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Mar 21, 2005 5:43 pm

More Noted Things ...

Diarmaid MacCulloch's The Reformation: A History and Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan's De Kooning: An American Master have won the National Book Critics Circle prizes for general nonfiction and biography.

Mike Conlin of the Chicago Tribune has an excellent story on Inside Higher Ed's challenge to the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Tim Oakes, a geography professor at the University of Colorado, has a thoughtful op-ed,"Should Universities be Societies in Miniature?" in the Denver Post. In a highly contested and polarized political environment, Oakes has some candid and unexpected reflections. Thanks to Margaret Soltan at University Diaries for the tip.

At Inside Higher Ed, Scott Jaschik's"To Honor a Boycott or Not," points out that, unlike the Organization of American Historians, the American Philosophical Association's Pacific Branch will meet in San Francisco, labor dispute notwithstanding. Comments at Brian Weatherson's blog (scroll down) reflect the disorganization of trying to be conscientious and shift things about at the last minute. It does seem sensible for professional organizations to scout out the likelihood of labor disputes or charges of discimination well in advance of a major convention.

From time to time, I've shown an interest in ethics among historians. The question of expert testimony is an important one and Robert N. Proctor's"Should Historians Be Working for the Tobacco Industry?" over on HNN's mainpage fulfills a need for thoughtful examination of that quesion. Don't miss David T. Courtwright's comment on this own experience.

At Apocalyptic Historian, Lisa Vox Roy challenges a blogging convention in"Meme: The Strange Career of a Concept."

eb at delayed reaction meets Adam Kotsko's challenge with a sonnet.

Russell Jacoby's"The New PC: Crybaby Conservatives," The Nation, 16 March, is a tonic for David Horowitz's lurk around Cliopatria yesterday. Thanks to Inside Higher Ed for the tip.

A decade ago, when I was denied tenure at Antioch, someone told me, in the words of that era, to"get a life." And so, I have. My colleagues at Cliopatria allow me to regard us as a virtual history department, the home that I never found in my real" career." My wife and I are very proud of our two daughters, Anne and Amanda. But I've regretted that I haven't had a son. So, over the weekend, Andrew and Chris who post at Outside Report said they thought it would be fine with them if I virtually adopted them as my virtual sons. From time to time, I've written about them before at Cliopatria, but I'll say no more about them here, except that I don't know any two young men I'd rather have as sons. Chris has a excellent post up on"A Sign of American Success: The Transformation of the Black Politician". Surveying the emergence of serious African American contenders for top statewide offices in Maryland, Ohio, and Tennessee, it's the kind of post that we ordinarily look for from my colleague, KC Johnson, at Cliopatria. Andrew's"Engaging Horowitz" reflects on Tim Burke's good cop encounter with David yesterday. I ignore the fact that Andrew ignored my bad cop encounter with Horowitz. It's just a sign of Andrew's discriminating good taste. Thanks, son.

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Whitney Sprague - 3/22/2005

"But to call on universities to arbitrate with balance the politics of the day is to ignore our responsibility to maintain a broader public sphere where a healthy political debate can occur."

The point that so many on the so-called right are raising is that time and again healthy political debate cannot occur within a university setting as things now stand. Perhaps it comes down to just a matter of what gets publicit, but we hear far more about conservative students supposedly being stifled by liberal professors, rather than the other way around.

"What its critics don't seem to understand is the fact that a university is an extremely poor vehicle for ideological indoctrination. There are far better means to persuade people to accept a particular political agenda than to try and disguise it with "science" or present it as one among many competing viewpoints. And most students are savvy to their teachers' biases anyway. This is why there is no place for the personal political positions of faculty in the classroom. It tends to make for poor teaching."

I don't think anyone is accusing professors of trying to "indoctrinate" their students; the complaints seem to be based on professors who don't allow students to question those biases of which Oakes spoke. The troublesome part for me, from personal observation, comes when students are steered from senior and graduate research projects because advisors and professors don't feel the subject chosen might be trendy/gender-based/muted peoples/cause of whatever day you choose enough.

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