Tuesday, November 29, 2011


I really loved the crime-solving drama Numb3rs. I was very sad to see it end with such an abrupt finale. Anyway, this post is not about that show.

It's about my inability to comprehend large numbers. I've just never had a knack for numbers. Not equations. Just numbers. For example, when Ohio State signs a new football coach for an exorbitant price, I don't fully grasp the sheer volume of money involved. But I know it's very high. And I know that it's wrong.

So when I see images making sense of big numbers, I find them helpful.  That's what I'm posting today. Mint.com and Wallstats.com put together some really great images. You can see them here.

But the image that got me thinking about all of this today came from Moveon.org. It provides a graphic that helps me to make sense of why we are seeing the Occupy Wall Street movement emerge. Take a look. Maybe you'll find it helpful as well.
Click on the image to make it larger.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Challenge of Staying

Jennifer Zickel and her two daughters, Emily, 4, and Natalie, 7.
I was an altar server. I don't remember the age when I started, but I think it was fourth grade or so. Sister Theresa was charged with the task of getting a bunch of kids--literally--to fill the role of aiding the priest (Father Gideon in my case) with Mass. Our parish was amazingly small. I still don't understand how it even stays open. I guess I want to say that, looking back, it definitely wasn't one of these intimidatingly large cavernous spaces. 

You had one of two options: you were responsible for the "book" (or Sacramentary if you're all about accuracy) or the "bells" which were rung during the Eucharistic Prayer. After serving for a while, I got the hang of everything and started to enjoy it. Throughout high school I would help out with various Masses, covering Midnight Mass at Christmas. Looking back, the experience was positive for me. It got me thinking about my religious tradition and enabled me to participate. In all honesty, I think I did like how I was special. I got to wear an alb, swing incense around, and generally be special. As a kid, it's amazing how important such things can be. 

I'm happy to say that I matured in my understanding of Catholicism and was less into bells and smells and more into the deeper, fundamental questions about the human experience. Without going into detail, I immersed myself in theology, ending up with undergraduate and graduate degrees and working as a campus minister. Then I had enough. The ritual. The hierarchy. The basic tenets of the faith didn't align with what I thought. It was only later, years actually, that I was open to returning to the Catholic world in a way that was more than an obligatory visit for one reason or another. I feel much more comfortable in my very nuanced understanding of what it means to be Catholic. 

I've become part of a really amazing parish in Ithaca, New York. It's diverse and welcoming. It's filled with thinking people. It helps that Cornell is down the street. The pastor is genuine and a true friend. Homilies aren't expected fluff or so stale that the homiletics books from 1970 remain central resources. The parish is alive. 

One thing I hadn't thought much about lately is the fact that on most weekends those helping the priest and pastoral associates (who are women) are girls. More often than not, the altar servers are female. One of them often wears headbands that are bright and sparkly. Just as one would expect from a young girl. It almost reminds you of Winnie from The Wonder Years. She makes me smile because she seems to really enjoy participating in the liturgy in that way.

So I think about this because of something I just read in The Washington Post. It's a story about a parish in Virginia that is no longer going to train girls to be altar servers. It's not the first. While the Diocese of Columbus had opened up the opportunity for girls and women to be altar servers quite a while ago, others have been much slower and some still restrict the role to boys and men. It's as if we're still in a time when Studebakers were parked outside and priests had to say daily Mass, even when that meant they were mumbling to themselves.  The Second Vatican Council opened up the church to new approaches to an ancient way of life and practice. Priests turned around, common language was used (although we're about to have some changes to that), and women were more fully embraced by a church that had for centuries relegated them to second-class status. I love that the cool girl here in Ithaca wears her headbands.  
When Mass was a daily necessity for the individual
priest and less about the celebration of a community.

So now, I read this story about a parish in Virginia and it makes me sad about this church that professes to be universal and welcoming. I've never had to deal with exclusion. I'm a white male who is educated and comfortable financially. I don't have many of the worries or feelings that others do because of marginalization. But that doesn't mean I don't care or I don't think of myself as an ally to those who are excluded. As someone who is about to become a parent, I am realizing that such decisions could impact my child if I had a daughter. Yet, even if I had a boy, I still feel like I'll have discomfort being part of a church that excludes individuals because of their sex. I don't think I want to have a son be part of something that reinforces a view of the world that should have faded a very long time ago. 

I guess I don't think about these things often because I do live in a community that values diverse views and experiences. I live in a community that is highly educated and thoughtful. I don't think the sparkly headbands are going away. But the church is much more than simply the parish I belong to these days. What's going on in Virginia and elsewhere is damaging to the whole. The challenge for me is to try to make sense of why excluding women helps to build a more just and peaceful society or even a more dynamic church. Women have long played important roles in the church and that's only continuing to increase with lay ministers and lay leadership. So what's going on with something like this? If there is fear of watering down Catholicism, then I'll have to say goodbye. Jesus wasn't really into excluding people. I'd prefer to follow his example rather than some bishop's grasp for a church and a time that is gone. The challenge of staying is believing that issues such as these, in the longview, will be seen as subtle steps backwards in the long march of a pilgrim people to right relationship with one another and with God. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Technocracy, democracy, and what it means

Today, print media has published articles exploring an emerging trend in governance--the role of the technocracy. The first article comes from the The New York Times.  It focuses primarily on the recent changes that have taken place in the post-Berlusconi Italy. Elisabetta Povoledo, writing for The Times noted that
Mr. Monti said he hoped the new government could restore market confidence and soothe a tense political climate. “We worked seriously and paid close attention to the quality of the choices,” he said at a news conference. He added that he had been encouraged by Italy’s European partners and the international community and that the rapid formation of the government would relieve the pressure of markets on Italy.
The ministers are drawn mostly from Italy’s academic world, some with strong ties to the Catholic Church, but also banking and the upper echelons of civil service.
Because of the seriousness of the challenges facing Italy, there is little hope outside of turning to experts. The long-term prospects for this apolitical group of academics and business leaders are questionable, primarily because such an approach to governance stands in contrast to the electoral realities for a democracy and its political parties. But for the time being, these leaders are viewed as saviors from a system fraught with political jockeying that, in many ways, has led to this precipice. The Telegraph's Christopher Booker writes that the EU's plan all along was not democracy but rather technocracy. He writes
One of the few pleasures of watching this self-inflicted shambles unfolding day by day has been to see the panjandrums of the Today programme, James Naughtie and John Humphrys, at last beginning to ask whether the EU is a democratic institution. Had they studied the history of the object of their admiration, they might long ago have realised that the “European project” was never intended to be a democratic institution.
The idea first conceived back in the 1920s by two senior officials of the League of Nations – Jean Monnet and Arthur Salter, a British civil servant – was a United States of Europe, ruled by a government of unelected technocrats like themselves. Two things were anathema to them: nation states with the power of veto (which they had seen destroy the League of Nations) and any need to consult the wishes of the people in elections.
As Richard North and I showed in our book The Great Deception, this was the idea that Monnet put at the heart of the “project” from 1950 onwards, modelling his “government of Europe” on precisely the same four institutions that made up the League of Nations – a commission, a council of ministers, a parliament and a court. Thus, step by step over decades, Monnet’s technocratic dream has come to pass. 
Phillip Oltermann of The Guardian collects a good number of articles that point towards a technocracy model of governance in the EU.  

Another article comes from The Economist with the appropriate title, "Have PhD, will govern," touching on the appointment of academic economists in Italy and Greece and the shift in contemporary politics to think about new approaches to paralytic stalemates in national political systems. The articles goes on to talk about the unique nature of the "super committee" currently facing a looming deadline here in the United States. The author put it this way:
Perhaps the best example of this is the so-called “super committee” in the United States. Normally, all fiscal decisions are made by Congress, with the approval of the president. But by November 23rd, a special committee made up of three Democrats and three Republicans from each house of Congress, has to slice a mammoth $1.5 trillion off the budget deficit over ten years. Congress must then vote on whatever the super committee proposes—but may only accept or reject the plan as a whole. It may not amend the plan or vote on individual items, as is usual. And if Congress rejects the package, or the super-committee fails to come up with one, then the $1.5 trillion of cuts will be imposed automatically. American politicians, despairing of their inability to reduce the deficit in normal ways, have put a gun to their own heads. There have been partial precedents in American history but nothing quite like this.
In Europe, meanwhile, technocratic prime ministers are only the highest-ranking experts being recruited to help balance budgets and reform economies. Italy not only has an economics professor as prime minister (Mario Monti), it has also agreed that the IMF should scrutinise its reform programme. Greece has accepted that a troika of the IMF, European Central Bank and European Commission (the European Union’s glorified civil service) should supervise its austerity measures. So have Ireland and Portugal. Spain is an especially revealing case. On the face of it, its democracy is working as usual. The country is due to hold an election on November 20th and, if the polls are correct, the conservative Popular Party will unseat the ruling Socialists. Yet at the same time, the current government has agreed upon a series of economic targets with the European Commission, and in practice the PP’s leader, Mariano Rajoy, will have to take these targets as a guide to policy, even if he dislikes them (which, admittedly, he doesn’t).
The political environment here in the United States, has seen a long-growing problem with the use of the filibuster (you can check out one article on this increase here). 
To quote from The Economist:
The special factor in America is the dysfunctionality of the political system. The past decade or so has seen a growing use of delaying tactics in Congress—such as the filibuster and so-called “hold” on appointments, so that decisions that were once largely formal or administrative have become mired in politicised controversy. This is the opposite of the problem in Europe, where the emergence of technocrats is supposed to make decision-making less partisan. But it is still a problem, as was seen in the disastrous wrangle over raising the national debt ceiling—an argument which ended in the downgrade of American sovereign debt. House Republicans have said they will not compromise with the president. But since the American political system requires a measure of compromise to work (and since the Republicans have a majority in the House of Representatives), parts of the legislative processes have almost seized up. This is likely to get worse during election year.
America and Europe share a common problem: the economic and financial crisis has discredited mainstream politicians. The right is popularly seen as the party of the rich, too close to unpopular bankers, and responsible for the financial deregulation of the 1980s which, on some accounts, was the source of all the trouble. But the left, which might have expected to have benefited from a capitalist meltdown, is no better off. Centre-left governments, at least in Britain and America, are also compromised by their earlier friendliness to finance and the left is seen as having been profligate, running up the debts that austerity is now needed to rein in. The result is that whereas in the early years of the crisis, the left was doing better in America and the right better in Europe (an echo of the 1930s), now there seems no pattern, except growing opposition to incumbents. 
This brief reference back to the 1930s is an important nod because technocracy and technocratic approaches to governance helped to shape much of the thinking during that period. John Jordan's Machine-Age Ideology provides a glimpse into that period. The positive view of technocracy faded in the United States, but, as Oltermann of The Guardian noted 
In many European countries, the word technocrat still has positive connotations. In the 1950s, Jean Monnet envisioned growth as something that required expertise rather than party politics. Smaller democracies, such as Holland, often rely on technocrats as negotiators between unruly coalition governments, or between employers and employees. Belgium, without a government for 17 months and counting,is a technocrat's paradise and has weathered the crisis fairly well so far. In the former communist states of central and eastern Europe, technocrats played a key role in negotiating the transition from authoritarian regime to democracy.
Today, we can see nations wrestling with daunting challenges. We are included in this list. But what are we to think of an embrace of "apolitical" political actors. I realize technocrats aren't popularly elected like our democratic leaders, but we would be wrong to think they exist outside of the political world in which they live and work. It seems to me that maybe we need to look at this issue in this way.

  1. We need to explain what we mean when we say "political" or "politicians." We are political animals, and I think we do a injustice to the term when we only use it as a derogatory term about elected officials. Being political can (and I would argue, should) be a positive characteristic of citizens.
  2. The role of the expert needs to be understood in a way that positions them as political actors in relationship with elected officials as well as ordinary citizens. There is a benefit to sidestepping the debacle that is the Congress, but democracy doesn't have to mean impasse or partisanship. 

These two points are not simple. Changing such large issues isn't even feasible. But if we just ignore them, then I would submit that we're only going to find ourselves facing issues much like we are today. And while we may think we're living through a very extreme time, I would venture a guess that having elected officials so closely aligned with bug business and big money will continue to block an honest discussion and debate about how we might, collectively, work through some of these very serious and pressing issues. There is a role for the citizen in all of this, as well as the elected official and the technocrat. Finding that balance, however, requires considerably more work. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Story of Broke

A helpful video highlighting some of what has brought us to point that today. As people go to vote on school levies that will provide desperate funds for schools, there's something vitally important about recognizing that we aren't out of funds: we (as a representative democracy) choose where to put our money. And as the video demonstrates, we've not always been the best at investing in things that will help us develop a better society.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Sliding away from what? The contested past and present for higher education

This morning The Chronicle of Higher Education published an article entitled "Syracuse's Slide" based on issues related to questions about the purpose and role of higher education. There are a number of reasons why this is very important, especially as I sit at the National Outreach Scholarship Conference. Harry Boyte has written a short piece in response to this article. I'm including the full text below because I think Harry captures the heartier this issue very well.

By Harry C. Boyte, Director of the Center for Democracy and Citizenship at Augsburg College

Robin Wilson’s October 3, 2011, article, “Syracuse’s Slide,” in The Chronicle of Higher Education surfaces controversies about the purposes of higher education and the nature of excellence which go well beyond one university. Indeed, there was a statewide debate on precisely these issues in 2001, the 150th anniversary of the University of Minnesota. The debate is likely to quicken in 2012, the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Act signed by President Lincoln in 1862, establishing land grant colleges and universities.

One side of the argument is unabashedly meritocratic and elitist. Thus Syracuse history professor David H. Bennett fears that “the university is moving away from selective to inclusive,” a view echoed by the editor of the student newspaper, The Daily Orange, who worries that “rise in the acceptance rate could devalue the diploma.”

The supposed tradeoff is between “excellence” and “access.” A Minnesota Public Radio statewide discussion framed the forced choice about the future of the University of Minnesota precisely this way in Minnesota in 2001. More broadly, this supposed choice is today’s conventional wisdom, at the heart of college rankings such as US News and World Report’s, or, on a global level, the “Shanghai Ranking” of the purportedly top 100 universities in the world.

But there is another side to the argument. Land grant institutions like the University of Minnesota -- founded a decade before the Morrill Act -- were once called “democracy colleges.” The designation came from the conviction at the heart of America’s educational faith that diverse, inclusive student bodies, faculty members who educate them, and colleges and universities deeply engaged in the affairs of their communities and the larger world are wellsprings of democratic excellences far more dynamic and inspiriting than attributes of any exclusive club.

Lotus Coffman, president of the University of Minnesota from 1921 to 1938, eloquently voiced a democratic view of higher education in his inaugural address, May 13, 1921, entitled “The University and the Commonwealth.” Vowing to resist those who would locate the university on “some Mount Olympus” far above the world, he declared that “The truly educated American… believes that his institutions are social in origin and in nature, not the product of any individual nor of any special group of individuals, that they represent the soul hunger and the spiritual expressions of the common people…that a generous education for himself and a better one for his children is the only safeguard of democracy.” One can’t romanticize earlier years in higher education, freighted with exclusions of their own. But Coffman’s vision – and dimensions of earlier land grant practice – represent understandings of public purpose and democratic mission crucial to update for the new century.

Today, state colleges and universities revive this vision of democratic excellences in the American Democracy Project, community colleges continue it in the new Democracy Commitment, and small and medium private colleges like Augsburg are taking leadership in this vein as well in the liberal arts world. In a time when it is far more important to re-dedicate ourselves to developing the democratic excellences of the broad citizenry than to cultivate a breed apart, Syracuse University's President Nancy Cantor is a great democratic pioneer in the tradition of Lotus Coffman on the private research university side, helping to bring the democratic spirit of the old land grants to all of higher education. />

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

When do we care?

Last night during the Republican debate, a question was asked about a hypothetical situation.

If a man who is 30, healthy, and free to make the decision to decline having health coverage suddenly needs intensive health care for an extended period, who is supposed to pay for it? I think we have a number of responses to this including something along the lines of "well, you should have insurance" or "it's your choice."

The CNN/Tea Party sponsored debate's audience would presumably take a position that was opposed to the idea that government might have a role to play in health care. To be very honest, I'm disgusted by the way we think of health care in the United States first as a market and only secondly as a way to ensure the health of our society. I think health care is a fundamental human right and making it something that is outside the role of the government is uncivil. But the response to this hypothetical question left me feeling even more aghast at what we're embracing as normal.

A number of individuals in the audience yelled very energetically that our hypothetic citizen of the United State should die. Is this what happens when we disconnect "freedom" from a shared sense of identity and citizenship? So many people today, especially those who identify as part of the Tea Party, claim they are returning to our founding principles. But what is glaringly absent from that partial reclamation is the commonwealth. Where is our concern for the other? Ron Paul mentioned that the "churches" should step up to take care of this man. This statement received applause. I would agree that civil society has a role to play in the health of a democracy and there is something about a religiously-affiliated hospital caring for those without because that is part of their mission and identity. But to lay that expectation on these types of institutions doesn't show me freedom of choice. What it shows me is that "freedom" often masks an ardent individualism that trumps care for the other. It's not about personal responsibility, it's about selfishness.

Sadly, such honest language won't appear during any of these debates nor will people admit that is what's behind their beliefs. We have a number of responsibilities to one another and health care is one of the most fundamental of those responsibilities. Sadly this hypothetical question is very real. And as we continue to see the poverty rate increase and businesses responding to this new disparity with novel approaches to marketing rather than appealing to the (now increasingly shrinking) middle class, maybe that otherwise healthy 30 year-old citizen has difficult choices about what's worth the investment of a smaller pool of wealth.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

This is...my place.

I've been reminded lately about how distinct places are--cities, communities, universities. Trying to talk about a place becomes very difficult and the attempt may even be futile. What does it mean to say some amazing thing about a place when it has no meaning for the person you're telling? Coming home from a vacation seems to be fitting. You've been blown away by the beauty, the people, the landscape of a place and the person says "Oh, it sounds very nice."

I've been the person telling and I've been the person told. I know how it goes. But there's something more than about taking trips and seeing beautiful places. For many of us, we've been able to spend time in a variety of settings, each playing a formative role in our development. I've been able to have those places in my life. Don't we all have such deeply held feelings about the places that have shaped and influenced us that it's difficult to articulate just what it is, especially to people who haven't been able to be there to experience it themselves?

I've just come across a really wonderful video. It was a senior project (or so I've learned) of a student here at Cornell University. In many respects, the experience of a graduate student is very different from that of an undergraduate. My "college" experience was at St. Bonaventure University. But still, this place that I have called home since January of 2009 has been a place of great meaning in my life. I've made some amazing friendships, discovered my deep love of the Cornell University Libraries, become engaged and then was married here at Cornell. I've come to truly appreciate this little city/town in the Finger Lakes that has its own friggin tofu company that is stocked at Wegmans. It has a Wegmans!

But what does any of that mean? Recently I was visiting a new city in another state and I was very mindful of first impressions and of looking at the place as deeply as possible. I know I only got a quick glimpse. I was given the quick tours of campus and neighborhood, taken to nice restaurants, and got to look over a little corner of the place from my comfortable hotel room. Two days. A very short time. But while there, I realized that I kept talking about similarities and differences from that place to my place--to Ithaca--and discovering that CTB doesn't mean a whole hell of a lot to someone as you're standing in their version of the local bagel shop.

I've said all of this because watching this brief video about Cornell and Ithaca (and its cloudy days!) made me realize how difficult it is to express what a place means to you, but also how much a single place can have such similar and distinct meanings for those individuals there. I think of my weekly meetings with a handful of juniors and seniors here. They'd talk about functions going on, what they were doing for Spring Break, and places around town...none on which I had ever heard about. But it's right here. It's on my campus. It's in my city. Sometimes, literally, it's right down the street.

But here I am, experiencing Cornell and Ithaca in my way. I say all of this because, in many respects, this video helps me to express what this place is to me. But it also tells a story for someone else. Someone who is leaving here at four years of transformation from a high school senior to a young professional...or a young artist...or a young person who's still not quite sure of who or what they want to be. This isn't my story, but it sure helps me to tell my own to those who haven't or won't ever call this place home.

Here's the video.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Citizens or Consumers?

Writing about health care reform, Paul Krugman poses a very important question: "How did it become normal, or for that matter even acceptable, to refer to medical patients as 'consumers'?" It's a good question. Taking the time to read Krugman's article is well worth the few minutes in order to better understand some of the changes being suggested by Republicans. Medicare is at the heart of the matter and it has a profound way of shaping our next (current?) election cycle. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee quickly put together a video stressing the impact of such a move away from Medicare as we know it to a voucher system that will somehow work with private insurance.

But stepping back from some of the political positioning of the Democrats and Republicans, how does language of the market shape our democracy? Lizabeth Cohen studied 20th Century America and classified it as a "Consumers' Republic." When did we shift our thinking to apply the consumer model to everything?

The book that really made me think about the use of language and how we think about citizens was Creating Citizen-Consumers: Changing Publics and Changing Public Services. It made concrete what I was thinking at the time. I felt--and feel--strongly that we're transforming the role and relationship of government with citizens. But more than that, we're changing the ways that citizens think of themselves, how they act and engage in the world. If we wholehearted adopt market language, what changes occur? Are we more than we buy? One of the challenges we face in the United States is the dramatic shift away from active citizenship to a model that makes us more like Amazon. I love the ease and ability of order books or (nearly) anything else on their website, but when we make government replicate that model we radically alter institutions.

But rather than talk about abstract "government," we can see how a consumer model changes many other institutions as well. Cooperative Extension is everywhere. But in recent decades and years, there has been a strong push to replicate the Amazon (or insert some other amazing one-click shopping type of website here). Where are the relationships between Extension educators and community members? Norman Rockwell's depiction of the County Agent has been replaced by a digitized button.

...or this?
Fundamentally, we must ask: What kind of people do we want to be? The challenge is that we must also ask what kind of people we want to be, together. Market language and thinking gives each individual a "vote" but only to the degree that their decision-making based on purchases turns citizens into an aggregate that does little to recognize the human person and his or her ability to be a relational being. But if we embrace this notion that we're simply consumers, we are little more than data. I don't want to be data. I am a citizen.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Why save the humanities?

On February 10, 2011, David Skorton, president of Cornell University, wrote in The Washington Post a article entitled, "Don't cut humanities." In it, he defended the importance of the National Endowment for the Humanities. He wrote:
But while we debate the RSC proposal and others now on the table, let's prevent a train wreck in the making: the proposed elimination of the National Endowment for the Humanities. This is the federal agency that funds research on our national history, our cultural heritage, and our civic values.
I applaud our president speaking out on behalf of this important institution in the United States, especially in the academic world where priorities continue to emphasize STEM. Many scholars have noted the importance of the humanities (e.g. Martha Nussbaum's Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities which is but one title among many). He stresses the importance of researching and learning about our history, culture, and civic values. These points are especially important for me because they acknowledge that the ways we live are contentious and are not prescripted. He study history and culture to learn from them, not simply to look back at events that occurred for the sake of studying history. As Hannah Arendt reminds us, we make and remake the world. We don't simply inherit what has come before. Because of this, we must continue to wrestle with and question what is, what ought to be, and to attempt to suggest ideas for how we might bridge that gap. This is indeed important work that shapes both individuals and society. It is important work because, as Skorton later notes in his article, "our most pressing and complex problems--worldwide--will not be solved by science alone." Amen!

While I agree that science alone will not do, the rest of that paragraph concerns me. It reads:
As a physician and scientist, I applaud such investments. But make no mistake: our most pressing and complex problems--worldwide--will not be solved by science alone. As just one example, local cultures and values hugely impact the willingness of people to embrace scientific discoveries, from genetically modified foods to vaccines--and the understanding of these cultures and values is the domain of the humanities and the social sciences.
While saying that science can't solve everything, Skorton doesn't quite align with me. I feel uncomfortable with the notion that the humanities' role might help us to better understand those who don't--for cultural or ethical reasons--embrace science as if the worth of the humanities only comes from its ability to make genetically modified foods acceptable to individuals or communities who might be resistant to such modifications to food. It seems to me that the defense of the humanities in this context only reinforces the privileged position of scientific knowledge.

Overall, I agree that we should invest in research that isn't solely focused on measuring the relationship between variables. But I'm uncomfortable with not only some of the arguments Skorton makes in this article, but with what's been happening on his own campus: Cornell University. While writing in the Washington Post, the Department of Education here at Cornell is being dismantled. As a member of the education community at Cornell, I can say without reservation questions about civic values emerge in classroom discussions. Wrestling with how we might shape the world through work with others has been central to my coursework as a Ph.D. student. As I've written before, Skorton has spoken about the importance of supporting the humanities here. So why, in the midst of immense building projects and financial support for the sciences, are we reducing and (honestly) eliminating departments such as Education is we do indeed care so much about our collective future and acknowledge that science isn't going to provide all the answers?

Save fields of study that help to us think about, reflect on, and engage in work with fellow citizens. But don't do it simply to help Monsanto.