Monthly Archives: July 2014

What ‘Ivory Tower’ gets wrong

The documentary film Ivory Tower takes on national debates about higher education and renders them as compelling dramas, stories, and scenes. Andrew Rossi, the film’s talented director, previously used similar techniques to raise probing questions about the future of print journalism in an age of digitalization in his film Page One. Now Rossi asks whether […] … learn more→

Why we need an open curriculum

A few weeks ago, a student came to say goodbye. She brought along a younger friend, recently offered admission to my university, who was trying to decide whether to come to Brown or go to Duke. Given all that Duke could offer, the friend wondered, “Why come to Brown?” We didn’t talk much about majors, […] … learn more→

The psychology of cash and credit

Although the concept of credit has been around for thousands of years (the Latin word, credere, means ‘to believe’), legend tells us that the first credit card appeared in 1949 when Frank McNamara, head of the Hamilton Credit Corporation, went out to eat with Alfred Bloomingdale. At the end of the meal they realised that […] … learn more→

How do you plan the campus of the future? Try not to.

Dan Huttenlocher doesn’t like walls. This isn’t so much an aesthetic preference as it is a practical concern. Walls divide people and define spaces. They restrict movement. They discourage exchange. And they’re a pain to move if your needs change, especially when they’re stuffed with cables, ducts, and other infrastructural accessories. Mr. Huttenlocher is certain […] … learn more→

4 faculty apply as 1 administrator

Faculty members always grind their teeth when an administrator leaves. It isn’t simply that now we’ll have to deal with the mess the administrator left behind, nor is it the frustration of realizing that the new administrator will get paid even more than the old…and that the new admin’s higher pay will be used to […] … learn more→

Curating a learning ecosystem

It is very common for librarians to serve as liaisons to academic departments. They teach classes, purchase materials, answer reference questions, assist with research endeavors, and generally get involved with the odds-and-ends of those units. Some librarians also liaise with defined user communities such as first-year students, international students, or students associated with particular residence […] … learn more→

“More students without increasing faculty”

I readily admit higher education of yesteryear was imperfect, and even had some serious flaws. I still maintain that it’s superior to the higher education of today, ruled by an administrative caste that sucks up ridiculous salaries and benefits, at the expense of faculty and students. Now, if the theft were contained at the top, […] … learn more→

Closing the loop: Creating tests and the content tested

For centuries, imperial China endured an examination system that created a putative meritocracy of imperial bureaucrats. Based on a carefully curated body of knowledge, it created a cognoscenti with no need to look “outside,” to be curious, or to explore. I thought of it this morning as I was reading Meredith Broussard’s article for The […] … learn more→

The science of laughter

Did you hear the one about the professor who was confounded by a question at a conference, used that moment to think up a lab devoted to humor, co-wrote a pretty funny book, and inspired wry commentaries about rankings of cities for their funniness? That would be Peter McGraw, a professor of marketing and psychology […] … learn more→