AAU’s Sexual-Assault Survey Will Serve Students and Policy Makers

Last month the Association of American Universities, of which I am president, announced that it would conduct a “sexual assault climate survey” across a number of our public and private research universities. Our primary goal is to provide universities with the information they need to craft empirically informed policies and practices for protecting students from sexual assault and promoting campus safety. We also hope that collecting data from across our universities will inform public poli…


Surveys, Secrecy, and Sexual Assault

A phrase made famous during the Watergate hearings was, “What did the president know, and when did he know it?” Variations on that question are now being asked at the University of Virginia following gang-rape allegations, and elsewhere as well.

Related questions arise: What do college and university presidents know about the prevalence of sexual assault just a few blocks from their offices—and what must they do to find out? What do they know about the efficacy of their own policies?

One might e…

Time for a Sexual-Climate Change

As more sexual-violence incidents at colleges across the country come to light, the need to understand campus sexual cultures becomes increasingly important. The University of Virginia is now under scrutiny for its handling of sexual-violence cases, revealed in an investigative report in Rolling Stone magazine. Administrators at UVa and elsewhere might lean heavily on the White House’s “Not Alone” recommendations for responding to and preventing sexual assault, but those recommendations do not g…



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…


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…


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…


Ageism in Academe


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 …


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: 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…


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 …