Latina/o Studies – a Welcome Addition/Edition

Textbooks bore you? I am usually not a fan. Most textbooks lack arguments. They try – unsuccessfully – to make up for their missing authorial voice by adding graphics, colors and busy design. I prefer hearing from an author. I want to know where the person writing the book stands. When I taught, I assigned monographs…

Dominican American Studies and Empowerment

There is no one best model to understand immigration to the United States. It is shaped – uniquely – by country of origin, politics, history, and people.  Two countries share the island of Hispaniola: Haiti and the Dominican Republic. From the early part of the 20th century and President Theodore Roosevelt’s interventionist foreign policy, the…

Program Change in the Academic Marketplace

If you wanted a college degree in the 1800s, there was a good chance that you would have been required to demonstrate proficiency in Latin and Greek. Americans didn’t use the languages all that much, but an earlier generation of colleges in the 1700s were created to train clergy – and if you’re going into that line…

Understanding Others – Harder and More Useful Than You Realize

Few life skills are more useful than understanding what other people are thinking. Successful leadership demands an awareness of it. Meaningful projects inevitably require of groups  of people working together. Negotiating without it is close to impossible. Empathy – knowing and sharing another’s feelings – is vitally important to being a connected human. But empathy…

Stories and Histories: Journeys and Meaning

When I taught history, I sought conversations with students at the end of the semester about the course. What mattered to them? What would they remember, if anything, in the semester or years to come? Learning outcomes assessment evaluations and summary grades are valuable, but there’s nothing like an open-ended conversation with a student. It is often…

Making Sense of Signals in the Noise

Quick! Your favorite 18th century English philosopher is . . . David Hume? Edmund Burke? Adam Smith or Bishop Berkeley? Don’t worry if one one comes to mind – Nate Silver, author of The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail But Some Don’t, has a provocative suggestion: Thomas Bayes. Silver is a terrific statistician and…

Neighborhoods and the Great American City

Chicago is a big and complicated city. As a newcomer, I read widely to get a better understanding of my new home. The staff at the Unabridged Bookstore, an independent in the Lakeview neighborhood, has organized a section filled with Chicago books, ranging from the coffee table variety to academic monographs. On that shelf with a…