Week in Review: Ethics

Norman Borlaug’s Nobel Prize Lecture – The death of Borlaug, one of the founders of the Green Revolution, sparked numerous tributes (NY Times, WSJ, Guardian). Gregg Easterbrook in the WSJ estimates that Borlaug’s agricultural work has saved more than 1 billion lives and counting. Leave it to GetReligion, however, to highlight the link between his Lutheran roots and his agricultural work. In his 1970 Nobel Prize lecture, Borlaug cites Genesis 41, Isaiah 8 and Isa. 35, Joel 1, and Amos 4 as justification for both his work and his hope in its success. [It reminds me of Walter Bradley’s work that won the Bosscher-Hammond Prize at Following Christ. ~ Mike]

The Game of Ghost Writing – Doug Lederman at Inside Higher Ed reviews a couple of new studies that examine the practice of scientific “ghost writing”: journal articles written by pharmaceutical companies or other corporate interests but published under the names of academics who had little to nothing to do with the research. (Mike’s note: I agree with the commenter who observes that “ghost writing” is hardly the term for this practice.)

Maimonides on Trustworthy Sources (Harper’s) – Reader David O’Hara sent us this great quote from Jewish medieval philosopher Maimonides.

More on the challenge of humility.  What does it mean “to serve” and “put the interest of others” ahead of one’s own in the context of higher education?  Bearing the Burden reviews some recent posts on how

the service burdens are unfairly distributed, falling mainly on academic do-gooders, “who work hardest for the institution” yet “reap the fewest material benefits because they publish at a slower pace.” … academic do-gooders need to learn to just say no. … “those of us who overwork are covering up for and enabling those who under perform. Most universities have no mechanism for forcing tenured people teach better, teach more, show up at office hours, give students responsible advice about their program of study, or do the committee work they have been assigned” — Gabriela Montell, Chronicle of Higher Education, 9/18/2009.

Lots of provoking material in Academic Bait-and-Switch, Part 2 (Henry Adams, Chronicle of Higher Education, 9/15/2009).

  1. Freshman disinterested in reading, mastering the basics of writing sentences, and earning their grades as the “interesting distinctions between the worldviews of freshmen and graduate students at Elite National U.”
  2. A summary of the graduate student’s encounter with a parent over the “F” he had awarded their son.
  3. The final sentence of the essay reads, “If the Blunts didn’t want their son taught by a TA, I wondered why they sent him to Elite National U, but I thought it wise to keep that to myself.”
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Micheal Hickerson

The former Associate Director for the Emerging Scholars Network, Micheal lives in Cincinnati with his wife and three children and works as a web manager for a national storage and organization company. He writes about work, vocation, and finding meaning in what you do at No Small Actors.

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One Comment

  • Tom Grosh commented on September 21, 2009 Reply

    In “Freshman Comp Tantrums,” Steven Backus, director of the College of St. Scholastica’s Rose Warner Writing/Critical Thinking Center, relates more regarding the maturation of young writers. Below’s part of the conclusion, coming after he’s related three difficult student-teacher confrontations. Any comments from those who teach similar classes? Note: I find the brief mention of the “right/wrong” of interest, earlier in the article he relates how a mom helps a student overcome classroom issues regarding a reading by letting her child know that all his “ideas are good and right.”

    “How had students learned to cross boundaries with such breathtaking speed? It was not the actions but the transitions — and the extended grudges — that took me by surprise. In a postmodern world, if everything is right and no one is wrong, what is there left to do?

    Moreover, far from possessing the sophisticated tools of deception and manipulation that most teens wield with astonishing brilliance, these students didn’t seem to show incivility so much as immaturity. They were displaying emotional reactions that had nothing to do with the college tasks of developing critical-thinking skills. They had never been trained to respond critically, were unable to contain their emotions, and thought all interactions revolved around them.

    Anger, hostility, animosity, tears? I had thought I was teaching students — but maybe I was just raising overgrown kids. I would have never guessed 20 years ago that college teaching would come to feel like being in a dysfunctional family, and that there are days when I’m 10 minutes away from bailing. But desertion under such circumstances seemed drastic and silly. I had to consider that perhaps I was displaying a bit of self-centered behavior myself. …” — http://chronicle.com/article/Freshman-Comp-Tantrums/48431/, Chronicle of Higher Education, accessed 09/21/2009.

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