In today’s Academic Minute, Nancy Kiang of Columbia University’s Earth Institute explains a recent discovery that hints at the potential color of extraterrestrial plant life. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.
Given the work before us, I will go into my first class today and try to meet my students as simply and directly as possible. Some of this work comes from the past, some from the state, and some from what we in my department have agreed to do. Some of this work will come from what we carry with us, some from what we find blocking the way between us, and some from what we see up ahead. We variously work ourselves into the work of the other.
Education is labor-intensive and expensive because it falls upon the tangled mess of human relationships struggling to find the work that works best. We just can’t know the work before we work it. We hate the work we can’t make work, and we love the work we can. It takes time, and it takes money. And for some, more than others. Work, like love, is what we find when we find ourselves in what others have done.
The best teacher I ever had loved me for my work and I loved her for hers. With a blue pen, I put words on college-ruled pages in a three-ringed notebook. Those words helped me find what I loved about the world. About books. About school. About small towns. About rivers. About music. About words on pages. She met me simply in the classroom and surprised me by what she loved. I knew I could talk to her and she would help me find myself in what others had done.
I know you had a different teacher, but it’s still true.
Let me put it another way. We are always reaching back into what has already been made. We do this with all of our body. It is very hard and very easy. We do it when we want to. And we do it when we aren’t aware we’re doing it. We are always standing together splashing each other in joy and sorrow with what we have made.
But there are also some of us who are pressing our noses against the window of what’s to come. I’d like to see more of us breathing into that glass. I’d like college to be more like that kind of pressing and breathing and working. Let us make work at college a place where we are both in and at and outside that window. What’s out there? Who?
I know money is power and circulates in ways most of us don’t see. You probably have more than I do. Or I have more than you. We certainly have more than they do way over there. Still, we don’t have more than those who have decided what gets taught. Soon they tell us – as they always tell us — that we’ll need to do more with less because they’ll be putting more of their money elsewhere while putting more of their power upon us. After all, it’s their money. And it’s their power. How do they do this? I try not to cry about it.
And by not crying about it, I mean, I try not to cry about the tangled mess of education and power and money and work and how each of us finds our way in the world. It may be that we need better direction or better technology or better learning outcomes or better threats. It’s hard to know really.
But each day, we still show up at the knowledge factory. We know what our work is.
Laurence Musgrove is professor and chair of the department of English and modern languages at Angelo State University, in Texas, where he teaches courses in composition, literature, creative writing, and English education.
A new study of members of the American Economic Association finds a gender split on many issues. The study, which will be published in the journal Contemporary Economic Policy, finds women in economics more willing than men to consider interventions in market policies. In terms of academic careers, male economists generally believe that opportunities are equal for men and women, but female economists are more likely to see an advantage for men.
A new federal report details the scientific misconduct that authorities found Marc Hauser to have committed while a psychology professor at Harvard University, The Boston Globe reported. Hauser was found to have fabricated data, manipulated results in experiments, and incorrectly described how studies were done. A lengthy internal investigation led him to leave Harvard, but details have been minimal until now about what he did. Hauser disputed some of the findings of the federal inquiry, but has admitted to research misconduct in his laboratory, and said that he took responsibility for it.
The members of the union that represents 23,000 professors, librarians and others in the California State University System have voted overwhelmingly to ratify a new contract, the California Faculty Association announced Tuesday. Union officials said the accord, which still awaits approval by Cal State's Board of Trustees, was a "balanced, good contract in light of difficult times. It acknowledges years of slashed public funding for the CSU and stands firm on the things faculty need to provide quality education to our students."
Tim Gunn was a faculty member at Parsons The New School for Design before "Project Runway" occupied too much of his time. A new meme imagines Gunn as an outside committee member helping to prod a doctoral student to the finish line. With advice such as "I hate two-part titles, but they're very now," and "I think your article is confused about its genre," on photos of Gunn advising would-be designers, the meme is attracting followers.
The meme is the work of a husband-and-wife team: Sarah Summers, a Ph.D. student in rhetoric and composition at Pennsylvania State University, and Bill Riley, a recent M.F.A. grad. Via e-mail, Summers explained: "We're both 'Project Runway' fans. Last week we were marveling at how Tim Gunn manages to be critical and incisive while also being encouraging. Working on a book project and a dissertation, we realized that a kindhearted kick in the pants seems pretty valuable!"
A new report by the American Association of University Professors suggests various ways that the government can rewrite regulations on the research of human subjects. The report, "Regulation of Research on Human Subjects: Academic Freedom and the Institutional Review Board," is a response to a federal government endeavor to improving regulations when it comes to such research. The report says that the current review system, where an Institutional Review Board -- a local committee that monitors research that involves humans -- assesses research projects is far from ideal as the board's members might not have any special competence in the vast range of disciplines they might be asked to monitor. It suggests that university departments and faculty committees might be better equipped to deal with the job rather than these boards. "[A]lthough researchers may make mistakes in deciding whether their research methodology would be a minimal risk methodology, we think that the alternative – namely requiring that all research projects be approved by an IRB or an IRB surrogate – is markedly worse in its impact on both academic freedom and scientific research,” the report says. “...[W]e are recommending that if a research project would impose no more than minimal risk of harm on its subjects, then it therefore should be exempt from the requirement of IRB approval."