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Ed Webb

More Colleges Are Asking Scholars for Diversity Statements. Here's What You Need to Kno... - 0 views

  • diversity statements tend to be more useful to search committees when institutions provide a definition of diversity and explicit expectations for what should go into the statement.
  • reframing the prompt to focus more on fixing systemic discrimination in academe. Candidates would submit a reflection on the history of their discipline. That would necessarily include discussion of equity and diversity, he said. And it would make clear that departments are grappling with the question of what needs to be done to change their respective disciplines.
  • Plenty of scholars, like Flier, the former Harvard dean, would rather do away with the statements altogether. "The more the expectations become influenced by critical race theory and related concepts, and the more they are used to hold back or reject faculty who fail to echo the latest expectations, whatever they might be," Flier wrote in an email, "the greater the chance for damage to academic credibility, and the opportunity to erect politically tinged litmus tests."
Ed Webb

The threat to our universities | Books | The Guardian - 0 views

  • It is worth emphasising, in the face of routine dismissals by snobbish commentators, that many of these courses may be intellectually fruitful as well as practical: media studies are often singled out as being the most egregiously valueless, yet there can be few forces in modern societies so obviously in need of more systematic and disinterested understanding than the media themselves
  • Nearly two-thirds of the roughly 130 university-level institutions in Britain today did not exist as universities as recently as 20 years ago.
  • Mass education, vocational training and big science are among the dominant realities, and are here to stay.
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  • it is noticeable, and surely regrettable, how little the public debate about universities in contemporary Britain makes any kind of appeal to this widespread appreciation on the part of ordinary intelligent citizens that there should be places where these kinds of inquiries are being pursued at their highest level. Part of the problem may be that while universities are spectacularly good at producing new forms of understanding, they are not always very good at explaining what they are doing when they do this.
  • talking to audiences outside universities (some of whom may be graduates), I am struck by the level of curiosity about, and enthusiasm for, ideas and the quest for greater understanding, whether in history and literature, or physics and biology, or any number of other fields. Some members of these audiences may not have had the chance to study these things themselves, but they very much want their children to have the opportunity to do so; others may have enjoyed only limited and perhaps not altogether happy experience of higher education in their own lives, but have now in their adulthood discovered a keen amateur reading interest in these subjects; others still may have retired from occupations that largely frustrated their intellectual or aesthetic inclinations and are now hungry for stimulation.
  • the American social critic Thorstein Veblen published a book entitled The Higher Learning in America: A Memorandum on the Conduct of Universities by Businessmen, in which he declared: "Ideally, and in the popular apprehension, the university is, as it has always been, a corporation for the cultivation and care of the community's highest aspirations and ideals." Given that Veblen's larger purpose, as indicated by his book's subtitle, involved a vigorous critique of current tendencies in American higher education, the confidence and downrightness of this declaration are striking. And I particularly like his passing insistence that this elevated conception of the university and the "popular apprehension" of it coincide, about which he was surely right.
  • If we are only trustees for our generation of the peculiar cultural achievement that is the university, then those of us whose lives have been shaped by the immeasurable privilege of teaching and working in a university are not entitled to give up on the attempt to make the case for its best purposes and to make that case tell in the public domain, however discouraging the immediate circumstances. After all, no previous generation entirely surrendered this ideal of the university to those fantasists who think they represent the real world. Asking ourselves "What are universities for?" may help remind us, amid distracting circumstances, that we – all of us, inside universities or out – are indeed merely custodians for the present generation of a complex intellectual inheritance which we did not create, and which is not ours to destroy.
  • University economics departments are failing. While science and engineering have developed reliable and informed understanding of the world, so they can advise politicians and others wisely, economics in academia has singularly failed to move beyond flat-Earth insistence that ancient dogma is correct, in the face of resounding evidence that it is not.
  • I studied at a U.K. university for 4 years and much later taught at one for 12 years. My last role was as head of the R&D group of a large company in India. My corporate role confirmed for me the belief that it is quite wrong for companies to expect universities to train the graduates they will hire. Universities are for educating minds (usually young and impressionable, but not necessarily) in ways that companies are totally incapable of. On the other hand, companies are or should be excellent at training people for the specific skills that they require: if they are not, there are plenty of other agencies that will provide such training. I remember many inclusive discussions with some of my university colleagues when they insisted we should provide the kind of targeted education that companies expected, which did not include anything fundamental or theoretical. In contrast, the companies I know of are looking for educated minds capable of adapting to the present and the relatively uncertain future business environment. They have much more to gain from a person whose education includes basic subjects that may not be of practical use today, than in someone trained in, say, word and spreadsheet processing who is unable to work effectively when the nature of business changes. The ideal employee would be one best equipped to participate in making those changes, not one who needs to be trained again in new skills.
  • Individual lecturers may be great but the system is against the few whose primary interest is education and students.
Maggie Verster

AcaWiki: Increasing the Impact of Research Using Web 2.0 - 5 views

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    AcaWiki is like "Wikipedia for academic research" designed to increase the impact of scholars, students, and bloggers by enabling them to share summaries and discuss academic papers online. AcaWiki turns research hidden in academic journals into something more dynamic and accessible. All content on the site is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution license.
  •  
    AcaWiki is like "Wikipedia for academic research" designed to increase the impact of scholars, students, and bloggers by enabling them to share summaries and discuss academic papers online. AcaWiki turns research hidden in academic journals into something more dynamic and accessible. All content on the site is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution license.
Felix Gryffeth

In Tough Times, the Humanities Must Justify Their Worth - NYTimes.com - 0 views

  • The study of the humanities evolved during the 20th century “to focus almost entirely on personal intellectual development,” said Richard M. Freeland, the Massachusetts commissioner of higher education. “But what we haven’t paid a lot of attention to is how students can put those abilities effectively to use in the world. We’ve created a disjunction between the liberal arts and sciences and our role as citizens and professionals.”Mr. Freeland is part of what he calls a revolutionary movement to close the “chasm in higher education between the liberal arts and sciences and professional programs.” The Association of American Colleges and Universities recently issued a report arguing the humanities should abandon the “old Ivory Tower view of liberal education” and instead emphasize its practical and economic value.
  • Derek Bok, a former president of Harvard and the author of several books on higher education, argues, “The humanities has a lot to contribute to the preparation of students for their vocational lives.” He said he was referring not only to writing and analytical skills but also to the type of ethical issues raised by new technology like stem-cell research. But he added: “There’s a lot more to a liberal education than improving the economy. I think that is one of the worst mistakes that policy makers often make — not being able to see beyond that.” Anthony T. Kronman, a professor of law at Yale and the author of “Education’s End: Why Our Colleges and Universities Have Given Up on the Meaning of Life,” goes further. Summing up the benefits of exploring what’s called “a life worth living” in a consumable sound bite is not easy, Mr. Kronman said. But “the need for my older view of the humanities is, if anything, more urgent today,” he added, referring to the widespread indictment of greed, irresponsibility and fraud that led to the financial meltdown. In his view this is the time to re-examine “what we care about and what we value,” a problem the humanities “are extremely well-equipped to address.”
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