Is the university over?

by David Alm August 16, 2014

Minerva — hardly a word you’d associate with higher education. It sounds more like a brand-name medication designed to treat anxiety — Minimize your nerves with Minerva! Or maybe a South American root that generations of indigenous populations have used to cure everything. But no. If a 39-year-old entrepreneur named Ben Nelson has his way, the word Minerva will not only […]

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The ironic death of postmodernism

by David Alm October 11, 2012

I am currently teaching a class at Hunter College titled Journalism & Society, which analyzes the impact of journalism on culture and vice versa. We discuss corporate consolidation, the so-called “independent media,” the real import of “fake” news, and the ultimately limited ability of any news organization to tell us everything we need to know. […]

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The tarantula and me

by Rebecca Lehmann September 16, 2012

I was on my way home from the art fair when I saw the two tarantulas. My husband and I recently moved to a small town in north Texas so I could take a job as a Visiting Assistant Professor at a small liberal arts college. My previous experience with Texas was limited to one […]

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The urge to write meets the blue day

by Annie Murphy March 18, 2012

“The urge to convert experience into a group of words that are in a grammatical relation to one another is the most basic, ongoing impulse of my life. It is a habit of antiphony: of call and response.” – Jhumpa Lahiri, “My Life’s Sentences,” NYT 3.18.12 Perhaps it is presumptuous to agree with the eloquent words […]

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To wire or not to wire

by David Alm October 24, 2011

Last week the New York Times ran an article about an Indiana school district that has dispensed with textbooks, pencils, and the o ther antiquated tools of primary education. Instead, each desk features a laptop computer. The logic is that, being the 21st Century and all, kids need to learn how to use technology. A […]

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An education, not a credential

by David Alm October 17, 2011

Imagine taking a class on n on-Euclidian geometry. Now imagine that your professor doesn’t know anything about geometry at all, let alone an obscure, archaic branch of it. Inste ad, she h as a PhD in art history. But imagine, too, that this is an extremely rigorous class, at one of the oldest colleges in […]

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The paradox of global education

by David Alm October 3, 2011

When I started college, in 1993, there was a notion going around that education was subversive. It allowed those of us lucky enough to be studying the liberal arts to engage with serio us texts, ask serious questions, and develop critical perspectives on the world. It allowed us to exist, mentally at least, outside the […]

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Let kids rule the school, indeed

by David Alm March 15, 2011

Writing in Tuesday’s New York Times Op/Ed page, Susan Engel describes a truly remarkable scenario: teenagers, left to their own devices, learning complex ma thema tical concepts, reading tough books, and investigating multi-faceted questions with interdisciplinary implications, like “why do we cry?” The scenario is real, and happen ing presently in New Marlborough, Massachusetts. Her […]

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Navaratri: Nine divine nights and one attempt at learning a goddess dance

by Amanda Leigh Lichtenstein February 23, 2011

I lucked out, living in Hurumzi. I live right by a small, tucked away Hindu temple. As a Jewish-American woman living in a predominantly Muslim world, I’ve sometimes taken comfort in the “otherness” of Hinduism here, visiting the temple, barefoot, on my days off, just to enjoy the cavernous silence of its inner courtyard — […]

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