Social Media and the Serious Academic

Should "serious academics" make time for social media? At least two recent commentators (I'm guessing there are more out there, but it may be hasty to speak of a silent majority) think not. Many -- naturally including a slew of "twitterstorians" and academic bloggers -- have responded, detailing the ways social media facilitates their work and lampooning their … Continue reading Social Media and the Serious Academic

Flipping the Course Evaluation

Student course evaluations have taken a well-deserved beating recently, most notably thanks to studies showing their endemic gender bias, but also for their broader unreliability as measures of teaching and learning. These findings add significant empirical weight to an older set of somewhat more anecdotal, philosophical or speculative criticisms: Were the teachers who taught you best the ones you liked … Continue reading Flipping the Course Evaluation

Back to School: Teaching, Research, and Regret

Our academic year begins in a couple of weeks, which means that this is the time for finishing, revising or at the very least updating course syllabi with the relevant dates. My teaching load is on the light side: two courses per semester, plus a moderate number of graduate and honours supervisions. (For the sake of comparison, a large, … Continue reading Back to School: Teaching, Research, and Regret

O Brexiteers!

I happen to be in London this week -- England, not Ontario -- which actually made last night's Brexit vote results harder to follow than being five hours behind in Montreal would have done. Unlike some of my telegenic, modern-leaning and public-spirited colleagues in North America (Brian Cowan at McGill, for example), I have not been asked by … Continue reading O Brexiteers!

Arguing for history: If not skills, then what?

The quiet, leafy corner of Twitter where I spend increasing amounts of my time exploded this morning with responses to the following statement: Society doesn't need a 21-year-old who is a sixth century historian. It needs a 21-year-old who really understands how to analyse things, understands the tenets of leadership and contributing to society, who … Continue reading Arguing for history: If not skills, then what?

Skills are not the answer: further thoughts on (not) selling history

[This continues an earlier post.] To pick up where I left off: Historians, history departments, and historical organizations are -- rightly -- worried about a decline in the study of history at the undergraduate level. There is no clear evidence for any one cause driving this decline, but a mixture of structural changes to the economy and … Continue reading Skills are not the answer: further thoughts on (not) selling history