Higher education’s darkest secret

With days to go before classes begin, it’s not uncommon for department heads, or even deans, to ask adjunct professors to take on last-minute teaching assignments, TakePart.com reports. For one professor, this offer was tempting. She was a “part-time” professor and her husband was unemployed. She had taken on more classes at several area colleges in order to support her family and afford health insurance. Despite the extra work, she was still making under $25K per year. The professor knew that refusing the offer could mark her as “uncooperative” and torpedo her chances for a full-time teaching position. Yet she knew there was no way she—or any of her colleagues—could take on yet another class. Better to cancel the class, she suggested to the dean, than to give students a teacher who cannot serve her students. The dean nodded gravely and said with some urgency, “But we don’t want to cancel the class. Really, all we need is a warm body in the classroom.”

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Texas official: 3 wounded in college shooting

A shooting on a Texas community college campus wounded three people Tuesday and sent students fleeing for safety as officials placed the campus on lockdown, officials said, the Associated Press reports. Harris County Sheriff’s Maj. Armando Tello said authorities had detained a person of interest. He did not provide any details about the people who were wounded, such as whether they were students or included the person who was arrested. Authorities thought there could be a second shooter, according to a law enforcement official in Washington who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the ongoing case. The school’s official Twitter feed said the shooting was between two people and that the situation was under control. It had issued an alert on its website earlier, telling students and faculty to take immediate shelter or avoid the campus…

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‘Girl Rising’ spotlights need for girls’ education

Just because a film isn’t finished doesn’t mean it can’t get buzz at Sundance, the Associated Press reports. Director Richard Robbins showed about 10 minutes of his new movie, “Girl Rising,” at the independent-film festival Monday, even though he still has a few weeks of post-production work to do on the project. The film tells the stories of nine girls from different developing countries — including Cambodia, Haiti, India and Afghanistan — and shows how access to education would change their lives. Robbins, who works as a writer for TV’s “Scandal,” said he had hoped to finish the film in time to compete or premiere at Sundance, but after visiting 10 countries in 12 months gathering footage, he just couldn’t make it in time. Still, he wanted to generate interest in the film, which is set for release in March…

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Challenge provokes small steps, powerful results

A new worldwide challenge encourages college students to adopt sustainable habits.

Jan. 21 marked the first day of the Small Steps, Big Wins Campus Challenge that aims to inspire college students worldwide to take small, personal actions to positively and collectively effect major social and environmental change.

Launched by Net Impact, a nonprofit that works with young people to further social and sustainability initiatives, the challenge aims to reach 50 campuses and approximately 300,000 students by May 2013. Other sponsors include the Alcoa Foundation, Microsoft, 3M, Avon, Johnson & Johnson, and Target.

“We know that creating a more sustainable world all at once is challenging, therefore we’re asking students to start by taking small steps towards making positive social and environmental changes,” said Liz Maw, CEO of Net Impact. “By participating in the challenge, they can begin solving some of the world’s toughest problems. We hope that these young people will begin a lifelong journey to improve the world.”

 

The Challenge will last 14 weeks and pit campuses against one another to prove which college is most focused on implementing change. Students are invited to track their individual impactful actions and record them through the challenge’s website or Facebook app.

(Next page: More details about the challenge—and how it’s affecting students’ goals and career paths)

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12 best colleges for undergraduates

American universities are known for innovations and world-class research, but much of that takes place at the graduate level. So which ones are all-stars for how they teach undergraduates? U.S. News & World report has the answers! The ranking is based on a survey conducted in spring 2012, U.S. News said, and all the schools on the list are ones that received the most votes from top college administrators as paying a particular focus on undergraduate teaching…

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How California’s budget crisis colors minorities’ college hopes

Changes to the California’s public higher-education system will affect large number of students of color attending any of the Golden State’s approximately 145 public colleges and universities, the National Journal reports. California Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget, released earlier this month, moderately increases state spending on higher ed and freezes tuition for the next four years. The budget also encourages state colleges and universities to rein in costs, increase graduation rates, and reduce the amount of time it takes students to earn a degree. Although Brown’s changes haven’t been framed as a minority issue per se, they will affect many students of color across the state…

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Catholic U. starts a business school—without MBAs

Catholic University announced this month the creation of an unusual business school in which every course touches on morality and ethics, the Washington Post reports. Interestingly, none of the business degrees offered at the D.C. university will include the traditional staple of business schools: a master’s in business administration. Instead of an MBA, graduate students in the School of Business and Economics will be able to choose from four master’s degree programs: business analysis; accounting; international political economics; and integral economic development management. The school also offers several undergraduate degree programs. And every course, officials say, will tackle questions of business ethics…

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Free digital textbooks surge in popularity

Boundless offers students digital textbooks with reputable content—free of charge.

As college textbook prices continue to climb, a free alternative to traditional textbooks has gathered steam—and its provider claims that students at more than half of U.S. colleges are taking advantage.

Publicly launched this past August, Boundless produces digital textbooks consisting of reliable, open-licensed online content to match students’ reading material in at least 18 subject areas. Boundless primarily uses academic material from reputable sources such as open educational libraries, government resources, and other free learning sites.

Experts in multiple academic fields review gathered content and organize it into digital textbook selections that are structured based on a student’s needs. Students enter their assigned textbook title into Boundless’ website, and it locates comparable material for free, supplementing the text with visual graphics.

 

“To make our products easy for students to use, we ask what textbook they’ve been assigned and we align our content based on [their needs] and assigned textbook chapters,” said Ariel Diaz, co-founder and CEO of Boundless.

(Next page: How Boundless has gained popularity—and how students are using the free digital textbooks)

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Martin Luther King: ‘Intelligence is not enough’

Martin Luther King Jr., was prescient on a lot of things, including education. Here are some things he wrote decades ago that sound contemporary, the Washington Post reports. Here’s an excerpt from “The Purpose of Education,” a piece he wrote in the February 1947 edition of the Morehouse College student newspaper, the Maroon Tiger:

…As I engage in the so-called “bull sessions” around and about the school, I too often find that most college men have a misconception of the purpose of education. Most of the “brethren” think that education should equip them with the proper instruments of exploitation so that they can forever trample over the masses. Still others think that education should furnish them with noble ends rather than means to an end…

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Rick Santorum blames gay marriage, abortion and porn ideals on college indoctrination

Rick Santorum said the nation’s colleges are promoting a “sea of antagonism toward Christianity” and “indoctrinating” its youth with ideals that support gay marriage, abortion and pornography, the Huffington Post reports. Santorum called in to Tony Perkins’ “Washington Watch” on Tuesday to talk about the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling. The conversation dealt not only with abortion but also included other “symptoms” that have changed the nation. Perkins spoke broadly, saying pro-choice Americans represent a troubled country that doesn’t choose life, meaning “That is to follow the principals, the teachings, the instructions of God … You see that as you’ve been in Washington, D.C. There is a rejection of this idea of truth, and that there is a foundation or morality, which needs to be upheld.”

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