Date posted: October 17, 2012
The Yale Chapter of the International Society of Tropical Foresters announced its call for abstracts for their 2013 conference, "Food and Forests: Cultivating Resilient Landscapes". The details are below.
To download a printable pdf of the call for abstracts, click here.
Call for Abstracts
18th Annual Conference - January 24-26, 2013
International Society of Tropical Foresters, Yale Chapter
Food and Forests: Cultivating Resilient Landscapes
Forests are an essential component of multi-functional tropical landscapes that have the potential to meet growing global demands for agricultural goods while maintaining ecosystem services, conserving biodiversity, and providing secure access to food for local communities. In addition to being a source of nutritionally diverse food for one billion people, forests also provideresources essential to agricultural production and can play a key role in adapting agriculture to a changing climate. However, the integration of agriculture with forests is hindered by monoculture agricultural systems that drive deforestation while creating a false dichotomy between forests and food. Assessing the role that forests play in achieving equitable and resilient food systems is therefore critical for achieving both humanitarian and environmental goals.
On January 24-26, 2013, the Yale Chapter of the International Society of Tropical Foresters will gather practitioners and researchers from academia, government, and environment and development institutions to discuss how development and conservation goals can be integrated across food producing landscapes in the tropics in order to promote food security and healthy forests. The conference will also consider at what scales this integration should occur, potential challenges to implementation, and lessons learned. We encourage submissions that look beyond yield and calories to address issues of access, nutrition, resilience, rights, and governance, as well as analyses of ecosystem services and forest management. Topics include:
· What contributions do forests make to agriculture and food security, including ecosystem services?
· What role do forests play in adapting agriculture to climate change?
· What cultivation systems (e.g. agroforestry, swidden, silvopastoral) have the potential to increase resilience to climate change, extreme weather events, and price shocks? What potential do these systems have for meeting projected global demands for agricultural production?
· In light of recent calls for ‘sustainable intensification’ what cultivation systems might qualify and what might be the equity effects of such intensification?
· What governance structures and partnerships can foster multi-functional landscape management that encourages the sustainable and equitable integration of forests and food?
· What is the role of rights-based approaches (e.g. indigenous rights, right to food) for integrating food production and forests? On the other hand, what is the potential role of market mechanisms and supply chain approaches?
· What lessons have been learned from integrating food security initiatives and conservation and development projects that can be applied to our efforts moving forward?
To apply: Submissions of abstracts based on either primary research or personal or institutional experience are solicited from academics and practitioners. Invited speakers will have the option of submitting conference proceedings for publication in an open-access journal. Abstracts should be a maximum of 300 words and contain the following information:
1. Name(s) of the author(s)
2. Title and abstract of the presentation
3. Author affiliation(s)
4. Address, telephone, and e-mail of the corresponding author
5. Whether you wish to make a presentation, poster, or either
6. If you would be willing to participate in a career panel
Date posted: September 27, 2012
A former president of the Andean parliament will discuss an initiative to keep millions of barrels of oil buried in the Ecuadorian Amazon on Monday, Oct. 8, at noon in Rudolph Hall at the Yale School of Architecture. The event is a collaborative effort between the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and the Yale School of Architecture, and is being co-hosted by the Tropical Resources Institute.
Ivonne Baki, secretary of state for the Yasuní Initiative, will discuss “Yasuní-ITT: A New Model for Sustainable Development in the Ecuadorean Rainforest.” Following her lecture, faculty from the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES) and the Yale School of Architecture will join Baki in a panel discussion.
The Ecuadorian government under President Rafael Correa has proposed forgoing extraction of the Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini (ITT) oilfields if the international community compensates Ecuador for the lost revenue. The government has requested $3.6 billion over 13 years from the international community to be put into a capital fund.
The ITT oil is located in the eastern corner of Ecuador 's Amazon region within Yasuní National Park. Yasuní was named a UNESCO biosphere reserve in 1989, and scientists including Jane Goodall and E.O. Wilson have called it “one of the most biodiverse places on Earth.” At least two indigenous tribes, the Tagaeri and Taromenane, maintain their traditional lifestyles in voluntary isolation in Yasuní.
Baki has been a member of the Andean Parliamentary since 2006; was Ecuador’s Minister of Trade Industry, Fisheries and Competitiveness from 2003 to 2005; and ambassador to the United States from 1998 to 2002.
Joining her on the panel are Chadwick Oliver, Pinchot Professor of Forestry and Environmental Studies and director of the Global Institute of Sustainable Forestry; Ben Cashore, Professor of Environmental Governance and Political Science and director of the Governance, Environment and Markets Initiative; Alexander Felson, Assistant Professor and founder and director of the Urban Ecology and Design Laboratory; and Keller Easterling, Professor at the School of Architecture.
The event is co-sponsored by the Yale School of Architecture, Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, Global Institute of Sustainable Forestry, Tropical Resources Institute, Urban Ecology and Design Laboratory and the Architecture/F&ES joint degree program.
Date Posted: Sep 23, 2012
Allan Schwarz is the son of politically active refugees and was brought up in the 1960s in Apartheid South Africa. He first apprenticed as a cabinet-maker, then studied architecture at Wits and went into professional practice over 30 years ago. Nearly 20 years ago, he founded the Mezimbite Forest Centre, which started as a small vertically-integrated wooden furniture business. Allan considers the Centre a work-in-progress, and remains committed to developing sustainable economic alternatives while conserving Mozambique’s Miombo woodlands.
Date Posted: May 1, 2012
Ten students have been awarded Andrew Sabin International Environmental Fellowships by the Tropical Resources Institute at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES).
This year’s Sabin Fellows are: Jorge Barbosa, Colombia; Bunyod Holmatov, Uzbekistan; Vijeta Jangra, India; Ambika Khadka, Nepal; Aparna Mani, India; José Medina Mora de León, Mexico; Pablo Peña, Peru; Lucia Ruíz Bustos, Mexico; Sumana Serchan, Nepal; and Wen Wang, China.
Carol Carpenter, director of the Tropical Resources Institute, said, “I hope that these fellowships will help these impressive students rise above the fray of degrees and careers and contribute to building their own visions for the future of the global tropical environment.”
The fellowship supports the education and training of international students from less-developed countries who intend to return to their native region or country and work as an environmental professional. The fellowship provides a maximum of $35,000 in support for master’s students—up to $20,000 for tuition for the second year of master’s study and up to $15,000 in post-graduation awards.
Sabin Fellowship recipients will be eligible for the $15,000 post-graduate award once they have secured employment in a developing country and have completed 24 months of work within 36 months of their graduation date. The recipients must work for a governmental or nongovernmental organization engaged in environmental work.
Sabin said he established the fellowship to help F&ES groom future leaders to address the most pressing environmental concerns facing the planet today. “I am thrilled to support another outstanding group of international students at Yale F&ES during their time as students, and after they graduate to help them launch their environmental careers in their home countries,” said Andrew Sabin. “My ultimate goal is to develop a global network of young environmental leaders working to address critical environmental issues such as climate change, biodiversity loss, and sustainability.”
The fellowships are funded by the Andrew Sabin Family Foundation, a private charitable foundation located in East Hampton. Since 2007, the foundation has provided grants to a wide range of nonprofit organizations to protect and preserve the environment.
For more information on the Andrew Sabin International Environmental Fellowship, visit www.environment.yale.edu/tri/.
Date Posted: May 1, 2012
Twenty master’s and 11 doctoral students from the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES) have been awarded TRI Endowment Fellowships by the Tropical Resources Institute.
The fellowships support interdisciplinary student research on the conservation and management of resources across the global tropics. This year’s TRI Fellows will be conducting research in 22 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
“This year’s crop of TRI awardees will head off in the next month to carry out research all over the globe on an incredible range of different topics. They are what this institute is all about. TRI fellows are the future of the tropics,” said Carol Carpenter, Director of the Tropical Resources Institute.
Jennifer Miller, Ph.D. ’15, will explore tiger and leopard livestock depredation in central India, with a goal of generating both grazing management recommendations and a “predation risk map” that pinpoints where livestock are vulnerable.
Thomas Owens, a master’s in environmental management candidate, will analyze the socioeconomic benefits of wind power development in the state of Bahia in northeastern Brazil. Bahia is poised to become one of the leading manufacturing centers in the world for wind blades and turbines.
A full list of the research projects can be found at www.environment.yale.edu/tri/fellows
“The topics themselves range across the disciplines, from anthropology to ecology to economics,” said Lisa Bassani, Program Manager of the Tropical Resources Institute. “They demonstrate the kind of innovative and interdisciplinary thinking for which F&ES students are known.”
To date, TRI has funded over 500 F&ES students who have conducted research studies in over 70 countries throughout the tropics. TRI is an interdisciplinary center affiliated with the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and supports student research on the most complex challenges confronting the conservation and management of tropical environments worldwide. TRI also sponsors educational initiatives throughout the academic year that focus on timely conservation and development issues in the global tropics.
ARCTIC RHYTHMS: A Cultural Response to Climate Change
Paul D. Miller, a.k.a. DJ Spooky
Performing with musicians from the Yale School of Music and speaking about his work
Compositions for DJ and string quartet with image projection, which create a sonic and visual portrait of climate change
Friday April 27, 6pm
Burke Auditorium, Kroon Hall
195 Prospect Street, New Haven, CT
Paul D. Miller, a.k.a. DJ Spooky is a NYC musician, artist, and writer, and is currently artist-in-residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. His most recent book is The Book of Ice (Mark Batty Publisher, 2011)
Sponsored by the Yale Climate & Energy Institute, the Office of the Dean of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, the Yale Institute of Sacred Music, the Edward J. & Dorothy Clarke Kempf Memorial Fund, the MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale, and the Yale Tropical Resources Institute
Emissions from this event have been offset with a contribution to the Yale Community Carbon Fund.
Date posted: February 22, 2012
TRI is proud to announce the publication of the 30th issue of Tropical Resources, an annual journal of student research in the tropics. Click here to download the latest volume. Details below:
Eight F&ES master’s students engaged in research on the conservation and management of tropical resources have published their results in the annual journal of the Tropical Resources Institute at Yale (TRI).
“The research topics are tributes to the open minds and creativity of F&ES students,” said Michael Dove, Margaret K. Musser Professor of Social Ecology. “These studies reaffirm that local wisdom and initiatives are often most successful.”
The research appears in Tropical Resources and is divided into three main themes: institution-building, human health and adaptation to climate change. The students, whose research was funded by TRI, are Geofrey Mwanjela, Adenike Adeyeye, Juan Pablo Vallejo, Eliza Little, Ran Song, Ana Karla Perea Blázquez, Stephen Wood and Gil Depaula.
“Some of the best work carried out over the past year by F&ES students on tropical societies and environments is published in the journal,” said Lisa Bassani, TRI’s program manager.
Geofrey Mwanjela’s article concerns the Mnazi Bay Marine Park, established in 2000 on the southeastern coast of Tanzania. Like many protected areas created over the past couple of decades, this project sought to marry environmental conservation and local socio-economic development. The park was developed around existing communities of ethnic Makonde and Makua, who had traditionally depended primarily on fishing for their livelihoods. In order to better conserve the marine environment, the park management sought to redirect the local communities’ livelihood focus away from fishing. A decade later, the results of this initiative are mixed.
Adenike Adeyeye’s research focuses on community-based sanitation initiatives to address health hazards in the Ekiti State of southwest Nigeria. The initiatives here consisted of establishing water and sanitation committees to promote the digging of boreholes (for hand-washing) and construction of latrines. The participation of women was deemed essential to the program, but equal representation did not ensure equal participation.
Juan Pablo Vallejo’s research focuses on the water-resource systems of the Caribbean region of Colombia. Flooding and droughts have taken a toll on the region over the past two decades, and climate change and the loss of 95 percent of this region’s native forests are causing economic, social and ecological vulnerability.
Eliza Little’s research deals with urbanization and the spread of dengue fever in the municipality of Patillas in southeastern Puerto Rico. She examines the distributions and habitats of two dengue vectors in Patillas: the mosquito Aedes aegypti and Aedes mediovittatus, a native, tree-dwelling mosquito that is seen as a potential vector. Her analysis will enable dengue interventions to be focused on the highest-risk urban environments.
Ran Song and his collaborators’ work in a Hawaiian tea plantation examined how shade levels and age affect the concentrations of chemicals, such as caffeine in tea plants. It is an analysis of the correlation between health-benefiting chemicals in tea and two much-discussed variables of the tea plant: the age of the leaf and whether or not the plant is shade-grown.
Ana Karla Perea Blázquez examines existing mechanisms for adapting to climatic perturbation, especially drought, among peasant households in Mexico. She frames her study as an effort to inform planning for climate-change impacts and responses. She notes, however, that the impacts of globalization on Mexico’s agrarian economy make it difficult to ascertain whether these mechanisms represent adaptations to climatic versus economic stress or, more likely, a combination of the two.
Stephen Wood conducted a comparative study of climatic variation on agro-biodiversity and peasant household economies, again framed as a way to assess the future impact of climate change. It is based on a study of the Fouta Djallon region of northern Guinea and southern Senegal, which encompasses a topographically driven climatic gradient. He finds that as temperature (if not precipitation) increases, so too does crop diversity, and as the latter variable increases, so too does household income.
Gil DePaula's research concerns the impact of increasing global temperatures on residential energy use in less-developed countries. Brazil’s economy is booming and its middle class is growing and so, too, is consumption of electricity. He asked how projected increases in temperature will affect this growth in consumption. He concluded that future increases in energy consumption in Brazil will vary according to income levels and local climatic conditions. Overall, though, the growth in Brazil’s middle class will substantially increase climate change’s impact on its energy sector.
(Date posted: December 13, 2011) The Yale Chapter of the International Society of Tropical Foresters will be hosting their 2012 Conference, "Strategies for Landscape-Scale Restoration in the Tropics", from January 26th to 28th, 2012. The conference is free and open to the public - register now!
To download a printable version of the conference announcement, click here.
(Date posted: October 17, 2011) The Yale Chapter of the International Society of Tropical Foresters announced its call for abstracts for their 2012 conference, "Strategies for Landscape-Scale Restoration in the Tropics". The details are below.
To download a printable pdf of the call for abstracts, click here.
Call for Abstracts
18th Annual Conference - January 26-28, 2012
International Society of Tropical Foresters, Yale Chapter
Strategies for Landscape-Scale Restoration in the Tropics
The design and implementation of successful landscape-scale restoration and reforestation initiatives in the tropics is essential to preserving biodiversity, fostering sustainable development and achieving domestic and international climate change mitigation goals. Knowledge-sharing across disciplines is critical for the holistic design of locally-appropriate reforestation and restoration strategies that scale-up project level successes to the larger landscape, while promoting sustainable livelihoods for smallholders.
On January 26-28, 2012, the Yale Chapter of the International Society of Tropical Foresters will gather practitioners and researchers from government, academia, and environmental and development institutions to take stock of existing restoration strategies, and discuss how efforts can be scaled-up, building on lessons learned without adversely impacting local stakeholders. Presenters are sought to share research and program implementation experiences, as well as to engage in dialogue on questions including:
a) Which strategies for the restoration of degraded agricultural lands have effectively reestablished ecosystem services, and how have reforestation efforts fared in restoring functional forests?
b) How can restoration initiatives integrate market-oriented products, and have value-chain approaches and certification efforts provided sufficient financial incentives to make reforestation economically and socially viable?
c) How can the private sector, including actors in the commodity agriculture industry, be involved in financing and implementing restoration efforts?
d) How can involvement of indigenous and local communities in reforestation initiatives be promoted, and how can trade-offs between reforestation and subsistence agriculture for smallholders be negotiated in an equitable way?
e) How can local knowledge of forest ecosystems and native species regeneration be effectively compiled and integrated into institutional research and implementation efforts?
To apply: Submissions of abstracts based on primary research, as well as personal or institutional experience are solicited from academics and practitioners. Selected participants will present either orally or in a poster session at the conference, which will be held at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies in New Haven, CT. Invited speakers will have the option of submitting conference proceedings for publication. Abstracts should be a maximum of 300 words and contain the following information:
1. Name(s) of the author(s)
2. Title and abstract of the presentation
3. Author affiliation(s)
4. Address, telephone, fax and e-mail of the corresponding author
5. Type of presentation: full paper and presentation, presentation only, poster, or either
Who we are: The Yale Chapter of the International Society of Tropical Foresters, supported annually by the Tropical Resources Institute, promotes the sharing of experiences and knowledge related to resource management in the tropics. For further information, please visit
Four Yale students will conduct conservation research in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa as Compton International Fellows.
The Compton fellowship supports research that strengthens biodiversity conservation and sustainability and is linked to the fields of peace and security (conflict management) and population and reproductive health.
The students, all first-year master’s candidates at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, are Carla Chizmar, Panama; Rita Effah, Ghana; and Daniela Marini, Argentina; and Paulo Barreiro Sanjines, Bolivia. They were selected by the Tropical Resources Institute at Yale to share $36,000 for research in their native land.
“These students are doing vitally important research on critical conservation and development issues in their own home region,” said Michael Dove, Margaret K. Musser Professor of Social Ecology and director of the Tropical Resources Institute.
Carla Chizmar will study 20 native tree species for their capacity to withstand drought and tolerate shade at the Michelin Field Research Station in Brazil. The Atlantic Forest of tropical South America contains 20,000 plant species, but less than 10 percent of the forest remains.
“Her proposed work is in an area that is now a hotbed of reforestation in the central region of the Atlantic Forest in Brazil,” said Mark Ashton, Morris K. Jesup Professor of Silviculture and Forest Ecology.
Rita Effah, who worked for the Forestry Commission of Ghana, will collect data for a statistical analysis of carbon storage in teak plantations. Her research will be part of a national forest inventory enabling Ghana to abide by international agreements preventing forest destruction. Teak is a highly prized tropical hardwood in international markets.
“The foundation’s investment in the success and future career of this remarkable young woman will yield enormous dividends for the people and forest resources of Ghana,” said Tim Gregoire, J.P. Weyerhaeuser Jr. Professor of Forest Management.
Daniela Marini seeks to understand the social, political and economic forces that shape landscapes and influence fire-management strategies in the Andean-Patagonian region of Argentina and Chile. Fire is an integral part of ecosystem health and regeneration in that region. Her research aims to push for the creation of resource management policies that support the livelihoods of people living in fire-prone areas and to provide insight into the relationship between humans and nature in Patagonia.
“For the last three years she has been a field instructor in a protected area, where she has been a very capable leader of people of diverse ages and professions in joint projects,” said Susan Clark, Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Professor (Adjunct) of Wildlife Ecology and Policy.
Paulo Barreiro Sanjines is investigating an incentive plan, called Payments for Ecosystem Services, which would encourage coffee growers to plant trees, in the expectation that shade would stimulate higher coffee yields. Little is known, however, about how to design these incentive programs, and Sanjines’ project will investigate how different degrees of shade affect coffee production.
“This research program is very important,” said Robert Mendelsohn, an economist and Edwin Weyerhaeuser Davis Professor of Forest Policy. “Successful programs can make rural livelihoods sustainable and ease the tension that exists in tropical forests between development and conservation. It is a critical element of attaining peace in this region of the world.”
For more information about the Compton International Fellowship, visit environment.yale.edu/tri/. The mission of the Tropical Resources Institute is to support interdisciplinary, problem-oriented student research on practical solutions to the most complex challenges confronting the management of tropical resources worldwide.
Seven students at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies have been named Andrew Sabin International Environmental Fellows.
The students, selected by the Tropical Resources Institute, are Paulo Quadri Barba, Mexico; Lakshmi Krishnan, India; Jing Ma, China; Munjed Murad, Jordan; Kavita Sharma, India; Kanchan Shrestha, Nepal; and Shiyue Wang, China.
They will receive up to $35,000—$20,000 for tuition in their second year of study and $15,000 post-graduation to pursue environmental careers in their native land. They will be eligible for the $15,000 once they have secured employment in a developing country and have worked for a governmental or nongovernmental organization for two years within 36 months of graduation.
The fellowships are funded by the Andrew Sabin Family Foundation in East Hampton, N.Y., which supports nonprofits involved in environmental protection.
“Many countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia will be affected most by climate change, biodiversity loss and forest degradation,” said Andrew Sabin. “I hope the fellowships will attract smart, dedicated professionals to Yale’s environment school for an education, so they can return home to address these critical environmental challenges before it’s too late.”
The Tropical Resources Institute supports research on environmental issues in the global tropics.
“This generous and far-sighted grant from the Andrew Sabin Family Foundation will make a Yale education accessible to students in less-developed countries,” said Michael Dove, the Margaret K. Musser Professor of Social Ecology at Yale and director of the Tropical Resources Institute. “This university is enriched with the perspectives of young people from other parts of the world and by the vital exchanges they encourage on the environment.”
The Tropical Resources Institute (TRI) is pleased to announce the publication of two new books by TRI director Michael Dove, one of which is co-authored with TRI Advisory Member and Yale F&ES professor Amity Doolittle.
The Banana Tree at the Gate: a History of Marginal Peoples and Global Markets in Borneo (Yale University Press)
The “Hikayat Banjar,” a native court chronicle from Borneo, characterizes the irresistibility of natural resource wealth to outsiders as “the banana tree at the gate.” Michael R. Dove employs this phrase as a root metaphor to frame the history of resource relations between the indigenous peoples of Borneo and the world system. In analyzing production and trade in forest products, pepper, and especially natural rubber, Dove shows that the involvement of Borneo’s native peoples in commodity production for global markets is ancient and highly successful and that processes of globalization began millennia ago. Dove’s analysis replaces the image of the isolated tropical forest community that needs to be helped into the global system with the reality of communities that have been so successful and competitive that they have had to fight political elites to keep from being forced out.
For more information, and to order the book directly from Yale University Press, please visit http://yalepress.yale.edu/yupbooks/book.asp?isbn=9780300153217
Beyond the Sacred Forest: Complicating Conservation in Southeast Asia (Duke University Press)
Co-authored by Professors Michael Dove and Amity Doolittle, this book is the product of a unique, decade-long, interdisciplinary collaboration involving research in Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines, and it reflects new thinking about conservation in Southeast Asia. Scholars from these countries and the United States rethink the translation of environmental concepts between East and West, particularly ideas of nature and culture; the meaning of conservation; and the ways that conservation policy is applied and transformed in the everyday landscapes of Southeast Asia.
For more information, and to order the book directly from Duke University Press, please visithttp://www.dukeupress.edu/Catalog/ViewProduct.php?productid=17476
Four F&ES students have been named Compton International Fellows for 2010-2011 by the Tropical Resources Institute.
The Compton Fellows are all first-year candidates for master’s degrees in environmental management at the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. They are Geofrey Mwanjela (Tanzania), Ana Perea (Mexico), Giancarlo Raschio (Peru), and Pablo Reed (Ecuador).
Mwanjela is doing research on protected areas and their impact on the livelihoods of local communities in Tanzania. Perea is working on how best to engage local communities in Mexico in the conservation and restoration of natural resources, particularly as it applies to climate change. Raschio is planning a comparative study of climate-change mitigation and adaptation initiatives in Ghana and Peru. And Reed is researching whether indigenous community lands in Ecuador could benefit from Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation, a program designed to use financial incentives to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases from deforestation and forest degradation.
“The Compton International Fellows program perfectly complements our efforts to provide multidisciplinary training and research opportunities to our students,” said F&ES Dean Peter Crane. “It also supports our mutual goal of building environmental leadership capacity in developing countries, especially in Central America and sub-Saharan Africa.”
F&ES has had more than 60 Compton Fellows from 28 different countries since 1995. Through its support, the Compton Foundation has enabled F&ES students from developing countries to conduct vital research on the environment and sustainable development, with linkages to the fields of peace and security (conflict management) and population and reproductive health.
“The generously-funded Compton Fellowship program is a unique resource, which helps F&ES to attract students from developing countries, and supports them in conducting cutting edge research in and around their home countries,” said Professor Michael R. Dove, Director of the Tropical Resources Institute and the Margaret K. Musser Professor of Social Ecology. “These students also become part of an extensive network of past and present Compton Fellows working to address critical tropical resources and conservation issues around the world.”
PRESIDENT OBAMA’s late mother, Ann Dunham Soetoro, was famous for the good cheer and optimism that she preserved in the face of a complex and challenging world. Her personality went hand-in-hand with her career as an anthropologist in Indonesia and Pakistan, where she studied and worked with village craftsmen, slum-dwellers and countless others. I knew Dr. Soetoro as a friend and colleague for many years before her death from cancer in 1995. Though I only met her son once, briefly at her memorial service, I’ve watched him as he’s taken on the hardest job in the world, and often found myself wondering how her worldview might have shaped him... read full article