Category: Events

Staying Sane

Welcome back, all!  It seems like yesterday we were saying good-bye for Winter Break and here we are trying to keep our New Year’s’ resolutions.

As classes get underway, GCP wants to make sure you keep your health and happiness a priority this semester by introducing a “Whole Person” series.  The Program Managers have developed a number of events, to run the entirety of February, to benefit your sanity and well-being.

Here at GCP, we know that Spring semester is short, very short; and without a plan in place, you can fall victim to illness, depression and well, just an overwhelming feeling of panic. “What will I do after graduation? Where will I leave next year?  How will I ever finish my work?”  Don’t get bogged down in the minutiae, but rather make the time to work on your mind, body, and spirit!  The answers will follow.

Events are open to all GCP properties.  Hope to see you there!

GCP Whole Person Wellness Series_ Mind Body Spirit




3rd Annual Labor Day Food Truck Welcome Bash

Yesterday GCP hosted our 3rd Annual Labor Day Food Truck Welcome Bash, with simultaneous events at Peabody Terrace and Botanic Gardens. We has a tremendous turn-out at both locations, serving more than 700 residents in a little over an hour (a new record for sure!). It was terrific to meet so many new residents, and of course to catch up with a number of our returners.

In case you missed the festivities, here are a few of the highlights:

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sustainability and whoopie pie wagon

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GCP Families “Beat the Heat”!

Graduate Commons Family Programming began with a SPLASH last week with our BEAT THE HEAT events at Peabody Terrace and Botanic Gardens. Our Family Program Community Advisors, Bernice Dy and Julie Hodges, did a wonderful job planning crafts and water activities for the youngest GCP residents.  It was a great opportunity for families across Graduate Commons properties to meet one another.  Thank you to everyone who came out and joined us, we hope to see you at another event soon!

10544363_788786971151927_8231973361217748546_nbeat the heat 3Beat the Heat10494812_788787474485210_6262150370096815792_n

Our next family-friendly event is an OUTDOOR showing of the Pixar classic film, “TOY STORY” on Friday, August 8th on the Peabody Terrace lawn.  Grab a lawn chair or blanket and join the festivities!

Meet the Scholar: Dr. Wilson

Image“Reflections on America’s Great and Growing Disparity”

The Graduate Commons Program was honored to have Dr. William Julius Wilson speak to our community on February 11th.  Dr. Wilson is the Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor and Director of the Joblessness and Urban Poverty Research Program.  He is jointly appointed at the Harvard Kennedy School and in the Department of Sociology.  Dr. Wilson is one of only 24 University Professors, which is the highest professional distinction for a Harvard faculty member and an exceptional achievement. 

Dr. Wilson began by his talk by describing post-war economic conditions that led to a strong, growing middle class in America. These conditions, including the presence of influential labor unions, insured that working class Americans had steady work and increased wages.  He argued that this period saw the smallest gap between working-class and upper-class Americans.

According to Dr. Wilson, these social and economic conditions changed drastically beginning in the 1980s. The “Reagan economic experiment” and the economic policies of President George W. Bush led to a significant decline in the middle class and a growth in economic disparity. Dr. Wilson also argued that growing social inequalities during this period further exacerbated the plight of the American working class.

To examine the causes of this increased disparity, Dr. Wilson compared the works of two recent books that have received widespread attention —Timothy Noah’s “The Great Divergence: America’s Growing Inequality Crisis and What We Can Do About It” and Charles Murray’s “Coming Apart: The State of White America.”

Dr. Wilson explained that Noah synthesized social science research to better understand the US economy post-1979, a period he calls the “Great Divergence.” Noah uses this term to contrast with the period from the 1930s to the 1970s that saw a decreased in social and economic inequality, calling these few decades the “Great Convergence” Noah argues that there were several factors that contributed to the growing divide between upper-class and working-class Americans. These included the increased value of a college degree, increased trade with lower wage nations, government policies that protected the wealthiest Americans, and a sharp decrease in the labor movement. To Noah, the “Great Divergence” is a multi-faceted issue greatly impacted by structural factors, particularly government policies.

On the other hand, Murray argues that current economic differences are related to shifts in the core values, particularly among the “new rich” and the white working-class. Murray examines the life-style choices of two American communities as a way to illustrate the differences between these new upper-class and lower-class groups. Using Belmont, MA as an example of a “super zip”, he finds highly educated individuals who have developed distinct cultural practices that have increased their economic success. Murray cites a high rate of advanced degrees, increased rates of marriage, and an importance of “family time” as values of the upper-class.  His second case study investigates the residents of Fishtown, a white working-class neighborhood in Philadelphia. In Fishtown, he finds higher rates of joblessness, more single mothers, and greater crime. Murray equates their economic disparity to a decrease in core values among working-class Americans – a lack of religiosity, industriousness, and emphasis on the institution of marriage.

Dr. Wilson argued that Murray’s conclusions were causal at best, and to make such incendiary claims would require more rigorous research methods.  Further, Dr. Wilson argued that in other industrial nations that face issues of economic disparity, there are few claims that decreased values are responsible for economic inequality. Dr. Wilson explained that issues of economic disparity are complex, much as Noah outlined. To eliminate such profound economic disparities, we need to fully understand these complex issues to find long lasting solutions.

Dr. Wilson’s talk ended with a lively question-and-answer session. When asked about his hopes for narrowing the socioeconomic gap in the future, Dr. Wilson responded that he’s “fighting pessimism all the time.” When asked about a solution, his response was a simply one—vote!  Dr. Wilson encouraged the audience to assist in grassroots voting campaigns, particularly aimed at disenfranchised Americans. He believes this to be a simple but powerful step to ensure all Americans are heard, and to begin to roll back the growing gap between rich and poor in the United States.




NEW GCP Passport

UntitledBoston snow got you down? We have just the thing for you.

Now introducing the Graduate Commons Program PASSPORT.

10 Akron & 5 Cowperthwaite Residents:

This spring, enjoy a series of free programs and collect “Stamps” for each one you attend. These events outings including Ice Skating and the last home Harvard Basketball game and innings including a Wine and Paint night. Some events will be in high demand, so be sure to RSVP soon! Other events will be free and open to all.

Be sure to bring your PASSPORT to the event and find a Community Advisor to give you a “Stamp”. At the end of the year, residents with the most stamps will be given a surprise gift!

Check your email for program opportunities and to get your very own PASSPORT. Here’s a list of the next events on the schedule:

       February 12 – Cookie Night with Dr. Lerner & Dr. Gill at Cowperthwaite (8pm)

·         February 13 – Wine Night with Dr. Carrasco & Dr. Parra at Akron (8pm)

·         February 16 – Ice Skating at the Frog Pond in Boston (11am)

o   RSVP Link:

·         March 1 – Harvard Basketball (7pm)

o   RSVP Link:

If you have questions, concerns, or suggestions please feel free to contact Akron-Cowperthwaite Community Advisor Corey Peak (

Annual Peabody Terrace Ski Trip

On Jan 26, 2013, a group of Peabody Terrace residents set out early for a day on the slopes. We began at 7 and ended at 7. But a lot happened in those 12 unforgettable hours. First up, T ride to Porter Square, and then a shuttle to Wachusetts


The shuttle was scenic, and the Wachusetts bus was waiting to take us to the resort. The ski logistics were new to several first-time skiers. Getting in line to get your lift ticket, and then to pick up your ski gear and “manage” to put it on…ImageImageImageImage

Once the gear was on, we were ready to go. But first we decided to pose for some pics…


The next challenge, and thrill, was getting to…and then up on the lifts. And boy it was cold at the top…ImageImage

Then we just had to our own ways and in our own styles…


Yeah, sometimes backward too. But, at the end of the day, we had so much fun…


…and we gave it our all, to say the least…;)


“Meet the Scholar” February Preview

The Graduate Commons Program is excited to announce the distinguished group of faculty members who will be joining our community for “Meet the Scholar” lectures this February.  We hope that you’ll take advantage of the wonderful opportunity to hear these prestigious faculty members speak about their work.

1325915338562Professor William Julius Wilson | Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor; Director: Joblessness and Urban Poverty Research Program

Tuesday, February 11th @ Peabody Terrace

William Julius Wilson is Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor at Harvard University. He is one of only 24 University Professors, the highest professional distinction for a Harvard faculty member. After receiving the Ph.D. from Washington State University in 1966, Wilson taught sociology at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, before joining the University of Chicago faculty in 1972. In 1990 he was appointed the Lucy Flower University Professor and director of the University of Chicago’s Center for the Study of Urban Inequality. He joined the faculty at Harvard in July of 1996.

He is the author of numerous publications, including The Declining Significance of Race, winner of the American Sociological Association’s Sydney Spivack Award; The Truly Disadvantaged, which was selected by the editors of the New York Times Book Review as one of the 16 best books of 1987, and received The Washington Monthly Annual Book Award and the Society for the Study of Social Problems’ C. Wright Mills Award; When Work Disappears: The World of the New Urban Poor, which was selected as one of the notable books of 1996 by the editors of the New York Times Book Review and received the Sidney Hillman Foundation Award; and The Bridge Over the Racial Divide: Rising Inequality and Coalition Politics. Most recently he is the co-author of There Goes the Neighborhood: Racial, Ethnic, and Class Tensions in Four Chicago Neighborhoods and Their Meaning for America and Good Kids in Bad Neighborhoods: Successful Development in Social Context.

Professor Wilson is a member of numerous national boards and commissions, and was previously the Chair of the Board of The Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences and of the Russell Sage Foundation.

thProfessor Maria Polinsky | Professor of Linguistics

Tuesday, February 18th @ 10 Akron Street

Professor Polinsky’s work is at the intersection of theoretical syntax and the study of cross-linguistic variation in sentence structure. Language-wise, she specializes in Austronesian and languages of the Caucasus. These days she divides her time between theoretical and experimental work on long-distance dependencies, ergativity, and subject island effects. Her research interests include: language universals and their explanation, comparative syntactic theory, information structure in natural language, incomplete acquisition (heritage languages), and Austronesian and Caucasian languages.

The Polinsky Language Sciences Lab at Harvard University is a linguistics lab that examines questions of language structure and its effect on the ways in which people use and process language in real time. We engage in linguistic and interdisciplinary research projects ourselves; offer linguistic research capabilities for undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and visitors; and build relationships with the linguistic communities in which we do our research.

The Polinsky Langage Sciences Lab is interested in a broad range of issues pertaining to syntax, interfaces, and cross-linguistic variation. The Polinsky Lab places a particular emphasis on novel experimental evidence that facilitates the construction of linguistic theory. We have a strong cross-linguistic focus, drawing upon English, Russian, Chinese, Korean, Mayan languages, Basque, Austronesian languages, languages of the Caucasus, and others. They believe that challenging existing theories with data from as broad a range of languages as possible is a crucial component of the successful development of linguistic theory.


220px-Burns,_R__Nicholas_-_Under_Secretary_for_Political_AffairsProfessor R. Nicholas Burns | The Sultan of Oman Professor of International Relations: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Thursday, February 27th @ 5 Cowperthwaite Street

Nicholas Burns is  Sultan of Oman Professor of the Practice of International Relations  at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He is Director of the Future of Diplomacy Project and Faculty Chair for the Programs on the Middle East and on India and South Asia. He serves on the Board of Directors of the School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and is a Faculty Associate at Harvard’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs.

Professor Burns served in the United States government for twenty-seven years.  As a career Foreign Service Officer, he was Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs from 2005 to 2008; the State Department’s third-ranking official when he led negotiations on the U.S.–India Civil Nuclear Agreement; a long-term military assistance agreement with Israel; and was the lead U.S. negotiator on Iran’s nuclear program. He was U.S. Ambassador to NATO (2001–2005), Ambassador to Greece (1997–2001) and State Department Spokesman (1995–1997).  He worked for five years (1990–1995) on the National Security Council at the White House where he was Senior Director for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia Affairs and Special Assistant to President Clinton and Director for Soviet Affairs in the Administration of President George H.W. Bush. Burns also served in the American Consulate General in Jerusalem (1985–1987) where he coordinated U.S. economic assistance to the Palestinian people in the West Bank and before that, at the American embassies in Egypt (1983-1985) and Mauritania (1980 as an intern).

Professor Burns has received twelve honorary degrees, the Secretary of State’s Distinguished Service Award, the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service from the Johns Hopkins University, and the Boston College Alumni Achievement Award. He has a BA in History from Boston College (1978), an MA in International Relations from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (1980), and earned the Certificat Pratique de Langue Francaise at the University of Paris-Sorbonne (1977). He was a visiting Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in summer 2008.


For more information about these lectures, including how to RSVP, please read your weekly Graduate Commons Announcements.