commentary

As has been the case since the start of the Arab uprisings in 2011, Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya and social media have played a key role not only reporting on these transformative events, but also providing radically different narratives about events in each country depending on the sectarian and ideological backgrounds of various actors. The complex relationship between the media and social change movements are receiving increased attention from academics and researchers, and the University of Iowa will introduce some of these scholars to the public in late April. In just over a month, Iowa City will welcome one of the nation’s most pre-eminent Middle East scholars, Dr. Mohammed el-Nawawy.

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A European study of the effects of study abroad on employability shows that experiences abroad enhance skills such as acceptance of unfamiliar cultures and attitudes, openness and adaptability, awareness of one’s own strengths and weaknesses, ability to make decisions, and ability to solve problems.

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In 2014, major airline crashes killed more than 760 people and, understandably, raised concerns over safety issues and the risks of flying. Less understandably, tobacco use prematurely killed 480,000 people in the U.S. and about 5 million people worldwide but engendered little debate. People hear these figures, shrug and turn away — tobacco death fatigue?

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Since the start of the protest movement widely known as the Arab Spring, in 2011, conditions in most Arab countries have spiraled out of control. With the notable exception of Tunisia, which just held its last round of successful parliamentarian and presidential elections, other Arab countries that were affected by the protest movement have fallen into a vicious cycle of violence that is threatening other countries in Africa, Asia and Europe.

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The University of Iowa’s Food for Thought Theme Semester is a program that will launch Tuesday and run throughout the spring semester. It will connect academics, local communities and individual Iowans through something we can all relate to: food.

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We all have to begin shifting our expectations and biases. We have to lose the binaries that never existed in the first place (sexes at birth). We have to understand that gender identity needs to be celebrated and accepted as each individual feels most natural and not impose it and require it to match an assigned sex at birth. I invite you to attend a WorldCanvass discussion of gender and identity at 5 p.m. Tuesday at FilmScene, 118 East College St.

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The University of Iowa celebrates International Education Week as an annual opportunity to promote global awareness and engagement and to feature the international opportunities offered on our campus and in our community. Today, as never before, education must be globally oriented to prepare Iowans and students from around the country and around the world to move confidently across borders, to interact effectively with people from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds, and to take pleasure in a life filled with inquiry and discovery.

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In rural India, water scarcity is the most obvious shared link between poverty, hunger and disease. According to the World Health Organization, 780,000 of the 10 million annual deaths in India are due to lack of basic health care amenities, such as effective sewage systems, elementary sanitation facilities and safe drinking water. Almost 90 percent of diarrhea cases are a result of contaminated water. When people have no ready access to water, their choices and freedom are constrained, and the results are far reaching.

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Pius, a Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant (FLTA) from Tanzania, reflects on his experience at the University of Iowa in this video produced by the Division of World Languages, Literatures and Cultures. Pius teaches courses in Swahili, which he says is made easier by the advanced technology available at the UI.

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Brazil lives in the popular imagination as an exotic, tropical landscape whose glorious beaches offer stunning vacation destinations. For some, the mention of Brazil stirs thoughts of unrestrained logging, all-but-unknown indigenous populations along the Amazon and over-crowded cities where the disparities between rich and poor couldn’t be sharper. And yet for others, Brazil is a 21st-century powerhouse, bursting with plentiful natural resources and rich with development opportunities.

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