Author: Joe Nalven

Joe Nalven is a former Lecturer of Anthropology and Lawyering Skills at the University of San Diego.

Curricular Visions: Technology as Human Nature

What are the important topics that make a university education valuable? And even while the student traverses the various courses? Or in the future, when the student takes his or her place in society? I attended Columbia College in the 1960s. I took the foundational classes in Western Civilization and Humanities, but I failed to […]

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Progressive Overreach and the Procrustes Impulse

Many philosophers, social thinkers, legislators, and those delirious with power have proposed ways to fix the human condition. Societies themselves have often been organized, often by custom as well as laws, to shape the odd ways in which humans behave—odd ways that often emanate from a desire for individual freedom. Those fixes and organizational principles […]

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Minding the Sciences—Wicked Science and Understanding Climate Change: Uncertainty, Risk, and Pragmatics

Wicked problems need wicked science to, minimally, frame what is puzzling. Wickedness is not a moral judgment. Instead, it is tied to the limits of knowing—when rationality is encumbered by ambiguity and uncertainty and when control over the variables is limited or currently impossible. Predictions that emerge from modeling, especially those that reach decades into […]

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The Chatbot as a Study Partner: Caveats for Guidance

Author’s Note: The cover image for this article was created using Text-to-Image artificial intelligence. The prompt was: “Capture the essence of an ethnically diverse student study group, males and females, wide-eyed and immersed in their bedroom, surrounded by books and study materials. The room should exude a sense of curiosity and innocence. A chatbot genie […]

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AI in the Campus Art Gallery: A Multidisciplinary Exploration through Art and AI

This marks the second of a two-part series by digital artist Joe Nalven who explores the integration of AI in campus art galleries as an approach to supersede academic silos. Part one of this series can be found here.  Gallery One ─ Identical Objects, Words, Different Perceptions Students will discuss how words that describe an […]

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AI in the Campus Art Gallery: A Way to Supersede Academic Silos

This marks the beginning of a two-part series by digital artist Joe Nalven who explores the integration of AI in campus art galleries as an approach to supersede academic silos. Just a few years ago, maybe just one year ago, this article would have been considered unrealistic or fantasy—certainly not worthy of administrative attention nor […]

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The Future of AI?

A University Without Walls, A Prison Without Cells, and Extinction Superintelligent Bot by Joe Nalven and DALL●E 2 Science fiction may foreshadow the future of AI. Antony Bryant’s call for papers cites Stanisław Lem’s short story, Golem XIV, written in 1981, which sought to anticipate where humanity and its AI technology were headed. In Lem’s […]

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Teaching with a Chatbot: Persuasion, Lying, and Self-Reflection

Chatbots like Google’s Bard, OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Baidu’s Wenxin Yiyan (Ernie), and ChatSonic allow humans to communicate with machines using natural human language through text-based or, in the case of Alexa and Siri, voice-based systems. Some see these early versions of an increasingly sophisticated human–machine communication framework as a Pandora’s box that needs to be paused […]

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Academic Freedom, Academic Responsibility, and the Democratic Valence

One of my teaching tricks is to ask my students, “Can we have the word up without the word down?” If we have only one of these words, we find ourselves lost in that memorable koan—the sound of one hand clapping. Some words and ideas require complements. Others, such as hot and cold, also include […]

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Why Bother with Race or Merit When Random Selection is Available?

If you listened to the first day of oral arguments in the twin racial preference cases before the Supreme Court, you might have wondered whether the participants were AWI—Arguing While Intoxicated. Surely, they must have known that ‘diversity’ is an illusion. Humans have far preferred tribal, sectarian, kin, national, ethnic, linguistic, and racial categories; or, […]

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Two North Stars: One for Liberty, One for Equality

The Supreme Court and American Values This article is about a Supreme Court decision—actually, a companion set. These decisions  haven’t happened yet, but I can fantasize, imagine, wish, desire. In a nutshell, I would like to see these decisions affirm equal protection under the law in much the same way that a similar decision affirmed […]

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Is There a Defense of the Critical Classroom? Part Two: Individual Identity and Social Relations

In Part One of this essay, I analyzed the ways in which two contrasting lenses—the liberal lens and the critical lens—affect postsecondary administrative practices and curricular development. I also asked whether there is any defense of the critical lens in education. To read my assessment of those two subjects and to get more background on […]

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Is There a Defense of the Critical Classroom? Part One: Administration and Curriculum

The Critical Classroom, a book published by the Heritage Foundation, makes cogent arguments against structuring the classroom with the lens of critical theory. Still, I would have liked to read an article in the book defending the critical classroom. Perhaps I could play the role of an imagined interlocutor, but my attempt at exploring the […]

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A Wicked Inquiry into the National Conversation on Race: Why You Should Read My Book

Race is not a tame problem like those of mathematics or popular games. Tame problems thrive in systems with defined internal logic and operational clarity. Race is a wicked problem. There’s the easy label of the human race; and then, the more difficult divisions into tribe, clan, sect, class, nation, and other forms that can […]

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Truth in Children’s Literature: A Response to Dr. Siu’s American Ogres

From a bird’s eye view, most children stories can be understood as a process that guides the child into becoming a member of society──a member of a particular culture, a particular place, and a particular time. We tell them about dangers, morals, customs, and cultural beliefs, and how to perform the rituals of daily life. […]

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When Ethnic Studies Education Violates the Law: California’s Guardrails

This is not an article about censorship. It is an article about critical thinking—framed within legislated guardrails. Boundaries are important in elementary and secondary education, more so than in higher education. We immediately think of age-appropriate materials, but there is also the more difficult issue of how we ought to frame education. At some point, […]

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Teaching About Systemic Racism: An Anthropological Pedagogy

When I was ready to write up my dissertation fieldwork, I was stymied by conceptual perspectives for organizing my data. What I thought about data collection before entering the field of anthropology had been overwhelmed by the reality of fieldwork. That was in the mid-1970s, when the concept of the ‘web’ of society was giving […]

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Racial Newspeak Comes to the Classroom

The airwaves have combusted. Parents confront school boards. Across the country, state and government agencies are moving in opposite directions: some release the genie of racial equity and Critical Race Theory (CRT) while others try to corral it and squeeze it back into the bottle. In California, CRT, either explicitly or implicitly through its aligned […]

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Our Sex Starts in the Womb, Our Gender As We Toddle On

Richard Feynman remarked “for Nature cannot be fooled,” hearkening back to Isaac Newton—a reminder that Nature’s laws are indifferent to what humans think or wish those laws might be. The same goes for biology, which we ignore at our peril. Sex genes appeared some 180 million years ago in mammals. Not only do they make […]

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