English Language Feeds

Ontario to open first French language HEI

The PIE News - Wed, 09/13/2017 - 09:18

The Canadian province of Ontario is set to establish its first French language university, the provincial government has announced.

The university, which is scheduled to open in Toronto in 2020, will expand the availability of French post-secondary education for both French-speaking Canadians and international students in the province.

“The creation of a  French-language university is a milestone for Franco-Ontarians”

“Francophone culture and the French language have always been essential to Ontario’s identity and prosperity,” said Marie-France Lalonde, Minister of Francophone Affairs, in a statement.

“The creation of a new French-language university, governed by and for Francophones, is a critical milestone for Franco-Ontarians and future generations.”

The university will be established in order to meet the growing need for French-language post-secondary education in Ontario.

According to a document put forward by the university planning board, the university should aim to enrol over 1,000 full time students as early as 2023-2024.

The institution will also focus on promoting mobility. The document outlines that welcoming both visiting professors and international students, as well as “increasing student exchanges at home and abroad would increase the reach of the university across the francophonie”.

It also points out that the creation of this university can also help with the province’s goal of attracting more French-speaking immigrants.

“The existence of a high-calibre French language university in Toronto would be a determining factor in the future achievement of this goal through the recruitment of an excellent faculty body from throughout the Francophonie (Canadian and international) and the recruitment of some of the most promising international students,” the proposal says.

A spokesperson for the Ontario government Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development, said that as well as the university, the planning board has also recommended the creation of a Francophone Hub of Knowledge and Innovation, in order to create a francophone environment.

“The combination of the [university] and the Hub will allow French-language international students to pursue their studies in French and flourish in a French [environment] while at the same time expanding their ability to speak English within the greater multicultural diversity of the Greater Toronto Area,” she told The PIE News.

“Ontario’s recent membership to the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie may act as a catalyst and encourage international students to consider attending the French-language university in central and southwest Ontario.”

There are 25,195 international students studying in Canada from countries where at least half of the population speaks French, according to 2016 IRCC data.

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Russian students hit with visa trouble amid US-Russia tensions

The PIE News - Wed, 09/13/2017 - 08:52

Russian students hoping to study in the US have been hit by the side effects of continuing diplomatic turmoil between the two nations, as education agents report major issues in the visa process as a result.

The US consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, and Vladivostok have suspended all non-immigrant visa processes, and the Moscow embassy continues to operate at a reduced rate. The US government says this is solely due to restrictions on US diplomatic staff numbers imposed by Russia.

This means that Russian prospective students living in the north or east of Russia have to travel huge distances to attend non-immigrant visa interviews.

“On the phone they say that there is a very limited number of visa interview dates”

Deputy director of Russian education agency, Students International, Igor Mishurov revealed that the situation has slightly improved in September but significant hurdles remain.

“[The] call centre began working again, although we have to wait for a half an hour until they answer. On the phone they say that there is a very limited number of visa interview dates,” he said.

This, coupled with the nine hour flight time between the city of Vladivostok and Moscow, accentuates the difficulty of the situation.

“Luckily it happened just after the summer, not on the eve of the summer,” he admitted. “Because if it was in April or May, it would be suicide for us. End of August, more or less we survive.”

The US consular website said interviews would begin in Moscow from September 1, but Mishurov reported that interview registration only re-started on September 13.

“On the phone they don’t give any advice besides apply in other neighbouring countries (Latvia, Lithuania, Kazakhstan),” Mishurov added.

And Andrei Arsentiev, marketing director of the Moscow-based Intellectual education agency, said that forcing students from eastern Russia to fly to the capital for their visa interview will result in a drop of students travelling to the US.

This is at least partially because Russian students living in the west of the country are much more likely to study in Europe, rather than the US.

“The main market would be closer to the border – starting from Siberia and [east], because Moscow region, European region – they tend to go [to Europe] unless [they] are desperate to get into the US,” Arsentiev commented.

“Because to come to the UK is a three hour flight from Moscow, and to go to the US is a day’s trip.”

The US consular services in Russia currently advises those whose interviews were cancelled to call the Moscow embassy to re-schedule.

“[Non-immigrant visa] applicants who have their interviews cancelled should call the number below to reschedule their interview at the US embassy in Moscow for a later date,” the online statement reads.

Furthermore, a State Department spokesperson told The PIE News that the reduction of services is not a decision taken by the US, but a consequence of the Russian government requiring a reduction in US consular staff.

“Russia required us to drastically reduce personnel in our mission”

“Russia required us to drastically reduce personnel in our mission, and as a direct result we were forced to drastically scale back the level of all services provided by our embassy and consulates, including visa services,” the spokesperson said.

“It is unfortunate that we will no longer have the staff necessary to promptly meet the strong demand for visas among the Russian people”.

They added that the US government will continue to assess the possibility of providing visa interviews in the future.

“As we assess our operations at this new, reduced size, we will determine if we can resume limited visa interviews at the consulates in the future,” they said.

According to IIE’s Open Doors report, there were 5,444 Russian students studying in the US in 2015/16.

The PIE News asked the Russian government for comment on this story but has not received a reply at the time of publication.

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Peyi Soyinka-Airewele, Ithaca College, US

The PIE News - Wed, 09/13/2017 - 03:36
Bringing Africa to her classroom in New York state was a dream of Peyi Soyinka-Airewele’s. Subsequently, the Classrooms Beyond Borders initiative was born, which connects students and faculty around the world. She tells The PIE about how the project has developed over the years, Africa’s role in internationalisation, and the importance of ensuring that partnerships are mutually beneficial.

The PIE: How did you get involved international education?

PSA: It was after I got to Ithaca College, I began teaching there and found I was the only black female faculty member in the African program. I very desperately wanted to find ways of opening windows and doors to my students so they could begin to understand the African continent, the black experience and African American history outside of anything that one person could ever provide for them.

It was more than just wanting them to go on study abroad programs, I wanted to be able to transform my own classroom, how I conceptualised the classroom and how it helped them to see the space as just a launching board where they could themselves travel, find linkages, question what I am saying, be aware there is controversy about everything I teach on the African continent.

And I found that it is too easy to become that voice of wisdom, that authoritative master from Africa, on Africa and I really wanted them to be able to really imagine they were studying on the continent themselves, and so that is where I began finding how can I do this, how can I think outside the box.

The PIE: So how did you start doing that?

PSA: I guess the first thing I did was to start with a concept which was a classroom which was international and collaborative and that could have multiple teachers and multiple students and a place for discussion. So I started by reaching out to my alma mater in Nigeria at Obafemi Awolowo University – I connected to some of my friends and faculty members, I then convinced my institution, Ithaca College to be invested in it, travelled, sat down with them and we brainstormed on how we could do this.

“I really wanted them to be able to really imagine they were studying on the continent themselves”

We developed a great collaborative relationship, and I think that is really the first step where the people who are spearheading this idea actually build a really good relationship, understanding the mutual benefits we could get. I think that very often we leave that out, when you are in the US in a pretty powerful space and we tend to impose our own interests and needs upon the rest of the world.

So for me it was something that was, ‘do you think this is something that might be interesting to you, of any benefit to your students?’, and they were like ‘yes, let’s go’ and so we decided why don’t we coordinate two classes and so they had a human rights classroom there. I had a class that was African war politics and so we began to look at how we could have intersections in the syllabus where we could then have shared materials that might be a great place for students to talk and engage.

Then there was a problem – their internet service was really bad so we had to think about a synchronous way of working together, so I travelled, I did recordings of the teacher speaking about some of those things and then we discussed it and we put that on the website, uploaded their students to our university website and so the students started with this conversation about themselves, their backgrounds and what they were interested in and then it took off from there.

The PIE: So how long ago was this?

PSA: This was 2002, it has expanded, more universities joined in, another university in Nigeria, then Ghana, South Africa, Palestine and in the US also.

The PIE: So you all work together now as a network?

PSA: We work together, for me it is not just about the students, it is about us scholars needing one another for survival, having that passion. I think there has to be that need, and I have never wanted to be in a place in the US where I could ever feel that I was an African politics or international relations faculty member without needing the world – without needing to learn from my colleagues, to have them challenge your ideas.

“There are limitations with technology because you still feel that distance from when you are actually in that space”

Ithaca College is a fairly wealthy institution, fairly small, it is about 7,000 students and so it is easy for each of us to carve out these areas of our expertise, it is not like you have an array of an entire program, and so I needed that program and so the world is my program.

It is where I find colleagues who challenge me, otherwise I would have no one else to talk to and I wanted my students to feel the same way whenever they are in the classroom – it is what you don’t know that is more important that what you think you are actually learning.

The PIE: Is there student mobility between the campuses? Is this something you are looking into?

PSA: They travel, but idea with the Classrooms Beyond Borders program, I was really concerned about the fact that students who we work with on the African continent often do not have as much mobility as our students. So we discussed this and were very careful to want to find a way that students did not feel deprived within the program because they didn’t have that mobility.

So the idea was how do we create a different sense of mobility without first feeling deprived or marginalised because one person can get a visa, or doesn’t even need a visa and the other has to line up for a year and never get a visa.

Although secretly our desire would be to have students travel and exchange across the campuses, we were very careful to keep that on the backburner and to look for ways we could actually amplify what it meant to work in a collaborative mode outside of an imperial or colonial model.

There are limitations with technology because you still feel that distance from when you are actually in that space but it was to create a desire for students to want to be in that space and so if it happened we would encourage and support that.

The PIE: How do you see Africa’s position in the internationalisation debate?

PSA: The conversation seems to be that in the rest of the world, without getting out, without bringing people in, Africa will never match up. I think it is something we have to be very careful about and decide why is it that we are invested into the conversation about internationalisation.

For many African institutions it is about falling behind in the rankings, so the only way to become ranked is to compete with them out there and to become part of that globalisation, but the reality is that globalisation has systematically left Africa out and created that sense of exploitation. So how do we get out of that very vicious cycle and that discourse and still be part of what we are already part of?

“It is about creating inclusive communities, inclusive societies and that is what I am looking at”

For me I am looking at how do we navigate that? What are the positive goods that matter to us? Those are the kinds of things I was reflecting upon when I was thinking about a time way back in history. The difference is imagining what inclusiveness means. I think for me it is less about internationalisation and more Africa for its own needs, its own struggles. It is about creating inclusive communities, inclusive societies and that is what I am looking at.

Where there is mutual exchange, a mutual benefit, in that expansive sense where you are very intentional, you are still determined and controlling what it is that you want, the values that underpinned that system, the end products of it, the outcomes of it.

I think that is what we need to focus on, because the indigenisation process was very important for many African institutions; it was necessary to recover control of our fortune. But at the same time I think its unintended consequences, a combination of the economic crisis with that postcolonial struggle for sovereignty, led to a kind of situation where its institutions became primarily only African.

I think that deprives all of us, I think it deprives the world, the students and faculty members of very human interaction and exchange where people come and benefit from learning in the context that we also kind of gave from them.

I think when that is there, things like collaborations in research then take off in a more natural, very equitable manner. What we have now in this conversation is an almost desperate longing for the goods of the West, it is a little one sided, it is how our students will get there, how we get funding – that is problematic.

The PIE: So what were the African institutions’ priority for the collaborations they have with Ithaca?

PSA: There were hidden layers and then there were the voiced layers. What was spoken in terms of their priorities was that they wanted their students to be a part of a conversation that meant that they had access to books, to resources.

I began with Nigeria and it is a very cosmopolitan country, very engaged with the world, students are online when they can afford it.

Initially, they thought it would be great to have those conversations, it would be great as political scientists, international relations to actually be engaged in that sense and that was the initial thing. But what happened was within a year, it became clear the students were wanting something more substantive and this is partly because in many African countries success and progress is defined in terms of certification.

And so you are working with students who are seniors or juniors, they are not just thinking about conversation, they want to know about postgraduate studies, they wanted to know about things we hadn’t initially thought about.

It did make me then realise that I was to some extent initially engaging from the point of privilege of the students at Ithaca who were not so much worried about the ‘after’ in that same concrete way. I had more flexibility with grading, so I could grade my students more easily in terms of the conversations, the reading, their engagement. In the universities we were working with, they had set exams, so everything that they were doing was an extra and they couldn’t get credit for it so easily.

“In many African countries success and progress is defined in terms of certification”

We began by having conversations about could we change that and then we found out that they were exerting a lot more effort in terms of having access to the internet and things like that so we had to look into how to work through those dilemmas. We began to create joint courses and using that as a starting point of how do we create certification.

So that itself was the thing we were learning as students and faculty members about the ethics about how you create mutual benefit; how do you avoid exploitative relationships; how do we transform the conventional ways in which the West works with the rest.

The PIE: One of the hot topics in the international education sector is employability. How are these outcomes measured?

PSA: That was a key concern for the students overseas in particular. For the students in Ithaca it seemed to them instinctive that it will increase my employability because I can talk about this experience, and we began attracting a lot of students who are open to going into that career. We have students who are now working with NGOs overseas, in the Congo, they have done really well, many of them.

But for the students in Nigeria and in Palestine I think it has been more beneficial through their postgraduate programming because for many of them it is much more difficult to navigate from a first degree into that employment and so it has been very helpful.

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Tensions grow over harassment allegations at University of Rochester

Inside Higher Ed - Wed, 09/13/2017 - 00:08

Tensions are growing at the University of Rochester over allegations of harassment by a prominent professor.

After the allegations surfaced in an article in Mother Jones that appeared Friday, the university strongly defended its handling of the case and said that there was no evidence to back up the allegations.

But on Tuesday night, the president of the university apologized for comparing the allegations to the fraudulent charges about a fraternity that were published in Rolling Stone, and the president said the professor would not be teaching class this semester, The Democrat and Chronicle reported.

The article in Mother Jones immediately attracted considerable attention. It details allegations made by graduate students and professors at the University of Rochester against T. Florian Jaeger, a professor of brain and cognitive sciences.

The headline of the Mother Jones piece, which summarizes the piece well, is "She Was a Rising Star at a Major University. Then a Lecherous Professor Made Her Life Hell." The article and a 111-page complaint filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission detail complaints about inappropriate sexual comments, a blurring of professor/graduate student boundaries and a series of interactions that left young women uncomfortable and anxious not to work in Jaeger's laboratory. While the story is told through the experience of one woman, it notes complaints from others. The article states that 11 women have opted to avoid interaction with Jaeger, who is a well-known researcher. Jaeger did not comment to Mother Jones or respond to Inside Higher Ed.

The article said the university cleared Jaeger of any wrongdoing.

The University of Rochester released a statement on Saturday disputing the article, while not citing the article, the publication or the professor by name.

"We understand that those not familiar with the investigation conducted would find the language in the complaint deeply disturbing. However, the core allegations in this complaint were thoroughly investigated and could not be substantiated. We are highly confident in the integrity of these investigations -- we followed our processes for fair investigations and due process for all involved, interviewing dozens of witnesses whose names were given to us as alleged victims," the statement said

Then the university's president, Joel Seligman, sent an email to everyone on campus Sunday in which he defended the university and criticized the article. And in a comment that drew particular criticism on campus, he said, "I would urge you not to reach any conclusions about what may have occurred based on the allegations in the complaint itself or in media reports. Allegations are not facts, and as we saw in Rolling Stone’s withdrawn story about sexual assault at the University of Virginia, even established media outlets can get it wrong."

It was that comparison that Seligman apologized for Tuesday night at a town hall meeting attended by hundreds of students and faculty members.

"I want to apologize for a reference I made in my response a few days ago which may have exacerbated hurt feelings," Seligman said, according to the Democrat and Chronicle. "And that was a reference to the story in Rolling Stone about the University of Virginia."

An online petition calling for Jaeger's firing added a paragraph specifically taking Seligman to task for the comparison to the allegations in Rolling Stone.

"The Rolling Stone cases featured an anonymous accuser and had no corroboration," the petition says. "This case involves a systematic pattern of behavior supported by dozens of witnesses. The key witnesses and survivors are not anonymous and have put their reputations on the line. By invoking a hoax with little resemblance to this case, President Seligman has insulted rape and abuse survivors everywhere, as well as the entire UR community. This statement is repugnant."

While Seligman apologized for that statement, and said that the university would create a commission to study how it responds to sexual harassment allegations, he did not suggest that the university will fire Jaeger. And while students celebrated the news that he wouldn't be teaching this semester (see photo above), there are no indications that the university has changed its analysis of the allegations against him.

Students and others had been planning a protest in a class he was to have taught today.

One student in the class posted to a Facebook page an email the student said Jaeger sent students. Mother Jones said that two students in the class had forwarded the email to its journalists. Jaeger did not respond to a request to confirm he wrote the email.

In the email, Jaeger is quoted as saying he understands the anger people may be feeling reading about the case. But he says that there is more to the story. "I have read comments online, and while many of them are personally painful for me to read (as most of these comments do not grant me 'presumption of innocence,' to put it mildly), I am glad that there is now generally so much support for people who speak up against discrimination," the Facebook post says.

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Cornell Tech officially opens campus on New York City's Roosevelt Island

Inside Higher Ed - Wed, 09/13/2017 - 00:00

The official opening is scheduled today for Cornell Tech's campus on New York City's Roosevelt Island, marking the start of operations there almost seven years after then Mayor Michael Bloomberg sent universities scrambling to win a competition for a new city-incubated research campus.

During the run-up to the opening, officials have stressed the campus's capacity to mix academics, graduate students, entrepreneurs and business leaders in a setting to advance research and business start-ups. In other words, the campus can be seen as a monument to a creative class-style vision, where highly educated professionals can cooperate, where their ideas can cross-pollinate and where their work can bloom into new technologies and companies.

But Cornell Tech also represents significant power shifts in the higher education ecosystem and in New York City’s information economy. It can be seen as an as an aggressive move by Cornell University, the Ivy League institution tucked away upstate in snowy Ithaca, N.Y., where it has long worked to strengthen ties to New York City. Cornell won the competition for the new campus in part by undertaking an ambitious partnership with the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.

The project has drawn its share of critics, with some faculty members speaking out against the partnership with an Israeli university they see as part of the country’s military-industrial complex. Others voiced concern that Cornell’s attention is slipping too far away from its home campus. Meanwhile, some of Cornell’s competitors in New York City privately grumble that they were overshadowed by the competition and subsequent development on Roosevelt Island.

Cornell’s leaders clearly saw upside for the project from its early planning stages. Interactions between companies, nonprofits and government agencies are critical to future innovation, said Daniel P. Huttenlocher (right), Cornell Tech's founding dean and vice provost.

“If we were going to be interacting with a wide range of corporate and other actors, it had to be in a major metro area,” he said. “If you're in New York State, New York City is the major metro area.”

The campus is now home to 30 faculty members and close to 300 students, including 35 Ph.D. students. Only its first phase has been finished, a $700 million step with 700,000 square feet spread across an academic building, an open-floor-plan incubator and an environmentally friendly residential high-rise.

Plans call for significant growth in the coming years. An executive education center and hotel are expected to open in 2019. More than two million square feet of building space are eventually expected to be constructed on the 12-acre campus when it is complete. More than 2,000 graduate students would study there.

Those are remarkable plans for a project many didn’t expect Cornell to win.

The Competition

In late 2010 news reports first said New York City was searching for a university strong in engineering and applied sciences to build a new research institute. The city issued a request for expressions of interest, drawing 18 responses from 27 higher education institutions by March 2011. It issued a request for proposals in July.

Bloomberg laid out his vision for the project in a speech that month. The city was offering several pieces of real estate at essentially no cost, along with $100 million in infrastructure upgrades, he said, likening the initiative to the U.S. government’s 1862 land grant program to create new universities. While existing engineering schools in New York City were taking the initiative seriously, they were not the only ones.

“Universities from around the country -- and some from around the world -- have expressed interest in our offer,” Bloomberg said, according to a transcript. “And that's how it should be. Because we are an international city -- and a city that believes in free competition. We are open to any person with any dream, any entrepreneur with any idea, any company with any capital and any university with any proposal.”

Several international institutions expressed interest, including Technion. Among domestic universities, Cornell, Carnegie Mellon, Columbia, New York and Purdue Universities were among the biggest names stepping into the competition. But many considered the front-runner to be Stanford University, because of its long history of launching start-ups and close association with Silicon Valley’s growth. Like Cornell, Stanford was interested in locating a campus on Roosevelt Island, and the two universities soon became the most public with their plans.

The field thinned out as competitors refined proposals over the next several months. Purdue, for instance, dropped its bid in September 2011, saying the city wasn’t offering enough financial support to offset the university’s expense projections.

Then on Oct. 11, just 17 days before proposals were due, Stanford announced a partnership with the City University of New York. The two institutions were creating a demonstration site on the City College campus for Stanford undergraduate programs in areas including entrepreneurship and technology management. If Stanford’s bid for the city competition were to be successful, the partnership was set to expand to include joint City College-Stanford undergraduate and graduate programs.

A week later, Cornell announced it would partner with Technion on its proposal to the city. The move significantly bolstered Cornell’s bid, as Technion brought a new level of commercialization and business credentials to the table. At the time, half the companies from Israel on the Nasdaq were said to be led by Technion alumni.

Cornell and Technion had been meeting in secret for months, according to The New York Times, which described “a veil of secrecy” over discussions between the two institutions that included a meeting in Beijing and three days sequestered in the Cornell Club of New York.

Leaders at Cornell thought they had a major advantage in the competition thanks to the university’s strong engineering and computer science programs, said Huttenlocher, who was the dean of Cornell Computing and Information Science in Ithaca at the time. They also felt Cornell had advantages because of its unique identify as the land-grant institution in New York State and as a university already involved in New York City, where it has its medical school. Nonetheless, the university believed a partnership with Technion would strengthen its proposal.

The two institutions told city officials at the end of the summer that they were forming an alliance. But they waited until October to make the information public.

That followed a strategy of releasing details about the bid strategically.

“We were competing against a bunch of other schools, some of them very top schools, and I think some of them viewed Cornell as an underdog in this process,” Huttenlocher said. “It was to our advantage to do a lot of the planning without making it completely public and reveal things strategically at various times during the competition.”

As a deadline passed by the end of October, the city had received seven proposals from 17 higher education institutions. City leaders were considering approving two sites, The Wall Street Journal reported. Stanford and Cornell’s bids were considered front-runners.

In December, as the city prepared to announce the winner of the competition, two pieces of news surprised observers: Stanford dropped its bid, and Cornell announced it had secured a $350 million donation toward building a campus.

Stanford’s official explanation was that the bid was being dropped because of the city’s terms. Cornell, meanwhile, was touting a gift that it said was the largest in the university’s history.

Officials would later recount the moment that Cornell and Technion gave a detailed presentation on their proposal to city leaders. It was Dec. 3, and news of the gift would not become public for roughly two weeks. But Cornell’s president at the time, David J. Skorton, revealed the donation at the end of his presentation.

“It's pretty breathtaking when other schools are talking about the challenges of fund-raising, and one of your strongest competitors says on the first phase financing: ‘done,’” Robert K. Steel, who was deputy mayor for economic development and the city official overseeing the competition, told The New York Times.

Before the end of the month, Cornell and Technion’s proposal was named the winner of the competition. City officials pointed to the fact that it proposed the largest operation, had the most aggressive timeline and promised a $150 million start-up fund.

The New Cornell Tech

Cornell’s new campus has been operating temporarily out of Google’s New York City building since 2012. That allowed it to start with a small operation, focusing on program quality instead of growing the sheer number of students enrolled, Huttenlocher said.

The curriculum has been continuously refined as Cornell Tech grows.

“It just continued to change,” Huttenlocher said. “It’s very different with 300 students than it was with 20.”

Leaders were also able to secure significant funding in the last several years. There was the $350 million donation unveiled at the end of the competition, which came from Charles F. Feeney, a billionaire who founded Duty Free Shoppers. Irwin Jacobs, Qualcomm founding chairman and CEO emeritus, and his wife, Joan, gave $133 million. Bloomberg Philanthropies pitched in $100 million. In total, Cornell Tech has raised more than $750 million, not counting the $100 million from the city for construction, Huttenlocher said.

The campus is home to seven master’s programs -- including in computer science, electrical and computer engineering, operations research, and information engineering, an M.B.A. and a master of laws in law, technology and entrepreneurship. The other graduate programs, with Technion, are in connective media and health tech. Officials also point out that that Cornell Tech is organized around research groups like security and privacy and artificial intelligence.

Technion’s president, Peretz Lavie (left), said “there’s no doubt” the campus in New York is increasing the Israeli university's name recognition. In addition to the graduate campus in New York, Technion opened a new campus in Shantou, China, this fall with a first group of 240 undergraduates.

“This is part of our strategic goal of globalization,” said Lavie. He said that Technion’s main campus in Haifa is located midway between New York and Shantou, an 11-hour flight from both places.

“The joke is when the sun rises in China they go to sleep in New York -- so the sun never sets on the Technion,” he said.

Lavie said the joint Jacobs Cornell-Technion Institute, established with the Jacobses’ $133 million gift, accounts for about a third of the students on the Roosevelt Island campus. In addition to the two dual master’s programs in connective media and health tech, it offers a postdoctoral program for recent Ph.D. graduates who want to start technology companies.

“From an academic point of view, we are not shy of saying that applied research is as important as basic research, and students will have mentors from industry and will have mentors from academia that will collaborate with each other,” said Lavie. “We have a building called The Bridge. This is a bridge between industry and academia. We will have laboratories and offices of industrial companies and researchers from academia. I don’t believe there is such a model anywhere else.” (An interior view is at right.)

Citigroup Inc. leased nearly 11,000 square feet in The Bridge this summer. The bank plans to work with Cornell students and faculty members on emerging technologies like machine learning, big-data applications, cybersecurity and block chain. Microsoft also recently announced it is partnering with Cornell Tech on a block-chain initiative, its Initiative for Cryptocurrencies and Contracts.

In addition to The Bridge, the campus currently has an academic building named for Emma and Georgina Bloomberg, the daughters of the former mayor. It calls its residential facility the world’s first residential high-rise passive house, meaning it is built to use very little energy.

Concerns and Criticisms

At Cornell’s main campus in Ithaca, some professors worried about budget issues, as well as Technion’s involvement and what some saw as a low level of faculty consultation as the bid was being put together for New York City. They also feared that Cornell was drifting away from its College of Arts and Sciences and toward business and technology.

“I think Cornell has taken, since 2011, a hard right turn toward business and tech,” said Eric Cheyfitz, a professor of American studies and humane letters. “This was not brought before the Faculty Senate for discussion -- neither the tech campus nor the Technion connection.”

Cheyfitz is a backer of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement in academia, which seeks to boycott Israeli academic institutions. He has written that Technion is “substantially involved in the development of the systems used in the militarization” of occupied territories.

“What Cornell does, in my mind, obviously is enables an institution that is deeply involved in the oppression of Palestinians,” he said.

Huttenlocher responded that Cornell does not do classified research. Its partnership is with Technion, not the state of Israel, he said.

“I think the institution has a long history of academic partnership with places where many people may not agree with the government’s position on things,” he said. “It’s good to have collaborations with academic institutions. It’s the way you build bridges with different sorts of countries.”

Many faculty members worried early on that the focus on a New York City campus would ruin Cornell in Ithaca, said William Fry, professor emeritus of plant pathology and plant-microbe biology who was dean of faculty from 2008 to 2012. But the major donations for Cornell Tech assuaged some of those concerns. So did word that all faculty in New York City would have tenure homes in Ithaca.

“It meant that the departmental structure in Ithaca would be involved in quality control,” Fry said. “It would mandate communication among individuals in the two different locations.”

Cornell’s current dean of faculty, Charles Van Loan, said administrators have been very clear that New York City will not siphon resources from Ithaca. The trick is making sure a firewall is set up correctly. While many institutions have multiple campuses, most branches don’t come with the visibility of a highly touted project on Roosevelt Island.

“There are sort of financial ways you can ensure that,” said Van Loan, a professor emeritus of computer science. “It’s just another thing to think about. If you think more about Cornell Tech, the argument goes, you’re going to be thinking less about the Ithaca campus.”

Some faculty members struggle to see how liberal education at Cornell fits with Cornell Tech and its emphasis on entrepreneurship. Van Loan sees it as connected, but admits not everyone agrees.

“There’s a whole range of opinion,” he said. “It’s almost impossible to sum it up.”

Rivalries in New York City

The attention lavished upon Cornell Tech has led some at rival institutions to complain privately. But none would do so on the record.

Several engineering schools are already located in New York City, including Columbia University’s Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science and the Polytechnic Institute of New York University, which is now named the Tandon School of Engineering. Both Columbia and NYU were among institutions that submitted proposals in the city competition.

The city went on to reach tech-oriented deals with both universities. In April 2012, it announced an agreement with NYU giving the university a 99-year, $1 lease for a 500,000-square foot building that formerly served as the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s headquarters in downtown Brooklyn. The university is using the building as a centerpiece for expansion efforts in Brooklyn and as a place to bring together artists, scientists and engineers. The university’s first tenant slated for the building is the Center for Urban Science and Progress, which was created under the 2012 announcement. That center combines engineering, data informatics and social sciences in an attempt to improve cities.

Andrew Hamilton, NYU’s president, said he views Cornell Tech’s presence in the city as beneficial, rather than as a rival for his university’s applied sciences efforts.

“I would say it stimulated a healthy competition and collaboration,” he said. “That’s something that academic institutions are very capable of doing at the same time, both competing and collaborating with our partner universities.”

Columbia, meanwhile, announced an agreement in July 2012 to create a new institute for data sciences and engineering at the university’s Morningside Heights and Washington Heights campuses. City incentives were said to total $15 million, including discounted energy costs and some debt forgiveness.

After Cornell was announced as the winner of the city competition in December 2011, discussions continued between Columbia and the city’s Economic Development Corporation, said Patricia Culligan, founding associate director of the Columbia Data Science Institute. The university eventually submitted a modified proposal, and a deal was struck.

“It creates a great draw for students in the city and much larger work force,” said Kathleen McKeown, a Columbia professor of computer science and founding director of the Data Science Institute. “Therefore, it builds the tech community within New York. That is what Bloomberg wanted.”

Observers outside academia say the competition that led to Cornell Tech has created a significant change in the city’s higher ed and entrepreneurial scenes. New York institutions had been known more for selling patents to be commercialized than for helping local start-ups develop into companies, said Jonathan Bowles, executive director for the Center for an Urban Future, a Manhattan-based policy think tank.

“It was one of the reasons why Stanford, and not just Cornell, but Technion, were so important to this process,” he said. “We need the engineering prowess from all of our institutions.”

Elizabeth Redden contributed to this article.

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Prominent journal that accepted controversial study on AI gaydar is reviewing ethics in the work

Inside Higher Ed - Wed, 09/13/2017 - 00:00

Michal Kosinski, a psychologist and assistant professor of business at Stanford University, knew his new study about training a computer to recognize gays and lesbians by their photos would be controversial: so much so that he sat on the paper for months before submitting it for publication.

But while Kosinski expected backlash, he didn’t expect the journal that had already accepted his paper -- a preliminary version of which has been widely viewed online -- to do what it did this week: initiate another review of parts of the study, citing new concerns about ethics.

“In the process of preparing the [manuscript] for publication, some concerns have been raised about the ethical status of your project. At issue is the use of facial images in both your research and the paper we accepted for publication,” an editor for the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology informed Kosinski, according to emails obtained by Inside Higher Ed. “The acceptance was conditional on the ethical clearance of the work to be published. We typically do this by having authors state the [Institutional Review Board] status of their work. However, in this particular case, there turns out to be some idiosyncratic issues that must be cleared before your paper can be set ready for publication.”

Even though the pictures of self-identified gay and lesbian people from dating sites used in the study were publicly available, the images were still copyrighted, the email says. Moreover, “the owners of the images posted them for different purposes. It may therefore be deemed unlikely that all of them would have granted consent for the use of their images in your research work.”

The journal requested that Kosinski send the notification of exemption that he received from his IRB, along with his IRB application for research involving human subjects. The American Psychological Association, which owns the journal, “needs to be assured” that Stanford’s IRB approved all aspects of the study, the email says, including that copyrighted pictures would be involved, and that human subjects would be employed to assess the pictures, stripped of any personal identifiable information, via the commonly used service Mechanical Turk. (The idea was to compare the algorithm’s so-called gaydar success rate with regular people’s.)

Kosinski said in an interview that despite the sensitive nature of his topic and subsequent findings, his study design was very conventional: it relied on publicly available facial images and anonymous Mechanical Turk workers. The study design and data sources were reviewed and approved by Stanford’s IRB. A copy of the approval letter was provided to Inside Higher Ed.

It’s highly unusual for a journal to accept a paper -- a process that involves extensive peer review -- and then ask for more information. And the request comes after a week of extensive media coverage of the paper, along with much attention from blogs and critics -- in particular gay rights groups GLAAD and the Human Rights Campaign. Both organizations have called the study “junk science” and a serious threat to people of all sexual orientations, based the model’s potential to be someday used against them.

Kosinski has pointed out that the facial recognition technology he used to build his model is already widely used, and that the point of the paper was to highlight privacy concerns in the digital age.

That threat is what prompted him to publish the paper, despite concerns about backlash, and post a version online before official publication, he said.

The latter choice was also a nod to science's push for greater data transparency, Kosinski said. Yet perhaps ironically, that choice -- and the prepublication backlash it enabled -- may have contributed to the journal’s most recent communication. Contrast the tone of this week’s email, for example, with one from the same editor sent in August, notifying Kosinski that his paper had been accepted. “Your work is very innovative, and carries far-reaching implications for social psychology and beyond," it said. "I am therefore very pleased to accept this version of the paper in [the journal]. Congratulations!”

GLAAD applauded the journal’s decision Tuesday, but a spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment about whether the organization had been in contact with the publication.

“Academic freedom is a right of research professionals, but hyperbolic research claims around being LGBT can put people in harm’s way,” Jim Halloran, the organization’s chief digital officer, said in a statement. “The research identified a pattern of physical traits of a small subset of photos that people uploaded to internet dating sites, not that facial recognition could detect if someone is gay or lesbian. Months ago, Stanford and the researchers invited LGBTQ organizations to provide feedback on this research, but when concerns were raised, they acknowledged the limitations of the research and recklessly proceeded.”

Others questioned the journal's move.

Philip Cohen, a professor of sociology at the University of Maryland at College Park who quibbled with Kosinski’s conclusions on his blog, Family Inequality, said via email that journals usually defer to institutional IRBs. “If they approved it, then I don't see what the issue is,” he said.

Cohen has used his blog to offer much harsher criticism of past research involving gays and lesbians, including the now-infamous Regnerus study suggesting that children of parents who are gay fare worse than those with straight parents.

Some research, he said, “is so harmful that it should be protested through channels other than scientific debate, so unethical that the authors should lose their jobs or be ostracized.” But of Kosinski and Wang's paper, he said, “I don't see that here, based on the information I've seen.”

Cohen added, “I don't think we need to villainize these researchers in order to object to or disagree with their research. The paper was reviewed and accepted. It's part of the scholarly record, like a lot of other research I don't like.”

As for the copyright issue, Cohen said that studying publicly available information, such as dating service profiles, is “fine” as long as confidentiality is maintained: no names or other information that could be used to identify them.

David Nimmer, a professor of the practice in law at the University of California, Los Angeles, said that Kosinski’s study appeared to pose no copyright issues from a legal perspective, either.

While pictures are indeed copyrighted by the person who took them (or someone else by agreement), uploading a photo to the internet “inherently” means that it will be used for something, he said. And Kosinski’s paper doesn’t include photos of individuals, beyond composite “gay” and “straight” faces based on tens of thousands of photos.

“Is this pretense?” Nimmer asked rhetorically of the copyright issue raised by the journal. “I don’t see anything other than pretense. There very well may be more to it than I know -- somebody might have a legitimate concern -- but based on [available information], they’ve done a scholarly survey that looked at copyrighted images for no other purpose than that.”

Sara F. Hawkins, a Phoenix-based attorney specializing in social media law, agreed, saying that Kosinski and his co-author, computer scientist Yilun Wang, have a strong case for “fair use” of the photos under copyright law. Examples of fair use include criticism, teaching and research.

Editors of the journal passed on a request for comment to the American Psychological Association, which owns it. The association said in a statement that it collects information from authors that assures the research “received proper IRB or equivalent ethics review and approval or exemption for research published in our journals.” Authors also complete a form to assure the research was conducted in line with the APA Ethics Code for research with human and animal participants, it said.

In cases where questions about the ethics review process are raised, it said, “APA takes a closer look at the documentation verifying ethical review and approval or exemption. Given the sensitive nature of photo images used in the current study, we are currently taking this additional step with this as yet unpublished manuscript.”

Kosinski said he wanted to work with the journal before commenting further.

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World Economic Forum gives U.S. high marks for human capital development

Inside Higher Ed - Wed, 09/13/2017 - 00:00

Conventional wisdom holds that higher education deserves a hearty share of blame for this country’s supposed skills gap, by failing to adequately prepare students for the work force.

But a new study from the World Economic Forum gives the United States top marks for the development of human capital, a ranking due in part to the nation’s high college enrollment and degree attainment rates.

The forum is a nonprofit foundation based in Switzerland that’s best known for its annual, invite-only event in Davos, which brings together CEOs from member companies, politicians, academics and journalists. It has released an annual human capital report and index in recent years, which often includes tweaked methodology in an effort to deepen the analysis and make it more relevant with each iteration.

Released today, the latest version of the report seeks to give a broad view of countries’ current and expected human capital, meaning the “knowledge and skills people possess to enable them to create value in the global economic system.”

The index rates 130 countries on how well they’ve optimized human capital for the benefit of economies and individuals. It’s based on four underlying measures:

  • Capacity, which is largely determined by previous investment in formal education
  • Deployment, the application and accumulation of skills through work
  • Development, the formal education of the next-generation work force and continued development of existing workers’ skills
  • Know-how, the breadth and depth of specialized skills used at work

The analysis breaks out results by age group and has a focus on lifelong learning, a trendy concept in higher education and work-force development.

“A fundamental tenet of the report is that accumulation of skills does not end at a formal education,” the forum said in a written statement, “and the continuous application and accumulation of skills through work is part of human capital development. All too often economies already possess the required talent but fail to deploy it.”

The U.S. ranked fourth on the list, trailing only the much smaller European economies of Norway, Finland and Switzerland. Rounding out the top 10 -- a group of all high-income nations -- were Denmark, Germany, New Zealand, Sweden, Slovenia and Australia.

“The leaders of the index are generally economies with a longstanding commitment to their people’s educational attainment and that have deployed a broad share of their work force in skill-intensive occupations across a broad range of sectors,” the report found.

Skepticism About Ranking

Several experts called the report an interesting and potentially useful guide for devising policies on education and work-force development. However, they were skeptical about the value of the overall ranking.

For example, Harry Holzer, a professor of public policy at Georgetown University and the former chief economist for the U.S. Department of Labor, said economists generally frown on rankings based on too many metrics -- this one included about 25.

“The results could vary a lot with exactly what weight you put on those,” he said.

In addition, Holzer said he was dubious about the U.S.’s high ranking, citing its slide in some global education and work-force comparisons, including the country’s relatively stagnant degree-attainment rates (which also feature deep gaps across racial and ethnic lines).

“If we’re so high on skills, why is our inequality so bad?” Holzer said.

The U.S. did well in most of the report’s measures, with the exception of lagging labor-force participation for core working-age groups. The nation was particularly strong in the development category, coming in at fourth place.

That ranking was based on the high college enrollment numbers for Americans under the age of 25 (86 percent) as well as the skill diversity of college graduates (eighth among all rated countries) and for the quality of the U.S. higher education system (ranked 20th).

The skill-diversity metric in the report draws from data about fields of study from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The ranking of the quality of education systems comes from a World Economic Forum survey of executives.

The U.S. does well with its capacity rating, too, due in part to its high degree-attainment rate. It joins Japan and Russia as the most populous economies where more than a quarter of working-age people hold degrees, according to the report. In Japan, roughly 50 percent of adults hold a college degree, while the rate is 31 percent in the U.S. In contrast, that figure is 10 percent in China and 8 percent in India.

In the know-how category, the U.S. did well in the percentage of prime-career workers who are employed in high-skilled jobs (42 percent, for a ranking of 21st) and for its economic complexity (ranked 14th) and the availability of skilled workers (fifth).

The relatively small amount of bad news for the U.S. included a large low-skilled sector, which the report said indicates a degree of uneven distribution and polarization of human capital, and lackluster labor-force participation rates for core working-age groups (81 percent for 25- to 54-year-olds, which ranked 82nd).

However, the report concludes that the education and work-force systems in the U.S. and Canada generally “enable older workers who choose to remain active to do so.”

Questioning the Skills Gap

The existence of a substantial skills gap in this country remains an open question.

Some research has found little evidence to back up a broad range of complaints from employers about a shortage of skilled workers, even concluding that the overeducation of American workers is a growing problem. That view has become popular as Republican-dominated federal and state governments back more noncollege job training options.

Likewise, some experts have pushed back on the idea that too few workers in the U.S. have the technical skills (particularly in math, engineering and computer science) to compete in an increasingly digital economy. They cite surveys showing that employers in high-tech fields cite inadequate soft skills -- like reading and writing -- as the biggest weaknesses among job seekers.

The World Economic Forum report tries to explore these questions through a new partnership with LinkedIn, an employment-focused social networking service, which tracks degree specialization across generations of workers, industries and economies.

LinkedIn found an overall global shift away from the traditional liberal arts and social sciences, with an increase in degree production in computer science, marketing and finance.

“We are moving forward to teaching more specialist career skills,” said Guy Berger, LinkedIn’s chief economist, who led the company’s work on the report. “We have an education system that is trying to solve immediate perceived problems.”

That could be a concern, however, as economies continue to shift rapidly. Berger said he worries about workers who are so specialized that “they don’t have the skills to potentially pivot.”

Even so, Ryan Craig, managing director of University Ventures, a higher education-focused investment firm, said he was unconvinced that the report accurately captured how employers hire.

For example, Craig said, some employers are using applicant tracking systems that automatically screen out entry-level candidates who either lack or don’t include technical skills on their applications.

“Telling an 18-year-old not to worry about technical skills at the expense of a well-rounded college education warms my heart,” he said via email, “but ignores the reality many college graduates face as soon as they face the cold, hard truth of the labor market.”

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China: education tops incentives for property investment abroad, says report

The PIE News - Tue, 09/12/2017 - 06:34

Education abroad has now become the top incentive in China to invest in the $33bn overseas property investment market, according to a recent report from global B2B property sales platform, Investorist.

The report, which surveyed 120 estate agencies in China, found that education overseas was the clients’ incentive to invest for over three quarters (76%) of respondents.

This reason topped a number of other motivations for investment overseas, such as migration (69%) and asset safety and capital gain (68%).

“Often the Chinese mother will move over with the university student to take care of them and live in the apartment also”

Jon Ellis, CEO of Investorist, said that in comparison to previous reports, education as a motivator for investment among Chinese people was increasing.

“Education is extremely important in the Chinese culture. For Chinese people, it’s the number one key to achieving success,” he told The PIE News.

“[They] believe it is absolutely indispensable to have the ability to send their children to the best foreign schools, thus enabling them to excel in the world in whatever profession they choose.”

Australia has been the top destination for Chinese property investment, with 69% estate agency respondents saying they are investing in the country now.

The demand for the US however, is increasing, currently with 59% responding they are selling into it at the moment.

The US is followed by the UK, of interest for 36% of respondents.

Melbourne is the number one destination for Chinese investors in Australia – a city which boasts six universities in the country’s top 20, the report points out.

Ellis noted that whenever they can afford to, “Chinese parents will try to buy an apartment near the college or university their child will be studying at”.

“Financially savvy investors, they will weigh up the cost of several years’ boarding at the educational institution’s accommodation, and compare that to a property asset they can own long term, and possibly give to their children after graduation,” he commented.

“Often the Chinese mother will move over with the university student to take care of them and live in the apartment also.”

Jorick Beijer, foundation manager at The Class of 2020, said that this property investment overseas for education was anticipated.

“Seeing this in the perspective of China’s economic growth, rising household incomes and the value that Chinese parents put in the international education of their children, this does not come as a surprise to us,” he told The PIE News.

“Whereas the UK, US and continental Europe for years have been very attractive student destinations, and so rental markets got more cramped, it is interesting to see that Chinese parents are now actually starting to invest in properties.”

The report also points out that “top cities for investment often also have a strong reputation for quality education”.

“Chinese people believe an international education provides the opportunity to be educated about the entire world”

While the report doesn’t measure the exact level of education the children of the Chinese investors will be enrolling into, Ellis said that in the top investment countries of Australia, the US, the UK and Canada, the properties are for higher education plans.

An increasing number of students are getting used to living in off-campus accommodation, said Vivian Shen, general manager – China and Asia at Student.com.

“Also, their overall living cost budgets are increasing and, as a result, they have higher standards when it comes to their accommodation,” she told The PIE News.

“Previously a significant number of Chinese students lived with host families in Australia. However, nowadays most students want to live independently in purpose-built student apartments.”

The report’s 120 agencies represent thousands of clients across China who sold over 10,000 units in 2016, worth almost $6bn.

In 2009, overall overseas property investment from China was $600m, and it has grown exponentially since then. It expanded to $15.8bn in the four years to 2013, and had more than doubled by the end of last year to $33bn.

And this property investment overseas for education is unlikely to slow down, said Ellis.

“Chinese people believe an international education provides the opportunity to be educated about the entire world and not just about China,” he said. “And subsequently the prospect of becoming an international professional, are most desirable.”

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Soka U has largest proportion of int’l students in US

The PIE News - Tue, 09/12/2017 - 04:58

Soka University of America has the highest proportion of international students of any US college or university, according to the US News and World Report. It found 43% of undergraduate students at the private liberal arts school originate from outside of the US.

A measure of the most populated international student bodies was included in the 2018 US News and World Report Best Colleges Rankings, for the academic year 2016/17.

As well as coming out top overall, Soka University, a private institution based in Aliso Viejo, California, had the highest proportion of international students among liberal arts colleges. Meanwhile, Florida Institute of Technology came out top among other national universities, with international students forming a third of its student body.

Soka’s director of community relations, Wendy Harder, said attracting international students was largely down to word of mouth, and online advertising.

“A wonderful example is a senior we have from Nepal who was the first student from his country to come to Soka University,” she told The PIE News.

“This year we have six students from Nepal… because he went home and talked about it.” 

“Soka University does not work with international education agents to recruit students,” Harder added. 

Soka University was followed by Massachusetts’s Mount Holyoke College

US News details the difference between the two categories, saying that national universities “offer a range of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees and emphasise research”, while national liberal arts colleges “focus on undergraduate education and award at least half of their degrees in liberal arts fields”.

For the national universities category, Florida Institute of Technology (33%) led New York City’s New School by a single percentage point, with the University of Tulsa, in Oklahoma, (24%) and Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania (23%), rounding out the top four.

And among the national liberal arts colleges, Soka University was followed by Massachusetts’s Mount Holyoke College, whose student body was formed of 27% internationals. St John’s College in New Mexico followed with 25%, and Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania and Earlham College in Indiana completed the top five with 23% apiece.

Soka University is also tied with Goucher College in Maryland for the percentage of 2016 graduating seniors who participated in some form of mobile study during their course.

In both cases, 100% of the graduating students on four-year courses studied outside of the US for some period of time. However details on the length of stay or type of international study are not immediately available.

Elsewhere, Princeton University topped the overall US News rankings for national universities for the seventh year in a row, and showing even greater consistency, Williams College (Massachusetts) reigns over other national liberal arts colleges for the 15th consecutive year.

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New paper on artificial intelligence that can (mostly) correctly pick self-identified gays and lesbians sets off major debate

Inside Higher Ed - Tue, 09/12/2017 - 00:00

It was bound to make headlines: a study claiming that a computer could predict if someone is gay or straight, based on a photo. But the story has moved beyond headlines, to gay rights advocates charging that the study is scientifically invalid and an author of the paper saying he’s under unfair personal attack.

“What really saddens me is that LGBTQ rights groups, [Human Rights Campaign] and GLAAD, who strived for so many years to protect rights of the oppressed, are now engaged in a smear campaign against us with a real gusto,” Michal Kosinski, an assistant professor of organizational behavior at Stanford University, wrote on Facebook about the backlash against his work.

Some background: Kosinski, a psychologist and data scientist, and Yilun Wang, a computer scientist who studied at Stanford, used tens of thousands of pictures from dating sites and corresponding information about sexual preferences to create an algorithm to predict someone’s sexual orientation.

The computer’s eventual prediction-success rate based on a single photo was 81 percent for male faces and 71 percent for female faces. Significantly, though, the computer was choosing between two photos, one of a person who self-identified as gay and one who identified as straight; contrary to some reports about the study, the computer wasn't looking at a photo and simply saying whether the person was gay or not. 

Loading five photos of a person pushed the success rate to 91 percent for men and 83 percent for women. The program also found that gay men’s faces were more “feminine,” with more “gender-atypical” features than straight men’s, and that lesbians’ faces were more “masculine” than straight women’s.

Source: Michal Kosinski via Twitter

That’s a much better success rate than humans trying to exercise their gaydar, according to the paper, and thus, the artificial intelligence was technically successful. Yet the development of such a technology prompts dystopian but essential questions, such as how it could potentially be used to discriminate against people.

Kosinski has previously written extensively on personal data and privacy, and his new study recalls some of that work in saying that “digitalization of our lives and rapid progress in AI continues to erode the privacy of sexual orientation and other intimate traits. ...We did not create a privacy-invading tool, but rather showed that basic and widely used methods pose serious privacy threats."  The paper also notes that the AI’s potential for accuracy would likely decrease outside the lab setting.

Still, critics seized on the paper, accusing the authors not just of entering an ethically gray research area but of shoddy science. Criticism from GLAAD and the HRC in particular prompted Kosinski’s comments on social media.

“Let’s be clear: our paper can be wrong,” Kosinski said in his post. “In fact, despite evidence to the contrary, we hope that it is wrong. But only replication and science can debunk it -- not spin doctors.”

Among other actions, GLAAD and HRC published a news release urging Stanford and “responsible” news media to “expose dangerous and flawed research that could cause harm to LGBTQ people around the world.” The release says that the paper -- among other alleged flaws -- makes “inaccurate assumptions,” categorically leaves out nonwhite subjects and has not been peer reviewed.

The study has in fact been peer reviewed and is forthcoming in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. But the sample is all white. The researchers say they could not find enough non-white gay participants to expand the group.

Jim Halloran, GLAAD’s chief digital officer, asserted in a statement that technology cannot determine whether someone is gay or straight. Rather, he said, this particular technology recognizes a “pattern that found a small subset of out white gay and lesbian people on dating sites who look similar. Those two findings should not be conflated.” Less than research or news, he added, the “reckless” study is a “description of beauty standards on dating sites that ignores huge segments of the LGBTQ community, including people of color, transgender people, older individuals and other LGBTQ people who don’t want to post photos on dating sites.”

Calling on Stanford to distance itself from “junk science,” Ashland Johnson, director of public education and research for the HRC, said the paper is “dangerously bad information that will likely be taken out of context” and threatening to “the safety and privacy of LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ people alike.”

GLAAD and HRC said they participated in a conference call with the reserachers and representatives of Stanford months ago. They tried to raise their concerns about “overinflating” results, or their significance, at the time, to no avail, the groups said.

Kosinski was not immediately available for comment Monday.

Rich Ferraro, a spokesperson for GLAAD, called the allegation of a smear campaign as “sensational as the supposed findings of this research.”

Academic Freedom, Activism and AI

Especially in the era of social media, scientists can expect strong reactions to research in controversial areas. But is the reaction to this paper in particular, by so many non-academics, concerning for academic freedom? For a number of scholars, the answer was no.

Paul Pfleiderer, senior associate dean for academic affairs at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, said in an emailed statement that the study is peer-reviewed research with pending in an academic journal that’s a publication of the American Psychological Association.

Getting published in peer-reviewed research journals, he said, “allows the interpretation of those findings and the research methodologies used to obtain them to be scrutinized by academics in the field and are appropriately a matter for discussion and debate.”

John K. Wilson, an independent scholar of academic freedom and co-editor of the American Association of University Professors’ “Academe” blog, said that anyone is “free to criticize a professor's research, even if those objections attack the media coverage more than the study itself.” It’s not a threat to academic freedom “unless an administration takes action to investigate or punish professors for their research,” he added.

Philip Cohen, a professor of sociology at the University of Maryland at College Park, said that researchers today “have to expect blowback when their research becomes public,” since academic research no longer “operates in a separate space from public discourse.”

Universities need to protect researchers whose work is attacked, he added, and “to earn that respect, researchers need to behave ethically as well as transparently.”

That said, Cohen had his own qualms about the study, or rather how it draws its conclusions. First, he said, all research on what “makes” people straight or gay is weak, since there is no way to measure people’s sexual orientation. That orientation can change over the span of one’s life and depending on social context, and some people who are attracted to or who sleep with others of the same sex don’t identify as homosexual, he said.

Cohen also disagreed with the authors’ suggestion that their findings support prenatal hormone theory, or the idea that exposure to certain hormones in utero can affect one’s lifelong sexual orientation. That's because the study involved a “very” gay sample of people who “are out and looking, and choosing photographs with that aim in mind,” he said. In other words, it's not a good basis for making generalizations about what biologically “causes” one to be gay. (Dan Hirschman, an assistant professor of sociology at Brown University, summed up that point in his newest post to the Scatterplot blog: "AI Can’t Tell If You’re Gay … But It Can Tell If You’re a Walking Stereotype." Kate Crawford, a distinguished research professor at New York University who studies AI and social impact, on Twitter said the study amounted to more "AI phrenology.")

Perhaps most crucially, Cohen said the study doesn’t make clear enough that the computer is always choosing between two people -- one gay and one not gay. So it isn’t saying someone is gay, but rather who is more likely gay, if forced to choose.

“There aren’t many real-world situations like that,” he said. “They never say how accurate their model is at identifying individual gay people when there is no straight person for comparison.”

As for ethics, Cohen said the research topic wasn’t off-limits, but that it would have been good for the Kosinski and Wang to declare somewhere the paper itself that they wouldn’t help people use their work to identify others without their consent.

Max Tegmark, author of Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence and scientific director of the Foundational Questions Institute at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said Monday that many of his gay friends “claim to have pretty good gaydar, so it’s obviously possible for AI to do the same.”

While he saw nothing scientifically wrong with the new analysis, he said, “the question of whether certain applications of AI are ethically wrong is crucial, and should be debated.” For example, he asked, “What if a repressive regime uses such techniques to identify and discriminate against gays? What if lethal autonomous weapons use similar techniques to kill only people of a certain ethnicity or sexual orientation? For those who think we don’t need to discuss the societal implications of AI, this paper should be a wake-up call.”

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Maryland law requires colleges to educate on dangers of opioids

Inside Higher Ed - Tue, 09/12/2017 - 00:00

More than 2,000 people died of drug and alcohol overdoses in Maryland last year -- a record number that is part of the nation’s opioid-abuse crisis.

As part of their response, Maryland legislators have passed a law requiring that students be educated four times -- twice in elementary school, once in high school and once at the college level for incoming full-time students -- on the dangers of opioids, including heroin. The law applies to all higher education institutions that accept state money -- and so includes private colleges as well -- and requires naloxone (which can be used in cases of overdoses) to be stocked by campus police and public safety officers.

Preventative education for new students is nothing new for higher ed, as colleges often offer or require student participation in programs aimed to prevent drug and alcohol abuse, or sexual assault.

At the same time, despite the widespread use of training and seminars, alcohol abuse and sexual assault -- which often go hand in hand -- remain major problems in higher education. Will training to prevent opioid addiction be any different?

“This is going to require a variety of different responses and a variety of different channels to solve,” said Tammy Wincup, chief operating officer of EverFi, which is providing heroin education programing for some Maryland colleges. EverFi is the same company behind the online alcohol education program AlcoholEdu, which many colleges use to educate incoming students.

“What we should be held to -- what we should all be held to -- is, ‘Are we moving in the right direction?’” Wincup said, recognizing that prevention education at the college level, on its own, probably isn’t enough to stem the tide of addiction and overdoses. While issues stemming from alcohol use and sexual assault are still priorities on campus, she said, EverFi, along with support for its programs from the state and federal governments, has helped make a positive impact at colleges.

AlcoholEdu uses computer-based interactive modules focusing on prevention and education around problematic drinking behaviors, and a study from the National Institutes of Health found it was useful for short-term results, although “effects did not persist in the spring semester.”

In the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s section on “Promising State Strategies” to combat opioid abuse, education programs aren’t listed. Instead, the list has bullet points dedicated to prescription drug monitoring programs and databases; regulations on clinics, doctors and Medicaid; increasing access to treatment; and expanding access to naloxone. To be fair, Maryland has also instituted measures beyond education to fight opioid misuse, including steps outlined in the CDC’s recommendations, and the bill introducing the education component at colleges does expand access to naloxone.

Data Sorely Needed

The classes at Maryland colleges might provide more data for the CDC to use in its study of opioid abuse, although existing data suggest that the opioid education programs at the college level could be effective, if done right.

“There isn’t much evidence about the effectiveness of educational programs among college students, but in terms of programs for adolescent populations, effective programs are those that go beyond traditional messaging and also promote positive youth development and skills,” Courtney Lenard, a CDC spokeswoman, said via email.

Citing a 2013 study on prevention programs aimed at prescription drug misuse, she said that, over all, there are positive effects from education and prevention programs, though the data regarding opioids are limited.

“Interventions have shown longitudinal effects on a range of other substance misuse and problem behaviors and have evidence supporting economic benefits,” Lenard said. “Although these results are extremely promising, the sample sizes were small -- there was an overall low rate of prescription opioid misuse -- and it is yet unclear how such findings might generalize to populations broader than those studied.”

In a press briefing last month, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price named education as a priority in fighting opioid abuse.

“The problem is very complicated, and currently we’re on the losing side of this war,” he said. “We know that this involves public health, the medical community, health-care delivery system, law enforcement, education, local and statewide elected officials, devastated families, and those in treatment and recovery.”

EverFi is confident it is up to the task.

“As an education organization, we have been, over the last decade, focused on how you use multiple delivery sites to stress preventative education,” Wincup said. “Our sweet spot has always been, how do we couple topic areas [such as alcohol use and abuse] with [arming] young people with formative knowledge?”


The opioid epidemic has often centered on rural, working-class populations. On the surface, at least, it seems as though the college-going population might not be the most pressing demographic on which to focus anti-heroin resources.

Indeed, deaths from heroin and opioid overdoses are concentrated in populations older than the typical four-year college student, according to CDC data -- but that doesn’t mean that abuse and misuse aren’t relevant topics for colleges. And even with the data skewing one way, opioid abuse has been well documented on college campuses, leading some to examine treatment options for addicted students. In addition, health officials need to think about nontraditional college students.

“When we talk about college students, we have to not fall into the trap of thinking of strictly traditional-aged college students who are 18 to 22, on four-year residential campuses,” said Rob Buelow, vice president of prevention education at EverFi. “That simply doesn’t reflect the majority of students who are attending two-year and technical colleges.”

“We have to be thinking of the role those students play within those communities that might be more rural and working class,” he said. “I think having a policy lever to address this across higher ed as an institution that is serving so many nontraditional-aged students as well is really important.”

At the same time, it’s important to be realistic about rates of abuse and misuse among college students when EverFi is making its programming, said Kimberley Timpf, senior director of prevention education.

“The majority of students are not abusing or misusing prescription drugs,” Timpf said. “As part of a community … we hope that [students] will stand up, will recognize, will step in if you see a friend who is struggling.”

Regardless of demographic trends, however, a risk remains -- no matter what.

“It’s important to note that no demographic group has gone untouched with the opioid crisis,” Lenard said.

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Author discusses new book about making college graduates 'robot-proof' in era of artificial intelligence

Inside Higher Ed - Tue, 09/12/2017 - 00:00

In the era of artificial intelligence, robots and more, higher education is arguably more important than ever. Academic researchers are producing the ideas that lead to technology after technology. On the other hand, a challenge exists for higher education: how to produce graduates whose careers won't be derailed by all of these advances. Now that robots can pick stocks, this isn't just about factory jobs, but the positions that college graduates have long assumed were theirs.

Northeastern University is involved in both sides of that equation. Its academic programs in engineering, computer science and other fields are producing these breakthroughs. And its students -- at an institution known for close ties to employers -- of course want good careers. Joseph E. Aoun, Northeastern's president, explores these issues in Robot-Proof: Higher Education in the Age of Artificial Intelligence (MIT Press). Aoun is a scholar in linguistics when he's not focused on university administration. His book argues that changes in the college curriculum are needed to prepare students in this new era, but that doesn't mean ignoring the humanities or general education.

Aoun, one of seven presidents honored today by the Carnegie Corporation for academic leadership, responded via email to questions about his new book.

Q: How worried should college graduates be about being replaced by technology? Is it likely that many jobs today held by those with college degrees will be replaced by robots or some form of technology?

A: Smart machines are getting smarter, and many of the jobs performed by people today are going to disappear. Some studies predict that half of all U.S. jobs are at risk within the next 20 years. And it’s not just blue-collar jobs; today intelligent machines are picking stocks, doing legal research and even writing news articles. Simply put, if a job can be automated in the future, it will be.

For higher education to meet this challenge -- for us to make people robot-proof -- we need to change. In my book, I offer a blueprint for how we can accomplish this. We will need to re-envision the curriculum, invest in experiential education and put lifelong learning at the heart of what we do. It will not be easy, but we have a responsibility -- to the students of today and tomorrow -- to change the way we do business.

Q: In an era of adaptive learning and online learning, should faculty members be worried about their jobs in the future?

A: We’re seeing educational content become commoditized. Therefore, the job of faculty members has to go beyond simply transmitting knowledge. More than ever, the priority for faculty is to create new knowledge and act as the catalysts to make their students robot-proof. The personal connection between student and teacher cannot be replaced by a machine.

But, like students, faculty members must act to meet the challenge of today’s world and should embrace the transformation of higher education that I describe in my book.

Q: What is “humanics,” and what are the three kinds of literacy that you want colleges to teach?

A: Humanics is the curriculum for a robot-proof education. It is based on the purposeful integration of technical literacies, such as coding and data analytics, with uniquely human literacies, such as creativity, entrepreneurship, ethics, cultural agility and the ability to work with others.

The key is integration. We need to break down the academic silos that separate historians from engineers.

When I talk to employers, they tell me that they would give their right arm for more systems thinkers -- quarterbacks who can see across disciplines and analyze them in an integrated way. And every student should be culturally agile, able to communicate across boundaries, and to think ethically. By integrating technology, data and humanities, we can help students become robot-proof.

Q: In your vision for the future of higher education, is this about embedding these skills into existing programs or starting from scratch?

A: Higher education has the elements for a robot-proof model, but we need to be much more intentional about how we integrate them. As I’ve mentioned, our curriculum needs to change so that technical and human literacies are unified.

We need to deliver this curriculum in an experiential way. This means recognizing that learning happens beyond the classroom through co-ops and meaningful internships. I truly believe that experiential education is the most powerful way to learn.

Still, no one is going to be set for life. We need to commit to lifelong learning in a way that we haven’t done in the past. Universities have been engaged in lifelong learning for many years, but it is usually treated as a second-class operation. We need to bring lifelong learning to the core of our mission.

This will require us to rethink the way we deliver education, particularly to working professionals who don’t have time to be on campus every day. Online and hybrid delivery modes will be essential. We have to meet learners wherever they are -- in their careers and around the world.

Credentials will need to be unbundled so that learners don’t have to commit to long-term degree programs. Stackable certificates, badges and boot camps will become the norm.

These changes won’t happen by themselves. Institutions should establish authentic partnerships with employers, redesign courses to fill gaps that employers actually need and connect them with students through co-ops and internships.

Q: How is Northeastern getting ready for these changes?

A: Northeastern has designed its academic plan to meet the challenges -- and opportunities -- presented by smart machines. Beyond the curricular changes required by humanics, and our leadership in experiential learning, we are building a multicampus network spanning different cities, regions and countries. Learners will be able to gain access to this network wherever they are and whenever it’s convenient for them.

Throughout its history, higher education has adapted to changes in the world. Knowing what we know about the revolution of smart machines, we have a responsibility to remain relevant and an opportunity to make our learners robot-proof.

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Could college messaging app Islands be the new Yik Yak?

Inside Higher Ed - Tue, 09/12/2017 - 00:00

As thousands of students armed with smartphones start the new school year, they’ll have plenty of social media options to choose from to find friends and connect with their peers. But at a select group of college campuses, a new player has entered the scene -- a student-centered networking app called Islands.

Billed as "Slack for college students," Islands is a location-based app designed specifically with college students, rather than business colleagues, in mind. In an interview, Greg Isenberg, CEO of Islands, said that he wanted to create an experience that will “delight people” and help “connect the disconnected.”

Of course, students already have a lot of ways to connect with each other on campus, but Isenberg believes that a lot of students use apps like GroupMe out of necessity rather than by choice. “Ask any college kid what they think of GroupMe, and at least 75 percent will have had a negative experience with it,” said Isenberg. “It’s crazy, because if you ask them what are the three biggest apps they use on campus, they’ll tell you Instagram, Snapchat and GroupMe. You have millions of daily active users using a product, and they’re not even loving the experience.”

The premise of the Islands app is simple. If you’re within range of a college campus with access to the app, you’ll be able to log in with your Facebook account or email. Inside the app you’ll find a number of different group chats, or “islands.” Some are public, meaning anyone can join. Some are private, and you must request to join the group. Example public islands available when you log into the app include Buy & Sell, Pickup Basketball and Undergraduate Library. The aim of the app is to connect students to groups of people “they might never have found” otherwise -- whether that is a new best friend, a study partner or someone to play sports with.

The way that you choose to communicate when you start a private island is customizable, Isenberg explains. “We give people the Lego building blocks to create a space however they want. If they want to have a room that is anonymous, they could. If they want to have a room where all the messages disappear after an hour, great. If they want the room to just be for sharing photos, they can do that.”

Looking Back on Yik Yak

The ability to post anonymously on Islands has sparked comparisons with another campus-based social media app -- Yik Yak. Though Yik Yak officially shut down operations earlier this year, at its peak the app was ubiquitous on college campuses, and at one point was valued at hundreds of millions of dollars. A spate of controversies, however, including numerous incidents of targeted racist, sexist and homophobic comments, in addition to several high-profile threats of violence via the app, forced Yik Yak to rethink its anonymity policy. Subsequently, students abandoned the app, much to the relief of many college administrators tasked with monitoring its content. Those with long memories will remember that before Yik Yak, there was JuicyCampus -- another anonymous college gossip app that quickly turned poisonous and was shut down after two years.

Isenberg, whose team consists of some early Yik Yak staffers, said that there were “tons of lessons to be learned” from the failure of Yik Yak. “Creating an anonymous-only app is a recipe for disaster,” said Isenberg. While Islands does have some anonymous chat spaces, most posts are made nonanonymously, he said. Users are also prompted to link their Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram accounts so that other students can easily find and follow them. “We need to know that you’re a real person,” said Isenberg.

Another lesson Isenberg says he has taken from Yik Yak is not to expand too quickly. The Islands app launched earlier this month at eight campuses, and is planning to expand to 75 campuses by this time next year, but Isenberg said that “growth at all costs” is not on the cards.

Ensuring the team has the capacity to monitor comments on each new campus is a big factor in the company’s growth plans, said Isenberg. “It’s really important to have moderators who can see if there’s any negativity or bullying,” he added. All public islands on the app are monitored by paid staff, while private islands will be self-policed by the group’s creator or appointed administrators. If users are repeatedly kicked out of group chats by these moderators, they can be banned from the app entirely. “We want to make sure there’s no hatred,” said Isenberg.

Anonymity Concerns

Keith Marnoch, director of media and community relations at the University of Western Ontario, said he is aware of students at his institution using the Islands app. While he said it was positive that the campus has a new communication platform, he said he has concerns about the app potentially being used for bullying. While his institution is not intending to monitor the app full-time, Marnoch said the university would have a responsibility to respond to students if they brought forward any concerns. “The problem is that the anonymity aspect will make it very difficult for us to act. It’s tricky,” he said.

Eric Stoller, a higher education and student affairs consultant (who also blogs for Inside Higher Ed) said that he felt that Islands as a “less formal” and “more youth-oriented” version of Slack could do very well, but warned that anonymity “has proven to be the conduit of a lot of negativity” in the past. Though he points out users can of course post positive messages anonymously, Stoller said that the negative aspects of anonymity “always outshine any benefits.”

Given the understandable concerns over anonymity, why keep this aspect in the app at all?

Isenberg said that he felt anonymity was important because it allows students to express themselves and discuss difficult topics. “Some people are afraid to talk about things openly … just afraid. It’s been really inspiring to see how anonymity has allowed some kids to talk about real issues,” he said.

Rey Junco, a fellow at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard, agreed with Isenberg that anonymity can be a force for good. Junco’s research has focused on how social media affects young people’s psychological development. He said that while he understands the reservations about anonymity, he believes it is important for young people to be able to explore different identities in a safe way. “Let’s say someone is exploring an LGBT identity, or a nonmajority religious identity -- anonymity can allow you explore that without the danger that is inherent in doing that elsewhere,” said Junco.

Asked whether he felt it was important for apps with anonymous capability to monitor content and report any potential threats to the relevant authorities, Junco said, “Absolutely. This is Spider-Man -- with great power comes great responsibility.” Reflecting on the development of Yik Yak, Junco said that early adopters had created a healthy community, where people who said hurtful things were called out. “It’ll be really interesting to see how civil this new space is, especially in the post-2016 era when we’re seeing a lot of hate speech and harassment. I’m curious to see how the current environment will help or hinder developers.”

Future Islands Expansion

With a fun tropical theme, trendy sweatshirts and hats stamped with their logo, and a growing squad of on-campus brand ambassadors, Isenberg said, Islands has seen promising adoption rates from students at the seven campuses in the United States where the app is enabled -- the Universities of Alabama, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina; Clemson and Auburn Universities; and the College of Charleston. The app is also available at the University of Western Ontario in Canada, where Isenberg stayed on campus to conduct market research.

In the U.S., Islands has focused mostly on Southern colleges outside of main cities, said Isenberg, as these are institutions where communities and groups on campus play a big part in students’ lives. Isenberg said that the Islands team has particularly reached out to student leaders in the LGBT and Greek communities on these campuses, as well as members of student governments, to ask them to become brand ambassadors. “These students are often very excited because they don’t always have a space for their community to connect. They spread the word to their constituents, and that’s how we grow,” said Isenberg.

Isenberg says that so far feedback on the app has been positive -- “I can’t tell you how exciting it is to build something and see people connect over something they’re passionate about, and then meet up in real life,” he said. “Students are ready for something new.” Though Isenberg did not wish to disclose how many active users were on the app, he said that the percentage of students using the app at some campuses had already exceeded 15 percent. “We’re always trying to hit the 15 percent mark -- that’s where we tend to see a tipping point and it just spreads virally on campus,” he said.

Asked whether he’d be happy for university faculty and staff to also join the app, Isenberg said, “We’d feel great about that -- any way we can help faculty and staff to connect to their students and see what’s going on on campus is a good thing.” Isenberg said that he’s already received emails from professors who are using the app to connect with students. “I love when I get emails from professors,” he said.

As for the app’s plans to make money, Isenberg said that monetization isn’t a priority in the short term, but there could be opportunities for promoted islands or in-app advertising in the future. Though Islands is primarily targeting college students right now, Isenberg said he could see it expanding to other demographics. According to VentureBeat, the app has already raised $1.85 million.

Stoller said that targeting college students is a good strategy -- “it’s a massive market that tends to have a snowball effect in terms of user growth,” he said. As to whether Islands could become as popular as Yik Yak once was, Stoller said we would have to wait and see. “I think these apps will continue to emerge, disappear and reappear,” he said.

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Colleges award tenure

Inside Higher Ed - Tue, 09/12/2017 - 00:00

Bemidji State University

  • Bill Joyce, accountancy
  • Elizabeth Kujava, criminal justice
  • Jeanine McDermott, nursing
  • Cory Renbarger, music
  • Jill Stackhouse, geography
  • Misty Wilkie, nursing

DePaul University

  • Monu Bedi, law
  • Doug Bruce, health sciences
  • Jason Bystriansky, biological sciences
  • Joseph Chen, School for New Learning
  • Blair Davis, communication
  • Lisa Dush, writing, rhetoric and discourse
  • Bill Johnson González, English
  • Verena Graupmann, psychology
  • Max Helveston, law
  • Christopher Jones, music
  • Caitlin Karver, chemistry
  • Sara Kimble, School for New Learning
  • Julie Lawton, law
  • Grace Lemmon, management
  • Michael Lewanski, music
  • Jason Martin, communication
  • Daniel Morales, law
  • Sanjukta Mukherjee, women’s and gender studies
  • Savvas Paritsis, cinematic arts
  • Lisa Poirier, religious studies
  • Doris Rusch, design
  • Brian Schrank, design
  • Frédéric Seyler, philosophy
  • Cary Martin Shelby, law
  • Gretchen Wilbur, School for New Learning

Elizabethtown College

  • Andrew Dunlap, social work
  • Shannon Haley-Mize, education

Francis Marion University

  • Erik Lowry, education
  • William Bolt, history
  • Julian Buck, mathematics
  • Jeanne Gunther, education
  • Julia Mixon, art
  • Regina Yanson, management

Frostburg State University

  • Natalia Buta, kinesiology and recreation
  • Rebecca Chory, management
  • Matthew Crawford, chemistry
  • Stefanie Hay, nursing
  • Theresa Mastrodonato, librarian
  • Mary Beth McCloud, nursing
  • Jamison Odone, visual arts
  • Xunyu Pan, computer science and information technologies
  • Jennifer Rankin, educational professions
  • John Raucci, English and foreign languages
  • Sheri Whalen, communication

New York Institute of Technology

  • Melanie Austin-McCain, occupational therapy
  • Kiran Balagani, computer science
  • Sheldon Fields, health professions
  • Farzana Gandhi, architecture
  • Jaime Martinez, interdisciplinary studies
  • Eleni Nikitopoulos, life sciences
  • Christian Pongratz, interdisciplinary studies
  • Emily Restivo, behavioral sciences
  • Jason Van Nest, architecture

Pennsylvania Highlands Community College

  • Dennis Miller, criminal justice
  • Sherri Slavick, physical sciences

University of Dallas

  • Janette Boazman, education
  • Kelly Gibson, history
  • Jenny Gu, finance
  • Richard Miller, business
  • Aida Ramos, economics
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2017’s PIEoneer Award winners span seven countries

The PIE News - Mon, 09/11/2017 - 09:28

Student support, championing diversity and digital innovation were among the fields celebrated at the international education industry’s first ever PIEoneer Awards on Friday September 8.

Winners represented seven countries and included major campaigns #WeareInternational, a huge success from the UK’s University of Sheffield (Marketing Campaign of the Year) and Generation Study Abroad, a campaign to widen access to study abroad in the USA from IIE (Championing Diversity).

All the finalists were delighted to receive the award and the accolade from a distinguished panel of international judges in front of a global peer group.

The PIEoneer Awards 2017 winners
  • Marketing campaign of the year: University of Sheffield, UK – #WeAreInternational
  • Student support award: Morneau Shepell – International Student Support Program, Canada
  • Accommodation provider of the year: University of Sydney, Australia
  • Education agency of the year: Global Reach, India
  • Championing diversity award: Institute of International Education, USA – Generation Study Abroad
  • Progressive education delivery award: Open University, UK – English in Action platform
  • International alumni of the year: Dunya Alruhaimi, Iraq – University of New England, Armidale, Australia
  • Association of the year: EduNova, Canada
  • Public/private partnership of the year: Kaplan Open Learning/University of Essex, UK
  • Digital innovation of the year: Duolingo, USA – Duolingo English Test
  • PIEoneer of the year: Global Leadership League, USA
  • Outstanding contribution to the industry: Markus Badde, ICEF, Germany

Wendy Luther of EduNova, representing Nova Scotia’s international education sector in Canada, said it was a career highlight to have the efforts of the association recognised.

Ravi Lochan Singh, MD of Global Reach agency in India, said that his company’s success as Education Agency of the Year, on their 26th anniversary “is such a great acknowledgement for what we stand for”.

MD of The PIE, Amy Baker, said she was thrilled with feedback on the company’s inaugural event. “I’m thrilled that so many finalists made the effort to be in London for our awards and delighted that we could help shine a spotlight on some of the amazing work that goes on each year within international education.”

Twelve awards were given in total, including PIEoneer of the year, which was awarded to a women’s leadership movement based out of the USA but with global scope, the Global Leadership League.

In GLL’s entry, co-founder Cynthia Banks explained that GLL aimed to counter “data.. that women are promoted less often due to hiring bias and also due to deficiency in strategic skillsets.”

The most prestigious award of the evening was for outstanding contribution to the industry, awarded to CEO of ICEF, Markus Badde.

His comments drew a standing ovation from one table, as he reflected on a life’s work trying to build connections between education agencies and educators; by default, helping thousands of students to study abroad as his company developed events and agency training schemes.

He spoke of his German and Australian heritage, growing up in the Middle East and Europe, speaking eight languages. Rather than being “from nowhere”, international students are “ambassadors of everywhere” and help foster global links, he said.

After all the awards were presented, the party continued across town with an afterparty at the world famous ‘Gherkin’ (official name, 30 St Mary Axe) in the heart of London’s financial district.

There, with a 360-degree view of London, 250 guests danced the night away in celebration of the sector’s achievements.

To find out more about our winners, visit here.

What an honor! @IIEglobal @GenStudyAbroad awarded #PIEoneers17 championing diversity! Celebrating our partners too! pic.twitter.com/CzTjXxFYyw

— Lindsay Calvert (@linzc8) September 8, 2017

Thanks to our supporters, we wouldn't have come so far without your support, let's keep telling the world #WeAreInternational #PIEoneers17 pic.twitter.com/1djrHzSd88

— #WeAreInternational (@weareintl) September 8, 2017

Three @TheGLLeague rock star Founding ladies accepting the PIEoneer of the Year Award! Oh what a night! #PIEoneers17 #LinkUpWithTheLeague pic.twitter.com/U6rEbxrAzt

— The League (@TheGLLeague) September 8, 2017

Congratulations to our CEO @markusbadde for receiving the #PIEoneers17 Award for outstanding contribution to the industry! #globaled pic.twitter.com/Hs5MI4fgSp

— ICEF (@myICEF) September 8, 2017


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Brazilians spend 82% more on studying abroad

The PIE News - Mon, 09/11/2017 - 05:25

Brazilians spent 82% more on education travel in 2016 than the previous year, according to a recent student survey from the Brazilian Educational and Language Travel Association.

This, according to the survey, was mainly due to the 6.7% increase in mobile students undertaking longer courses of study of up to 12 months.

BELTA, which traditionally asks member agencies for evaluations, has this year expanded to ask 1,145 students as well.

Although the growth in popularity of longer programs is an important change, there are consistencies in Brazilian demand for international education. Language courses are still the most popular choice for Brazilian students, as three-month programs account for 68.5% of the market.

“[Students] also consider the tertiary sector as an opportunity for a pathway to legal immigration and living abroad”

According to Samir Zaveri, president and CEO of student recruitment fair organiser BMI, this leap in interest in longer-term programs can be seen as down to one simple reason: the economy.

“The Brazilian economy is very dependent on the price of the dollar… the real has had I think, the strongest recovery of any currency against the US dollar this year, which helps more people go abroad,” Zaveri told The PIE News.

But the reasons behind the general popularity of international education among Brazilians is of course multi-faceted.

There is a general wish to work or live outside of Brazil for many young adults, according to Carlos Robles of education agency Intercultural Education Programs, based in Belo Horizonte.

“Many young adults are now finding out that tertiary programs abroad are accessible, especially if they can have the opportunity to work as offered in Canada, New Zealand, Australia,” he told The PIE News.

“They also consider the tertiary sector as an opportunity for a pathway to legal immigration and living abroad which, in my opinion, is the desire of many young Brazilians to part away from the momentary Brazilian recession.”

Robles added that the increase in spending on international education is not only the folly of the young, however.

“Many [in their] mid-30s… have lost their jobs in Brazil with the closure of job opportunities, and therefore they have some severance sums that are being used [for] the development of their professional and personal lives and that includes studying abroad on long term tertiary programs,” he said. 

Alongside longer programs gaining in popularity, another notable change in 2016 is the use of education agents. Nearly 75% of mobile students used the services of education agencies in 2016. The ease of access and personalised service offered by agents are quoted by respondents as reasons for choosing to use the intermediary, rather than contact institutions directly.

“[The] research shows that there has been an increase in the demand to hire the program from an educational travel agency, because consulting with a specialised consultant offers significantly decreased chances of making a wrong decision,” according to Maura Leão, president of BELTA.

But Zaveri, said that this figure of agent usage is debatable, and certainly not across the board.

“If you take in the whole market and then add the HE sector, which [BELTA are] not talking about, it would not be 75%,” he said.

“Agents are very important, but when it comes to HE and high school, they are less important. In the HE sector, the figure wouldn’t account for even 5% [of mobile students],” Zaveri added.

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Higher Education Paving the Way to Sustainable Development: A Global Perspective

International Association of Universities - Mon, 09/11/2017 - 05:00

![IAU HESD Report][IAU HESD Report] The IAU launches the report of its 2016 global survey on Higher Education and Research for Sustainable Development (HESD).

With this publication, the International Association of Universities wants to underline the key role higher education plays in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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Reed College course lectures canceled after student protesters interrupt class to protest Eurocentrism

Inside Higher Ed - Mon, 09/11/2017 - 00:00

An education from Reed College, where students’ sense of individualism is perhaps matched only by their studiousness, is anything but common. And recently one of Reed’s most distinctive experiences -- one designed, ironically, to bring students together -- has become one of its most divisive.

“We don’t ever want to repeat what happened that Wednesday -- we don’t ever want there to be shouting over one another and shouting people down,” said Kevin Myers, a Reed spokesperson, about escalating tensions over the college’s signature yearlong freshman humanities course.

He added, “I don’t think that was a proud moment, and we want to get past it.”

Debate on Hum 110

Three times a week, at 9 a.m., all of Reed’s 300-plus freshmen shuffle into a lecture hall for what’s known on campus as Hum 110. Starting with the Epic of Gilgamesh and ending with the Bible and Apuleius’ The Golden Ass, the required literary and historical survey of the ancient world is supposed to lay the foundation for students’ future studies in the humanities. Freshmen also get a taste of different teaching styles and disciplinary perspectives, as classes are taught by two dozen faculty members across fields. Those lectures are supplemented by smaller breakout sessions, called conferences.

Hum 110 -- like virtually everything at Reed -- is rigorous. But alumni who took the course as far back as 1943, when it was conceived, tend to recall it as one of their most worthwhile. Things changed last fall, though, when Reed, like so many other institutions, faced student demands that it be more inclusive of people of color.

Among activists’ sticking points, especially for a group of students called Reedies Against Racism, was Hum 110. The course, which faces a curricular and pedagogical review every 10 years but has maintained a fundamentally Western orientation, is simply too white, too male and too Eurocentric, critics charged, especially for a course required of all students. Moreover, the student activists said, Hum 110 largely ignores how these works may have been used over time to perpetuate violence against people of color.

Reed takes a dialogue-based approach to conflict resolution and engaged the students about their demands. Regarding Hum 110, Reed promised to begin reviewing the course one year earlier than planned; a faculty group got to work last year and professors' recommendations are expected later this fall. But in the interim, throughout last year, a group of 12 to 15 students has occupied the class -- surrounding the lecturing professor in silent protest -- for each session.

On many if not most campuses, a yearlong, in-class protest wouldn’t fly. But at Reed, despite varying levels of faculty comfort with lecturing through a protest, it did. The general understanding was that the protesters would be allowed to continue as long as they didn’t interfere in the lecture period.

Cut to Aug. 28, the first Hum 110 lecture of this year. Reedies Against Racism had announced in a widely circulated email that they planned to continue their protest this year. They also asked faculty members involved in the program for class time to introduce themselves -- a departure from the agreement about not interrupting teaching time. Hum 110 program leaders denied the request and, according to Reed, polled one another on what they wanted to do if the protesters attempted to disrupt the first lecture. They decided they’d cancel the class if need be.

“I’m sorry, this is a classroom space and this is not appropriate,” Elizabeth Drumm, Hum 110 program chair and the John and Elizabeth Yeon Professor of Spanish and Humanities, told a small group of protesters when they attempted to talk during class. Members of Reedies Against Racism continued, saying they had created a supplementary syllabus. The professors at the front of the room got up and left.

Lecture Canceled

Two days later, Hum 110 students met again, and again the protesters attempted to introduce themselves -- this time minutes before 9 a.m., technically outside class time. They talked about their objections to the class and were interrupted by faculty members who disagreed with their characterization. A group of freshman also got involved, complaining that their lecture had been taken over, and the conversation became a shouting match. The scene echoed many that have played out on college campuses within the past few years surrounding inclusion. But for many present it was unsettlingly un-Reed-like: a violation of the campus norm of passionate and rigorous but civil debate.

When the clock struck 9 a.m., things seemed to return to normal, in the form of a 50-minute lecture on the Epic of Gilgamesh. But Friday, scheduled lecturer Kambiz GhaneaBassiri, a professor of religion and humanities, declined to lecture alongside students who, he said, equated the course -- and by extension him -- with white supremacy. He invited interested students to visit his office, and approximately 150 of them did so, Myers said, resulting in an impromptu lecture.

Myers said things have generally returned to normal in the week since -- meaning uninterrupted lectures, not the end of the protest. Ongoing concerns about the class disruption and the activists’ agenda are being addressed through community meetings and other processes founded on Reed’s semi-ineffable Honor Principle.

“Free speech is incredibly important at a place like Reed,” Myers said. “Because Reed has this sort of shared governance, people really do feel a sense of ‘We need to fix this together.’”

How the concerns raised by Reedies Against Racism impact Hum 110’s curriculum going forward remain to be seen. Drumm, the chair of the program, referred requests for comment to Myers.

GhaneaBassiri said via email that deciding not to lecture "while students hold up signs was a personal decision for me. I felt I owed my colleagues and students in the course an explanation and shared my reasoning with them, but I never intended it to go further than that."

Lucía Martínez, the assistant professor of English and humanities who was to lecture during the first class session, which was canceled, did not respond to a request for comment.

Interestingly, Reed Magazine’s blog posted a version of Martínez’s planned talk, with her permission. In it, Martínez says she’s “female, mixed race, American and Peruvian, gay, atheist and relatively young. I study poetry that is basically the opposite of me: male, white, British, straight, God-fearing, 500 years old. And I love it.”

Saying that Hum 110 “perfectly captures the importance of origins and instability to what we do as scholars and students, regardless of the disciplines we pursue,” Martínez asks students to “say yes to the text.” In other words, she says, one “should read things in good faith, understanding the distance, the strangeness from our own historical moment. If we get distracted by Plato’s misogyny or Lucretius’ imperfect mastery of physics, we miss the point, the bigger pictures of these works -- the way Plato structures his arguments, for example, or the fact that Lucretius was driven to theorize about the nature of the physical world when that just wasn’t something people did.”

Martínez notes that the course is technically called Introduction to Humanities: Ancient Greece and the Mediterranean, not Western Humanities, “in part because much of it is drawn from geographic areas not traditionally considered Western areas,” such as Iraq, Iran and Egypt. She says she’d be hard-pressed to even define “Western” and that the concept is challenged through course.

Everything that is now canonical was once innovative, she adds. “This doesn’t mean that we can’t acknowledge problems, weaknesses, inaccuracies, that we can’t question these works; rather, it means that we should do so productively, in good faith. Don’t write Plato off as a misogynist. Instead, try considering how it is that misogyny is a logical result, for him, of his reasoning.”

Roger Porter, a professor emeritus of English at Reed who taught Hum 110 for some 20 years, said this week that he fully respected students' right to protest, short of disruption to the educational process. That includes the right to sit in on Hum 110 lectures, he said, though he added that he respects colleagues who “feel that students sitting behind the lectern with signs attacking the course and those who teach it -- especially students who call faculty racist for teaching that course -- have indeed interfered with the educational enterprise, and [who] are made uncomfortable by that presence.”

As for the course itself, Porter said it is “invaluable” and that “there is nothing per se racist about it.”

Learning about the origins of Western democracy “is vital, and even studying cultures which by nature may have been imperial, enslaving and what we would now call patriarchal, has its value,” he said added via email. And “studying even those aspects of ancient cultures should not nullify the value of learning how to understand and evaluate the civilizations of which they are a part. The course involves complex and sophisticated critiques of those cultures, and hardly unthinkingly celebrates all aspects of them.”

Porter, however, raised different concerns about Hum 110, saying that faculty members tend to feel conscripted to teach in the course for much of their careers at Reed, creating a “problem of faculty morale.” And while some kind of required freshman humanities course is good idea, he said, “I think that a number of different forms of such a course ought to exist, with students able to elect among a variety of options.” That way, he said, students who wish for a “more contemporary course with writers representing a range of genders, ethnicities and cultures could have that choice.”

Searching for More Inclusive Approaches

Assuming Hum 110 remains a Reed mainstay, and that Western civilization-style courses elsewhere do, too, are there ways to teach them that address student concerns about inclusion? Sarah Bond, an assistant professor of classics at the University of Iowa, who has a strong -- and sometimes controversial -- record of public engagement, said yes. (Bond endured of online harassment earlier this year after she wrote a popular blog post about how ancient Western artifacts were painted in varied colors but have, over time, faded to their base light marble color, giving the false impression that white skin was the classical ideal; Martínez’s lecture raises the same point.)

“We should acknowledge that Western civilization is a construct, for sure, and then try and make it as inclusive as possible,” Bond said. While the history of “Western civ” was cast as white when it was first developed, she added, there are now ample resources for diversifying it. She named a crowdsourced syllabus on race and medieval studies by Jonathan Hsy, an associate professor of English at George Washington University; the “Medieval People of Color” Tumblr account; and an article, “Using Diversity to Teach Classics,” by the late Sally MacEwen, formerly a professor of classics at Agnes Scott College, as some examples. Mark Humphries, a professor of ancient history at Swansea University in Wales, also has argued that what he calls conventional narratives about late antiquity can be challenged by adopting a "world-historical perspective."

Over all, Bond said, “We shouldn’t be afraid to revise syllabi and diversify them, particularly if certain groups have been erased or marginalized. I empathize with the students and support their desire to have a more diverse central course in their curriculum, but would also encourage both sides to sit down at a syllabus workshop and come to a compromise collectively.”

A number of institutions other than Reed require students to study what could be described as traditional curricula. Among them is Columbia University, which requires undergraduates to take two yearlong survey courses founded in Western literature and Western philosophy and social theory, respectively, and whose students, like Reed’s, could also be described as invested in issues of identity. Roosevelt Montás, a scholar of American studies, directs Columbia’s Center for the Core Curriculum, and said that the issues at hand at Reed “are constantly debated” and “very much an integral part of the teaching of the core.”

The syllabi for the core’s two yearlong required courses undergo formal reviews every three years, but there is no program overhaul under way, Montás said. While some texts have come in and out of the required reading list, others have been constant, such as the Homeric epics and the Platonic dialogues.

The core courses offer a “chronological overview of important works in the Western tradition and therefore reflect a history of intellectual and artistic production that largely excluded women and groups that, in the American context, we call racial minorities,” he said. “The poor, the foreign and other nonelites are also absent, except as represented by the dominant voices -- again reflecting the historical development of the civilization.”

When courses reach the 19th and 20th centuries, though, the range of voices expands dramatically, Montás said, “reflecting new cultural configurations.” The current syllabus for the first-year literature course, for example, ends with Toni Morrison, and the syllabus for the second-year social thought course ends with Fanon and Foucault.

Montás said that the issues raised at Reed are “important ones and deserve to be addressed directly and honestly.”

“We live with a history of exclusion and exploitation of various groups," he said. “The Columbia core functions under the premise that understanding the history that brought us to where we are is the most effective way of learning how to overcome our moral limitations and improve upon the past.”

St. John’s College, with campuses in Santa Fe, N.M., and Annapolis, Md., has a curriculum based almost entirely on the Great Books, paired with a socially liberal student body. Asked about how the situation at Reed reflects any discussions at his institution, St. John’s President Peter Kanelos said that, generally, the category of “Western” in such debates is particularly unhelpful, since it implies something “narrow, provincial and triumphalist.” Put another way, he said, “Western” in current conversations often is used to describe a tradition that is actually “diverse, complex, multifaceted and multicultural” as “monochrome and monolithic.”

At St John’s, he said, students spend four years taking a “deep dive” into nearly 200 works written over more than four millennia in at least a dozen languages and representing multiple faith traditions as well as the secular, across disciplines.

“The works that form our program of study have been in conversation with one another for millennia and represent a radical diversity of experience and perspective,” Kanelos said. “There is little consensus or agreement between the texts we encounter. What we learn is the myriad ways that arguments are made, that truth is sought or rejected, that beauty is defined or denied. We understand that the four years studying these texts does not represent the end point of education, but rather the beginning.”

Teaching and LearningEditorial Tags: Academic freedomFacultyDiversity MattersImage Source: YouTubeImage Caption: Reed College professors walked out of Hum 110 after student protesters interrupted class Aug. 28.Is this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Diversity Newsletter publication date: Tuesday, September 12, 2017Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Email Teaser: Occupation of Hum 110

When Obama-era guidelines are rescinded, many requirements for campus handling of sex assault will remain

Inside Higher Ed - Mon, 09/11/2017 - 00:00

Betsy DeVos last week blasted guidance from the Obama administration on investigation of campus sexual assault for creating a failed system. What she didn't note was that many of the provisions covered in the 2011 guidelines -- which she has vowed to rescind and replace with new regulation -- have since been enshrined in law. While DeVos has the power to repeal current guidelines, that won't change many of the responsibilities for institutions already in place.

The reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act in 2013 prescribed new standards for campus disciplinary proceedings. And a number of court decisions involving Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 lawsuits have backed up the finding that institutions have an obligation to investigate and adjudicate campus assaults.

The impending debate is likely to focus as a result on questions involving the standard of evidence that should be used in reaching decisions and the ability of students to challenge the other party in the course of proceedings.

“The Title IX regulations and court precedent make clear that schools have a responsibility to respond promptly and equitably to reports of sex discrimination, including sexual harassment, including sexual assault,” said Alexandra Brodsky, a lawyer at the National Women’s Law Center and a co-founder of Know Your IX. “Schools will still need to provide accommodation necessary to help survivors stay in school and keep learning. They will still have to take steps to protect the larger campus community. They will still have to have a fair disciplinary process to investigate reports.”

All of those things are true regardless of what action DeVos takes on federal guidelines, she said.

And the 2013 VAWA states specific responsibilities of campuses to conduct fair hearings with transparent outcomes in cases of alleged domestic or sexual assault.

The VAWA, for example, states explicitly that a victim and an accused student are entitled to the same opportunity for an adviser of their choice in campus disciplinary proceedings. While the Dear Colleague letter does not require that colleges permit lawyers in any stage of the hearings, it states that both parties must have an equal opportunity for their lawyers to participate.

DeVos’s speech last Thursday, in which she described current federal policy as a “failed system,” suggested otherwise.

She also claimed many adjudicating claims in campus offices don’t have any training in Title IX policy -- which would be a violation of VAWA requirements and of a longstanding position by the department.

The VAWA also gave the force of law to some due process protections that already existed in the Dear Colleague letter. It required that accusers and the accused must be notified in writing at the same time of proceeding outcomes and options for appeal. The Dear Colleague letter had recommended that the parties be informed of proceeding outcomes simultaneously.

The law also directed that campus policies must protect victims’ confidentiality, and that new students and employees should be offered prevention and awareness programs on sexual assault and domestic violence.

Jim Newberry, a lawyer who heads the higher education practice at Steptoe & Johnson, said amendments to the VAWA in 2013 and subsequent regulation make it clear that campuses are required to investigate and adjudicate sexual misconduct violations.

He said that’s a problem for many administrators who support strong protections for campus safety and for victims of assault but who feel overwhelmed by the responsibilities of adjudicating misconduct proceedings.

“The core problem here is that institutions of higher education are in the education business. They’re not in the court business,” Newberry said. “These are court-like proceedings they just can’t effectively handle.”

An idea like the proposal for regional Title IX centers, which DeVos mentioned in her speech last week -- or some other solution that would ensure experienced investigators and hearing officers handle proceedings -- would be attractive, especially to smaller institutions. But the regional centers proposal would likely be incompatible with requirements of campuses under VAWA. (Some survivor advocates are also skeptical of the proposal.)

The big questions involving campus proceedings likely to be addressed in the department’s crafting of a new regulation are the proper standard of evidence in findings of sexual misconduct and rights of parties to direct cross-examination.

The 2013 VAWA reauthorization didn’t prescribe a standard of evidence to be used in campus-based proceedings, although it stated that institutional policy must include a standard of evidence used. The 2011 Dear Colleague letter specified that campuses should use the “preponderance of evidence” standard -- which means a finding that there is a greater than 50 percent chance that misconduct occurred.

While the guidelines did not have the force of law, they have functioned as the standard by which the department evaluates whether a campus is in compliance with Title IX. Multiple institutions -- including, notably, elite private universities -- overhauled their own campus policies in response.

Some advocates for accused students have called for higher standards of evidence, but many vocal critics of current federal guidelines say the standard used should be more flexible.

Joe Cohn, legislative and policy director at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, said the preponderance of evidence standard would be feasible if additional due process protections were included, such as the right to a lawyer who can serve as a full participant in proceedings. Without those measures, he said, the standard of evidence should be set by individual campus policy.

“We are hoping in this process the new rules and regulations clarify when it would be appropriate and when it would not be appropriate to use it,” he said. “We have to iron out how the choice of what standard to use should be part of the bigger picture of how the system works.”

Campus policies have sought to balance the ability of parties to question one another’s accounts in proceedings without retraumatizing victims -- for example, by submitting questions through a hearing board. But FIRE argues many policies do not go far enough in guaranteeing that right. Cohn said allowing students’ attorneys to serve as full participants would go a long way toward addressing concerns about cross-examination.

“I think the primary and right solution is the right to counsel that can participate in the process, as opposed to just sit there like a comfortable animal,” he said.

But introducing attorneys into campus proceedings would come with additional questions. Scott Schneider, a lawyer who frequently advises colleges and universities on responses to issues of sexual assault, said that could lead to scenarios where students of means are able to hire attorneys but lower-income students are less well represented.

“Is it possible to assign attorneys to students? It’s a pretty remarkable position to take,” he said.

The 2011 Dear Colleague letter discouraged direct cross-examination of students in the interest of protecting victims, but Schneider said some rulings at the district-court level have expressed concern about students’ inability to do so. It’s hard to have a truly fair process, he said, that is not adversarial and somewhat traumatizing.

“My only hope is that whatever is issued is based on talking to practitioners in this field, experts in this field, and looking at empirical evidence and not this anecdote-driven stuff that the secretary gave us,” Schneider said of the remarks from DeVos last week. “That’s just not a way to formulate broad public policy.”

Brodsky said courts in other noncampus settings have found options to allow the accused to question an accuser’s account without direct confrontations.

“The guidance provided helpful insight into best practices for putting together effective truth-seeking investigations that don’t create a hostile environment,” she said. “Revoking the guidance deprives schools of clarity and of helpful advice.”

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Study offers window into what search committee members value in assessing faculty candidates

Inside Higher Ed - Mon, 09/11/2017 - 00:00

What hiring committees want is a black box to many, if not most, Ph.D.s on the tenure-track job market. A new study out Tuesday in Nature Biotechnology seeks to keep biomedical sciences professor hopefuls, in particular, from flying blind. The study, based on a survey of what mattered to one search committee in particular, doesn't claim to be entirely representative of all searches. Yet the authors say the committee's approaches were typical for the field.

“I’m very interested in this gulf between the number of Ph.D.s being produced and the limited supply of tenure-track faculty positions available,” said co-author Nathan L. Vanderford, a professor of toxicology and cancer biology at the University of Kentucky. “That and the lack of really relevant training provided to Ph.D.s, relative to the jobs they’re actually getting.”

The news isn’t great, but findings at least confirmed Vanderford’s (and common) suspicions that hiring committees value not only scientific expertise, but also social “rank” -- think journal impact factor and institutional prestige. In fact, in the recruiting effort studied, publication record was a primary factor in an applicant having been considered. For assistant professor candidates, their mentors’ reputations mattered greatly.

Among other measures to counter that dynamic, Vanderford and his co-author, Charles B. Wright, a science policy analyst at the National Eye Institute, recommend blind initial reviews of faculty candidates by hiring committees. That would mean stripping not only their names from applications but also the names of their Ph.D.-granting institutions and mentors, to focus almost entirely on the candidates’ research potential.

“What Faculty Hiring Committees Want” starts with some grim statistics. Among them: roughly two-thirds of Ph.D.-holding trainees are in the life sciences, but only 14 percent of them eventually secure tenure-track jobs. What does it take to get one of those jobs? To find out, the authors surveyed a seven-member faculty hiring committee tasked in 2015 with recruiting new assistant, associate or full professor hires to Vanderford’s department and the Markey Cancer Center at Kentucky.

Wright and Vanderford, who was part of the committee, explain that applications were initially screened for current grant funding, high-impact journal publications and research-area fit with the program. The most promising candidates were invited for in-person interviews with current faculty, a public presentation and an additional “chalk talk.” The committee met afterward to determine whether it would continue to recruit these candidates; two assistant professors eventually were hired.

The survey asked individual search members if they strongly agreed, agreed, disagreed, strongly disagreed or were neutral as to whether each of 17 different credentials mattered in the search. Candidates’ career stages were taken into account.

Credentials fell within four categories: core competencies that mattered to a search no matter the candidate’s career stage; “initial necessities” that mattered in securing an early-career hire; “necessities for advancement,” or credentials that gain importance over one’s career; and “unnecessary credentials,” which were scored neutrally across career stages.

Journal impact factor and social hierarchy played outsize roles in career advancement, according to the study. Institution reputation trended toward significance, and adviser or mentor reputation was considered important for assistant professor hires. The study asserts that all these rely on perceived social status, which does not necessarily equal scientific quality or merit.

Source: Nathan Vanderford

Vanderford and Wright recommend, first and foremost, eliminating journal impact factor as a consideration in hiring. “An applicant’s publication record should instead be judged on the strength of data and experimental design in the context of the applicant’s field of study,” they say, noting approvingly that the Kentucky committee asked candidates to include a research program statement about how their work would enhance the department and center.

As for blind review, the authors propose that hiring committees coordinate with human resources departments to assign unique identifiers to each applicant so cover letters are stripped of personal information. Again, that includes name, training institution and mentor, as “all introduce bias in hiring considerations.”

“We believe applicants could highlight their research productivity, vision and value without disclosing personal information,” the study says. “Once the committee identifies promising candidates, the human resources department could then provide other application materials (for example, curriculum vitae) to the committee.”

Vanderford said he acknowledged that larger structural problems underlie the relative lack of tenure-track jobs relative to Ph.D. trainees, including decreased tenure-track faculty lines, the postdoctoral system some long-term trainees have dubbed the “permadoc” system, and decreased federal research funding.

That last factor in particular can make committees hawks for candidates, even new assistant professors, who can bring external funding with them -- something virtually unheard-of in the not-so-distant past, Vanderford said. And while the study doesn’t address those underlying issues, it doesn’t condone them, either. If anything, Vanderford said, his study might help those waiting year after year for the elusive faculty job to cut their losses and pursue other, more fulfilling career paths.

Gary McDowell, a biophysical scientist, decided to leave academe behind and now advocates for junior scientists as executive director of the nonprofit Future of Research. Via email, he said he wasn’t too surprised by the study in terms of what’s valued in hiring, but agreed “very much with the idea of greater transparency about what is being looked for.”

“It seems that every time there is a discussion about what one should or shouldn't do in applying for faculty jobs, there are things that everyone has completely opposite advice/experience on, and sometimes contradictory advice is received,” he said, “which makes the process very confusing.”

McDowell also said he agreed with the idea of a “blinding” search committee members to certain information upon initial review, since a relatively small number of institutions are so overrepresented among those who eventually win tenure-track jobs. But he noted that blind review might be difficult in smaller fields, where applicants and mentors could be recognizable even without their names or institutions.

Karen Kelsky, a former tenured professor who runs an academic job consulting service and blog called The Professor Is In, said she supported the idea of a blind review process, and noted that it would also correct some gender and race bias. At the same time, she said, “any job seeker who doesn't understand that the job search is a status exercise has been badly misled.” One of her client interventions is to help people understand that before they even apply to a graduate program, she said.

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