March 2009

The Idea of Economics in a University - Part 2
By Gabriel Martinez on March 02, 2009

Is Economics like Physics, like History, like Theology? Are good economists educated persons? What is the role of beauty, of parsimony, or of humility in economic thought? What are the features of a master economist?


Introducing Political Science: What is Politics? - Part 2
By John von Heyking on March 02, 2009
This is the second part of "Introducing Political Science: What is Politics?" Part 1 is here.

In addition to the central Socratic paradox, students of my introductory political science class are invited to consider how and why the political ideals of this dystopia shape the social and personal mores of the characters. Most students expect political science to be about institutions, laws, and current events. They gain an appreciation of how the commands of the Controller filter down into the private lives of the characters… The students learn the devices the Controller uses to control society and also why control is necessary. They learn how, especially in an unfree society like this one, the line between public and private is porous. But they also recognize it is porous in a liberal democratic society and are invited to consider how this line might differ between the two types of regimes.


If Music be the Food for All – Part II
By Lee Trepanier on March 03, 2009

As had been discussed earlier, the pedagogy of music in the United States suffers from the same problem as other subjects: the absence of national standards. Unlike Great Britain or Canada, where national standards are established according to grade and ability, the United States has a plethora of standards for music as reflective of its diverse educational system. Recently, educators this country have been adapting national standards for music (based on the Canadian model), but progress has been slow and entirely voluntarily.


Introducing Students to Political Theory: The Historical versus the Analytic Approach
By Steven McGuire on March 04, 2009

When I taught Introduction to Political Theory for the first time, I followed a strict history of political thought approach: we read and discussed classic texts from Plato to Marx in their entirety and in chronological order. I arranged the course this way because I thought it was important that students read great works in the history of political thought, that they read them from cover to cover, and that they do so with some understanding of the historical context in which they were written. As I taught the course, however, I realized that the historical approach on its own was not enough…


Could Liberal Education Have Helped Avert the Economic Crisis?
By John von Heyking on March 09, 2009

Yes, according to this writer, referring to a recent speech by Paul Volcker to a Toronto audience. The author also cites several business leader on the importance of how liberal education supports the moral ecology that sustains a free economy.…


Higher Education's Dirty Little Word: Assessment
By Gerson Moreno-Riano on March 13, 2009

For weeks I have debated whether or not to write on the topic of assessment. My hesitation stems from the fact that in all of my discussions with colleagues, whenever I mention the word "assessment" I receive stares of disdain. The faces of my colleagues become red and distorted as blood rushes either to the brain or the heart at such a rapid pace as to leave NASCAR's Jeff Gordon in the dust. One could almost hear the rapid palpitations of my colleagues' hearts as their levels of indignation rise. And then the words just come out: "What did you say? Assessment?" "Is there something wrong with you?" Apparently, I have just uttered a word that is tantamount to a curse among scholars. So, I ask myself (then and now), why this hatred and animosity toward a practice that is more and more prevalent within higher education in the United States?


Samuel P. Huntington 1927-2008
By David C. Innes on March 16, 2009

It has been about ten weeks now since Professor Huntington died, but as no one else has posted on this, and since there may be some who need a brief introduction to the work of this great scholar, I offer this reflection and survey of reflections.

The great Harvard political scientist, Samuel P. Huntington, died Christmas Eve. My first exposure to Huntington was as an undergraduate when I read American Politics: The Promise of Disharmony (1981). In that book, he presented America as a uniquely principled nation that, because it was founded on moral-political principles rather than on blood or soil, we are always living with an "I v I gap," an ideals versus institutions gap. ...


Introducing the Subfields of Political Science: Political Philosophy - Part 2
By John von Heyking on March 17, 2009

This post is a continuation of one published here.

The challenge of teaching Plato's Apology and Crito is to elevate students' instincts of viewing Socrates as a solitary hero standing up "against the man," toward getting a sense of the competing claims for justice that both Socrates and the city make for themselves. I push them to see how these dialogues are not simply about a single individual standing up "against the man." Rather, I try to show them that Socrates is opposing his life, the life of philosophy, against any claim about the good made by the city. If the unexamined life is not worth living, and if he finds no one in the polis—politician, poet, or craftsman—can tell him what the good life is, then this directly challenges the moral project politics claims itself to be.


Pop Culture and the Politics Professor
By David C. Innes on March 20, 2009

One of the more popular posts on my blog has been one by Harold Kildow (Ph.D. Fordham), "Jack Bauer and the Problem of Justice." He writes:

"Where do the rules of engagement end, and the crimes begin?" Jack Bauer makes explicit this season what has been an implicit question for the last six seasons of Fox's taut serial thriller, 24. It is a version of the dilemma Plato presents in the Republic, where it appears as Thrasymachus' implicit challenge to Glaucon and Polymarchos: can a just man remain just while conquering evil, or does the asymmetry of the evil/good dichotomy always favor evil in this world?...


What is Assessment?
By Gerson Moreno-Riano on March 23, 2009

An attempt to arrive at a meaning of assessment is much like looking for a needle in a haystack. Definitions abound. For example, in the document “Five Dimensions of Good Assessment,” a document produced by Linda Suskie of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, one finds seventeen different operationalizations of good assessment, each with 7-10 sub-categories. This itself suggests that academics and administrators conceptualize and understand assessment in different ways thus making the task of answering “what is assessment?” a difficult one.


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