What We’re Reading: October 13, 2011 Edition
This week we’ve rounded up responses to Anthony Grafton and Jim Grossman’s "No More Plan B" article, linked to Governor Scott questioning the value of liberal arts degrees (and the American Anthropological Association’s response), and noted poor storage conditions for the collections of the National Museum of American History. Also find articles on the history of protests in America, Steve Jobs’ archives at Stanford, distance education, Google Books and copyright, and a map showing the rise of newspapers across the U.S.
No More Plan B
AHA President Anthony T. Grafton and AHA Executive Director Jim Grossman’s article “No More Plan B,” which challenges the idea that history PhD’s first career choice should be a tenure-track job, has generated some great discussion. Below we roundup a few articles posted in response:
- “No More Plan B”—Apocalypse or Opportunity?
Dan Allosso takes to the Historical Society blog to argue that “[E]ach of us grad students can find a way out of the “Plan B” trap, by deciding what we do that benefits society."
- More Ph.D. Puzzlement
Rohan Maitzen at Novel Readings suggests that there is an "elided step" in the logic of the Grafton/Grossman proposal.
- Dissertations vs. Journal Articles for Grad Students
Using the “No More Plan B” proposal as a springboard, Michael Ruse (chair of the history of science department at Florida State) asks whether the dissertation is useful for students going on to careers outside of academia.
- Gov. Scott Questions Value Of Liberal Arts Degrees
Earlier this week Governor Rick Scott of Florida questioned the value of liberal arts degrees, arguing that state resources should go to “programs that create jobs like math, science, engineering and technology.” He singled out the discipline of anthropology, but historians can take small comfort from that. The American Anthropological Association responded the following day.
- Smithsonian Inspector General finds substandard storage conditions at American History museum
According to the Smithsonian Inspector General, the collections of the National Museum of American History are in danger due to poor storage conditions.
Occupy Wall Street
- Wall Street protest’s long historical roots
Nicolaus Mills, professor of American studies at Sarah Lawrence College, looks back at the history of political movements (including Coxey’s Army in 1894 and the Bonus Marchers in 1932) that have led up to the Occupy Wall Street protests, in a report for CNN.
- Steve Jobs’ early career boxed in Stanford’s archives
For historians interested in studying Steve Jobs and the company he helped to found, Stanford offers a short and fascinating introduction to the Apple archives at Stanford.
- Learning at a Distance
The U.S. Department of Education reports that one in five undergraduate students were enrolled in some distance education course in 2008. That marked an increase of 250% in just 8 years!
- Big History on Campus
Kaustuv Basu details a new trend towards teaching "Big History"—from the big bang to the present—that is taking shape around the country. With the help of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation the movement has even spawned a new organization, the "Big History Association."
- Google Books & its discontents
Shane Landrum at Cliotropic questions the way Google Books represents the past depending on a reader’s location, in an effort to accommodate different copyright laws.
- Data Visualization: Journalism’s Voyage West
This map, created by the Rural West Initiative at Stanford University, tracks the spread of over 140,000 newspapers across the U.S. from 1690-2011. Hat tip.
Contributors: Elisabeth Grant, Vernon Horn, and Robert B. Townsend
This post first appeared on AHA Today.
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