Cory Leonard

Posts Tagged ‘academia’

Lib Arts Going Global @Yale

In career on May 4, 2016 at 6:16 am

To defend the liberal arts perhaps they need to be globalized? Take a look at this Yale conference coming up 6-7 June that includes Andrew Delbanco and William Dersiewicz (“Don’t Send Your Kids to the Ivy League”), two insightful observers of higher ed and liberal arts in the U.S.

A collaboration between the National University of Singapore and Yale University, located in Singapore, Yale-NUS College aims to redefine liberal arts and sciences education for a complex, interconnected world.

At a time when the liberal arts are frequently met with skepticism in the United States, there has been strong interest in developing liberal arts programs in both Asia and Europe. This symposium and workshop, funded with grants from the Henry Luce Foundation, Teagle Foundation, and the J Y Pillay Global-Asia Program, will bring together approximately 50 faculty and senior staff from liberal arts colleges and universities around the United States to discuss renewal of college curricula. In particular, we will focus on how liberal arts and sciences programs can offer an international and multidisciplinary foundation for student learning through demanding and cohesive general education courses.

We hope to draw on our experience founding Yale-NUS College to share lessons learned in creating a new liberal arts college in Asia, and to discuss how our experience might prove relevant to curricular innovation in the United States. In addition, having undertaken a review of our Common Curriculum, we will discuss ways in which the College and other liberal arts institutions might improve their general education programs, specifically to incorporate Asian topics, themes, and texts into their curricula.

American faculty members’ understanding of how liberal arts education is being reimagined and reinvented by non-Western educational systems, such as Yale-NUS College, will offer a valuable opportunity for colleges and universities in the United States to re-evaluate their own curricula. As a result, this re-imagining of a global curriculum will support the sustainability of US liberal arts education.

Source: Globalizing the Liberal Arts 2016


The Non-Cognitive Voodoo that You Do

In career on December 5, 2015 at 9:02 pm

Got skills? Yes, but what about the other kind? (The kinds that the OECD emphasizes as a critical set of skills for primary and secondary schools.)


Sometimes called “soft” skills, character skills, or social and emotional skills, non-cognitive skills include traits like motivation, sociability, empathy, attention, self-esteem, and self-regulation. These skills have traditionally been undervalued, but there is hard evidence that they are more critical to a person’s success in life than almost anything else.

There are also broader benefits of non-cognitive skills to society at large, including less crime, better health, higher civic engagement, higher employment, and a generally more trusting, inclusive society.

So how do we translate all of these studies demonstrating the importance of non-cognitive skills into education practice?

According to Heckman, mentoring, family engagement, and personalized education are critical because skill formation is dynamic — in other words, skills beget skills. Therefore, it’s important to promote policies that help develop non-cognitive skills. This begins with early childhood education and interventions, but it continues throughout a child’s education into adulthood, with work-based apprenticeship programs that build attachment, interaction, and trust.

“We need a much more comprehensive notion of what education means today — the key is attachment, engagement, and a deeper understanding of mentoring and learning. It also means when we measure education, we have to go beyond academic measures and measure non-cognitive skills. Start early, go broadly, and go far beyond school,” Heckman said.

Via Asia Society | ‘Start Early, Go Broadly, and Go Far Beyond School

The “Big Five” key personality skills of conscientiousness, agreeableness, emotional stability, openness, and extraversion are part of the “Rosetta Stone”–according to Richard D. Roberts, Jonathan E. Martin, and Gabriel Olaru. These factors are well-researched, beginning with Ernest Tupes and Raymond Christal in 1961 and being more well-known by academic researchers in the 1980s.

The extent to which someone is open, conscientious, extraverted, agreeable and neurotic determines success in life just as much as (and in some cases, notably thick men who wish to avoid jail, more than) their academic ability. It is not enough to be smart, you must be tenacious as well.

via The Economist | Blighty – “Not just smart but persistent as well

This idea has been widely reinvigorated by educators and popularized by David Brooks in The Social Animal.



MLA Jobs Tumblr

In career on October 25, 2014 at 7:53 pm

A little bit of inside baseball–but rollicking good fun (the kind that pokes your eyes out a la Greek tragedy) making light of the liberal arts academic job search world:

Ohio University announces that it will not be hiring in English this year, as part of the university’s mission to shrink the department to the size where you can drown it in a bathtub.

via MLA Jobs.


How Commencement Speeches Go Viral

In ideas on August 16, 2014 at 12:49 am

What makes a good commencement speech? These are some good ones–dissected and broken down by Bruce Feiler, just in time for August graduation ceremonies:

Mr. Saunders said one reason these speeches are so popular today is that they resonate as much with the parents as with the children. “In those ceremonial occasions, everybody pauses,” he said. The parents pause to go, “Wow, I can’t believe my kid is graduating.” The kids pause because they are about to leap into a new situation. “In the same way at a wedding or funeral,” he said, “you take a breath and say, ‘We’re living here.’ And in that pause moment, I think we’re a little more porous.”

via How Commencement Speeches Go Viral –


MOOCs Are Usefully Middlebrow | Chronicle Review

In tech on May 24, 2014 at 7:00 am

Anant Agarwal: Why massively open online courses (still) matter

The problem with MOOCs is _____? Get ready for a  backlash, since for the last few years we have endured the prophetic declarations about how online learning would solve all problems.

Maybe the real issue is that they essentially useful–but  in a particular way, short of being revolutionary:

It’s easy to dismiss middlebrow culture. William James visited the Chautauqua Institute in 1896 and wrote that “the middle-class paradise” was “too tame, this culture too second-rate, this goodness too uninspiring.” Virginia Woolf waxed vitriolic: “If any human being, woman, man, dog, cat, or half-crushed worm dares call me \’middlebrow\’ I will take my pen and stab him, dead.\” Intellectuals and academics have been whaling on middlebrow culture since Dwight Macdonald\’s 1960 essay \”Masscult and Midcult.\”

The ambivalence is understandable. There is a dumbing down that\’s intrinsic to middlebrow efforts. Real scholarship, criticism, or commentary is slow, detailed, and difficult, even in the hands of the clearest teacher or smoothest writer, and very few of us are those. Middlebrow culture offers lists, hooks, easy handles, formulas in the place of getting to know a text, working through a problem, mastering a difficult philosophic chain of reasoning.

Still, I can\’t find it in me to dismiss the middlebrow. I vividly recall my mother, an underemployed Ph.D., frantically preparing to give a presentation to a book club on War and Peace, or rushing home from school to hear my father\’s lectures on world literature broadcast on WSUI, the radio station of the University of Iowa. Limited though it may be, the middlebrow enterprise is as inspiring as it is troubling. It is democracy at its best and its worst.

via MOOCs Are Usefully Middlebrow – The Chronicle Review – The Chronicle of Higher Education.


Thorny Exchanges on Campus Can Hold Educational Value | CHE

In politics on May 15, 2014 at 3:03 pm

Can any good come from a lecture that runs off the rails?

Advocates for facilitating constructive conversations about controversial subjects cite the educational benefits of the experience. Such arguments also tend to be made in support of liberal education and engagement on issues of diversity.

Like liberal education, civic learning is promoted as helping students wrestle with messy problems that have no clearly defined answers, a skill that will help them as voters when they evaluate policy trade-offs. It is also a skill that many employers say they value.

Participating in difficult dialogues about politics or values is thought to spur a healthful cognitive disjunction in students, which causes them to take a fresh look at their unexamined views—much the way that substantive conversations about race and ethnicity have been shown to improve critical-thinking skills.

via Thorny Exchanges on Campus Can Hold Educational Value – Teaching – The Chronicle of Higher Education.


The Need to Know on College

In career, ideas on May 13, 2014 at 3:03 pm

Learning to think critically is necessary but not sufficient. A well-rounded, educated person must be able to engage wholly.  Its becomes a matter of absorption in compelling work, taking us to “openness and full “participation.”


The skill at unmasking error, or simple intellectual one-upmanship, is not totally without value, but we should be wary of creating a class of self-satisfied debunkers — or, to use a currently fashionable word on campus, people who like to “trouble” ideas. In overdeveloping the capacity to show how texts, institutions or people fail to accomplish what they set out to do, we may be depriving students of the chance to learn as much as possible from what they study.

More like this:

Of course critical reflection is fundamental to teaching and scholarship, but fetishizing disbelief as a sign of intelligence has contributed to depleting our cultural resources. Creative work, in whatever field, depends upon commitment, the energy of participation and the ability to become absorbed in works of literature, art and science. That type of absorption is becoming an endangered species of cultural life, as our nonstop, increasingly fractured technological existence wears down our receptive capacities.

via Young Minds in Critical Condition –

Richard Hofstadter and America’s New Wave of Anti-Intellectualism – The Daily Beast

In ideas, politics on March 14, 2014 at 4:26 am

So the financial crisis, government disfunction, and two major wars have taken a toll–lending to the rise of “the mystique of practicality” as aptly described by Richard Hofstadter in 1963.

Writing in The Daily Beast, David Masciotra connects analyses on an earlier period in America–and showing their relevance to today, from the Tea Party to change in higher ed.

The liberal arts are in need of a new name. The intellectual agility and mobility, and the comfort with abstract thought that is attainable and improvable through vigorous engagement with the humanities, fine arts, and social sciences leads to creativity, individuality, and most of all, liberty. The liberty arts are, in significant ways, superior to the servile arts sold by dominant culture across college campuses, where the best outcome is the qualification to serve an employer with the perfect obedience.

Richard Hofstadter wrote that “The preference for vocationalism is linked to a preference for character—or personality—over mind, and for conformity and manipulative facility over individuality and talen

via Richard Hofstadter and America’s New Wave of Anti-Intellectualism – The Daily Beast.


Rethinking (and Improving) the Internationalization of Higher Ed

In career on February 22, 2014 at 8:48 pm

Nearly everyone wants to internationalize their university.  But Stanley N. Katz suggests that the failure to link research centers, study abroad programs and other traditional parts of the “internaitonal campus” to the key components of an undergrad’s liberal education reveals internationalization to be “stalling” as a educational strategy.

More important, each of the international aspects of an undergraduate’s learning experience should also contribute to his or her cognitive development. Most of our educational programs for undergraduates focus on content, as they should, but their long-term impact, if any, will be less in the material retained than in the habits of mind formed. Which takes us back to the skills and values of respect, vulnerability, etc.

Hannah Arendt put her finger on the problem when she criticized the “professional problem solvers” who left the university for government and think tanks in the 1960s. They had, she wrote, “lost their minds because they trusted the calculating power of their brains at the expense of the mind’s capacity for experience and its ability to learn from it.” John Dewey would have agreed.

We will have truly internationalized the undergraduate curriculum when our students develop the capacity to understand what it means to think internationally. That is a huge challenge.

via Borderline Ignorance – The Chronicle Review – The Chronicle of Higher Education.


Academia, Meet the Public

In career, politics on February 17, 2014 at 8:12 pm

Ripping on eggheads is an easy sport.  Kristoff marshals Ann-Marie Slaughter, Will McCants, Jill Lepore and Ian Bremmer to explain why we suffer when “academic standards” for faculty discourage linkages to the public–where complex ideas can be explained.

Wisdom is hidden deeply in silos and bunkers on campus, but as Bremmer notes, “Political science Ph.D’s often aren’t prepared to do real-world analysis.”  This has had an effect on our understanding of the world–with national security consequences over the past two decades in Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, and Asia, to name a few.

Universities have retreated from area studies, so we have specialists in international theory who know little that is practical about the world. After the Arab Spring, a study by the Stimson Center looked back at whether various sectors had foreseen the possibility of upheavals. It found that scholars were among the most oblivious — partly because they relied upon quantitative models or theoretical constructs that had been useless in predicting unrest.

via Professors, We Need You! –