Category Archives: economics

Internal contradictions in the academic labor market

By | December 21, 2014

In the December 16, 2014, issue of the Inside Higher Education blog, there’s a story called “One Course Without Pay”, describing the plan of Arizona State University to require their full-time non-tenure-track faculty members to teach five sections per semester (of twenty-five students each) of first-year writing courses. As the article notes,

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Academic work as a Moral Tale: An agony in a mere six fits [Part 1]

By | November 30, 2014

On our Reed College Facebook page, there has been a debate on academic reimbursement, starting with an innocuous discussion on the posting of a position for a new event planner for the College and leading up to my threatening them with my own analysis of academic job markets – a threat now begun here.

Prelude

Despite the neverending best efforts of our group to feel bad for our beloved college,

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The state of California [Part 2]

By | April 18, 2014

In Part 1 of this post, I detailed three areas of concern in the current public space that is California today. Here, I’d like to suggest two other major sets of problems, and then draw some implication for the nation as a whole.

The almost complete failure of the Brown administration to do anything meaningful about the rapid growth of the “prison-industrial complex”.

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The state of California [Part 1]

By | April 17, 2014

I don’t write often about overtly political topics, but from time to time it’s necessary. I’ve recently been corresponding with my high school friend Friedner Wittman about what’s happening in California, our mutual adopted state. Despite having been born in the east and taking up adult residence here only about 30 years ago (seems like no more than 25…),

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MOOCs and the future of higher education [Part 2]

By | April 8, 2014

So just what are MOOCs, anyway, and why should we care? Aren’t they just hype, or worse – a gimmick dreamed up by the for-profit sector to flimflam the non-elites? There’s certainly an element of marketing gee-whiz. The first MOOCs were largely show-off technology, but also partly marketing devices used by their universities to publicize special areas of expertise.

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Discrimination, representation, and ecological fallacies

By | February 6, 2014

​Back in November 2013, Alice Marwick published an article in Wired Online entitled “Silicon Valley Isn’t a Meritocracy. And It’s Dangerous to Hero-Worship Entrepreneurs”. In it, she basically claimed that women and minorities were being systematically cut out of the Silicon Valley elite by assorted Powers That Be. It’s an interesting article, and as might be suspected,

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Socio-economic karma?

By | October 13, 2013

[Updated 11/22/13] Today’s post is not precisely the long-awaited completion of the series on causality, but it is not unrelated in a way. Causality, as we noted, is a very complex idea in which the relationships between causes and effects may be short and immediate, or long and drawn out.

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Education as a market

By | June 2, 2013

houseThere has been an interesting debate recently on one of the Chronicle of Higher Education blogs about a new educational start-up called “Udemy”, which is essentially an open marketplace in which individual teachers create and manage their own courses, dealing directly with individual students and splitting their fees with the company.

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Political control of research

By | May 17, 2013

polar-bears-standingThere has been an interesting exchange on one of the Chronicle of Higher Education blogs relating to a story on the efforts of Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) to manage the funding of research grants by the National Science Foundation.  This effort is part of Rep. Smith and the Republican majority in the House to politicize and eventually eliminate NSF research funding .

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Intriguing new free research tool

By | April 26, 2013

googleI’ve been experimenting recently a bit with a quite fascinating new research tool brought to you by those wonderful folks at Google Labs. It’s called an “Ngram Viewer“, and it’s basically a tool for taking words and phrases and, as Google puts it, “…display[ing] a graph showing how those phrases have occurred in a corpus of books (e.g.,

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