An article in The Boston Globe explores how a scholarly idea can take off -- and then come under sustained scrutiny. The idea is that certain traits such as smoking, obesity and loneliness are contagious and spread through social networks. It was promoted in 2007 articles by Nicholas Christakis of Harvard University's medical school and James Fowler, a political scientist at the University of California at San Diego. But while the article captured considerable attention beyond academe at the time, it has come under much questioning of late in a series of scholarly papers. Among the criticisms: that the original work didn't adequately rule out explanations beyond social networks for the spread of these traits.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Four universities in Pennsylvania are among the 10 postsecondary institutions in the United States that bought the most "green power," according to a list published by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The University of Pennsylvania topped the list, purchasing about 200 million kilowatt hours -- nearly half of its total electricity -- in the form of solar and wind power. Penn's Philadelphia neighbor, Drexel University, appears fifth on the list, Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh is listed third, and Pennsylvania State University is sixth.
The Textile Museum, a free-standing Washington institution, is affiliating with George Washington University and will relocate to the campus, as part of a new museum facility, the institutions announced Tuesday. The Textile Museum was founded in 1925 with a collection of 275 rugs and has grown since into a noted collection, with research and education programs and exhibits.
Federal officials have undertaken a process for a major overhaul of rules governing the protections assured to people who are the subject of research studies, The New York Times reported. The revisions are intended to reflect changes in the research being done and to reduce red tape. Many researchers have historically complained about the cumbersome process for having their projects approved, but some critics have said that more scrutiny is needed of studies involving humans.
California's governor signed legislation on Monday that will let immigrants without legal documentation receive privately funded scholarships to enroll in the state's public colleges, the Los Angeles Times reported. But in discussing the measure, Gov. Jerry Brown declined to commit to signing companion legislation that would let undocumented students get state-financed student aid, saying he viewed it "favorably" but did not want to get out ahead of events, since the bill has not yet reached his desk.
In today’s Academic Minute, Seth Chandler of the University of Houston examines how
computer technology is poised to change how legislation is written and applied. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.
Chicago State University officials have been boasting about improvements in retention rates. But an investigation by The Chicago Tribune found that part of the reason is that students with grade-point averages below 1.8 have been permitted to stay on as students, in violation of university rules. Chicago State officials say that they have now stopped the practice, which the Tribune exposed by requesting the G.P.A.'s of a cohort of students. Some of the students tracked had G.P.A.'s of 0.0.
Leading business schools are starting to convert their case studies -- at many institutions the central feature of M.B.A. education -- to tablet form, Bloomberg BusinessWeek reported. The change is significant because the new format allows students to immediately see the consequences of various decisions and for the case studies to become much more flexible and interactive.
A study being published today in the American Sociological Review finds that young adults who were brought to the United States as immigrants without the legal authority to reside in the country do pursue an education, but rarely are able to use that education to get good jobs. The study found that one of the first times many of these young adults felt the impact of their immigration status was when they applied to college -- and realized that they could not seek financial aid. Just about half of those studied tried for some college education. But without the legal right to work in the United States, very few reported the kind of economic advancement associated with higher education. The study was conducted by Roberto G. Gonzales, an assistant professor at the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration.