Archive for the ‘Course Announcements’ Category

“Your So-Called Education” – Updated

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

New research questions how much students really learn in college, as reported in a recent Op-Ed in the New York Times. The writers are Richard Arum, a professor of sociology and education at New York University, and Josipa Roksa, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Virginia, who are the authors of “Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses.”

Here’s a PDF of the piece: “The Poor Quality of an Undergraduate Education“.  And here’s a link to it at the NYT website.

Arum and Roksa ask: “Why is the overall quality of undergraduate learning so poor?”  And they offer some explanations.  I’d like to hear your thoughts about the education you’re receiving in college.  If it’s poor, why do you think that’s so?  You may post on the blog, or email me your thoughts (if you don’t feel like going public). I’m interested in your honest opinions.  Responses will count as extra credit toward participation grades and are due by Monday, May 23.

If you’d like to respond on the blog, please make it into your own blog post to make it easier for others to read and comment. Great responses so far on this thread!

Material for the last blog posting deadline – 5/17

Monday, May 16th, 2011

Re-posting this announcement so that no one misses it, and to add a couple more options.

You may write about any two items from the long list below:

NEWRecommended (video):  “Crosby Stills Nash Young – Teach Your Children – War Video,” YouTube (uploaded April 2008). I recently stumbled upon this video, a remarkable example of citizen journalism/DIY activism.  I welcome comments linking the video to the topic of “counter-hegemonic globalization,”  globalization of media or another relevant course topic.

NEWRecommended (video):  “CSNY – OHIO – Kent State Massacre Montage,” YouTube (part of the Global Insights Music Project 08-09). Another CSNY classic, this one is a hardcore protest song. The video includes documentary footage of the 1970 shooting of unarmed student protesters at Kent State by members of the Ohio National Guard.  Parallels with the recent Arab uprisings, where students were also central, might be worth exploring, e.g., similarities and differences in protest strategy/tactics, effectiveness, gov’t/military responses, etc.  Another interesting aspect of this piece is how one form of media inspired another, in a chain of repurposing and recycling: Neil Young was inspired to write the lyrics after seeing photos of the incident in Life magazine; then, these and other original images were used to create a video, which was then uploaded to YouTube, where I happened to find it, and now it’s here, on this blog (which itself is an example of new media & technology as a teaching tool).

Paul Mason on global youth protest, “Towards a Politics of Solidarity,” Opening Plenary, Left Forum, 3/18/2011.

“Dubstep Rebellion – The British Banlieue Comes to Millbank,” (Paul Mason) BBC Newsnight, 12/9/1010.

* Interview with Naomi Klein, author of No Logo and The Shock Doctrine, (“The Persuaders,” Frontline, 2004)

* “Meet the Yes Men, the Political Satirists Who Punked GE,” (Tina Dupuy) The Atlantic, 4/22/11.

Recommended: Ch. 54, “Counterhegemonic Globalization: Transnational Social Movements in the Contemporary Political Economy,” (Peter Evans) pp. 444-450.

Recommended: “Chevron’s $50 Million Ad Campaign Gets Crushed,” (The Yes Men) Yes Lab.  Read story and check out links. and “The Yes Men Fix the World” (2009) – 1) Play trailer 2) Read story (click “Story” in header)

Recommended: “France Will Not Repay Haiti Reparations,” The Lede Blog, New York Times, 7/15/2010. The Canadian-based group, Committee for the Reimbursement of the Indemnity Money Extorted from Haiti (C.R.I.M.E.), carries out a Yes Men-style prank on the French Foreign Ministry.

Recommended (video): “Revolution in Cairo,” PBS Frontline, March 2011. (24:56)

Recommended (video): “Deleuze’s Postscript on Societies of Control,” Liquid Theory TV, 2010.

Recommended (video): “Is WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange a Hero? Glenn Greenwald Debates Steven Aftergood of Secrecy News,” Democracy Now, 12/3/2010 (31 min)

Recommended (audio-stream): “Naomi Klein’s Critical Art,” On Point, NPR, 5/3/2010. Writer Naomi Klein talks about corporate marketing 10 years after No Logo, and politics in the age of “brand” Obama. (45 min)

Note on ‘culture jamming’

Friday, May 13th, 2011

Regarding yesterday’s advice to look for examples of culture jamming, let me modify the instructions: the goal is to examine the “public commons” in which you travel on an everyday basis.  Is there evidence of resistance to the “commodification of the commons,” such as “culture jamming,” or not?  If not, find evidence of the “commodification of the commons” in your world.

Material for the last blog posting deadline – 5/17

Friday, May 13th, 2011

You may write about any two items from the long list below:

Paul Mason on global youth protest, “Towards a Politics of Solidarity,” Opening Plenary, Left Forum, 3/18/2011.

“Dubstep Rebellion – The British Banlieue Comes to Millbank,” (Paul Mason) BBC Newsnight, 12/9/1010.

* Interview with Naomi Klein, author of No Logo and The Shock Doctrine, (“The Persuaders,” Frontline, 2004)

* “Meet the Yes Men, the Political Satirists Who Punked GE,” (Tina Dupuy) The Atlantic, 4/22/11.

Recommended: Ch. 54, “Counterhegemonic Globalization: Transnational Social Movements in the Contemporary Political Economy,” (Peter Evans) pp. 444-450.

Recommended: “Chevron’s $50 Million Ad Campaign Gets Crushed,” (The Yes Men) Yes Lab.  Read story and check out links. and “The Yes Men Fix the World” (2009) – 1) Play trailer 2) Read story (click “Story” in header)

Recommended: “France Will Not Repay Haiti Reparations,” The Lede Blog, New York Times, 7/15/2010. The Canadian-based group, Committee for the Reimbursement of the Indemnity Money Extorted from Haiti (C.R.I.M.E.), carries out a Yes Men-style prank on the French Foreign Ministry.

Recommended (video): “Revolution in Cairo,” PBS Frontline, March 2011. (24:56)

Recommended (video): “Deleuze’s Postscript on Societies of Control,” Liquid Theory TV, 2010.

Recommended (video): “Is WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange a Hero? Glenn Greenwald Debates Steven Aftergood of Secrecy News,” Democracy Now, 12/3/2010 (31 min)

Recommended (audio-stream): “Naomi Klein’s Critical Art,” On Point, NPR, 5/3/2010. Writer Naomi Klein talks about corporate marketing 10 years after No Logo, and politics in the age of “brand” Obama. (45 min)

Content for May 10th posting deadline

Friday, May 6th, 2011

Since we’ll continue to discuss issues and themes from last week, there’s still an opportunity to blog about some of the material from last week.  Choose two items from the list below.

“Everyone’s missing the point” (Barry Lando) Truthdig, 5/3/10. This is an opinion piece, from a political blog, that ties together a number of the topics we’re dealing with through the remainder of the semester.  Challenges to his arguments are, of course, welcome. In your response you’re free to be as opinionated as you like.

Ch. 45, “Obedience vs. Autonomy: Women and Fundamentalism in Iran and Pakistan,” (Shahla Haeri) pp. 370-378.

Recommended (video): “France Face Veil Ban Provokes Heated Debate,” (panel discussion featuring author Sam Harris, Professor Tariq Ramadan, and columnist Mona Eltahawy) BBC Newsnight, 4/11/11. (10 min) and Eltahawy and Ahmed debate, Parker-Spitzer, CNN (10 min).

Recommended (audio-stream): “Inside American Islam,” On Point, NPR, 9/14/2010. Top Islam expert Akbar Ahmed just visited one hundred mosques in America. This is his report. (46 min)

Recommended (video): “Mother of the Revolution,” (interview w/Nawal el-Saadawi, Egyptian novelist, human rights activist, and radical feminist) Riz Khan, Al Jazeera English, February, 2011. (25 min)

Recommended (video): Interview with Malalai Joya, former Afghan member of parliament, antiwar campaigner, Democracy Now!, 3/28/2011. (13 min)

May 10

Ch. 46, “The Christian Revolution,” (Jenkins), pp. 379-386.

Recommended (audio-mp3): “In Israel, When a Jew is Not Jewish Enough,” Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, All Things Considered, NPR, 11/10/2010. (5 min)

Recommended (video): “Revolution in Cairo,” PBS Frontline, March 2011. (24:56)

May 12 – Resisting Globalization: Critique and Action

Paul Mason on global youth protest, “Towards a Politics of Solidarity,” Opening Plenary, Left Forum, 3/18/2011.

“Dubstep Rebellion – The British Banlieue Comes to Millbank,” (Paul Mason) BBC Newsnight, 12/9/1010.

Recommended (video): “Deleuze’s Postscript on Societies of Control,” Liquid Theory TV, 2010. (For the theory heads among you)

Muslim women debate France’s face-veil ban

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

Hebah Ahmed and Mona Eltahawy, both Muslim women, debate France’s decision to ban face veils (niqabs) in public.  As Ahsana suggested, this debate is probably a better one than the shouting match from BBC Newsnight that I showed in class.  Both positions are laid out more clearly here.  (Actually, I will admit I found Ramadan’s style and behavior towards Eltahawy interesting and worthy of discussion in its own right.  Some might feel it departs from his rhetoric about respect for women.)

Open to your suggestions on structuring short response Qs on Exam

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

Part I of the final will be the same as the midterm — you choose 7 out of 10 key terms (full set provided on review sheet; generally indicated on slides by bold italics).  Part II will be a set of questions based on the required material from the second half of the course.  You will choose 4 out of a larger set of questions and write a response of at least one paragraph.  As you well know, we’ve covered a lot of ground since the midterm.  So I need to delimit the material that will be covered in the questions.  In the past, the questions have been linked to specific items (almost always, texts, mostly from the reader).  I could keep it that way, but link it to a specific subset of required material.  If you’d like to keep it that way, which items do you think should be in the subset?

Or the questions could be more thematic, in which case you’d be free to draw on *any* material, required or recommended, for your response.  In this case, I’d provide a list of themes/topics/general questions in advance, on the review sheet.  If anyone has any thoughts on this — suggested themes/topics/questions —  let me know (here or in class).

Other proposals are welcome too.  I’m curious to hear your thoughts about what makes a good exam (i.e., good meaning providing fair assessment — not good as in easy, of course ;)

Add’l posting option for 5/5: Empire Special-“Beyond Bin Laden”

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

This special program on Al Jazeera English features an in-depth, wide-raging discussion among regional experts on the present and future of terrorism in the Greater Middle East. They consider the nature and reach of al-Qaeda and contrast it with the Taliban.  Panelists compare OBL’s rhetoric and reality, finding that despite OBL’s rhetorical references, al-Qaeda never really had a discernible “social program.”  From the episode description:

Osama bin Laden is dead. The world’s most wanted man has finally been killed after a hunt that lasted more than a decade, triggered global wars, and cost the lives of tens of thousands of people.

But will this be the end of terrorism, or is al-Qaeda now a global franchise that will replicate itself no matter what has happened to its most famous founder?

What does it mean for US wars in the Muslim world?

And will the US actions unleash a new wave of attacks around the world?

Joining us to discuss these issues are: Tariq Ali, a historian, political activist and the author of The Obama Syndrome: Surrender at Home, War Abroad; Farwaz A. Gerges, a historian, the director of the Middle East Centre at the London School of Economics and the author of Journey of the Jihadist: Inside Muslim Militancy; and Vali Nasr, a professor of international politics at Tufts University, a former senior advisor to the Obama administration for Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the author of Forces of Fortune: The Rise of the New Muslim Middle Class and What it Will Mean for the World.



Posting deadline extended this week until 5/5

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

Bin Laden: The Story So Far -The New Yorker

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

New details on the OBL operation continue to emerge, and the White House is revising its original narrative of events.  (Guardian: “Osama bin Laden’s final moments: America changes its story –The US has backtracked on claims that Osama bin Laden died in a firefight and used his wife as a human shield”)  Does it matter?

Amy Davidson writes in The New Yorker:

How much does it matter for us to get all the details right? Isn’t there a larger truth: that bin Laden was a bad man, and a murderer, and a plotter of more murderers, and we got him—imperfectly, maybe, but doing our best? It still matters, a great deal. Our victory over him, ultimately, will depend on whether people in the world feel that we are asking them to live with the indignity of being lied to—or are complicit in the lies we tell ourselves—or are, instead, dealing with them honestly. The soldiers who went after him risked their lives; we can live with the truth, whatever it is.

Sched change & eligible content for April *26* blog posting deadline

Saturday, April 16th, 2011

‘In Financial Crisis, No Prosecutions of Top Figures’ – NYT 4/14

Saturday, April 16th, 2011

“It is a question asked repeatedly across America: why, in the aftermath of a financial mess that generated hundreds of billions in losses, have no high-profile participants in the disaster been prosecuted?” Gretchen Morgenson and Louise Story investigate the reasons why and provide a list of specific crimes that could form the basis of charges against top executives.

Here’s a link to a radio interview with Story on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show: “No Arrests for Financial Crisis” (4/15/11)

The New York Times
April 14, 2011
Brendan McDermid/Reuters

In late 2010, then-Attorney General Andrew Cuomo sued the accounting firm Ernst & Young,accusing it of helping Lehman Brothers “engage in massive accounting fraud.”


Close Window

Copyright 2011 The New York Times Company

DCSIMG

Manning, Human Rights, and US Moral Leadership

Friday, April 15th, 2011

As discussed in class, Bradley Manning, the US Army soldier charged with leaking classified government documents to WikiLeaks, has been detained for nine months in a military brig.  Over the last month, the chorus of international and domestic critics condemning the conditions of Manning’s detention has grown.  As The Guardian reported earlier this week, a letter signed by “more than 250 of America’s most eminent legal scholars” — including Laurence Tribe, a Harvard professor who taught constitutional law to Barack Obama and joined the Obama administration last year as a legal adviser in the justice department, a post he held until three months ago — claims Manning is being detained “under degrading and inhumane conditions that are illegal and immoral.” Late last week, Manning’s lawyer charged that the brig is violating its own rules by denying “official visit” authorization to Rep. Dennis Kucinich, a representative of Amnesty International, and Juan Mendez, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Torture formally investigating Manning’s detention conditions. Now, Mendez, in strong language, has condemned the US. As The Guardian reports: “It is the kind of censure that the UN normally reserves for authoritarian regimes around the world.”

While critics claim the US media has been reluctant to question the administration on this policy, this US State Dept press briefing from Monday, April 11th, is clearly an exception.  Reporters question whether the State Dept is using double standards when it criticizes China’s human rights practices.

‘Nanny Lit’s New Voice: Victoria Brown’ – The Takeaway

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

Here’s the “Takeaway” interview with the former nanny I mentioned in class:

‘Nanny lit’ may have turned heads years ago in the publishing world, but there’s a new voice — and a new book — getting people excited about the genre. Trinidadian immigrant Victoria Brown worked as a nanny on the Upper East Side, and she talks with us about her new book, “Minding Ben,” as well as her own path to motherhood.

Content for April 12th blog deadline

Friday, April 8th, 2011

Choose any two items below to discuss in your blog posts.

[April 7 – Political Globalization: Reorganizing the World]

Ch. 34, “Power Shift,” (Jessica T. Mathews) pp. 287-293.

* Audio-mp3: “Following Up: Haiti Recovery Economics,” Brian Lehrer Show, WNYC/NPR, 04/02/2010. [excerpt, in-class]

Recommended (video): “Activist Naomi Klein on her new book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism,” (interview), CTV. (27 min)

Recommended: Ch. 35, “The Backlash against NGOs,” (Michael Bond) pp. 294-299.

[April 12 – Cultural Globalization: The Role of Media]

Ch. 36, “Media and Sovereignty: The Global Information Revolution and Its Challenge to State Power,” (Monroe E. Price) pp. 306-310.

* Video: “Social Networks, Social Revolution,” Empire, Al Jazeera English, 2/17/2011 [excerpts, in-class]

[added 4/10]: Recommended (video): Glenn Greenwald Discusses Wikileaks at National Conference on Media Reform, 4/8/2011. (Start at 55: 45 – End at 1:13:00) (18 min)

Recommended (video): “Inside WikiLeaks,” Journeyman Pictures, 2010. (24 min)

Recommended (websites):

  • Creative Commons: http://creativecommons.org.  CC is a nonprofit organization that works to increase the amount of creativity (cultural, educational, and scientific content) in “the commons” — the body of work that is available to the public for free and legal sharing, use, repurposing, and remixing.
  • Free Culture: http://freeculture.org
  • Copyright Criminals/Independent Lens: http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/copyright-criminals/index.html.  “Copyright Criminals,” a documentary on the use of musical sampling, asks “Can you own a sound?” and considers the past and – inevitably global— future directions of “remix” culture. Click CLASSROOM tab to view video clips.

[April 14 – Case study: Latino Immigration and American National Identity]

* “The Hispanic Challenge,” Foreign Policy, Huntington, S., March/April 2004.

Recommended (text): “The Hispanic Challenge? What We Know About Latino Immigration,” Strum and Selle, Eds., Proceedings of a Conference held on March 29, 2004, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and The Migration Policy Institute.

Recommended (audio-mp3): “The ABCs of Chinese Americans,” Helen Peng, Radio Rookies, WNYC, 10/18/2010. (10 min)

Recommended (video): “Border Wars – Libya,” Journeyman Pictures, 2010 (13 min)

Recommended (audio-stream): “Global Migration and Arrival Cities,” On Point, WBUR, 3/23/2011. (50 min)