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Archive for April, 2009

Mark C. Taylor, the chairman of the religion department at Columbia, offers his ideas to shake up the university system with a little (okay a lot) of pluralism amongst other approaches.

The division-of-labor model of separate departments is obsolete and must be replaced with a curriculum structured like a web or complex adaptive network. Responsible teaching and scholarship must become cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural…

It would be far more effective to bring together people working on questions of religion, politics, history, economics, anthropology, sociology, literature, art, religion and philosophy to engage in comparative analysis of common problems.

Abolish permanent departments, even for undergraduate education, and create problem-focused programs…It is possible to imagine a broad range of topics around which such zones of inquiry could be organized: Mind, Body, Law, Information, Networks, Language, Space, Time, Media, Money, Life and Water.

These bold demands (and others in the article) may seem extreme, but as money grows tighter and more potential students start second guessing the enormous price tags that accompany a graduate and even undergraduate education, universities may start implementing these or similar ideas.

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Name That Currency

Matt posted a couple of weeks ago about the Michiana Community Currency. Well, it’s time to put the name to a vote, and you can put in your two cents (pun intended) here.

My personal favorite (because I hate forced acronyms, except QUEST of course)- Michiana Bridges.

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Survival Strategies

The NYTimes has a new section where viewers can post recommendations on how to cope with the economic downturn.  Here are a few examples:

Ditch your cable box and consume your media for free on the Internet over “borrowed” WiFi.

Actually wear the clothes you own (OMG).

Make a bag lunch and add two pieces of fruit & a sank bar and some tea bags. You’ll save 10 to 15 bucks a day = 200 to 300 dollars a month!

Have rich friends.

And my favorite:

I married a man whose house is already all paid for…

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From Wooster:

NYSAT was organized as a reaction to the hundreds of billboards that are not registered with the city, and therefore are illegal. While illegal, these violations are not being prosecuted by the City of New York, allowing the billboard companies to garner huge profits by cluttering our outdoor space with intrusive and ugly ads.  After the illegal spots were white washed, late in the day yesterday over eighty artists transformed these spaces into personal pieces of art.

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More and more adults (and college graduates) are moving back home, according to this article from the Washington Post:

The recession, loss of jobs and homes, high cost of living and growing debt are forcing adults to turn back to their parents for financial help. These boomerang kids, as sociologists and psychologists call them, are the latest change in the ever-shifting landscape of the American family. Intergenerational households — parents, their children and sometimes grandparents — were common in the 19th century. That changed early in the 20th century, when sons and daughters married younger — sometimes in their teens — and quickly moved out to create their own households. Then the Great Depression forced families back together. They once again grew apart during various lush economic periods that followed.

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From the AP:

While businesses around the world are hunkering down for survival, the Italian mob is living a golden moment.  Italy’s various organized crime syndicates – often lumped together colloquially as Mafia Inc. – are gobbling up gas stations, muscling in on supermarket franchises, making loans to cash-starved businesses, taking over trattorias and acquiring buildings in swank neighborhoods in Rome and Milan, investigators say.

Big money:

The Rome-based Eurispes think tank has estimated that in 2008, “Mafia Inc.” earned euro130 billion (then $167 billion), or about 8 percent of Italy’s GDP, from its criminal activities, nearly half of that from drug trafficking.  Eurispes, which analyzes social, economic and criminal trends, said loansharking brought in an estimated euro12.6 billion ($17 billion) of that income. It calculated that some 180,000 merchants and other businessmen got their loans, directly or indirectly, through organized crime in Italy.

And it’s not just drugs:

Trafficking in fake designer goods – which investigators suspect the Camorra is also peddling in the United States, France, Britain and Germany – is now becoming more profitable for the Neapolitan syndicate that dealing in cocaine and hashish, said Mainolfi, the customs and tax police general.  He has calculated that for every euro it costs to manufacture the counterfeit designer goods, the Camorra earns 10 euros, while for every euro spent to run drug trafficking, it earns six or seven euros.

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A reader of this blog emailed me the following list, which compiles all the “ND experts” on Notre Dame’s News and Information website. The list has a number of professors from a wide array of departments. And some economists, too.

Who are the economists?

Kasey Buckles

William Evans

Thomas Gresik

Richard Jensen

Nelson Mark

Christopher Waller

Hmm…all from the Department of Economics and Econometrics- seems a little suspicious, no?

I’m told that there are two factors in someone being on this list: how aggresively does NewsInfo pursue them, and how much desire do they have to be on this list and be consulted. I have a hard time believing the lack of ECOP faculty is a result of their disinterest in public discourse or their ivory tower-ness. Faculty from both departments regularly appear on campus panels and seminars, and show up in local newspapers. I have a hard time believing that, across the board, ECOP faculty are aggresively pursued by NewsInfo and simply turning them down because they don’t want exposure. The question, then, is who has instructed NewsInfo to approach one department’s economists and not the other’s?

One final note: I’ve posted before about the macro work of a couple experts on the above list, and I’d just like to link there with one comment: maybe ECOP expert opinions would be more in touch with reality, especially with regards to the current crisis.

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