Focus - May 31, 2012

Interview with Cokie Roberts

NPR’s Cokie Roberts shares stories about growing up in a political family. She was in Urbana earlier in the month to speak at this year’s commencement ceremony. Before that, she stopped by our studios to talk about some of her experiences in journalism. As it was the day before Mother’s Day, she told some stories about her Mom, who, like her Dad, was a member of Congress. We also talked about some of the important, yet overlooked women in early American politics.

This interview was recorded on May 12, 2012.

Focus - May 31, 2012

Insect Pests

If insects are causing problems at your house, we may be able to help.  Our guest will be Phil Nixon, extension entomologist at the University of Illinois. He’s been with us many times before to take questions on a wide range of pests, everything from ants and roaches to silverfish and centipedes: the common pests that cause problems in our homes and gardens. Sometimes the key is just trying to get along, but if it’s a bug you just can’t live with, Phil can tell you how to make it go away.

Focus - May 30, 2012

The Last Hunger Season: A Year in an African Farm Community on the Brink of Change

Most of Africa’s farmers are so poor they can’t grow enough to feed their families year round. In January of 2011 a group of Kenyan farmers decided to take a chance--joining the One Acre Fund, a social enterprise set up to help some of Africa’s most neglected people. The hope was that they could feed their families for the year, and have a bit left over to sell.  Roger Thurow brings us the story of a farm community on the brink of change, the subject of his book "The Last Hunger Season."

Focus - May 30, 2012

Current Events in Egypt

Last week, people in Egypt went to the polls to cast votes in the country’s first free presidential elections. Of the 13 candidates competing in the first round, two will contend in a runoff next month. One is the candidate of the Muslim brotherhood; the other served as Prime Minister under the old regime of Hosni Mubarak. We welcome back Ken Cuno, associate professor of History at the University of Illinois for another conversation about Egyptian politics. We’ll talk about the recent elections and try to get a better understanding of those competing for power.

Focus - May 29, 2012

The Statue of Liberty: A Transatlantic Story

The Statue of Liberty is one of America’s most powerful symbols, yet when it arrived in crates, no one could have imagined just how powerful it would become. We’ll get the story of the small group of French intellectuals who decided to offer a tribute to American liberty and of the uphill fight for American support. Our guest will be historian Edward Berenson, author of the new book "The Statue of Liberty: A Transatlantic Story."

Focus - May 29, 2012

Sustainable Initiatives and Priorities at the University of Illinois and Parkland College

Growing numbers of people are trying to be conscious of the environmental impact of the way they live, but on college campuses, sustainability has been important for decades. All across the country students and administrators are looking at the carbon footprints of their institutions and making commitments on everything from campus gardens to green buildings. We’ll look at some of the sustainability efforts of two schools very close to us as we talk with Pradeep Khanna, associate chancellor at the University of Illinois, and Seamus Reilly, vice president for Institutional Advancement at Parkland College.

Focus - May 28, 2012

Freedom Struggles: African Americans and World War I

Two hundred thousand black soldiers were sent to Europe to fight in World War I. Historian Adriane Lentz-Smith says that experience gave many black people their first taste of life outside of the American racial system. She says it led them to imagine a different world, one that they worked to make real when they returned home. In a program from the archives, we’ll look at the ways that World War I shaped the civil rights movement in the United States. That’s the subject of Adriane Lentz-Smith’s book "Freedom Struggles."

This is a repeat broadcast from Thursday, January 14, 2010, 10 am

Focus - May 28, 2012

Liberty’s Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary World

When the British left America after the Revolution it was cause for celebration, but not all Americans were pleased to see the redcoats sail away. Fearing for their safety, some 60,000 Americans who had remained loyal to the crown decided to leave and make new lives elsewhere in the British Empire. In a program from the archives, Harvard historian Maya Jasanoff talks about her book "Liberty’s Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary World." It explores the many ways that the loyalist diaspora helped Britain overcome a stinging defeat and go on to become a world power.

This is a repeat broadcast from Thursday, March 31, 2011, 11 am

Focus - May 25, 2012

Join the Club: How Peer Pressure Can Transform the World

Tina Rosenberg has made a specialty of writing about seemingly intractable problems. The typical approach to problems like drug use or sexually transmitted disease concentrates on giving people information or motivating them through fear. In a program from the archives, she tells stories about people who have used a different approach, one based on changing behavior by exploiting a basic human need--the need to belong. That’s the central theme of her book "Join the Club: How Peer Pressure Can Transform the World."

This is a repeat broadcast from Monday, April 04, 2011, 10 am

Focus - May 25, 2012

Unwarranted Influence: Dwight D. Eisenhower and the Military Industrial Complex

Dwight Eisenhower’s most famous speech was his last as president. We look back to that speech warning of the power of the military industrial complex.  The guest in this program from the archives is James Ledbetter, author of "Unwarranted Influence." His book charts the connections between the government, military contractors and the overall economy. While military spending may have brought some benefits, there are also questions. Does our massive military establishment really make us safer?

This is a repeat broadcast from Monday, January 24, 2011, 10 am

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