I collect here a list of recent articles that provide compelling insights on higher education in North America and Europe, fairy tales in pop culture, environmental care, visual arts, Italian studies and academic culture.
They invite for our reflections, as much as Antonietta Gonzales does by displaying her letter.
The articles come from news venues, like BBC and NPR, academic web publications such as Inside Higher Education, and private webpages.
Feel free to get in touch for suggestions and comments.
Amanda Lehr and Tatiana McInnis, We condemn all institutional racism except our own, McSweeney’s, June 2020
As we reflect on our own campus home, we definitively state our intent to stand against hate, prejudice, and other harmful nouns, as well as to fight racism where it lives: elsewhere. […] We are glad that, upon our investigation and consultation with general counsel, we do not need to change anything. We have shown and will continue to demonstrate our investment in diversity, inclusion, the status quo, and our superficial valuation of Black life until public attention wanes.
Sara De Simone, Alice Ceresa, la figlia disobbediente e prodiga, ALIAS Il Manifesto, May 2020
l’uscita […] consente di rimetterci in ascolto di una grande autrice, troppo spesso dimenticata, e di riflette-re con lei e su di lei assieme ad altre e altri, una comunità che si interroga sul nostro presente proprio a partire dall’alfabeto ceresiano. Lo fa, nel gioco di definizioni e rimandi, rispettando la concisione originaria del progetto di Ceresa, ma creando un vero, vivace, dialogo a tu per tu con la scrittrice a cui si rivolgo-no di volta in volta, con toni e posizionamenti differenti, studiose, scrittrici, critiche […].
John Vidal, ‘Tip of the iceberg’: is our destruction of nature responsible for Covid-19?, The Guardian, March 2020
[…] a number of researchers today think that it is actually humanity’s destruction of biodiversity that creates the conditions for new viruses and diseases such as Covid-19, the viral disease that emerged in China in December 2019, to arise – with profound health and economic impacts in rich and poor countries alike. In fact, a new discipline, planetary health, is emerging that focuses on the increasingly visible connections between the wellbeing of humans, other living things and entire ecosystems.
Diane Adame, A Studio At Your Fingertips: 5 Apps Teachers Are Using To Make Student Podcasts, NPR, February 2020
The good news? Many of these apps are free. They’re also accessible. In many classrooms these days, teachers and students have their own laptops, Chromebooks or iPads. In many cases, the technology is already downloaded and […] students these days are pretty tech-savvy already. All of which means teachers can focus on the substance — ideas, writing, narrative, editing — instead of process.
Sabrina Orah Mark, The Evil Stepmother, The Paris Review, April 2019
The reason why fairy tales last is because they allow us to gaze at ourselves through a glass that is at once transparent and reflective. They give us a double gaze to see ourselves from the inside out and the outside in, and they exaggerate our roles just enough to bring into focus the little pieces of monster that grow on our hearts.
Carol D. Ryff, Linking Education in the Arts and Humanities to Life-Long Well-Being and Health, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, January 2019
This is what contemporary students who in the “bubbling chaos of popular culture” (Edmundson, Why Read?, p. 134) most need: navigational skills to help them discern the difference between what is worth taking seriously and what is little more than noisy diversion. Effectively, a high-quality humanities education is there to help one see the differences between distraction and nurturing, vital sources.
Steven Johnson, Colleges Loses a “Stunning” 651 Foreign-Language Programs in 3 Years, Chronicle of Higher Education, Jan 22, 2019
The causes of the decline in enrollments and programs, beyond the economic crunch, remain subject to debate. Some academics point to colleges’ prioritization of STEM programs, or to the long-term effects of colleges’ dropping language requirements. That began happening in the 1970s, [Director of programs at the MLA, Dennis] Looney said. The MLA is starting to gather data on those requirements as it continues to track institutions’ language enrollments. And colleges have been hit unevenly, past MLA research shows.
Craig Mod, The “Future Book” is Here, But It’s Not What We Expected, Wired, Dec 20, 2018
Perhaps the form and interactivity of what we consider a “standard book” will change in the future, as screens become as cheap and durable as paper. But the books made today, held in our hands, digital or print, are Future Books, unfuturistic and inert may they seem.
Emilio Distretti, Architetture (post)coloniali. L’Italia e l’eredità fascista, il lavoro culturale, Nov 11, 2018
In questo modo Piazza Capena diventa il terminale estetico, fisico e urbano di una trasformazione progressiva, dove l’antico cuore dell’impero romano, poi santuario del Fascismo, è stato svuotato delle tracce del monumentalismo nazionalista, diventando un documento vivente dell’ordine mondiale contemporaneo. Ma nonostante queste cicliche evoluzioni, tutto ciò rimane comunque intrappolato nel processo di rimozione del passato coloniale, un problema che riguarda sempre di più anche il riconoscimento dell’eredità fascista nell’Italia di oggi.
Kelly Grovier, Paula Rego: Unsettling Images Twisted from Disney, BBC, Oct 23, 2018
Fascinated by the stories that define cultures, the Portuguese-born artist reinvents fairy tales and myths, folklore and legends, by investing them with hints of private pain, half-remembered from childhood or dredged from the depths of nightmare.
Nicole Gutnayer, Using Folktales to Teach Logical Reasoning, Edutopia, Sept 25, 2018
The underlying skill of divergent thinking can be developed in young students through the process of writing a creative pourquoi—a folktale that explains how or why something came to be.
Elissa Nadworny, Today’s College Students Aren’t Who You Think They Are, NPR, Sept 4, 2018
As demographics shift, [Alexandria Walton] Radford argues, policy should follow. It’s vital that institutions look at the characteristics of their undergrad cohorts, she adds, to explore how to address their students’ unique concerns. Perhaps that means offering services like financial aid, advising or tutoring after-hours (instead of the typical 9 to 5). Maybe it means offering child care for student-parents, or extra parking for commuters. One thing for sure, says Radford, is that it’s probably time to coin a new phrase for nontraditional students, considering they are the new normal.
Amanda Tucker, Social Intelligence in General Education Literature Courses, MLA Profession, Fall 2018
it is advantageous for us in the literary-studies field to consider how we might reorient our general education courses so that these students can understand how the coursework aligns with their personal and professional goals. Such a focus might yield benefits that go beyond individual students or classrooms: it can build stronger support for the study of humanities, both in general education and more advanced study, within American higher education institutions.
Debora Park, Race and Foreign Language, Inside Higher Education, June 21, 2018
Virtually everyone I queried deemed this topic “important and timely.” Can this sentiment be converted to action? Can Italian enact a bold and more inclusive vision for its future or will we be left with managing a decline?
Wu Ming 1, Dopo la lettura di #108 metri di Alberto Prunetti: appunti su fiction e non-fiction, problemi etici e poetici, Wu Ming Foundation, April 1, 2018
Nel nostro piccolo, noi autori e autrici che nell’Italia degli ultimi anni abbiamo battuto le piste degli «oggetti narrativi non-identificati» — gli UNO, Unidentified Narrative Objects — abbiamo sperimentato diverse soluzioni. A dirla tutta, penso si possa parlare di «UNO» solo ed esclusivamente quando la scrittura include queste preoccupazioni, le fa proprie e si adopera per affrontarle. Altrimenti non sono «UNO», ma libri che raccontano frottole.
Sara Graça da Silva and Jamshid J. Tehrani, Comparative phylogenetic analyses uncover the ancient roots of Indo-European folktales, Royal Society Open Science, January 1, 2016
Our findings […] suggest that a substantial number of magic tales have existed in Indo-European oral traditions long before they were first written down. For example, two of the best known fairy tales, ATU 425C ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and ATU 500 ‘The Name of the Supernatural Helper’ (‘Rumplestiltskin’) were first written down in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. While some researchers claim that both storylines have antecedents in Greek and Roman mythology, our reconstructions suggest that they originated significantly earlier. Both tales can be securely traced back to the emergence of the major western Indo-European subfamilies as distinct lineages between 2500 and 6000 years ago, and may have even been present in the last common ancestor of Western Indo-European languages.
National Center for Education Statistics, Demographic and Enrollment Characteristics of Nontraditional Undergraduates: 2011–12, United States Department of Education, Nov 2015
Examining nontraditional characteristics is important not only because a high percentage of postsecondary students possess them, but also because students with these characteristics can be vulnerable to challenges that can affect their well-being, levels of stress and satisfaction (Giancola, Grawitch, and Borchert 2009; Quimby and O’Brien 2006), and likelihood of persisting and attaining a degree (Berkner, Cuccaro-Alamin, and McCormick 1996; Berkner, He, and Cataldi 2002; Choy 2002; Horn 1996; Skomsvold, Radford, and Berkner 2011).
Mark Salisbury, We’re Muddying the Message on Study Abroad, The Chronicle of Higher Education, July 30, 2012
A study-abroad experience can do more than improve intercultural skills; if well designed, it can also increase self-awareness and strengthen a commitment to civic engagement. Emphasizing such broader benefits might be more effective in recruiting minority students to study abroad without sounding so obviously tone-deaf to the life experiences of the minority students we hope to attract.