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Chronicle of Higher Education: The Gloves Are Off: What a Deal Between a Mega-University and a Community-College System Says About the Fight for Students

The Gloves Are Off: What a Deal Between a Mega-University and a Community-College System Says About the Fight for Students  

The Gloves Are Off: What a Deal Between a Mega-University and a Community-College System Says About the Fight for Students

Transfer agreements don’t usually signal a sea change. But an agreement between Pennsylvania’s community colleges and Southern New Hampshire University may do just that.

Scott Jones, CEO, Navitas, Global

The PIE News - Wed, 01/15/2020 - 04:02
After the surprise BGH/Rod Jones takeover bid was successfully implemented, Navitas veteran Scott Jones assumed the position as the company’s new chief executive. He told The PIE News his vision for the company and the role of pathways and innovation in education.

 

The PIE: You’ve just completed the first 100 days of being chief executive. What is your vision for Navitas moving forward?

Scott Jones: I always have a philosophy of looking at an organisation, its strategy structure, people process systems, and working in that coordination. The first part was defining what we wanted to be and where we wanted to grow. The existing vision we had was to be one of the most trusted learning organisations in the world. It was a good vision, but it didn’t seem to resonate across the group really well, and I wanted to be more ambitious.

“Any additional competition is good competition”

We workshopped across the board and have now come up with a vision which we’ve communicated within the group. The new vision for Navitas is to be the best global education provider in the world, according to our students, our partners and our people. That’s allowed us to start building upon our ambitions: we’d like to double the business in five years. Actually, we don’t want to, we will.

The PIE: What does doubling the business mean?

SJ: It’s doing more with existing partners. We see a broader opportunity to grow into transnational education, working with our existing partners and taking them offshore. There are also efficiency gains that we can make at our own organisations. In some campuses there’s the capacity to do more, we can definitely recruit more students. We’re listening and learning with our partners to build greater connectivity to allow us to do more with them strategically to enhance and grow their business.

But it’s really doubling student capacity. We want to double the number of students that we have for our partners over the next five years.

The PIE: Market intelligence suggests students are looking to do a pathway offshore before going to a destination. Is that the sort of transnational partnership you mean?

SJ: We’re looking even broader than that. Where these markets are maturing, we’re doing a lot of business development research around opportunities to take partners in-country. We already have Curtin University that we’re running a full managed campus for in Singapore. We’ve taken Lancaster University to Leipzig, Edith Cowen we run to Sri Lanka, and Murdoch University in Dubai.

“I hope, whether it be regulatory or something else, that we keep to a high level”

We’ve created a really strong model to operate in these quite difficult and different jurisdictions and attract domestic students, the ones that may not have gone abroad anyway. That’s been a successful model for us over many years, and we see a great opportunity to expand that area now.

The PIE: How are the challenges different across jurisdictions, and how do you adapt?

SJ: One size doesn’t fit all even when it comes to strategy and the way in which we look at our business. That’s why we’ve spent some time designing the organisation which allows us to have clusters of divisions and countries to support and nurture what needs to happen in those markets depending upon what strategic position they’re in or growth cycle.

Navitas has typically been an innovative company anyway. In 2011, Forbes Magazine voted us one of the top 100 most innovative companies. From there, we’ve adapted and grown our product portfolios in the pathway space, moved into transnational education, had some independent higher education provision. But our primary innovation comes from alignment with our partners.

The PIE: Education isn’t necessarily the first thing that comes to mind within the mainstream when thinking about innovation. Can Navitas and education more broadly better champion itself to the mainstream?

SJ: Education is where a lot of the new ideas flow and stem from through research. When people use the word innovation, however, they look at tech companies. They look at things that disrupt a particular market. They look at the product that’s being innovative, not actually where that has been housed or coming from.

In education, they look at us, and they say it’s kind of a slow-moving beast. I don’t agree with that at all. We’ve just watched universities over the years become much more innovative, agile businesses. But I don’t think we’ve publicised the education industry as an innovative sector in its own right.

The PIE: In that case, how do you see Navitas’ role in the future of education more broadly? Do you want to be the leader?

SJ: I think we’re going to align. We’ve been good at partnering. We’ve been able to build a really strong basis around working with our partners in innovating, and even our pathway products, transnational products and the other sector products.

There are other opportunities. If you look at innovation and drive, it’s coming out of the edtech space. I haven’t yet seen how that’s going to dramatically disrupt where we’re at at the moment. I look at our space and see there’s such a necessity from our clients where we’re teaching in the face-to-face space to provide blended models of learning. To provide agile models of learning. Digital literacy in the classroom, capacity not to be in the classroom, and zoom technologies of learning management platforms.

“One size doesn’t fit all even when it comes to strategy”

This is just my view at the moment, but the edtech space sits under the employer sector. You’ve got jobs websites Seeks, Monster, and Indeed, where they’ve got millions of employers on their database, millions of employees on the database. They can say do this short course here; I’ll then connect you to someone who can place you. I can’t see that Navitas can provide that support, but what we do have is good online program management perspectives. We’re developing that, in our product breadth but that’s aligned to our core product.

The PIE: Why are pathways important within education?

SJ: For me, it’s about opening doors and creating greater accessibility for students. Even more so when students that aren’t quite capable or ready to enter the mainstream education system with larger class sizes, more exposure, not to same nurturing or handholding that’s going on.

One thing we’re seeing in market is as universities globally are getting financially constrained, there’s that necessity for them to be internationalised. We’re seeing some of them dropping standards, which encroaches on the space that the pathway was developed for. While everyone’s entitled to do what they want to do, I think if you care about a student, that’s worrying, because they’re not well equipped to go directly into first year. Many of them exit the system, and it’s not helping anyone. It doesn’t help the institution that ‘s lowered standards, and it’s not helping the student.

But everything naturally works out. The pendulum swings too far one way, and eventually, we find equilibrium. And I hope, whether it be regulatory or something else, that we keep to a high level. Pathways are there for a reason.

The PIE: And for private education providers?

SJ: Any additional competition is good competition. It builds better quality across any sector that you look at. There’s a good place for institutions in niche products where some of the universities don’t necessarily have the capacity to play, or there’s not the same level of scale.

I love private providers that are high quality and can do that. They have a place to play, but I think how many should be questioned, as well as what category and level they have, and what access to funding they should have? There are some that are reputable, and there are some questionable ones that are maybe not. The government is doing an excellent job of cleaning it out and rectifying some of those issues.

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Japan outbound student figures remain steady in 2018

The PIE News - Wed, 01/15/2020 - 02:48

The number of Japanese students who chose to go abroad to study has held firm, according to new figures from the Japanese Association of Overseas Studies, but preferred destinations are changing as the country’s appetite for shorter periods of language study strengthens.

The figures, compiled from a survey of 42 JAOS member organisations, found in 2018 around 200,000 Japanese students went abroad, close to estimates made in 2016.

“English proficiency is rapidly becoming as a critical criteria for management”

Going more in-depth, JAOS’ figures also provide a more accurate picture on the number of outbound Japanese students than those publicly available through the Japan Student Services Organization by including levels of study in addition to university.

“[Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology] statistics include only Japanese people who study at overseas institutions of higher education such as universities or graduate schools,” the report said.

“These omissions led JAOS to conduct a new yearly survey of its own to produce statistical data that includes junior high school students and working adults.”

While overall outbound numbers remained around the same level as previous years, there were noticeable shifts in destinations of choice as well as the desired level of study, particularly for top two countries the US and Australia, which both lost ground.

The US entered its third year of decline although marginally, losing just over 250 students, which JAOS said was possibly due to the current administration and immigration policy discouraging “professional and career-minded candidates… in fear of not landing a permit to remain to build their career”.

Australia, meanwhile, lost 650 students in 2018, as emerging markets, the Philippines and Malta improved their overall share of the market, jumping 20% and 30% respectively.

The Philippines also recorded the single most substantial increase with just under 1,500 additional Japanese students hosted in 2018 to reach over 8,200.

“In Japan, the trend of study-abroad from Japan has always been connected with – and reported by media – by the number of students studying in the US,” the report said.

“However, the decrease in the number of Japanese students going to America is not an accurate reflection of overall the study-abroad market in Japan these days. On the contrary, the overall number of outbound students is actually increasing in spite of a decreasing 18-year-old population in Japan.”

Canada similarly saw a spike in Japanese students, improving 9% or more than 1,150 students.

The study areas of most interest also saw minor shifts, as both short and long-term language studies continued to improve their market to 69% of all outbound students, while undergraduate degree and non-degree programs dropped.

While the Japanese government outlined policies to boost the nation’s English proficiency in preparation for the 2019 Rugby World Cup and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, JAOS attributed the increased uptake of language studies to changing business needs.

“Outbound students is actually increasing in spite of a decreasing 18-year-old population”

“English proficiency is rapidly becoming critical criteria for management-level positions in Japanese companies aiming to expand to the global market,” the report said.

“Stemming from this trend, we are seeing an increase in both university students seeking language training abroad and professionals looking to advance their career opportunities by enhancing their language ability both on their own and also as company-sponsored trainees.”

The report also noted the increase in long-term language studies, those undertaken for more than three months, was primarily pushed by university students on break or professionals on sabbatical.

Top performer the Philippines, which has rolled out government-backed initiatives to boost the country’s ELT offerings, similarly saw a substantial increase in the number of Japanese students choosing to go there to learn a language.

The Japanese government recently unveiled plans to attract more international students through changes to its post-study work opportunities, including work visa types and improved measures to help graduates find work.

The post Japan outbound student figures remain steady in 2018 appeared first on The PIE News.

science and engineering indicators tk

Inside Higher Ed - Wed, 01/15/2020 - 01:00

The U.S. share of global science and technology activity has shrunk in some areas even as total activity has continued to grow, as China and other Asian countries have invested in science and engineering education and increased their research spending.

That’s one of the main takeaways of the 2020 State of U.S. Science and Engineering report, published by the National Science Board on Wednesday. The report has been historically been published every other year, but is TRASNSITIONING TO A NEW FORMAT

“Our latest report shows the continued spread of S&E capacity across the globe, which is good for humanity because science is not a zero-sum game,” said NSB Chair Diane Souvaine. “However, it also means that where once the U.S. was the uncontested leader in S&E, we now are playing a less dominant role in many areas

The report examines recent trends in science and engineering education, the attraction of foreign talent, the science and engineering workforce, publication output, and research and development spending amounts and funding sources, among other topics. Here are some of the main findings:

Doctoral Degrees

When it comes to the number of science and engineering degrees awarded, China has caught up quickly, and on some measures outperforms the U.S.

U.S. universities awarded about 40,000 doctorates in science and engineering fields in 2016, second to the combined total of the 28 countries of the European Union, whose universities awarded 77,000.

China started from a low base -- its universities awarded fewer than 10,000 doctorates in science and engineering in 2000 -- but the country has quickly gained ground. In 2015, Chinese universities awarded about 34,000 doctoral degrees in science and engineering.

China produces more doctoral degrees in the natural sciences and in engineering fields – basically, all science fields excluding the social and behavioral sciences – than the U.S. does.  In 2015, Chinese universities awarded 32,000 doctorates in natural sciences and engineering while U.S. universities awarded 30,000. China first surpassed the U.S. on this measure in 2007 and has retained its leading position ever since.

Associate and Bachelor’s Degrees

At lower educational levels, the U.S. awarded 93,000 associate degrees in science and engineering fields in 2017, and another 133,000 in science and engineering technologies.

Close to half (47 percent) of all students who earned bachelor’s degrees in science and engineering fields between 2010 and 2017 did some coursework at a community college.  Nearly a fifth (18 percent) earned associate degrees.

The U.S. awarded close to 800,000 “first-university” degrees (broadly equivalent to a bachelor’s degree) in science and engineering fields in 2016.  China awarded 1.7 million, a number that has doubled over the last 10 years. Degrees in engineering account for close to 70 percent of China’s first-university degrees in science and engineering fields.

International Students

The U.S. remains the leading destination worldwide for internationally mobile students.

Although total numbers of international students in the U.S. have declined since 2016, the report describes a “mixed picture” when it comes to international enrollments in science:  “Between 2016 and 2018, the number of international students studying science rose at the undergraduate level and declined slightly at the graduate level; the number of those studying engineering declined at both levels," it says. "Among the two largest source countries, the number of Chinse S&E graduate students at U.S. institutions increased during this period, whereas the number of those from India declined.”

Even with declines, international students account for substantial shares of doctoral students in science and engineering fields. Students with temporary visas earned 34 percent of all science and engineering doctoral degrees awarded in 2017, and they made up more than half of all doctoral degree recipients in the fields of engineering, mathematics and computer sciences, and economics.

Since 2000, students from three countries -- China, India, and South Korea -- have accounted for more than half (54 percent) of all  international students earning U.S. doctoral degrees in science and engineering.

Stay Rates

The U.S. has historically retained most international graduates of its science and engineering Ph.D. programs. Between 2003 and 2017, between 64 and 71 percent of international students earning doctoral degrees in science and engineering remained in the U.S. five years after completing their degrees.

However, the proportions of students from China and India who stay in the U.S. after earning their science and engineering doctorates have declined. In 2003, 93 percent of Chinese students stayed, a figure that fell to 84 percent by 2013. The proportion of students from India who stayed declined from 90 percent, in 2003, to 85 percent in 2013. In both cases, the stay rate remained flat between 2013 and 2017.

By contrast, the stay rate for students from South Korea increased, from 36 percent in 2003 to 57 percent in 2017.

Scientific Workforce

The report finds that employment in science and engineering has increased more rapidly than the for the workforce overall, and now accounts for 5 percent of U.S. jobs. The median annual salary for science and engineering occupations in 2017 was, at $85,390, more than double the median for all U.S. workers ($37,690).

Women accounted for just 29 percent of the science and engineering workforce in 2017, up from 26 percent in 2003. Underrepresented minorities made up just 13 percent of the scientific workforce in 2017, up from 9 percent in 2003 but below their share of the college-educated workforce.

Foreign-born workers account for 30 percent of all individuals employed in science and engineering-related occupations.

Publication Output

The number of science and engineering-related publications produced by scientists sin China has grown tenfold since 2000, and now exceeds that of the U.S. China trails the U.S. and the E.U. in terms of citation impact – a measure of how frequently publications are cited --  but has improved rapidly on this measure.

ADAPT FIGURE 21 FOR A CHART

Scientists from the E.U. and U.S. produced more publications in the biomedical and health scientists in 2018 than China did, while China produced a larger volume of engineering publications. Chinese scientists produce more than twice as many engineering-related articles than their counterparts in the U.S.

Scientific collaborations are increasingly international. The proportion of scientific articles with authors from at least two countries grew from 14 percent in 2000 to 23 percent in 2018.

Research and development

The NSB report states that research and development expenditures have more than tripled since 2000, growing from $722 billion in 2000 to $2.2 trillion in 2017. The U.S. and China together accounted for nearly half of all research and development spending -- 25 and 23 percent, respectively -- in 2017. Research and development spending has grown especially rapidly in China, which accounted for 32 percent of worldwide growth in R&D between 2000 and 2017.

In the U.S., businesses performed almost three-quarters (73 percent) of R&D in 2017, followed by higher education institutions (13 percent) and the federal government (10 percent). About 17 percent of R&D funding goes toward basic research, while the remainder goes toward applied research or experimental development.

Higher education institutions perform the largest share of basic research, and the federal government remains the largest source of funding for it. However, the share of basic funding research that comes from businesses has increased.

The report finds that businesses account for most of the growth in R&D in the U.S. since 2000. Although levels of federal funding have risen, the share of total R&D funding provided by the U.S. government declined from 25 percent in 2000 to 22 percent in 2017. The share of all basic research funded by the federal government declined from 58 to 42 percent.

At higher education institutions, the share of research and development funded by federal sources declined from 57 percent, in 2000, to 51 percent in 2017. 

ADD ENDING QUOTE

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Landmark College expands online courses for students with learning disabilities

Inside Higher Ed - Wed, 01/15/2020 - 01:00

Landmark College, the first college in the United States for students with learning disabilities, is growing enrollment in its online courses. The rural Vermont college is designed exclusively for students who have diagnosed learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, autism spectrum disorder or ADHD.

“These are bright students, intelligent students, but often they have not succeeded in traditional classroom settings,” said Rick Bryck, dean of Landmark’s school of educational research and innovation.

The National Center for Learning Disabilities estimates that one in five children in the U.S. has learning or attention issues, although only a small portion of those are identified in schools. Only about 71 percent of students with specific learning disabilities leave high school with a regular diploma -- trailing the national rate by about 10 percentage points. Students with learning disabilities are half as likely as their peers to enroll in a four-year college and twice as likely to be jobless when they reach working age. The gap widens for African American, Hispanic and Native American students with learning disabilities -- only 65 percent of whom leave high school with a diploma.

To address these problems and hopefully enable students with learning disabilities to succeed, Landmark employs some different pedagogies and structures in both its online and on-campus classes.

Much of Landmark’s philosophy revolves around a concept called universal design for learning. The framework asks instructors to provide students with multiple options for learning material and multiple options for demonstrating their learning. Learning through video or audio might be better for some students than text, the framework suggests. Writing papers or taking an exam might not be best for everyone.

“We can best serve all of our range of students with learning differences by starting from the beginning with good design principles,” Bryck said.

Landmark also focuses on providing students with “executive function support.” Executive function refers to mental skills like short-term memory, self-control and flexible thinking, which many students with learning disabilities struggle with. Poor executive functioning might mean a student has trouble getting to class on time or starting work in advance.

In Landmark classes, executive function support means breaking learning down into “microunits,” Bryck said, and being explicit in instructions. Outside the classroom, on-campus students have access to executive function coaches who use questioning and reflection to help students achieve their goals, while online students have access to similar advisers.

Meghan Whittaker, director of policy and advocacy at the National Center for Learning Disabilities, said that the curriculum, courses and trained faculty Landmark offers are certainly helpful for students with learning disabilities. But getting those supports and services into every college should be the real goal for higher education, she said. Persistence in college can be a major problem among students with learning disabilities as they struggle to get the accommodations they need. Many faculty members at traditional colleges are subject matter experts, Whittaker said, but they are often not trained in teaching, potentially adding to problems for students with disabilities.

“What schools like Landmark offer is that students learn to self-advocate but are in an environment that is much more welcoming and inclusive of their needs,” Whittaker said. “The unfortunate part is that it's only available for students that can afford it.”

Of Landmark’s population of first-time, full-time, degree-seeking students, only about 36 percent graduate, which in this context means completing their associate degree in three years or their bachelor’s degree in six years.

But in 2018 only 33 percent of students who entered Landmark counted as first-time, full-time, meaning that they arrived straight from high school and are taking a full course load. Internal findings by the college say 83 percent of Landmark college students achieve their goals, though those goals may not include getting a degree from Landmark.

Whittaker noted that colleges exclusively for students with learning disabilities often act as a sort of bridge into traditional higher education.

While the college attracts over 450 students to campus, its online courses for students with disabilities are available only to high school or gap-year students. In many cases students can earn college and high school credit simultaneously.

Part of the goal in focusing on younger students was to help them transition into college, a move that can be more fraught for students with learning disabilities. "They’re not only earning college credit," said Tabitha Mancici, director of customer relations and outreach for Landmark, "but we’re also helping to scaffold and build the skills they need for successful transition into higher education."

Landmark officials say they try to migrate their philosophy into an online classroom. The online dual-enrollment classes keep student numbers small (12 to 14 students) and limit the amount of text students are required to read.

Online courses at Landmark are offered in a wide range of disciplines and are $1,000 per course. The majority of the 100 or so students who participate each semester are from public or private high schools that have partnered with Landmark, some of which focus on students with learning disabilities. The college also deploys “liaisons,” modeled after on-campus executive function support, to help online students succeed. A liaison might be a designated employee of one of these partner schools, or otherwise an employee of Landmark’s. Although liaisons are taught Landmark’s philosophy, approach and technology systems, they are not required to be special educators.

The Challenges of Online for Students With Disabilities

Whittaker said that generally there have been concerns around both online programs and dual enrollment for students with learning disabilities -- ones she is hopeful a place like Landmark can mitigate.

“By and large, we have not seen online programs do a good job for students with disabilities,” she said. “In online programs it’s much harder for teachers to read student cues, to know if they’re falling behind, to know if they’re struggling.”

Dual-enrollment programs for high school students at traditional colleges can sometimes result in students with learning disabilities not being accommodated.

“The student who is enrolled in a dual-education program is still a K-12 education student,” Whittaker said. “The high school the student is enrolled in is still responsible for providing that student’s [individualized education program] and accommodations and special education services.”

But the college and faculty are under different legal obligations, making the responsibility for accommodations in those cases unclear.

“We are mixing two different laws, two different obligations, and neither is really addressing this responsibility,” she said. “The Department of Ed has really not answered questions about who is responsible for what and under what circumstances.”

If students cannot find accommodation in dual-enrollment programs, they might choose not to participate, Whittaker said, setting them even further behind their peers.

“I’m glad to see that Landmark, as a school that specializes in [learning disabilities], is getting involved in the dual-enrollment program,” Whittaker said, “because I think they could be a great partner.”

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Author discusses her new book on first-generation students

Inside Higher Ed - Wed, 01/15/2020 - 01:00

First-generation students (those whose parents lack a college degree) can succeed in higher education, but they need support. Laura Nichols, an associate professor of sociology at Santa Clara University, makes the case in The Journey Before Us: First-Generation Pathways From Middle School to College (Rutgers University Press). The book is a mix of interviews with students and analysis of their stories.

Nichols responded to questions about the book via email.

Q: How did you find the first-generation students you interviewed?

A: Given the research that finds that academic tracking and inequities start early in students’ educational trajectories, I focused on aspiring first-generation college students from low-income families who attended a middle school that is part of a network that have as their mission “breaking the cycle of poverty through education.” The school, located in California, started preparing students for academic success early and worked to get students admitted to the best private and public high schools in the area and continued to support them in high school and college. I interviewed alumni of the school when they were young adults about their experiences in middle, high and post-high school graduation. I also analyzed data on the educational trajectories of all of the graduates of the school as well as national, state and school-level data.

Q: Some in higher education might not see the relevance of middle school to college-going. Can you explain why it matters?

A: Early on we are losing students who could be very successful college students and professionals in needed careers. The students I spoke with were very hardworking, driven, and did very well academically, but their trajectories were often interrupted, usually for nonacademic reasons. What emerged from the data was the need to focus on the longer educational trajectory of students, if colleges and states really want to increase their numbers of students who would be the first in their families to go to college.

Middle school students need structure, space and extra support when tackling rigorous curricula and are learning how to be students. Parents working low-income, unstable jobs with irregular hours in the service economy often cannot provide what students need, and they don’t have the financial resources to pay for tutoring or after-school programs or summer camps. Further, the schools that most aspiring first-generation students attend tend to be large public schools that have a high proportion of students from low-income families. Such schools usually don’t have enough advisers and teachers for the large number of students who need help with being college ready, applying to college and filling out complex financial aid applications.

Students who have a parent who went to college are more likely to be able to get help through their transitions to different schools and to make sure that they are taking the appropriate courses to be college eligible. I found that while parents of aspiring first-generation students are extremely supportive of and want their children to attend college (and this is backed up by national data), parents often don’t understand what is important in keeping their kids on track to a college degree such as college preparatory coursework, the role of Advanced Placement or honors courses, taking the ACT or SAT, etc. Even when students had a very supportive adviser, mentor or teacher in high school, once they graduated, it was assumed they were on their way to college because they had been accepted. But many students had to change their plans, typically because financially they could not figure out how to pay for school and continue to help their families with rent and other expenses. The transitions between schools and the first year at the new school mattered the most for the success of students in staying on the college-going path.

Q: You focus on transitions -- from middle school to high school and from high school to college. What can go wrong (and right) in those transitions?

A: I was able to talk to students who had good and bad transitions, and they revealed some main areas we can focus on to improve educational trajectories in the U.S. for all students. Students need opportunity and access to quality, inclusive schools and college preparatory curricula through their whole trajectory as well as access to people who are affirming of their ability to be on the path to college. If they moved from having that at one school and not another, students could fall off track. And students had to spend time at each new school making sure that they could find those who could help them navigate the new terrain to make sure they were getting what they needed to be able to ultimately apply to college. Students also needed stability at home, including the economic, emotional and physical well-being of their family members to be able to make school, and being a student, their main focus. When hardworking students had the benefit of attending schools that provided what they needed to be college eligible and this was combined with their families' stable housing and economic situation, they were able to graduate from college.

Q: What are the primary challenges of first-generation students in college?

A: I found that the challenges depended on the type of college that students attended. Most first-generation college students enroll in large, public two- and four-year colleges. Such schools often don’t have the advising staff to help students with choosing courses, majors and any financial aid snafus that might come up. Students could get off track, thinking that one bad grade meant that they weren’t “college material” or that they couldn’t complete their desired major. They often tried to figure all this out on their own.

The challenges at private, primarily residential colleges were a little different. First-generation students at such colleges are often a small percentage of the student body. Many first-generation students found the adjustment to such schools difficult and doubted their ability to succeed at such schools. They usually needed to find supportive staff and faculty who could help them with the culture shock [and] remind them that they belonged there and to access the resources that existed.

For students at both types of schools, rising tuition and fees, including books, meant that the majority worked long hours off-campus, and there was little job flexibility as their class schedules changed. The first-generation students I interviewed were also helping their families financially as well as with other needs. We really need to find ways to help students navigate work and going to school, especially when they first start working in high school or even earlier. And we need to create great schools where first-generation students live so they can manage their many responsibilities.

Q: What can colleges do to make first-generation students welcome and succeed?

A: There is great work, such as that by Anthony Jack, about what elite colleges can do to welcome and graduate more low-income and first-generation students. These include addressing cultural biases as well as consistently reminding students that they belong at the school, are welcome there and are as qualified as students who come from college-going families. The first-generation students in my study pointed to a number of other issues across the range of postsecondary paths. Students needed help navigating complex degree requirements, financial aid and how to continue school when there were setbacks. Their experiences also showed that we must do more to bolster our public two- and four-year colleges if we are to grow the completion rates of first-generation students.

At a time when we have increasing numbers of high school graduates going to college, we really need to think about students’ trajectories over the long haul. The experiences of first-generation students show us how we need to address issues in education beyond individual schools or types of schools for all of our students, first generation or not. We have designed the path to college to move students on rather than take the journey with them, and states and communities would do well to consider how we can imagine education more broadly and comprehensively.

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Colleges start new academic programs

Inside Higher Ed - Wed, 01/15/2020 - 01:00
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Chronicle of Higher Education: What Instructors Can Learn From Improv

How the rules of an improvisational performance can help professors unlock their students’ creativity.

Chronicle of Higher Education: How Baylor Revamped Its Mental-Health Services Amid a Scandal

Under fire for failing to support rape victims, the university doubled its counseling staff and built a team of eating-disorder specialists. One former student says the move saved her life.

Brian Lara opens Swinburne’s new learning facility

The PIE News - Tue, 01/14/2020 - 17:04

Multi-faceted Australian education business, Education Centre of Australia, recently celebrated the opening of its new Sydney learning facility operated for Swinburne University of Technology by inviting cricketing legend Brian Lara to the bash.

Swinburne, a top-ranking Melbourne university, now has a location in Parramatta offering Masters programs, via its partnership with ECA.

Gavin Dowling, chief operating officer at the company, told The PIE News, “Despite being a retired cricketer, Lara still has a huge brand and is immediately known to any cricket fan…which in the Indian subcontinent is just about everyone. So, even the 20 year-old students know very well who the legendary BL is.”

Lara gave a speech at the launch event and offered a Q&A session afterwards.

“His life story is quite amazing,” related Dowling. “He came from nothing and had a self-belief which propelled him forward. He broke records and had an amazing cricketing career.”

The founder of ECA, Rupesh Singh, is from India himself originally and the company has strong links throughout south Asia.

“We expect to have [Lara] as an ongoing ambassador for the brand – he’s so personable, modest and inspiring for young people that we feel the fit is just right,” revealed Dowling.

ECA also works with Victoria University in Australia and operates campuses for that institution in Sydney and Ahmedabad, India as well as running a number of other vocational, English language teaching and internship businesses.

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Chronicle of Higher Education: Senator Warren Has a Plan to Cancel Student-Loan Debt — Without Congressional Approval

As critics remain skeptical that Congress will pass a mass debt-discharge plan, the presidential candidate argues that the U.S. Department of Education already has the legal authority to do so.

Chronicle of Higher Education: Private-College Presidents Reap Millions From Long Tenures

In 2017, 64 college presidents earned more than $1 million, according to The Chronicle’s analysis.

China’s Fudan Uni to launch campus in Hungary

The PIE News - Tue, 01/14/2020 - 08:38

Fudan University has announced plans to open its first overseas campus after an agreement was signed between Hungary’s innovation and technology minister László Palkovics and Xu Ningsheng, the president of the university, in Shanghai on December 16.

The campus will be located in Budapest and the Hungarian government hopes that its presence will help transform the country into a “regional knowledge hub”. More than 2,300 Chinese citizens currently study in Hungary, which the government said was “a good basis for the intensification of relations between universities”.

“The presence in Hungary of Fudan and of reputable foreign professors will accelerate the process of globalisation which has already started in Hungarian higher education,” said Palkovics.

“[The campus] will accelerate the process of globalisation which has already started in Hungarian higher education”

“The planned campus opening could promote further Chinese investments, and in particular, the settlement of the research and development centres of Chinese companies in Hungary.”

Fudan University is one of China’s top higher education institutions, with over 30,000 students across its four campuses in Shanghai. It has previously partnered with the Corvinus University of Budapest in offering a double MBA program.

Although the announcement was reported by several outlets as signalling the launch of China’s “first overseas campus”, that accolade actually goes to Xiamen University on the Fujian coast, which opened a branch in Selangor in Malaysia and welcomed its first students in 2016.

Peking University in Beijing also runs a business school in Oxfordshire in the UK.

The Hungarian government’s push for internationalising the country’s higher education system may come as a surprise to some due to concerns about academic freedom in the Central European nation. New laws introduced over the last few years have also sought to restrict foreign activity in higher education.

In 2017, the government enacted legislation that required foreign universities to maintain campuses in their country of origin, forcing the Central European University, founded by financier George Soros, to relocate to the Austrian capital of Vienna.

Further details about the campus, its opening date and what courses it will offer have yet to be released.

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Germany: visa waiting times “discouraging and demotivating”

The PIE News - Tue, 01/14/2020 - 05:48

Prospective students seeking to study in Germany were affected by multi-month visa waiting times at embassies around the world in 2019, with students in India, Morocco and Cameroon being affected by waiting times up to one year.

According to the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung, students applying at 24 embassies and missions had to wait over eight weeks to receive an appointment to apply for a visa.

“Multi-month visa waiting times are unacceptable and have a discouraging and demotivating effect for international talent,” Kai Gehring, the Greens’ spokesman for research and higher education policy, told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung.

Egypt, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan were the only countries where students did not suffer from long delays at German embassies.

“Visa wait times of a year and more can hurt Germany’s appeal as a destination for international students,” Study.EU founder and CEO, Gerrit Bruno Blöss said.

“Multi-month visa waiting times are unacceptable”

“The problem is exacerbated by Germany’s commonly late application deadlines. For most courses, applications close from late May to mid-July, and offers are sometimes not sent before August.”

A Stifterverband policy paper, released in September 2019, found that long visa waiting times contributed to 38% of non-EU students it surveyed arriving in Germany after the start of the semester.

Of the 900 students asked, 18% arrived more than two weeks after the semester had begun in 2018.

“The government has started prioritising “highly qualified” applicants,” Blöss explained.

Students applying at the New Delhi embassy in India waiting times dropped from 28 weeks to 3 weeks if the applicant was qualified, a researcher or a scientist, data revealed.

Similarly Pakistani students applying in Islamabad waited for 42, while qualified students, researchers and scientists were waiting 37, 15 and 1 week(s), respectively.

Speaking with The PIE News, executive director of MyGermanUniversity Tobias Bargmann called on Germany’s five missions in India “to standardise and considerably simplify the process of obtaining a visa for Indian students”.

“It is a scandal why an Indian student – depending on the consular jurisdiction in which he or she falls – has to wait twice as long for a visa appointment,” he told The PIE.

The issue also results in some students missing preparatory language courses

Of the 282,000 Bildungsauslaender in 2018 – international students who completed their higher education entrance qualifications outside of Germany – India was the second largest source country after China, sending more than 17,000 students.

The visa waiting time problem is worrying, Bargmann added, since one in 10 international students in Germany comes from India, Cameroon and Morocco.

More broadly, the proportion of students reporting that they had very long visa waiting times to MyGU counsellors doubled in 2019.

The issue also results in some students missing preparatory language courses or orientation weeks, meaning they “start at a disadvantage from the outset”, Bargmann indicated.

“Due to the long waiting times when appointments are made and until the visa decision is made, it is virtually impossible for many students to plan their studies, so that they decide to study in other countries,” he said.

Chair of the German Association for International Education (DAIA) Martin Bickl said it is clear that German embassies must follow due process in granting visas.

“This may involve extensive background checks that may take a little longer,” he said.

“What is unacceptable, though, is that a small number of embassies make prospective students wait months for their first appointment in which evidence is submitted or verified.”

“How can a student convert an offer into an enrolment within four months when the waiting time for a first appointment is half a year?,” he asked.

The times also “send out a message of international students not being welcome, not being a priority for Germany”.

“[This] is what worries us most as Germany puts its reputation at risk,” he said.

“Students not being able to enrol is a personal loss for them but also a loss for Germany as a country looking to attract the world’s brightest minds to further advance its excellence in science and research.”

However, the organisation recognises the effort the Foreign Office is making to shorten visa appointment waiting times, Bickl said.

“I think we are on the right track. It will take a while for measures like additional visa processing staff to kick in but I am confident that within a couple of years Germany’s visa processing times will be back in line with its excellence in science and research,” Bickl noted.

The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) must improve cooperation with German missions abroad and German universities on the subject of visas, Bargmann added.

“All those involved must pull together on the visa issue,” he said.

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Chronicle of Higher Education: Students Are Showing Up at Counseling Centers in Droves. But They Don’t Always Get the Treatment They Need.

As campus counselors take on higher caseloads, a study finds that students won’t see as much improvement in their mental health.

Aus: Murdoch Uni drops counter-claim

The PIE News - Tue, 01/14/2020 - 01:38

Western Australia’s Murdoch University is withdrawing a multi-million-dollar claim filed against one of its own academics for damages caused by his appearance on an Australian Broadcasting Corporation program last year, just days after it confirmed it had terminated its contract with a major recruiter of Indian students.

Senior maths and statistics professor Gerd Schroeder-Turk was one of three Murdoch academics who appeared on the Four Corners episode “Cash Cows” in May 2019, which investigated whether international students were undermining higher education because of universities lowering their English requirements to increase numbers and boost revenue.

“I have always acted in the best interest of the university… however, my concerns about the welfare of students remain”

Following the broadcast, Schroeder-Turk commenced legal proceedings to stop the university from removing him from his position on the university’s senate.

In November, Murdoch University submitted a counter-claim against Schroeder-Turk, alleging his appearance resulted in the loss of millions of dollars in revenue due to fewer international students, as well costing substantial amounts in responding to investigations by the Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency.

However, the move drew international criticism and public outcry, with more than 32,000 people signing a petition calling for the university to drop the counter-claim against him.

In a statement, Schroeder-Turk said the counter-claim had caused “a great deal of unnecessary stress”.

“I have always acted in the best interest of the university, its students and its staff, and have done so in very difficult circumstances,” he continued.

“However, my concerns about the welfare of students remain.”

In a statement, the National Tertiary Education Union welcomed the decision to drop the counter-claim.

“This was nothing more than a legal tactic to intimidate Gerd [Schroeder-Turk],” said NTEU general secretary, Matthew McGowan.

“It was patently absurd to think that a university would sue a staff member for millions of dollars in damages…[and] it’s pleasing to see that the university is finally seeing some sense on this issue.”

McGowan noted that Murdoch University had dropped this part of its claim at the same time as it announced it has severed its ties with an Indian recruitment agency – Overseas Education and Career Consultants – reportedly accused of fraud by Indian migration authorities.

“This goes to the heart of the issues raised by… Schroeder-Turk. This development vindicates the nature of the concerns he and others have raised.

“Schroeder-Turk’s continuing concerns for Murdoch students’ welfare and academic integrity are the motivations for continuing with this action,” McGowan added.

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Long-term look at return on investment reveals positive indicators for liberal arts

Inside Higher Ed - Tue, 01/14/2020 - 01:00

It might take a while. But in the long run, an education at a liberal arts college, particularly at one of the most selective ones and those with large numbers of science, technology, engineering and math majors, pays off more than an education at other colleges, finds a study released today by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.

In the short term, the return for liberal arts institutions “starts out rather low,” the study found, because it takes time for students at four-year colleges to graduate and begin earning money.

After 10 years, the return on investment at liberal arts colleges was $62,000, about 40 percent less than the $107,000 median ROI for attending all colleges, found the study, which used data made available on the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard to calculate the net present value of degrees and credentials from different colleges over short and long time frames.

But 40 years after enrollment, the return at liberal arts colleges reached $918,000, more than 25 percent higher than the $723,000 median gain at all colleges.

Today's report follows up on another study by the center in November that examined the return on investment at 4,500 public, private nonprofit and private for-profit colleges awarding bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees and certificates. The new study differs in that it focused on how 210 liberal arts institutions compare with other types of colleges. It has a similar foundation as the earlier study in that it measures ROI using net present value, which discounts future projected cash flows to adjust for the fact that people generally value things they currently possess more than things they might gain in the future by taking a risk.

Particularly surprising in the new study was how well liberal arts colleges compared to other institutions, said Anthony Carnevale, a research professor at Georgetown and director of the Center on Education and the Workforce. The study found that liberal arts colleges were the third most lucrative among 14 types of colleges, as defined by the Carnegie Classification system. They trailed only doctoral universities with the highest and second-highest amounts of research activity -- including well-known ones like the California Institute of Technology, Duke University and Harvard University, many public flagship universities, and institutions with strong pre-professional programs like Chapman, Hampton and Villanova Universities.

The gain after 40 years at the top tier of research institutions was $1.14 million. At the second-highest tier of research institutions, it was $938,000.

At the most selective liberal arts institutions -- like Carleton College, Kenyon College, the University of Richmond, Wesleyan University and Williams College -- the gain was about the same, $1.13 million for students after 40 years.

The finding was seen as an affirmation for liberal arts colleges at a time when more students are turning to specialized training in fields like computer and information services. It comes also at a time of political rhetoric questioning and at times mocking the value of higher education and the liberal arts.

“Given these challenges, it is worth asking: How do students who attend the 210 or so liberal arts colleges in the United States actually fare financially once they enter the labor force?” the study said. “It turns out that they fare quite well.”

The most selective colleges tend to have large numbers of students from affluent families. And the study found significant caveats that point to inequities in education, experts said.

Colleges with smaller numbers of students receiving Pell Grants also tend to have higher ROI. An example is Harvey Mudd College, a private residential undergraduate science and engineering college in Claremont, Calif. Only 13 percent of students there receive Pell Grants, and the college had a long-term ROI of $1.85 million.

But at Talladega College, a private historically black college in Talladega, Ala., where 93 percent of students receive Pell Grants, the ROI after 40 years was only $432,000.

However, the study also noted variations even among institutions with similar percentages of low-income students. About 8.7 percent of students at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va., receive Pell Grants. The university had an ROI of $1.58 million after 40 years. Oberlin College had about the same percentage of students receiving Pell Grants, 8.8 percent. But its 40-year ROI was only $763,000.

The study found that liberal arts institutions with high graduation rates tended to have higher returns than those with low graduation rates. Harvey Mudd, with a graduation rate of 95 percent, had a 40-year gain in net present value of $1.85 million. In comparison, East-West University in Chicago, with a graduation rate of 11 percent, had a gain of just $456,000, the study found.

“The value of the report is that it shows the persistent economic challenges for the students who have been underserved,” said Lynn Pasquerella, president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities. “The disparity for the institutions with high numbers of Pell students is a cause for concern.”

Still, she welcomed data showing the value of a liberal arts education “amid the national rhetoric that breeds mistrust in higher education.” Critical thinking stemming from a liberal arts education “is more valuable than ever,” she said. “The jobs of the future haven’t been invented yet. [Those getting the education] are adaptable and flexible in the face of change.”

Richard Ekman, president of the Council of Independent Colleges, praised the study for looking at the long-term picture.

“We applaud this study for its focus on lifetime ROI, rather than immediate post-graduation earnings. This study also emphasizes the importance of graduation rates, which we know have career-long implications,” he said in a statement.

”The strong graduation rates and ROI outcomes of private liberal arts colleges, documented in this study, make it clear that states’ plans to increase educational attainment should include independent higher education,” Ekman said.

The study also found that colleges with a high percentage of students majoring in STEM fields tend to have a higher gain than others because they tend to lead to higher-paying jobs.

Those in the top third of colleges in terms of the percentage of students with STEM majors have a return at the 40-year mark of $992,000, the study found. That was $179,000 more than institutions in the bottom third of having STEM majors.

But not all STEM fields pay the same. The median earnings for engineering majors, for example, are higher than for those who major in biology and natural resource sciences. That leads to differences between some institutions.

Engineering, for instance, is the most popular major at Lafayette College, a private liberal arts college based in Easton, Pa., where more than 40 percent of students major in STEM fields. The college has an ROI after 40 years of $1.4 million.

Ursinus College, a private liberal arts college in Collegeville, Pa., that is more focused on natural resources and biology, offers no engineering major. While 42 percent of its students major in a STEM field, its long-term ROI was slightly less -- $1.1 million.

Geography also makes a difference, because students tend to find jobs close to their institutions, according to the study. Colleges in higher-paying regions in the New England and Mid-Atlantic states have higher median ROIs than those in the lower-paying Southeast and Southwest.

While the ROI was $1.08 million and $1.03 million in New England and the Mid-Atlantic respectively, it was only $781,000 in the Southeast and $708,000 in the Southwest. Carnevale noted the comparison doesn't take into account the differences in cost of living.

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Leader of California's new online community college resigns after less than a year

Inside Higher Ed - Tue, 01/14/2020 - 01:00

The president and CEO of the new online venture started by California's community college system has announced her resignation less than a year into her tenure.

Heather Hiles, Calbright College's first CEO, will step down effective March 31 and will be on leave until that time, according to a news release from Tom Epstein, president of Calbright's Board of Trustees.

The board voted unanimously Monday to accept a separation agreement with Hiles. The board plans to hire an interim CEO while searching for a permanent replacement. It has not yet announced who will fill the interim role.

The quick departure of its first official leader is another setback for the state system's new venture, which has faced criticism after a significant infusion of state funds.

"I think it's big news, and it definitely was not expected," said Phil Hill, an education technology consultant and blogger. Hill said he's watching to see what further information the college releases, as well as whom the board picks as Hiles's replacement, to determine what might have gone awry.

Others say this news could just be a sign of the growing pains that frequently accompany new endeavors.

"This type of turnover is not uncommon in this type of start-up," said Russ Poulin, executive director of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) Cooperative for Educational Technologies. "It is really difficult to do these things at the start."

Poulin cited other now-established start-ups, like Western Governors University, which had interim leaders for a time before naming a permanent president.

At the same time, Poulin said the lack of leaders with higher education experience is a concern at Calbright. While the president doesn't necessarily need to have that experience, someone on the team should, he said.

"It’ll be interesting to watch how they spin this and how different the institution itself will be," he said, adding that the choice of the next president will be "very important."

The Faculty Association of California Community Colleges, which has from the start criticized the creation and funding of a new institution as unnecessary, expressed its continued skepticism of the venture, no matter the leadership, in a statement Monday.

“We wish Heather Hiles the best in her future endeavors. FACCC and other faculty groups have not been shy about sharing concerns about Calbright since its inception. We continue to question the value of Calbright," the statement read, adding, "Unfortunately, new leadership alone will not fix this inherently flawed use of state resources."

Hiles was hired last February to lead the new college on a four-year contract with a base salary of $385,000, according to EdSource. The college opened in October and has since enrolled about 300 students in its three program pathways. Its goal was to enroll about 400 students in its first class, according to Education Dive.

She faced a series of challenges leading the venture. The initial funds -- about $100 million for start-up costs and an annual investment of $20 million -- were set aside by former California governor Jerry Brown. The plan was to create an online-only community college that would provide job-specific training and nondegree options for adults. Brown envisioned it as a connector to degree-offering community colleges for students who wanted to continue their education.

Hiles did not immediately respond to requests for comment. In a statement provided to California-based journalist Mikhail Zinshteyn (an Inside Higher Ed contributor), she said now that the college is operational, it's time for her to step down and pursue other work she was engaged in before starting Calbright.

Critics, which included the Community College Council of the California Federation of Teachers, previously told Inside Higher Ed that Calbright "shouldn't exist" and that its money should instead go to the state's 114 existing community colleges, many of which have workforce-related programs.

The choice to hire Hiles further set the online college apart from traditional higher education initiatives. It was her first full-time position at a college or university. She had most recently started an online learning platform and served as a deputy director of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and had founded four other ventures in the past.

In a statement, Epstein said the board "appreciates the leadership provided by Ms. Hiles during her tenure."

"We look forward to working closely with the public officials who entrusted us with oversight responsibility of Calbright to make the college a success," he said in the statement. "We welcome the input and involvement of all stakeholders in the community college system."

The college did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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Me Too was a major theme at this year's Modern Language Association meeting

Inside Higher Ed - Tue, 01/14/2020 - 01:00

SEATTLE -- Donna Rotunno, attorney for Me Too-era symbol of predation Harvey Weinstein, recently told Vanity Fair, “I feel that women may rue the day that all of this started when no one asks them out on a date, and no one holds the door open for them, and no one tells them that they look nice.”

Academics who study gender were quick to poke fun at the Nostradamus-of-chivalry-style declaration. Me Too-era philosopher Kate Manne, associate professor at Cornell University, for instance, responded on Twitter, “We’ll chance it.”

Quips aside, a deep critique of Me Too is happening in academe. Case in point: several sessions at the Modern Language Association’s recent meeting here were dedicated to the movement. Me Too was also the subtext for numerous other panels on gender and race in literature and on academic culture.

The message? Me Too has a literary and cultural history. It has implications for how feminists of different “waves” understand each other, and for criminal justice. It’s not all good -- or bad. And it's already changed academe.

During a panel on historicizing Me Too, for example, Courtney Chatellier, a lecturer of language at New York University and scholar of women's intellectual history, discussed Victoria Woodhull’s “late-Victorian call-outs.”

Woodhull, the first woman in the U.S. to run for president, was arrested along with her sister in 1872 for publishing pamphlets that sought to expose sexual indiscretions and abuses by powerful New York men, including Henry Ward Beecher. Woodhull’s goal was not to punish Beecher, whom she accused of adultery, Chatellier explained, but rather to demonstrate his alleged hypocrisy in not joining her for calls for a sexual revolution.

Women who named men during the Me Too movement have faced legal threats, and Woodhull, too, faced charges -- of obscenity, in the case of the Beecher article. Woodhull was not found guilty, but Chatellier explained that she faced major backlash, with critics employing many of the same arguments that Me Too detractors make now: that “men’s lives matter,” Chatellier said, and that -- in the words of writer and accused harasser Stephen Elliott -- “These people on the left aren't liberals at all, actually.”

“What I find interesting is the way that over and over we see how these accusations against powerful men are recast as affronts to liberalism,” Chatellier continued, citing the attacks on Anita Hill as another historical example. “The women and, in some cases, the men driving the Me Too movement inaugurated by [Woodhull] of going outside the structures of the criminal justice system -- structures that have failed victims of sexual harassment and assault over and over -- seek acknowledgment, justice and change."

Yet rather than "attacking the pillars of liberalism, as their critics charge," she said, "these women have revealed and continue to reveal the hollow promises of liberalism," or what historian Emily Owens has called the “fantastical imaginary of American liberalism in which equality simply exists.”

During the same panel, Jennie Lightweis-Goff, an instructor of English at the University of Mississippi, criticized the “wave” schema of feminism -- think second wave and third wave -- which she said parses feminism into generations instead of ideas.

Me Too has exposed these rifts, she said, such as when writer Katie Way squared off with journalist Ashleigh Banfield over Way’s interview with the anonymous woman who shared an uncomfortable -- but not criminal -- sexual encounter with the comedian Aziz Ansari. Banfield called Way “reckless,” and Way allegedly wrote to Banfield’s producer via email that Banfield is “someone I am certain nobody under the age of 45 has heard of.” Way also hoped that “the 500 retweets on the single news write-up made that burgundy lipstick, bad highlights, second-wave feminist has-been really relevant for a little while.”

Lightweis-Goff also highlighted the spectrum that is Me Too, in which allegations of criminal assault have been lumped together with accounts of men being uncriminally bothersome. She said that campaigns such as the Hollywood-based Time's Up and its legal defense fund have driven the movement toward the “carceral” -- something that should be interrogated in an era of mass imprisonment and its intersections with race.

“How might Me Too activists respond to anti-prison critiques of black feminist thinkers?” Lightweis-Goff asked. She noted that that she has taught in prisons, worked toward prison reform and always been skeptical of “easy punitive solutions.” 

The “one thing that trickles down in America is not money,” she added. “It’s punishment.”

Lightweis-Goff acknowledged the complexity surrounding extralegal means of addressing Me Too, however, saying that sexual offenders are often unwelcome in restorative justice circles. She noted, too, the consequences that remain for women who speak out against their offenders. Christine Blasey Ford, she said, was forced to move out of her home after speaking out against Brett Kavanaugh, while he sits on the U.S. Supreme Court.

A separate session on theorizing Me Too touched on some similar ideas, including whether Me Too is -- in the words of panelist Joseph Fischel, associate professor of women's, gender and sexuality studies at Yale University -- "revitalized feminism, a reinvention of sorts, or a sex panic." Fischel's short answer was "yes, and possibly." His longer answer drew heavily on the work of feminist legal scholar Catharine MacKinnon and concluded with a lament that we don’t have better ways to talk about bad sex -- but not rape -- beyond simple notions of consent and non-consent.

"This is serious feminist problem that we don’t really have the granular vocabulary to talk about," Fischel said.

Several of Fischel's co-panelists noted that the original coiner of the phrase "Me Too," activist Tarana Burke, never intended it to be punitive -- or even a hashtag, as in #MeToo. Rather, Burke has said it was conceived as a way to build empathy and connection among those affected by harassment and assault.

Another panel called “Grown-Ass Women”: Understanding and Teaching Angry Texts in Several Genres, didn’t have Me Too in its name -- just its DNA. This included a discussion of texts including Phoebe Gloeckner’s Diary of a Teenage Girl: An Account in Words and Pictures and Marie Calloway’s What Purpose Did I Serve In Your Life, and works by feminist Audre Lorde and writers Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Soraya Chemaly.

Speakers noted that women who are angry have, over millennia in life and in literature, been silenced -- by physical means (think Philomela’s tongue), institutionally (the hospitalization of “hysterical” women) or linguistically (an angry woman is a “bitch”) and more. And while teaching fundamentally “angry” texts is politically and pedagogically risky, they said, it is a way of ending that silence and -- hopefully -- exposing the "irrational" connotations surrounding women's anger. Men’s anger, meanwhile, is typically seen as rational, speakers said -- possibly because it is backed by power, or at least the perception thereof, and attendant fear.

Kenna Neitch, a Ph.D. student and instructor in English at Texas Tech University, for instance, made the case for “teaching texts that are fiercely and unapologetically angry,” specifically texts by women of color. This risks summoning stereotypes about anger, gender and race, she said, but there is a “legacy of powerful literature that transmits and validates anger and that also shows us the costs of when it's only those with the most privilege whose anger we are taught to hear.”

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