An academic faces online criticism after blog post about Indonesian-U.S. relations


Swiss academic based in Britain finds himself under attack over blog post about meeting between Indonesian and U.S. presidents.

Student ordered to remove Palestinian flag alleges free speech violation

A student at George Washington U receives a police visit and a warning for hanging a Palestinian flag from his dorm window. Is a residence life policy being selectively enforced?

Trump Calls for Ban on Muslims Entering U.S.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump called Monday for banning all Muslims from entering the U.S. “until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on.”

A written statement put out by Trump’s campaign in the wake of terrorist attacks in San Bernardino, Calif., and Paris cited “great hatred towards Americans by large segments of the Muslim population.”

“Where this hatred comes from and why we will have to determine,” said Trump, who is the front-runner among the Republican candidates. “Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in Jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life.”

Trump’s statement provoked immediate criticism. "One has to wonder what Donald Trump will say next as he ramps up his anti-Muslim bigotry,” Ibrahim Hooper, the national communications director at the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told The Washington Post. “Where is there left for him to go? Are we talking internment camps? Are we talking the final solution to the Muslim question? I feel like I'm back in the 1930s.”

Some of Trump’s competitors for the Republican presidential nomination also took to Twitter to condemn his proposal. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush tweeted, “Donald Trump is unhinged. His 'policy' proposals are not serious.” U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina, tweeted, “@Realdonaldtrump has gone from making absurd comments to being downright dangerous with his bombastic rhetoric.”

The leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, Hillary Clinton, called Trump’s proposal “reprehensible, prejudiced and divisive.”

Trump’s campaign has been marked by his nativist rhetoric and policy proposals. In August, however, he expressed support for international students, tweeting, “When foreigners attend our great colleges and want to stay in the U.S., they should not be thrown out of our country.”

Nearly one million international students came to U.S. colleges and universities in 2014-15, according to a report published by the Institute of International Education. The report does not include data on international students’ religious affiliations, but more than 100,000 of those students hailed from the Middle East and North Africa regions.

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Former Chinese Admissions Official Admits Accepting Bribes

A former admissions director at a Chinese university admitted accepting millions of dollars in bribes, the Associated Press reported. Prosecutors said Cai Rongsheng, the former head of admissions at Renmin University in Beijing, received $3.6 million between 2005 and 2013 in exchange for helping 44 students gain admission or change majors.

The case is part of a broader crackdown on corruption involving Chinese university administrators.

Debate over essay question and role of Brazil's admissions exam


A controversial question is both praised and criticized, drawing attention to the powerful role of a single test.

English or Afrikaans at a South African University?

Stellenbosch University’s governing council has set aside a November proposal by university management to elevate English above Afrikaans as the institution’s primary language of instruction and communication in favor of keeping a 2014 policy that grants the languages equal status.

Some students at the South African university see the council’s decision as a rejection of inclusiveness and university transformation, as News 24 reported. Students argue that many black students fail because they struggle with Afrikaans.

In a statement, George Steyn, the chairman of the university council, disputed the characterization of the council’s actions as exclusionary. Steyn said university management “would like to provide full support in English to students who have an insufficient command of Afrikaans, without it being to the detriment of the Afrikaans academic offering.”

"I regard the council's motion as a very strong signal to all stakeholders of the university that we are committed to inclusivity and the expansion of teaching languages at the institution,” Steyn said. “For us multilingualism is a strategic asset; it makes us unique and gives us a competitive advantage over other institutions."

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National Women's Studies Association joins Israel boycott movement

The National Women's Studies Association becomes the latest scholarly group to join the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel.

The terrorist attacks in Paris and American academe (essay)

The wrenching dramas that descended on Paris with the German occupation in World War II, the plastic explosives of Algérie Française 20 years later, the uprisings of 1968 and now the Charlie Hebdo and Bataclan massacres have elicited extraordinary waves of empathy in this country. Certainly no other country that does not share a common language with the United States seems so close to this nation’s sympathies, and none has been an ally for longer -- as many people observed in the days following the slaughter of Nov. 13.

Both the historic and recent events have resonated especially deeply with American academics of a certain generation (mine, it goes without saying).

Even Americans little exposed to French literature know something about expatriates like the James Baldwins who gravitated to Paris, and the Ezra Pounds and Ernest Hemingways who lived there for years. Doubtless George Gershwin’s “An American in Paris” (1928) helped enshrine the image (and in reincarnation, one still being celebrated on Broadway) of the American visitor beguiled by the city’s ineffable charms. When good Americans die, dixit Oscar Wilde (way back in 1890), they go to Paris. World War II also took many soldiers to and through Paris, which, thanks to the North American Treaty Organization, remained a major crossroads in the years following.

Paris seemed in that era to be the capital of everything: fashion, cinema, cuisine, literature and art. The war years had helped lift the rising major voices of Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir and others, and it was as if everyone, especially the young, had to visit Paris to find out what it meant to be “existential.” The lofty presence of Charles de Gaulle lent the country an international prominence that belied the humiliations of the wars. The theater rang with Eugène Ionesco, Jean Genet, Samuel Beckett, Gérard Philippe, Jean-Louis Barrault and Madeleine Renaud, and the cinema effervesced with avant-garde of many stripes. The seemingly contagious influence of numerous maîtres à penser -- besides Sartre, think of Emmanuel Levinas, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Fernand Braudel, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Louis Althusser, Roland Barthes, Michel Foucault, Jacques Lacan -- extended into many disciplines and around the world.

Whether we were studying literature, philosophy, history, art, sociology or anthropology, it was essential to expose oneself to these writers and then to the place where they were concentrated. For a while French was almost, as it had been two centuries earlier, the lingua franca of the intellectual, and Paris the intellectual center of (it seemed) the world.

So it is little wonder that a particular relationship came to exist between the French capital and many American academics and their students. The junior year abroad was practically invented for Paris. There still are many such programs, dating back to the 1920s with the University of Delaware (later Sweet Briar College) program. It was an incredible adventure to set foot in the awe-inspiring corridors and auditoriums of the Sorbonne (since fragmented into many universities), “Sciences Po” and the École Pratique des Hautes Études. After class one honed one’s mind on the sometimes ponderous columns of Le Monde.

There was so much, it seemed, to see, to hear. And to smell: most of America in those days was accustomed to Wonder Bread and had no idea what a bakery was like.

Nor was it just that particular historical moment -- the postwar decades -- that felt cozily ancient but was, below the surface, anything but immobile. The prewar minimalist auto, Citroën’s Deux Chevaux, by its persistence on French streets and roads a sort of symbol of postwar austerity, was rapidly replaced with the sleek, fast and low-slung DS. The ageless smoke-blackened façades of the city’s most venerable monuments were restored to their gleaming original glory by de Gaulle’s cultural affairs minister, André Malraux. The ungainly exclamation point that is Montparnasse Tower (1969-1973) ushered in a new skyscraper era (which Paris subsequently held to the perimeter). And an entirely different version of the emerging postmodern sprung up, where the old Halles had been, in the extravagant, inside-out box called the Centre Pompidou (1977). A renaissance of the technological image of France came with such highly visible innovations as the Concorde (built with Britain, 1976) and the TGV (1981), which was (and still is) light-years ahead of railway in the United States.

It is hard, of course, to say precisely in what way Paris is more enthralling than any other great city for scholars, as well as so many others. It helps that it kept its physical profile low (four or five stories maximum) and that it is relatively compact -- that is, if you limit yourself to the 20 arrondissements. As a consequence is an eminently walkable city. From the Arch of Triumph to the Place de la Concorde is only a kilometer, and you can go by foot, if you want, to Vincennes or even to Versailles. (Whole crowds did it in 1789.) The Seine, the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the domes: so many landmarks are visible from anywhere that orientation is easy.

Ah, what it means to discover, to internalize the verb flâner! The life of a flâneur is all about shop windows, from the great boulevard department stores to sixth- or eighth-arrondissement haute couture to small neighborhood shops everywhere. With time, too, for sitting in the iron chairs of the Luxembourg garden or the wicker chairs at a sidewalk café, watching Parisian life go by, basking in the aromas of pâtisserie, roasting chestnuts or pralines (caramel-coated almonds).

If you look at an 18th-century map of Paris, it is much the same, thanks in large part to that retention of a low skyline. It was much smaller, of course, extending west hardly farther than the Tuileries or east much beyond the Bastille. In fact, its perimeters then are essentially what Baron Haussmann was to turn into the Grands Boulevards during the Second Empire. Ten centuries of buildings sit side by side and, at the same time, assimilate the modern world in ways that no New World city can imitate.

American historians of France have wrangled over the concept but not the experience of what is sometimes rightly or wrongly labeled “Frenchness.” I don’t quite believe in it. (The French are awfully like us.) But then what is it that keeps tugging at -- if you’ll pardon the sentimentality -- the heartstrings?

Philip Stewart is the Benjamin E. Powell Emeritus Professor of Romance Studies at Duke University.

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U of Melbourne Criticized for Buildings Named for Racists

American colleges are not the only ones facing criticism for buildings named for people who advocated racist ideas and policies. The Age reported that students and others at the University of Melbourne have identified five buildings named for early professors at the institution. These professors advocated the killing of Aboriginal Australians, sterilizing them and taking away their children, among other policies. The university has said that it is studying how to better serve Aboriginals and deal with Australia's past history of discriminating against them.

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'Brain Boomerang' for Chinese Science

Increasing numbers of young Chinese scientists intend to study outside their home country, but to return within five years, according to a survey that is part of Nature Publishing Group's new paper, "Turning Point: Chinese Science in Transition." The paper sees much more confidence of young Chinese researchers in the development of science in China. But many believe that China must do much more in terms of funding basic research and being willing to support studies that may be risky and not have clear paths to commercial success.

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