K-State Research and Extension News
PERSPECTIVE is a weekly public affairs program distributed to radio stations throughout the state. 
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- 10/2/2015
Seventeen counties in southeast Kansas have a problem…the quality of life is not what many think it should be.  The area is not preforming economically, in both the business and the private sector, as well as most would like.  Consequently, over the past two years over 17-hundred Kansans from the southeast part of the state have come together to improve a number of aspects that affect the quality of life in the area.  Their effort is called Project 17, named for the 17 counties they are hoping to improve.

Everyday more and more questions are raised about the future of higher education and the relevance of a college degree.  Each year the costs of a college education in Kansas seem to grow, and at the same time, state funding declines.  Those changes, among others, call into question just where higher education may be headed and its value.  On today’s Perspective program, with the help of a former Kansas governor, we rummage through the evolution of a college education, and what the future may hold.

In the 61 years since Brown versus the Topeka Board of Education, the United States seems to have gone from “separate but equal” to “together but unequal”...at least that is the finding of two researchers.  In a new study that challenges many of the common explanations for the racial achievement gap, they say that in spite of our efforts and intentions, racial inequality remains.

In May of 1954, in Brown versus the Topeka Board of Education, the U-S Supreme court decided that "separate educational facilities are inherently unequal."  As a result, segregation was ruled a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U-S Constitution, paving the way for integration.  But, in the 61 years since how much distance have we really put between our kids and the “separate but equal” mindset?  And, although we no longer accept separate but equal when it comes to education, Black and Latino students continue to lag behind their peers.

In the original Constitution of the United States there was nothing said about what comprised citizenship.  According to one legal expert, the Constitution did not address who was a citizen, it did not address the requirements for naturalization, and it did not address the legal status for those who were naturalized.  The Constitution did, however, say that only a natural-born citizen could be elected to the presidency of the United States.  But again it failed to address just what was a natural-born citizen.  One expert says trying to define who is a citizen and what makes a citizen is complicated…to say the least.

How often are orders carried out even though they may raise questions?  Orders that could in some way lead to harm.  What is it about our society or how we were raised that seems to interfere with our moral compass?  The examples are many and easy to find where good people refused to question their superiors.  Examples such as financial fraud or war crimes…and the excuse is too often simply we were following orders.  One researcher says we must relearn how to speak up…how to make our voices heard.

- 8/24/2015
Have you ever wondered what it costs…what it takes to fight for freedom and democracy?  One civil rights attorney says that cost varies for any number of reasons.  The price paid by our founding fathers is far different than what civil rights activists and other citizens are asked to pay today.  One way or another, all of us learned, growing up, about the hopes of those on the Mayflower, the reasons behind the Declaration of Independence, and the risk and motivations behind the creation of this great country.  On today’s Perspective program a look at the costs to one foreigner who came to America to help our ancestors fight for freedom…and just how that speaks to us today.

- 8/17/2015
Most of us seem to view hackers as some kind of evil computer geeks out to mess up our computer, or steal our identity and private documents, or even cause problems with national security.  However, one researcher says, "Hacking is much broader than that. Hacking is more than breaking into security systems and computer networks.”

Since the 1960s, depopulation has been, and remains, a major challenge for rural Kansas.  And the problem results in a distorted age structure, which in turn jeopardizes the demographic sustainability of communities.  It also contributes to the loss of local services and municipal revenues.  High rural fertility and the fact that most Baby Boomers were still active largely mitigated these trends in the past, but now the future of many rural communities is very much in question.

Some 1.7 million more children live in low-income working families today that during the Great Recession.  According to the newly released 2015 KIDS COUNT Data Book from the Annie. E. Casey Foundation, in 2013, one in four children, that’s 18.7 million, lived in a low-income working family in the United States.  And the report says even when parents are working full time, wages and benefits are often not sufficient to adequately support a family.
Guests: Laura Speer, the associate director for policy reform and advocacy at the Annie E. Casey Foundation.  She has the primary responsibility for the national Kids Count project.  Also, Shannon Cotsoradis, president and CEO of Kansas Action for Children.

- 7/24/2015
For many, the hours in the work week go far beyond the forty society likes to see as the norm.  Those extra hours come at night, weekends, and even on vacation.  One expert says those long hours will eventually catch up to you…taking a toll on productivity and health, and even making you stupider.  There has to be a balance between productivity and a healthful work environment…and the role in that balance plays in leadership.
Guest: Dr. Tasha Eurich, author of Bankable Leadership: Happy People, Bottom Line Results, and the Power to Deliver Both.  Eurich is on the faculty at the Center for Creative Leadership, and has served as an adjunct faculty member in Colorado State University’s Psychology and Business Schools.

- 7/17/2015
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.  This is especially troubling because many women will be the head of a household at some point in their lives.  The guest is Cliff Robb of Kansas State University.

- 7/10/2015
AIDS is no longer the death sentence it once was.  Advances in medicine…in antiviral therapies have transformed AIDS into a chronic, though potentially manageable, disease.  Despite the changes and the hope those changes bring, the stigma that surrounds AIDS remains.  On today’s Perspective program the thoughts and experiences of one doctor who has worked with AIDS since she began her medical career. The guest is Dr Susan Ball of Weill Cornell Medical College and New York Presbyterian Hospital.

In many of this nation’s schools teachers are working hard to prepare their students for tests…standardized tests that will query them over a narrow set of academic subjects.  That effort concerns one professor and author who feels public education needs to not only transmit knowledge, but also prepare its students to utilize that knowledge in their role as citizens.  The guest is Joel Westheimer of the University of Ottawa.

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.