As the United Nations prepares to hold one-day global summit on climate change, we speak to award-winning author Naomi Klein about her new book, "This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate." In the book, Klein details how our neoliberal economic system and our planetary system are now at war. With global emissions at an all-time high, Klein says radical action is needed. "We have not done the things that are necessary to lower emissions because those things fundamentally conflict with d
What I find in gen ed, then, is the opportunity to follow strands of thought, to make connections, to engage in purposeful wandering across disciplinary and divisional lines. In the last 10 years I’ve learned more about biology, psychology, art, politics, and physics than I’d thought possible. Or, to be more accurate: than I’d thought possible once I became a professor.
2. I believe my field matters even to people not in my field...
I love teaching my English majors, and I’m not just saying this to keep my department chair happy. But in my major classes, I’m preaching to the pre-converted. There’s something about working with students outside of my discipline, something about introducing them to a whole new spectrum of thought that keeps me invigorated.
3. Our students will use gen ed a lot more than they—or we—expect...
What gen ed teaches is not just content, but adaptation. As students move from their majors to a general-education course—or from one general-education course to another—what they should be encountering—always—is the challenge of shifting paradigms, of conflicting ways of thinking about the world, of contrasting means of solving problems.
That these experiences are sometimes uncomfortable is perhaps exactly the point: Students need opportunities to think about how what they did two years ago in statistics can be adapted to psychology. They need to think about the conceptual relationships between poetry and computer programming (hint: eloquence and efficiency). They need to struggle to understand the ways in which separating the “noise” from the relevant numbers in a geological data set are not that different than getting to the heart of a Supreme Court ruling.
They need, simply put, to practice leaping from one field to another, one question to another, on challenge to another—constantly adapting their methods of understanding and of solving these problems. That’s what life is like. And everything else aside, I’m pretty sure my job is to prepare students for life.
Paul Hanstedt is a professor of English at Roanoke College in Salem, Va. He tweets@curriculargeek.
Is the silence over Israeli nukes doing more harm than good?
The policy of never publicly confirming what a scholar once called one of the world’s “worst-kept secrets” dates from a political deal between the United States and Israel in the late 1960s. Its consequence has been to help Israel maintain a distinctive military posture in the Middle East while avoiding the scrutiny—and occasional disapprobation—applied to the world’s eight acknowledged nuclear powers.
But the U.S. policy of shielding the Israeli program has recently provoked new controversy, partly because of allegations that it played a role in the censure of a well-known national-laboratory arms researcher in July, after he published an article in which he acknowledged that Israel has nuclear arms. Some scholars and experts are also complaining that the government’s lack of candor is complicating its high-profile campaign to block the development of nuclear arms in Iran, as well as U.S.-led planning for a potential treaty prohibiting nuclear arms anywhere in the region.
The U.S. silence is largely unwavering, however. “We would never say flatly that Israel has nuclear weapons,” explained a former senior State Department official who dealt with nuclear issues during the Bush administration. “We would have to couch it in other language, we would have to say ‘we assume’ or ‘we presume that Israel has nuclear weapons,’ or ‘it’s reported’ that they have them,” the former official said, requesting that his name not be used due to the political sensitivity surrounding the topic.
A university education is not the means to an end it once was and that’s why the B.A. is adapting to serve a new role in preparing graduates for the future
Each season, the media reappraise the dollar value of the university degree and pronounce annually the death of the liberal arts. The so-called return on investment of business degrees ebbs and flows on the tide of the market, while the BSc seems to be either in high demand by traditional industries or not worth the paper it’s printed on in new technology sectors. In the meantime, the arts, humanities and social sciences have quietly gone about the business of evolving to reflect the times in which we’re living.
Overlooked in the rush to judge and the pressure to choose is the fact that the B.A. is changing. Sure, the traditional liberal arts degree is not exactly a thing of the past, but the B.A. has a new trajectory: It’s fast becoming more practical and more cross-disciplinary.
...Today’s B.A. is producing graduates who are well-rounded, creative, critical thinkers, graduates who can write persuasively, who can formulate arguments and defend their ideas in conversation, graduates who are socially engaged, socially responsible, and well equipped to navigate a rapidly changing, interconnected world. These are the job-ready skills that every graduate needs and the modern B.A. provides.
Campuses have become hotbeds for cyberbullying as students face immense competition. The effects on students are well-recognized, but what about professors?
Summary from Academica Top Ten 15 September 2014
Research shows impact of cyberbullying on faculty
Faculty, as well as students, are subject to victimization by cyberbullies, a new article in Maclean’s reports. The article notes examples in which students have posted derogatory comments on faculty rating sites. While occasionally site administrators will agree to remove offensive posts, some professors have said that it is difficult to get responses to such requests. Site guidelines advise contributors to “be honest and objective,” but avoid personal attacks. Research by Lida Blizard, a nursing instructor at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, found that faculty who admitted to being bullied online in such a fashion frequently reported that it affected their productivity as well as their mood. Some respondents to her survey reported experiencing more than 3 effects simultaneously, which, the article says, fits the American Psychiatric Association’s criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder. A larger study from Simon Fraser University of 330 faculty members found that roughly 25% said that they had experienced cyberbullying from a student; some said they had even contemplated suicide as a result. Maclean’s
This article originally appeared in New Scientist. Richard Smith edited the BMJ from 1991 to 2004. He is a founding member of the Committee on Publication Ethics, a former trustee of the U.K. Research Integrity Office and author of The Trouble with Medical Journals.
Research misconduct degrades trust in science and causes real-world harm. As such, Smith says, it should be and causes real-world harm. As such, Smith says, it should be a crime akin to fraud.
This article originally appeared in Inside Higher Ed. Can an applicant explain why he or she would thrive at a given college in two minutes? If the applicant wants to enroll at Goucher College, that is pretty much all it will take under a new admissions option announced earlier this month. Applicants can...
Georgetown's "job-friendly" English PhD sparks debate A proposed Georgetown University PhD program in English that has career preparation at its core has become a lightning rod for debate among faculty. The program is intended to help English PhDs become better prepared for non-academicemployment, and to help the program stay relevant to the labour market. Students enrolling in the program would be asked to apply with a “plan of professional development in hand.” The program would also provide extensive mentoring and students would be able to complete alternatives to the traditional monograph-style dissertation, such as a digital-humanities project or a collection of essays. However, critics have variously charged that the program “cheapens” the value of the PhD, and that it is irresponsible of the institution to offer a new PhD program given the poor job market faced by graduates. One Georgetown professor described the program as “an advanced master’s,” not a PhD. One proponent, however, argued that “it’s good for the humanities to have humanists in positions throughout society. And it’s good for society to have people with humanistic training in all sorts of positions.” The Chronicle of Higher Education | Full Proposal
In an open letter, the group defends the think-tank that was targeted for a political-activity audit partly because it was deemed by to be biased and one-sided
Summary from Academica Top Ten 16 September 2014
Academics protest audit of CCPA A group of more than 400 academics have signed an open letter to the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) in opposition to an audit of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA). The group alleges that the audit is politically motivated and that the CCPA was targeted for its left-leaning perspective. According to reports, the CRA had justified the audit of the CCPA by claiming that the material on its website was “biased” and “one-sided.” But critics of the audit say that the organization was singled out for its criticism of the Conservative Party of Canada. “It hit a raw nerve among academics,” said organizer Louis-Philippe Rochon, an economist at Laurentian University. “The idea that if we reach a conclusion other than the official doctrine of the government, our research is somehow biased and political.” The CCPA, like many think-tanks in Canada, is registered as an educational charity and as such is prohibited from engaging in partisan activities such as endorsing candidates for public office. Globe and Mail | National Post | CTV News
Rishi Manchanda has worked as a doctor in South Central Los Angeles for a decade, where he’s come to realize: His job isn’t just about treating a patient’s symptoms, but about getting to the root cause of what is making them ill—the “upstream" factors like a poor diet, a stressful job, a lack of fresh air. It’s a powerful call for doctors to pay attention to a patient's life outside the exam room.
A new report finds many talking heads who have been fanning the flames of war in the news media have ties to Pentagon contractors. Reporting for The Nation, Lee Fang details how television analysts including retired generals Jack Keane and Anthony Zinni and former Department of Homeland Security official Frances Townsend have appeared on television recently, but their ties to military contractors were not disclosed. Fang writes many of these commentators "have skin in the game as paid directors and advisers to some of the largest military contractors in the world." Keane, for example, is a special adviser to Academi, the contractor formerly known as Blackwater, and a board member to military manufacturer General Dynamics. He is also a "venture partner" to SCP Partners, an investment firm that works with defense contractors.
The most valuable lesson for a student to learn inside the classroom is not science, or math, or communication skills, or artistic inclinations – but how to deal with others and society in general. Children and their emotional development at this time shapes the rest of their lives. Encouraging self-management over their own emotional impulses …
In a recent article, What Would Dr. E. Paul Torrance Do?: A Legacy for Creative Education, the author considers what lies in the future of creativity in our schools?
Retired professor Berenice Bleedorn says we should continue his legacy of sharing information and practice “the art of creative thinking”. We must continue to advocate for its use and move against the current or as Torrance himself called them, “the powers that be”. After all, teachers are the real driving force behind the creative thinking in our schools.
If our schools are lagging behind, we must be the creative minds that urge our students to be curious and seek new answers.
This is a cross-post from opencolleges.edu.au; 30 Ideas To Promote Creativity In Learning
In the West spirulina is a niche healthfood product, but it can be used to fight malnutrition and empower the farmers in developing countries
“Political forces and their international institutions do not, it seems, consider hunger as intolerable and as a major human problem. Malnourished children are not seen as future voters and many politicians appear to have other priorities. The food industry was also not interested in fighting malnutrition, in the past at least, as this struggle has not seemed to be profitable.”
Rightwing billionaires sought to ensure appointment of ultra-rightwing economics faculty in return for grant to Floride State University
The billionaire Koch brothers attempted to wield political influence over appointments and teaching at a major US university in exchange for donations, newly published documents reveal.
Internal emails and memos from the economics department of Florida State University (FSU) open a window into the kind of direct pressure the Kochs seek to exert over academic institutions in return for their largesse. The 16 pages of documents, obtained by the Center for Public Integrity, show that the energy tycoons demanded through their grant-giving arm, the Charles Koch Foundation, a role in faculty appointments and an emphasis on teaching that was in tune with their radical political views.
Charles and David Koch are major funders of the Tea Party and other ultra-rightwing movements that oppose government intervention and advocate for an unregulated free market.
A memo drawn up by the then chair of the FSU economics department, Bruce Benson, set out the Kochs’ terms for funding, noting that “the proposal is … not to just give us money to hire anyone we want and fund any graduate student that we choose. There are constraints.”
A section of the memo headlined “Constrained hiring” says: “As we all know, there are no free lunches. Everything comes with costs. In this case, the money for faculty lines and graduate students is coming from a group of funding organisations with strong libertarian views. These organisations have an explicit agenda.