College students in a lecture hall. A facilitator is kneeling in the aisle, talking to a smiling student.
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Moving from Debate to Empathy

In my freshman writing class, my job is to teach students how to write a researched essay. I encourage students to pick topics that interest them, but I warn them that if they go into their project already convinced that one answer is correct (that euthanasia should/should not be legal, that abortion is murder/healthcare, that high schools should increase funding to whatever activity they did in high school and cut…

Handwritten, all-caps note on printed script from which Trump read: "THERE WAS NO COLUSION"

Fascinating details in reports about Trump’s Russian retraction

We’re all still reeling from Trump’s statement yesterday that he “didn’t see any reason why it would be” true that Russia had meddled with the US election. Standing there next to Putin, he publicly rejected the positions of multiple US intelligence authorities. Today, in the face of blistering criticism from foes and friends alike, including powerful members of his own Republican party, the president backtracked, saying that he misspoke –…

Such A Good Feeling: The Affectionate Documentary ‘Won’t You Be My Neighbor?’

My son and I saw “Won’t You Be Ny Neighbor” at a special showing in Greensburg (not far from Fred Rodgers’ hometown of Latrobe). My daughter performed PICT’s Jane Eyre in the Fred Rogers Studio at WQED (where part of the floor is still painted like the path in the Neighborhood of Make Believe.   Fred Rogers was blown away by television’s potential — but he was disgusted by its…

“for every cliché of a barista or bartender with a liberal arts degree, there were ten with a degree in business.”

This story offers evidence to challenge the stereotype that under employed humanities majors are stuck working in service jobs years after graduation. STEM jobs are indeed the most marketable, but a recent study found  that after five years, business, health professions, education and psychology make up far more of the underemployed graduates than English or foreign languages. If you believe the Burning Glass data, those four majors alone – business,…

What’s Wrong With Being From the South? Just Ask an Academic in the North

As an American studying in Toronto during the Clinton administration, I encountered some non-negligible anti-American bias. I learned to pronounce the last letter of the alphabet “zed” when I was spelling my name. When I sang “ahh-men” in a church choir, the music director stopped the rehearsal to express his surprise that I hadn’t sung “aay-men.” A student in an American literature class accused me of being racist for suggesting…