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The exploding nuclear family
I characterize the American family system as a kind of “exploding” nuclear family. . . . I’m interested in the dynamics of the American family system over time because this system is virtually unique in the world. It is unusual for having as its developmental goal its own undoing—its self-destruction. We don’t conceive of our children as continuing our family. They may continue certain traditions, or a name may continue, but they’re destined to set up their own family. The family unit we have is understood gradually by the parents as a unit that has a time limit on it. This developmental goal of self-destruction of the family is, for obvious reasons, hidden from the conscious awareness of a lot of people during the early and middle years of family life, and they conceive of what they’re doing as building a secure, safe family. They work hard at it—it doesn’t always work, but that’s the idea—and all the effort is focused on the construction of a unit which to an outsider might appear to be the bulwark of something that’s going to last forever. . . . Only as kids get older do the developmental implications of what’s about to happen begin to emerge in the family, both in the kids and in the parents. Then the empty-nest syndrome really begins to appear as kids one way or another get ready to leave.
–Bradd Shore, professor of anthropology and director of the Myth and Ritual in American Life (marial) Center, from a talk “Salem Camp Meeting: A Theater of Family Memory,” speaking on campus December 5, 2001

Philanthropy and the research university
The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Emory is organizing a two-day conference to be held April 15–16, 2002, titled “Philanthropy and the Research University.” This conference will examine major issues affecting philanthropy and the research university. By gathering together distinguished professors, university leaders, foundation directors, and analysts of the nonprofit sector, Philanthropy and the Research University will be a catalyst for further inquiry. Fifty places have been reserved for the Emory community. For additional program details, visit the Emory University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences website at www.emory.edu/gsoas/ or contact Aimee Pozorski at apozors@emory.edu.