What We’re Reading: September 20, 2012

Today’s What We’re Reading features a roundtable of discussion related to the proposed closure of the Georgia State Archives, a closer look at employment statistics for recent PhDs, and a plea for a Quranic academic association in the wake of the recent anti-Muslim video dominating international attention.

The Latest on the Georgia State Archives Controversy

ArchivesNext has provided a roundup of links regarding closing of public access to Georgia State Archives. It also has a links to various statement policies by academic associations (including the AHA) relevant to the closing. 

In addition to ArchivesNext, Inside Higher Ed has a brief summary of the controversy, along with a short description of what collections and documents are in the holdings of the Georgia State Archives, which could be relevant to our readers.

AHA Executive Director James Grossman directly responded to the announcement by writing an open letter to the Georgia governor, arguing that open access is a fundamental part of the state’s heritage and its future.

Discussion Related to the Job Market and Hiring Practices

Push for Full Disclosure: Kaustuv Basu reports for Inside Higher Ed about the AHA’s efforts to require history departments to publish records of where their graduate students find employment. The AHA’s transparency statement can be found here.

Stale PhDs Need Not Apply: Stacy Patton, writing for the Chronicle of Higher Education, reports that more academic departments are actively excluding job seekers who have been on the job market for longer than two years.

The premise of the article has been challenged recently by our own AHA Deputy Director Robert Townsend, writing for AHA Today, who used job advertisement statistics to surmise that PhDs who have spent some length of time on the job market can still find long-term academic employment.  

History-Related Links

Anti-Muslim video—One More Reason for Independent Scholarship on the Quran: Gabriel Said Reynolds (Univ. of Notre Dame) and Emran El-Badawi (Univ. of Houston) argue for an “independent academic association dedicated to Quranic studies,” akin to the AHA and the Modern Language Association, one which will allow for a full and open exchange of scholarship on the Quran.

U.S. Income Inequality: It’s Worse Today Than It Was in 1774: Jordan Weissmann, writing for the Atlantic, finds that American income inequality may be more severe today than it was in 1774—and that includes the factor of slavery.

“A Life of Learning” by Joyce Appleby: Joyce Appleby, former AHA president and professor emeritus at UCLA, delivers a rousing 2012 Charles Homer Haskins Prize lecture on the gradual shifts of ideology historians (including herself) must embrace. Her speech complements a recent Perspectives article by James Oakes, “On Changing My Mind.”

The Aoki Controversy: Donna Murch on Ebru Today: Donna Murch (Rutgers Univ.) appears on the cable network Ebru TV to discuss recent revelations in the continuing controversy over Richard Aoki, a member of the Black Panther Party now suspected of being an FBI informant.

World History MOOC Report 1: In Which I Am Underwhelmed: Jonathan Rhees takes a look at a world history massive open online course (MOOC) and discovers that transferring the traditional lecture format to the small screen offers little pedagogical improvement.

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