Law + Policy

Delta Dawn

Berkeley engineering professor Ray Seed, arguably the nation’s greatest authority on levees, has one word to describe the risk to the people, farms, and ecological systems dependent on the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta: Armageddon. A serious earthquake or flood could indefinitely threaten the water supply for 23 million Californians, north and south, and cripple the most productive agricultural region in the world.

From the September October 2008 Sustainable Blueprint issue of California.

Applied Kuhn: The Berkeley/BP Project

It’s too early to tell whether the joint Berkeley-BP project represents a potential scientific and technological paradigm shift, or is a version of the same old paradigm of the automotive sciences. It could become the former. Unfortunately, thanks to its very scale and nature, the project risks becoming the latter—becoming, that is, a roadblock rather than a road to fundamental societal change.

From the January February 2008 25 Ideas on the Verge issue of California.

What it Was Really Like to Be the First Black Lawyer in Justice Dept’s Civil Rights Division

Thelton Eugene Henderson didn’t study the civil rights movement; he lived it. After earning his law degree from UC Berkeley in 1962, he joined the Justice Department as the first African-American lawyer in its civil rights division. Working with his mentor and fellow Cal grad, John Doar, Henderson traveled often to the South to monitor law enforcement on civil rights cases. He investigated the famous case of the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, which killed four young girls.

From the January February 2008 25 Ideas on the Verge issue of California.

Civil Works for Cynical Times

It’s hard enough to imagine 3 billion trees, let alone plant them, but that’s how many were put in the ground by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). Established in 1933, the CCC became one of the most popular of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal programs, which included the Civil Works Administration (CWA), the Works Progress Administration (WPA), and the Public Works Administration (PWA). With the unemployment rate nearing 25 percent at that stage of the Great Depression, the “alphabet soup” agencies stepped in to rapidly create millions of jobs.

From the May June 2008 Beijing Primer issue of California.

Wrong Trajectory

International observers have long viewed America’s higher education system, including a cadre of high-quality major research universities such as Berkeley, as one of its most important socioeconomic advantages. As the first nation to pioneer the idea of mass higher education, the United States proved that the talent, training, and creativity of a nation’s citizens are as important for generating economic prosperity as, for example, its natural resources. It was true over the past hundred years, and is much more so now.

From the May June 2008 Beijing Primer issue of California.

$10 Million and Counting

As it celebrates its tenth year, The Achievement Award Program (TAAP) is also celebrating an even bigger achievement—reaching its first fundraising goal of $10 million. And with that comes another challenge, as CAA plans to raise an additional $10 million over the next ten years.


From the January February 2008 25 Ideas on the Verge issue of California.

Cradle and All

When Shannon May was putting together her doctoral research project, she had a specific field setting in mind. May, an anthropology student at Berkeley, wanted to learn about life for the majority of China’s population. That meant looking past the glittering coastal cities and focusing instead on the country’s rural population—what May calls the “800 million unnamed.”

From the September October 2008 Sustainable Blueprint issue of California.

Playing with Blocks

We began with the idea of a more porous, transit-friendly neighborhood, one that would feature a network of green pathways for pedestrians and bicyclists that allowed easy access to public transportation. We included buildings of different heights and designs to produce a more demographically diverse and attractive neighborhood, and small, embedded courtyards to provide public spaces for recreation and socializing. But we didn’t stop there. What if we could design a neighborhood that would generate its own energy on site and treat and provide its own water?

From the September October 2008 Sustainable Blueprint issue of California.

Cooking with Gas

Since 1988, Mark Levine, group leader of the China Energy Group at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, has been doing the highly technical work of measuring and assisting China’s progress on energy efficiency. But one evening last April, he carried out his duties by fussing over his backyard BBQ. While Levine prepped the salmon, Zhou Dadi, whom Levine described as “the most knowledgeable person about energy in China in the world,” scurried around cleaning deck chairs with paper towels.

Exiled Home

Guantánamo is the name of a bay in Cuba and the American naval base that has operated there since 1898. But since 2001, when the United States government built a detention center on the base to incarcerate the enemy as defined by the Bush administration’s “war on terror,” the name has become synonymous with that detention center and the “aggressive interrogation techniques” practiced there. Like “Abu Ghraib,” “Guantánamo” is a name that conjures a mix of shame, dread, and uneasiness. Most of us would rather not think about it or about the men behind the razor wire.

From the January February 2009 Effect Change issue of California.

The Meek Shall Inherit the Earthquake

From his tiny upstairs office in San Francisco’s Mission Neighborhood Health Center, where a large portrait of Our Lady of Guadalupe watches over the other Catholic saints covering the walls, Chris Sandoval tries to imagine how his clinic will handle a rush of traumatized patients after a catastrophic earthquake. Most of the nonprofit clinic’s clients are Spanish-speaking and uninsured, and Sandoval, the training and development director, knows that a quake’s no idle worry. The U.S.

From the March April 2009 The Soul of Wit issue of California.

Access and Excellence at Berkeley

Since July 1, 2006, I’ve had the best job in academia: executive vice chancellor and provost at the University of California, Berkeley. The position, both endlessly challenging and exhilarating, is the culmination of a 37-year career as faculty and allows me to give back to the university in ways that stretch beyond research and teaching.

From the November December 2008 Stars of Berkeley issue of California.


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