Monday, October 6, 2014

A Nice Case for Civic Literacy

Joseph Knippenberg of Oglethorpe University makes a good case at the Library of Law and Liberty website for civic literacy based on the idea that if you don't know how to do something, you can't do the thing. The issue is what knowledge is needed to be a self-governing citizen. Surveys suggest that the more people know about their government, how it works, its history, the arguments for and against it, the more likely they are to be engaged and active citizens. And it makes sense, because if you don't understand how our polity works, how can you participate in it?

After discussing one of the surveys which asked various questions about American history and government, Knippenberg writes that "one could question the “relevance” of these factual details for contemporary American civic life. Students might defend themselves by saying that they’ll never “use” this information. Perhaps not. In any case, if they don’t know it, they surely won’t use it, even if they need it. There’s a good argument for their needing it, and it’s this: In general, the more you know, the more active as a citizen you’re likely to be. In other words, the more you know, the more you’re likely to use what you know."

"I often contend that a liberal education is an education befitting a free human being, one who can think for himself or herself and who is as unlikely as possible to be, in effect, a “slave” to an ideology or a gull for a charlatan’s argument. Thinking for oneself, a prerequisite for this kind of human freedom, is no mere technical skill. It isn’t just about having a sharp, logical mind. It requires some content, some familiarity with the kinds of arguments people make and with the facts and narratives on the basis of which they make them. In other words, a liberal education that has as its goal self-government (in our case, “republican self-government”) requires some knowledge of the republic in which our self-governing takes place."

Highest Paying Majors?

Here is a summary of an interesting analysis of Census Bureau data done to find out which college majors earned the most and the least. The result? Median lifetime earnings of bachelor's degree graduates are higher across all majors than median earnings of high school graduates. But of course different degrees earn varying amounts, with engineering, finance, and science at the top end and art, music, and language at the bottom. But what is even more interesting is that "the range of earnings within each major is wide — about as wide as the spread ... in different majors. Put another way, a person at the 90th percentile for childhood education majors (where average earnings are on the low end) will quite handily outearn someone at the 10th percentile of computer engineering majors (where average earnings are at the high end). In fact, at the 90th percentile, people with only a high school degree outearn any college majors at the 10th percentile."

So, the article concludes, the "real message in these data is your college major is not your destiny. It takes some amount of grit to make it anywhere. Smart choices about which skills to acquire will get you some, but not all, of the way there." The article has some nifty charts and graphs. Political science apparently does better than history, and when graduate degrees are taken into account, the median earnings of people with political science degrees is higher than the median earnings of those with architecture or nursing degrees, which puts them just below the top earners comprised of engineers, scientists, construction services, and economists.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A Career in City Management or Urban Planning?

The Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University is hosting a visit weekend on October 4-5 for students interested in careers in city management, urban planning, sacred & historic landmarks, non-profit organizations, etc. The Levin College has a #2 ranking from U.S. News and World Report for its Master's degree in City Management/Urban Policy and there are a lot of good careers in this area.   For more information, see the invitation below:

Levin College Graduate Visit Weekend

Saturday, October 4th from 1-5pm
Sunday, October 5th from 1-3:30pm
Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University
1717 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44115

We welcome all prospective graduate students, faculty, alumni, family, and friends. This event will include:
  • Welcome and comments by Dean Edward (Ned) Hill
  • Opportunities to meet Levin faculty, staff, alumni, and students, including Program Directors, Graduate Advisor, Admissions Recruiter, and members of the CSU-APA student organization
  • Information on degree programs, graduate assistantships, and scholarships
  • Networking with Levin college faculty and alumni
  • Levin College and CSU campus tour
  • Restaurant and entertainment recommendations following the event (experience Cleveland nightlife!)
The Levin College is among the top schools of Urban Affairs in the nation and has a #2 ranking from U.S. News and World Report for its graduate specialty in City Management and  Urban Policy out of over 250 schools of public affairs. Our graduate students interact with nationally known faculty and research staff recognized for their scholarship and intellectual leadership . The College offers graduate assistantshipsinternships, and opportunities for applied research with our faculty and research centers. We are a small college that gives personal attention to each of our students. Read more about the college on our website:

Our graduates work in public, nonprofit, and business organizations in the fields of urban planning, public administration and management, community development, environmental advocacy and policy, social services, health care administration, and real estate development. Levin faculty members and research staff have strong connections to the community and professional organizations, facilitating student engagement and transition to professional practice.

Please contact Lindsey Hobson, College Admissions Recruiter, at 216-687-4506 or email with any questions or to obtain more information about this event. All are welcome!
Please RSVP for

We look forward to seeing you in October!

Careers in Arts and Culture

On November 17, the Cleveland Museum of Art is presenting a special one day event on career opportunities in the world of art and culture. Last year, participating organizations included: The Cleveland Orchestra,The Children’s Museum of Cleveland, Center for Arts-Inspired Learning, Shaker Historical Society, Prelude2Cinema, International Women’s Air & Space Museum, Gray’s Auctioneers, Community Partnership for Arts & Culture (CPAC), Esperanza, Inc., James A. Garfield National Historic Site, CBC Magazine/Contempo Communications, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Museum of Contemporary Art – MOCA,Dru Christine Fabrics & Design, Lake Erie Ink, Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens, Salem Communications – Cleveland, Great Lakes Science Center, Brecksville Center for the Arts, Rebecca Adele PR & Events, Wizard of Ahs and Porthouse Theatre.

There are lots of possibilities in these organizations for history and political science majors.  This event is free, but it does require reservations and space is limited.  Contact if you want more information or if you would like be part of an AU group that attended.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Economic Price of Colleges' Failure

This column by Kevin Carey in the New York Times (9/2/2014) is a good report on the new book, Aspiring Adults Adrift, by Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa (authors of the bombshell Academically Adrift from a few years back). Aspiring Adults is a study of what happens to college graduates after they leave college.  One important paragraph on the Collegiate Learning Assessment test of various basic intellectual skills says this:
Even after statistically controlling for students’ sociodemographic characteristics, college majors and college selectivity, those who finished school with high C.L.A. scores were significantly less likely to be unemployed than those who had low C.L.A. scores. The difference was even larger when it came to success in the workplace. Low-C.L.A. graduates were twice as likely as high-C.L.A. graduates to lose their jobs between 2010 and 2011, suggesting that employers can tell who got a good college education and who didn’t. Low-C.L.A. graduates were also 50 percent more likely to end up in an unskilled occupation, and were less likely to be satisfied with their jobs.
That C.L.A. scores are a significant measure of employment success - both getting jobs and keeping them - is very important for Ashland University, since our graduates do extremely well on the C.L.A. test.  And it is the liberal arts subjects, taught through the AU Core and great departments like History and Political Science that convey the skills C.L.A tests for.   

Here is the whole article: 

Four years ago, the sociologists Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa dropped a bomb on American higher education. Their groundbreaking book, “Academically Adrift,” found that many students experience “limited or no learning” in college. Today, they released a follow-up study, tracking the same students for two years after graduation, into the workplace, adult relationships and civic life. The results suggest that recent college graduates who are struggling to start careers are being hamstrung by their lack of learning.

“Academically Adrift” studied a sample of students who enrolled at four-year colleges and universities in 2005. As freshmen, they took a test of critical thinking, analytic reasoning and communications skills called the Collegiate Learning Assessment (C.L.A.). Colleges promise to teach these broad intellectual skills to all students, regardless of major. The students took the C.L.A. again at the end of their senior year. On average, they improved less than half of one standard deviation. For many, the results were much worse. One-third improved by less than a single point on a 100-point scale during four years of college.

This wasn’t because some colleges simply enrolled smarter students. The nature of the collegiate academic experience mattered, too. Students who spent more time studying alone learned more, even after controlling for their sociodemographic background, high school grades and entrance exam scores. So did students whose teachers enforced high academic expectations. People who studied the traditional liberal arts and sciences learned more than business, education and communications majors.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Trustees Encouraged to Take More Active Role in Guiding Universities

The American Council of Trustees and Alumni has issued a report that looks like it will be very interesting reading.  According to this story from, the report refers to a "failure of higher education governance" and argues that trustees should play a much more active role in correcting some of the problems now facing higher education. The story suggests that the report contains a good summary of those problems. One example of interest to this department: there is (says the report) "evidence that self-interest and personal ideologies can drive departmental directions rather than the interest of the students and preparation of citizens. And studies show that there are fields -- such as military history, constitutional history, and diplomatic history -- that are fast disappearing from college curricula." The report calls on trustees to educate themselves and ask questions like this: "Does the history department ... have expertise and offer coursework on the Founders, the American Revolution, and the Constitution?"  Well, we at least could answer that question with a loud "yes!" If , as James Madison suggests, "all governments rest on opinion," the disappearance of courses on the Constitution and related issues does not bode well for republican self-government.