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BU Center for Humanities Names New Fellows Research interests range from religious forgeries to food production

CAS historian Sarah Phillips says discussions with other humanities fellows will help her craft an accessible book on food policy. Photo courtesy of Phillips

Sarah Phillips is writing a book about a very technical subject. For decades after World War II, a dwindling number of American farmers produced a burgeoning surplus of food, touching off debates, she says, “between those who believed markets could always be found for American agricultural abundance and those who argued that the United States needed to limit production” in the name of preserving a diversity of farms and production models. These conflicting values shape debates about food production even today, according to Phillips (GRS’04), a College of Arts & Sciences associate professor of history.

Hoping to make her book, The Price of Plenty: From Farm to Food Politics in Postwar America, accessible to lay readers, Phillips just got a big hand. She is among nine faculty members chosen as senior or junior research fellows for the coming academic year by the Center for the Humanities (BUCH).

BUCH fellows get a semester off—along with office space at the center—to work on their scholarship. The center provides course-replacement funds to each selected faculty member’s department. The fellows meet monthly to discuss their work. “I’m looking forward to having help and getting inspiration from all these other great scholars,” Phillips says.

As is another 2023–2023 fellow, Jonathan Klawans, a CAS religion professor. He’d already planned a fall sabbatical, and “the BUCH fellowship makes an enormous difference, by expanding the time frame of my sabbatical from one semester to a full year and by putting me in conversation with an interdisciplinary group of humanities scholars to discuss our works-in-progress.” Klawans plans a monograph on Heresies, Forgeries, and Novelties: Constructing and Crossing the Boundaries of Ancient Judaism, premised in part on the idea that scholars continue to be fooled by ancient Jewish and Christian forgeries. (For example, he’ll disagree with what he calls a scholarly consensus that one ancient text, “Sentences of Pseudo-Phocylides,” was written by a Jew; Klawans believes it the work of an early Christian.)

For Susan Mizruchi, who assumed the center’s directorship last July, the past academic year was her first time overseeing the fellows, and it has her excited about the coming year’s crop.

“The intellectual energy on display at our weekly meetings was a pleasure to see, as was the transformation of each semester’s group from a disparate collection of faculty and graduate students into a democratic community of scholars,” says Mizruchi, a CAS professor of English. “Equally noteworthy each semester was the emergence of a common theme, although neither seminar was originally organized this way.”

In addition to Phillips and Klawans, the other 2023–2023 Jeffrey Henderson Senior Research Fellows and their research topics are:

Paul Katsafanas, a CAS associate professor of philosophy, will analyze the nature and import of sacred values in his book The Secular Afterlife of the Sacred.

Teena Purohit, a CAS associate professor of religion, will study the political movement that first attempted to reconcile Islam in the modern period with Western values in her book Making Islam Modern.

Gregory Williams, a CAS associate professor of history of art and architecture, will explore the works of East German artist and writer Carlfriedrich Claus as they relate to cultural and political transitions taking place in the German Democratic Republic and unified Germany from the 1950s and 1990s in Carlfriedrich Claus: Drawing, Writing, and Instrumental Thinking in the GDR.

Michael Zell, a CAS associate professor of history of art and architecture, will study how the metaphor of the mirror (the preeminent paradigm of painting in 17th-century Holland) related to the rise of fine genre paintings of modern life in the second half of that century in The Poetics of the Mirror and the Image of the Beloved in Seventeenth-Century Dutch Paintings.

The 2023–2023 Junior Faculty Fellows are:

Michael Birenbaum Quintero, a College of Fine Arts assistant professor of musicology and ethnomusicology, will examine Afro-Colombian cultural production in his book Fierce Joy: Sound, Violence, and Community in the Ashes of Politics.

Alexander Nikolaev, a CAS assistant professor of classical studies, will examine the models ancient Greek singers used to create nonce forms (forms coined and used for a specific occasion), and why they used them, in Grammar of Poetry: Artificial Language in Early Greek Epic.

Benjamin Siegel, a CAS assistant professor of history, will study the interlinked rise of the US opioid epidemic and the Indian pharmaceutical industry in The Nation in Pain: American Bodies and Indian Pharmaceuticals in an Age of Distress.

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Bu Alum Creates New Social Media Journaling App For Sharing Thoughts, More

BU Alum Creates New Social Media Journaling App for Sharing Thoughts, More

Asad Malik (MET’21) believes that because of the “culture of quickness” that is commonplace in social media, there needs to be an alternative where you can dive deep into your feelings. Photo courtesy of Malik

Social Media

BU Alum Creates New Social Media Journaling App for Sharing Thoughts, More Asad Malik (MET’21) launches Rubiic, an “Instagram for your feelings”

During the summer months, BU Today is revisiting some of the past year’s favorite stories. This week, we feature mobile apps created by BU students, alumni, and faculty. 

Flashback to February 2023—most of the world was blissfully unaware of the way the rest of the year would unfold. 

“I was at an awesome place in life,” says Asad Malik (MET’21), echoing how many others probably felt. 

But as the pandemic started to take hold, people’s lives began to shift, including Malik’s. He had to deal with the fallout of friends moving back home, a promising internship being rescinded, and his graduation plans canceled, all in the matter of two weeks. 

What was once a clear vision of where he was headed turned into an onslaught of various emotions, most not positive. He could have had some justification for a feeling of defeat, but he took that and transformed it into work on developing a new social media app, one for journaling. 

Rubiic, which launched on Malik’s birthday in August 2023, was designed as an “Instagram for your feelings,” he says. “It’s kind of a new concept. Think of it as Instagram, but instead of sharing photos, it’s a place where you put your thoughts and feelings. This is a place where the people in your life can get an idea of what your mental state is.” 

While some of his followers took to Instagram to voice their pandemic-related reflections, Malik thought there had to be a better way, one that “gives respect to your thoughts and experiences the complexity of your mental state. 

“I wanted [it] to be expressive, but if you post on Instagram, it doesn’t give [any] regard to your deeper thoughts,” Malik says. “If you post something like that, it will probably show up in between memes and influencers.”  

Plus, with the “culture of quickness that’s developed,” Malik says, he recognized that most quotes or memes having to do with mental health “out there on social media are very general. It’s not specific to who you are or your situation.”

He used the skills learned working on his master’s degree in computer science from BU to launch Rubiic. At the core of his mission was designing a platform to “explore self-expression, self-reflection, and authenticity,” he says. 

There are several options when it comes to posting to the app, including photography, music, and voice recordings. Depending on your level of comfort, you can control who does or doesn’t see your entries. You can share your entries with the Rubiic community or mark them as private, so only you can view them.

In one of the latest updates, users can fill out an optional daily prompt to get their creative juices flowing. Additionally, Malik has reworked the interface to allow users to present their content or entries in several different ways. 

For now, Malik plans to keep adding to the app and focus on “creating a space where people feel comfortable,” he says. For the long term, he thinks of the process as “a learning experience for me. I get to apply everything that I’m passionate about into the app.

“There’s just something about seeing your thoughts exist outside of your mind,” Malik says.

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3 Great Media Center Solutions For Linux

Despite the fact that set top boxes and devices like Chromecast are becoming popular, media center software is still around, especially on Linux. If you have a lot of local media, and you’re looking for a solution, you should consider an appliance-based solution (like a Kodi or Stremio box) rather than an always-on media server solution for your network.

Why choose a local media center tool rather than something like Plex? Simple: ease of use. It’s much easier to install Kodi, Stremio or OSMC and plug in a couple of hard drives and go. There is significantly less know-how required when you go this route in contrast to building a dedicated server and configuring it.

What’s the best media solution for Linux?

1. Kodi (formerly known as XBMC)

This is the most popular media center solution on Linux. Previously, it was known as Xbox Media Center but  was then re-branded as Kodi. It supports a multitude of operating systems, not just Linux. Kodi supports local playback of audio and video in a fullscreen application.

Kodi can organize your media library and does it quite well. It organizes your media in three parts: Movies, TV Shows and Music. Mainstream video formats are supported. It can play back your music library in several different codecs: AAC, MP3, FLAC, OGG, WAV and WMA.

Along with local media playback, there is live television support (personal video recorders and popular TV backends like MythTV), support for add-on applications (like Netflix), universal plug-in play, pandora support and even podcasts. If you can think of it, Kodi probably has an application for it.

What’s compelling about this media software, and why you’d maybe want to switch to it, is the fact that you can use it anywhere. It’s great as a local media client or even a remote one. For just about every situation, Kodi just works. The bottom line: this is the standard that competing media center tools have been striving to get to. Kodi does everything, and it does it well.

Here’s a list of features.

Add-on support

Live TV support (including PVR, MythTV, etc.)

Customization (via skins)

Universal plug-and-play

Remote control support

Web interface

Pandora support

Podcast support

Hulu, Netflix and YouTube support

Support for all major video and audio codecs

Mobile app

Linux distribution

with Kodi pre-configured as the desktop environment

Kodi is the most well-supported media center currently available on Linux. It has tons of features and is always being improved and updated. If you’re looking to build a decent media box, this is the one to go to first.

2. Stremio

Stremio is a full-featured media center tool available for Linux and other platforms as well. It comes packed with tons of features and can manage media quite well. Stremio supports managing media files via local drives as well as importing from Facebook.

When you use this media center tool, you’re not just getting a fancy video playback application. You’re getting an entire environment complete with features and settings you’d expect from something similar to that of a box you can buy in a store. Here’s a list of the features you can expect out of Stremio:

YouTube support

Chromecast-like casting via DLNA

Live TV via Filmon TV

Netflix support

Hulu support

Mobile app support

Amazon streaming support

Premium content available via Cinema

Peer-to-peer streaming support

Add-on functionality

Ability to add music to your library via local drives, Facebook, etc.

Automatic subtitles


As far as media center software goes, OSMC claims to be one of the lightest ones. OSMC is based upon the Kodi media center, so the technology is largely the same, with some additions. The main reason Open Source Media Center is a viable option is that it works to make media centers more accessible and user-friendly.

Here’s a list of compelling features:

Constantly updated


App support via an App store

Remote control support

Sorts media based on Movies, TV Shows and Music categories

Photo support

Support for all major video and audio codecs

Based on Kodi, so some features included with Kodi may carry over

If you’ve tried Kodi and determined that you don’t like the way it works or are just are looking to find something lighter and easier, Open Source Media Center is a great choice.


Media centers are getting to the point where they’re just as powerful as Apple TV or Amazon Fire TV that you’d buy in your local technology shop. If what you want is to build your own local media solution, one that would rival commercial solutions, each of the options on this list will be more than sufficient.

What media center solution have you built your media appliance on? Tell us below!

Image Credits: Softpedia, Google Play, Home Theater Life

Derrik Diener

Derrik Diener is a freelance technology blogger.

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How To Enable The New Control Center Ui In Windows Lite

How to enable the new Control Center UI in Windows Lite






To fix Windows PC system issues, you will need a dedicated tool

Fortect is a tool that does not simply cleans up your PC, but has a repository with several millions of Windows System files stored in their initial version. When your PC encounters a problem, Fortect will fix it for you, by replacing bad files with fresh versions. To fix your current PC issue, here are the steps you need to take:

Download Fortect and install it on your PC.

Start the tool’s scanning process to look for corrupt files that are the source of your problem

Fortect has been downloaded by


readers this month.

As you all know, Microsoft accidentally pushed Windows 10 Build 18947 to all Insiders.

Some people didn’t get a chance to install the build as Microsoft quickly took it down. However, many Insiders managed to sneak-peak at the latest features.

This build brings a redesigned Start Menu. Recent reports suggest  Microsoft has revamped the Control Centre UI as well.

As a quick reminder, Microsoft unfolded a new Control Center design back in 2023. The concept was pretty interesting as it allowed you to quickly access the system settings.

It came with some toggle buttons similar to those you can find in the Windows 10 Action Center.

That Control Center is back

Many Windows Insiders reported that Control Center is back again in Windows 10. You can edit the Windows Registry to enable it.

You can try the hidden Control Center if you are currently running the Windows 10 Insider Build 18947.

— Rafael Rivera (@WithinRafael) July 24, 2023

This time, Microsoft divided the Control Center into two separate parts Action Center and Quick Actions. You will see all the notifications in the Action Center.

However, you can use the Quick Actions panel to activate or deactivate different options such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. You can see a list of options by dragging the adjustable panel upwards.

You will now see all the new notifications slightly above the Control Center. The latest Control Center features a compact interface design. Microsoft is currently testing the new functionality and it may not work as expected.

However, the full functionality will be available once Windows 10 20H1 is available next year.

Steps to enable the new Control Center UI on Windows 10

This feature is currently available in Windows 10 Build 18947.

Follow these steps to enable the hidden Control Center on your system:

Navigate to the following path in the Registry Editor: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionControl CenterUseLiteLayout

Create a new DWORD and change its default value to 1.

Many people didn’t like the buggy update at all. That is why Microsoft is highly recommending all users to roll back to a previous stable build.

Generally, the rollback option is available to Windows 10 users for a period of 10 days.

Moreover, those who have not installed the update yet should delay the installation for 7 days. You will see that this build is no longer available in the Windows Update section.


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5 Steps To Creating A Rigorous Humanities Course

I teach an AP course in United States history (APUSH). My goal, of course, is to teach U.S. history to my students, but I desire to do so in intellectually rigorous and thought-provoking ways. My students have “learned” this history before, but it’s my task to engage them with history so that they can better understand the world and their place in it. 

To do so, I inject college-level rigor into the course.

No shade to my K–12 education, but when I entered college, I had to be trained to think through information as opposed to memorizing information. In other words, my professors sought to engage me by requiring me to make connections between theory and practice—to assess our current path as a society. 

Train Students to Engage in Intellectual Work

For example, I was required to make the connection between our country’s founding documents and how true our institutions are to those documents as a means of assessing racial injustice. That level of analysis is more valuable than simply knowing who wrote and who signed the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence. That type of engagement shouldn’t be limited to the collegiate experience, and that’s why I encourage my students to participate in this intellectual work.

However, knowing dates, people, and places is important. Identifying literary devices in prose or poetry is critical. Yet knowing these absent the opportunity to utilize the knowledge of them to dissect the content to interpret what our world is saying to us is akin to providing someone with a comfortable home without the key to unlock the door.

Rigorous intellectual work helps students unlock the doors of understanding, which may seem easier in an 11th- or 12th-grade humanities classroom. But how do you do that in a ninth-, seventh-, or fifth-grade humanities classroom where knowing the basics is as vital as philosophical discussions about society as part of rigorous instruction?

Here are some ways you can do this in your classroom that have worked well for me.

1. Assign a timely book for classroom discussion 

A text that is recent or relevant to the times can spark interest in history. Depending on your students’ needs, a book that provides steps or tips for accomplishing a goal may work well. For my APUSH class, we’re reading Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’s book Not a Nation of Immigrants. It explores American history by discussing the white settler origins of the U.S. in relation to the experiences of all peoples that make up the “melting pot,” in a relevant way. It spurs great discussion and has complemented our coursework well. Be creative and find something that students can sink their teeth into. You may have to strategically introduce it, but do it.

Lastly, make class time to discuss the book and highlight students’ insights from their reading. Don’t be afraid to let students know they’ll be graded on participation (or lack thereof). Also, use the Socratic method if you have to encourage students to read the text.

2. Give writing assignments rather than tests and quizzes 

Quizzes and tests generally assess knowledge of a subject or of specific content. Writing assignments often do the same, but they also provide an opportunity to show how students can apply or relate their knowledge to a scenario or assess something they’ve witnessed.

Writing in general helps students think through their experiences as well as what they’ve learned. Use writing exercises and assignments so that students can internalize, question, identify, and call out things that lead to their mastery of the content.

3. Create opportunities for public speaking in class 

Inject some life (and fun) into your class by allowing students to present what they’ve learned by offering an in-person or prerecorded video presentation. Another way to get students talking is to allow them to debate with each other on lesson topics (and/or current events).

Public speaking opportunities can help students develop their skills and possibly overcome their fears while also providing a different kind of assessment for teachers. Not to mention that students just might have fun talking instead of always listening.

4. Have students utilize data to expand their understanding 

Data offers researchers and educators alike an opportunity to gain more insight into social and historical trends and also into attitudes and stances concerning various social and policy issues. Teaching students how to engage with data (read/interpret data and also manufacture data via experiments) is a valuable skill for them but also a great way to engage them. Show students how to read and understand data/statistics, so that they may include data within their writing as well as evidence during discussions.

In my classes, I’ve used qualitative coding to discuss the importance of voting. To prove that, we asked educators, parents, and non-educator staff whether they voted in the previous election and if so, why. We took those responses and created data by coding words in them to find themes among the categories of respondents. The data gave us insight into the reasons why folks choose to vote or not. We even shared our report with local lawmakers to inform their voting drive initiatives.

5. Give students autonomy with assignments 

For example, if a marking period is 10 weeks long and contains two units over the course of the marking period, you could require that students complete 20 assignments per unit (40 total) out of a possible 25 assignments per unit (50 assignments). That means students must complete four out of five assignments per week. If you categorize your assignments (for example, homework, classwork, quizzes, tests, and projects), you can decide which assignments are mandatory or optional.

For example, tests and projects are mandatory, and everything else is optional. Quizzes are weekly, but students only have to take three out of five quizzes. That would mean that in one unit (five weeks), students would complete one test, one project, three quizzes (one task a week), 10 classwork assignments, and five homework assignments.

When students express difficulty with the challenging nature of the assignments, I compromise where I can and push them where they need to be pushed. I generally do more pushing than compromising. My compromise for anything they request grace with is the removal of a rubric requirement—not a removal of rigor.

Lastly, you can provide extra assignments for which students can receive extra credit . This kind of autonomy provides students with the opportunity to display their mastery of the content in various ways with the flexibility of selecting their assignments, while also being rewarded for going above and beyond what is asked of them.

Santander Extends Funding For Bu Public Health Fellowships

Santander Extends Funding for BU Public Health Fellowships Agreement also fuels internships for BU sophomores

On his last day in Dodoma, Peter Hynes stopped into a local restaurant to say good-bye to the staff. Photo courtesy of Peter Hynes (SPH’15)

Although these School of Public Health students were in different countries studying different aspects of public health, all had in common a fellowship program that has helped them and more than 150 of their peers study abroad and gain essential career experience they describe as inspiring and transformative.

On September 4, representatives from Santander Bank N.A. and BU signed a three-year extension and expansion of a 2010 agreement to provide support for student fellowships and research projects.

“We’re delighted that our support has helped so many students learn firsthand about health programs in other countries,” says Roman Blanco, president and CEO of Santander US. “We’re excited to build upon our relationship with Boston University by adding new components. These will allow even more students to participate in these invaluable international study programs.”

Half of the grant signed last week will continue funding the Santander Fellows Program, which currently provides about 45 annual stipends in three programs: for low- and moderate-income students, for students pursuing health care research in Latin America, and for a field practice program in Kenya.

The practice opportunities are critical for SPH students, who are required to spend at least one semester on an intensive practicum to gain firsthand knowledge. The costs can be daunting for students interested in global health. The stipends often pay the bulk of airfare, ground transportation, and housing for the semester-long practicum.

Another grant will launch the Santander Sophomore Summer Internship Program, a new initiative to expand opportunities for BU undergraduates to gain workplace experience and improve their readiness for the labor market. At the heart of this program is a career development workshop to prepare students for their summer experience, as well as student stipends to fund unpaid internships.

Students increasingly seek internships earlier than the traditional junior or senior year to gain a head start in selecting a career path and a better sense of which classes are best suited for that journey. The internship program will provide a well-timed boost to those efforts; the BU Center for Career Development currently recommends that students hold off until after freshman year to begin the internship hunt. The new agreement also includes seed fund to enable Santander and BU to identify new projects and collaborations over the next three years.

Aguilera (CAS’13, SPH’15) spent the first four months of 2014 in northern Peru working with a team sponsored by Grounds for Health, a nongovernmental organization that promotes health programs in the world’s coffee-growing regions. While conducting cervical cancer screening and treatment programs, she learned how to navigate through a variety of private and public-sector entities, including the Peruvian Ministry of Health, three national coffee cooperatives, and more than 15 coffee-growing communities.

Hynes (SPH’15) explored his interests in global and environmental health during his seven-week stay in Dodoma, Tanzania, where he traveled to the rural villages ringing the capital city to work on water and sanitation infrastructure.

“This was my first experience going international to work on water projects, which is exactly what I want to do with my public health degree,” Hynes says. Without the grant, he wouldn’t have been able to study in Tanzania at all, he says, and “would never have had this valuable experience. It’s helped solidify my trajectory for the rest of my schooling and will be a huge asset when I apply for jobs in another year.”

Rich Feeley, an SPH associate professor and chair ad interim of the global health department, says the Santander Fellows Program is a vitally important program for students, “not just at SPH, but around BU, to do first-rate practica around the world. It’s a tremendous opportunity to obtain a high-quality training experience for the future leaders of public health.”

Crable (SPH’15), a master’s of public health candidate studying global health and epidemiology, says the Santander Fellows stipend was instrumental in supporting her work this summer at the Mexican Health Foundation, a nonprofit policy think tank in Mexico City. She aided researchers trying to define the economic burden of type 2 diabetes throughout Mexico by using national health survey data to analyze the effect on households, the national health care system, and employers.

“I got the internship before I got the grant, and without the grant I would have had to decline the offer,” Crable says. “It paid for airfare and living costs in Mexico City and transportation to and from work each day. I made it stretch to cover my expenses, but it facilitated an amazing experience.”

After her stint at the foundation, Crable used part of the grant to supplement her own funds so she could travel to rural communities in Panama, Costa Rica, and Colombia.

“I’m interested in Latin American health issues, with a focus on strengthening health care systems in developing economies,” she says. “The grant has definitely given me opportunities that I wouldn’t have been able to afford, to travel through other countries and see how other systems in Latin America function at the ground level.”

Feeley says the most recent expansion of the program allows SPH to “meet the growing needs among our increasing number of students, but more importantly, it allows us to initiate new opportunities with new partners around the world. We look forward to developing deeper relationships with Santander Universities and their global affiliates to expand our engagement to other countries where Santander is working.”

Banco Santander, one of the world’s largest banking companies, created Santander Universities in 1996 to promote higher education as a way of contributing to economic and social development. Since its inception, Santander Universities has disbursed about $1.3 billion to more than 1,100 academic institutions in 20 countries.

Michael Saunders can be reached at [email protected].

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