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Archive for March, 2012

How do I love me? Let me count the ways — and ace that job interview while I’m at it

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

The secret to excelling in a job interview may not hinge on how much your interviewers like you, but in how much you like yourself.

Narcissism, a trait considered obnoxious in most circumstances, actually pays off big-time in the short-term context of a job interview, according to a new study to be published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology.

Narcissists scored much higher in simulated job interviews than non-narcissists, researchers found. They pointed to narcissists’ innate tendency to promote themselves, in part by engaging and speaking at length, which implied confidence and expertise even when they were held to account by expert interviewers.

“This is one setting where it’s OK to say nice things about yourself and there are no ramifications. In fact, it’s expected,” said Peter Harms, assistant professor of management at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a co-author of the study. “Simply put, those who are comfortable doing this tend to do much better than those who aren’t.”

The two-part study examined the effectiveness of the types of behaviors that narcissists exhibit – which would be typically seen as maladjusted – in the narrow context of an interview. In the first part, 72 participants were videotaped in a simulated job-applicant setting. As expected narcissists were more likely to self-promote; however, it was when expert interviewers challenged applicants that narcissists started behaving in unexpected ways, Harms said.

While normal individuals backed off of their self-promotion tactics when held accountable, narcissists actually increased their attempts to make themselves look better.

“When feeling challenged, they tend to double down,” Harms said. “It’s as if they say ‘Oh, you’re going to challenge me? Then I’m not just great, I’m fantastic.’ And in this setting, it tended to work.”

In the study’s second part, 222 raters evaluated videos of applicants with similar job skills and varying levels of narcissism. The raters consistently awarded chronic self-promoters – who spoke quickly and at length and who used ingratiation tactics such as smiling, gesturing and complimenting others – far more positive evaluations.

Meanwhile, equally qualified applicants who tended to rely on tactical modesty scored lower, according to the study.

“This shows that what is getting (narcissists) the win is the delivery,” Harms said. “These results show just how hard it is to effectively interview, and how fallible we can be when making interview judgments. We don’t necessarily want to hire narcissists, but might end up doing so because they come off as being self-confident and capable.”

For interviewers, the study’s findings mean they must become aware of the tactics used by narcissists, Harms said – and, if necessary, avoid selecting people who chronically use self-promotion and ingratiation, unless those behaviors are appropriate for the position.

“On the whole, we find very little evidence that narcissists are more or less effective workers. But what we do know is that they can be very disruptive and destructive when dealing with other people on a regular basis. If everything else is equal, it probably is best to avoid hiring them.”

In addition to UNL’s Harms, the study was authored by Delroy L. Paulhus, Bryce G. Westlake and Stryker S. Calvez of the University of British Columbia.

Contact: Peter Harms, assistant professor of management, (402) 472-9171 or

UNL prof Susan Swearer shares anti-bullying tips on “Anderson”

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

In case you missed it, UNL school psychology professor Susan Swearer was on “Anderson” on Tuesday to discuss anti-bullying tactics for parents, students and educators.

Here’s a link to a couple of videos from the show featuring Dr. Swearer, who co-directs the Bullying Research Network at UNL and who is coming off quite a month of celebrity encounters. On Feb. 29, she was in Boston to help Lady Gaga launch the Born This Way Foundation. Other than that, she hasn’t been doing very much </sarcasm>.

UNL researcher to be featured in Smithsonian special on ‘Titanoboa’

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

The world of a prehistoric snake — a nightmarish giant, measuring longer than a Tyrannosaurus Rex or a modern school bus — is being brought to life in part by UNL’s Jason Head.

The snake, Titanoboa, and the research team will be featured in a 90-minute, Smithsonian Channel special on the discovery. “Titanoboa: Monster Snake” premiers April 1 at 7 p.m. CDT on the Smithsonian Channel (Time Warner’s HD Channel 95). Video preview

Head is an assistant professor in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and curator of Vertebrate Paleontology for the University of Nebraska State Museum.

The special is based on the discovery of Titanoboa cerrejonensis, a giant snake that lived nearly 60 million years ago after the age of the dinosaurs. The species was described by Head and a team of scientists from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institution and the University of Florida Museum of Natural History after vertebrae from the massive snake were excavated on a fossil-hunting expedition in Cerrejón, the world’s biggest open-pit coal mine, in La Guajira, Colombia. The snake is estimated to have been 49-feet long and 2,500 pounds.

Head, who came to UNL in 2011, specializes in the evolution of reptiles and their relationship to climate over the past 66 million years. Based on the discovery of Titanoboa, he developed a method to estimate past environmental temperatures from the reptile fossil record. His research was featured in a February 2009 article in the journal Nature.

When he was called on to examine the vertebrae from the colossal snake in 2008, it was clear they had found something special.

“I knew right away that this was a very big deal — that this was going to be something that was going to tell us a lot about the world and that a lot of people were going to be interested in,” said Head. “The important thing about the discovery of the Titanoboa is not just that it is this huge snake. It’s what it tells us about the environment that it lived in.”

The body size of reptiles is dependent on their environment. Unlike mammals, snakes are cold-blooded. The bigger they are the more energy from heat they need to survive. The fossils of ancient snakes essentially serve as paleo-thermometers, giving scientists clues about past environmental temperatures.

Today, the biggest snakes live near the equator and only measure up to about 26 feet in length. The massive size of Titanoboa indicates that the neotropical mean annual temperature during the Paleocene era in which it lived was 30 to 34 degrees Celsius (86 to 93 Fahrenheit), indicating a much hotter climate than previously thought.

Titanoboa lived mostly under water in a large river system, in what is now known to be world’s oldest neotropical rainforest. This ecosystem had diverse flora and wildlife for giant snakes to prey on, such as turtles, crocodilians, birds, and mammals. Titanoboa’s former lush habitat is now a highly industrialized site, rich with coal and fossils buried in layers of the Earth.

Head and his team continue to conduct fieldwork in the active coal mine, where new layers of rock are exposed daily.

“The mysteries we’re still trying to figure out are when this animal first evolved and when it became extinct.”

For the past two years, the Smithsonian Channel has been filming Head and his team as they seek to learn more about Titanoboa and its implications for climate and snake evolution.

In addition to following the team into the Colombian coal mine, amid constant dust and fiery explosions, the film crew documented their fieldwork in Florida, Canada, and Venezuela.

Will we ever see snakes the size of Titanoboa again? Head says the answer is probably no. Today’s environment simply can’t sustain them.

“We are heating up the climate so fast that ecosystems can’t respond in time. They can’t adapt to it. Instead of changing ecosystems, we’re mostly destroying them. It isn’t so much about how warm things get; it’s about how fast things get warm. Instead of having giant snakes what we’ll have in a couple of decades is probably very few snakes of giant size at the equator simply because their habitat will be lost.”

When Head was a child visiting natural history museums, he never expected to be a paleontologist in his position. As an adult, he is proud to be able to provide the research to make other children look around museums like Morrill Hall in awe.

“The greatest thing for me is that if there is a 7- or 8-year-old who is going to watch the special and see Titanoboa, and get inspired to become a paleontologist — then I feel like I’ve made my mark.”

In February 2014, a traveling exhibit explaining the story of Titanoboa will make its way to Morrill Hall in Lincoln, following stops at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. and the University of Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville. The exhibit, which features interactive displays and a life-size reconstruction of Titanoboa devouring a crocodile, explores the enormous creature’s discovery, ecology, and evolutionary relationships.

The research was funded by the National Science Foundation, Smithsonian Institution, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and a number of additional supporters.

— Dana Ludvik, NU State Museum

Plants ‘remember’ drought, change responses to survive

Monday, March 19th, 2012

Plants subjected to a previous period of drought learn to deal with the stress thanks to their memories of the previous experience, University of Nebraska-Lincoln research has found.

The findings could lead to development of crops better able to withstand drought.

The research also confirms, for the first time, the scientific basis for what home gardeners and nursery professionals have learned, often through hard experience: Transplants do better when water is withheld for a few days to drought harden them before the move.

“This phenomenon of drought hardening is in the common literature but not really in the academic literature,” said Michael Fromm, a UNL plant scientist who was part of the research team. “The mechanisms involved in this process seem to be what we found.”

Working with Arabidopsis, a member of the mustard family considered an excellent model for plant research, the team of Fromm, plant molecular biologist Zoya Avramova and post-doctoral fellow Yong Ding compared the reaction of plants that had been previously stressed by withholding water to those not previously stressed. The pre-stressed plants bounced back more quickly the next time they were dehydrated. Specifically, the nontrained plants wilted faster than trained plants and their leaves lost water at a faster rate than trained plants.

“The plants ‘remember’ dehydration stress. It will condition them to survive future drought stress and transplanting,” Fromm said.

The team found that the trained plants responded to subsequent dehydration by increasing transcription of a certain subset of genes. During recovery periods when water is available, transcription of these genes returns to normal levels, but following subsequent drought periods the plants remember their transcriptional response to stress and induce these genes to higher levels in this subsequent drought stress.

“All of this is driven by events at the molecular level,” Avramova said. “We demonstrate that this transcriptional memory is associated with chromatin changes that seem to be involved in maintaining this memory.”

Arabidopsis forgets this previous stress after five days of watering, though other plants may differ in that memory time.

This is the first instance of transcriptional memory found in any life form above yeasts.

This discovery may lead to breeding or engineering of crops that would better withstand drought, although practical applications of these findings in agriculture are years away, Fromm said.

“We’re a long way off. We’re just starting to get a basic understanding,” Fromm said. “It’s possible plants overreact to a first drought stress. They panic, they slow down more than they need to.”

Perhaps scientists can modify those instincts in plants to help maintain or improve productivity during times of drought, he added.

But home gardeners can make immediate use of these findings.

“If I was transplanting something, I would deprive it of water for a couple of days, then water overnight, then transplant,” Fromm said.

The research is funded by the National Science Foundation and is the subject of an article this week in the online journal Nature Communications.

Contacts: Michael E. Fromm; director of UNL Center for Biotechnology; Agronomy and Horticulture; 402-472-2968 or; Zoya Avramova, Ph.D. School of Natural Resources Professor, 402-472-3993

Coverage: UPI | ScienceDaily | Yahoo! News

UNL’s Ken Price to give Smithsonian talk

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

UNL scholar Ken Price will discuss the personal, historic and artistic forces that shaped Walt Whitman during his Civil War years in Washington, D.C., at a Smithsonian Institution program in the nation’s capital on March 20.

Price, the Hillegass University Professor of American Literature at UNL and co-director of the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities, will present a talk titled “Walt Whitman and Civil War Washington.” The event is sponsored by The Smithsonian Associates, which is the largest and most esteemed museum-based continuing education program in the nation.

The session, which will take place at the Smithsonian’s S. Dillon Ripley Center, will focus on how both Whitman and the city changed in the pivotal war years and their immediate aftermath.

Whitman remade himself and his life’s work in Washington, and his experience in the city helped shape both his poetry and “Democratic Vistas,” one of the most penetrating examinations of American society ever written.

“Washington, D.C., received more wounded soldiers than any other city, and Whitman was at the epicenter of suffering, spending most of his time assisting the wounded at Armory Square Hospital, which treated the most badly wounded and had the highest death rate,” Price said.

“At a time of unprecedented maiming and killing, Whitman was engaged in the work of healing.”

At UNL, Price co-directs two major digital projects – the Walt Whitman Archive and Civil War Washington.

Expert alert: Abortion, contraception and women’s health issues

Monday, March 5th, 2012

From anti-abortion bills in states around the country in places like VirginiaTexas and Florida, to thousands losing access to birth-control subsidies as the battle enters the presidential campaign, reporductive rights are on many Americans’ minds these days. The Cornhusker State is no different, given recent happenings at the State Capitol.

What to make of the possible ramifications of these measures? How does the very tone and nature of the debate surrounding women’s health affect women? What legal challenges may await? University of Nebraska Assistant Professor of Law Beth Burkstrand-Reid is a national expert in the relationship between law and pregnancy, including abortion and women’s health. She shares some thoughts on recent developments on these topics.

To schedule an interview with Prof. Burkstrand-Reid, contact her at, call her at 402-472-2161 or find her on Twitter.


Women’s voices are missing from debates over reproductive rights. Women’s reproductive health is now a political sport. But no matter what side people are on, there is no winner.

The right to have an abortion is protected by the U.S. Constitution. Any legal effort that impacts women’s health is legally questionable.

The impact of these laws is to make it difficult to get an abortion. But there is a second impact. These laws tell women that they are not responsible decision makers.

The law treats women like they need to be protected from themselves. That smacks of how the law treated women in the 1800s, when wives didn’t have the right to make legal decisions about themselves.

Women make health-related decisions, especially the decision to have an abortion, after serious thought. But many of the legal restrictions on abortion portray women as people who rush into ending a pregnancy without thinking about it.

Some of these regulations amount to legal bullying. Women are emotionally capable of withstanding that bullying. But should they have to?”

Women who are honest about the difficulty of deciding to have an abortion aren’t rewarded for their honesty—they are chastised for it. So many of them remain quiet, which skews discussion of the topic.”

In an effort to legally protect what some call the life of a fetus, we are harming the lives of women. This is the true impact of laws regulating abortion, which is perverse given that we are trying to propel these women toward motherhood.

The Supreme Court has made it clear that the impact of abortion-related regulations on women’s health must be considered. How seriously we have to take women’s health, though, is in question.

Just as we have to be honest about what we are doing when we terminate a pregnancy, we must be honest about what we are doing when we are trying to convince a woman not to. Legally and morally, the means matter.”

On how the stigma of abortion affects public discourse on the topic:

Stigmatized doesn’t begin to describe how abortion is treated in society. Yet it is one of the more common medical procedures women may undergo in their lifetime.

During my years of teaching law, students have told stories of being raped. None has spoken of her experience of having an abortion. That tells you how stigmatized abortion is.”

On Nebraska’s centrality to the women’s health debate:

Nebraska is in the center of the country — and the center of the controversy. Nebraska is a flashpoint because of an unusual intersection of a powerful and conservative religious culture, a visible abortion provider and a unique form of state government that makes it easy to enact sweeping legislation.

The state is a reproductive-health regulation pioneer, for better or worse. The major litigation over partial-birth abortion started in this state. We’ve banned most abortions at 20 weeks, which is a violation of current constitutional law. Now the state and local religious organizations are challenging the contraception mandate — even as it is still being debated and refined.

We have one of the most conservative Catholic dioceses in the country, and it is activist, as is evidenced by its participation in the challenge to the federal birth control coverage mandate.

Our unique form of state government, a unicameral, allows speedy passage of legislation.

In 2006, according to Gutmaccher, we ranked last in terms of state efforts to prevent unplanned pregnancies.

Whatever restrictions will be passed next will be certain to be exported to other states, adopted, and challenged — on the taxpayer’s dime.”

On abortion and the law:

Women’s bodies are being treated like legal laboratories. Laws prioritize the fetus over the woman. This can been seen in the shrinking of health exceptions, which now often don’t cover mental health or illnesses that are not life threatening.

With extremely narrow exceptions, federal law prohibits the use of government funding for abortion services. It’s not accurate to suggest that any federal money is going toward abortion.

The impact of these laws is both to make it difficult to get an abortion and to devalue the decision-making ability of women. The impact of these laws, simply put, is to make it difficult to get an abortion. Most women in do not have access to providers, and news laws further make access harder. There are fewer clinics, they are farther away, and there is more likely to be a waiting period.

All of this drives up the cost. This means women wait until later to have abortions, which is in no one’s interest. Later abortions are more expensive, riskier to the woman’s health, and less legally protected.

Is it the point of the laws to make women suffer emotionally as they make this decision? It seems so. But the additional impact is to tell women that they are not responsible decision makers.

On waiting periods:

Waiting periods are the clearest legal expression of distrust of women’s decisionmaking ability. They are tantamount to telling women to ’sleep on it’ as if they haven’t already considered the impact of a pregnancy on their life.”

On gestational and procedural limitations:

States have a legal right to limit when a woman can have an abortion. And they have a legal right to try, within limits, to convince a woman not to terminate a pregnancy. They question is how much emotional harm they can inflict on the woman when trying to do so.

In Nebraska, after 20 weeks, a woman who is pregnant must carry the pregnancy to term, even if the death of the fetus is inevitable, unless her life or physical health is seriously threatened. One woman, who faced terminating a pregnancy due to a fatal fetal problem, told me her decision was propelled by of the agony of carrying a fetus, of being congratulated on her pregnancy, or being asked the sex, all the while knowing that the fetus would die in utero or shortly after birth.”

On fetal pain:

In most cases the fetal pain debate, which focuses on later-term abortions, is a red herring. That is not when the vast majority of abortions take place.”

On informed consent:

Abortion restrictions treat women like children. By requiring women be told by the state what they should consider prior to terminating a pregnancy, we are saying to women that we don’t trust them to be thoughtful. This is insulting to all women regardless of their stance on abortion.”

On parental consent/notice laws involving minors:

If minor women need counsel on their decision, ideally they would talk to a parent. But some minors’ circumstances are not ideal. Appearing before a judge is scary to even a seasoned lawyer, Nebraska, like many states requires minors notify a parent in order to get an abortion or to go to a judge instead and get permission. The forms necessary to request such permission are often hidden or unavailable in court clerk offices. Judicial decisions on these requests are difficult to predict.”

On post-coital contraception, or Plan B:

Access to birth control is constitutionally protected, but even that is now in doubt given the controversies surrounding Plan B.”

Protecting religious freedom is certainly an issue when it comes to reproductive health services, and it is a difficult one. Just as religious freedom is legally protected, so is a woman’s right to have an abortion. Often we forget the latter.”

On measures designed to defund Planned Parenthood:

Passing a defunding bill now is tantamount to courting a legal challenge, action against the state by the federal government or both.

Federal money granted to Planned Parenthood is given for family planning for limited income individuals. Under federal law it cannot be used for abortion services except in extremely narrow circumstances, such as saving the life of the pregnant woman. Representations to the contrary are disingenuous at best.”

UNL in the national news: February 2012

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

National media outlets featured and cited UNL sources on a number of topics in the past month. Appearances in national media included:

Wheeler Winston Dixon, film studies, was quoted Feb. 20 in The Independent (UK) about the resurgence of the British horror studio Hammer Films.

Mike Dodd, psychology; and John Hibbing and Kevin Smith, political science; continued to have their research into the biology of politics featured by a number of publications around the country. Coverage in February included stories in The Daily and the Huffington Post. Hibbing’s research also appeared in an article in the February issue of Playboy (warning: readers may find some ads on this site objectionable).

Dan Duncan, director of Nebraska Innovation Campus, was quoted in a Feb. 12 article in The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription) examining how universities and developers find common ground on campus building projects.

Tim Gay, physics, was quoted in numerous publications the week before Super Bowl XLVI, including NPR, the Boston Globe and the Providence Journal.

Peter Harms and Fred Luthans, management, had their research on positive psychological capital in the workplace featured in a two-part series in Scientific American on Feb. 8 and Feb. 14.

Amber Hunter, admissions, was quoted in a Feb. 26 feature in The Chronicle of Higher Education about the University of Nebraska’s College Prep Academy, which assists low-income students on their path to college.

Janice Lawrence, accountancy and director of the business ethics program, was quoted in a national Associated Press story Feb. 10 about College of Business Administration students creating a new code of ethics. The story appeared in dozens of media outlets nationwide.

Guy Reynolds, English, was quoted Feb. 11 in The Independent (UK) about which adaptation of “The Great Gatsby” over the years has been the best.

Ross Secord, Earth and atmospheric sciences, had his research into how prehistoric global warming affected the evolution of equine ancestor sifrhippus covered by scores of major media outlets on Feb. 23. Highlights included articles in the New York Times, TIME, Scientific American, Science Magazine, Popular Science, US News & World Report and Bloomberg. The article was translated into dozens of languages and appeared across the globe.

Susan Swearer, school psychology, was featured in a number of media outlets the last week of February about her involvement in helping launch Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation. Coverage included a national article by the Associated Press, as well as coverage into the first week of March by Slate Magazine and Yahoo! News, among many others.

William Thomas, history, wrote a Feb. 10 op-ed in the New York Times on the role of African-Americans in building railroads in the Civil War era.

Eric Thompson, economics and the director of the Bureau of Business Research, was quoted in a national Associated Press story about the Bureau’s new monthly economic indicators report.

Mike Wagner, political science, was quoted Feb. 7 by the New York Times about former Sen. Bob Kerrey’s initial decision to not seek his old U.S. Senate seat. On Feb. 10, he was quoted by the Associated Press regarding University of Nebraska Regent Chuck Hassebrook’s decision to seek the seat. On Feb. 27, as speculation grew that Kerrey would indeed seek the seat, Wagner was quoted by US News & World Report on Kerrey’s chances to win.

Matt Waite, journalism, appeared in several media outlets in February about the emergence of drone journalism in the United States. Appearances included: Feb. 21 on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation; Feb. 27 in a national Associated Press story that ran in dozens of media outlets across the country; and Feb. 22 on the Kojo Nnamdi Show on WAMU in Washington, D.C.

J. Allen Williams Jr., sociology, had his research analyzing the decline of the natural world and wild animals in children’s illustrated books featured in a number of publications, including USA TODAY, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Yahoo! News, the Globe & Mail of Canada, GOOD Magazine and the Associated Press.

National media often work with University Communications to identify and connect with UNL sources for the purpose of including the university’s research, expertise and programming in published work. Faculty and administration appearances in the national media are logged  here.

To offer suggestions regarding potential national news stories or sources at UNL, contact Steve Smith at or (402) 472-4226.

Swearer calls Gaga’s foundation launch ‘a great day’

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

Panelists featured in the Born This Way Foundation Launch, from left: Harvard President Drew Faust; Harvard Law Professor Charles Ogletree; Alyssa Rodemeyer; Kathleen Sebelius; Deepak Chopra; David Burtka; and UNL’s Susan Swearer.

On a typical Wednesday, Susan Swearer would be in her office in the basement of Teachers College Hall, preparing for classes and perhaps chatting with co-workers about her family or unseasonably warm weather.

Instead, on Feb. 29, she was in snowy Boston, on a Harvard University stage with Lady Gaga, asking the pop icon how best to empower young people during the kickoff of Gaga’s much-ballyhooed Born This Way Foundation.

Maybe not a typical day at the office, but for UNL’s nationally renowned anti-bullying expert, it’s starting to come with the territory.

Swearer, a professor of school psychology in the College of Education and Human Sciences, helped Gaga launch the new foundation — which addresses issues like self-confidence, well-being, anti-bullying, mentoring and career development through research, education and advocacy — by leading sessions at a morning symposium at Harvard and then by participating on a select panel with the singer and others.

Those “others” included Oprah Winfrey, author Deepak Chopra, TV personality and actor David Burtka and U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius.

“It was, in many ways, a surreal day,” Swearer said Thursday after arriving back in Lincoln. “But it was a great day. (Gaga’s) platform is huge — which is the attraction for me, for linking academic research and findings to her voice, which has such far reach.”

Gaga’s representatives contacted Swearer, who co-directs the Bullying Research Network that promotes and assists international collaboration among bullying and peer victimization researchers, last summer in preparation for the foundation’s launch. Over the next several months, Swearer consulted with and helped create resources for the foundation as it prepared to officially enter the national anti-bullying discussion.

On Thursday, anti-bullying’s place among the foundation’s “three pillars” was clear, Swearer said: The foundation stressed that all youth have a right to be safe, all youth need skills and all youth need opportunities to engage in positive activities.

“The message that I’m glad we were able to put out there on a large scale is that bullying is a mental health problem,” Swearer said. “The fact that (Gaga) wanted a psychologist on the panel tells me she recognizes that bullying is a complex and complicated issue.”

Also, Swearer said, she was able to emphasize during the kickoff event that it’s not just bullying victims that need help — focus, too, must be placed on children who are doing the bullying.

“That’s the program we’ve been working on for years,” Swearer said of her research. “How do we help these kids change their bullying behaviors? (Gaga) really drove that message home; it’s important to recognize that kids do both. They might be victimized at home and bully at school.

“That was the main point I wanted to get out there as a psychologist — and during the day, I felt like it did get out there,” she said.

On Thursday, she echoed Gaga’s blunt answer to a Wednesday question about BTWF’s likelihood of creating a kinder youth culture. She said progress, as always, takes time, but that events like Wednesday’s are an important way to move toward that change.

And, Swearer said, she would be happy to continue to help in any way with the mission of the foundation.

“It really is unprecedented,” she said. “During the launch I had the sense of being part of an historic moment. I was honored to be a part of it.”