K-State Research and Extension News
PERSPECTIVE is a weekly public affairs program distributed to radio stations throughout the state. 
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The war we have begun to wage on fat, which is supposed to make us healthy and happy by reducing obesity, may be having the opposite effect.  According to one author and researcher, the effort may be damaging both the physical and the emotional health of many of this nation’s young people, and at the same time, disrupting families and intimate relationships.
Guest: Susan Greenhalgh, professor of Anthropology at Harvard University, author of Fat-Talk Nation: the Human Costs of America’s War on Fat and Under the Medical Gaze: Facts and Fictions of chronic Pain.

- 6/19/2015
Have you ever wondered how much of the food you consume is contaminated by something…a foodborne pathogen or some kind of toxin?  Something that, if you are lucky, would only make you sick.  Unfortunately, there is no way to tell if some of your food is contaminated.  But, one Kansas State University food safety specialist says, “Don’t panic.”  Instead, as consumers, we need to pay attention to recalls and return recalled items or throw them out.  The guest is Fadi Aramouni, an extension specialist and professor of food science of Kansas State University.

American businesses are heavily invested in politics.  According to one expert, of the 100 organizations that spend the most money on lobbying…95 represent business interests.  And the largest of those have close to 100 lobbyists working for them.  Those two facts alone raise a couple of questions…how did American businesses become so invested in politics…and does that investment bring any rewards?  The guest is Lee Drutman, a political scientist who researches political influence.

There is a cultural change hitting today’s college student…a cultural change that includes both sociological and technological changes.  Simply put, it is a totally new way of addressing the world.  For one expert and author that means those students are on a tightrope that many of us cannot comprehend, and at the same time it means those students may not leave college offering employers what they want and need. The guest is Diane R. Dean, associate professor for higher education administration and policy at Illinois State University. 

- 5/22/2015
On any given night, some 57,000 children in United States child welfare systems are going to bed without the care and comfort of a family.  In its latest KIDS COUNT policy report, Every Kid Needs a Family: Giving Children in the Child Welfare System the Best Chance for Success, the Annie E. Casey Foundation examines the sobering statistics that point to the urgent need to ensure that everything possible is being done to find loving, nurturing and supported families to help raise more of these children.  The guests are Tracey Field and Robert Geen of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. 

Most of the colleges and universities in the United States are accredited, a process in the north central part of the country that is handled by the Higher Learning Commission.  In handling accreditation at over 1300 institutions of higher learning, with 65 of them in Kansas, the commission simply assures that certain standards have been met by degree-granting colleges and universities.  To do that, the Higher Learning Commission also examines such things as the administration, student personnel services, institutional resources and more…much more.  The guest is Jeff Rosen, vice president for accreditation relations at the Higher Learning Commission.

In 1920, W.E.B. DuBois authored an essay called The Souls of White Folks.  Within that early exploration of race, DuBois had this to say: “My poor, un-white thing! Weep not nor rage. I know, too well, that the curse of God lies heavy on you...I am quite straight-faced as I ask soberly: ‘But what on earth is whiteness that one should so desire it?’ Then always, somehow, some way, silently but clearly, I am given to understand that whiteness is the ownership of the earth forever and ever, Amen!”  So just what does it mean to be white?  The guests are Drs. Jean Halley and Amy Eshleman, co-authors of Seeing White: An Introduction to White Privilege and Race.

Even before there was a United States of America or a government to run it, there were secrets.  But the secrets that were kept in the beginning and the reasons for keeping them have not only evolved, but increased drastically in number.  While it is important to understand that while some secrecy is certainly necessary, when a culture of secrecy develops, it can not only be very damaging to democracy, but also runs contrary to the essence of democracy.  The guest is Frederick A.O. Schwarz, Jr., author of Democracy in the Dark: The Seduction of Government Secrecy. 

In December of 1791, Congress passed the ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution that became known as the Bill of Rights. The First Amendment leads the list with the basic belief of freedom of speech.  Over time the interpretation of that amendment has drastically changed.  And it’s a change that has one constitutional lawyer concerned.  The guest is Professor Burt Neuborne, legal director of the Brennan Center for Justice. 

According to a report put out in January of last year by the White house Council on Women and Girls and the Office of the U.S. Vice President, nearly 22-million women have been raped in their lifetimes…that’s nearly one in five.  And these are not stranger rapes, most of these women know their assailants.  In addition, over a third of women were also raped as minors.  In looking at the statistics concerning rape, of particular concern is sexual assault on college campuses.  The dynamics of college life seem to fuel the problem, but it is further exacerbated by the fact that many campus assailants are serial offenders.
Guest: David Lisak, a nationally recognized forensic consultant, trainer and lecturer.

Kansas State University, along with other Regents Institutions in the state, is looking at the possibility of some significant budget cuts by Kansas Lawmakers.  In a recent move, the Senate Ways and Means Committee passed a subcommittee report that recommended budget cuts for Fiscal Years 2016 and 2017 for the university.  The recommendations also brought some other unexpected consequences.

According to the U-S Department of Justice, some 25 percent of all women have experienced some kind of domestic violence, with women between the ages of 20 and 24 at the greatest risk.  And the department estimates there are some 960-thousand domestic violence incidents every year, but only 25 percent of all domestic crimes are reported to police.  In Kansas, during the fiscal year 2014, there were more than 350 victims of human trafficking reported to the state attorney general's office.  And, in at least a third of those cases, the trafficker was the spouse or partner.  The guest is Dorthy Stucky, director of the Victim Services Division in the Kansas attorney general's office.

By the year 2050, there could be more than 9.5 billion people on the planet.  That increase in the number of mouths to feed means that farmers, worldwide, may have to produce as much as 100 percent more food than they do right now.  And that may be a problem unless some of the mistrust in agriculture is dealt with.  The guest is Charlie Arnot, CEO of the Center for Food Integrity.

We usually think of institutions of higher education in the United States as facilitating the American dream and offering a system of upward mobility.  However, one author and scholar says in the last few decades those institutions have evolved in a way to reinforce or even widen the gaps between people of different socio-economic backgrounds.  Today’s guest, Suzanne Mettler, is author of Degrees of Inequality: How Higher Education Politics Sabotaged the American Dream.

There are currently more senior citizens in the United States than at any other time, and the numbers simply keep growing.  According to one expert on aging, every single day more than ten thousand people turn 65.  In addition, in just three years the need for home health care will increase by some 90 percent.  And in 35 years the number of people that need long term health care is expected to grow from the current 12 million to 27 million.  This elder boom is like nothing we have ever experienced.

- 3/5/2015
It is expected that by the year 2050, the world's population will reach an estimated 9.6 billion people.  This means that the world's farmers will need to produce as much as 100 percent more food than they do now to feed the population growth.  According to the Provost at Kansas State University, the school and its leadership are committed to doing what we can to prevent and address hunger not only around our communities and in the U.S., but across the world.
Guests: Dr. April Mason, Provost of Kansas State University
Dr. Karen Burg, Vice president for research at Kansas State and a Professor of chemical engineering

A report put out in April of last year says that the leading public universities in the United States, “often called flagship universities, do a poor job of ensuring that undergraduate students engage in an intellectually vibrant campus culture and leave with a solid foundation of common skills and knowledge.”  In addition, almost two-thirds of these leading universities have at some point used a nationally normed assess­ment of student progress in core collegiate skills, but only one in four makes those results publicly available.
Guests: Dr. Michael Poliakoff, vice president of policy at American Council of Trustees and Alumni; and Armand Alacbay, director of trustee programs for ACTA.

According to the National Weather Service, in 2013, there were seven weather and climate disaster events with losses exceeding one-billion-dollars each across the United States. That included five severe weather and tornado events, a major flood, and the western drought/heat wave. Overall, these events killed 109 people and had major economic impacts.  Severe weather season will soon be here, and the National Weather service wants you to be prepared.
Guest: Chad Omitt, warning preparedness meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Topeka.

- 2/13/2015
Americans in general display low levels of financial knowledge and capability, but a new study out of Kansas State University indicates that women are even less financially capable. The gender gap of capability extends across all ages, but is most prevalent among women younger than 35 and older than 55, and the gap increases with age.  Guest: Cliff is an associate professor of personal financial planning in Kansas State's College of Human Ecology and author of a study titled "Financial Knowledge and the Gender Gap.”

- 2/6/2015
Ever since its inception, the Social Security system seems to have been a target.  Despite that, the co-authors of a new book say Social Security works, it is totally funded for two decades, it is supported by Americans all across the social and political spectrum, and Social Security ought to be expanded.  The guests are Nancy Altman, a lawyer, and Eric Kingson, a professor of social work at Syracuse University. 

- 1/30/2015
There is a fair amount of research that indicates many U.S. citizens are not that knowledgeable about local, national, and world affairs.  Two researchers believe that one important way to address the situation begins in the classroom.  And in some cases the effort starts as early as grade school in something called the political classroom.  Very simply put, it is an effort to turn U.S. kids into engaged, knowledgeable citizens.  The guests are authors Diana Hess and Paula McAvoy.

Have you ever wondered about the punishments handed down in criminal trials…are they too severe or not severe enough…who really gets punished and why…and does incarcerating those convicted of a crime really do any good?  According to the International Center for Prison Studies, the United States incarcerates more people than any other country in the world, by some estimates we have over two-and-a-quarter million people behind bars.  According to one author and trial judge, if you spend a good portion of your life sending people to prison, you cannot help but begin to ponder right and wrong…human nature…why we punish and why we forgive.  The guest is Morris Hoffman, author of The Punisher’s Brain: The Evolution of Judge and Jury.

- 1/16/2015
Probably one of the most criticized institutions in the United States today is the media.  It is called too liberal…or maybe too conservative.  And why does the media seem to avoid certain problems and stories?  One media expert says the current problems with and within the media have deep roots.  The guest is author and educator Victor Pickard.

The American Society of Civil Engineers says the United States infrastructure – our highways and bridges, airports, railroads, schools, waste-water systems, clean water availability, and energy production -- is the foundation that connects this nation’s businesses, communities, and people.  But the fact is that our infrastructure is not up to par and needs investment if we are to keep pace with our needs…now and in the future.  On today’s Perspective program, the second of a two-part series examining that infrastructure with the focus today on Kansas.

The American Society of Civil Engineers, the A-S-C-E, says the United States infrastructure – our highways and bridges, airports, railroads, schools, waste water systems, clean water availability, and energy production -- is the foundation that connects this nation’s businesses, communities, and people.  But the fact is that our infrastructure is not up to par and needs investment if we are to keep pace with our needs.  The first of a two-part series looks at both the national infrastructure and the Kansas infrastructure, it poor ratings and what it will cost to bring it up to par.  The guest is Tom Smith, executive director of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

- 12/23/2014

The National Council on Crime and Delinquency says the United States incarcerates the largest number of people in the world.  The International Centre on Prison Studies says data from 2006 showed that the 2.2 million people in prison in the U-S is 153 percent higher than Russia, 505 percent higher than Brazil, 550 percent higher than India, and over 2,000 percent higher than Indonesia, Bangladesh, or Nigeria.  And, in the United States, African Americans are over six times as likely to be incarcerated as whites, and Latinos over twice as likely.  We also imprison women at three times the rate of anyone else in the world.  Maya Schenwar says very simply it is a misnomer to call our prisons correctional institutions.


- 12/19/2014
According to one cyber security expert almost 56 percent of smartphone users will use their device for some form of holiday shopping this year.  That use is not a problem, but the fact that some of these phones may contain malware disguised as an app is a problem.  That app could lead to data theft and identity leaks that could put the user and their private information at risk.  The big issue is that many Americans are sacrificing their privacy for convenience.  The guest is Gary Miliefsky, founder and CEO of SnoopWall-dot-com.

One of the more widely discussed agricultural topics in Kansas these days concerns how to properly create a farm or ranch succession from one generation to another.  This is a very important venture not only for the agricultural families involved, but also for the communities around those farms and ranches.  After the first of the year, Kansas State will host five workshops around the state on succession planning…they will take place at Allen Community College in Iola, Pratt Community College in Pratt, Kansas Farm Bureau Plaza in Manhattan, Flint Hills Technical College in Emporia, and the Kansas State Agricultural Research Center in Hayes.

For the first time in history, humans have exceeded the sustaining capacity of Earth's global ecosystems.  Mankind’s expanding footprint has tremendous momentum, and the explosion of human impact creates a shockwave that threatens ecosystems worldwide for future decades…possibly centuries.  One expert says unfortunately past behavior indicates that as resources grow scarce, humans will escalate their use of what remains instead of managing their consumption. The guest is Walter Dodds, professor of biology at Kansas State University and the author of Freshwater Ecology: Concepts and Environmental Applications.  He researches water quality and aquatic biodiversity, he is an investigator at the Konza Prairie Biological Station and leads the Kansas Ecological Forecasting Initiative.

More than 21 percent of Kansas children, some 40-thousand, live in poverty.  That’s an increase of 22 percent over the past five years.  And policy changes to programs such as Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, known as TANF, have made it more difficult for low-income families and their kids to gain access to the assistance they need.  Now, new recommendations from the Annie E. Casey Foundation propose integrating state and federal employment, education and child care programs for parents and children to create a better life for families.  The guest is Shannon Cotsoradis, president and CEO of Kansas Action for Children.

A new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation calls for comprehensive efforts to lift kids out of poverty, including delivering high quality early childhood education and providing parents with access to job training and other tools that will enable them to support their families.  The recommendations propose integrating state and federal employment, education and child care programs for parents and children to create better opportunities for families.  The guest is Laura Speer, associate director for policy reform and advocacy with the Annie E. Casey Foundation. 

The world’s demand for meat has increased significantly…due in part to rising income levels globally.  And according to one expert, those increases have not been without criticism, as issues such as animal welfare, the environment, food safety, and antibiotic resistance have been targeted by the media and others.   The guest is Dr. John Pluske, Fulbright Distinguished Chair in Agriculture and Life Sciences at Kansas State University and a Professor in the School of Veterinary and Life Sciences at Murdoch University, Perth Western Australia.

Every year, an estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner.  Despite those numbers, domestic violence has nothing to do with gender, although women are more likely to be killed by an intimate partner than men.  It has nothing to do with race, ethnicity, income, or does sexual orientation.  Domestic violence can even happen to children.  The guess is Judy Davis, director of the Crisis Center, Incorporated, in Manhattan. 

Hydraulic fracturing, hydro-fracturing, hydro-fracking, or just plain old fracking is under ever-increasing scrutiny and criticism.   According to estimates, some two-and-a-half million fracking operations had been undertaken around the world as of about two years ago, with some saying about a million of those had been done in the United States.  The guest is Susan Brantley, distinguished professor of geosciences in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences at Pennsylvania State University. She also is director of the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute, and was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2012.

We usually think of institutions of higher education in the United States as facilitating the American dream and offering a system of upward mobility.  However, one author and scholar says in the last few decades those institutions have evolved in a way to reinforce or even widen the gaps between people of different socio-economic backgrounds. In other words, American society is becoming ever more unequal, and dramatically so.  The guest is Suzanne Mettler, author of Degrees of Inequality: How Higher Education Politics Sabotaged the American Dream.  She is also the Clinton Rossiter Professor of American Institutions in the Government Department at Cornell University, a fellow at the Century Foundation, and on the board of the Scholars Strategy Network.

- 10/16/2014
The food problems faced by India are not unique.  For those experts looking ahead to feeding an ever-growing world population, there is concern about the problems faced by India and more that could lead to a global shortfall of food between now and 2050. According to one expert, their fears are based in part on the projected growth in global population, the impact of improved wealth, and the impact of urbanization on the available land and labor to produce crops.   The guest, David Everitt, is the retired president of John Deere's Agriculture and Turf Division – North America, Asia, Australia, and Sub-Saharan and South Africa, and Global Tractor and Turf Products.  Prior to his retirement, he also had enterprise-wide responsibility for Information Technology and the Intelligent Solutions Group.

War, no matter what war, is a brutal endeavor.  And for those sent into that brutality it is often difficult to make any sense or bring any meaning out of the chaos.  The United States sent the young men and women of its military to fight in both Iraq and Afghanistan, countries many cannot even find on a map.  According to one veteran, “The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are as much every U.S. citizen's wars as they are the veterans' wars." The guest is Phil Klay, who served in Iraq, is the author of Redeployment.  He is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps where he served in Iraq’s Anbar Province from 2007 to 2008 as a Public Affairs Officer.

Over the past thirty years the income gap between the rich and poor has gotten wider and wider.  Unfortunately, as the income gap widened, so did the educational opportunity gap.  Despite these gaps, two experts on education feel there are ways to increase the educational opportunities for children all across the country. The guests are Richard Murnane, co-author of Restoring Opportunity: The Crisis of Inequality and the Challenge for American Education and the Thompson Professor of Education and Society at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.  Also, Greg Duncan, co-author of Restoring Opportunity, and a distinguished professor in the Department of Education at the University of California, Irvine.

In October of 2013, former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, hedge fund magnate Tom Steyer, and former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson funded an independent examination of the risks created by climate change.  That report, called “Risky Business,” found that climate change could end up costing the United States’ economy hundreds of billions of dollars by 2050.  The guest is Mark Schapiro is the author of Carbon Shock: A Tale of Risk and Calculus on the Front Lines of a Disrupted Global Economy.  He is also an adjunct professor at the University of California-Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and at the Monterey Institute of International Studies.

What does it mean for a parent to be involved in a child’s education?  A lot of research indicates there is a definite link between parental involvement and student achievement in school.  But, how do we go about defining parental involvement?  The majority of parents feel they are more important than the school itself in whether a child learns.  And the majority of teachers feel they would rather work in a school that has a lot of parental involvement.  But the question remains, just what is parental involvement?  Today's guest is Jean Johnson, a Senior Fellow and Special Adviser for Public Agenda, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that helps leaders and citizens navigate divisive, complex issues and work together to find solutions.