Posts Tagged ‘academia’
* The most important finding is that family formation negatively affects women’s, but not men’s, academic careers. For men, having children is a career advantage; for women, it is a career killer. And women who do advance through the faculty ranks do so at a high price. They are far less likely to be married with children. We see more women in visible positions like presidents of Ivy League colleges, but we also see many more women who are married with children working in the growing base of part-time and adjunct faculty, the “second tier,” which is now the fastest growing sector of academia. Unfortunately, more women Ph.Ds. has meant more cheap labor. And this cheap labor threatens to displace the venerable tenure track system.
* The US government has finally released the names of 46 men being held in Guantánamo under the classification of “indefinite detainees” – terror suspects deemed too dangerous to release or move yet impossible to try in a civilian or even military court for reasons of inadequate or tainted evidence.
Vulnerability to the draft induced by the 1969 lottery not only structured attitudes toward the Vietnam War, but also provoked a cascade of changes in basic partisan, ideological, and issue attitudes. The breadth, magnitude, and, in some respects, persistence of these attitudinal changes illustrates how powerful self-interest can become when public policies directly touch our lives.
It seems to suggest how fundamentally arbitrary political attitudes are, however much we think we’re thinking things through rationally and proceeding by careful analysis of the facts.
* I thought Evan’s writeup on Mad Men was really great this week. Almost makes this season’s excruciating focus on Don’s mother issues seem interesting.
* Jesus wept: Vice re-creates female authors’ suicides for maximum trolling. Don’t even bother clicking, it’s absolutely as dumb as advertised.
* Some 74 percent of professors aged 49-67 plan to delay retirement past age 65 or never retire at all, according to a new Fidelity Investments study of higher education faculty. While 69 percent of those surveyed cited financial concerns, an even higher percentage of professors said love of their careers factored into their decision.
* “Studies show that about 30 percent of the cost increases in higher education over the past twenty-five years have been the result of administrative growth,” Ginsberg noted. He suggested that MOOA can reverse this spending growth. “Currently, hundreds, even thousands, of vice provosts and assistant deans attend the same meetings and undertake the same activities on campuses around the U.S. every day,” he said. “Imagine the cost savings if one vice provost could make these decisions for hundreds of campuses.”
* The conclusions are inescapable: In our zeal to dehumanize criminals we have allowed our prisons to become medieval places of unspeakable cruelty so far beyond constitutional norms that they are barely recognizable.
* I think I’ve done this one before, but hey, it’s summertime: 30 Beautiful Abandoned Places.
And David Simon comes to his senses. UPDATE: Nope. See comments.
* Ian Bogost has a great piece on MOOCs in an otherwise totally skippable LARoB feature on the subject.
MOOCs are a financial policy for higher education. They exemplify what Naomi Klein has called “disaster capitalism”: policy guilefully initiated in the wake of upheaval. The need to teach more students with fewer resources is a complex situation. It’s partly caused by hubris, especially the blind search for higher institutional status through research programs, and it’s exacerbated by the tax base crises of the ongoing and seemingly permanent Great Recession. MOOCs offer the next logical step in this process of “cost containment.” But those who would call current funding models “unviable” and offer MOOCs as a convenient alternative fail to admit that the very need for an alternative presumes that we want to abandon public education in favor of a corporate-owned infrastructure in the first place.
MOOCs are an academic labor policy. As a consequence of the financial policy just described, MOOCs are amplifying the precarity long experienced by adjuncts and graduate student assistants, and helping to extend that precarity to the professoriate. MOOCs encourage an ad-hoc “freelancing” work regime among tenured faculty, many of whom will find the financial incentives for MOOC creation and deployment difficult to resist. This is particularly true of public institution faculty who have gone years without raises. Many institutions offer tens of thousands of dollars of direct compensation for MOOC development and teaching. And, in some cases, MOOCs offer direct access to student tuition and direct competition among faculty for those new resources, extending the “entrepreneurial” institutional politics of professional schools (and corporate life more generally) to all disciplines.
MOOCs are speculative financial instruments. The purpose of an educational institution is to educate, but the purpose of a startup is to convert itself into a financial instrument.The two major MOOC providers, Udacity and Coursera, are venture capital-funded startups, and therefore they are beholden to high leverage, rapid growth with an interest in a fast flip to a larger technology company or the financial market. The concepts of “disruption” and “innovation,” so commonly applied to MOOCs, come from the world of business. As for EdX, the MOOC consortium started by Harvard and MIT, it’s a non-profit operating under the logic of speculation rather than as a public service. If anything, it will help the for-profits succeed even more by evangelizing their vision as compatible with elite non-profit educational ideals.
* It is telling that elite professors and universities who design MOOCs aren’t using them for their own students. Those of us who value education and its role in fostering both literacy and democracy should pass on them too.
* Patton Oswalt: A Closed Letter to Myself about Thievery, Heckling, and Rape Jokes.
* Sarah Kendzior vs. the prestige economy. Good interview.
* The investigation was ongoing, but Undersheriff James Szczesniak said there was no evidence yet that Martino “had any ill intent.” There could be a dozen perfectly legitimate reasons why he’d have 30 to 40 pipe bombs in his apartment.
* What’s more important: a college degree or being born rich? The answer will totally not surprise you!
Chart: Doctorate Recipients with Definite Employment or Further Study Commitments at Time of Graduation
Keep in mind this is mixing all employment — including adjuncting and part-time assistant work — into a single category. And it still can’t crack 50% in the humanities. Apocalyptic.
* 21st Century America summed up in a single headline: Why Is a Defense Contractor Paying for Sesame Street’s Parents-in-Jail Lesson?
* If Only This Goes On: science fiction and modernity in Russia.
* Intact fallout shelter discovered in California backyard. More links follow the image.
* Lucas and Spielberg announce film is dead. No, they’re not making another Indiana Jones; that’s really what they’re saying.
* California’s Online Education Bill SB 520 Passes Senate. You might know this better as the MOOC bill.
* The enemy within: Toddlers Killed More Americans Than Terrorists Did This Year.
* And SCOTUS says human genes cannot be patented. The good guys win a game!
* OK, let us persist in the notion that I am an American citizen. Let us persist in the notion that I am the citizen of a self-governing political commonwealth. Let us persist in the notion that I have a say — and important and equal say — in the operation of my government here and out in the world. Let us persist in the notion that, in America, the people rule. If we persist in these notions — and, if we don’t, what’s the fking point, really? — then there is only one question that I humbly ask of my government this week. Please, if it’s not too damn much trouble, can you tell me what’s being done in my name?
* “Right to work” is the most dishonest phrase in American political discourse. It sounds like it’s defending people’s right to earn a living. But as used by its supporters, it means making it impossible for workers to form an effective union, couched in the language of “freedom” and “choice.”
* But the problem of eviction runs deeper and reaches back further than even the beginning of the 20th century. Modern history starts with eviction.
* Remaking the university: Suffice to say that major cost savings cannot be the rationale for the Georgia Tech arrangement. In the ramp-up period, terribly high per-MOOC costs could be justified by mass enrollments, but unfortunately from the VC point of view the masses take these courses for free. These production costs also collide with increasing awareness of large faculty time inputs: Duke’s Dan Ariely and Cathy Davidson report 150 hours of their time per hour of “actual MOOC.” Prof. Davidson’s phrase in a subsequent post is “insanely labor intensive” — in exchange for a $10,000 stipend that she spent entirely on assistants. Many MOOC watchers are now concluding, as she does, that MOOCs do not have a way of making up for massive public funding cuts.
* And The Hobbit 2: Hardly Hobbitin’ has a trailer. My tentative reaction is pretty serious disappointment: however the final effects will look, at this resolution just about everything looks really fake, from the dwarf in the barrel in the river to Smaug to anything involving Legolas in any way. I like the one shot of Bilbo poking his head above Mirkwood, and that’s it. Nerd rant over! But for how long?
In Gee’s own case, the sums of money involved are disgusting. At the time he was apparently forced out after having made a few tactless jokes in a private meeting, Gee was getting paid about two million dollars per year. This does not include the $7.7 million that the university paid for Gee’s travel, housing and entertainment between 2007 and 2012 – a sum which included at least $895,000 for soirees at Gee’s university-provided mansion, more than a half million dollars for private jet travel, and “$64,000 on his trademark bow ties, bow tie cookies, O-H lapel pins and bow tie pins for university marketing.”
Ah yes, “marketing.”
Gee also increased the size of the university’s senior staff by 30%, and raised their average salaries by 63%, to $539,390 in 2011. To get a sense of how out of control university administrator compensation has become, consider that a year before Gee began his first tenure as Ohio State’s president, the president of Harvard was paid $138,044 ($256,000 in 2012 dollars), and only eight university presidents in the entire nation made more than $200,000. Now, thanks to E. Gordon Gee and his ilk, there are literally dozens of administrators at the Ohio State University alone who would consider that sum an insult.
* Coffee’s good for you again. Stay buzzed, America.
* This piece on MOOCs from Jonathan Dettman is really interesting, not least of all for its observations on running the university like a business:
According to this paradigm, the years spent at a university are not intended so much as to educate the student (either in the vocational sense or the liberal-arts sense of forming citizen-scholars), but rather to turn as many recruits as possible into “active alumni.” In the meantime, as much profit as possible should be extracted from the student, through amenities, food services, business partnerships, textbook sales, tuition, etc. Image and branding are extremely important to these efforts, but so is information. Universities now build data-driven profiles of prospective students in order to identify and recruit those most likely to be attracted to the university’s own carefully constructed market profile.
As I said on Twitter yesterday: they couldn’t have found a model that sounded a bit less… pyramid-schemey?
* This piece on epigenetics in Discover is really interesting, but my god, the reporting. It’s hard to imagine a piece that sensationalized these findings more.
* Announcing the MOOC Research Institute. Can’t we scale this up? You know, crowdsource it.
* Black Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 have an unemployment rate of 21 percent, almost triple the national average.
* Simply put, 99 percent of the increase in employed persons seen in the last year was for individuals who had attended at least some college (this removes the negative change in employment for high school grads with no college to not produce a number above 100 percent). Among those who didn’t go to college, we actually lost 284,000 employed persons from May of 2012 to May of 2013. Within the college-going categories, about 60 percent of the increase went to those with a bachelor’s degree and 40 percent to those with an associate’s degree.
* The screenplay writes itself: Gustl Mollath was put in a psychiatric unit for claiming his wife was involved in money-laundering at the Bavarian bank. But seven years on evidence has emerged that could set him free.
* The headline reads, “New long distance quantum teleportation system ‘extremely reliable.’” So, the ansible is real, then?
* Because a bunch of us have been rewatching Star Trek lately: Voyager Inconsistencies. By the numbers it’s actually a little better than I thought.
* And the LEGO museum. At least there’s that.
* We shouldn’t be assessing the health of the humanities by market-share metrics that are far more about demographics and the changing face of higher ed than they are about the intellectual shifts at the heart of actual humanities practice. Besides, the actual numbers show long-term stability post 1980:
The interpretation: The chart never quite reinforces the point that something terrible is going on in the humanities right now. Anyone looking at it closely will notice, as Michael Bérubé has, that the real collapse of humanities enrollments happened in the 1970s. The Great Recession has been less ruinous to enrollments than were the mid-1990s. Sure, a few Harvard majors have switched from history to government in the last decade: is that really a story?
But it does succeed in making the humanities appear massively out of date. And that’s a compelling story for all sorts of people. It makes humanists feel as though they deserve a larger share of the university, and that their sense of being under seige is due to the some pathology in the culture at large; it makes traditionalist critics of the humanities feel secure in pointing out that something has gone very wrong in the field.
* Obama: PRISM Doesn’t Apply To U.S. Citizens. I don’t see how this could mean why Obama seems to be implying. Surely he’s saying that they’re collecting all data but only using data from noncitizens? How could they discriminate between citizen bandwidth and noncitizen bandwidth at the point of recording?
* But the real question: is Glenn Greenwald working for the ChiComs?
* And still another outrage of the day, as if your docket weren’t full: Hacker Who Exposed Steubenville Rape Case Could Spend More Time Behind Bars Than The Rapists.
* The dark side of dual enrollment. There’s some interesting stuff here on how testing practices deform learning, too:
We talked a little bit about the class, her performance, and where she should go next. The student explained that my class is not compatible with her “learning method.” She said that she prefers “that multiplying method, you know, where there are letters, A, B, C.”
I said, “You mean, multiple choice?”
“Yes, that’s the one,” she said. “That’s the method where I learn best. I’m good at figuring out which letters aren’t the right ones.”
She said she was good at multiple choice because she has learned to eliminate wrong answers and get the choices down to one or two and then make a good guess. She has transferred into Sam Houston State University with 65 credit hours (two years!) of “college” classes, all earned at a nearby community college. With possibly one exception (part of a math class), all her community-college classes used multiple choice. She said she didn’t learn well with my “method.”
This student spent 15 years of standardized tests learning how to discriminate between pre-presented choices — an utterly useless skill.
* Via Facebook: Genocide in South Dakota?
* With all the bad news today, this is the one that really breaks my brain: Texas Says It’s OK to Shoot an Escort If She Won’t Have Sex With You. That’s completely lunatic. I just can’t believe it’s a real event that happened.
* My friend Brent Bellamy has a working bibliography of U.S. post-apocalyptic fiction.
Think about the writing-for-free model that has taken over journalism. His point can be supported by the millions made by Arianna Huffington, while many of her writers worked for little or nothing. Yes, writing is one of what Lanier is calling the “pleasant” jobs — as is teaching (I didn’t say easy. But dedicated writers and educators alike see what they do as rewarding and important work.) Why should journalists or educators be working for little to no money, living at the edge of poverty, while the people at the top of this sort of economic structure are reaping enormous fortune? According to Lanier, this is a conscious breach of the all-important social contract that not only provides what he calls the “hump” of middle class citizens — that middle area surge on the economic chart where the majority of people fall — but that large, sustained middle class keeps the rest of the system going. Without it, the economy fails, as does democracy itself.
As contingent faculty at Bentley prepare for their union election, however, Dempsey is hopeful that it will be the adjuncts who find themselves in a position of power. Universities “have become so addicted to the profits of using adjuncts that … they’ve overextended themselves,” he says. “If we strike, the school stops.”
Young female professors with children leave the profession in greater numbers than their cohorts, too. The retention gap between female professors with children and those without, as well as men with and without children, narrows at mid-career – presumably when children are older and require less care – but women are still underrepresented at the higher rungs of the academic ladder. Tenure-track female professors also are likelier to be unmarried, divorced and childless than their male counterparts (12 years after receiving their Ph.D.s, 44 percent of female tenured faculty were married with children, versus 70 percent of male tenured faculty, according to the National Science Foundation’s landmark Survey of Doctorate Recipients, which has tracked 160,000 Ph.D.s in the sciences, social sciences and humanities since the effort began in the 1970s) – what Mason called a “double equity problem.” More at “The Mom Penalty” at Inside Higher Ed.
In the face of yet another go-round about interest rates, David Dayen points out yet again that if education debt were really a loan you’d be able to refinance it, or discharge it through bankruptcy.
UPDATE: And some charts.