Jeffrey Engel, History, different views on fall of Berlin Wall

LA Times

U.S., Russia, Europe, China have different views on Berlin Wall’s fall

BY JEFFREY A. ENGEL
November 1, 2014, 7:00 a.m.

The Berlin Wall continues to haunt the world. Only shards remain of the concrete and barbed wire that once divided a city and split a continent. Few can be found in Berlin itself. Sections adorn a men’s room in Las Vegas, a pedestrian mall in South Africa and the dining room at Microsoft. Bits can even be found on EBay (buyer beware).

But the wall’s legacy, not its collectibility, is the problem. The world cannot agree on precisely why it fell, and more broadly why European communism collapsed and the Cold War ended. Four contradictory explanations dominate, from the most powerful corners of the Earth: the United States, Russia, Europe and China. This is no mere academic debate. How political elites understand the past directly affects their strategies for the future, and conflicting readings of a shared pivot point offer a recipe for ongoing international instability. READ MORE

William Steding, senior fellow at the Center for Presidential History, featured in D Magazine

D Magazine, November 2014

How Technology Is Helping Investors
New tools are helping to put their money where their mouse is.

There was a time when William Steding was like many investors, his eyes glued to CNBC as he made day trades facilitated by newly developed software. Over the last decade, though, Steding gradually came to realize that financial planning and wealth management firms were becoming much more sophisticated technologically, and he had an epiphany.

“Clients like me said, ‘I don’t want to do it anymore. You guys handle it,’ ” says Steding, a former broadcasting mogul who’s now a senior fellow at the Center for Presidential History at SMU. Thanks to online planning and performance-reporting tools offered through firms such as Dallas-based True North Advisors, he doesn’t have to spend so much time tuned to CNBC. “I don’t have to worry about watching the market,” Steding says. “And I really only talk with True North about my stuff quarterly, or every five or six months. It gives me peace of mind, more than anything else.” READ MORE

Social Studies Revised

THINK, KERA. Originally posted: October 6, 2014

Texas is considering new social studies textbooks for public school students for the first time since 2002. This hour, we’ll talk about questions that have arisen about how they teach culture and religion with a pair of SMU professors who testified about the books before the State Board of Education – Kathleen Wellman of the history department and David Brockman, who teaches religious studies. LISTEN

Associate Professor of History & Director of the Center for Presidential History on Secret Service Changes

(CNN) — Some people are wondering about the capability of the Secret Service after it was revealed that Omar Gonzalez, the fence jumper who breached White House security two weeks ago, made it much farther into the house than previously reported, running through the first floor before he was apprehended outside the Green Room.

The details of Gonzalez’s intrusion, coupled with a new report on Tuesday that an armed security contractor was allowed to get into an elevator with the President on a recent trip to the Centers for Disease Control, plus a report that it took the Secret Service four days to learn that seven bullets had hit the White House’s residence area in 2011 and a string of other blunders in recent years (such as a couple crashing a state dinner and a prostitution scandal in Colombia), have put the Secret Service under a harsh light.
The problems plaguing the Secret Service go beyond PR embarrassments, and changes seem inevitable. But despite the cries of reform, significant alterations to the way the agency functions will be difficult and ultimately may not even be known to the public.

A change at the top

Secret Service Director Julia Pierson’s future is uncertain. On Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said President Obama has confidence in Pierson, whom he appointed in 2013. But the fervor surrounding this incident doesn’t bode well for Pierson, the agency’s first female director.

“When you lie, and when you obfuscate and when you cover up, especially in the 21st century, that’s an offense you can’t walk back from,” said Jeffrey Engel, director of the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University and a Secret Service expert. “That’s really the kiss of death for any leader.” READ MORE

Dedman College experts address controversial content proposed for Texas’ new public school textbooks

DALLAS (SMU) — SMU Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences faculty members Ron Wetherington, Kathleen Wellman, David Brockman and Edward Countryman are speaking out about what they see as “flawed” and “distorted” textbooks being considered for Texas classrooms.

Wetherington, Wellman and Brockman addressed the State Board of Education (SBOE) at a daylong hearing in Austin on Sept. 16. Earlier that week Brockman and Countryman participated in a press conference, releasing research findings that have garnered national attention. READ MORE

Edward Countryman, History, helps find flaws in social studies textbooks

Dallas Morning News

Four years after State Board of Education members clashed over U.S. history standards for Texas schools, publishers are facing criticism from multiple groups over new textbooks and e-books based on those standards.

The Texas Freedom Network, an education advocacy and watchdog group, fired the first warning shot on Tuesday by challenging several of the books under consideration this year for U.S.history, world history,U.S.government and other social studies courses. READ MORE

Alexis McCrossen, History, Apple watch will need a social revolution

Wired

…With the Apple Watch, Tim Cook and company are now hoping to push us through a similar social revolution. And because that’s such an enormous task, it too may be a flop—at least initially. Alexis McCrossen, a Southern Methodist University professor and author of a book on the history of clocks and watches, believes that, much like the original wristwatch, it has too much to overcome.

“They’re making two bets,” she says of Apple. One bet is that people want bigger screens and more visible access to information, she explains, and that’s why the iPhone 6 is bigger. But then the company has hedged that bet with Apple Watch, in case people are more interested in having information on them at all times. “But the thing is,” she says, “your iPhone can be on you all the time too.” READ MORE

Ronald Reagan and the Struggle Over Apartheid, Sept. 17

Event: Sept. 17. 5:30pm. Dallas Hall, McCord Auditorium, Room 306

Ronald Reagan and the Struggle Over Apartheid. In 1986, anti-apartheid leader Archbishop Desmond Tutu announced that President Ronald Reagan would be “judged harshly by history” for vetoing economic sanctions against South Africa.

Co-sponsored by the Dedman College Interdisciplinary Institute and the SMU Center for Presidential History, this event features Dr. Piero Gleijeses, a professor at Johns Hopkins University and one of the leading scholars of the global Cold War and the struggle over Apartheid, and Rozell W. “Prexy” Nesbitt, an educator and speaker on Africa, foreign policy and racism, and an activist in the anti-apartheid movement in the United States.

To register for this event, please visit http://blog.smu.edu/cph/ events/reaganapartheid/. For more information, please contact Brian Franklin at brfranklin@smu.edu.