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Pablo Vila

Temple University Faculty Research Award: Pablo Vila, Professor Department of Sociology

Pablo Vila’s outstanding achievements are shaping important societal issues, and his work is widely praised in the fields of sociology, Latin American studies, history, popular culture and musicology.  Vila has also served as a visiting professor in Brazil, Spain, Mexico and Argentina. He has received grants from the Ford Foundation, Inter-American Foundation and the Social Science Research Council, as well as multiple research awards from Temple University.

Prior to joining Temple in 2004, Vila served on the faculty of the University of Texas at San Antonio, University of Texas at El Paso and the Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina. He received his PhD in sociology from the University of Texas at Austin, graduated from the Training Program for Young Researchers at the Centro de Estudios de Estado y Sociedad in Buenos Aires, and earned a BA in sociology from Universidad del Salvador in Buenos Aires.


Rashidah Andrews goes above and beyond in advising

Rashidah Andrews has the same goal for every advising session: make sure her students leave her office feeling less perplexed and more confident of the path they should take.

“Some students come in and they’re frustrated; they’re disheveled; they’re angry,” said Andrews, principal academic advisor in the College of Liberal Arts (CLA). “They might have been in a different office where they felt they got the runaround, and they’re still very confused about what to do.”

Andrews takes several steps to help. She proposes solutions to whatever problems the students are facing. She conducts a check-in as the session ends to make sure everything has been addressed. And she gives students her business card, letting them know she’s there whenever they need help next.

Andrews also refers students to whomever else they need to speak with. If a student is truly distraught, she walks them up a few floors above her office at 1810 Liacouras Walk to Tuttleman Counseling Services.

“I want to see students leave better than when they came in,” said Andrews, who has been in her role since 2011. “I may not have been able to solve all their problems, but I can give them direct referrals. If you name a department at Temple, I can name a person there who I can pick up the phone and call and say, ‘I’m sending a student over to you.’”

Andrews goes above and beyond for her students. When Fly in 4 was introduced at the beginning of this school year, she developed a new Blackboard course CLA students can use to learn about the program, keep track of their progress toward graduation and register for advising sessions.

By demonstrating a high level of commitment and responsiveness, Andrews demonstrates how Temple employees can use their people skills to practice excellent service.

“All of us at Temple are in the service of people,” Andrews said. “It’s who we are; it’s what we do. We’re here to support students and provide meaningful experiences for them.”


CLA professor reveals ‘Bollywood’s India’

With their epic stories and infectious song-and-dance routines, Bollywood movies can seem like the ultimate form of escapism. But behind their multicolor gloss is a potent subtext about modern India’s thorniest subjects, writes Temple’s Priya Joshi.

In Bollywood’s India: A Public Fantasy (Columbia University Press, 2015), Joshi, an associate professor of English in the College of Liberal Arts, says Bollywood―the Hindi-language film industry based in Mumbai―has provided an ongoing conversation about India since the country gained independence from the British in 1947.

Bollywood films have given voice and shape to the average Indian’s dreams, fears and anxieties from the turbulence that followed India’s partition from Pakistan through the explosive economic growth of recent years, says Joshi.

“The blockbusters of Hindi cinema have played a prominent role in managing the euphoria and crises that confront the modern nation” of India, Joshi writes. In the book, Joshi “analyzes the social work that popular cinema has done for the nation even as the cinema has challenged fundamental practices of the nation and the state during critical moments.”

According to Joshi, almost all Bollywood movies follow a familiar formula: There are usually half a dozen songs, a love story, stylized action sequences and big dance numbers. The wide-ranging appeal of this formula helps to fill India’s massive theaters, which can seat a thousand moviegoers or more.

Despite Bollywood’s populist elements, Joshi says the films have given Indians a chance to talk about subjects they couldn’t otherwise discuss, either because of cultural taboos or political repression.

She points to the 1973 film Bobby, which was a megahit at the box office and featured stars Rishi Kapoor and Dimple Kapadia. The film extolled the pleasures of teenage love but below the surface, it dealt with “dowry deaths,” the murder of brides in an attempt to extort their parents.

Another example is the 1951 movie Awara, which paid homage to the comedy of Charlie Chaplin but also shined a light on India’s bloody partition from Pakistan.

“Bollywood films deal directly with some of the most challenging aspects of Indian life,” said Joshi. “Whether it’s terrorism, class tensions or political corruption, Bollywood has been there to help Indians understand who they are and what they want to become.”

Expertise on India

Bollywood’s India by Temple’s Priya Joshi is just the latest product of Temple’s robust scholarship on the burgeoning economy and rich culture of one of the world’s growing powers.  According to Joshi, Temple is unique among colleges and universities for its expertise on modern India.

  • Joshi previously wrote a book titled In Another Country: Colonialism, Culture, and the English Novel in India.
  • Anthropology Professor Jayasinhji Jhala partnered with Temple students and private artists to develop a new type of contemporary painting marrying digital techniques with traditional Indian styles.
  • Temple is a member institution of the American Institute of Indian Studies. Howard Spodek, a Temple professor who wrote the 2011 book  Ahmedabad: Shock City of Twentieth-Century India, is a trustee of the institute.
  • The New India Forum in the Center for the Humanities at Temple presents research on India from a broadly humanistic perspective using an interdisciplinary approach.  The forum returns in fall 2015.
  • The Temple University in India summer program empowers students to investigate Indian civilization through its religious and artistic traditions, both ancient and contemporary.
  • Mitrabarun “MB” Sarkar, H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the Strategic Management Department of the Fox School of Business, is an expert on innovation and business in India.
  • Temple’s Center for International Business Education and Research​―one of only 17 such centers funded by the U.S. Department of Education―focuses on promoting U.S. competitiveness in emerging markets, including India.

Taken from Temple News, by Ashwin P. Verghese


Psychology department members receive funding and awards for research

The College of Liberal Arts is pleased to announce that both students and faculty from the psychology department have received funding and awards for their current research in advancing the psychology field.

Lauren Ellman, a psychology assistant professor, has received a continuation of funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for her research entitled Fetal Exposure to Maternal Stress and Inflammation: Effects on Neurodevelopment. To receive funding from NIH, Ellman’s work had to pass through a rigorous review by physicians, scientists and other experienced workers in the biomedical fields to evaluate the worth of proposed research and its potential to advance science.

Two psychology students, Jessica Hamilton and Elissa Hamlat, have been named recipients of the 2014 Society for a Science of Clinical Psychology Student Dissertation Awards. Before submitting their application along with a research and budget plan, the psychology department had to approve both girls’ projects and send in a letter of reference. Both of the girls decided to focus on the topic of depression and are being mentored by Lauren Alloy, psychology professor. Hamilton’s research is entitled Physiological Markers of Stress Generation and Affect Reactivity in Risk for Depression. Hamlat’s project is entitled Memory Specificity Training as Depression Intervention.


Hirsh-Pasek’s “word gap” research continues to earn national media coverage

Thirty million words: That is the size of the “word gap,” the number of extra words, so to speak, that children of affluent parents hear from their parents during toddlerhood that poor children don’t hear from theirs. The issue was the focus of a recent White House conference calling for people to address the word gap with the same passion they do child hunger. “It’s not just about shoving words in,” said Temple psychologist Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, lead author of a study presented at the conference. “It’s about having these fluid conversations around shared rituals and objects. … That is the stuff from which language is made.”

Source – The Christian Science Monitor, Huffington Post, Medical Daily, more | Nov. 3–6, 2014


Photo by Ryan S. Brandenberg. Temple Professor Laurence Steinberg, who is well-known for his groundbreaking research on adolescence, brain development and teen decision-making, was honored for his work as an educator.

Psychology professor recognized for inspirational teaching

Temple Psychology Professor Laurence Steinberg has been named one of this year’s recipients of the Elizabeth Hurlock Beckman Award, which recognizes a small number of leading scholars in the fields of medicine, law and psychology.

Steinberg, Distinguished University Professor and Laura H. Carnell Professor of Psychology, was honored not just for hisgroundbreaking research on adolescence, brain development and teen decision-making, but for his teaching.

“We are thrilled that the Beckman Award Trust has chosen to recognize Dr. Steinberg for his dedication to his students,” said College of Liberal Arts Dean Teresa Soufas. “He is an excellent example of how an active researcher brings his scholarship to the classroom.”

The $25,000 award specifically honors academic faculty members who have “inspired their former students to make a significant contribution to society.”

“This honor is doubly meaningful to me,” said Steinberg. “It’s always flattering to be recognized for one’s teaching. But it’s especially special to be recognized for having helped one’s students go on to do great things that make a real difference in the well-being of families and communities.

“I’m exceptionally proud to have been able to work with the terrific young scholars I’ve mentored over the years at Temple, University of Wisconsin and University of California, Irvine.”

An internationally recognized expert on psychological development during adolescence, Steinberg is a frequent consultant on juvenile justice issues and public policy to state and federal agencies and lawmakers.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2005 landmark ruling in Roper v. Simmons, which abolished the juvenile death penalty, relied significantly on the argument advanced by Steinberg and his colleagues that adolescents are fundamentally different from adults in ways shown by scientific studies of brain and behavioral development.

Steinberg also served as scientific consultant on the amicus curiae briefs submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court by the American Psychological Association in Graham v. Florida, which banned the sentence of life without parole for juveniles convicted of non-homicide crimes, and Miller v. Alabama, which prohibited mandatory life without parole for all juvenile crimes.

He is the author of a dozen books on adolescence and parenting, including Age of Opportunity: Lessons from the New Science of Adolescence (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014), and a frequent contributor to The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.

Kim Fischer