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Revolutions
   
   
   
"If you ever do anything on Martin Seligman, I want to write it."
   That was the second thing -- after "Congratulations" -- that Rob Hirtz, C'80, who wrote our cover story on the Penn psychology professor and author, said to me after learning that I'd become editor of the Gazette.
   With most potential subjects, Rob (who, I should note, was my roommate at Penn and remains a friend) would have had a longer wait. The Gazette had already published a profile of Seligman back in 1994, and, even among Penn's highest-achievers, it's rare that that much happens in the space of a few years. But Seligman has been extraordinarily active -- especially during 1998, when, as president of the American Psychological Association, he undertook several major initiatives. Perhaps the most ambitious of these was his push to redirect the field from its near-exclusive focus on treating mental illness toward the promotion of mental health. Then again, there was his call to investigate the causes of -- and possibly ways to intervene in -- ethnopolitical warfare. In the article, Rob describes these and other efforts, and also recounts some choice anecdotes -- like the one about Seligman's near-death experience with a certain dinosaur-book author and Steven Spielberg-collaborator.
   Also in this issue, we recognize the 25th anniversary of Penn's women's studies program with coverage of a conference put on to mark the occasion. The conference, which featured panelists drawn mostly from Penn's faculty and graduate students, was designed to showcase the wide range of work -- from literary criticism to welfare policy -- being done under the rubric of "women's studies," according to Dr. Demie Kurz, the associate professor of sociology who co-directs the program and helped organize the conference.
   One welcome indication of how far women's studies has progressed, Kurz noted when I spoke to her a few days later, came when she was interviewed by a local newspaper reporter. Bracing herself to defend the necessity of women's studies, she instead found herself answering straightforward questions about the conference, Penn's program, and so on. But if the question of whether or not the field deserves to exist has been settled (at least in some quarters), who "owns" it, what areas it encompasses, even what it should be called, remain open to lively, occasionally acrimonious, debate -- as can be seen in our story.
   Last issue's article on disgraced journalist Stephen Glass, C'94, (see "Letters" for some reader responses) touched on campus conflicts over the "water buffalo" incident and free speech. Penn's battles in the "PC wars" are also revisited in a new book co-authored by history professor Dr. Alan Charles Kors, which includes a harsh indictment of former Penn president -- and current history professor -- Dr. Sheldon Hackney, Hon'93. In our student column, Michael Brus, C'99, who interviewed both men, considers how "two decent, generous, and (largely) honest intellectuals became such ideological and personal foes."
   Finally, in "Gazetteer," a reminder that even people of normally divergent views can come together in a common cause: The featured speaker at this year's Steinberg Symposium was Dr. John J. DiIulio, Jr., C/G'80, the controversial political scientist whose coining of the term super-predator drew accusations of racism. More recently, DiIulio has become a leading proponent of faith-based programs to help inner-city youth. One African American minister had a forthright answer for those who criticized his working with DiIulio: "Listen: when I needed someone to help me find a place of refuge, it was John DiIulio. And if I wanted to be part of the solution, then I need to be in a relationship with him. And so if you have a problem with political correctness, you need to leave that at the boardrooms or go to your nice tea."

-- John Prendergast, C'80
   
   

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