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9/15/20 Panel

Sep 15, 2020

  

     The Roundtable Panel: a daily open discussion of issues in the news and beyond.

Today's panelists are WAMC’s Alan Chartock, investigative journalist and UAlbany adjunct professor Rosemary Armao, The Empire Report’s J.P. Miller, and former Associate Editor of The Times Union Mike Spain.

As the head of Open Learning at MIT, renowned professor Sanjay Sarma has a daunting job description: to fling open the doors of the MIT experience for the benefit of the wider world. But if you're going to undertake such an ambitious project, you first have to ask: How do we learn?  What are the most effective ways of educating? And how can the science of learning transform education to unlock our potential, as individuals and across society?

The new book, "Grasp" takes readers across multiple frontiers, from fundamental neuroscience to cognitive psychology and beyond, as it explores the future of learning. 

Jeff Hobbs is the best-selling author of "The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace." His latest "Show Them You're Good: A Portrait of Boys in the City of Angels the Year Before College" closely follows four Los Angeles high school boys as they apply to college.

In the book, four teenage boys are high school seniors at two very different schools within the city of Los Angeles, the second largest school district in the nation with nearly 700,000 students. Hobbs captures the challenges and triumphs of being a young person confronting the future, both their own and the cultures in which they live, in contemporary America.

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With a theme of “Safe, Smart, Ready,” SUNY Adirondack will begin its fall semester on Tuesday, Sept. 9, offering classes both remotely and in-person. Small, in-person classes will be held for those courses requiring hands-on instruction, such as nursing, culinary, art, music, science and technology. Other classes will be taught in a live remote setting or in a traditional online format.

College leadership has been working throughout the summer to implement health and safety protocols across its three sites, including mandatory COVID check-ins at site entrances, requirements for facial coverings and social distancing, one-way traffic in hallways, reduced seating capacity in classrooms and extensive sanitizing in all buildings.

SUNY Adirondack President Dr. Kristine Duffy joins us with an update.

The pandemic crisis is causing colleges to look at fundamental issues right now (like how to survive) so while concerns about legacy preference and athletics slots are taking a back burner for the moment, money matters now more than ever, as schools scrounge for full-paying students.

Those who can pay full freight (or maybe make some nice donations) look extra attractive. As the pandemic’s impact on higher education continues to evolve it may be even more important to scrutinize the ethics around admissions and the inequities baked into our system.

Melissa Korn and Jennifer Levitz are the Wall Street Journal reporters who have led much of the reporting on the shocking saga of “Operation Varsity Blues.” They have just written a new book: "Unacceptable: Privilege, Deceit & the Making of the College Admissions Scandal."

Jay Quantaince
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The COVID-19 pandemic has an impact on every aspect of live and society. In this interview, Joe Donahue speaks with SUNY Sullivan President Jay Quaintance about the impact on community college.

"The First: How to Think About Hate Speech, Campus Speech, Religious Speech, Fake News, Post-Truth, and Donald Trump" is a new book from public intellectual and New York Times bestselling author, Stanley Fish.

How does the First Amendment really work? Is it a principle or a value? What is hate speech and should it always be banned? Are we free to declare our religious beliefs in the public square? What role, if any, should companies like Facebook play in policing the exchange of thoughts, ideas, and opinions?

Stanley Fish, “America’s most famous professor” (BookPage), explores these complex questions in "The First."

Paul Tough is the author of "Helping Children Succeed" and "How Children Succeed." He is also the author of "Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada’s Quest to Change Harlem and America." He is a contributing writer to the New York Times Magazine and a regular contributor to the public-radio program "This American Life."

Tough's new book "The Years That Matter Most" tells the stories of students trying to find their way, with hope, joy, and frustration, through the application process and into college.

Drawing on new research, the book reveals how the landscape of higher education has shifted in recent decades and exposes the hidden truths of how the system works and whom it works for.

P. E. Moskowitz is the author of "How to Kill a City." A former staff writer for Al Jazeera America, they have written for publications including the Guardian, New York Times, NewYorker.com, New Republic, Wired, Slate, Buzzfeed, Splinter, and Vice.

Their most recent book is "The Case Against Free Speech: The First Amendment, Fascism, and the Future of Dissent."

Ulrich Baer was educated at Harvard and Yale and has been awarded John Simon Guggenheim, DAAD, Paul Getty, and Alexander von Humboldt Fellowships. He is University Professor at New York University. His podcast, "Think About It," is devoted to in-depth conversations on powerful ideas, including freedom of speech, and language that changes the world.

His new book is "What Snowflakes Get Right: Free Speech, Truth, and Equality on Campus." It is published by Oxford University Press.

Robert Boyers’ new book is "The Tyranny of Virtue." It is a collection of essays about the decline of civility and academic freedom promoted by, as Boyers sees it, excesses of political correctness at America’s universities.

Boyers, who defines himself as a liberal, decries the intolerance of his fellow liberals for political and intellectual diversity.

Robert Boyers is the editor of "Salmagundi," a professor of English at Skidmore College, and the director of the New York State Summer Writers Institute. He will be speaking at a New York State Writers Institute event on Thursday afternoon at UAlbany.

On March 21st, Dr. Jennifer Scott – President of College of St. Joseph in Rutland, Vermont – announced that the school of around 200 students had been unable to find an institutional partner to save it from losing its accreditation. The attempt came after a ruling from the private Catholic college’s accreditors – the New England Commission of Higher Education – that it would be placed on probation if it couldn’t shore up its finances. Now, the college will enter a period of limbo as it approaches the loss of its accreditation in August. Scott spoke with WAMC about the school’s future.

An aerial photo of Southern Vermont College.
Southern Vermont College

Like many other small colleges nationwide, Southern Vermont College in Bennington is confronting an existential threat. Facing declining enrollment, the college of about 350 students will have to defend its accreditation to the New England Commission of Higher Education on February 28th. WAMC spoke with SVC President David Evans about his plans to save the college.

In late summer 1940, as war spread across Europe and as the nation pulled itself out of the Great Depression, an anti-communist hysteria convulsed New York City. Targeting the city’s municipal colleges and public schools, the New York state legislature’s Rapp-Coudert investigation dragged hundreds of suspects before public and private tribunals to root out a perceived communist conspiracy to hijack the city’s teachers unions, subvert public education, and indoctrinate the nation’s youth.

Drawing on the vast archive of Rapp-Coudert records, Union College History Professor Andrew Feffer looks to provide the first full history of this witch-hunt, which lasted from August 1940 to March 1942.

He does so in the new book: "Bad Faith: Teachers, Liberalism, and the Origins of McCarthyism." Andrew Feffer is Professor of History and Co-Director of the Interdisciplinary Program in Film Studies at Union College.

Born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi, Kiese Laymon, Ottilie Schillig Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Mississippi, is the author of the novel "Long Division" and a collection of essays, "How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America."

In his new book, "Heavy: An American Memoir," he writes eloquently and honestly about growing up a hard-headed black son to a complicated and brilliant black mother in Jackson, Mississippi. From his early experiences of sexual violence, to his suspension from college, to his trek to New York as a young college professor, Laymon charts his complex relationship with his mother, grandmother, anorexia, obesity, sex, writing, and ultimately gambling.

By attempting to name secrets and lies he and his mother spent a lifetime avoiding, Laymon asks himself, his mother, his nation, and us to confront the terrifying possibility that few in this nation actually know how to responsibly love, and even fewer want to live under the weight of actually becoming free.

Donna Freitas lectures at universities across the United States on her work about college students. She is the author of "Sex and the Soul: Juggling Sexuality, Spirituality, Romance and Religion on America's College Campuses" and "The Happiness Effect: How Social Media is Driving a Generation to Appear Perfect at Any Cost," and has written for publications including The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. Freitas is currently a non-resident research associate at the Center for Religion and Society at Notre Dame.

A 2015 survey of twenty-seven elite colleges found that twenty-three percent of respondents reported personal experiences of sexual misconduct on their campuses. That figure has not changed since the 1980s, when people first began collecting data on sexual violence. What has changed is the level of attention that the American public is paying to these statistics. Reports of sexual abuse repeatedly make headlines, and universities are scrambling to address the crisis.

Their current strategy, Donna Freitas argues, is wholly inadequate. She writes about it in her new book, "

Consent on Campus: A Manifesto."

According to our next guest, something has been going wrong on many college campuses in the last few years. Speakers are shouted down. Professors say they are walking on eggshells, eliminating controversial material from syllabi.

Students, once the staunchest defenders of free speech, now see words and ideas as sources of danger. Rates of anxiety, depression, and suicide are rising—on campus as well as nationally. How did this happen?

First Amendment expert Greg Lukianoff looks at this cultural shift to explain the background behind the crisis in academia, and to offer lucid and reasonable solutions. The new book is "The Coddling Of The American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation For Failure."

Cathy N. Davidson is a lifelong educational innovator - and instigator. After twenty-five years as a professor and an administrator leading innovation at Duke University, Davidson moved to CUNY in August 2014 to direct the Futures Initiative at the Graduate Center. Appointed by President Obama to the National Council on the Humanities (2011-2017), she also sits on the Board of Directors of Mozilla. 

In her new book, The New Education, Davidson argues that the current approach to education is wholly unsuited to the era of the gig economy. Our system of higher education dates to the period from 1865 to 1925, when the nation's new universities created grades and departments, majors and minors, in an attempt to prepare young people for a world transformed by the telegraph and the Model T. From the Ivy League to community colleges, she introduces us to innovators who are remaking college for our own time by emphasizing student-centered learning that values creativity in the face of change above all. 

A new sexual revolution is sweeping the country, and college students are on the front lines. Women use fresh, smart methods to fight entrenched sexism and sexual assault even as they celebrate their own sexuality as never before. Many “woke” male students are more sensitive to women’s concerns than previous generations ever were, while other men perpetuate the most cruel misogyny. Amid such apparent contradictions, it’s no surprise that intense confusion shrouds the topic of sex on campus.

Vanessa Grigoriadis dispels that confusion as no other writer could by traveling to schools large and small, embedding in their social whirl, and talking candidly with dozens of students – among them, both accusers and accused-- as well as administrators, parents, and researchers. Her unprecedented investigation presents a host of new truths. She reveals which times and settings are most dangerous for women (for instance, beware the “red zone”); she demystifies the welter of conflicting statistics about the prevalence of campus rape; she makes a strong case that not all “sexual assault” is equivalent; and she offers convincing if controversial advice on how schools, students, and parents can make college a safer, richer experience. The sum of her fascinating, fly-on-the-wall reportage is a revelatory account of how long-standing rules of sex and power are being rewritten from scratch.

Vanessa Grigoriadis is a contributing editor at The New York Times magazine and Vanity Fair. Her new book is Blurred Lines: Rethinking Sex, Power, and Consent on Campus.

  

Our Falling into Place series spotlights the important work of -and fosters collaboration between- not-for-profit organizations in our communities; allowing us all to fall into place.

Falling Into Place is supported by The Seymour Fox Memorial Foundation, Providing a helping hand to turn inspiration into accomplishment. See more possibilities … see more promise… see more progress.

Robin Christenson is executive director of Capital Region Sponsor-A-Scholar. Capital Region Sponsor-A-Scholar is the only college access and success program in the area. The program assists low-income, academically promising students to prepare for college success starting in the 10th grade. 

Jacques Berlinerblau is Professor and Director of the Center for Jewish Civilization at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.

In his new book, Campus Confidential, he breaks ranks to reveal what's wrong with American higher education. Professors can be underpaid. Marginalized. Over-reviewed. But one fact remains: The success of education depends on them.

For more than a decade, Daniel Connolly has reported on Mexican immigration to the U.S. South for news organizations including The Associated Press in Little Rock, and The (Memphis) Commercial Appeal. The winner of numerous journalism prizes, he has received grants and fellowships from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, the International Center for Journalists and the Fulbright program.

In his new book, The Book of Isaias: A Child of Hispanic Immigrants Seeks His Own America 18-year-old high school senior Isaias Ramos plays in a punk rock group called Los Psychosis and likes to sing along to songs by Björk and her old band, the Sugarcubes. He’s so bright that when his school’s quiz bowl goes on local TV, he acts as captain. The counselors at school want him to apply to Harvard. But Isaias isn’t so sure. He's thinking about going to work painting houses with his parents, who crossed the Arizona desert illegally from Mexico.

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The president of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system is recommending tuition hikes. 

Lisa Wade is an associate professor of sociology at Occidental College. Her newest book, American Hookup is about the emergence and character of the culture of sex that dominates college campuses today.

American Hookup situates hookup culture within the history of sexuality, the evolution of higher education, and the unfinished feminist revolution. With new research, Wade maps out a punishing emotional landscape marked by unequal pleasures, competition for status, and sexual violence. She discovers that privileged students tend to enjoy it the most, and considers its effects on racial and sexual minorities, students who “opt out,” and those who participate ambivalently.

With most schools on winter break right now, certified educational planner Lynell Engelmyer is in the studio this afternoon to talk about planning for college.

If you are a young person, and you work hard enough, you can get a college degree and set yourself on the path to a good life, right?
 
Not necessarily, says Sara Goldrick-Rab, and with Paying the Price, she shows in damning detail exactly why. Quite simply, college is far too expensive for many people today, and the confusing mix of federal, state, institutional, and private financial aid leaves countless students without the resources they need to pay for it.
 
Drawing on an unprecedented study of 3,000 young adults who entered public colleges and universities in Wisconsin in 2008 with the support of federal aid and Pell Grants, Goldrick-Rab reveals the devastating effect of these shortfalls.

Margaux Bergen began writing her new book when her daughter Charlotte turned nine and she gave it to her right after graduation from high school, when she was setting off for her first day of college.

In Navigating Life: Things I Wish My Mother Had Told Me, Bergen shares her own lessons learned in hopes that her trials and errors might benefit her daughter as she set off for college and prepares to navigate life for the first time on her own.

Margaux Bergen has spent the last twenty years raising three children and working all over the world at large and small institutions focused on international development and women’s leadership.

  Poster Boy is a new American musical inspired by actual events surrounding the 2010 suicide of Tyler Clementi, a college student who brought national attention to cyber-bullying, In the show, a community of gay men in an online chat room come together to discover what drove one of their own to take his life.

Directed by Olivier Award-nominee Stafford Arima with movement by Danny Mefford, Poster Boy, is in its world premiere production on the Nikos Stage at the Williamstown Theatre Festival through August 7th.

Composer and lyricist, Craig Carnelia and bookwriter Joe Tracz join us.

  After thirty-five years as a book editor in New York City, Ann Patty stopped working and moved to the country. Bored, aimless, and lost in the woods, she hoped to challenge her restless, word-loving brain by beginning a serious study of Latin at local colleges.

As she begins to make sense of Latin grammar and syntax, her studies open unexpected windows into her own life.

Her book is Living with a Dead Language: My Romance with Latin.

U.S. Senate

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer says financially distressed colleges facing potential closure should be required to tell students the school may shut down.

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