Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Explore Latin America

Explore Latin America with all your senses taking one (or two) of these
courses on Latin America offered in the Fall 09:

- "Drums and Dreams of Liberation: Latin American Music as Text"

To experience this class before you take it go to:
Username: student 09
Password: honors09


- The Magic and the "Reel": Literature and History in Latin American
Cinema, with student teacher Katya Hafich

More about this class at:

Friday, April 10, 2009

Combatting the Cost of Texts

In response to current economic spasms, Dr. Otero has asked that all UHP instructors try to keep the cost of books down to $50 per course or less. This means that we will be relying more on other ways to access texts, including E-Reserves and hardcopies of course readers which can be purchased through the UHP office. Jenny has also suggested that we might even provide course readers on disk, which would be cheaper than paper versions. (Incidentally, the UHP does not profit from these readers—you are charged only what it costs to produce them.) In the case of E-Reserve documents, students need not even pay directly for printing out the readings if they use the main university computer pods. (Of course, in this case, your student fees help defray the cost of paper and ink, so technically, this isn’t entirely free.)

My question, then, is this: given a choice, would you prefer E-Reserves, hardcopies of readers, or copies of readers provided on disk? So far in my two classes, students have overwhelmingly voiced a preference for E-Reserves, but some are interested in the disk option. Let us know what you think by commenting here; your preferences will definitely influence the choices many of us make about how we help you access texts for classes.

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Spirit of Debate

   I had my exit interview with Leslie Donovan yesterday, she asked me some questions about the strengths and weaknesses of the Honors Department that got me thinking.  I feel that the open discussion of ideas between people in different disciplines, with different interests and perspectives on the world is the great strength of the department and what we call our 'interdisciplinary approach'.  I hope that anyone who has taken an honors class knows by now that this does not mean we always have to agree, or that if other people don't agree with our views at the end of class that we have failed.  This type of communication is important and unique because it helps us to put our own views in a larger perspective, and it helps both (or all) parties come away having gained insight into their own views and the views of others.  What helps to foster this spirit of debate helps the program; what keeps people's views insular and narrow hurts the program.  In the spirit of constructive debate, I would like to share a great essay written by Paul Graham entitled "How to Disagree."  It is a great crash course on rules of argument, and how (and why) to attack the argument and not the person making it.  He has many other great essays, which I would recommend if you have time: The Age of the Essay, Hackers and Painters, Copy What You Like, Microsoft is Dead, Holding a Program in One's Head, Keep Your Identity Small, and Cities and Ambition are all good places to start. Feel free to comment with ideas or inspiration from other great debaters.


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Economics and Finances

Since Michael Thomas will be talking at this Friday's IDEX about what the current financial crisis might mean for college students, let's start talking about it here. What has the current economic crisis meant for you?

I know I am consciously cutting back where I can and worrying more when I have to use my credit card for something. Stock that I had counted on as my emergency fund has gone so far down that it would no longer fund any emergency. So, there goes all of my savings/emergency funds. Other than these, I'm holding up OK.

But, what about you? Has the current state of the economy affected you much at this point or not?