Elizabeth Alexander in the Big Think Studio Today
Inaugural poetess and Professor of African-American Studies at Yale Elizabeth Alexander is sitting down with Big Think today. She helped ring in the Obama presidency with her poem, "Praise Song for the Day" on January 20, 2009 in front of the audience of a million.
Alexander has a teaching career that spans nearly twenty years. She has mentored young poets at the University of Chicago, Northwestern, University of Pennsylvania, Smith and Haverford.
She is the first recipient of the Alphonse Fletcher Sr. Fellowship for "work that furthers the broad social goals of the U.S. Supreme Court's Brown vs. Board of Education decision of 1954." She has authored five collections of verse, including American Sublime which was a Pulitzer finalist in 2005. Alexander once wrote in an essay, "the distillation of language in poetry, its precision, can help us see sharply in the midst of many conundrums." It doesn't get much better than that for times like these.
Send us any questions you may have about poetry, poetics, language, of anything else you want to know about this wild cultural moment.
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The 21st century is experiencing an Asianization of politics, business, and culture.
- Our theories about the world, even about history or the geopolitics of the present, tend to be shaped by Anglo perspectives of the Western industrial democracies, particularly those in the United States and the United Kingdom.
- The West, however, is not united. Canada, for instance, acts in many ways that are not in line with American or British policies, particularly in regard to populism. Even if it were united, though, it would not represent most of the world's population.
- European ideas, such as parliamentary democracy and civil service, spread across the world in the 19th century. In the 20th century, American values such as entrepreneurialism went global. In the 21st century, however, what we're seeing now is an Asianization — an Asian confidence that they can determine their own political systems, their own models, and adapt to their own circumstances.
Research has shown that men today have less testosterone than they used to. What's happening?
- Several studies have confirmed that testosterone counts in men are lower than what they used to be just a few decades ago.
- While most men still have perfectly healthy testosterone levels, its reduction puts men at risk for many negative health outcomes.
- The cause of this drop in testosterone isn't entirely clear, but evidence suggests that it is a multifaceted result of modern, industrialized life.
Can sensitive coral reefs survive another human generation?
- Coral reefs may not be able to survive another human decade because of the environmental stress we have placed on them, says author David Wallace-Wells. He posits that without meaningful changes to policies, the trend of them dying out, even in light of recent advances, will continue.
- The World Wildlife Fund says that 60 percent of all vertebrate mammals have died since just 1970. On top of this, recent studies suggest that insect populations may have fallen by as much as 75 percent over the last few decades.
- If it were not for our oceans, the planet would probably be already several degrees warmer than it is today due to the emissions we've expelled into the atmosphere.
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