Local Links: Allen Wells, Tropical Zion, Innovation, MOOCs and more
- Dr. Allen Wells, the Roger Howell, Jr. Professor of History at Bowdoin College gave a fascinating talk at Hartwick College, “Representative Charles Porter and the Latin American Crusade for Democracy during the Cold War.”
In July 1958, two months after Vice-President Richard Nixon was spit on, taunted, and pelted with rocks and garbage in Caracas, Venezuela and Lima, Peru during an ill-fated “goodwill” tour of the region, a young, first-term congressman from Oregon drew an enthusiastic crowd of 20,000 who cheered his every word at a political rally in the Venezuelan capital. How had a political neophyte who did not speak a word of Spanish become an instant celebrity in the region? What resonated so well was this congressman’s championing of democracy and his opposition to his government’s practice of coddling brutal dictators.
Allen Wells is the author of Tropical Zion: General Trujillo, FDR, and the Jews of Sosúa.
- Vote for a wheelchair accessible vehicle for Logan:
Please take a moment from your day to help Logan win a wheelchair accessible van. All you need to do is vote today (and hopefully every day) until May 10th. Logan is an amazing little 9yo boy who has Hunter Syndrome–a disease which causes systematic loss of function. While he can no longer speak, his smile lights the room. He is losing his ability to walk. He has had at least 10 surgeries. Despite this, he is usually happy, except when he is in the car. A regular vehicle does not support his legs and back well—his legs hand down, putting strain on his lower back which is stenotic, and this causes him to cry with pain, especially on his frequent long trips to Albany NY (1.25 hours away) where he receives his specialty care. Please help him us help him. Vote once or daily til May 10th. Share this with your friends and family. Together we can make a difference.
- I’ll bet you Debt to Donuts…. My colleague in economics Karl Seeley has some fun with the Reinhardt and Rogoff Excel error, and see his comment: “And from an ecological perspective, this whole conversation is full of cognitive dissonance anyway, since our real concern right now shouldn’t be to grow as fast as possible, but to have an economy that meets human needs with minimal growth, or even degrowth. So we shouldn’t be worried about debt.” [See also anthropology on debt.]
- Nation Starting To Realize New Era Of American Innovation Never Gonna Happen. Sadly, The Onion pretty much nails it. Could have been different.
- On the other hand, U. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Plans to Add 500 Full-Time Professors. Not just some good news for higher-education hiring, interesting that a good number of these will be “cluster hires” according to executive vice provost Barbara J. Wilson:
The “cluster hires,” Ms. Wilson said, will be sorted into the six areas that have been identified by the university’s “Visioning Future Excellence at Illinois” project, an effort begun by the chancellor to map out the university’s needs for the future. The review focused on two questions: “What are society’s most pressing issues?” and “What distinctive and signature role can Illinois play in addressing those issues in the next 20 to 50 years?” After receiving input from professors, staff members, students, and community leaders, Ms. Wilson said, the focus areas were narrowed to: energy and the environment, health and wellness, social equality and cultural understanding, information and technology, economic development, and education.
Kudos to U-Illinois at Urbana-champaign for trying to make American innovation a reality.
- More links on MOOCs. The World Is Not Flat argues we know very little about culture and online education:
“If they are going to democratize education, which is a good goal, you have to go to the different democracies and see what they want,” Lani Gunawardena, a professor of instructional technology at the University of New Mexico who also teaches online courses, said. “You cannot put your personal point of view there and say you’re democratizing education.”
- MOOCs and the Quality Question:
The first wave of MOOCs were designed by faculty from elite institutions that, ironically, had largely ignored online learning as an acceptable approach for their own students. They chose to model their MOOCs on successful lecture courses rather than consult the hard-won knowledge of effective strategies for delivering courses in this new medium, as developed at hundreds of two- and four-year colleges and universities over the past 20 years. The result is a format that may be effective for the bright self-starter, who can work independently and is focused on his or her own educational goals. On the other hand, the format is strikingly unsuited for encouraging and sustaining the average or challenged student, who requires the instructor to establish clear, measurable objectives, engage students individually and with their peers, monitor progress and hold students to deadlines and performance benchmarks, provide regular feedback on their work, and encourage their efforts on an almost daily basis.