University Press Roundup

Welcome to our weekly roundup of the best posts from the blogs of academic publishers! We found a great selection of posts this week, and many of the best focus on various political aspects of higher education. As always, if you particularly enjoy something or think that we missed an important post, please let us know in the comments.

We’ll start things off this week with a couple of excellent articles looking at the Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin Supreme Court case. First, at Voices in Education, the blog of Harvard Education Publishing, Sylvia Hurtado takes a detailed look at the court transcript for the Fisher case. She finds it interesting that neither side of the case challenges “diversity as a compelling interest” or “the educational benefits of diversity in college,” but that the petitioner’s lawyers are instead questioning how much diversity is enough diversity to achieve these benefits, and whether race-neutral affirmative action policies can make a school diverse enough.

At North Philly Notes, the blog of Temple University Press, Elizabeth Aries looks at the possible impact of the Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin. She goes into detail in describing the “educational benefits of diversity at college” that Hurtado mentions, explaining that “students did not fail to notice what classmates had and did not have, not only in terms of material possessions, but in terms of the opportunities they had to go out to eat, take spring break trips, to make connections to pre-professional summer jobs and to good jobs after graduation.” She argues that reducing the diversity on campuses will reduce these chances for students to learn.

Meanwhile, at the Penn Press Log, John P. Spencer has a guest post reminding his readers that educational reform has been an important part of civil rights movements for a long time. He looks back at the way that school reform became a crucial battleground for civil rights battles in the 1960s, in particular. He points out similarities between reform arguments in the ’60s and those today, with a major point of concern being “how to focus on … external factors while maintaining high expectations of schools?”

Another hot-button issue in the racial politics of education is that of undocumented students attempting to make it into and through college. At From the Square, the blog of NYU Press, Michael A. Olivas argues that, while President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy is a step in the right direction, it’s not enough help for these students. Olivas claims that appropriately forceful legislation can only come out of Congress.

October 22-28 is Open Access Week, and the MITPressLog has a weeklong series of blog posts reflecting on open access. On Monday, John Willinsky looked at the progress in the availability of research and scholarship made possible by the explosion of communication technologies over the last few decades. While he recognizes some of the negative implications of what he calls the “mega-journal model,” he believes that “an irrevocable evolution toward this opening of research and scholarship is underway.”

Both total and average student debt numbers continue to climb, and at Beacon Broadside, Alan Michael Collinge argues that “[t]his issue has grown … from a significant problem to a major crisis.” In his guest post, Collinge lays out some of the startling facts about the student debt crisis and advocates public grassroots action as the best way to start bringing about reform.

Of course, issues of educational reform are hardly the only political issues that seem to be getting short shrift this political cycle. With such a heavy focus on righting the economy, many important problems are going undiscussed by either presidential campaign. At the JHU Press Blog, Peter Beilenson notes that urban issues are of crucial importance to the well-being of the country, though you’d never guess that this is the case from the presidential debates. Beilenson lays out a “four-legged stool” of factors that affect urban success and wonders how each candidate will address each of the “legs.”

In the Princeton University Press Blog’s Election 101 series, John McGinnis continues his discussion of the money that goes into campaign advertising. Building on his argument that campaign advertising is necessary to inform inattentive voters, he wonders how we can address issues of inequality in campaign financing without losing the potential for benefits from campaign advertising.

In Massachusetts this November, voters will decide whether to legalize physician-assisted suicide (Washington state and Oregon both have similar laws now on the books). At The Chicago Blog, Margaret Morganroth Gullette discusses the Massachusetts decision, as well as the “broader context of conversation surrounding American ageism and government rhetoric.” While she acknowledges the problems inherent in the Act in question, she claims that she will be voting for it in November.

At the Harvard University Press Blog, Craig Stanford reminds us that there is a world beyond that of the 2012 US elections, and that it’s a world that could well face the extinction of many of the species of the great apes over the next few decades. Stanford believes that one method that could result in better protection of the apes is what he calls “ecotourism.” By looking at how the tourism business has benefited gorillas in Africa over the last few years, he shows that ecotourism is a viable short-term way to help ensure that some, at least, of the great apes are protected.

The ineffectiveness and general awfulness of business meetings have long been the subject of jokes. At the AMACOM Books Blog, Martin Murphy has a guest post explaining why it is that meetings can be so unproductive. He believes that “[t]he primary reason that meetings fail is that content and process are not separated,” and claims that meetings should be run by a “trained facilitator” who can make sure that “content and process are given equal attention.”

It is surprising to learn that “the United States has in the twenty-first century a larger missionary force than ever before.” However, as Sarah E. Ruble claims at the UNC Press Blog, missionary culture has grown consistently throughout America’s history, despite the fact that missionary work is largely now the work of evangelical organizations rather than the “mainline Protestant groups” that traditionally provided the bulk of the missionary force. In her post, Ruble discusses how perceptions of missionary work have changed in the years since World War II.

And finally, we’ll close things up this week with a fascination rumination on the use of the word “choice” in politics and ethics written by Daniel Callahan at the OUPblog. Callahan, the author of a book on abortion that drew fire from both pro-life and pro-choice sides of the debate (though neither had laid claim to those particular designations at that point), is uniquely placed to see “how choice seems to have become the all-purpose ethical term, used by liberals and conservatives, right and left.” In his post, he shows how laying claim to the “choice” label is one of the most successful political moves available (showing how, most recently, “choice” was used against Mayor Bloomberg in his campaign against oversized sugary beverages).

That’s it for this week! We hope you enjoyed the links as much as we enjoyed finding them. Please let us know what you think in the comments. Have a great weekend!

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