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NIU will hold ‘teach-in’ on Japanese crisis

March 22, 2011

Photo of the Japanese flagNorthern Illinois University will hold a “teach-in” on the crisis in Japan, with a panel of experts speaking on topics ranging from tracking earthquakes and tsunamis to the hazards of radioactive emissions.

The event, titled “Responding to the Human Tragedy in Japan: Challenges and Complexities,” is free and open to the public.

It will be held from noon to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 29, in the Capitol Room South of the Holmes Student Center. Space is limited, so call (815) 753-1038 or (815) 753-4410 in advance if bringing a group.

Teach-ins are educational sessions on current events designed to inform people, answer their questions and provide opportunities to take action.

“When the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan, we realized that many people in the NIU community would be seeking information beyond what appeared in the press,” said Amy Levin, who will moderate the panel of NIU faculty and staff.

Levin serves as director of NIU Women’s Studies, which is co-sponsoring the event along with the NIU Center for Nongovernmental Organization Leadership and Development (NGOLD).

“We decided to make use of the resources available on campus to provide an educational program,” Levin said. “We hope to answer questions that people might have. For example, how do non-profits mobilize when there is a crisis? How might the Japanese people respond to tons of aid? To what extent can anyone predict an earthquake or tsunami? Our program will focus on the human costs of the tragedy, so the scientific portions will be presented in terms the public can understand.”

Three NIU faculty members and one staff member will make up the teach-in panel:

  • Judith Hermanson, NGOLD center director, will discuss how nonprofit or nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) mobilize during crises. Hermanson previously served as second in command of CHF International, a large NGO that provides relief and development worldwide. She directed CHF operations following the 2004 Indonesian tsunami and has led humanitarian-aid missions on five continents.
  • Laurence Lurio, chair of the NIU Department of Physics, will talk about radioactive plumes, emissions and their human costs.
  • Paul Stoddard, a professor in the Department of Geology and Environmental Geosciences, will discuss how scientists track earthquakes and tsunamis.
  • Takako Day of NIU’s Human Resource Services will talk about Japanese cultural responses to crises.