“No other generation of Americans has encountered death on the scale of the Civil War generation. This Republic of Suffering is the first study of how people in both North and South coped with this uniquely devastating experience. How did they mourn the dead, honor their sacrifice, commemorate their memory, and help their families? Drew Gilpin Faust’s powerful and moving answers to these questions provide an important new dimension to our understanding of the Civil War.”—James M. McPherson, author of This Mighty Scourge: Perspectives on the Civil WarFaust made a career studying conflict as it manifested itself during the Civil War. Now she has the opportunity to influence, among other things, the local (and of course much smaller and less violent) conflicts that Harvard tends to create with its neighbors.
President Faust recently said, "For the last several years, the university leadership has been in transition. I can own a project and look at it in a deliberative way. . . . We're looking at everything again." What does that mean? How does she intend to "own" a project in a way different than Rudenstein, Summers, and Bok?
She hasn't come to Allston and talked with people here about Harvard's expansion or said much of anything about Allston in public, so for now nobody knows for sure what that means. Just as she makes time to talk about her scholarly work on a trip to D.C., neighbors and I hope she will find the the time and justification to visit Allston.
One plausible way a scholar of history and conflict might look at situations that have historically given rise to conflict would be to seek to minimize future conflict and the ensuing damage it can do to all parties involved.
Honestly, I don't see the belligerence in that reasoning. To the contrary, I consider it a hopeful and optimistic attitude that there can be better relations between Harvard and Allston and that, in the grander scheme, someday other institutions might look positively on Harvard (the way UPenn is now considered) when they consider their relationship with their neighbors.
If the tone of my original post did not sufficiently express any of that, I hope this additional viewpoint sets the record straight.