The Baldy Center Blog


The Baldy Center Blog features interdisciplinary perspectives on research and current events from UB scholars whose work intersects with law, legal institutions, and social policy. New blogs are generally released twice a month during each semester.

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Fall 2021 to Spring 2022

Blog Host/Producer

Julia Merante is a second-year law student at the University at Buffalo School of Law. She is the Vice President of the Jessup International Moot Court, a Human Rights Fellow at Legal Aid, a Student Ambassador, and an Associate of the Buffalo Environmental Law Review Journal.

Julia Merante

Executive Producers

Samantha Barbas, JD, PhD
Professor, UB School of Law; Director, The Baldy Center

Caroline Funk, PhD 
Associate Director
The Baldy Center


Blog post published May 10, 2022

Blog Author: Korydon Smith, EdD, Professor and Chair, Department of Architecture, Co-founder, Community of Excellence in Global Health Equity
Introduction: Human rights have always varied from nation to nation. Disability rights are no different. The divergence widens from global to local levels  – from international agreements, to national policies, to funding, to local implementation. The global strive toward equality in education, healthcare, employment, housing, and other areas – not to mention basic access to food, water, and sanitation – remains uneven.

Photograph: Big Hole, Kimberly, South Africa, where the company, De Beers Consolidated Mines Limited, originated in 1888. The mining operations closed in 1914. Today, the site is now a tourist destination supported in part by the company and based on the theme "Diamonds and Destiny".

Photograph: Big Hole, Kimberly, South Africa, where the company, De Beers Consolidated Mines Limited, originated in 1888. The mining operations closed in 1914. The site is now a tourist destination supported in part by De Beers and based on the theme "Diamonds and Destiny".  Wikipedia.

Blog post published April 29, 2022

Blog Author: Trina Hamilton, PhD, Associate Professor, Geography

Blog Title: Why we can't buy our way to a more ethical diamond market

Introduction: In 1998, the international NGO Global Witness published a report called A Rough Trade.  This report outlined the diamond industry’s role during the decades of civil war in Angola. This report further called on companies, such as DeBeers, to be more accountable and transparent while enforcing the embargo on conflict diamonds. That same year, the Ekati diamond mine began operating in northern Canada. It's no surprise that Canadian diamond producers, government ministries, and retailers chose to trade on Canada’s reputation for good governance and images of “pure” Arctic landscapes. This positioned Canadian diamonds as the ethical choice – in direct contrast to so-called blood diamonds from Angola and other African countries.

Photo by Leonhard Niederwimmer on Unsplash.

Photo by Leonhard Niederwimmer on Unsplash.

Blog post published April 12, 2022

Blog Author: Barbara Wejnert, PhD,  Professor, Department of Global Gender and Sexuality Studies, and Department of Environment and Sustainability

Blog Title: Russian invasion of Ukraine is intricately linked to the struggle for democracy against autocracy 

Keywords: Conflict and Post-Conflict Studies; European Cultural Studies; Human Rights, Civil Rights, Immigration Studies, Law and Policy; Inequality; International Relations; Politics; Public Policy; Social Justice and Social Change

Image: City Hall in Buffalo, NY; long exposure photograph courtesy of the University at Buffalo; Photographer: Douglas Levere.

Image: City Hall in Buffalo, NY; long exposure photograph courtesy of the University at Buffalo; Photographer: Douglas Levere.

Blog post published March 30, 2022

Author: Robert M. Adelman, PhD,  Department Chair, Professor, UB Department of Sociology

Blog Title: Growing Population and Diversity in Buffalo, New York

Blog Introduction: Buffalo is more diverse in 2020 than in 2010, and immigration is a driving force in that change. Buffalo reached its peak population in the 1950 census, with the number of inhabitants declining for the next 6 decades. But recently, the city of Buffalo and its broader metropolitan area experienced population increases between two U.S. Censuses. From 2010 to 2020, total population within city limits increased by almost 7% (growing to 278,349 persons) and increased 3% in the larger metropolitan area (up to 1.2 million persons). Even more interesting than a simple numeric increase that has reversed decades of decline, is the changing composition of local populations, particularly the increase in racial and ethnic diversity.

Illustration courtesy of S.A.F.E. Center: Empower, Support, Educate.

Illustration of the 'Power and Control Wheel'  courtesy of S.A.F.E. Center: Empower, Support, Educate.

Blog post published March 16, 2022

Blog Author: Judith Olin,  Clinical Professor; Director, Family Violence and Women’s Rights Clinic

Blog Title:  Intimate Partner Violence in the Pandemic and Beyond

Blog Introduction: Dr. Jacqueline Campbell, PhD,MSN,RN, recently wrote a short piece in the Domestic Violence Report in which she reminds us that rates of intimate partner violence (IPV) homicides in the United States have been increasing since 2014. Dr. Campbell notes that the highest rates of IPV are suffered by African American and Indigenous Women. According to UN Women, rates of IPV have increased worldwide during the pandemic, and research is emerging in the U.S. showing the same phenomenon.  

Photo: NASA Earth Observatory.

Photo: NASA Earth Observatory

Blog post published February 22, 2022

Blog Author: Joseph F. Atkinson, PhD, Professor, Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineerin; Chair, Director, Great Lakes Program; UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences 

Blog Title: Decision Support for Lake Ontario Water Quality Management

Introduction: Current efforts are being conducted to develop models that can adequately simulate the nearshore regions of the lake, which typically exhibit algae-related problems, along with the deeper water environment, where the concern is primarily for fish. These models are continually evolving. Driving this evolution is in part due to developing new science, and in part due to new management questions that arise as a result of changes in the system. These changes include the introduction of invasive species, impacts of a warming climate, or changes in water use patterns. Thus, the concept of “adaptive management” is critical – we need to adapt to changing conditions, and models will remain an important component of system management to react to those changes. Agreements such as the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA) are informed by these models that aid in management decisions.

Holly Buck: Do we need a fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty?

Published February 7, 2022

Blog Author: Holly Buck, PhD,  Assistant Professor,  UB Department of Environment and Sustainability

Blog Title: Do we need a fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty?

Introduction: Around the world, countries and companies are committing to net-zero targets, which are rapidly becoming a global norm.  Reaching net-zero emissions by midcentury is in line with what the science says needs to be done to curb warming to safer levels and meet the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement.  In this respect, it is encouraging that countries have set net-zero as their new ambition.

Post 23. Letitia Thomas: Integrating Social Justice Theory into Engineering Practice.

LSAMP Poster Symposium, 2019. Photograph by Holly M. Evert, courtesy of UB Engineering. See photo galleries, here.

Published December 8, 2021

Blog Author: Letitia Thomas, PhD,  Assistant Dean for Diversity, UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Blog Title:  Integrating Social Justice Theory into Engineering Practice

Introduction: Engineering education has historically been limited in developing students’ awareness of social justice issues, even though research tells us that students who are underrepresented (by class, race, gender, etc.) can be empowered and retained when participating in social justice projects related to engineering (Lucena & Leydens, 2015; Mejia, 2017). My goal is to integrate social justice theory into engineering practice, to empower UB students to make a lasting, collective impact in their community. I want students to study and learn social justice themes while becoming more socially and critically conscious about their own influence, as creators of technology. Students can analyze problems and ask questions 

Screen Shot 2021-11-22 at 11.30.50 AM.

Toilets, In the World, Sorted by Income (search results) courtesy of DollarStreet/Gapminder. DK Screen Capture 2021-11-22.

Published November 24, 2021

Blog Author: Edward Steinfeld, ArchD, AIA, SUNY Distinguished Professor, Department of Architecture, UB School of Architecture and Planning

Keywords: Disability, Health and Society, Human Rights, Civil Rights, Inequality, Modern Architecture, Public Policy, Social Justice and Social Change

Post 21. The Paradoxes of Precarity: Buffalo Refugees Reconsidered.

Buffalo, NY, photo by Shamir Hunley on Unsplash.

Blog Author: Arabella Lyon, PhD, Professor Emerita, Department of Global Gender and Sexuality Studies
Some legal scholars have responded to the liberal, autonomous subject by theorizing a vulnerable subject. In doing so, they recognize vulnerability as a universal and constant characteristic of the human condition. Alternatively, many humanists use a different conceptual frame which follows Judith Butler’s distinction between precariousness as universal human vulnerability and the political state of precarity.Precarity is a useful critical tool because the rhetorical constructions of precarity demonstrate how activists and politicians create worldviews and assemble publics. Political cultures construct precarity, shifting the precarity of different people fluidly. On what days does the precarity of Afghan women exceed that of US soldiers? In an earlier study of the discourses surrounding Buffalo’s refugees, I suggest that precarity is often denied or ignored, not just because people wish to be competent, but because dominant discourses obscure our ability to recognize precarity and its causes. Over a decade ago, Buffalo media occasionally worried about the precarity of refugees and their economic cost to the county. Now, it reports that refugees have stabilized the city’s shrinking population, revitalized the city’s West Side, and provided an international economic network. 

Post 20.

Blog Author: G. James Lemoine, Associate Professor, UB School of Management, and Faculty Director of CLOE

Introduction: Republicans wonder how New Yorkers could have ever supported disgraced New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, amazed that his polling among state voters remained so high throughout almost the entirety of the scandals of 2020-21. Meanwhile, Democrats are flabbergasted at the strong levels of support former President Donald Trump continues to receive from conservative voters, despite his numerous moral miscues. The rise and fall of these politicians (as well as that of countless others) offers fascinating evidence on the ethics of our elected officials, and other things that don't exist.

Blog 18. Carole Emberton; A photograph captures the moment when the statue on top of The Confederate Monument to General Robert E. Lee was removed from its perch on May 17, 2017. Image courtesy of CC-BY-SA-4.0.

Afghan citizens pack inside a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III, as they are transported from Hamid Karzai International Airport in Afghanistan, on Aug. 15, 2021. Photograph courtesy of Capt. Chris Herbert/U.S. Air Force via AP. 

Blog Author: Paul Linden-Retek, Lecturer in Law & Society; Research Fellow at The Baldy Center

Introduction: The devastating images of chaos and suffering in Afghanistan have left an indelible mark on citizens and policy-makers in the West. They have made the evacuation of those Afghans who served alongside U.S. and European militaries a moral obligation—and raised the question whether that obligation must extend, as well, to any and all Afghans who are imperiled by the return of Taliban rule.

Blog 18. Carole Emberton; A photograph captures the moment when the statue on top of The Confederate Monument to General Robert E. Lee was removed from its perch on May 17, 2017. Image courtesy of CC-BY-SA-4.0.

A photograph captures the moment when the statue on top of The Confederate Monument to General Robert E. Lee was removed from its perch on May 17, 2017. Image courtesy of CC-BY-SA-4.0

Blog Author: Carole Emberton, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of History

Introduction: In the wake of George Floyd’s murder in May 2020, a grassroots movement to remove, and in some cases reimagine, Confederate monuments has refocused national conversations about racial justice, memory, and public space. While some have lamented these removals as an effort to “erase history,” others point out that these edifices represented only a mythologized past that itself erased the experiences of enslaved people and their descendants.

Blog 17. R. Lorraine Collins: Medical and Recreational Cannabis Laws are being passed even though we do not know much about its effects.

Blog Author: R. Lorraine Collins, PhD, Associate Dean for Research, Department of Community Health and Health Behavior School of Public Health and Health Professions

Introduction: On March 31, 2021, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the New York Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act into law. The new law is designed to establish a framework for regulating the cannabis industry in New York and to providing adult access to recreational cannabis. The retail market likely will be launched in 2023, following the establishment of the Office of Cannabis Management and other necessary entities. 

Blog 16.

Blog Author: Catherine Cook-Cottone, Professor, Director, Advanced Certificate in Mindful Counseling, UB Graduate School of Education

Introduction: The American Bar Association’s (ABA) National Taskforce on Lawyer Well-Being released the The Path to Lawyer Wellbeing Report in 2017. The report begins, “To be a good lawyer, one has to be a healthy lawyer. Sadly, our profession is falling short when it comes to well-being.” The report cites studies that reveal the high rates of chronic stress, depression and substance abuse among lawyers and law students, what they describe as the toxicity of the profession, and the stigma associated with help seeking behaviors. The report held as its central guiding principle that well-being is an indispensable part of a lawyer's duty of competence.