. Men, don’t be part of that 6% and monitor those acquaintances of yours who are. Peer pressure may be the most effective remedy to this sort of behavior. Anyway, sex is more fun when both partners want it (and frankly still more fun when you are sober).

On to other things. Arts Council and BOEP both met on Sunday and as far as I can tell each got the year off to a good start. BOEP will meet again next Sunday at 4 and every other Sunday more or less after that. AC meets on the alternate Sundays. BOEP is already organizing an event with our visiting scholar, Francesco Bianchini, and talking about a Casino Night. Both councils have been alerted to a visit to Collins by Jade Sylvan, Collins alum and performance artist who recently published her novel Kissing Oscar Wilde. She will be here on Sept. 25 for a writing workshop and reading. On the Collins calendar for this week instead is a visit from George Chakiris who starred as Bernardo in the 1961 film version of Bernstein/Sondheim’s West Side Story (10 Academy Awards). He’ll be at Collins for lunch on Friday and speaking at the IU Cinema that afternoon at 3pm. West Side Story will be screened there at 7. Compliments to Yara for pulling off this coup for Collins and IU.

And as if that weren’t enough, the Pacifica Quartet, IU’s resident and wonderfully talented string quartet, will be performing Beethoven and Carter Saturday evening at 8 in Auer Hall (admission is free). Famed pianist Menahem Pressler (and also IU faculty) will also join them for a Brahms quintet. And so I finish on a cheerier note than I started.

Carl Ipsen
Professor of History
Director, Collins LLC
2 September 2014

Directives – The heat wave edition

Favorite new thing at IU: the bike lane along the north side of the auditorium; now if pedestrians can just figure out that the main walkway is for them… Hopefully this is the start of improved bike access to/on campus. The master plan has Woodlawn converted to a major bike and pedestrian friendly N-S axis: a straight shot from Collins to the football tailgate parties.

As always, it seems, the first week of classes has been blistering hot. There is a reason that summer break is meant to continue till Labor Day. I have suggested more than once that IU should really start in late September and continue through to late May. That change would significantly lower energy consumption from air conditioning (except of course at those few remaining un-named places at IU without a/c) since it is all sweltering in August-Sept and always delightful in May.

You may notice that the six buildings along 8th and Park, just south of Collins and Theta, have been vacated. They will presumably soon be either demolished or moved to make way for the new Fiji house (unless better sense prevails). The city is renovating the brick streets in front of the site, surely a coincidence. A source does tell me that it is highly unlikely that city officials, who are more or less enraged with the Fiji plan, will authorize city parking permits for the future residents.

For the first time I am going to offer a course at Collins this semester (as an unpaid overload in case any history colleagues are reading!). With the encouragement of the Edible Schoolyard Project I will host the projection of 13 lectures from the first Edible Education 101 offered at UC Berkeley a couple of years ago. The series includes luminaries like Michael Pollan, Alice Waters and others. Enrolled students will have assigned reading and writing assignments, but all are invited to attend the projections and discussions to follow each lecture: 6-8:30 in Ed basement on Wednesdays. The first (public) session will be Sept. 3 with Carlo Petrini (founder of Slow Food). For more details contact me at

Best weekend event?: Obvious Child at the IU Cinema Th and Fr nights. I saw it on Monday. An engaging, funny, heartwarming film about America’s most fraught issue: abortion.

Welcome Week was a great success, I thought. Compliments to co-Chairs Cleo and Rachel as well as to all the WW assistants, and the RA’s and GS’s for a good start to the year. I was of course happy to see both old (relatively speaking) and new faces and look forward to meeting more of the latter. To that end I am, as in the past, holding “office hours” Monday afternoons in the Coffeehouse (2-4). Feel free to stop by say hello. Or for that matter any other time you pass by in the dining hall and other Collins spaces.

Btw, regarding the WW Columns, anuyone know who Anis Mojgani is? Don’t find that name on the roster.

Carl Ipsen
Professor of History
Director, Collins LLC
27 August 2014

Directives – The back to school edition

I’m glad to see that the Columns is getting off to a vigorous start this year. It may seem anachronistic to have a print only publication, but that feature should appeal to both the retro-minded among you as well as to those of us who remember when getting the daily paper was the only option. Print only also makes the Columns’ liberal editorial policy – basically printing anything you’d like to contribute – less likely to be disastrous by keeping Collins business in house.

Over the past three years I have contributed a column to most editions of the Columns. As I am the Collins director, I have called it not very originally “Directives.” You may or may not find guidance in these paragraphs. What, you might ask, is the director? The director is a faculty member from the College of Arts and Sciences who oversees the activities of the LLC staff (Yara, Lindsay, Leigh). Those activities include administering the courses offered at Collins (Q class and Collins seminars plus a few others), overseeing the activities of a number of student groups (Board of Educational Programming, Arts Council, Sustainable Food Committee, Board of Programmers), and monitoring the Student Organization Account (via fee committee). The LLC staff also cooperates with the RPS staff in the areas of student government.

Who, then, am I? I am a history professor and have been teaching at IU since 1994. I’m originally from the west coast and earned all of my university degrees at UC Berkeley. I work on the history of Italy in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. I have published books on the history of Fascist population policy (Dictating Demography, Cambridge, 1996) and of marginalized children in the decades leading up to World War I (Italy in the Age of Pinocchio, New York, 2006). This summer I completed a manuscript on the history of smoking in Italy. It is under review with Stanford University Press. I teach a variety of courses including a usually very large one on the history of the Sicilian mafia (next offered in Spring 2015). This semester I am teaching “Modern Italy” and, at Collins, “Edible Education 101.” The latter will be held Wednesday evenings in the Ed basement classroom and follows a series of lectures on the food movement held at UC Berkeley by Michael Pollan and a host of other luminaries. Keep an eye out for a poster as all are welcome to attend.

Collins faces a number of challenges this year. The first is the demolition of Brown and Greene, slated to take place next summer. As you can read on the BOEP bulletin board in the Edmondson foyer, that will mean moving the Clubhouse facilities, currently housed in the ground floor of Brown, into Hillcrest. We have been meeting with the architects and space planners already but vitally need student input as plans need to be finalized by the end of September. We may or may not want (or be able) to reproduce exactly what we currently have in Brown and so we need to know what your priorities are in the this regard. The Collins president, Jack Hreha, will be putting together a committee and you are encouraged to offer your opinions on this important change.

That is probably enough for now. I look forward to meeting many of you during Welcome Week, and feel free to stop me and introduce yourself this week and throughout the semester. I can normally be found Monday afternoons (2-4) in the Coffee House and many other times as well.

Carl Ipsen
Professor of History
Director, Collins LLC
18 August 2014