Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

October 24, 2012

Potomac College will reimburse students for courses they take from StraighterLine, an online provider that offers 42 entry-level courses, according to a StraighterLine announcement. The for-profit college will pay students for the $999 fee for up to 10 StraighterLine courses, the equivalent of a full year of college, after students transfer the courses to Potomac and then successfully complete a semester there. StraighterLine's courses are not credit-bearing, but come with a credit recommendation from the American Council on Education.

October 23, 2012

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."

 

October 23, 2012

Both male and female scientists believe that gender discrimination is one reason why some women avoid careers in science, and why some who opt for science careers pursue biology as opposed to physics, according to a new report published in the journal Gender and Society. The authors say that they want to understand why women are making certain choices, and how those choices are perceived. In interviews, male scientists tended to refer to past discrimination as a factor while women were more likely to cite current discrimination as a factor.

 

October 23, 2012

"College 101" courses -- in which students learn how to be effective students -- have strong campus support, but need to improve if they are to have a long-term positive impact on students, says a new report by the Community College Research Center of Teachers College of Columbia University. While the information the courses provide is "valuable," the courses typically "did not offer sufficient opportunities for in-depth exploration and skill-building practice," the report says. The analysis was based on an investigation of the courses at three community colleges in Virginia.

 

 

October 23, 2012

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.

October 23, 2012

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.

October 23, 2012

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

October 23, 2012

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.

 

October 22, 2012

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.

 

October 22, 2012

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.

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