Category: Leadership

Silicon Valley Needs a Foreign Policy

ERNEST J. WILSON III, dean of USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

This op-ed originally appeared at Foreign Affairs.

As California’s high-tech firms grew to become economic powerhouses in the American economy, they punched below their weight politically. For the most part, they are not very savvy about the ways of Washington — they came late to the lobbying game — and their political strategies were naïve compared with those of old industrial sectors like oil and automobiles.

That seems to be changing. In January, a group of high-tech heavyweights, including Google and Wikipedia, along with less prominent combatants (155,000 Web sites in all) and nonprofits such as Fight for the Future, joined in a massive online blackout to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). Since the bill’s introduction in May 2011, a wide mix of representatives from the film, television, music, and publishing industries had been championing SOPA and its sibling, the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA), two pieces of legislation designed to address international theft of copyrighted U.S. intellectual property.

What a Deal: Smarter Politicians, Less Time in Office

DAN SCHNUR, director of USC’s Jesse Unruh Institute of Politics.

This op-ed originally appeared in the Sacramento Bee.

When the original ballot initiative to impose term limits was put before California voters in 1990, I enthusiastically campaigned for its passage.

When career politicians tried to dramatically weaken the state’s term limits law 10 years ago, I fought to defeat them.

When I returned to Sacramento to serve as chairman of the California Fair Political Practices Commission, I saw that term limits had dramatically succeeded in one important respect. The Legislature was far more diverse than at any other time in our state’s history. Not only were there an unprecedented number of female, Latino and Asian Pacific Islander members, but we have also seen an extraordinary range of diversity in professional experience and background as well, as small-business owners and union members, doctors and nurses, teachers and farmers and law enforcement officers have all sought and gained election to the Legislature since term limits took effect.

A Natural Metaphysical Poet

CAROL MUSKE-DUKES, professor of English, USC Dornsife.

This commentary originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

It was a freezing night in March 1978 — and the small, determined woman climbing next to me up the icy incline to the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for women leaned on a cane. I wanted to take her arm, but because she was famously fiercely independent, I hesitated. Later, I thought that I was right to hold back: Adrienne Rich was that kind of standard-bearer, accustomed to her own “climb,” accustomed to a righteous loneliness in her ascent.

Obama’s Energy Straddle

DAN SCHNUR, director of USC’s Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics

This op-ed originally appeared in the New York Times.

Like every president seeking re-election, Barack Obama walks the fine line every day between the discordant goals of motivating his party’s strongest loyalists and reaching out to swing voters for their support. A few weeks ago, that pathway took him to a tiny town in Oklahoma, where, caught between the anti-drilling demands of the environmental community and the thirst for more affordable gasoline from unions, business owners and drivers, the president announced his support for building half of an oil pipeline.

Liberated From Paper

RANDOLPH W. HALL, vice president for research at USC.

This op-ed originally appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

I was probably among the last doctoral students to write a thesis entirely on a typewriter. In 1982, barely nine months after the release of the IBM PC, the personal computer was out of reach for me. Cut and paste (literally), Liquid Paper, rub-on Greek symbols, and the correcting back space were my editing tools. Punched cards were my computer code.

Today almost all research papers are born digital. Words, images, data, models—all of the things that research creates—have been liberated from paper to the more malleable and dynamic world of bits and bytes. Yet when it comes to reviewing, publishing, and distributing research, the academy runs the risk of discouraging digital scholarship through structures that inhibit innovation and fail to reward innovators.