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Presidents Call on Trump to Protect Dreamers

More than 560 college and university presidents have signed a letter urging President Trump to keep in place protections for “Dreamers,” a term for immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children -- many of whom are now college students. Under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, created by President Obama, more than 700,000 Dreamers have been able to obtain work permits and temporary protection from the risk of deportation. During the campaign, Trump called for an end to DACA, but he has since softened his tone, saying he would like to “work something out” for Dreamers, without offering specifics.

“Unfortunately, many of these young people now live in fear that the program [DACA] will be rolled back or revoked,” states the letter, which was organized by the American Council on Education. “In order to lift this cloud of fear, we ask that you commit to allowing these productive and high-achieving individuals to continue to work and study while your administration and Congress arrive at a permanent solution. The higher education community is eager to work with you to find a path forward.”

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Indian Business Students Look to Canada

Increasing numbers of Indian students are looking to study at Canadian business schools rather than in the U.S. and the U.K., The Financial Times reported. The article discusses the impact of the Trump presidency and Britain’s vote to leave the European Union on student choices and preferences. As Inside Higher Ed has reported, many Canadian universities are seeing surges in international applications at a time when some American universities are reporting declines.

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Judge issues injunction against Trump's travel ban

Federal judge's ruling to grant injunction cites impact on University of Hawaii.

Russia focuses on soft power in its international student strategy

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Emphasis on soft power leads to focus on those from former Soviet states.

The importance of using science to solve social problems (essay)

The Future of Science

Science is under attack. We have been hearing this for decades, and it is truer now than ever before. The Trump administration's attempt to obtain names of civil servants who attended climate-related meetings, the proposal to cut the EPA's research office by up to 42 percent (including the entirety of the Global Change Research Program), the overturning of policies that are grounded in scientific consensus and vital to our survival, the disdain with which Trump and his allies dismiss scientific evidence -- these all constitute clear assaults on science. In response, scientists are mobilizing to resist the Trump agenda, including with a proposed March for Science (previously called the Scientists' March on Washington).

If we strike while the iron is hot, this could be an opportunity not just to defend some abstract understanding of “science” but also to advance a much stronger vision of how science can serve the common good. Scientists and others in the STEM fields should make lasting commitments to stand in solidarity with the people of the world most harmed not just by the Trump administration but also by oppression and exploitation in all their forms.

The pursuit of scientific knowledge for the betterment of society has already long been shackled. Ask Marc Edwards. He's the Virginia Tech professor who worked with people in Flint, Mich., to expose the poisoning of their water supply. In an interview titled “Public Science Is Broken,” Edwards criticized the “perverse incentives” offered to faculty members and the risks involved in challenging the people who provide research funding. He concluded, “We’re all on this hedonistic treadmill -- pursuing funding, pursuing fame, pursuing h-index -- and the idea of science as a public good is being lost.”

That treadmill is not the science we need to defend. Nor is the science that profits agribusiness at the expense of impoverished farmers, torments villagers with the threat of drone strikes or otherwise privileges the acquisition of knowledge beneficial to corporate and military interests above that which supports human needs.

We should also be wary of defending science when it is imagined to be the province solely of an expert elite. We can respect the knowledge science produces while recognizing the many people from diverse social backgrounds who contribute to it: not just Ph.D.s but also farmers, members of environmental justice communities, people living with illnesses under research and many others.

The science we should rally to defend is that which people pursue with political consciousness for the benefits it brings to society and the planet. Lest anyone see that as too utilitarian, I would hasten to emphasize that charting the stars, learning the language of dolphins and pursuing a great many other subjects that bring us enlightenment qualify as benefiting society, provided we keep a sharp eye on how such knowledge is acquired and applied.

More than just defending such science, we must create a vibrant movement of STEM workers who see their survival and liberation as tied to the survival and liberation of poor people, people of color, people in the global South and others who are most vulnerable to the disasters our political and economic systems have produced.

This is hardly the first time scientists have organized to engage politically. In the United States today, the Union of Concerned Scientists is perhaps the most familiar organization that continues to promote, mainly through policy advocacy, what it calls “science for a healthy planet and a safer world.” Their work remains invaluable.

However, we should also recognize other groups in different times and places, many of which have adopted more activist approaches and an analysis more sharply focused on wresting science from the oppressive power structures of capitalism, racism, sexism, militarism and imperialism, and placing it in the service of social needs. The British Science and Society Movement of the late 1930s and 1940s, the Indian Kerala Sasthra Sahithya Parishad founded in 1962, and the Philippine AGHAM: Advocates of Science and Technology for the People founded in 1999 are just a few examples.

The United States once had its own activist science organization, called Scientists and Engineers for Social and Political Action, better known as Science for the People. The original organization formed in 1969 out of the rising tide of opposition to the war in Vietnam. Although it folded in 1989, its members carried their cause forward. Former SftP members have been involved in improving health and safety for factory workers, mobilizing farming communities to document and resist pesticide exposure, working with communities in Eritrea and Malawi to develop sustainable energy technologies, researching and promoting agro-ecological approaches to farming in the United States and Latin America, and many other areas of politically engaged, socially conscious science.

The Science for the People movement is currently being revitalized; chapters are now forming on campuses at Columbia, Cornell and Emory Universities; the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and the Universities of Massachusetts at Amherst, Pennsylvania and Tennessee at Knoxville. Numbers will no do doubt swell as the Trump administration helps make the stakes clearer to STEM workers and students across the country and the world.

In times of political crisis, some people may be tempted to embrace science as an apolitical force of reason. While science does offer reason, it does not do so in a political vacuum. We have political choices to make. We have to decide what kind of science is worth making and worth fighting for. We have to make that science. And we have to fight for it.

Sigrid Schmalzer is a professor of history at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and co-editor of Science for the People: Documents From America's Movement of Radical Scientists, forthcoming from University of Massachusetts Press.

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Professor's Kids Make Cameo in Live Interview

Many academic parents saw their lives reflected in a BBC interview gone viral last week. In case you haven’t seen it, Robert E. Kelly, an associate professor of political science at Pusan National University in South Korea, was being interviewed via Skype about President Park Geun-hye's impeachment when his pigtailed young daughter marched into the room. She was promptly followed by her baby brother in a rolling chair -- and by Kelly’s mortified wife, who cleared the howling children out of the room, live on the BBC. 

Take a look and try not to laugh.

Twitter lit up with reactions from others who had been there. Here are a few examples, including one from Kelly himself.

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Scholars speak out against new law barring supporters of boycotts from entering Israel

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Scholars in the U.S. oppose new law barring foreign supporters of boycotts from entering Israel, a measure defended by the country's education minister as necessary to keep out those who wish the state ill.

Spanish academics criticize new accreditation requirements for those who teach

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New requirement to become individually accredited angers university instructors, who complain of paperwork and an erosion of academic values.

Dean Warns Against 'Politically Charged' Comments

The medical dean at the University of Ottawa has sent a memo suggesting that faculty not make "politically charged" comments on social media or make "personal or demeaning attacks on celebrities or politicians," The National Post reported. The memo added, “While most of our faculty members are demonstrable champions of professionalism, it has come to light” that some members of the faculty had been “using material or presenting information that may be considered inappropriate in the context of the educational values that we as a university uphold.”

The Canadian Association of University Teachers has asked the dean, Jacques Bradwejn, to rescind the memo. “One of the key components of academic freedom is the right of faculty to exercise free speech without the university’s censorship or reprisal,” said a statement from the group's executive director, David Robinson.

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Attackers Storm Women’s Day Event at Turkish University

Attackers stormed a demonstration marking International Women’s Day at Istanbul Bilgi University, according to a statement from the university and a Turkish media report.

The university said on its website that 15 to 20 people jumped security barriers and “attacked our students who had opened a stand to celebrate 8 March International Women’s Day.” The university said some students and security personnel were beaten and one student was slightly injured. Six people were arrested.

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