Category Archives: Controversy & Conversation

A Story of Resistance and the Evolving Questions of the Keystone XL Pipeline Fight

By John Fiege

I shot most of Above All Else in 2012 during President Obama’s second campaign for president. Over the past five years I have continually asked myself what the film reveals about the world and the process of social change. My answers to those questions change over time, reminding me of why it is important that a film pose significant questions rather than merely search for answers.

The story of David Daniel and the fight to stop the Keystone XL pipeline in East Texas continues to frame significant questions and illuminate key issues undergirding environmental destruction, climate change, social justice, and the process of change in general.

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The Changing Health Disparities Landscape

An opportunity for hope?
By William B. Lawson MD, PhD, DLFAPA

I am old enough and fortunate enough to see and appreciate the changes that have occurred over the past half century in the health care system, especially regarding mental health. I still vividly remember visiting a state mental hospital where a great uncle spent much of his life. The building had all of the negative aspects of an institution including limited resources and communal showers. But then chlorpromazine (thorazine), a drug used for treating certain mood disorders, was invented and he was able to spend the rest of his days at home with his family. Fast-forward several decades, when I began my career as a psychiatrist, I was part of a team that completed a study with clozapine, the first antipsychotic that was demonstrably superior to others.  Again, I saw the wonders of medical technology as people with severe mental illness once relegated to back wards in chronic institutions were able to engage in meaningful relationships and live productive lives. Relative to the rest of medicine, treatment of the mentally ill is relatively young and the wonders of new advances and treatment long seen in antibiotic therapy and cancer treatment are still emerging in psychiatry.

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How to Change the World by Promoting Diversity in “Big Green Groups”

By Virginia Palacios

The 2015 documentary film How to Change the World, directed by Jerry Rothwell, asserts itself as a chronicle of the origins of the “modern” environmental movement through its telling the story of the founding of Greenpeace in 1971. But a story that is nearly 50 years old about an environmental movement that has gone through significant changes since then is hardly “modern.”  The environmental movement continues to change, and “big green groups” like Greenpeace and Environmental Defense Fund, where I work, need to change with it or they will become relics. Continue reading How to Change the World by Promoting Diversity in “Big Green Groups”

Why Public Investment in Higher Education Is Good for the Economy

By Lauren Schudde

Social mobility—where an individual rises above his or her social and economic origins—is a key feature of the American Dream. Today, education, particularly a college education, is the means through which a person “works hard” to “get ahead.” The individual stands to benefit from both the skills and the credential gained through higher education, reaping higher earnings and prestige through new opportunities.

But does higher education only offer private returns? Or does society—the public—stand to gain something from an individual attaining more education? This question is at the heart of the constant battle over state budgets across the country. Educational allocations have been among the first on the chopping block in the name of fiscal conservatism. The narrative that pursuing a college degree is the best way to advance one’s career bolsters support for the usefulness of higher education, but also undermines the understanding that public higher education serves the greater good.

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