Universities UK, sex segregation, and the public-private distinction
Misunderstanding the different balances required in private vs. public spheres was one of the fundamental misunderstandings of the recent Universities UK guidance, which argued that speakers’ freedom of religion and speech could trump anti-discrimination laws at on-campus debates — meaning that audiences might be segregated by sex. July 2013
Of MOOCs and Luddites: teaching and the limits of technology
It seems like everyone is talking about MOOCs. According to proponents, massive open online courses will revolutionize higher education and turn traditional academics into the hand weavers (and potential Luddites) of the twenty-first century. But can the efficient delivery of talking heads to far larger audiences than permitted by even the largest lecture halls, all without the geographical constraints of physical buildings, really replace today’s in-person classrooms? April 2012
David Noble on “The Religion of Technology”
In The Religion of Technology: The Divinity of Man and the Spirit of Invention, David Noble investigates the Western relationship between religion and technology. April 2012
The problem of expertise in a liberal democracy
Stephen Turner’s book, Liberal Democracy 3.0, provides a useful background to the problem of expertise — especially scientific expertise — in a modern liberal democracy. What is a liberal democracy? First, of course, it’s important to define what a “liberal democracy” is. The term liberal, unfortunately, has acquired a negative connotation for many today, especially amongst conservatives in the […]
Civil law’s influence on early United States law
It is a law-school maxim today that the United States is a common-law country, while most of Europe uses civil law: English-derived common law has as its most basic tenet the binding nature of judicial precedent, while Roman-derived civil law privileges statutes. But the more I investigate the history and details of each, the more clear it becomes to me that the United States, at least, owes (almost?) as much of its legal system to civil law as it does to “pure” common law.
Further reflections on the nature of scientific evidence
For two weeks this July, I participated in a conference/summer session in Vienna (VISU) on the nature of scientific evidence. The program brought together students and lecturers from a number of disciplines.
Initial reflections on the nature of scientific evidence
For the last week I’ve been a part of the Vienna Institute Summer University (VISU) at the University of Vienna, at a two-week conference on “The Nature of Scientific Evidence.” The program brings together graduate students from a variety of disciplines from around the world to discuss science-related topics.
How I use a blog in my research and writing
As someone who does not blog to earn money (I like to pay my hosting fees, but that’s only because I’m a poor grad student), I thought I’d run through how and why I blog, and why I find it a critical part of my “real” work of academic research and writing. March 2010
Are universities about selling information?
I don’t believe universities (in their best form, at least) are easily replicated by technological means of information dissemination. But despite the advantages their physicality and tradition offers, many universities have tended to see themselves as simply the means to fill students up with information, stick an “approved” stamp on them, and send them out into the world.