JPSE Special Issue – Call for Submissions

The editors of the Journal of Political Science Education invite submissions for a special issue dedicated the use of simulations and games in teaching political science. Submissions can be systematic studies (quantitative or qualitative) on the pedagogical use of simulations and games, narrative descriptions of simulations and games that authors have created for use in their own classrooms, or reflective essays on the opportunities, accomplishments, and/or challenges inherent in incorporating this type of active learning methodology into one’s teaching. The deadline for submitting a manuscript for the special issue is 1 February 2018. Full information on submitting to JSPE is here. The editors also welcome submissions on other topics related to the teaching of political science, broadly construed, for inclusion in regular issues of the journal.

Dying Colleges

Along the lines of some of my cheery past posts on U.S. colleges and universities, here are a few more to put on the deathwatch:

Cheyney University has been given a show cause order by its accreditor. It must demonstrate by September 1 why its accreditation should not be pulled. For international readers of this blog who might be unfamiliar with the U.S. system of higher education, I explain the significance of accreditation here. Cheyney is a public institution that is part of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE). I’ve referenced PASSHE before; its basic problem is over-capacity — too many campuses for too few students. Making matters worse, Cheyney is what’s known in the United States as a historically black college or university (HBCU). HBCUs were created to serve African-Americans who, during the pre-Civil Rights Act era of segregation, were denied admission to many colleges and universities. Today college-bound African-Americans have a much wider range of choices of where to attend, and many HBCUs are struggling as a result.

Georgetown College of Kentucky and MacMurray College of Illinois are, like Cheyney University, on probation. Georgetown College has one more year to sort out its problems. MacMurray must file evidence that it has met the criteria of its accreditor by November 1 and it will be subject to an on-site evaluation in December. In June of 2018, the accreditor will make a final determination on whether MacMurray complied with the terms of its probation or if its accreditation should be revoked. Continue reading

Using Slack for Online Teaching

Today’s post is by guest contributor William R. Wilkerson, Professor of American Government and Politics at SUNY-Oneonta. He can be reached at bill [dot] wilkerson [at] oneonta [dot] edu.

As I noted in my previous post, I am teaching Law Courts and Politics as an online course this summer. In the past, I have used email and the Blackboard LMS for communication in online courses. Students don’t respond to email as they once did, and while Blackboard has about every tool you could imagine, discussion forums are clunky and the mobile app is unsatisfactory. After listening to a podcast interview with political scientist Steven Michels, I decided to give Slack a try. My wife uses Slack at work as an officer of a professional association board and she had good things to say about it. Examples of teaching with Slack are described here and here.

Slack is an integrated team communication tool. Only invited participants can be part of a team workspace, and it has tools for group discussion that can be divided into forums that are called channels. Channels can be open to the entire team or part of the team. Slack also has features like direct messaging, file sharing, video conferencing, and tagging of individuals. The free version works great for most purposes and its apps are fully compatible across platforms. Continue reading

Cultural and Historic Preservation Conference

And now for something completely different . . .

The Noreen Stonor Drexel Cultural and Historic Preservation program at Salve Regina University, Newport, Rhode Island, will host its annual conference on October 13 and 14. The theme for this year is “Gentrification & Preservation: A Reappraisal.” The conference will explore the relationship between gentrification, preservation, and the community – broadly construed.

“Gentrification” is a term that carries a great deal of emotional weight. It is frequently tied to issues of class and race, and historic preservation efforts are often accused of being a handmaid to gentrifiers.

The conference’s keynote speaker is Dr. Lance Freeman, professor of Urban Planning at Columbia University. Dr. Freeman is a leading researcher in the study of gentrification, particularly the various relationships connecting race, ethnicity, socioeconomic class, and housing markets.

The conference schedule includes site visits in Newport as well as a session in the Newport Art Museum. For additional information, visit http://chpconference.salvereginablogs.com/ or email chpconference@salve.edu.

Specification Grading In An Online Course

Today we have another post by guest contributor William R. Wilkerson, Professor of American Government and Politics at SUNY-Oneonta. He can be reached at bill [dot] wilkerson [at] oneonta [dot] edu.

This summer for the first time I am teaching an online version of my judicial process course, Law Courts and Politics. I adopted a specifications grading system, something that has been discussed by people like Linda Nilson at Inside Higher Ed and Amanda Rosen on this blog. With specifications grading all assignments are graded on a satisfactory or unsatisfactory basis and course grades are based on assignment bundles.

My course is five weeks long with a distinct theme for each week’s lesson. Each lesson includes an online quiz made up of multiple choice and short essay questions on the textbook (Corley, Ward and Martinek’s American Judicial Process ), various discussion topics on the text, other assigned readings, video and audio, as well as a 600-750 word writing assignment. Each of these elements—quizzes, discussion, and the writing assignment, along with a summative assignment for those wishing earn a B or an A—are tied to course learning objectives. The grade bundles are as follows: Continue reading

APSA Teaching Workshop – Call for Proposals

The APSA Centennial Center for Political Science and Public Affairs will host a two-day, teaching-oriented workshop for faculty in the field of international relations. The workshop is scheduled for October 20-21 and will be led by Joyce Kaufman (Whittier College) and Victor Asal (University at Albany – SUNY). A full description of the workshop and link to submit a proposal is here.

Please note that the deadline for submitting a proposal is August 6.

Mills College: When the Bus Leaves the Station and You’re Not On It

credit: Chad Raymond

In May, Mills College announced that its board of trustees had declared a “financial emergency” after persistent budget deficits. The financial stabilization plan sent to the board by the college’s president in June recommended an administrative reorganization, recruitment initiatives, staff reductions that include ranked faculty, and the modification or elimination of academic programs. Five tenured faculty members have already received official notice of termination. Undergraduate majors in Latin American studies and philosophy were slated for closure, as were minors in creative writing in Spanish, Latin American studies, government, and physics. Master’s degree programs in mathematics and translation were also identified for elimination. The financial stabilization plan concluded by saying:

“After years of struggle with an intractable deficit and significant cuts, we understand now that Mills needs transformational change. We cannot build a new Mills by holding onto everything we’ve been doing in the past . . . The measures in this plan are taken because actions to date have failed to put Mills on a solid financial basis.”

Will the plan, if implemented, put Mills on the road to recovery? I think not, because the plan makes the same assumptions about market positioning that put the college in its current predicament. Mills has historically branded itself as a women’s liberal arts college, but that strategy has failed to give it an advantage in the higher education marketplace. Mills needs to abandon what isn’t working and develop a radically different model, if not an entirely new mission. Continue reading