Thursday, November 19, 2015

Higher Ed Op-Eds

I asked my first year students to find Op-Eds about higher education issues to discuss in "What Am I Doing Here? The Value of a Liberal Arts Education." (I gave them a big link by pointing them to the Opinion & Ideas section of the Chronicle of Higher Ed. They also have the advantage of all living on campus, where there's no paywall to access the Chronicle.)

Here are some of the links they came up with:

Thabiti Lewis (Washington State University). "Enter the Real Power of College Sports."  A look at the recent upheaval at the University of Missouri. What student activists couldn't do with vitriolic protests over the course of two months, the football team was able to do in 48 hours. This is impressive, but also troubling. Why do student-athletes have such power? There is a disturbing nexus of money and influence in the university system that we need to be questioning.

Paul Walker (Murray State University), "Let's Treat the Philosophy Department Like the Football Team." Murray State recently merged its English and Philosophy departments because of a paucity of Philosophy majors and the implication is that the humanities in general are neglected. Meanwhile, the football team is lavished with subsidies despite being a major financial burden.

Molly Worthen (University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill), "Lecture Me. Really." A defense of the old-fashioned lecture. Rather than encouraging passivity, Worthen argues that lectures can stimulate a different kind of sustained engagement: deep listening.

Sol Gittleman (Tufts University), "Higher Education Has Always Been a Mess: That's What Makes it Great." A long-view of American higher education looking at some of the anti-intellectualism that pervaded American college campuses before World War II and the boom in American higher education after it. Generally an upbeat tone about higher education at the present moment.

Karin Fischer, "China Signals a Growing Unease with the Influence of American Universities."  We have several students recently arrived from China in my class, so discussing the intersections between American and Chinese higher education systems is often thought-provoking. Schools like Duke and NYU have recently opened campuses in China, but a new policy being considered by the Chinese government would add a layer of government supervision (and associated paperwork) that might make it much harder for these schools to keep those campuses open.

David Kirp, "A New Way to Improve College Enrollment." In Long Beach, California, there's a really interesting program guaranteeing college admission to local students who meet certain minimal academic cutoffs. They are also taking an integrated approach to the entire educational cycle-- from grade school through college -- rather than allowing high schools and colleges to operate in "silos."

I had also earlier asked them to read and analyze Op-Eds by Ross Douthat in the New York Times, starting with his most recent piece, "A Crisis Our Universities Deserve."  I don't agree with much that Douthat says, and in fact his argument here is a little slippery (we struggled in class to pinpoint his actual thesis). But he's thought-provoking all the same.


A few more:

Jay Inslee, "Why My State Won't Close Its Borders To Syrian Refugees" 

Pamela Druckerman, "France, Paradise Lost"

NYT Editorial Board, "Time To Bring Cuba Online"

Tony Schwarz, "Addicted to Distraction."

Sherry Turkle, "Stop Googling. Let's Talk."

Tom Bartlett, "Why Two Kids Are Too Many."

David Ludwig, "Could Your Healthy Diet Make Me Fat?"

"They're Mutilating Little Girls' Breasts in Cameroon to Protect Them From Boko Haram"


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