From Sarah Chrystler:
The College of Film and the Moving Image will be hosting a presentation of the Class of 2016?s written theses on Monday, May 2nd. The Criticism and History/Theory presentations will start at4:30PM in the Powell Family Cinema, and the Screenplay and Television Pilot presentations will begin at 7:00 PM in the same theater. There will be a small reception in the intermission Come support the hard work of our seniors! This event is free and open to the public.
Date: Monday, May 2nd
Place: The Powell Family Cinema in the Center for Film Studies
UPDATE: These courses are STILL open.
Sometimes, in the chaos of planning one’s courses, we can overlook (also source of picture above– shout-out to the amazing Avery Trufleman ’13 who’s killin it in the real world) some incredible WesMaps gems. In an effort to help you out, here are some courses next semester to watch out for as suggested by Wesleying staff:
WRCT260: Advanced Fiction with Amy Bloom ’76
“It’s a fiction class. With Wesleyan’s award-winning writer-in-residence Amy Bloom. Amy Bloom only teaches courses in the spring, so this is an opportunity you shouldn’t easily pass up. It’s not crosslisted so it’s easy to miss on Wesmaps, folks.”
ENVS361: Living in a Polluted World with Johan Varekamp
“All that you breathe, drink and eat has been exposed to natural and person-made toxins. For each contaminant, we study where it comes from, how it cycles through the environment, and its pathway of human ingress. Then we discuss what it does to our bodies and souls. Topics range from arsenic and hexachromium exposure to: “Does dandruff shampoo protect against cancer”? “Is ritualistic mercury inhalation a good idea”?, and “Are there really >85,000 poorly characterized organic pollutants”?” — Johan Varekamp
WRCT268: Topics in Journalism: Writing (and Arguing) About Inequality: How to Make Your Case with Anne Greene and Tracie McMillan
“Journalist Tracie McMillan is looking forward to working with Wesleyan students in this spring’s Koeppel Journalism course (WRCT 268) , Topics in Journalism: Writing (and Arguing) about Inequality: How to Make Your Case. McMillan received the Sidney Hillman Award for Social Justice Journalism and the James Beard Award, among others, for her book about the marketing of food and consumers’ food choices: The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee’s, Farm Fields, and the Dinner Table. Applications are dueNov.14; details on WesMaps.” —Anne Greene
More after the jump!
NOTE FROM BZOD: About a month and a half ago, we posted a piece by Cesar Chavez ’15 in which he translated a letter from the custodial staff to President Roth in which custodial staff decried their unreasonable working conditions. That letter was part 1 of 2. This letter, written by Cesar, focuses on the invisibility of poverty at Wesleyan. With that, Cesar’s post:
My name is Cesar Chavez, poor Hispanic male, age 19. I am writing this because as a poor student I can no longer stand and see how I, along with other students, am brought into a cycle of perpetual poverty by this university. It is unfair that this university has the audacity to state that there is no money for poor students and that it forces us to take loans in order to obtain a degree that in the future will become a worthless piece of paper. Likewise, I want to break the silence around the issue of poverty. By not talking about the issue, we allow this injustice to continue. I also would like to direct this critique to poor students currently at Wesleyan. If you are reading this, I encourage you to speak up. I know the frustration and anger that you are all probably experiencing. Do not keep it inside yourselves. Make your voices heard.
Our custodians are not the only ones who have been alienated, marginalized, and oppressed at Wesleyan. Poor student have suffered these ailments as well. I, along with many other students, am a victim of indentured servitude that comes in the form of student debt. I am a poor student going to this “elite” institution so that I can pursue my academic goals and be a member of a productive society. But in my opinion, many people aren’t going to college to learn anymore; people attend college so they can land a decent job. Likewise, we live in a time when a bachelor’s degree won’t get you too far. Because we live in a global capitalist economy dominated by a global plutocracy, students in the United States have to compete even harder for jobs with students from other countries like India and China. In order to stay competitive, one needs to obtain a Masters or PhD. As a result the college and school cultures have changed in recent years to accommodate the growing corporatization. More emphasis is placed on standardized tests, corporate careers, competition, and raising tuition. Now, few people seem to have desire to learn anymore. They simply want to walk in, pass tests, get the career networks they need, walk out and land a decent job. All of this has shown me that higher education is dying and makes me question, “Why am I even bothering with college?”
Em Trambert ’14 wants you to know that:
On Thursday, November 15 at 4:30 PM, there will be a panel of Professors from the Government, Economics, Sociology, Philosophy, and Science in Society Departments discussing these topics. Students will be moderating the discussion, and we want your questions! Please submit them to professorpanel(at)gmail(dot)com by Monday, November 12.
Date: Monday, November 12
Place: Your computer/smartphone
Cost: 30 seconds of your time
Remember Dougie B? Neither do I—the last Wesleyan class to have overlapped with President Douglas J. Bennet ’59’s 1995-2007 term just graduated in 2010. Three cheers for limited institutional memory.
Turns out Bennet (whose son Michael ’87 was reelected Colorado senator in one of the nation’s most heated senate races just last fall, by the way) has just been named to one of the most prestigious academic honorary societies in the world—the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, which describes itself as “an independent policy research center that conducts multidisciplinary studies of complex and emerging problems.” From the Wesleyan Connection:
As one of 212 new AAAS members, Bennet joins one of the world’s most prestigious honorary societies and leading centers for independent policy research.
“It is a privilege to honor these men and women for their extraordinary individual accomplishments,” said Leslie Berlowitz, Academy President and William T. Golden Chair. “The knowledge and expertise of our members give the Academy a unique capacity – and responsibility – to provide practical policy solutions to the pressing challenges of the day. We look forward to engaging our new members in this work.”
For more archival deets on our fifteenth president, you may be interested in . . .
We dutifully filled out our teaching evaluations on time, and now we pay the price: a Christmas week spent endlessly refreshing our Academic History page [no, frosh—your report cards won’t be mailed home this year], frustratingly waiting for that one last professor to post our grades. It’s an end-of-semesterly tradition. This year, as you hit refresh on the ePortfolio, it might be worthwhile to consider the implications of that A—how rampant grade inflation factors into Wesleyan, into graduate school admissions, and into academia at large.
In 2004 Michael Bérubé, professor of literature at Penn State, famously memorably suggested one solution to grade inflation: colleges merely devise a system, complex but effective, by which “to account for each course’s degree of difficulty.” Here’s how:
Every professor, and every department, produces an average grade — an average for the professor over her career and an average for the discipline over the decades. And if colleges really wanted to clamp down on grade inflation, they could whisk it away statistically, simply by factoring those averages into each student’s G.P.A. Imagine that G.P.A.’s were calculated on a scale of 10 with the average grade, be it a B-minus or an A-minus, counted as a 5. The B-plus in chemical engineering, where the average grade is, say, C-plus, would be rewarded accordingly and assigned a value of 8; the B-plus in psychology, where the average grade might be just over B-plus, would be graded like an easy dive, adequately executed, and given a 4.7.
But this, Bérubé concedes, would be “confusing as hell.” And that same year, Princeton adopted a simpler but perhaps more controversial policy reducing A’s to no more than 35 percent of undergraduate grades. But elsewhere, at countless other top colleges—and yes, Wesleyan—inflation remained a problem.
This has nothing to do with Wesleyan specifically, but it has much to do with issues and patterns concerning higher education in general, and it’s a fascinating read.
In a compelling (and admittedly provocative) article for The Chronicle of Higher Education, Jere P. Surber, professor of philosophy at the University of Denver, eloquently tackles what the media loves to term the “liberal bias of the academy.” Surber considers the left-leaning tendency of liberal arts professors to be not a meaningless phenomenon of naïveté, but simply common sense given the nature of a liberal arts professor’s job, as well as the often skewed relationship between hir level of education and salary:
Walter Williams, professor of economics at George Mason University, argues in a controversial State Journal-Register piece this week that grade inflation has eroded the value of an undergraduate degree—to the point “that idiots could earn A’s and B’s” at highly prestigious schools (Harvard is one target):
Since the 1960s, academic achievement scores have plummeted, but student college grade point averages (GPA) have skyrocketed. . . . Today’s college students are generally dumber than their predecessors. An article in the Wall Street Journal (Jan. 30, 1997) reported that a “bachelor of Arts degree in 1997 may not be the equal of a graduation certificate from an academic high school in 1947.” The American Council on Education found that only 15 percent of universities require tests for general knowledge; only 17 percent for critical thinking; and only 19 percent for minimum competency.
Williams describes rampant grade inflation as “simply a euphemism for academic dishonesty. After all, it’s dishonesty when a professor assigns a grade the student did not earn.”
Some of the conclusions are admittedly inflammatory, but his arguments are compelling. Still, of the top schools cited in the article, liberal arts colleges are conspicuously absent. Does Williams have a point? Are academic standards at Wesleyan (and so-called peer institutions) an exception to the rule? Discuss in the comments.
Professor Claire Potter at the Tenured Radical has some sound advice regarding the value of graduate school, especially in an economy that seems increasingly unfriendly to students who climb higher into academia, only to find that the job prospects at the top are less than encouraging:
The thought that I was sending more unlucky holders of the B.A. down the chute to the slaughterhouse of graduate school raised this question for frustrated job-seeker and blogging comrade Sisyphus. “Do you ever feel like you shouldn’t be sending students on to grad school and contributing to the whole PhD ponzi scheme?” asks this industrious young scholar, who applied for over 60 jobs this year, fifty of which have fallen to budget-cutting. “Esp. when there are all these dire predictions about even undergrad degrees becoming priced out of affordability for the middle class? I‘m trying to get an academic job right now and bad as this year is compared to other years, people keep telling me it will just get worse [from] here on out.”
I guess my first response is no, I don’t feel bad about it, because all education is useful even when you can’t extract profit from a degree in the way you originally planned to do so. And my advice is to stay away from these doom-and-gloom types who tell you your life is over without suggesting any viable alternative, particularly if they are members of your dissertation committee. They are only bringing you down at a time you need optimism more than ever…
Read the rest at the Tenured Radical. Also, some suggestions on how to make the grad school recommendation process easier on your professors.
The faculty of Harvard Law School has unanimously approved a motion for open access: articles will be made freely available in an online repository.
If only Wesleyan (and everyone) could pick up on this… if only…