The recent news that a Wesleyan student is suing Psi U due to rape allegations has sparked debate over the role of fraternities in sexual assault, and their presence on college campuses. Zach Schonfeld ’13 has written two in-depth articles on the matter. The first explores the history of various universities that have decided to get rid of their fraternities, and the follow-up wondering if Wesleyan will be the next to do the same.
A recent piece in The Nation explores the worrying fate of publically engaged academic intellectuals in the university system, reflecting on the recent firings of two Columbia professors.
This begins a weekly[ish] piece presenting recent articles on college and higher education news and issues.
Just in time for the return of ridiculously expensive trips to Broad Street, U.S. PIRG has put out a study revealing the adverse effects of high text book costs on students’ (especially low-income students’) course decisions, and subsequently, their grades. There’s no other way to say it – this is a f****ed up system.
Thought you could escape Wesleyan classes simply by leaving campus for the summer? That’s no longer the case. As of September 2012, Wesleyan launched its very own MOOCs, or Massive Open Online Courses, through Coursera— you can take these multi-week classes online, for free, from anywhere in the world, directly from the professors who make Wesleyan what it is. The first small liberal arts college to offer this opportunity, Wesleyan joined the ranks of Princeton, Stanford, and UPenn in attempting to change higher education. Is it a game changer?
Not really, says The Verge‘s Maria Bustillos. In an article published yesterday, Bustillos was pretty upfront in arguing that “online classes can be enlightening, edifying, and engaging — but they’re not college.” Some critics obviously disagree with the very idea of free online courses replacing traditional education, but at the same time, “it’s also obvious that there’s a real appetite for online learning, and that it is colossal.” So what’s a journalist to do but to try some of these classes out?
For her immersion into the world of Coursera, Bustillos decided upon “The Ancient Greeks,” taught by Wesleyan’s own Andrew Szegedy-Maszak, Professor of Classical Studies and Jane A. Seney Professor of Greek. She also talked to Szegedy-Maszak about the future of online learning, and to Lauren Rubenstein from Wesleyan’s Department of Media Relations about how the school’s Coursera is set up. And, after the jump, find out what Bustillos describes as “like soaking in a huge stone bath scented with rose petals while being fed grapes and gently serenaded by a distant lute.”
“We want to empower people with education that will improve their lives, the lives of their families, and the communities they live in.”
That’s President Roth, with a new haircut and a description of his course on Coursera, The Modern and the Postmodern. “I love teaching it because it’s a course that brings us to the history of the present,” Roth exclaims. “The Modern and the Postmodern covers a lot of ground, but all the books cover that ground with a kind of verve and seriousness, a kind of panache and depth that is to me extraordinarily attractive.”
Last Wednesday, Coursera, a massive open online course (MOOC) platform, announced that it would be partnering with 16 new universities—including Wesleyan as the first liberal arts college to join in partnership. Coursera is part of a controversial new generation of education reform that potentially represents the first major update to the higher education industry in centuries. Through video, online texts, and increasingly interactive web applications, Coursera and other MOOCs seek to harness technology to create a global classroom where the best professors in the world can instruct tens or hundreds of thousands of students.
Joining what were originally only large, top tier academic institutions like Stanford, Princeton, and the University of Pennsylvania, Wesleyan is a particularly interesting inductee as the first small liberal arts university. In a series of posts on his blog and on the Huffington Post, Michael Roth ’78 writes, “The idea that Wesleyan will be offering free, massive online classes will strike some as paradoxical. We are a small university at which almost three quarters of the courses are taught in an interactive, seminar style. How is that related to online learning?”