JHU Press Blog

Not an Environmental Problem but a Political One - Cleaning Up the Chesapeake Bay with Tom Pelton

by eea | Tuesday, April 3, 2018 - 12:00 PM

The Chesapeake Bay as a Reflection of American Political Life

By Tom Pelton

As a journalist covering local government across different regions of the U.S. – in Virginia, Connecticut, Illinois, and Massachusetts – I witnessed a pattern that was disturbing to me. Forests and fields were being blacktopped by suburban sprawl, which was destroying not only natural landscapes but also draining the economic life out of unique and charming towns and cities.

When I started working as a reporter at The Baltimore Sun in 1997, this sterilization of the American landscape became all the more offensive to me, because I saw that it was now defacing one of the world’s great ecological masterpieces: the Chesapeake Bay. For the next 20 years, I wrote about Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay – including as an environmental reporter for The Sun, then as host of the public radio program “The Environment in Focus” on Baltimore’s WYPR 88.1 FM. John Hopkins University Press Editor Robert Brugger was a fan of my radio show, and one day emailed me to ask if I could write a book about the bay. I seized on my book project as an opportunity to...Read More

PCHP Gets New Editorial Team

by bjs | Friday, March 30, 2018 - 11:36 AM

A new editorial team has been chosen to lead the groundbreaking journal Progress in Community Health Partnerships: Research, Education, and Action (PCHP).

Alvin H. Strelnick , Assistant Dean for Community Engagement at New York's Albert Einstein College of Medicine, will take over as Editor-in-Chief from Northwestern University's Darius Tandon in early April. The journal is published by the Johns Hopkins University Press .

"PCHP showcases work that can truly changes lives, and I look forward to serving as just the third Editor-in-Chief in the journal's history," said Strelnick , who holds academic positions in the Department of Family and Social Medicine and Department of Epidemiology & Population Health at Einstein. He also is Chief of the Division of Community Health in the Department of Family and Social Medicine. "I am grateful to the board and the Johns Hopkins University Press for choosing my team for this honor."

Tandon served as editor-in-chief of...Read More

How Physicians, Engineers, and Airpower Enthusiasts Redefined Flight with Timothy Schultz

by eea | Thursday, March 29, 2018 - 12:00 PM

The Problem with Pilots: How Physicians, Engineers, and Airpower Enthusiasts Redefined Flight

By Timothy P. Schultz

As a pilot I was surprised to learn that pilots are the biggest problem in aviation. As a historian I wanted to learn why . The result was this book and a new perspective on technological change and human adaptation.

The first place to start was the early decades of flight. As aircraft flew higher, faster, and farther, airmen were exposed as feeble, vulnerable, and dangerous. They asphyxiated or got the bends at high altitudes; they fainted during high-G maneuvers; they spiraled into the ground in poor weather. Pilots also found remarkably inventive ways to imperil their lives due to inattention, incaution, or ineptitude. Many of these problems resulted from humans being inserted into complex technological systems where errors in cognition and errors in design clashed and multiplied. The evolution of aviation described here is in large part the story of how a variety of professionals identified and corrected these errors.

I was surprised to learn how pervasive a role medical experts played in redefining flight. Flight surgeons, or physicians specializing in the...Read More

Program Resumed

by bjs | Wednesday, March 28, 2018 - 10:00 AM

Almost two decades ago, Pennsylvania State University professor Brian Lennon published an article in the journal Configurations . As he looked for a home for a recent article on the history of JavaScript , he found that his old article marked the only use of the word JavaScript in the index of Configuations . That represents part of the reason why he thought the journal would make a perfect home for his article , which examines how JavaScript went from a program originally designed for casual and inexpert coders into a complex of technical artifacts and practices whose range and complexity of use has today propelled it into domains previously dominated by other, often older and more prestigious languages. Lennon joined us for a Q&A about the topic and his work.

How did this article come about for you?

This article is the first publication drawn from my current research on programming languages and cultures of software development, work in which I take a quite specific type of humanities-based approach (one that isn’t necessarily compatible with other humanities-based approaches of our moment). In some ways...Read More

Malaria and War in the Age of Jackson with C.S. Monaco

by eea | Tuesday, March 27, 2018 - 12:00 PM

Among the many unexpected findings that I uncovered while researching my book on the Second Seminole War (1835-1842), the most startling was the major role of malaria. Previous historians of this often-marginalized war have focused on traditional wartime issues: from the weighty decisions of generals to the fighting ability of enlisted men and militia. Disease has never figured highly on anyone’s list of historical priorities. And, as implausible as it may seem, the subject of malaria is almost completely absent from the historiography. Such a basic omission has created, as one can imagine, a distorted view of this Jacksonian era war.

Since malaria is no longer active in the United States, it is easy to forget the devastation it once wrought. On the Florida battlefield, it brought on a special set of horrors. When I began my research, I was perplexed about the number of officer suicides, until I realized that they were all fighting amid a raging malaria epidemic. Because most men hailed from more northern latitudes, they were especially vulnerable to this disease since they had no prior immunity. Anyone who is familiar with malaria knows that the strain that does the most...Read More

The Agency of African States in Global Health Efforts with Amy Patterson

by eea | Friday, March 16, 2018 - 12:00 PM

One of my most vivid memories from my experience as a Peace Corps volunteer in rural Senegal occurred soon after I moved to my assigned village. A group of NGO and government workers arrived to immunize children. Village elites enthusiastically told them to leave, even though children were routinely infected with tetanus, measles, and polio. The elites shunned this government-supported, well-funded international effort. Overtime I came to discover some of their reasons: distrust of the state, bad experiences with NGOs, and cultural views on biomedicine. But the incident illustrated to this naïve volunteer a powerful lesson: Lofty aspirations and action plans that come from the top may mean little in local communities.

I discuss this incident almost every semester when I teach about development or global health governance. While the event raises numerous questions, I tackle two in my new book Africa and Global Health Governance . The first is “What factors affect the implementation of global health policies?” The book uses case studies of AIDS, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) to explore this question. It builds on country case studies and incorporates explanations from the international, state and local levels...Read More

Examining Medical Futility

by bjs | Thursday, March 15, 2018 - 10:00 AM

The journal Perspectives in Biology and Medicine recently published a special issue on decisions involving medical futility. The issue features 21 responses to a paper written by Lawrence J. Schneiderman, Nancy S. Jecker and Albert R. Jonsen. Editor Martha Montello has agreed to publish the introduction to this issue on the blog. The issue is available to Project MUSE subscribers .

In the summer of 2017, much of the world was riveted by the case of Charlie Gard, a baby in London whose parents wanted an experimental treatment and whose doctors thought that further treatment would be futile. The case worked its way through the British courts and, eventually, was even heard by the European Court of Human Rights. Pope Francis and President Trump weighed in. If nothing else, the case revealed how controversial the issues around medical futility and shared decision-making still are.

Many ethical issues resolve over time. Discussions about disagreements lead to discovery of common ground. That doesn’t seem to be the case with the issue of medical futility and, particularly, with the appropriateness of unilateral decisions by doctors to withdraw life support...Read More

The Art of Writing Carefully with Sara Taber

by eea | Wednesday, March 14, 2018 - 12:00 PM


Why did I write Chance Particulars , a guide to keeping a field notebook?

Most of my books, I have written spurred by my own curiosity or lust, or from a need to sort something out--books about the creeds of lonely Argentine shepherds; the source of a French baker's divine and earthy loaf; the soul of my tortured spy father--but I wrote Chance Particulars for my students and for those like them with a hankering or a need to record their past and current experiences on this astonishing and perplexing planet.

It might appear very simple, this task of putting one's daily or momentous experience into words, but to translate experience into sentences that snap that experience to sputtering and chortling life on the page is not so very simple after all. I discovered this, with dismay, myself, upon my return home from a life-changing year on the dry rangelands of Patagonia. I opened the thumbed notebook in which I'd deliberately recorded my days only to discover that, while I’d noted that I'd had a great talk with a...Read More

The Post-Watergate 94th Congress with John Lawrence

by eea | Monday, March 12, 2018 - 2:00 PM

With the announced retirement of Rep. Rick Nolan of Minnesota, a milestone in congressional history will be reached next January. For the first time in 48 years, the House will contain no one elected to the historic post-Watergate 94 th Congress, the Class of ’74.

Inevitably, one must ask how different today’s Congress is from the one the Class of ’74 – 92 new members strong – that entered in 1975. In the two years leading up to the Democratic wave victory, the country had experienced unprecedented turmoil: the Watergate break-in and cover-up, Senate and House inquiries, Supreme Court rulings and impeachment resolutions -- culminating with the resignation of President Richard Nixon just four months before Election Day. A month later, the political world was rocked yet again when the new, unelected president, long-time minority House leader Gerald Ford, granted Nixon “a full, free, and absolute pardon.”

The response of Democratic House hopefuls was giddy. Many had entered their campaigns with little expectation of actually winning the election. “We thought, ‘Whoa, better find a place to live,’ recalled George Miller, a 29 year old Californian, ‘because we’re coming to Washington!’” “Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!,” exulted Jim...Read More

Moralizing the Market

by eea | Friday, March 9, 2018 - 12:00 PM


This book started as an inquiry into a very specific case of policy transfer from the United States to France in the late 1960s: prompted by the outrage generated by a spectacular insider trading scandal at the Paris Bourse , French policy makers endeavored to “moralize the market”; to that end, they established an independent securities regulator, the Commission des Opérations de Bourse (COB), loosely modeled on the American Securities and Exchange Commission.

My curiosity in this rather esoteric episode of postwar financial history was piqued by the fact that it took place toward the end of Charles de Gaulle’s presidency, at a time when, according to conventional wisdom, strident opposition to American imperialism was a tenet of French foreign policy. While the American origins of the COB were not a secret—Gaullist reformers acknowledged them in their memoirs and they are routinely mentioned in books on the Paris securities market—, they had never been investigated thoroughly from a historical perspective.

A close look at the rich archival records confirmed that Michel Debré, then Minister of Finance in the government of Georges Pompidou and a staunch advocate of national sovereignty, initiated...Read More