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Sunday, February 9, 2014

AMONG my favorite online subscriptions is Inside Higher Ed, a US-based online source for news and opinion on initiatives, developments and other goings-on in higher education.

Here’s this Bob Jones University (BJU) in Greenville, South Carolina, founded in 1927.

Concerned about allegations of abuses in the campus, BJU hired GRACE, a Virginia firm, a year ago to investigate BJU’s handling of the allegations over the years. Just when GRACE was completing its investigations and preparing to write its report, the university decided to terminate its services.


Understandably, there is concern over the reasons for the firing, any whitewashing in
the final report, and most specially, the safety of all witnesses who came forward during the investigation.

The University of Colorado at Boulder replaced the head of its philosophy department because of his failure “to change a culture that is hostile to women.”

The hostility has led to a high number of women faculty members leaving the school.

Recruitment for their replacements is difficult because of the department’s known reputation for the hostility.

While not all male faculty members harass, they have become unwilling victims as well; their workload is increased, simply because many female graduate students avoid the classes of male professors known to be hostile to women. Fearful of negative branding by association, male graduate students themselves don’t welcome working with the male faculty members either.

Then there’s the CNN investigation looking into the SAT and ACT results of college athletes. Of the 37 schools requested for data, only 21 schools responded. The CNN’s findings: Some college athletes play like adults but read like fifth graders.

In North Carolina, learning specialist Mary Willingham was shocked to know of a UNC at Chapel Hill basketball player who didn’t know how to read nor write. Another couldn’t read multisyllabic words.

Even in my college days, I’d already read about how athletes were bordering on illiteracy, despite their glamour and money. But that this continues to this day is quite disturbing!

So much for downers. Here’s one upper, at least, to save the day!

At the Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, Texas, an experiment has begun. Heading it is Dr. Jeff Wilson who wears many hats. He is the recognized expert in the fields of environmental science and environmental health, the dean of Huston-Tillotson’s department of biological sciences himself, and executive director of the Dumpster Project, which is focused on transforming sustainability education.

Wilson’s multi-disciplinary team of designers, academics and students transformed the dumpster into a fully functioning home complete with running water, toilet, shower, bed, and solar-powered electricity. His project is a teaching tool for broad areas of sustainability, such as converting dirty water to clean, drinking water, and generating electricity to power electronic and home devices.

All these in a dumpster measuring 33 square feet, which is just one percent the size of the average new American home. Its goal: To test whether one can live a good life while treading lightly on planet Earth and reducing carbon footprints.


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 10, 2014.


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