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#FergusonSyllabus

How should academics respond to the death of Michael Brown and the non-indictment of his killer? If you teach critical race theory, criminology, modern American history, African-American studies, or any number of other subjects explicitly linked to Brown’s death, then I suspect you already have a plan. But what about the rest of us?

One of my beliefs about public engagement is that the process of becoming an academic, as both a scholar and a teacher, creates habits of mind that we can bring to b…

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Eric Posner Has a Narrow Understanding of Human Rights Clinics

In a recent article in The Chronicle Review (“The Human-Rights Charade”), Eric A. Posner claims that international human-rights-law clinics (IHR clinics) and programs have no pedagogical value and do nothing more than engage in “left-wing” political activism. I write this response particularly for readers who are not aware of the landscape of views on human rights in the legal academy. Posner’s thoughts on IHR clinics and programs are nothing more than an extension of his narrow view a…

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Prospective Literary Fitness Apps

“[Zombies, Run!] is an audio adventure that features missions in which the runner tries to escape from a horde of the undead while picking up survival gear along the way. The app … offers more than 200 missions, including one with the author Margaret Atwood, who is holed up in a tower and offering zombie intel.”
“Wearable Gear and Apps to Make Running Healthier, and a Lot More Fun,” The New York Times, November 5, 2014

Other literary fitness apps in development:

Run, Rabbit, Run! You are Rabbit…

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Ageism in Academe

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A Tale of Two Green Lines

Efforts by academic groups to impose boycotts and other kinds of punitive measures on Israeli universities have gotten considerable attention lately. However, an opposite phenomenon has escaped notice: the widespread participation by mainstream universities in programs and collaborations with institutions located in occupied territories.

This may surprise those who recall that Israel’s establishment of Ariel University in the West Bank drew earnest condemnation from academics and even foreign …

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How a $47 Shrimp Treadmill Became a $3-Million Political Plaything

shrimp treadmillOver the past few years numerous media stories have surfaced about how hard-earned taxpayer dollars are supporting scientists who run shrimp on treadmills: Forbes.com listed shrimp-treadmill research as wasting $3-million in taxpayer dollars, AARP produced a nationally distributed commercial of lab-coat-wearing scientists running shrimp on treadmills to equate the lack of federal support for retiree health-care services to money spent on shrimp-treadmill research, and Mike Huckabee linked the Na…

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Don’t Blame Youth for the GOP Sweep

November 5 was a cloudy day, literally and metaphorically, in the progressive college town where I live and in my little corner of social media. Everywhere, friends were asking what had carried the Republicans to their many victories the day before. For the most part, their answers were varied but familiar—the unstoppable power of money and corporate influence, Obama’s waning popularity, gerrymandering, voter intimidation, and disenfranchisement.

Added to the bitter mix was a group of people we …

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A University Is a Social Force

When the president of a university is dragged from his bed in the middle of the night and shot point-blank in his garden by an elite squad of the national military, we must pause to ask why.

This month the Universidad Centroamericana in El Salvador, known as UCA, will be commemorating the 25th anniversary of the killings of eight people on its campus, including six Jesuit priests: the president, vice president, and leading faculty members. Universities—especially those of the Association of Jesu…

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My Book Got Optioned. Here’s What Happened.

On the day my book, Guyland, was published, my agent sold the film rights to Dreamworks.

I was speechless, a first for me. It was also pretty gratifying, because I had been fighting with my publisher for months over the title. They had wanted something like Almost Men, which I thought was a great title—if you happened to be writing a book for pre-operative FTMs. I’d been adamant. Guyland. When I spoke to the producer, they’d said they were captivated by the title. They hadn’t actually read t…

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In Praise of ‘Paper Space’

In the old school, a professor graded a student’s paper or essay test in what I call paper-space. That is, the student wrote and printed out an embodied object containing his work, complete (the professor hoped) with page numbers, staple, and a title page on which the student should have, at minimum, spelled the professor’s name correctly—something I cannot assume.

This is how many of us were initiated into the fine art of grading: Thoughts were inscribed in paper-space, and we responded in pape…