Wednesday, February 27, 2013

AU Students Win Two Awards At The Model Arab League

Last week, ten students from Ashland University, mostly from our department, participated in the three-day Regional Model Arab League competition held at Miami University, OH. More than a dozen universities attended. As far as anyone can remember, this was the first time AU participated in this simulation of an Arab League summit meeting.

AU's Model Arab League Team (except for Danielle Sunnucks)
The students were first assigned a country, in our case Yemen and Morocco, and then chose one of five councils, ranging from the political council to the environmental council. Each council had a number of discussion topics on which the council was asked to pass a resolution. In turn, every delegate tried to influence the resolution in order to best reflect their country's interests.

Prior to attending the conference, the students had researched Yemen's and Morocco's history and the current political state in order to represent their country most realistically and effectively. After our arrival, everyone needed to quickly master the parliamentary procedures and language of an international diplomatic conference. Over the course of the conference, all students became deeply involved in the politics of their councils and the discussions did not end with the last council session.

Ross Wilmot and Lindsey Richey with their awards.

At the end of the conference, two students from AU, Lindsey Richey and Ross Wilmot, received honorable mention awards for their representation of Morocco on the political and environmental councils. Everyone who attended agreed that their understanding of Arab politics and diplomatic etiquette was much more concrete. Also, everyone, except for the seniors, is looking forward to another round next year.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Free Saturday Web Seminars on American History and Politics

Several members of the Department of History and Political Science have participated in a new program from the Ashbrook Center that offers free webinars on selected Saturdays. These are two hour, real time seminars conducted online on topics like Lincoln, Washington, Historic Supreme Court Decisions, and the Origins of the Cold War.  Peter Schramm, John Moser, and Jeffrey Sikkenga from the Department have led seminars. If you missed them the first time around, you can view and listen to the seminars here.

Undergraduate Research in History & Political Science

On April 10, the College of Arts and Sciences will hold its annual celebration of undergraduate research, where students present papers or posters on the research they have been doing. The Department is proud to note that several history and political science majors were selected to give presentations:

              Erin Sutter
              Mackenzie Lake
              Lindsey Richey
              Lindsey Grudnicki
              Danielle Sunnucks
              Kelsey Paramore
              Marc Zimmerman

When the URCA (Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity) Symposium schedule is announced, we'll post it here (it includes times and abstracts of each of the presentations).  Attending the presentations is a great way to learn what your colleagues across the campus are doing.  A special word of thanks to the faculty members who worked with the students to prepare their presentations.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Ohio Legislative Fellowships Announced

The 2014 Ohio Legislative Fellowship Program has just been announced.  This is a terrific opportunity for students interested in government, public policy, law, or history - or really, anything with which government has to do and that, as you know, is almost everything.  The program offers 22 people full time employment from December 1, 2013 to December 31, 2014, plus benefits.  You'll be assigned to work with some member of the Ohio Legislature or one of the bodies that works closely with the Legislature. Several students from Ashland have done it and they all say it was very interesting and especially valuable for the contacts made.  Applications must be postmarked by April 1, 2013. You can find more information at the Legislative Services Commission website or look for the purple poster in Andrews Hall.

Friday, February 15, 2013

The View from Columbia University Teachers College

The Teachers College at Columbia University, which has a reputation as a sort of Harvard of teachers colleges, recently held a year long faculty seminar to examine "in fresh terms the nexus of globalization, education, and citizenship."  That is an important nexus and my hopes were raised that a year long seminar on it might offer up some real insights and useful ideas.  But here is the research paper that is offered up as the "introduction" to the results of the seminar.  It is titled "On Natality in Our Roots, Routes, and Relations: Reconceiving the "3 R's" at the Rendezvous of Education, Citizenship, and Globalization."  If you have ever been a graduate student, you will remember the sinking feeling that comes when you realize that you are not going to understand a single word in a required course.  If not, this sentence (chosen essentially at random from a dense 12 page, single-spaced article) should remind you: "Herein," (this begins a paragraph), "whether colonized or colonizer (bearing truly in our very bodies the legacy of both), we share a dislocated-ness from home, and are implicated in human sufferings rooted in this living inheritance of inequitable and inhumane relations: via education, as a 'technology of colonist subjectification'; and at the site of our subjectivity."  This is apparently the type of idea and the sort of prose that is admired and presumably cultivated by the teachers of our teachers.  All I can say is that it is no wonder that practicing teachers of American history, government, and social studies love AU's Masters of Arts in American History and Government program. 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Great Ideas for Higher Education

The National Association of Scholars has put together a list of "One Hundred Great Ideas for Higher Education". There are lots of good things on the list, like listing on transcripts a student's grade as well as the average grade in that class, which would be a way to reveal and probably start to reverse grade inflation. There is also lots for a department like ours to like.  For example, the third point is "Require Western Civilization."  Not many people know that before there was what we might call "Core inflation", for a year or two all students at AU did have to take Western Civ as part of the AU Core.  It is possible that AU was the only school in the country to require that.  Lower down on the NAS list you'll see such heart-warming recommendations as "Bring Back Latin", "Require American History", and "Preserve Liberal Education." For your inner administrator there are ideas like "Offer Alternatives to the four-year Degree", "Publish Employment Outcomes", and "Predict Students' Success Probabilities."

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Economic value of an English Degree

In Inside Higher Education, Robert Matz takes Garrison Keillor to task for his (apparently routine) put downs of English majors.  As one of the core liberal arts, the study of English is a sort of canary in the mine for the health of liberal education.  Leaving aside all other considerations, Matz mentions some useful comparative numbers:

The truth, however, is that reports of the deadliness of English to a successful career are greatly exaggerated. According to one major study produced by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce (see here), the median income for English majors with a bachelor’s but no additional degree is $48,000. This figure is just slightly lower than that for bachelor’s degree holders in biology ($50,000), and slightly higher than for those in molecular biology or physiology (both $45,000). It’s the same for students who received their bachelor’s in public policy or criminology (both $48,000), slightly lower than for those who received their bachelor’s in criminal justice and fire protection ($50,000) and slightly higher than for those who received it in psychology ($45,000). 
Another study by the same center paints a similar picture with respect to unemployment. In this study, the average unemployment rate for recent B.A. holders (ages 22-26) over the years 2009-10 was 8.9 percent; for English it was 9.2 percent. Both rates are higher than we would wish, but their marginal difference is dwarfed by that between the average for holders of the B.A. and that of high school graduates, whose unemployment rate during the same period was 22.9 percent (also too high). 
The conclusion:

{T}here’s nothing reckless about majoring in English compared to many other popular majors. Students who love business or engineering, or who are good at them and simply want to earn the highest possible income, make reasonable choices to pursue study in these fields. But students who want to major in English and are good at it should not believe that they are sacrificing a livelihood to pursue their loves. 
For the whole article, see here.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Don't Panic Yet about the End of the University

An interesting response by Louis Betty to Nathan Harden's argument that the university is about to undergo dramatic changes, with many institutions simply shutting down (see the post on January 4 below).  What Harden forgets, argues Betty, "and indeed, what just about everyone prophesying the eclipse of face-to-face interaction in a virtual world forgets -- is that human beings are, above all else, bodies, and that to lead full, happy, and meaningful lives, we need other bodies." (You don't have to accept the idea that human beings are "above all else" bodies to find the argument interesting.)  See the article here