Historian Faces Lèse-majesté Charge in Thailand

A historian in Thailand is facing lèse-majesté charges, brought by "ultra-royalists," Khaosod English reported. Such charges can lead to serious punishments in Thailand. Sulak Sivaraksa, the historian, faces the charges over comments he made at an academic forum at Thammasat University in which he questioned whether there was evidence behind the story of King Naresuan winning an elephant battle against a Burmese general 400 years ago. The event is much commemorated in Thai society, as in the illustration below, from Wikipedia.


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American Journalism Professors Detained in Russia

Two American journalism professors were briefly detained in Russia on Thursday for allegedly lacking the proper visas to conduct educational workshops, according to reports on the Boston University and New England Center for Investigative Reporting websites.

Joe Bergantino, a clinical professor of journalism at BU and director of the BU-based investigative reporting center, and Randy Covington, a journalism professor at the University of South Carolina, were conducting a training with 14 Russian journalists in St. Petersburg before being detained and taken to district court, where a judge found them guilty of visa violations. The professors were in Russia through a U.S. Department of State media training grant and reportedly were using the type of visa recommended by the State Department for this type of work. They are not allowed to continue teaching but can return to the United States as scheduled.

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Australia's leader blasts a university for divesting from energy companies

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An Australian university's decision to dump $16 million in investments in fossil fuel companies has drawn the wrath of the country's prime minister.

The story behind an unusual -- and unusually risque -- scholarly paper title

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The story behind an unusual title for a work of science research.

Kean U.'s China Campus Faces Criticism

Some faculty at Kean University, in New Jersey, are questioning the academic value of a new campus in China, The Wall Street Journal reported.  Kean officials argue that an exchange program will benefit the state's students, while faculty and students critical of the branch in Wenzhou argue that Kean should focus on its campuses in New Jersey.

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'U.S. News' to Issue New Global University Rankings

U.S. News and World Report has announced that it will release its first global ranking of universities on Oct. 28. U.S. News plans to publish a global ranking of the top 500 universities across 49 countries, as well as four regional, 11 country-level, and 21 subject area-specific rankings. 

The Best Global Universities ranking will be based on reputational data, bibliometric indicators of academic research performance, and data on faculty and Ph.D. graduates. Robert Morse, U.S. News’s chief data strategist, said that there will be no cross-over of data between the publication's longstanding ranking of American colleges and the new global ranking, which will rely on data from Thomson Reuters. Thomson Reuters also provides data for the global university ranking compiled by Times Higher Education (THE). 

“What we’re doing is completely, 100 percent independent from THE,” Morse said. “It’s our methodology, our choice of variables, our choice of weights, our choice of how the calculations are done, our choice of how the data’s going to be presented.”

U.S. News is entering into territory dominated by three major global university rankings: those produced by Times Higher, the Shanghai Ranking Consultancy, and QS. “I think it’s natural for U.S. News to get into this space,” Morse said. “We’re well-known in the field for doing academic rankings so we thought it was a natural extension of the other rankings that we’re doing."

Morse pointed out that U.S. News will also be the first American publisher to enter the global rankings space (Times Higher and QS are both British, while the Shanghai rankings originate in China). Noting that to date there hasn’t been much interest among the general American public in global university rankings (as opposed to U.S.-specific ones), Morse said, “maybe people will pay more attention to the ones we do.”

After his sculpture caricaturing the university president was seized and dismantled, professor creates new piece

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After university officials seized and dismantled a professor's sculpture caricaturing the university president, he created a whole new piece consisting, in part, of the original components. 

Attack on Hong Kong U. Instructor

An instructor at the University of Hong Kong was assaulted on Monday after a man attending a class on media law and ethics erupted in a pro-China outburst, the Wall Street Journal reported. According to a student who witnessed the attack, the man “stood up suddenly and began to yell in Mandarin that Hong Kong is part of China, so all the classes should be taught in Mandarin, not in English.” The man subsequently hit the instructor, Cliff Buddle, a senior editor at the South China Morning Post, with books or a clipboard. The University of Hong Kong said the man was not an enrolled student.

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Cornell Will Expand Off-Campus 'Engaged' Learning

Cornell University will today announce a plan to expand off-campus "engaged" learning, in which students interact directly -- all over the world -- with different communities, The New York Times reported. The engagement will be through new courses, and by 2025 the university plans to have all students take one or more of such courses. The new program is being financed by a $50 million gift being announced today from the Einhorn Family Charitable Trust, plus $100 million in other gifts.


Debate on Palestinian University's Treatment of Israeli

The expulsion of an Israeli journalist from an academic conference at a Palestinian university has set off a debate over academic freedom in Palestinian higher education, the Associated Press reported. The journalist in question -- Amira Hass -- wrote of being told by professors at Birzeit University that there were university rules barring Israelis like her from being there. Further, Hass wrote that one person told her she should leave for her own safety,  and she then did.

The comments from Hass are notable as her journalism regularly documents mistreatment by Israel of Palestinians, and she writes for Haaretz, a leading Israeli newspaper that is regularly criticized by hard-liners for its criticism of the Israeli government. Many in Israel are writing that if someone like Hass is kicked out of an event at Birzeit, then Palestinian universities are judging people by their nationality, not their views. Birzeit issued a statement that it "regrets the lamentable incident involving the apparent exclusion of Hass." The statement explained: "The university community takes pride in observing the academic boycott of Israel. However, this boycott applies to institutions, not individuals, let alone individuals who have distinguished themselves by being on the side of justice and humanity, as has journalist Hass."



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