Author: Mark Bauerlein

Mark Bauerlein is a professor of English at Emory.

Yale Muslims: Hurt Feelings but No Arguments

As Lauren Noble wrote two days ago here at Minding the Campus, Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s speech at Yale on Monday night was a success, despite the discomfort felt by the Yale Muslim Students Association (MSA). I say “discomfort” because that is what the MSA itself emphasized in its September 10th letter to the Yale community […]

Read More

US News Rankings: Not Quite Ho-Hum

Well, the 2015 U. S. News & World Report rankings are out, and here are the elite Top 10 for “National Universities”: 1. Princeton 2. Harvard 3. Yale 4. Columbia 4. Stanford 4. University of Chicago 7. MIT 8. Duke 8. Penn 10. California Institute of Technology And here are the rankings of the Top […]

Read More

The Undead Are Rising on Campus

Scores of colleges, from Goucher to Harvard, now feature “Undead Studies,” that is, academic work on zombies and vampires. Depending on your point of view, this is either yet another indicator of the debasement of higher education, or a playful way to attach serious thinking to not very serious expressions of popular culture. Frivolous or not, it takes […]

Read More

Why the Millennials are Doing So Poorly

The thesis of my 2008 book, The Dumbest Generation, was that digital tools and media have become so prominent in teens’ and 20-somethings’ thoughts and acts that their intellectual and civic capacities are bound to deteriorate.  While devices and social networks allow the possibility of intellectual and civic engagement, I argued, they mean something else entirely […]

Read More

How to Answer the White-Privilegers

The sad debate over “white privilege” education sessions on elite campuses has reached its low point with a comment in a New York Magazine article by a Harvard student Reetu Mody, a graduate student in public policy and “campus activist.” Mentioning Princeton student Tal Fortgang’s protest against these privilege-consciousness-raising programs, the article continues: “Mody has […]

Read More

Student Loan Forgiveness–A Get-Out-the-Vote Rip-off

The news in the Wall Street Journal this week about college loans was unsurprising. A special plan passed by the Democratic Congress in 2007 and expanded by the Obama Administration, “Pay As You Earn,” has grown wildly, “nearly 40% in just six months, to include at least 1.3 million Americans owing around $72 billion,” the […]

Read More

Procedures and MLA Delegate Assembly

The MLA meeting of the delegate assembly to debate the resolution criticizing Israeli policies has received ample publicity, including Cary Nelson’s vehement opposition in the Wall Street Journal and the Chronicle of Higher Education.  Nelson’s statement elicited a reply at the Chronicle by one of the sponsors of the resolution, Bruce Robbins of Columbia University, […]

Read More

Academia is a Seller’s Market

There is a mini-argument amongst some academic bloggers over the way UC-Riverside’s English department scheduled job interviews at the Modern Language Association’s annual convention.  As Megan McArdle recounts at Bloomberg, Riverside emailed applicants to schedule interviews only five days (!) before the convention was to start in Chicag).  For some applicants, that might have meant […]

Read More

Fewer Jobs in the Humanities

Last summer, when a flurry of reports and commentaries declared a material crisis for the humanities, many commentators denied the claim, for instance, this statement entitled “The Humanities Aren’t Really in ‘Crisis’” (note the gratuitous sneer-quotes). But the bad news keeps coming.  Last week, Inside Higher Ed  reported, “History Jobs Down 7.3%.” Data from the […]

Read More

Understanding Today’s Campus Left

Several years ago, my Emory University hosted former Black Panther Elaine Brown for a couple of days of lecture, discussion, conversation, and meals.  I attended one event and don’t remember what Brown said, but caught firmly the demeanor and cadence of the delivery.  It was hip, knowing, coy, and canny, not an argument or a […]

Read More

A Solution to Galloping Grade Inflation

A story in the Harvard Crimson last week reported on a meeting at the university that produced an exchange that should surprise nobody. Professor Harvey Mansfield rose in the midst of a session with faculty and administrators to pose a discomfiting question: “A little bird has told me that the most frequently given grade at […]

Read More

The Humanities–in a Weak State with Weak Defenders

This is an excerpt from the article, “What Dido Did, Satan Saw and O’Keeffe Painted,” from the November issue of The New Criterion. The full text is here. Starting in June, a flurry of reports and commentaries appeared, projecting a dim present and dark future for the fields (of the humanities). A Harvard report warned […]

Read More

No Real Crisis in the Decline of the Humanities?

The New York Times has a Room for Debate forum on the humanities this week, and one of the contributors, Ben Schmidt, takes the opportunity to chide those who repeat “the persistent idea that the humanities are imploding in on themselves.” Citing numbers from the U.S. Department of Education and the Modern Language Association, he […]

Read More

Bleak Defenses of the Humanities

People under 40 years of age don’t remember what it was like in the humanities circa 1990.  The academic theater of the Culture Wars was tense and vibrant, with national publications debating what was going on in English departments.  Books decrying trends in the humanities by Allan Bloom and Roger Kimball and Dinesh D’Souza were […]

Read More

Let Students Act on Affirmative Action

Last week I published a commentary on affirmative action at Inside Higher Ed that laid down a simple proposal. With 30 percent of first-year college students terming themselves “Liberal” or “Far Left,” 47 percent of them “Middle-of-the-road,” and with only 23 percent of them agreeing that “Racial discrimination is no longer a major problem in […]

Read More

The Test Score Solution

When 2013 SAT scores came out last month and showed no significant change from 2012,many educators may have felt not disappointed or neutral, but relieved.  That’s because the overall trend since 2006, when the writing component was added, has been downward.  Critical reading has dropped seven points, math four points, and writing nine points.  In […]

Read More

SAT Scores and Unprepared Students

Writing at National Review Online about the recent release of SAT scores, Jason Richwine wonders whether all the fretting about low college-readiness rates among high school graduates really makes much sense.  He links to an Atlantic Monthly story on the 2013 scores that bears the title “This Year’s SAT Scores Are Out, and They Are Grim.”  Scores were […]

Read More

‘Liberal education is countercultural’

That sounds like a slogan of progressives, who often justify their critique of the United States, organized religion, patriotism, Western civilization, and other traditional institutions on the grounds that the purpose of higher education is to instill critical thinking about prevailing norms and beliefs.  But the phrase above actually comes from a blog post by […]

Read More

Businesses Question Campus Standards

The Wall Street Journal recently reported on a rising trend among employers of recent college graduates. To determine a job applicant’s skills and knowledge, many of them have started to rely on a test instead of the graduate’s grade point average.  Some of them, such as General Mills, have crafted their own job-applicant examinations, while […]

Read More

Sequestration Hits History and Civics

One of the best tools for gauging the historical knowledge and civic awareness of young Americans is the exam administered to 12th Graders by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in U.S. history and civics. Every few years, students across the country take these low-stakes tests and provide data on how many of them […]

Read More

The Not-Very-Honest AAUP Letter on Colorado

A few weeks ago, the Regents of the University of Colorado voted to commission a “political climate” survey of the Boulder campus to determine whether ideological discrimination exists there. Not long after, the AAUP issued a letter in response, warning against the threat to academic freedom that the survey poses. The letter is a prime example […]

Read More

A Check for Bias at the University of Colorado

As reported here and here, the Regents of the University of Colorado have voted to commission a survey of the political climate on the Boulder campus.  I spoke at the meeting, and the discussion was less complicated than one might expect given the history of liberal bias topics at Colorado and elsewhere in the last […]

Read More

President Mills, It’s Time to Resign

This week’s Chronicle of Higher Education has a story on diversity in higher education that begins, “Despite decades of antidiscrimination policies and affirmations of equality, there’s still little racial and ethnic diversity at the top at many of the colleges.” And last year, as legal challenges to affirmative action were building, the Board of Directors […]

Read More

Ideology Forced on Minnesota High Schools

The University of Minnesota has a program of dual enrollment in which high schools create courses that match selected UM first-year courses in content and rigor and students earn UM credits.  It’s called College in the Schools, and it offers 22 courses in the humanities and social sciences such as Calculus I, Intermediate French, and […]

Read More

‘Civic Engagement’ and the Youth Vote in 2014

Once again, the youth vote–18-30-year-olds–provided Barack Obama a staunchly reliable bloc in the 2012 election.  According to the Center for Information & Research on civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), the youth vote went 67 percent for Obama, 30 percent for Romney.  If the youth vote were taken out of the population, Romney would have won […]

Read More

Are High School Grads Well-prepared for College?….Well…(Cough)

One of the purposes of Common Core, the initiative to draft new standards for math and English, was to align secondary curricula with the demands of college.  The presumption was that high school expectations simply fell short of first-year college coursework and the standards it set.  Further evidence of mismatch came out this week in […]

Read More

Do Your Homework, Big Teacher Is Watching

Big news about homework: a new technology allows professors to monitor the reading and studying of their students outside of class. Digital tools record what students do on their e-textbooks: how often they open it and to what pages, whether they highlight or not, whether they take notes. It’s called CourseSmart, and it offers a […]

Read More

The “Stomp on Jesus” Controversy and Critical Thinking Pedagogy

Insidehighered.com has an update on the controversy at Florida Atlantic University.  The story quickly summarizes the event at the center of the affair, that is, having students write “Jesus” on a piece of paper put it on the floor, then asking them to step on it.  The exercise isn’t the instructor’s invention.  It comes out […]

Read More

What Happened at Harvard: Professors Are Employees

The lesson to draw from the Harvard email episode is simple: a university is a business and everyone who works there is an employee.  The Harvard administration combed through email accounts of resident deans in order to track down leaks regarding last year’s cheating scandal. The cheating happened last year when students were discovered to […]

Read More

The End of Unwatched Professors

One of the enduring operative principles of higher education has been reliance upon professors to do their work diligently and conscientiously without the eye of a monitor upon them.  Yes, there are tenure reviews and other periodic reviews of faculty performance, but the day-to-day functioning of faculty members in their teaching and research has largely gone […]

Read More