Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012 - 3:00am

A federal judge has rejected a lawsuit by Hebrew University of Jerusalem against GM for the auto company's use of an Albert Einstein image pasted onto a muscled physique, The Detroit News reported. Hebrew University said that Einstein's will gave it rights to the use of his image. In this case GM used the image in an ad that ran in People magazine with the tag line "Ideas are sexy too." Judge Howard Matz ruled that GM was within its rights. "[Einstein] did become the symbol and embodiment of genius. His persona has become thoroughly ingrained in our cultural heritage. Now, nearly 60 years after his death, that persona should be freely available to those who seek to appropriate it as part of their own expression, even in tasteless ads," he ruled.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012 - 3:00am

Fifteen British universities have joined other science and charitable organizations in pledging to be more open about the use of animals in research and to promote public discussion of the ethical issues involved, Times Higher Education reported. The pledge follows concern by some scientists and others that support in Britain is dropping for the use of animals in research.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012 - 3:00am

Six Italian scientists and a former government official were convicted of manslaughter on Monday for playing down the risk of a 6.3-magnitude earthquake that killed 309 people in L’Aquila in 2009. The scientists were sentenced to six years in prison, and must also pay $10.2 million in court costs and damages, The New York Times reported. The scientists -- seismologists and geologists -- plan to appeal.

Academics around the world have condemned the prosecution of the Italian scientists as not only unfair but also unfounded, scientifically speaking. Earthquake prediction is a famously inexact science, with increases in risk measured in thousandths or hundredths of a percent. Although a series of tremors preceding the L’Aquila tragedy indicated increased hazard, the risk of a major earthquake remained very low, on the order of 1 percent, explained Tom Jordan, director of the Southern California Earthquake Center and a professor of earth sciences at the University of Southern California. Jordan wrote a report commissioned by the Italian government in which he offered recommendations for how scientists could more effectively communicate the risks of seismic events to policymakers and the public.

The verdict, he said, could derail efforts to improve communication. “People are worried that this verdict could throw a lot of cold water on the relationships that scientists have with the public,” Jordan said in an interview with Inside Higher Ed

Tuesday, October 23, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Amy Sliva of Northeastern University explains how advances in computing power are allowing for an artificially intelligent approach to cyber security. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012 - 3:00am

Louisiana State University on Monday apologized for its recent action to remove crosses from a photograph of a group of LSU football fans who paint their bodies in various ways, including the placement of crosses above their hearts. The university used Photoshop to remove the crosses from a photo of the Painted Posse before using the photograph in a newsletter. (This article on WGNO's website includes the actual photograph and a version in which the crosses were removed.) Facing growing criticism, the university posted this statement on its Facebook page: "LSU sent out a promotional message on October 15 to its sports fans asking for feedback on their experience at the LSU-South Carolina game on October 13. In messages to sports fans we attempt to convey no religious or political messaging. We did not intend to offend anyone by the editing of this photograph and in the future we will use another photo rather than make a similar edit. We erred in our judgment and we have communicated our apologies to the group of young men represented in the photo whose school spirit is second to none."

 

Monday, October 22, 2012 - 3:00am

Senator Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican, periodically releases lists of projects on which he believes the federal government has wasted its money. His new "Wastebook 2012," includes several research and education projects at colleges, and one of them is fighting back. That is number 79 on Coburn's list: "Duplicate magazine preservation," in which he blasts the National Endowment for the Humanities for awarding a $270,000 grant to Brown University and the University of Tulsa for the Modernist Journals Project, which is digitizing early 20th century publications. Coburn's book says that the project duplicates work being done by Google and others. Robert Scholes, a Brown professor who is co-director of the project, published a defense of it on the blog Magazine Modernisms. Scholes wrote that Coburn has the dollar figures wrong, ignoring that Brown and Tulsa are paying for half the work. Further, he says that the Google versions do not provide complete reproductions of the publications. And finally, he notes that the project also supports original scholarship. "Stepping back from these factual errors in the report, it’s important to understand that magazine and periodical studies constitute a vibrant and expanding area of teaching and research," Scholes writes.

 

Monday, October 22, 2012 - 3:00am

Historically, the United States has been a popular destination for Israeli graduate students, but not undergraduates. That is starting to change, Haaretz reported. A decade ago, only a handful of Israelis came to the United States before graduate school, but now 70-100 do so. Last week, EducationUSA held its first undergraduate college fair in Israel (where it has previously organized events for graduate and professional schools). More than 600 young people attended.

Monday, October 22, 2012 - 4:25am

California's budget cuts to public higher education are leading more students to look at private colleges and universities, the Associated Press reported. Some public students, frustrated by being closed out of sections of courses, are transferring. Others, hearing such reports, aren't going public in the first place. Enrollment at the University of La Verne has increased 70 percent in the last five years. Saint Mary's College of California has seen a 51 percent increase in applications since 2009.

 

Monday, October 22, 2012 - 3:00am

The Arizona Daily Wildcat, the student newspaper at the University of Arizona, has fired a cartoonist, whose depiction of a conversation between a father and a son has been denounced as anti-gay. The cartoon is visible on an online petition calling for the dismissal not only of the cartoonist but of editors who approved the work's publication. The cartoon shows the father saying, "You know son.... If you ever tell me you're gay... I will shoot you with my shotgun, roll you up in a carpet and throw you off of a bridge." The son replies "Well I guess that's what you call a fruit roll up." The newspaper published a letter apologizing for publishing the cartoon and pledging that procedures would be changed so that such a cartoon would not appear in the future.

 

 

Monday, October 22, 2012 - 3:00am

Iranian students enrolled at universities outside Iran are struggling with the impact of the collapse of the value of their country's currency, Reuters reported. As Western nations have strengthened sanctions against Iran, the Iranian currency lost one-third of its value compared to the dollar in just 10 days this fall. For some students abroad, they suddenly lacked enough money to pay tuition. Iran's government estimates that it has 35,000 students enrolled in other countries.

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