(and what that can teach us today)
It’s tempting to speculate about how COVID-19 will disrupt and transform our future as teachers and scholars in higher education. I think a longer view may provide a useful corrective and hopeful possibilities.
For the past few weeks, in Canada as in much of the world, university instruction has moved entirely online as governments struggle to limit the spread of the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.
In many universities the traditional model of tenure-track and tenured faculty — who balance research, teaching, administrative responsibilities, and varying degrees of public engagement — is under threat. The causes are complicated, and the longer-term consequences unclear, but there is one troubling dynamic that doesn’t receive enough attention: the loss of tenure is a loss of diverse cross-generational expertise.
Building research strengths is a long game, and what seems a frivolous and indulgent topic to one generation (‘who cares about medieval understandings of gender?’ ‘what on earth is an imaginary number?’) may turn out to be vitally important in the…
We’re coming up on two years since the North American release of “Arrival,” director Denis Villeneuve’s and screenplay writer Eric Heisserer’s haunting cinematic elaboration of Ted Chiang’s thoughtful “Story of Your Life.” The film (and the story) definitely keep their beauty, wonder, and sadness over time and multiple viewings (readings). Watching the film again, I’m revisiting some thoughts I’d struggled to put together when I first encountered Chiang’s tale, and then Villeneuve’s interpretation. The film is still extraordinary.
I suppose these reflections amount to spoilers, so if you haven’t yet read the story or seen the film, fair warning.
Future Notes on a Political Archeology of Trump’s America
A popular story about the rise of President Donald Trump in 2016 goes something like this: NAFTA and globalization gutted the industries and places that once made America great. Making America great again required, at the very least, restoring those places and industries to their former status as generators of middle-class jobs, offering dignity and security to (overwhelmingly but not exclusively white) American workers in places like Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin.
It was more complicated than that, obviously, and in retrospect the Trump years were at once strangely exhilarating and deeply…
ON August 1st and 2nd, 2016, I crossed Lake Ontario, my first major marathon swim: a tiring, challenging, wonderful experience with an extraordinary team.
Starting from Queen’s Royal Park in Niagara-on-the-Lake at 8:38pm on Monday, August 1st, we arrived at Marilyn Bell Park at 3:13pm on Tuesday, August 2nd. We had superb conditions: a still, starry night after a beautiful sunset, riding the push out of the Niagara River, then a calm, sunny day as we approached Toronto. The official time ratified by SSO was 18hrs 35min 8sec. Slower than I’d hoped, but faster than I’d feared! …