Blue Cities Battle Red States

“When Denton, Texas, passed a fracking ban in November 2014, it was national news. The story seemed out of a movie, a David-and-Goliath tale in which a scrappy band of citizens goes up against big industry and wins. Located in the heart of oil and gas territory, the town is hardly a liberal bastion; its state representative is a staunch conservative, and among its biggest annual events is the North Texas State Fair and Rodeo.

But residents were watching gas drills come closer and closer to their parks and schools. Adam Briggle, a professor at the University of North Texas in Denton, found himself attending more and more meetings as he tried to understand the environmental impact of fracking, a process used to extract oil and natural gas from the ground…”

Read more here.

Save our Public Universities

Marilynne Robinson has a beautiful essay on the power and purpose of public higher education and the humanities in the March issue of Harpers:

“The Citizen had a country, a community, children and grandchildren, even — a word we no longer hear — posterity. The Taxpayer has a 401(k). It is no mystery that the former could be glad to endow monumental libraries, excellent laboratories, concert halls, arboretums, and baseball fields, while the latter simply can’t see the profit in it for himself.”

Read more here.

Controversial Philosopher Says Man and Machine Will Fuse into one Being

“So-called “new tribalism” is a virtually inevitable reaction to the progressive individualization of modernity. It tries to generate synthetic social bonds where the natural ones have been broken. Only future historical experience can show whether such bonds can be produced without regressive fictions.”

Read more here.

Le séminaire Ilya Prigogine « Penser la science » est organisé par lâ€â„¢Université Libre de Bruxelles afin de promouvoir échanges et débats appelés à nourrir une culture des sciences – de toutes les sciences, dans leur diversité vivante.

What does Engaged Philosophy look like?

“John Dewey wrote that the test of the value of any philosophy is whether it “end[s] in conclusions which, when they are referred back to ordinary life-experiences and their predicaments… make our dealings with them more fruitful.” Philosophers who aren’t self-consciously engaged in efforts to address the practical and social problems of their communities are, at best, confused about the value of their enterprise. At worst, they reduce philosophy to “so much nimble or severe intellectual exercise… a sentimental indulgence for a few.”

Bertrand Russell thought otherwise. The interests that inspire conceptions of philosophy like Dewey’s, he thought, “are so exclusively practical… that [they] can hardly be regarded as really touching any of the questions that constitute genuine philosophy… The changes suffered by minute portions of matter on the earth’s surface are very important to us as active sentient beings; but to us as philosophers they have no greater interest than other changes in portions of matter elsewhere.” Even worse, Russell thought, philosophers who use their professional competence in pursuit of moral or social edification, rather than in “a disinterested search for truth” are “guilty of a kind of treachery”: they make philosophy both insincere and trivial.

The recent Philosophy & Engagement Conference at the University of Pennsylvania was an attempt to adjudicate (or, in some cases, transcend) this tension: to articulate or to demonstrate what properly “engaged” philosophy might look like. But, more interestingly, it was, itself, an attempted exercise in philosophical engagement. Talks by professional philosophers like Kyle Powys Whyte of Michigan State and Lynne Tirrell of UMass-Boston were featured alongside presentations of original philosophical work by students from Philadelphia’s public high schools, developed in partnership with graduate student coaches through UPenn’s Philosophy Outreach Program. (Please findthe full conference program here.)”

Read more here.

What’s the Point of the PhD Thesis?

“Single-author tomes seem outdated when much of research has become a multidisciplinary, team endeavour. Research is becoming more open, but PhD assessments can lack transparency: vivas are sometimes held behind closed doors. Some PhD theses languish, little-used, on office shelves or in archives…”

Read more at: http://www.nature.com/news/what-s-the-point-of-the-phd-thesis-1.20203.

Mapping contributions for a new impact agenda in the humanities

The humanities are driven both by epistemological and normative interests in a range of topics resulting in a complex topography of the public value of the humanities. But for the most part, its di…

Source: Impact of Social Sciences – Real impact is about influence, meaning and value: Mapping contributions for a new impact agenda in the humanities.