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.
“Where are the jobs” is a hot topic on campus and has a lot of relationship to politics. Here’s a sampler from Tom:
1. From Where the Jobs Are (and Aren’t) [in Poli-Sci] (Scott Jaschik. Inside Higher Education. 9/3/2010):
During the question-and-answer period, several exchanges pointed to lingering cultural gaps between academic departments training political scientists and those entities that might hire them. One woman from a government agency said that she loves to hire political science Ph.D.s, but is frustrated when so many discussions lead to statements like: “My adviser really wants me to become a professor. Am I selling out?”
2. Tom knows that this is from last year, but as the fall term begins at PSU-Hershey Medical Center, he finds it just as relevant as last year. Medical Students Face Uncertain Futures Video: Medical students are facing a decision that’s not only crucial to their own future, but also to the entire health care system: whether to choose a specialty or practice general medicine. Note: related article Summer of Work Exposes Medical Students to System’s Ills (Kevin Sack. NY Times. 9/8/2009). In a future post Tom will share thoughts about the rigorous nature of education in the health care professions.
Financial incentives are only one piece of their decision. “Some of the students get out there and see the doctors that they’re working with almost killing themselves. Working eighty hours a week.” (Dr. Roger A. Rosenblatt, Director, Rural/Undeserved Opportunities Program).
“You hear about the stories of physician burnout and going into primary care. It was kind of just reiterated over the summer … One pediatrician that I worked most closely with would see between 9 – 5 would see approximately 40 -45 patients (Jacob R. Opfer, Student) — Medical Students Face Uncertain Futures Video
3. What does undergraduate student engagement in politics look like? College Students on the Fence Video: The students at Colorado State University are not likely to be predictable on election day brings to one’s attention the draw of one-off young voter enticement through entertainment, but underscores the lack of long term sustainability of such approach. Maybe we should ask the Poli-Sci PhDs for input. Will they be hired for such campaigns? Are they analyzing them? Are they already involved in running them?
“A bunch of friends are graduating and they’re working at fast food restaurants with a bachelor’s degree. I think that it’s affecting this young generation more than any” (Undergraduate student at Colorado State University). Note: related article Fewer Young Voters See Themselves as Democrats (Kirk Johnson. NY Times. 9/2/2010).
Some links from Mike on a new church-and-state-education court ruling and scientific misconduct after the jump.
4. Win for Religious Student Group at UW-Madison (Inside Higher Ed, September 2, 2010): Badger Catholic, a Roman Catholic student group at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, has won a 2-1 ruling that says the university can’t deny a student organization funding for an activity just because part of the activity involves religious conduct:
A key part of the ruling involved the university’s decision to fund broad categories of activities in the first place. The majority decision indicated that the university could have blocked student fees from going to the activities in question if it had blocked entire categories of support — no matter whether conducted by secular or religious groups. Once a university allows any category of student activity to receive support, however, the court ruled that it can’t bar support for that activity just because it may involve worship.
5. How damaging are the ethical violations of Harvard evolutionary psychologist Marc D. Hauser? A three-year investigation recently concluded that Hauser, a prominent scholar of the evolutionary basis for morality, was guilty of several counts of scientific misconduct. The WSJ’s Eric Felten thinks this is a serious blow to the discipline, but a victory for science:
It’s important to note that the Hauser affair also represents the best in science. When lowly graduate students suspected their famous boss was cooking his data, they risked their careers and reputations to blow the whistle on him. They are the scientists to celebrate.
Writing in the Chronicle, Florida State’s Michael Ruse notes the particularly serious nature of Hauser’s ethical lapses:
If you pinch the ideas from someone else, say a grad student, one person suffers, but the community does not; it still gets a good idea or result. If you fake the ideas or results, and publish them, the poison spreads. We are all now at risk of using phony information, and our own work suffers. The community suffers.
Further, it fuels skepticism about the whole enterprise of evolutionary psychology:
Evolutionary biology today, especially anything to do with humankind, is loathed and feared by a range of critics, from prominent philosophers (like Jerry A. Fodor, author of What Darwin Got Wrong?), to the supporters of intelligent-design theory (like Phillip E. Johnson, author of Darwin on Trial), to the out-and-out young-earth creationists (like Ken Ham, the force behind the Creation Museum in Kentucky). Like sharks in the water, they circle waiting for a sign of blood. They seize on issues that supposedly discredit evolution and parade them publicly as the norm and the reason to reject modern science.