What are you reading, watching, thinking about this week? As usual, here’s a few which have been on our mind. Let us know your thoughts on any/all of them. If you have items you’d like us to consider for the top five, add them in the comments or send them to Tom or Mike.
1. Newly Customized Majors Suit Students With Passions All Their Own (Ilana Kowarski. Chronicle of Higher Education, 9/9/2010): Is this what it takes to get creative students to go to Drexel? Note: a little dig at my [Tom] friends who are alum. Despite my homemade mix of Biology major, religion classes, and ministry internships (including one with InterVarsity which resulted in me coming on staff), I wish something like this was available when I was an undergrad! Is this some influence of the British model? Wish such possibilities existed on the graduate level in my areas of interest, i.e., higher education which is largely dominated by administrative concerns versus philosophy and ‘whole person’ student formation. I wonder if customized majors (or existing majors with flexibility) are easier to design at smaller colleges where faculty are involved with mentoring the students. Would be much more difficult to pull-off in prep for professional schools, in particular Medical School comes to mind. What are some core classes which are foundational to general education and specific majors? How are they determined? Thoughts?
2. Rereading the University Classics (Kai Hammermeister. Chronicle of Higher Education, 9/9/2010):
Editor’s Note: This is the first in a monthly series intended to introduce new generations of faculty members and administrators to a core set of classic books about higher education and its institutions.
The American university is often considered to be an unlikely and precarious, if highly productive, conjoining of the British residential college and the German 19th-century research university. In his short treatise, Mission of the University, José Ortega y Gasset rejects both models and wants to replace them with an Italo-Spanish emphasis on student participation that was decisive for the founding of the medieval European university but quickly receded into the background. …
Photo credit: David Masters via Flickr
After the jump, tech/life balance, Stephen Hawking, and more (yes, more) on James Davison Hunter.
3. Tech/Life Balance
I think that we have lost our sense in classes of what we can well accomplish with real communication amongst a community of learners, which includes faculty. … Let the tool fit the task. … At some point we’re really not communicating. We’re not living. … I would love to see that kind of tone [i.e., to do things which matter for the life of the mind] instituted by maybe email free Fridays which a lot businesses have started. To say that we’re going to learn what it means to uncouple. … Technology is one more thing that we want to teach you to balance.
— Episode 75: Should Colleges Encourage Better Tech/Life Balance? (Chronicle of Higher Education. 9/9/2010) Interview (audio) of “Naomi S. Baron, a linguistics professor at American University, [who] studies how cell phones and online messaging change social interactions. She talks to the Tech Therapy team about her concern that colleges push too much technology on students and professors. Should colleges encourage e-mail-free Fridays?”
4. Much Ado about “Nothing”: At First Things, Delaware physics prof Stephen Barr deconstructs Stephen Hawking’s widely reported comments about God being “unnecessary” for the creation of the universe. (HT: Tom Trevethan)
5. James K. A. Smith reviewing Hunter’s To Change the World: From Mike: I’ve given my take on James Davison Hunter’s To Change the World several times on this blog. Now go read a review from someone smarter and better educated than me. A quick quote:
It is, above all, a timely book: Hunter is out to do nothing less than displace the dominant Christian understanding of culture and cultural change, with the hope of radically revising Christian strategies for cultural engagement. The targets here are varied but specific: both the Christian Right and Left are subject to criticism because of their very penchant for “changing the world.” But anti-cultural fundamentalists and a-cultural evangelicals who neglect culture-making altogether are also objects of critique. Hunter is an equal opportunity offender, which should give us a clue that he’s onto something different. This is not a tired rehearsal of old party lines.