Monthly Archives: December 2013

Universities head for extinction.

This is an edited extract from novelist JM Coetzee\’s foreword to University of Cape Town fellow Professor John Higgins\’ new book, Academic Freedom in a Democratic South Africa, recently published by Wits University Press. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Dear John, Thank you for letting me see your essays on academic freedom in South Africa. The general question you […] … learn more→

Speaking up for the creditless MOOC

Last year I agreed to teach a public-speaking MOOC on the Coursera platform. I wasn’t a MOOC advocate, but I believe that the study of speech and rhetoric benefits individuals and society as a whole. I routinely offer speech workshops for civic and professional groups around Washington State. A MOOC on public speaking would allow […] … learn more→

Are you an expert in machine learning? Facebook is hiring

“Move fast and break things.” That is the Facebook motto plastered all over their California headquarters to remind engineers never to stop innovating. This week, the company moved fast and broke some news by investing in a thing called machine learning. They appointed two professors, Yann LeCun and Rob Fergus, from New York University, to […] … learn more→

Spanglish and the Royal Academy

Not long ago, the Real Academia Española, its matrix located in Madrid, with 21 branches throughout the Spanish-speaking world, did something at once surprising and disappointing: It approved the inclusion of the word espanglish in its official dictionary. I say it was surprising because for decades the RAE systematically disregarded the existence of this hybrid […] … learn more→

Policing on campus is a brazen attack on free speech

In “Prevent, Police and Universities”, last year’s controversial “guidance” paper for police to help Higher Education Institutions contribute to the prevention of terrorism, David Knowles described the tension universities face between promoting open and free debate and shaping a democratic and civilised society: One of the aims of Higher Education is “to play a major […] … learn more→

Fingerprinting faculty at City Colleges of Chicago

Our Dignity and Our Rights Have No Price On August 13, 2013 the employees of the City Colleges of Chicago (CCC) received an email notifying them that beginning in the fall all would have to submit to a daily biometric scanning system to verify their attendance. Some of us were able to verify at our […] … learn more→

New study identifies the top 90 producers of industrial carbon emissions

This weeks publication in the journal Climatic Change by Richard Heede on Tracing anthropogenic carbon dioxide and methane emissions to fossil fuel and cement producers, 1854–2010 provides a robust scientific basis for motivating fresh thinking and dialogue about responsibility for taking action to address climate change. The responsibilities for climate change fall on many shoulders, […] … learn more→

Conflicting advice: Just whose PhD is this anyway?

There is a flip side to having a hottie research topic that I hadn’t really considered until now. I have such a fascinating subject that everyone loves it and wants in. I am investigating the scientifically created animal-human hybrid in science fiction and while that is a mouthful, it is necessary to state my parameters […] … learn more→

Women and academic leadership:leaning out

The recently published best seller Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, by Sheryl Sandberg, has sparked lively exchanges online, in personal conversations, and on college campuses. Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook, argues that in many cases professional women hold themselves back in their careers by failing to \”lean in\” to […] … learn more→

Edu-games hit the market, but not all are are created equal

The re-purposing of video games as learning tools continues to gather pace with the recent release of high-profile educational incarnations of games like SimCity and Minecraft. Different educational games have their own different origins, and not all of them are created equal. Educational or not, schools and other institutions are being asked to place their […] … learn more→