Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which published a controversial study on attempts to manipulate the emotions of Facebook users, on Thursday expressed concern about whether Facebook users who were studied had been treated fairly. In an editorial, the journal said that Facebook, as a private company, is not required by law to follow the same informed consent procedures as a university would. But the editorial said that informed consent is an important principle, even when not required by law. The editorial called it "a matter of concern that the collection of the data by Facebook may have involved practices that were not fully consistent with the principles of obtaining informed consent and allowing participants to opt out."
Breanne Fahs, associate professor of women and gender studies at Arizona State University, has an unusual way to teaching students about defying gender-specific norms. She offers extra credit to all female students who opt not to shave any body hair below the neck, and to male students who shave all of their body hair below the neck. Students must shave (or not shave) throughout a 10-week period and keep a journal related to their experiences. “There’s no better way to learn about societal norms than to violate them and see how people react,” said Fahs in an Arizona State article about her teaching technique. “There’s really no reason why the choice to shave, or not, should be a big deal. But it is, as the students tend to find out quickly.” Some of the Arizona State students may be seen in the photograph below.
In today's Academic Minute, Jason Kalirai, associate researcher at the Center for Astrophysical Sciences at Johns Hopkins University, discusses the deepest of deep space studies. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.
Strokes affect hundreds of thousands of Americans each year. For professors, who make a living speaking with authority for long periods of time, the road back -- to the classroom or research or both -- is long.
The Middle East Studies Association has written to U.S. and Israeli authorities protesting recent Israeli raids on several Palestinian university campuses. The letter states that Israeli authorities have been attacking nonviolent protest and seizing student property. The letter acknowledges that Israel has in recent weeks been searching for three kidnapped Israeli youth (who have since been found, murdered). But the association says that it believes that "collective punishment against educational institutions and their students are never acceptable and cannot be justified." Israeli authorities have said that their military actions in the West Bank in recent weeks had been to try to located the kidnapped youths or to gather intelligence about them.
Faculty members in science and engineering at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor say the overall work climate has improved significantly since 2001 – but change took that long to manifest, according to a new report. The climate survey was first conducted in 2001 as part of the university’s ADVANCE program to promote women and underrepresented faculty members. The program includes a network for women scientists to prevent women in mostly-male departments from feeling isolated, as well as a mentoring program for new faculty members.
There was little improvement in overall climate reported in a subsequent 2006 survey, but in 2012 – survey data for which was only recently released – faculty members report statistically significant gains in the general climate and climate for diversity in their departments. Faculty members described a more civil work environment and white women and white men and men of color reported hearing fewer disparaging comments about women. All faculty members reported overhearing fewer disparaging comments about racial or ethnic minorities or religious groups. Women of color also reported higher levels of job satisfaction, and all women reported more satisfaction with the level of social interactions shared with fellow professors.
Not all data was rosy, however. Women still report more gender discrimination than their male colleagues, and faculty members of color report unchanged rates of racial-ethnic discrimination.
Janet Malley, director of research and evaluation at the university, said that change takes time is the project’s biggest takeaway. Improving climate is “a long-term project, so one shouldn’t perhaps expect to see dramatic changes in five years – but in 10 years, maybe.”
Malley said change takes a “concerted effort on the part of the administration and faculty,” but that Michigan’s ADVANCE program easily could be exported to other institutions wanting to tackle climate issues.