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Academe’s Extinction Event: Failure, Whiskey, and Professional Collapse at the MLA - The Chronicle of Higher Education
Whether they themselves had helped set the devastation in motion — by espousing an ethos of demolition that backfired; by failing to communicate themselves to a wider world and thereby leaving a vacuum in the public discourse around what they did and why it mattered, which their enemies eagerly filled — seemed a question infinitely debatable.

[That's a good phrase for liberal arts, and for stats vs data science as well... "failing to communicate themselves to a wider world and thereby leaving a vacuum in the public discourse around what they did and why it mattered, which their enemies eagerly filled..."]

...

“What do you think was the most powerful thing about it all, in hindsight?” I asked.

“The cohesive group thing,” said Katherine. Everyone concurred. “For me there’s never been that same ensemble-y dynamic, though I’ve looked for it,” she went on. “It’s just so hard to separate academe from friendship. There were times when I thought about quitting the Ph.D. program, and told other grad students, and they were like, ‘Aren’t you worried about losing your friends?’ ”

[Oh boy. Yes, it's important to treat academia as becoming part of a community and not merely as honing your individual self -- but you've gotta have a life outside grad school too...]
education  DataScience  LiberalArts 
7 weeks ago by civilstat
Is 'Design Thinking' the New Liberal Arts? - The Chronicle of Higher Education
So, is design thinking the new liberal arts?

Not yet.

Those 1,200 students a year taking courses and spending hours learning, some without any expectation of credit, seem almost like they are living out Cardinal Newman’s idea of a university. It looks like liberal learning at its best. But without taking the measure of the way the past lives on in the present, and without acknowledging the educational value of defamiliarizing the familiar, if those courses were to replace the classical liberal arts, we would lose precisely the practical value of classical education: seeing ourselves as existing in time and managing a range of imperfect complexities.
LiberalArts  education  Olin  design 
7 weeks ago by civilstat
"Only Connect..." -- William Cronon
How does one recognize liberally educated people? ...educated people know how to pay attention---to others and to the world around them. They work hard to hear what other people say.

...

Liberally educated people understand that they belong to a community whose prosperity and well-being are crucial to their own, and they help that community flourish by making the success of others possible. If we speak of education for freedom, then one of the crucial insights of a liberal education must be that the freedom of the individual is possible only in a free community, and vice versa.

...

A liberal education is not something any of us ever achieve; it is not a state. Rather, it is a way of living in the face of our own ignorance, a way of groping toward wisdom in full recognition of our own folly, a way of educating ourselves without any illusion that our educations will ever be complete.

...

In the end, it turns out that liberty is not about thinking or saying or doing whatever we want. It is about exercising our freedom in such a way as to make a difference in the world and make a difference for more than just ourselves.
education  LiberalArts 
7 weeks ago by civilstat
The Design Thinking Movement is Absurd – Lee Vinsel – Medium
"A couple of years ago, I saw a presentation from a group known as the University Innovation Fellows at a conference in Washington, DC. The presentation was one of the weirder and more disturbing things I’ve witnessed in an academic setting.

The University Innovation Fellows, its webpage states, “empowers students to become leaders of change in higher education. Fellows are creating a global movement to ensure that all students gain the necessary attitudes, skills, and knowledge to compete in the economy of the future.” You’ll notice this statement presumes that students aren’t getting the “attitudes, skills, and knowledge” they need and that, more magically, the students know what “attitudes, skills, and knowledge” they themselves need for . . . the future.

The UIF was originally funded by the National Science Foundation and led by VentureWell, a non-profit organization that “funds and trains faculty and student innovators to create successful, socially beneficial businesses.” VentureWell was founded by Jerome Lemelson, who some people call “one of the most prolific American inventors of all time” but who really is most famous for virtually inventing patent trolling. Could you imagine a more beautiful metaphor for how Design Thinkers see innovation? Socially beneficial, indeed.

Eventually, the UIF came to find a home in . . . you guessed it, the d.school.

It’s not at all clear what the UIF change agents do on their campuses . . . beyond recruiting other people to the “movement.” A blog post titled, “Only Students Could Have This Kind of Impact,” describes how in 2012 the TEDx student representatives at Wake Forest University had done a great job recruiting students to their event. It was such a good job that it was hard to see other would match it the next year. But, good news, the 2013 students were “killing it!” Then comes this line (bolding and capitalization in the original):

*THIS* is Why We Believe Students Can Change the World

Because they can fill audiences for TED talks, apparently. The post goes on, “Students are customers of the educational experiences colleges and universities are providing them. They know what other students need to hear and who they need to hear it from. . . . Students can leverage their peer-to-peer marketing abilities to create a movement on campus.”

Meanwhile, the UIF blog posts with titles like, “Columbia University — Biomedical Engineering Faculty Contribute to Global Health,” that examine the creation of potentially important new things mostly focus on individuals with the abbreviation “Dr.” before their names, which is what you’d expect given that making noteworthy contributions to science and engineering typically takes years of hard work.

At its gatherings, the UIF inducts students into all kinds of innovation-speak and paraphernalia. They stand around in circles, filling whiteboards with Post-It Notes. Unsurprisingly, the gatherings including sessions on topics like “lean startups” and Design Thinking. The students learn crucial skills during these Design Thinking sessions. As one participant recounted, “I just learned how to host my own TEDx event in literally 15 minutes from one of the other fellows.”

The UIF has many aspects of classic cult indoctrination, including periods of intense emotional highs, giving individuals a special lingo barely recognizable to outsiders, and telling its members that they are different and better than ordinary others — they are part of a “movement.” Whether the UIF also keeps its fellows from getting decent sleep and feeds them only peanut butter sandwiches is unknown.

This UIF publicity video contains many of the ideas and trappings so far described in this essay. Watch for all the Post-It notes, whiteboards, hoodies, look-alike black t-shirts, and jargon, like change agents.

When I showed a friend this video, after nearly falling out of his chair, he exclaimed, “My God, it’s the Hitlerjugend of contemporary bullshit!”

Tough but fair? Personally, I think that’s a little strong. A much better analogy to my mind is Chairman Mao’s Cultural Revolution.

When I saw the University Innovation Fellows speak in Washington, DC, a group of college students got up in front of the room and told all of us that they were change agents bringing innovation and entrepreneurship to their respective universities. One of the students, a spritely slip of a man, said something like, “Usually professors are kind of like this,” and then he made a little mocking weeny voice — wee, wee, wee, wee. The message was that college faculty and administrators are backwards thinking barriers that get in the way of this troop of thought leaders.

After the presentation, a female economist who was sitting next to me told the UIFers that she had been a professor for nearly two decades, had worked on the topic of innovation that entire time, and had done a great deal to nurture and advance the careers of her students. She found the UIF’s presentation presumptuous and offensive. When the Q&A period was over, one of UIF’s founders and co-directors, Humera Fasihuddin, and the students came running over to insist that they didn’t mean faculty members were sluggards and stragglers. But those of us sitting at the table were like, “Well then, why did you say it?”

You might think that this student’s antics were a result of being overly enthusiastic and getting carried away, but you would be wrong. This cultivated disrespect is what the UIF teaches its fellows. That young man was just parroting what he’d been taught to say.

A UIF blog post titled “Appealing to Your University’s Faculty and Staff” lays it all out. The author refers to Fasihuddin as a kind of guru figure, “If you participated in the Fall 2013 cohort, you may recall Humera repeating a common statement throughout session 5, ‘By connecting to other campuses that have been successful, and borrowing from those ideas you hear from your UIF peers, it removes the fear of the unknown for the faculty.”

Where does the faculty’s fear come from? The blog post explains, “The unfortunate truth in [Humera’s] statement is that universities are laggards (i.e. extremely slow adopters). The ironic part is universities shouldn’t be, and we as University Innovation Fellows, understand this.”

Now, on the one hand, this is just Millennial entitlement all hopped up on crystal meth. But on the other hand, there is something deeper and more troubling going on here. The early innovation studies thinker Everett Rogers used the term “laggard” in this way to refer to the last individuals to adopt new technologies. But in the UIF, Rogers’ vision becomes connected to the more potent ideology of neoliberalism: through bodies of thought like Chicago School economics and public choice theory, neoliberalism sees established actors as self-serving agents who only look to maintain their turf and, thus, resist change.

This mindset is quite widespread among Silicon Valley leaders. It’s what led billionaire Ayn Rand fan Peter Thiel to put $1.7 million into The Seasteading Institute, an organization that, it says, “empowers people to build floating startup societies with innovative governance models.” Seasteaders want to build cities that would float around oceans, so they can escape existing governments and live in libertarian, free market paradise. It’s the same notion undergirding the Silicon Valley “startup accelerator” YCombinator’s plan to build entire cities from scratch because old ones are too hard to fix. Elon Musk pushes this view when he tweets things, like “Permits are harder than technology,” implying that the only thing in the way of his genius inventions are other human beings — laggards, no doubt. Individuals celebrated this ideological vision, which holds that existing organizations and rules are mere barriers to entrepreneurial action, when Uber-leader Travis Kalanick used a piece of software to break city laws. And then they were shocked, shocked, shocked when Kalanick turned out to be a total creep.

Now, if you have never been frustrated by bureaucracy, you have not lived.Moreover, when I was young, I often believed my elders were old and in the way. But once you grow up and start getting over yourself, you come to realize that other people have a lot to teach you, even when — especially when — they disagree with you.

This isn’t how the UIF sees things. The blog post “Appealing to Your University’s Faculty and Staff” advises fellows to watch faculty members’ body language and tone of voice. If these signs hint that the faculty member isn’t into what you’re saying — or if he or she speaks as if you are not an “equal” or “down at you” — the UIF tells you to move on and find a more receptive audience. The important thing is to build the movement. “So I close with the same recurring statement,” the blog post ends, “By connecting to other campuses that have been successful . . . it removes the fear of the unknown for faculty.”

Is there any possibility that the students themselves could just be off-base? Sure, if while you are talking someone’s body tightens up or her head looks like it’s going to explode or her voice changes or she talks down to you and doesn’t treat you as an equal, it could be because she is a demonic, laggard-y enemy of progress, or it could be because you are being a fucking moron — an always-embarrassing realization that I have about myself far more often than I’d like to admit. Design Thinkers and the UIF teach a thoroughly adolescent conception of culture.

Edmund Burke once wrote, “You had all of these advantages . . . but you chose to act as if you had never been molded into civil society, and had everything to begin anew. You began ill, because you began by despising everything that belonged to you.” The brain-rotting … [more]
leevinsel  designthinking  2018  d.school  tedtalks  tedx  cults  innovation  daveevans  design  d.life  humerafasihuddin  edmundburke  natashajen  herbertsimon  peterrowe  robertmckim  petermiller  liberalarts  newage  humanpotentialmovement  esaleninstitute  stanford  hassoplattner  davidkelly  johnhennessy  business  education  crit  post-its  siliconvalley  architecture  art  learning  elitism  designimperialism  ideo  playpump  openideo  thommoran  colonialism  imperialism  swiffer  andrewrussell  empathy  problemsolving  delusion  johnleary  stem  steam  margaretbrindle  peterstearns  christophermckenna  georgeorwell  thinking  howwwethink  highered  highereducation  tomkelly  nathanrosenberg  davidmowery  stevenklepper  davidhounshell  patrickmccray  marianamazzucato  commercialization  civilrightsmovement  criticism  bullshit  jeromelemelson  venturewell  maintenance  themaintainers  maintainers  cbt  psychology  hucksterism  novelty  ruthschwartzcowan  davidedgerton 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
Nick en Instagram: “On the Power of Discourse, Fitting In, and Belonging ⁣ ⁣ I finally submitted my undergraduate thesis titled “Understanding the…”
"On the Power of Discourse, Fitting In, and Belonging ⁣

I finally submitted my undergraduate thesis titled “Understanding the Interactions Between the State of Rio de Janeiro and Favela Communities”. Key Words: violence, hegemony, biopower, culture of terror, police, nation-state, Brazil, favela.⁣ Before this year, I had assumed that all undergraduate seniors across the USA had to undergo this 9 month process called “capstone”. As I have talked to more undergraduate students throughout the years at conferences, Lyft rides, or abroad, I have found it quite interesting how Soka’s liberal arts education has really allowed its students to not only talk about our own specializations from the perspective of our own disciplines, but also from other lenses as well. This includes using lenses from other disciplines that historically might conflict with the one we are concentrating in now (oh btw, my school has concentrations, not “majors” b/c *insert tour guide voice* everything is interdisciplinary). ⁣

Like there was this one time this guy I met in Taiwan, who majored in…I don’t even remember…East Asian Studies w/ a focus on “x” and a sub specialization on “y” (you can see where this train wreck is going)…Clearly w/o the liberal arts framework…b/c when I started asking questions like “ok, so it’s been 30 minutes and you know all this history like great you ate a textbook, can’t relate. But how is this history told? How does the narration of this history impact different communities in Taiwan? Does this history parallel anywhere else's in the world? Before I could chime in and be cute and say "That's wicked similar to x community in...", he fucking keeps talking as if his narrow ass expertise is any better. Have you considered that maybe the history you learned at an elite institution in the USA is maybe a colonized one?” Idk… there’s always all these people that try to be like “impressive”, and it’s like I’d rather drink boba w/o a straw than this… (1/3)"
sokauniversityofamerica  capstones  liberalarts  2019  interdisciplinary  education  highered  highereducation  colleges  universities  soka 
11 weeks ago by robertogreco
On Quality Higher Education: An Essay in Three Installments, Part 1 | Howard Gardner
[Part 2: https://howardgardner.com/2019/04/01/on-quality-higher-education-an-essay-in-three-installments-part-2/
Part 3: https://howardgardner.com/2019/04/01/on-quality-higher-education-an-essay-in-three-installments-part-3/

Quotes below from various parts]

"Of the 1000 students whom we interviewed at length on ten disparate campuses, depressingly few report the experience of exploring new topics and acquiring new ways of thinking as central to their college experience."



"The principal purpose of a liberal arts education should be the achievement of academic and cognitive growth. Any other purpose needs to be deeply intertwined with these academic and cognitive priorities. By the conclusion of a four-year education in an institution that calls itself a liberal arts school, or that claims to infuse liberal arts significantly into a required curriculum, all graduates should have been exposed to a range of ways of thinking that scholars and other serious thinkers have developed over the decades, sometimes over centuries. Students should have ample practice in applying several ways of thinking; and they should be able to demonstrate, to a set of competent assessors, that they can analyze and apply these ways of thinking. Put specifically and succinctly, graduates should be able to read and critique literary, historical, and social scientific texts; exhibit mathematical, computational, and statistical analytic skills; and have significant practical “hands on” immersion in at least one scientific and one artistic area."



"When we began our own study some years ago, we were completely unprepared for two major findings across a deliberately disparate set of campuses. We found that challenges of mental health were encountered everywhere, and were, for whatever reasons, on the increase. And across campuses, we found as well (and presumably relatedly) that a large number of students reported their feeling that they did not belong; they felt alienated in one or another way—from the academic agenda, from their peers, from the overall institutions. And to our surprise, this alienation proved more prominent among graduating students than among incoming students!"



"When we began our own study some years ago, we were completely unprepared for two major findings across a deliberately disparate set of campuses. We found that challenges of mental health were encountered everywhere, and were, for whatever reasons, on the increase. And across campuses, we found as well (and presumably relatedly) that a large number of students reported their feeling that they did not belong; they felt alienated in one or another way—from the academic agenda, from their peers, from the overall institutions. And to our surprise, this alienation proved more prominent among graduating students than among incoming students!"



"Indeed, if non-academic goals—say, social or emotional development—are to be reached, they are likely to be reached as a result of the presence of appealing role models on campus and the way the institution itself is run and addresses challenges. If consistent modeling is ingrained in the culture of an institution, most students can be expected to live up to these high standards. To be sure, mental health and belonging issues may need to be specifically supported by trained professionals (either on or off campus)."



"At such times, institutions are tested as they have not been before. And higher education faces a clear choice: the sector can continue to claim, against the evidence and against plausibility, that it can repair the various fault lines in the society. Or it can reassert the major reason for its existence and strive to show that, in the present challenging climate, it can achieve what it was designed to achieve. If it fails, the whole sector is likely to be so fundamentally altered that the vision we’ve described will have disappeared—and perhaps for a very long time."
liberalarts  howardgardner  wendyfischman  highered  highereducation  mentalhealth  purpose  mission  belonging  criticalthinking  vocation  vocationaleducation  onboarding  missiondrift  cv  lcproject  openstudioproject  goals  meaning  meaningmaking  colleges  universities  economics  institutions  academia 
12 weeks ago by robertogreco
Senecan advice for liberal-arts types
“I devoted myself to the liberal arts. Although my poverty urged me to do otherwise and tempted my talents towards a field where there is an immediate profit from study, I turned aside to unremunerative poetry and dedicated myself to the wholesome study of philosophy. . . .”
liberalarts  philosophy 
march 2019 by M.Leddy
Oh, the Humanities!
Ross Douthat, in the NY Times: "[A] hopeful road map to humanism’s recovery might include variations on those older themes. First, a return of serious academic interest in the possible (I would say likely) truth of religious claims. Second, a regained sense of history as a repository of wisdom and example rather than just a litany of crimes and wrongthink. Finally, a cultural recoil from the tyranny of the digital and the virtual and the Very Online, today’s version of the technocratic, technological, potentially totalitarian Machine that Jacobs’s Christian humanists opposed."
nytimes  rossdouthat  humanities  liberalarts  majors  highered  academia 
january 2019 by warnick
Aristotle’s Wrongful Death
Frank Bruni, in the NY Times: "Part of the skepticism toward traditional majors reflects a correct feeling that at some schools, some fields of study and course offerings are preserved largely because the faculty have a selfish investment in the status quo. If seats in the classroom are perpetually empty and money is sorely needed elsewhere, colleges shouldn’t ignore that. But it’s a balancing act, because colleges shouldn’t lose sight of what makes traditional majors — even the arcane ones — so meaningful, especially now."
frankbruni  nytimes  education  majors  humanities  liberalarts  highered  academia 
january 2019 by warnick
Study the Humanities
Helpful resource from the National Humanities Alliance: "The Study the Humanities Toolkit is a collection of resources for higher education faculty and administrators to use in making the case for the value of studying the humanities as an undergraduate."
humanities  highered  academia  liberalarts 
january 2019 by warnick
​Can Online Teaching Work at Liberal-Arts Colleges? Study Explores the Pros and Cons
Interesting report on a 21-institution study to determine if "smaller, independent liberal arts institutions can make more effective use of their instructional resources and/or reduce costs through online humanities instructions." (Bonus: it features my old St. Edward's colleague Jack Musselman.)
stedwards  onlineeducation  liberalarts  tlos  edtech 
january 2019 by warnick
Entitled Opinions | with Robert Harrison
"The narcotic of intelligent conversation"

With its high-powered, long-form conversations, Entitled Opinions has fans around the globe, from Australia to China, Mexico to Russia. Its host, Robert Pogue Harrison, has interviewed some of our era's leading figures in literature, philosophy, science, and cultural history for over a decade. One blogger called these intellectually expansive exchanges “the most fascinating, engaging podcasts in any possible universe.”
LiberalArts  English  Art  Books 
november 2018 by bfsmith9
Taking It to the Streets: Preparing for an Academy in Exile | Association of American Colleges & Universities
The sustained demand for the liberal arts makes clear that there is no “crisis” for the liberal arts; the crisis is their marginalization within the university. With new technologies thrown into the mix, it is conceivable that in a couple decades, the university will no longer be an academic institution at all.

In such an environment, it is vital that academics start thinking about ways in which to promote academic research and teaching in the liberal arts outside the university. For-profit corporations are not an option since they would make knowledge a commodity and because they turn students into consumers, violating the core ethical commitments of academics. Instead, something else must be found. We have seen in journalism what happens when profit seeking trumps the professional autonomy of journalists.7 Similarly, in medicine, commercial interests threaten the professional integrity and autonomy of doctors.8 The same threat exists for the academic profession, if we cannot resist managerial and political efforts to promote the bottom line over the public good. With this threat in mind, I offer here sketches of four potential ways forward.
liberalarts  humanities  from instapaper
october 2018 by ayjay
26 | Black Mountain College — Do Not Touch
"We're going back to school and learning about an arts college in the mountains of Asheville, North Carolina. For 24 years the college attracted famous teachers and produced students who would go on to achieve their own fame. I have two guests speaking to me about Black Mountain - Kate Averett from the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center and Professor Eva Diaz from Pratt Institute."
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october 2018 by robertogreco

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