There's an interesting review over at NRO of Ross Perlin's Intern Nation, a book that examines the growing and almost wholly invisible number of unpaid intern positions that are eagerly staffed by college students or recent college graduates. Many of them are in higher education or are referrals by academic work/study programs. All of them are uncompensated, a sizable number are illegal, and in many instances the interns actually pay to play.
The reviewer, herself a graduate student at Harvard, surveys the landscape of this strange workforce and ponders the social implications of its continued growth. The author, she reports, seems to think there's a revoultion brewing.
In this week’s Pope Center Clarion Call, Burck Smith, the entrepreneur behind StraighterLine, writes about the prospects for dramatic change through innovation in higher education. Innovation can very readily disrupt free markets. The trouble, Smith argues, is that higher education is not a very free market; it is strewn with obstacles such as accreditation that hinder innovation.
A certain Midwestern state requires all of its state employees, university workers included, to undergo "ethics training." This year the state confirmed the dangers of using university email for anything personal--including logging on to Facebook. The training noted how wrong it was for a university employee to log on to Facebook with his/her .edu email.
Many still do not know how this "misappropriation" of "state property" can be a ready excuse to ax employees, expel students, decertify student groups, etc. (Fortunately, my university has a "reasonable use" policy but I won't leave it up to a campus cyber czar to determine what is "reasonable"!).
I warned about this last year and this official state warning ought to be heeded. Search for all accounts using your .edu address -- or be busted. Advice to private sector workers: this applies to you too even if you aren't bound by a state ethics law. Pick up a computer magazine and see the advertisements for network "sniffing" software aimed at detecting illicit use of work email.
If you think I'm paranoid, well read some of the real-life examples from my past blog posts: here and here.
Good news for those who have eagerly awaited academe’s considered responses to last summer’s Gulf oil spill. And even better news for those who have been eagerly awaiting how the Deepwater Horizon disaster has been received and analyzed among cutting-edge professors of fashion and design. On October 6, the New School in New York City will host a panel of faculty members who will discuss the undersea gusher. The moderator is the dean of “Parsons The New School for Design,” as it is now awkwardly named, and panelists will include an economist, a chemist, and intriguingly, an associate provost, Elizabeth Ellsworth, who as “co-director of the smudge studio,” might indeed know something about spilling viscous liquids. I am, however, even more intrigued by what scheduled speaker Shelley Fox, the Donna Karan Professor of Fashion, will unveil at the event.
In today's Pope Center piece, Professor Robert Weissberg argues that they're more likely to do the opposite. They tend to promote mediocrity and encourage at least some profs to pander to the students in order to get nice evaluations. In a course where most of the students are actually there because they want to learn, a professor could certainly benefit from their feedback. On the other hand, where the typical student is disengaged, ill-prepared, and enrolled in college principally to have fun, evaluations are a waste of time at best.