The Art of Corinne Beardsley

The Artist

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The Artist

Corinne Beardsley was born on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her love of the physical relationship with the material and the drama of something emerging in space is why she sculpts. She pursued her studies at Hartford Art School in Hartford, CT and University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth; building large scale installations of ceramic figures. After receiving her MFA in sculpture from the New York Academy of Art in 2011, she went to China on an Artist Residency with the Central Academy of Fine Art in Bejing and Shanghai University.  Corinne’s current work involves building sculptures, masks, costumes, and collaborative cardboard caves.  She currently is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore and Salisbury University in Ceramics, Drawing and Sculpture.

Artist’s Statement

With clay I explore liberation and play through a sculptural process. I manipulate clay spontaneously- slice, slump, slap, stab, smooth, rip, slather, dig, throw, roll, loop, dangle, and smear. I organize and collage the fleshy twists of slumped clay, composing these gestural preservations into facial expressions. They exist as an illusion of being a raw, undulating mound of clay and a smirking mask simultaneously. I am intrigued by how we on a primal level respond so strongly to two eyes, a nose, and a mouth. I enjoy considering how each viewer will discover faces as they are absorbed in the texture, grit of clay, and depth of the ceramic surface.

In earlier works I had been sculpting the figure representationally- aiming to express ideas of liberation and release through the female figurative form. I wanted to create a subversive alternative to the objectified representation of the female body that pervades our culture. I find liberation and freedom from those ideals through improvisational dance. I began observing the creative transformation that occurred when dancing, and liberating my body. I watched and recorded friends and fellow dancers to find those moments of unselfconsciousness, inward connection, and release. I then made realistic figurative sculptures that captured the movement and creative transformation in dancing.

In the dancing figures I was trying to express inner freedom and spontaneity in a tedious and tight process. I was loosing the liberation. In the process of creating these abstract ceramic faces I feel closer to finding the playfulness, unselfconsciousness and liberation I strive to express.

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Metal

 

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RR

 

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Sticks

 

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Self

 

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Neither Here nor There

 

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Pinkie

 

See many more works here: http://corinnebeardsley.com

Dining Around

By Bill Hanna, UMCP

One advantage of living a long life is that change can be observed and dramatic. Even restaurants! In Bethesda, for instance, back in 1965 there was one non-HotShop type restaurant; it served Chinese food. Now Bethesda reportedly has close to 200 restaurants, and all major cuisines appear to be represented – sometimes multiply. But Bethesda is a middle- upper-middle class area. What about areas that are more working class?

I headed for White Oak, Maryland. My biases led me to think that I’d only find KFC and Taco Bell and the like. But one strip mall has four Asian restaurants! I ventured into the one offering Indian food, Bombay Indian Restaurant (11229 New Hampshire Ave., 301-593-7222), expecting (yes, those same biases) KFC-India, but to my surprise the food was quite good and quite affordable. For lunch, I ordered Baigan Bharta (eggplant plus) and Chicken Tikka Masala., both under $10, plus Naan (a Tandori-prepared bread). All quite good. I look forward to researching the other three Asian restaurants, Hunan Manor, Pho Hung & Grill, and Sarku Japan. If a reader has eaten at any of these restaurants, we’d like to get assessments.
Of course, there are other quality Indian restaurants in suburban Maryland. Many. Among my favorites are Tiffin (1341 University Blvd., Takoma Park, 301-434-9200), Jewel of India (10151 New Hampshire Ave., 301-408-2200), Heritage India (4931 Cordell Ave., Bethesda, 301-656-3373), and the vegetarian Woodlands (8046 New Hampshire Ave., 301-434-4202). Check out Woodlands on a Sunday when diners in beautiful saris fill the space.

The Host

Chiken Tikka Masala and Naan bread. Credit: SteFou/Flickr

The 2014 Midterm Elections: A Brief Dissection

by Stella M. Rouse, UMCP/Government & Politics*

A decisive Republican wave swept the 2014 elections. The results mean divided government at the national level and in many states. While divided government is not unusual, especially after 1970, this power-sharing arrangement has become a greater obstacle for cooperation and productivity in government due to increased party polarization and partisan gridlock. It is unclear whether the election results were a repudiation of President Obama and Democrats or in favor of the Republican Party platform. All this leads to uncertainty about what the election outcomes mean for passing policies important to the American public over the next two years.

Prior to the 2014 elections, Democrats were confident in their ability to regroup the base constituents—young voters, single women, African Americans, Latinos—that created a winning coalition for the Party in 2012. Despite their efforts, though, Democratic campaigns this year were unable to reproduce similar turnout numbers. Nationally in 2014, voters 18-29 made up 13 percent of the electorate, down from 20 percent in 2012. Single women voted in similar numbers compared to 2012 (21 percent in 2014 versus 23 percent in 2012). However, in 2012, single women supported President Obama more than two-to-one (67 percent versus 31 percent), compared to a 60 to 38 margin for Democrats in 2014. Turnout for Latinos and African Americans was also lower. Latinos made up 8 percent of voters in 2014, compared to 10 percent in 2012 and 12 percent of the electorate was made up of African Americans, compared to 13 percent in 2012. And while turnout is usually lower in midterm year elections compared to presidential year elections, voter turnout across almost all groups this year was also lower than in 2010.

Overall, only 36.4 percent of the voting-eligible population cast ballots in the 2014 midterm elections; the lowest voter turnout of any election cycle since 1942. So although the Republican Party made significant gains, both in national and subnational contests, it is difficult to say that they did so with a broad mandate. There was a large void in enthusiasm for either party, with many voters staying home and possibly sending the message that “none of the above” was the best choice available. This does not discount a level of rejection of the President and his policies, of course, since his popularity has waned significantly over the last few years.

Elections in Maryland followed a similar narrative as those across most of the country. In a surprising outcome, Maryland voters elected Republican Larry Hogan as the state’s next governor. This was despite the fact that most polls, including the inaugural Washington Post-University of Maryland Poll, had Democrat Anthony Brown ahead of Hogan by almost double digit percentage points among likely voters as recently as mid-October. Maryland is clearly a very liberal state, but that is not the same thing as being solidly Democratic, and the national winds of change also blew over the “Old Line State”. Hogan won by seizing on voter economic anxiety and capitalizing on lower voter turnout. Many Maryland Democrats decided to stay home on Election Day. The I-95 corridor – Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Howard, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties and Baltimore City – holds most of the state’s population and determines elections in Maryland. When Governor Martin O’Malley was re-elected in 2010, he earned about 159,000 more votes in this geographical area than Brown earned this year. That’s about 15 percent of the Democratic votes that Brown missed. Specifically, in Howard County (home of his running mate Ken Ullman) where Brown expected good results, Hogan won by more than 5,000 votes.
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If elected, Anthony Brown would have been the first African-American governor of Maryland and just the third ever elected in the U.S. However, the Brown camp and the Democratic Party avoided, until very late in the campaign, making race an issue in the election. Thus, African-American voters were not mobilized as they could have been. Registered voters reflected the lack of emphasis on race throughout the campaign. Despite the historic opportunity to elect an African American governor, The Washington Post-University of Maryland Poll showed that a majority of both whites and African Americans believed it would make no difference for African Americans if either Brown or Hogan was elected governor.

Another disadvantage for Anthony Brown was his strong ties to Martin O’Malley. Brown was O’Malley’s hand-picked successor and throughout the campaign, Brown struggled to distinguish his agenda from O’Malley’s policies. According to The Washington Post-University of Maryland Poll, O’Malley’s approval rating was underwater with 41 percent approving of the job he was doing as governor and 48 percent disapproving. This represents a stark change from February 2014, when O’Malley had a 55/41 job approval/disapproval split.

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Brown relied heavily on the O’Malley connection. He felt confident he would be able to replicate or exceed Democratic voter turnout received by his predecessor. So, rather than focus on an agenda that resonated with voters, Brown’s campaign strategy relied on party affiliation and attacks on his opponent. Hogan, on the other hand, was very mindful of public sentiment about the economy and a promise to lower taxes was the cornerstone of his campaign. The Washington Post-University of Maryland Poll showed that taxes were considered one of the most important issues by likely voters. Furthermore, likely voters trusted Hogan more on the tax issue by a 47-36 difference. The promise of change and tax relief mobilized many voters, especially white voters and Republican and Independent males, in Hogan’s favor.

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In addition to winning the governorship, Maryland Republicans also gained two state senators and seven delegates. The 50 Republican members of the House of Delegates represent a new high for the Republican Party in the state. It is unclear what Republican gains in Maryland government mean for issues like higher education. Governor-elect Larry Hogan has not outlined a detailed plan to date on how his administration proposes to reduce taxes and reign in the budget. However, education advocates are nervous because they expected continuity in leadership that prioritized education from an O’Malley to a Brown administration. Uncertainty now dominates the mood for a number of state budget programs, including higher education. Hogan has promised bipartisan cooperation, but he also will feel pressure to respond to business groups and conservative voters that helped him get elected. More than anything, the 2014 elections showed that campaigns matter and that pre-election poll analyses and perceptions do not always translate into political reality.

Acknowledgements: Thank you to Jim Glenn, graduate student in the Department of Government and Politics, and Natalie Griffin, undergraduate student in Journalism and Arabic Studies, for their assistance with information for this article. Also, special thanks to Government and Politics Associate Professor Michael Hanmer for his work on the Washington Post-University of Maryland Poll.

* Assistant Director, Center for American Politics and Citizenship

 

UMBC’s Walter Sondheim Public Affairs Scholars Program: One Response to the “Quiet Crisis” in Public Service

by Arthur Johnson, Political Science/ UMBC

 

Government and public employees come under attack and even mockery all too often, whether it be in the media, popular entertainment, commentary driven by those favoring smaller government or fearing conspiracies that will deprive us of our freedoms and/or income. In a report on the challenge of recruiting bright young people for public service, Paul Volcker (Leadership for America: Rebuilding the Public Service) wrote in 1989 of a “quiet crisis”. That challenge has not diminished in the 21st century.

As UMBC provost in the late 1990s, I sought a program that would reflect UMBC’s commitment to our community and state and make a small contribution to addressing the quiet crisis. In addition, we were also defining UMBC, especially its undergraduate program, more specifically via a strategic planning exercise. We envisioned an increasing number of students engaged with the community through service learning, internships, and interactions with community and government leaders as part of their academic experience.
One result of these activities was the creation of the Public Affairs Scholars Program in 1999. This scholarship program was designed for talented students regardless of major who expressed an interest in a career in public service. We debated whether public service was to be defined by a government career or something broader. Ultimately, we came to emphasize that public service may be performed in a variety of settings, regardless of career or major, as part of our professional lives or in our personal lives. One does not have to work for government or a non-profit to do public service. We were more interested in instilling the values that drive the desire to serve others, to bring about social change, domestically or internationally.
The Public Affairs Scholars program became the Walter Sondheim Public Affairs Scholars program in 2002 when Mr. Sondheim consented to have UMBC honor him with the program. Mr. Sondheim’s career was an ideal model for illustrating the values of public service and dedication to the public interest. He is credited with leading Baltimore City school integration in the 1950s and driving the transformation of the Baltimore’s inner harbor, and he served on numerous boards and commissions as well as being an advisor and confidante to mayors, governors, and other leaders. Mr. Sondheim interacted with students in the program and became mentor to several. Today, we keep his memory alive by bringing in speakers who knew Walter and worked with him. We want our students to understand what a “life of purpose” looks like and the good it can accomplish, no matter their chosen career path.
The program begins with the freshman year of service and seminars in English and public policy. The Scholars’ freshman year is designed to begin the development of an ethos of a life time of public service reinforcing that which led them to accept membership in the program in the first place. We also want them to master and employ interdisciplinary tools and approaches to attacking our most difficult public policy issues. Our freshman class in public policy introduces the students to an interdisciplinary approach through its curriculum and by the fact that having scholars from different majors — engineering, mathematics, and pre-med as well as social work, health administration, the social sciences and humanities – eventually produces interdisciplinary discussions.
Our more than 100 alumni can be found in the urban classroom, Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, Teach for America, Habitat for Humanity, and the ministry. They work in non-profits, government at all levels, and the courtroom. They have founded organizations that represent autistic adults and transgender and bi-sexual citizens. They are studying at graduate and law schools throughout the nation and overseas. Fulbright Scholars and a Truman Scholar were Sondheim Public Affairs Scholars at UMBC.
We have developed a four-year program that combines service with the classroom, intensive advising, and cohort and whole group experiences. These efforts were based on significant pedagogical research. Not all of our efforts worked, and some became outdated. The program continues to evolve. For example, we feel the need to develop required curriculum for juniors and seniors that will allow our Scholars to put social entrepreneurship into action or to produce research that addresses a specific policy or organizational need of a government agency or local non-profit. We also hope to enhance the international aspects of the program as more students bring those career interests with them into the program.

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UMBC Sondheim Scholars aid classmates with critiques of their speeches during their Sondheim Public Affairs Scholars Seminar. Photo by Marlayna Demond for UMBC

Many university programs employ service learning or focus on leadership. The Sondheim Scholars program, however, may be different, if not unique, in that it seeks a diversity of majors and acknowledges the different ways that the public interest may be served and the variety of forms that service may take. Most of all it explicitly argues in favor of public service and the necessity of bright capable citizens committed to serving the public filling vital public roles and involved with the formulation and implementation of public policy solutions to our most difficult problems. Even if our alumni do not choose a public service career, they report that they stay involved in providing service in some form in their personal lives through volunteering, church-sponsored activities, and other charitable activities. In effect, this is a program that will keep Walter Sondheim’s memory alive for generations to come through the actions and deeds of its alumni.
While organizations such as Maryland/DC Campus Compact seek to bring organizations and programs dedicated to public service and civic engagement together, it might be of strategic value if the many USM programs designed to promote public service, instill values of democracy and leadership in students’ thinking and behavior, or to promote community service though service learning come together to share their stories, challenges, goals and other insights. Such sharing will benefit USM’s collective efforts and Maryland will be stronger for the effort.

Professors’ Book of Note: Art and Pornography

Art and pornography. Philosophical essays. 2012. Corby: Oxford University Press. Edited by Hans Maes & Jerrold Levinson
Art & Pornography
The Introduction to Art and Pornography (OUP, 2012) notes that pornography is big business. There are 420 million webpages devoted to X-rated content, 700 million DVD rentals, and more than 13,000 hardcore films released every year. The worldwide revenue is about $97,000,000,000 a year!
The book presents a series of essays which investigate the artistic status and aesthetic dimension of pornographic pictures, films, and literature, and explores the distinction between pornography and erotic art. Is there any overlap between art and pornography, or are the two mutually exclusive? If they are, why is that? If they are not, how might we characterize pornographic art or artistic pornography, and how might pornographic art be distinguished, if at all, from erotic art? Can there be aesthetic experience of pornography? What are some of the psychological, social, and political consequences of the creation and appreciation of erotic art or artistic pornography? Leading scholars from around the world address these questions, and more, and bring together different aesthetic perspectives and approaches to this widely consumed, increasingly visible, yet aesthetically underexplored cultural domain. The book, the first of its kind in philosophical aesthetics, contributes to a more accurate and subtle understanding of the many representations that incorporate explicit sexual imagery and themes, in both high art and demotic culture, in Western and non-Western contexts.
Addressing one key question, what is erotic art, Levinson writes that such art is created to induce “sexual thoughts, feelings, imaginings, or desires that would generally be regarded as pleasant in themselves.” Thus many art works by Rubens, Rodin, Picasso, and many other famous artists are erotic. But why aren’t the works pornographic? Because the latter’s intent, he argues, is also to induce “the physiological state that is prelude and prerequisite to sexual release.” Art and Pornography is rich with insights, and it’s available online and at your local open-minded book store – without having to be wrapped in brown paper.
The Back Story: “The idea of a collection of essays by contemporary philosophers on the relationship between pornography and art was the brainchild of my co-editor, Hans Maes, a young Belgian philosopher who teaches aesthetics at the University of Kent in Canterbury, and who was a postdoc of mine here in College Park in 2006. An essay I published in the journal Philosophy and Literature in 2005, called “Erotic Art and Pornographic Pictures”, and which argues that art and pornography are necessarily disjoint because of the fundamentally different receptions that they are aimed at or call for, generated a fair amount of discussion. Much of that discussion can be found in the essays in Art and Pornography, many of which take issue with the thesis just articulated. But there are many other issues addressed by the contributors to the volume, such as the feminist perspective on pornography and the tradition of the nude, the ethics of pornographic production, the fictional dimension of pornography, the role of imagination and fantasy in pornographic consumption, the voyeuristic aspect of pornography, and the special relation of pornography to photography and film.”

The Poems of Steve Matanle

The Poems
The poems in this collection are from a series I wrote in a black notebook while sitting on the small porch outside my house every night at around 3 a.m., regardless of the weather, from mid-September to mid-December, and, less frequently, from the end of December until early spring. The poems are improvisations, written without forethought, and edited only slightly. -SM

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The Selection
We wish it were possible to devote more space to the wonderful poetry of Steve Matanle, but with limitations there was a difficult selection process in consultation with Steve. The source of these poems is his book, nightbook, published by Passager Books in 2011. If you’re as moved as we were, copies are available from the press as well as the online bookstores. -BH

I
In the soft rain
falling,
I witness the descent
of angels,
climbing down
the secret ladders
of the night,
their haloes
like dampened fires.
Have they come
in answer
to the prayers
of my body,
the blue vein
arching in my wrist?

II
The raveled skeins
of roots
in the dark ground,
the stars
like flecks of gilt
and tinsel.
What does the night
want of me?
I light a match and
the wind
blows it out.
I pray my heart
does not fail.
All I want is to see
sunlight
on a bedroom wall.
The pine trees
lean into the night.

III
The stars wandering
through the night
like the distant lanterns
of a search party,
a solemn
meandering procession
of echoing cries,
The lost child’s name
like a word
no one knows how
to say without feeling
it is hallowed, and
unheard.

VII
These riffs
the stars are playing tonight
seem to be saying
bring your own tears.
I could swear it
is the graceful sound
of Lester Young
playing something lovely
for eternity,
a few notes. That’s all
it takes to make me
heartsick and happy,
sitting here in the night
trying to imagine
what it’s like to be gone.
Who knows anything
about it? Maybe
the angels. After all,
aren’t they nodding
behind each note
in gladness and despair?

XXIV
The rain, the grave
insistence of it,
like the leaden ring of a bell
canceling the visits
of angels.
Everything has the mute look
of disuse,
like an abandoned factory,
or a motel
where the vacancy sign
is an understatement.

XXX
I love the angels
when they are not
wearing wings
and are mistaken
for sleepwalkers.
I love listening
to the stars
telling me to forget
everything I know
about them
and just let the light
go through me.
I love the way the trees
stand around
as if waiting for
somebody
to ask them to dance.
I love the possibility
of a star falling
where
I happen to be looking,
the ecstasy
of seeing accidentally.
I love my ignorance
of constellations,
my inability
to see the imaginary lines
between the stars,
only distances,
immense and lonely.

XLI
Sitting on the
porch at 4 a.m.
I tell the stars,
remember me
when I am gone.
My heart like
an empty vase
that once
contained roses.

The Rhetoric of Torture, Expanded

by Jennifer Ballengee, Towson University

On May 7, 2004, the American businessman Nick Berg was beheaded on camera, in a video that immediately ran the circuit of the internet. The violent performance was the first of eleven videos of beheadings filmed and disseminated by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi between September 20 and October 7, 2004. Overtly framing Berg’s beheading as a response to the torture and abuse of Abu Ghraib prisoners by American soldiers, Zarqawi dressed Berg in an orange jumpsuit identical to those worn by the abused prisoners; the video ended with a speech in which more such deaths were threatened, in retribution for the disrespect and spilled blood of those who were mistreated in the Abu Ghraib prison.The Wound and the Witness
Although Zarqawi was publicly reprimanded by Al Qaeda and a number of Islamic scholars for the videos, the practice has recently been resurrected by the Islamic State in Syria (ISIS–also known as the Islamic State in the Levant, or ISIL), beginning with the graphic video depicting the murder of American journalist James Foley. Though the ISIS films are clearly echoing these earlier videos, the rhetorical situation in this most recent case differs in critical ways that bear examination.
There are significant differences between the 2004 videos and those being disseminated today: instead of the grainy footage and shaky hand-held camera work of the Zarqawi’s videos, these newer films feature clearer images, more complicated camera work (utilizing close-ups, pans, and sometimes multiple cameras), and sophisticated editing redolent of Hollywood action movies. Perhaps most importantly, speeches that accompany the beheadings in the ISIS films are delivered in English, clearly addressing an intended audience that is English-speaking.
Along with videos of beheadings, ISIS has been regularly producing a number of short films depicting mass executions, beatings, and explosive violence. In one such video, ISIS fighters take over an oil field, the camera cutting from running bodies to exploding buildings, as in any blockbuster action film. At the end of the film, the victorious fighters gather grinning widely, forefingers jabbing at the sky, laughing and shouting, “With the help of God almighty, we freed the power plant from the evil Bashar al-Assad Now we go to his headquarters. We’re coming to get you, Bashar!”1 Offering with their energized depictions of violence and victory the promise of more bloodshed, the films are being increasingly utilized for the recruitment of Westerners to the cause of ISIS. One of the most recent videos features French ISIS fighters burning their passports, urging attacks in France.

It is sometimes said that academic work is not relevant to contemporary understandings. Jennifer Ballengee’s work on torture is one of many examples of relevance. –ed.

Bypassing Al Jazeera or any other news outlet, the films go straight to blogs and social media2. In the films depicting the beheading of Foley and other kidnap victims held by ISIS, the prisoners wear the same orange jumpsuit, drawing a visual connection between the new films, the former videos, and, by extension, the abuses at Abu Ghraib that supposedly prompted the first the beheadings staged by Zarqawi.
The attack by ISIS on Abu Ghraib of July 2013, in which about 500 prisoners were freed (many of whom then joined forces with the Islamic State fighters), draws that connection even closer. It is now well known that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, was imprisoned for some time at Camp Bucca, another Iraqi prison run by the U.S. during the Iraq War. By means of that connection, ISIS frames its actions as serving the cause of vengeance and retribution. The video of the Foley execution, for example, pinned the blame for the action directly upon the US airstrikes upon Kurdistan that began in August 2014. (In response to the execution, the US vowed to increase airstrikes.) Likewise, ISIS is now apparently using video footage of the protests and riots in Ferguson, Missouri, which followed the Grand Jury decision on November 24, 2014, to reach out to potential American recruits; tweets that urge the cause of ISIS encourage increasing violence, at times invoking via images and words the memory of the Muslim Malcolm X.
Back in 2008 I voiced concern in my book The Wound and the Witness: The Rhetoric of Torture that the introduction of torture into political rhetoric could introduce a ripple effect difficult to control. As I argue there, “the representation of the body in pain produces a polysemy that is difficult to delimit.3” Predictably, America’s stance on torture under the Bush-Cheney regime and the accompanying debate about torture’s definition, use, and viability resulted in a surge of references to and representations of torture–particularly waterboarding–in the news media, in television and film, and in the political rhetoric leading up to the 2008 presidential election. As the orange jumpsuits in the ISIS execution videos attest, that torture remains part of the rhetorical narrative of today’s events, both in front of the cameras and in the secret prisons run by ISIS. An October 26, 2014, New York Times piece describing the treatment of Foley and other kidnap victims noted that torture, including waterboarding, was a regular part of the treatment of those hostages4. Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the U.N. have all reported that ISIS is using waterboarding and other techniques to torture prisoners.
The brutality of the ISIS beheading videos communicates more than the violent moment of decapitation; the films, in their depiction of rage and retribution, suggest a range of violent abuses of the prisoner that preceded the moment of death; and they seem to promise to the recruits they hope to persuade a wealth of violence to follow. Public executions such as these, the philosopher Michel Foucault argued, once served the general rhetorical purpose of inscribing the power of the sovereign upon the bodies of those executed 5. Yet, in a harrowingly postmodern manner, the message communicated by the ISIS beheadings far exceeds any clear boundaries.
The public sphere is no longer restricted to the presence of actual people in a central city square. These days the public sphere has moved from a specific arena of personal interaction to a virtual space, whose lack of boundaries and proliferation of data is dominated by the “image event”: an image whose popularity and iconic status allow it to function metonymically, in a kind of visual shorthand that stands in for much more complex phenomena6. Moreover the hybridity of ISIS, which combines conventional military and political strategy with terrorist methods, and whose religious designation of “caliphate” means it is not defined by geographic boundaries, makes it far from the sovereign figure that Foucault had in mind. The result of these factors is a rhetorical situation whose boundaries are undefined and expansive; the message emanating from this source thus has a viral potential. The “torture debates” that raged during the Iraq War primarily focused on the question of whether or not torture could or should be used to elicit intelligence information that might prevent the massive loss of lives7. The ISIS videos, on the other hand, present torture as a given aspect of the fight, not necessarily oriented toward any testimony or information at all, but rather part of a general rhetoric of violence itself, in all of its seductive, exciting, and destructive possibility. The result is a rhetorical message whose force is strengthened by its amorphously expansive possibility: rather than writing the power of the sovereign on the body, ISIS has built a narrative arc that ends with a mutilated body whose inhumanly violent end posits an explosive range of rhetorical possibilities.

1. Frontline, PBS, October 28, 2014.
2. Indeed, ISIS isn’t alone in this practice; as Mia Bloom noted in an August Washington Post article, a number of individuals have taken the initiative to make their own videos of the beheadings, or of themselves holding the severed heads after a beheading. The decision made by Facebook a little over a year ago to allow such films on the site (as long as the actions are condemned and not glorified) speaks to the fact that these are not isolated or rare postings. The Washington Post, August 22, 2014: http://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2014/08/22/even-al-qaeda-denounced-beheading-videos-why-the-islamic-state-brought-them-back/. Retrieved 11/25/2014.
3. pg. 134 (NY: SUNY Press, 2008).
“The Horror Before the Beheadings,” Rukmini Callimachi, NYTimes, October 26, 2014 (A1 and A14-15).
Discipline and Punish (NY: Vintage Books, 1979), see esp. pp. 3-69.
5. On the correlation of the “image event” and the proliferation of media, see Kevin Michael DeLuca and Jennifer Peeples, “From Public Sphere to Public Screen: Democracy, Activism, and the ‘Violence’ of Seattle,” in Readings on the Rhetoric of Social Protest, 2nd ed. (ed. Charles E. Morris III and Stephen Howard Browne, State College, PA: Strata Publishing, 2006 [244-265]).
4. Alan Dershowitz’s recent editorial in the Boston Globe (September 18, 2014) takes a stab at reigniting this question in the current context.

Notes on The Humanities

Digitizing

Does one really have to do a lot of counting, digitizing, to be successful in today’s world of American higher education? Let’s hope not. But there is cause for worry. Consider a small segment of Kathryn Conrad’s essay in the Chronicle of Higher Education (17 September 2014):

“A popular Tumblr site for graduate students in the humanities last year was MLAJobs, which satirized postings in the Modern Language Association’s job list. One faux job ad captured one of the many frustrations faced by those in the humanities:

“’Digital Humanities: Asst prof in American or British literature, 16th-20th century, with interest in the problematic of digital humanities. We prefer candidates who can tell us, What is digital humanities? Some familiarity with MSWord expected. Send vita and letters to …’

“The problem is that ‘digital humanities’ now appears to trump plain ol’ ‘humanities,’ particularly among those who hold the purse strings. I fear that what now matters, what legitimizes the humanities in the eyes of many ‘stakeholders,’ is that modifier: digital.”

Of course, the humanities are not the only fields being at least partially overtaken by digits. There has been a dramatic transformation in the social sciences. Once upon a time, the field of economics didn’t have much counting. Karl Marx is not the only economist who comes to mind. Of course, many major insights have come from digits, but that is not to suggest that digits are the only paths to knowledge.

Lincoln

“…What [President] Lincoln understood is that the arts and the humanities aren’t just there to be consumed and enjoyed whenever we have a free moment in our lives.  We rely on them constantly.  We need them.  Like medicine, they help us live.” (President Barack Obama, 28 July, 2014). Thanks to Bonnie Thornton Dill for calling this quote to our attention.

Notes on Money

Tuition

The Maryland System’s public universities are not listed in “The Priciest 4-Year Institutions, 2014,” but the public St. Mary’s College of Maryland ranks high with in-state tuition, fees, room, and board costing $25,754 a year. Does that seem a lot? Well, consider the Johns Hopkins alternative at $61,806. Let’s hope these high-fliers have lots of money to support the non-millionaires.

California plus

Cut-backs begun with the start of the recession have led to a national cut of state higher funding by 23% per student. So guess where the money is coming from. In California over five years, the UC system is raising tuition by 27.6% That’s a good way to crush the leading system in the country.

Regional Public Colleges plus

“Fill in the blank: Faculty members and the leadership of _____ state-college system are at odds over a proposal that aims to streamline how the institutions work, to save money, and to improve student performance through technology and administrative cooperation. That story is playing out in several states in the Northeast and Midwest, where falling enrollments and shrinking state dollars are putting an especially tight squeeze on regional colleges. In contrast to public flagships, the regional institutions have two strikes against them: They largely serve a place-bound student body, and they lack the prestige to build big endowments or research portfolios.”

The quotation is from the Chronicle of Higher Education, 28 November 2014

Work

Today, out of a total population of 319 million Americans, the USA has 108 million working in the private sector,  32 million government workers, 18 million unemployed, 93 million able-bodied people who can work but are not looking, and 69 million (mainly children, retired and disabled) who cannot work. Some specialists conclude that the US economy cannot be sustained by 34% supporting an overhead of 66%.  More people must be productively engaged in the private sector labor force for our economy to flourish. Alas, many of our graduates are either unemployed or underemployed. It is frightening to meet law school graduates selling men’s suits and English major graduates waiting on tables.

Subsidizing the Rich

“If I asked you to help pay college tuition for youngsters from wealthy families in Potomac or McLean, my guess is you would not be enthusiastic. But if you are taxed in Maryland or Virginia, you are already helping those kids out.” That’s the start of a Fred Hiatt column in the Washington Post (3 November 2014). Here are three key paragraphs:

“Flagship colleges are where the subsidy is largest. Wallace Loh, the thoughtful president at College Park, said during a recent visit to The Post that in-state tuition plus fees at College Park (now $9,400) are well below the median of peer research universities. Meanwhile, the state appropriates $19,000 for each Maryland student to help pay for [his or her] education, he said. Does this represent sound policy?

“’I think that is the million-dollar question,’ Loh responded. ‘Maryland has the highest median income in all the nation, and we give proportionately the least amount of financial aid. We have a model of low tuition and low aid. So the state is subsidizing those who can easily pay higher.’

“’Should we do a little more redistribution in order to make this opportunity available to all people, which is the great equalizer in a democracy?’ he asked. ‘I think the country is at risk if it doesn’t apply opportunity to its talented kids regardless of their income. . . especially when the face of the country is changing, when there are so many people who have come from abroad.’”

Hotel Money

A site plan has been submitted for what may be called “The Hotel at the University of Maryland”. It will be a 12-story, 295-room hotel with 57,000 square feet of retail space, and the location is university land in College Park across from the main part of the campus. Construction on the campus continues at a fairly fast pace. Will the future of universities justify the construction? Check the Fall 2024 issue of The Faculty Voice for the answer.

The For-Profits

Not only are many publics in financial and/or enrollment difficulty. For four years, there have been falling enrollments at the for-profits. The yearly declines from 2011 to 2014 have been -1.7%, -8.7%, -10.0%, and -8.1%. Will their enrollments pick up as the publics face additional tightening?

Diversity: Is Bakke Back?

Ethnic/Racial Preferences

UNC and Harvard have just been sued by the Project on Fair Representation on the grounds that affirmative action policies limit the access to these institutions by Euro-Americans and Asian-Americans. From the Project web site: “Founded in 2005, the Project on Fair Representation is a not-for-profit legal defense fund program of Project Liberty, Inc. that is designed to support litigation that challenges racial and ethnic classifications and preferences in state and federal courts. … The mission of the Project on Fair Representation is to facilitate pro bono legal representation to political subdivisions and individuals that wish to challenge government distinctions and preferences made on the basis of race and ethnicity.”

Source: http://www.projectonfairrepresentation.org

Once Jews, now Asians?

The New York Times article (25 November 2014) is entitled “Is Harvard Unfair to Asian-Americans?” The author finds, for instance, that Asians need much higher SAT scores to be accepted than do Euro-Americans. Here is the final paragraph: “It’s perfectly fair to consider extracurriculars as an important factor in admissions. But the current system is so opaque that it is easy to conceal discrimination behind vague criteria like ‘intangible qualities’ or the desire for a ‘well-rounded class.’ These criteria were used to exclude an overachieving minority in the [early days of the last century], and they serve the same purpose today. For reasons both legal and moral, the onus is on the schools to make their admissions criteria more transparent—not to use them as fig leaves for excluding some students simply because they happen to be Asian.”

Notes on Campuses

Morgan and UMBC

Morgan State University and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County will receive millions of dollars from NIH to develop ways to attract and retain more minorities in the biomedical sciences. The two universities are among 12 nationally that will receive the NIH funding over the next five years. (Baltimore Sun)

UMBC and UMCP

Two very good futbol* (*soccer) teams clashed in late November, and the underdog Baltimore County contingent upset the favored College Park players. Earlier in the season, the two teams played to a 0-0 draw. This is quite a good rivalry!

A New Salisbury Stadium

Salisbury University’s 2014 Homecoming and Family Weekend had special significance for SU athletics and its fans:  On 18 October 2014, the University unveiled the designs for its new $19 million stadium, as well as a planned $10 million renovation of its athletic fields and other facilities. The new stadium, Sea Gull Stadium, will be a considerable upgrade over the 1980 one-story cinderblock structure. “The stadium will be over 30,000 square feet,” said Matthew Groves, project manager. “The existing team building could fit into its lobby.”

This is another example of what appears to be a necessary competition among campuses for non-academic resources such as a climbing wall, fancy apartments, and new sports stadia. It’s a national phenomenon, so one cannot expect one campus below, say, Harvard and Williams, to resist. Students must be attracted, and sports is an attraction.

Notes on People

Brit

The Maryland State Department of Education, in October, honored University System of Maryland Chancellor William E. “Brit” Kirwan with its Teacher of the Year Champion for Children Award. Of course, he deserves many teaching awards; he has taught many of us that the manager of a major enterprise can be effective with a lot of kindness and understanding. Dictatorial management may be popular in many circles, from Russia on down to some universities in the USA, but that’s not what we want in Maryland. Thank goodness that’s not Brit’s way.

Utpal Pal, UMCP/Veterinary Medicine

With more than 300,000 new cases per year, according to newly revised estimates from the CDC, Lyme disease continues to be a persistent threat to public health in the United States. However, a vaccine to prevent the often devastating complications of human infection is still unavailable. Dr. Pal is a worldwide leader on the subject. And now, NIH has awarded Pal $1.5 million to continue his quest to eradicate Lyme disease. Congratulations!

Eun-Suk Seo, UMCP/Physics

Professor Eun-Suk Seo was the focal person in a multi-page report in the Washington Post Magazine (2 November 2014) – with her image on the magazine’s front cover. It’s about her work with students building a payload scheduled to launch next year to the International Space Station—the result of many years of work on cosmic rays collaborating with NASA. There is a close tie between UMCP and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center involving faculty members and students. The campus receives tens of millions of research dollars a year.

The Post article is at http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/magazine/u-md-goddard-programs-offer-students-out-of-this-world-opportunities/2014/10/30/2b5a170e-4a75-11e4-b72e-d60a9229cc10_story.html

The Peeking Professor

The scandal: Police searched Rabbi Barry Freundel’s office at Towson University in mid-October as students and campus officials agonized over the news that he—a professor at Towson—took students on field trips to his Georgetown synagogue and invited them to use a ritual bath where he is now accused of secretly recording on video unclothed women. One reaction: there are, alas, always a few misbehaving professors at large universities. We should get rid of them as evidence becomes firm unless cleansing is possible. Another: If he wants to see nude women, why doesn’t he go to the internet where (we are of course only told by distant acquaintances) plenty of photos and videos are available.

From Towson’s student newspaper, Towerlight (20 October 2014), quoting the campus Director of Communications: “Dr. Freundel has been suspended from any and all faculty duties and responsibilities, pending the outcome of that investigation and associated criminal proceedings. At this time there is no indication that these activities occurred on the Towson University campus. We are concerned about the serious nature of this matter, and we are providing support and counseling resources to members of the campus community.” The Towson president has the right to fire or suspend a faculty member “for moral turpitude, professional or scholarly misconduct, incompetence, or willful neglect of duty.” An interesting Towerlight editorial is at http://www.thetowerlight.com/2014/10/from-the-editors-desk-covering-the-barry-freundel-story.

KenYatta Rogers

A professor in the Department of Speech, Dance, and Theater (he focuses on theater) at Montgomery College’s Rocklville campus, has been honored by the Carnegie Foundation as Maryland’s Professor of the Year. In the D.C. metro area, he has worked with African Continuum Theater Company, Arena Stage, Shakespeare & Company, Woolly Mammoth Theatre, Theatre J, Source Theatre, and Washington Shakespeare Company. Check out a college video about him at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mWbAlpc76tg.

Notes on Political Change

Deregulate Colleges

“My principal goal in higher education is to deregulate it.” That’s Senator Lamar Alexander speaking. He wants to simplify student aid processes, eliminate consideration of diversity in the accreditation process, ban most scholarships that consider race/ethnicity, and more. And he will be a powerful voice in education in the incoming Senate.

Punish Colleges

Conservative think-tankers Ramesh Ponuru and Yuval Levin argue that colleges should pay back a percentage of any loans on which their graduates default. Will that be taken up by the incoming Congress? And where will the money be found by higher education institutions for the paybacks? (One visible option is to increase even further the percentage of classes taught by part-timers.)

Congressional Inquiries

Will political interference increase with the upcoming changes in Congress? We should worry. “Two years into the latest round of attacks by Congressional Republicans on federally sponsored research, an escalating effort by the House science committee to find fault with the National Science Foundation is taking a growing toll on researchers. NSF grants to some 50 professors across the country are now being investigated by the Republican-controlled committee. More than a dozen of the researchers, in comments to The Chronicle, said they had little idea what the politicians were seeking, but warned of a dangerous precedent in what they described as a witch hunt.” Maybe no stem cell research, no climate change research, certainly no studies of how likely an oil pipeline will spill and impact the environment. What about research on the untruths told by members of Congress? Source: Chronicle of Higher Education, 16 October 2014

Notes on Higher-Ed Well-Being

Why Go to College?

Our question is one that seems to be popping up with greater frequency these days. The cost of college is surely one factor, and the job market may be another. Peter Thiel, identified as an investor and entrepreneur, tackled the issue in a recent Washington Post article (23 November 2014). Here are a few of his comments:

  • Nothing forces us to funnel students into a tournament that bankrupts the losers and turns the winners into conformists. But that’s what will happen until we start questioning whether college is our only option.
  • Is college mostly about consumption? One look at a college brochure suggests that college students consume much more avidly than they invest. That’s why schools compete to attract student-consumers by furnishing a lively singles scene with plenty of time and space to party in glamorous surroundings. Or is college really insurance? Parents who despair of all the partying reassure themselves that college doesn’t have to guarantee a bright future so long as it wards off career disaster — sort of how nobody expects to make money buying car insurance.

Technology

Inside Higher Ed commissioned a survey of faculty members’ attitudes on technology. Here are a few highlights. For more, go to https://www.insidehighered.com/news/survey/online-ed-skepticism-and-self-sufficiency-survey-faculty-views-technology.

  • Virtually all faculty members and technology administrators say meaningful student-teacher interaction is a hallmark of a quality online education, and that it is missing from most online courses.
  • A majority of faculty members with online teaching experience still say those courses produce results inferior to in-person courses.
  • Faculty members are overwhelmingly opposed to their institutions hiring outside “enablers” to manage any part of online course operation, even for marketing purposes.
  • Humanities instructors are most likely to say they have benefited from the digital humanities — but also that those digital techniques have been oversold.

Athletics

Speaking to the University of Michigan faculty senate last week, Mark Schlissel, the university’s president, was candid in his assessment of the admissions process for athletes. “We admit students who aren’t as qualified,” he said. “And it’s probably the kids [whom] we admit [who] can’t honestly, even with lots of help, do the amount of work and the quality of work it takes to make progression from year to year.” His comments—made as the University of North Carolina is still in deep trouble from a high-profile academic scandal where athlete preparedness was a central issue—were perhaps too candid for some. And from another observer, Gerald Gurney, president of the Drake Group and the former president of the National Association of Academic Advisors for Athletics: “The original sin of college sports is willfully admitting deficient or unprepared students into an institution. … Admissions, specifically special admissions, is the single most problematic issue in college sports. It’s particularly troublesome with highly selective institutions.” Is it possible in one’s wildest imagination that admissions at a public institution of higher education in Maryland has been distorted to favor an athlete or other non-academic purpose?

Source of quotes: Inside Higher Ed, 19 November 2014

Let us not forget UNC, the institution that gave away thousands of good grades without requiring any work – any work! – just to keep athletes eligible. “A ‘woeful lack of oversight’ and a culture that confused academic freedom with a lack of accountability helped more than 3,100 students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill—many of them athletes—enroll and pass classes they never attended and which were not taught by a single faculty member.” (Jake New in Inside Higher Ed, 23 October 2014) Brian C. Rosenberg, the President of Macalester, thinks that UNC should lose accreditation: “Anything less would be dismissive of the many institutions whose transcripts actually have meaning.” Such prostitution by the academy surely deserves a severe sanction – which can be a warning to other campuses. The report on the UNC pollution is at http://advancingrefor.staging.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/UNC-FINAL-REPORT.pdf. Don’t read it if you avoid horror stories.

Time Teaching or…

The National Survey of Student Engagement has released its results for 2014. Here are two of many results reported in the study:

  • The more time faculty members spent trying to improve their teaching, the less time they spent lecturing in their courses and the more time they spent engaging students in discussion, small-group activities, student presentations or performances, and experiential activities.
  • Faculty members who spent more time working to improve their teaching interacted more with students and attached greater value to a supportive campus environment. They also had significantly higher learning expectations for their students and more often used effective teaching practices.

The full report is at http://nsse.iub.edu/NSSE_2014_Results/pdf/NSSE_2014_Annual_Results.pdf#page=28

Assessing Student Learning in a Multidisciplinary Undergraduate Honors Program

Kylie King Goodell, QUEST Honors Program, UMCP

Jeffrey W. Herrmann, Mechanical Engineering and Institute for Systems Research, UMCP

1. The QUEST Honors Program

The QUEST Honors Program is a multidisciplinary honors program for undergraduate students at UMCP. Students are selected from three colleges: the Robert H. Smith School of Business, the A. James Clark School of Engineering, and the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences. Approximately 90 students enter the program every academic year. Students in the program learn to apply quality management tools, improve processes, and design systems. In addition to two electives, QUEST students take three required courses (BMGT/ENES 190H, 390H, and 490H) that incorporate a variety of learning activities, including team projects in which students generate, evaluate, and recommend solutions to real-world problems in industry and government.

Like other program directors, we are interested in knowing and demonstrating that our curriculum is effective. Essentially, are QUEST students able to apply quality management tools, improve processes, and design systems? The desire to answer this question led us to develop learning outcomes.

Table 1: Map of Learning Outcomes and Assessment Mechanisms in Required Courses

Table 1: Map of Learning Outcomes and Assessment Mechanisms in Required Courses

In 2010, we organized and hosted a workshop with other multidisciplinary engineering, technology, and management (METM) programs (the workshop was sponsored by the National Science Foundation). After we drafted some initial learning outcomes during that workshop, additional discussion and editing led to eight learning outcomes (listed in Table 1), and for each one we developed four elements. These outcomes and elements were also influenced by Bloom’s taxonomy [1] and Anderson and Krathwohl’s revised taxonomy [2]. For example, outcomes relating to “knowledge” were revised to represent higher orders of thinking or doing. We mapped each learning outcome (LO) to one or more of our required courses and developed assessments and rubrics for the elements. As illustrated in Table 1, five of these learning outcomes are assessed in more than one course, and all but one are assessed by more than one instance of assessment (by more than one exam, paper, or presentation).

 

2. Learning Outcomes

Each learning outcome has four specific elements that describe specific skills that the students should be able to perform. We use rubrics to define the level of proficiency on each element. Table 2 lists the rubrics for Learning Outcome 1 as an example. The following items describe the elements of each learning outcome:

  • Learning Outcome 1: the process for selecting a tool or approach for a problem, the appropriateness of the selected tool or approach, the ability to use the selected tool or approach, and the ability to evaluate a solution.
  • Learning Outcome 2: the ability to define a specific problem, construct a prototype, generate a novel solution (innovation), and define a clear market for the innovation.
  • Learning Outcome 3: the ability to use qualitative techniques to analyze a problem, use quantitative techniques to analyze solutions, synthesize both qualitative and quantitative techniques to develop more insight, and choose an appropriate methodology.
  • Learning Outcome 4: the ability to understand client needs, select the most appropriate methodology, analyze data, and make an appropriate recommendation.
  • Learning Outcome 5: the ability to define roles within a team and be accountable, document tasks and transfer information, identify and address conflict, and define a team’s mission.
  • Learning Outcome 6: the ability to articulate thoughts and ideas clearly and correctly, convey enthusiasm, communicate concisely, directly, and logically, and describe technical concepts.
  • Learning Outcome 7: the ability to understand and decompose a complex task, define the scope of a project, allocate resources efficiently, and anticipate and mitigate project risks.
  • Learning Outcome 8: the ability to listen, understand, and reflect a message, communicate with respect, maintain appropriate personal appearance, recognize ethical issues, and act on ethical principles.

 

Table 2: Rubric for Learning Outcome 1:  Apply quality management tools, improve processes, and design systems.

Table 2: Rubric for Learning Outcome 1: Apply quality management tools, improve processes, and design systems.

3. Assessment Process

The assessment process evaluated the 32 elements of the learning outcomes in a variety of ways, including evaluations of presentations and papers and surveys of faculty advisors and representatives from our corporate partners. These evaluations were conducted by faculty and staff members, students who served as team mentors, and alumni who attended class sessions to give feedback on presentations. These assessments were not used for grading, though some materials (like presentations and reports) were used for both grading and assessment.

We are currently using the following process for learning outcomes assessment (LOA). Before each semester, the program leadership and course instructors meet to review the LOA plan for each course and determine the timing of assessments. Assessments are assigned to faculty and staff members, and students on the program’s Curriculum Review Committee (CRC). At the beginning of the semester, the CRC meets to review the LOA plan and assignments. During the semester, the CRC members complete the assessments as students complete activities, presentations, exams, and reports. Electronic forms based on the rubrics automate the data collection task. Each month, the program leadership and course instructors meet to discuss the assessments completed so far and to identify opportunities to address areas where student performance is weak by reviewing material or including additional practice before the end of the semester. At the end of the semester, the CRC meets to review the assessment data and course activities and to discuss opportunities to enhance the courses and improve the LOA plan for the next semester.

 

4. Results

During the Spring 2014 semester, the elements of the learning outcomes were evaluated using rubrics like those presented in Table 2. For each type of document or presentation, we created a histogram that shows, for each element, the number of evaluations at each level of performance: (4) Advanced, (3) Proficient, (2) Developing, and (1) Unacceptable. Because these evaluations use an ordinal scale, we summarized the data using counts instead of means. Figure 1 displays one such chart, the evaluation of the final presentations in BMGT/ENES 190H.

Assessment of the elements of Learning Outcome 1 from the BMGT/ENES 190H final presentation.

Figure 1. Assessment of the elements of Learning Outcome 1 from the BMGT/ENES 190H final presentation.

The relative performance on the 32 elements was determined by first aggregating all of the assessments on each learning outcome to determine, for each element, the number of evaluations in which performance was Advanced (which we denote as      na), the number of evaluations in which performance was Proficient (np), and the total number of evaluations (nt). Note that the total number of evaluations also include the evaluations in which performance was Developing and the evaluations in which performance was Unacceptable.

Then, for each element, the following two quantities were computed: e1and e2if e3. The first ratio indicates the fraction of all evaluations (on that element) that were Advanced or Proficient. The second ratio indicates the fraction of the Advanced and Proficient elements that were Advanced. If, for some element, all of the evaluations were Advanced, then both ratios would equal 1. If, for some element, all of the evaluations were Proficient, then the first ratio would equal 1, but the second would equal 0. If, for some element, one-fourth of the evaluations were Advanced, another one-fourth were Proficient, and the remainder were Developing or Unacceptable, then the first ratio would be 0.5, and the second ratio would be 0.5.

Figure 2 depicts the performance of all 32 elements using these two ratios. The abscissa (horizontal axis) measures the first ratio, and the ordinate (vertical axis) measures the second ratio. The symbols represent the different learning outcomes. The results show that the elements for Learning Outcomes 2 and 3 had the lowest values of e1, which means that fewer teams (as a proportion of those evaluated) had evaluations that were Advanced or Proficient.

 

The relative performance of the 32 elements of the learning outcomes (LO1 to LO8) based on the assessments collected during the Spring 2014 semester.

Figure 2.The relative performance of the 32 elements of the learning outcomes (LO1 to LO8) based on the assessments collected during the Spring 2014 semester.

When we examined the change in the performance of the elements from one academic year to the next, we saw that the performance of the elements in Learning Outcome 1 increased (both ratios increased), but the performance of the elements in Learning Outcome 2 decreased (both ratios decreased). We believe that these changes reflected changes to BMGT/ENES 190H that emphasized the use of quality management tools (Learning Outcome 1), which reduced the time available for product development (Learning Outcome 2).

 

5. Future Plans

Comprehensively assessing its learning outcomes is necessary for a program to identify shortcomings and improve curricula and other activities [3, 4]. Because students in the QUEST Honors Program learn about quality management and process improvement, it is particularly appropriate that we have a data-driven quality management system to guide curriculum improvement.

After conducting these assessments and considering their effectiveness, we have identified some opportunities to improve our assessment process. Some evaluators may have assessed students relative to their expected performance (that is, a reviewer may hold lower standards of proficiency for sophomores in BMGT/ENES 190H than for seniors in BMGT/ENES 490H). The evaluators need to understand the purpose of learning outcome assessment and how it differs from grading student work. The evaluators need to have a common understanding of what level of performance corresponds to the different levels on each element. The rubrics also need to be clearer so that consistent evaluations can be obtained from a number of different evaluators.

The assessment process used material from all three required courses and involved a variety of evaluators, including students, alumni, faculty, and staff. We have developed assessment techniques that can be enhanced and used again, and we have selected ways for analyzing and reporting the results. These results demonstrate that our students have the skills that they have practiced and provide insights into how we can improve our curriculum.

Acknowledgements

This article is based on material previously published in Goodell and Herrmann [5], which will also appear in Goodell and Herrmann [6].

The ideas, support, and assistance provided by our colleagues (especially Nicole Coomber and Joe Bailey) and the program students and alumni are greatly appreciated. The METM program workshop was funded by the National Science Foundation (grant DUE-0958700).

 

References

  1. Bloom, B.S., Krathwohl, D.R., and Masia, B.B., 1956, Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: The Classification of Educational Goals, D. McKay, New York.
  2. Anderson, L.W, and Krathwohl, D.R., 2001, A Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching, and Assessing: A Revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, Longman, New York.
  3. Nitko, A.J., and Brookhart, S.M., 2007, Educational Assessment of Students, Pearson Education, Inc., Upper Saddle River, New Jersey.
  4. Royse, D., Thyer, B.A., and Padgett, D.K., 2006, Program Evaluation: An Introduction, Wadsworth, Cengage Learning, Belmont, California.
  5. Goodell, K.K., and Herrmann, J.W., 2014, Assessing the Learning Outcomes of a Multidisciplinary Undergraduate Honors Program, Proceedings of the 2014 Industrial and Systems Engineering Research Conference, Y. Guan and H. Liao, eds., Montreal, Canada, June 1-3, 2014.
  6. Goodell, K.K., and Herrmann, J.W., 2014, Learning Outcomes for a Multidisciplinary Undergraduate Honors Program: Development, Measurement, and Continuous Improvement, under review for Quality Approaches in Higher Education.

Dorothy Parker’s Buried in Baltimore?!

By Jon Shorr, UBaltimore

“Where’s Dorothy Parker’s grave?” my Cape-Cod-based travel writer sister asked me. “I’m writing a piece for the Globe about literary Baltimore.”

 

It didn’t take me too long to find out for her that Parker’s ashes were buried in a little garden at NAACP headquarters in northwest Baltimore. But to find them, I had to know that she was buried in Baltimore, just as I had to know that John Dos Passos and Ogden Nash had lived here and that Dashiell Hammett used to work for the Pinkerton Detective Agency at 1 N. Calvert Street, the building with the cement falcons mounted over the doorway, and that Zora Neale Hurston had an appendectomy at Maryland General Hospital during the years she lived in Baltimore. Lots of people know that Edgar Allan Poe and H.L. Mencken and Tom Clancy and Barry Levinson lived in Baltimore. But who’d know to look in Baltimore for Walter Lord (A Night to Remember, the definitive book about the Titanic) or Upton Sinclair, who exposed the horrors of the meatpacking industry in The Jungle, or Jerry Lieber—he of “you ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog” and “goin’ to the chapel of love” fame?

Baltimore is warm but pleasant. I love it more than I thought – it is so rich with memories – it is nice to look up the street and see the statue of my great uncle [Francis Scott Key] and to know Poe is buried here and that many ancestors of mine have walked in the old town by the bay. I belong here, where everything is civilized and gay and rotted and polite. And I wouldn’t mind a bit if in a few years Zelda and I could snuggle up together under a stone in some old graveyard here. That is really a happy thought and not melancholy at all. –F.Scott Fitzgerald

With the exception of Frank Shivers’s wonderful book, Maryland Wits and Baltimore Bards, it appeared that there was no easy way to get information about writers that had called Baltimore home. And here I was, a member of the University of Baltimore’s English department (now the Klein Family School of Communications Design); it seemed we were the obvious place to host such a clearinghouse.

So with the help of a small university grant to pay a few students during the Summer of 2007, we created a web site, the Baltimore Literary Heritage Project (baltimoreauthors.ubalt.edu). We had great plans for it: the short bios came first. Next was going to be the driving tours, where, for example, you could follow the GPS directions to F.Scott Fitzgerald’s house on Park Ave. and listen to an excerpt from Tender Is the Night, which he worked on while he lived there. And it was going to grow from there. Students designed, researched, and wrote most of the copy. We ran out of money before it was finished, so now we rely on the occasional intern and the kindness of strangers to continue building it out.

How the stomachs of Baltimore survived is a pathological mystery. The repertoire for breakfast, beside all the known varieties of pancake and porridge, included such things as ham and eggs, broiled mackerel, fried smelts, beef hash, pork chops, country sausage, and even—God help us all!—what would now be called Welsh rabbit.   –H.L. Mencken

Soon after, someone invited me to talk about the site at the Baltimore Book Festival. It was then that I heard the small writing teacher voice in the back of my head saying, “Show, don’t tell!” So we put together a program of short excerpts of work by Dead Baltimore Authors, read by UB faculty and staff members, alumni, and local performers. In 2010 as part of the opening celebration of The Fitzgerald, a public-private partnership that houses restaurants, apartments, a UB parking garage, and a Barnes and Noble bookstore, we presented an Evening with Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, focusing on material related to their time in Baltimore, and read by people with ties to the Fitzgerald: the headmistress of Bryn Mawr School which Scottie Fitzgerald attended, the CEO of Sheppard Pratt Hospital where Zelda was treated for mental illness, two Baltimore City Councilpeople in whose districts the Fitzgeralds had lived, etc. Last year, we presented revised Dead Authors and Fitzgerald readings at UB and at Baltimore’s Enoch Pratt Free Library, this time supplemented with projected images of the authors, their houses, schools, graves, etc. In addition to UB students, faculty and staff members, and friends and Pratt event regulars, there were high school teachers and their students, elderly women who’d lived doors away from some of the writers, and visitors to Baltimore who found their way to the midtown events after seeing the reading notices posted on the state Arts Calendar.

He has been in business in Baltimore, and before and before he was in business in Baltimore, he was not in business; he was not in business before he was in business in Baltimore. –Gertrude Stein

I still get email every couple months from random people who’ve stumbled into the Baltimore Literary Heritage Project web site. Sometimes they’re Ph.D. students or scholars from Brussels or Capetown or somewhere hoping that we know the source of some obscure piece of information about a writer around whom they’re building their careers. Sometimes they’re writing to correct a piece of information in one of the bios on our site: the daughter of Edith Hamilton’s adopted son, for example, wrote to us recently to tell us that she has “pictures of my dad and Edith on the steps of the Parthenon in Athens” taken years before the date we’d found for her first trip to Greece. Sometimes they’re people planning visits to town—either to a conference or on a vacation—wondering if we can tell them, for example, if Dashiell Hammet’s elementary school is still standing (it’s not). And sometimes they’re Baltimore area English teachers thanking us for the resource for their students.

Over the past couple years, UB has collaborated with the Maryland State Arts Council, the Maryland Humanities Council, City Lit, and Baltimore Heritage to develop a print map, web site, and mobile app for walking tours of literary Baltimore (http://explore.baltimoreheritage.org/tour-builder/tours/show/id/12#.VAOK3haOAVs).

If you’re at this year’s Baltimore Book Festival, stop by the Ivy Bookstore tent Sunday at 3:00 and listen to Russell Baker’s description of his tall tale-telling Uncle Harold, or maybe a sonnet by Western High School English teacher Lizette Woodworth Reese, which poet Amy Lowell said was “as fine as any by Elizabeth Barrett Browning,” or maybe (depending on how the Orioles are doing) Frank Deford’s tribute to Cal Ripken.

 

*Dr. Jonathan Shorr, former director of the University of Baltimore’s School of Communications Design, teaches various writing, media, and literature courses and directs the university’s interdisciplinary studies major.

Attention Span Essay

Carl Sessions Stepp, UMCP/Journalism

I once devoted a year to reading Proust, and I recently fell in love with my grandchildren instantaneously, in a zillionth of a second, on first sight. I look at each of these quite different experiences as an efficient and effective use of my time.

Most of us recognize that some profound messages take hold quickly and others need time to incubate. But it also seems obvious that modern communication increasingly favors the quick message.

This development raises important issues about depth and breadth, seriousness and superficiality, and of course about teaching and learning.

This summer at a professional conference, I served on a panel discussing “the history of our attention span.” The point of departure was obvious. Things are speeding up. Professors, like almost everyone else, are expected to communicate to suit the Twitter generation. Goodbye, lectures; welcome, rubrics, clickers, listicles – and the near-universal admonitions to vary our teaching styles every few minutes.

Elsewhere, too, the trend manifests itself. In my field of journalism, according to a Washington Post report, news services like the Associated Press and Reuters are advising their writers to limit typical story lengths to 300 to 500 words. Otherwise, an AP executive explained to the Post, “We don’t do enough distilling and honing, and we end up making our readers do more work.”

It is tempting but unhelpful to frame the matter as a dichotomous rivalry: short spans versus long ones. In fact, though, too much concern with time obscures the point.

Modes of communication aren’t ends but means. It isn’t the quantity of time spent that matters most. It’s the quality of reward gained.

Few would dispute that the rise of audio, video and digital messages vastly enhanced the spread of information and knowledge. The emergence of visual culture, especially, revolutionized learning and retention (think of the images of 9/11 still in your head).

My students are better informed sitting in class, with their supposedly surreptitious smart phones beeping with news alerts, than I was at their age, waiting for the evening newscast or the next day’s newspaper.

We’re fortunate to have multiple ways to send and receive messages.

The real issue is tactical. How should we select from and balance the repertoire of available communication methods? And the real worry is epistemological. Will we lose something irreplaceable if the slower, more nuanced methods become marginalized?

As with many seemingly contemporary concerns, this one isn’t new either.

Proust himself complained about the “fresh triviality” of news squeezing out great literature. He suggested that we turn our reading upside down and have a great work of literature, instead of a newspaper, delivered to our homes each morning. Then occasionally we would dip into news and gossip.

In her poem “Tell all the truth but tell it slant” (itself an extraordinary example of economy in communication), Emily Dickinson warned against dumping too much information too soon on the unready. “The truth must dazzle gradually,” she concluded.

On the journalists’ side, legendary publisher William Randolph Hearst, a century or so ago, took the same position as today’s Associated Press. “Our readers are not paid to work; we are,” he said. “They want us to say whatever we have to say briefly and interestingly. Nobody likes a long article any more than they like a long speech.”

Personally, I have benefited from both the slow-developing and the quick. I was influenced not only by Proust (a long but life-changing year of reading) but also by Emerson, whose writing style was entirely different, almost blog-like. Emerson is gainfully read sentence by sentence. Dipping into an essay or journal entry for 15 minutes almost always pays off.

It is probably trite to say that we benefit from a blend of learning styles, but it is a key truth worth safeguarding.

As I watch my children and students, I find myself somewhat optimistic. I envy the speed with which they send and receive information, and I try to integrate those habits and opportunities into my teaching.

But it also seems clear that they often will devote time to projects that require more investment, whether reading Harry Potter or binge-watching on Netflix. I recently encountered a young person reading Donna Tartt’s 750-plus-page The Goldfinch page by page on a smart phone screen.

Our duty, then, is to keep challenging them with complex as well as rapid-fire messages, without belittling the power of either type.

When I looked up Proust on Amazon recently, it still ranked as number 65 on one of the site’s literary lists, and it carried the message, “only 15 left in stock…order soon.”

Something about that reassured me.

 

The Art of Patrick M. Craig

Statement

These paintings reflect my ongoing fascination with abstracted, invented forms, spaces and composition variations. They present organic or geometric combinations along with spatial and cinematic illusionistic effects designed to attract and invite speculation. The titles are not clues; rather they are departure points meant to stir subjective connections. Each work presents a unique invention with its own vigor and allegorical reference. The titles of the four works presented here are Atoll, Float, Pedestal, Strung, and Swell.

Atoll

Atoll

Swell

Swell

Float

Float

Strung

Strung

Pedestel

Pedestel

 

Biography

Patrick M. Craig received his Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Cincinnati, and earned his BFA from Western Michigan University. He currently teaches painting and drawing at the University of Maryland. His gallery representations have included Gallery Plan B and Gallery K, Washington D.C., Gallery B.A.I. in New York City and in Barcelona, Spain, along with Gallery ARS LONGA in Milanowek, Poland. His artworks reside in many collections such as The Sidney and Francis Lewis Collection, the Washington Convention Center, George Mason University, and George Washington University, along with the corporate collections of IBM, KPMG, Sallie Mae, The Artery Corporation, and The Washington Post.

Craig has been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions in galleries, museums and art centers throughout the U.S., including the American University Museum at the Katzen Art Center, Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Chrysler Museum, St. Lawrence University, Marin MOCA and many others. He has also exhibited internationally in Poland, Brussels, West Germany, Ukraine, Italy, Japan, Spain, The Soviet Union, and the United Arab Emerites. The most notable of these exhibitions was at the Forum Artis Museum – Montese Contemporary Art, Modena, Italy, the Saitama Museum of Contemporary Art in Japan, and the Washington/Moscow Artists Exchange at the Tretyakov Museum in Moscow to which he traveled as a featured artist. He also traveled as an invited artist to the United Arab Emerites’ first group exhibition of American art at the Sharjah Museum.

His artworks has been favorably reviewed in many publications, including Art News, New Art Examiner, The Washington Post, Washingtonian magazine, and The Cincinnati Inquirer. He has been the recipient of several fellowships including the Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award in 1989, 1992, 1997 and 2000, and the Lilly Fellowship for Teaching Excellence.

 

*The artist may be contacted – and other works of art seen – at www.patrickcraig.com.