Archive for February 5th, 2010

Students at Notre Dame managed to put the dissolution of ECOP high on the agenda at the Board of Trustees meeting yesterday. Student government representatives placed this issue second on their agenda, after the GLBT issues I’ve blogged about before. Here’s The Observer’s report:

 Students are concerned by College of Arts and Letters Dean John McGreevy’s lack of transparency as he moves to dissolve the Department of Economics and Policy Studies, student government chief of staff Ryan Brellenthin said.

“The decisions were made without student input and the process was not revealed to the student body,” Brellenthin said.

“It was almost as if they were hoping students weren’t paying attention,” he said.

Students are concerned that closing the department will narrow the economics education at Notre Dame, Brellenthin said. They are also concerned that this decision sets a precedent that students will be excluded from future academic decisions

“Very little attention has been focused on the 400 students who are economics majors,” Brellenthin said. “No efforts have been made to engage student opinion on the topic.”

Schmidt said he is an economics major, but he first heard about the plans to dissolve the department from The Observer.

“We weren’t told about it,” Schmidt said.

The dissolution of Economics and Policy Studies will be voted on at the next meeting of the Academic Council, Brellenthin, who is one of the four students who serve on the academic council, said. “We can make statements against the dissolution, and we certainly will, but it has been on the agenda to dissolve before we could put it on the agenda to discuss,” he said.

Brellenthin said faculty members are also concerned about the dissolution of the department.

“They are asking what will happen if professors who teach something that isn’t the mainstream theory are pushed out,” he said.

“The fear is that the academic council is just going to be a rubber stamp” on McGreevy’s decision to dissolve the department, Schmidt said.

One trustee expressed her surprise after Weber ranked the dissolution of the department as the second most critical issue for students, but the issue is about students’ wanting to be respected, according to Brellenthin.

Brellenthin cited reports that McGreevy described the dissolution of the department as “too sensitive an issue for debate.”

“We respect the administration and the professors as top-tier educators, but we want to be respected as top-tier students,” Brellenthin said.

It may be too late, as the Academic Council meets in three weeks. However, as I indicated in my open letter, it is imperative that these issues not be swept under the rug, whatever the outcome. Clearly, the students involved should be praised for their willingness to speak truth to power on an issue that sometimes seems less relevant or pressing than other concerns.

The Faculty Senate also took up the issue on Tuesday, passing two resolutions. The first, which passed with only a couple objections, held that faculty should not be separated from their department except under extreme circumstances. The second, which passed with a slightly narrower margin, said that the reconstituted Department of Economics should allow any former members of that dept (i.e. pre-split) to rejoin if they so choose.

The writing has been on the wall for a while, but we can hope that the tension and protest being raised results in an outcome that is better for students and for pluralism.

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As two feet of snow barrel towards the DC metro area, I leave you with some weekend reading in advance of my early dismissal from work. Enjoy the weekend!

Serious Links:

Mel Watkins reviews John Cassidy’s New Yorker piece “How Markets Fail” (MRZine)

Questions and Answers about Chartalism (Rogue Economist Rants)

David Ruccio points to a distinctly non-capitalist food co-op. (Anticap)

Glenn Greenwald questions state assassination powers (Salon)

Amy Goodman remembers Howard Zinn (Truthdig)

Juan Pablo Pardo-Guerra asks “whither mainstream economics?” (RWER)

A long and persistent middle class squeeze (EPI)

How GDP betrays the economy (CrisisMaven)

Ta-Nehesi Coates probes the deeper meanings of fast food and systemic racism

Demand question time in Congress

Diversions (Saints/Lil’ Wayne edition)

“I Will Forever Remain Faithful: How Lil Wayne helped me survive my first year teaching in New Orleans” by David Ramsey

The New Yorker profiles Lil Wayne

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