Emory Report
September 14, 2009
Volume 62, Number 3



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September 14, 2009

Nobel laureate on health, education
“What is the effect of education on health? If I educate people is that going to affect their health in terms of smoking, drinking, eating fried foods? What do these relationships mean?“

Those are questions Nobel Laureate James Heckman put to a full house in White Hall Friday, Aug. 28, demonstrating mathematical models that could find answers.

The Henry Schultz Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago said, “The literature is in general agreement that education seems to be beneficial to health.”

However, he noted, “The literature has no uniform agreement about the effect of health. All studies don’t use same measure of health and they don’t use the same methodology.“

Heckman said he hoped the lecture would be an inspiration “to go beyond what we are doing today” in terms of standardization in the models’ measurements. —Leslie King

National parks under fire, flood
“As long as the Everglades park has been in existence, it’s been in constant conflict with the people who live there for the water,” said Lance Gunderson, professor of environmental studies, at a recent department seminar on global warming and the national parks.

Park workers are often more like policemen than conservationists, and they must deal with political and cultural forces, in addition to the natural ones, said Gunderson, a former botanist with the U.S. National Park Service. Global warming is speeding up the inevitability of change. “There’s not much you’re going to do about rising sea levels in Everglades National Park,” he said. “A more interesting question is what do you conserve? Or what can you preserve?” —Carol Clark

Middle East peace puzzle parsed
In “Israel, Iran, and Syria: Regional Issues and the Negotiating Process,” Eyal Zisser discussed the building tension in the Middle East, focusing on the beginning of the conflicts. The Tel Aviv University history professor and director of the Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies is a leading expert on Syrian regional and domestic politics.

The struggle with relieving the conflict is how to promote peace, Zisser said. “What is so unique about the Israeli-Iran conflict [is] most people know what the solution looks like. The question is who should make the first move?” —Tania Dowdy