Category: Education

Beyond the University Makes a Splash

Wesleyan University recently sat down to talk to Michael S. Roth, president of the university and author of Beyond the University: Why Liberal Education Matters. The video and post originally appeared in Wesleyan University’s blog, which you can read here.

Beyond the University: Why Liberal Education Matters by Michael S. RothA June 10 note to the President’s Office at Wesleyan grabbed attention—Harvard’s Office of Undergraduate Education wanted help in quickly obtaining 125 copies of Michael Roth’s new book to distribute to Harvard faculty members.

The email was indicative of the excitement that Roth’s latest book, Beyond the University: Why Liberal Education Matters (Yale University Press), has generated since it was published in May. The sixth book that Roth has authored, it has received substantial coverage in the national media and has helped put into historical context today’s debates over the value of a broad, liberal education. Roth reminds readers that accusations about the impracticality of liberal education date back to the days of the Founding Fathers, and are never less convincing than now. He draws on the writings of prominent thinkers such as John Dewey, Jane Addams, W.E.B. Dubois and Thomas Jefferson to make the case for a pragmatic liberal education.

Reviews of the book have appeared in The Washington Post and Inside Higher Ed, while a number of related op-eds and essays by Roth have been published in outlets such as The New York Times, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Boston Globe and The Daily Beast. President Roth has discussed his book with The Atlantic magazine, and on public radio stations around the country.

“We’ve been delighted with the amount of attention the book is getting, both on the local and national levels. It’s engaging precisely with the big and urgent questions out there about higher education, just as we hoped. President Roth has been a great spokesperson for defending the humanities, which have been under scrutiny of late,” said John Donatich, director of Yale University Press. “We are currently selling into a second printing of the book, and it’s very possible we could go into a third printing. We expect it to sell even more in paperback down the road.”

In addition, Chinese and Korean translations of the book are in the works.

Reviews of the book have been positive. Writing in The Washington Post, Christopher B. Nelson, president of St. John’s College in Annapolis, praises it as a “lucid, helpful and accessible account of the current challenges to higher education.”

“By presenting his argument historically, Roth, president of Wesleyan University, maintains a judicious distance from his subject and avoids the trap—all too enticing for a zealous advocate—of delivering a passionate apologia for a broad generalization. Instead, he gives us a substantial and lively discussion that allows the reader to maintain an open mind while examining the strengths and weaknesses of the several threads, each in its own turn,” writes Nelson.

And Kirkus Reviews writes: “While underscoring the democratic spirit of a liberal arts education, one designed to produce ‘active citizens rather than passive subjects,’ Roth traces how even the Founding Fathers of the republic restricted the education to patrician white males, excluding women, slaves and others—and that the question of whether farmers need to be able to read Shakespeare has long sparked debate. Between pragmatism and idealism, the author strikes a moderate, balanced approach. The result is more like a primer on the history of higher education than a manifesto.”

See all media coverage of Beyond the University here.

Read more about Beyond the University in this Wesleyan Connection article.

Remembering Robert Dahl

Photo: Yale University

Robert Dahl. Photo: Yale University

Robert A. Dahl (1915 – 2014), eminent political scientist and champion of democracy, passed away on February 5, 2014 in Hamden, Connecticut, at age 98. Named by Foreign Affairs magazine the “dean of American political scientists,” Dahl was instrumental in building one of the first modern political science departments. Dahl authored hundreds of articles and dozens of books, including the Who Governs? (Yale University Press, 1961), On Democracy (Yale University Press, 1998), and many other works.  He was Sterling professor emeritus of political science, the highest academic rank at Yale University.

Born in 1915 in Iowa, Dahl’s family moved to Alaska during the depression. He graduated from the University of Washington in 1936 and received a doctorate in political science from Yale in 1940, joining Yale’s faculty in 1946. In the intermittent years, Dahl enlisted in the Army, serving in Europe during World War II. He was decorated with the Bronze Star Medal. He also worked as an economist for the War Production Board.

Who Governs?, winner of the 1962 Woodrow Wilson Prize, argued against the conception that political power is held by one elite group through a close examination of New Haven, Connecticut. Instead, Dahl suggested power is comprised by groups with competing interests, what he termed polyarchy. Democracy and Its Critics, an analysis on the nature of democracy and its function, won the Woodrow Wilson Prize in 1990 and the Elaine and David Spitz Book Award in 1991. Dahl earned many such accolades, and in 2002 The New Yorker wrote he was “about as covered with honors as a scholar can be.”

Known for being a generous presence, attentive adviser and active participant in the university community, Robert Dahl will be missed. Yale University Press is privileged to be the publisher of eight of Dahl’s books including After the Revolution? (1990), How Democratic Is the American Constitution? (2003), and his most recent, On Political Equality (2007).

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App-enabled or App-dependent?

How does the “Facebook marriage” option change the kind of relationships young people form?

At what point does texting to stay in touch with friends and family become texting to maintain safety blanket of connectivity?

Why do kids need school when they can look up the answers to all of their questions on their smartphones?

The App GenerationThese questions, posed in Howard Gardner and Katie Davis’s The App Generation: How Today’s Youth Navigate Identity, Intimacy, and Imagination in a Digital World“elevate the discussion beyond knee-jerk complaints about ‘those #@#!! kids who are on their phones all day’.” as Mindful Magazine put it. From individual blogs like Sassy Peach, and Family Focus Blog, to larger outlets like’s Elementary Education blog and, parents and educators joining Gardner and Davis’s conversation on the merits and pitfalls posed by the culture of complete immersion in technology as they struggle to understand today’s youth.

The App Generation’s careful and insightful look into the generation born into an app-based world has garnered interest from many communities. As Just Another New BlogBookSpinNew York Journal of Booksand other varied communities around the blogosphere share the discussion, the essential question emerges:

 Is the next generation “app-dependent” or “app-enabled”?

Learn more at!


Click to enlarge

Albers App Colors Interaction on Facebook and Pinterest

“The gateway to an entire way of thinking. . . .It will blow your mind.”—Liz Stinson, Wired


Like the Interaction of Color app on Facebook

The Interaction of Color App for iPad has captured the attention of artists, designers, and color geeks of all sorts in the two shorts weeks since its launch. Twitter has gotten much more colorful as early adopters tweet their original color studies directly from the app. Now users can share their color studies on Facebook and Pinterest as well.

To share your color studies on Facebook, post them to the timeline of the Interaction of Color Facebook page.

To share your color studies on Pinterest, follow the Yale Press’s Interaction of Color board for an invitation to join the group.


Follow Yale Press’s Interaction of Color board on Pinterest

With the interactive capabilities of the app, Albers’s Interaction of Color is “fundamentally at home in the [digital] medium” according to the reviewers at Hyperallergic. The challenge of selecting the right colors from within a color family to create specific color relationships is an essential aspect of Albers’s lessons. Users sharing their solutions to the color challenges Albers posed will add to the collective understanding of color around the world.

Let’s get posting!

“A modernized, interactive presentation of Albers’s teachings. With fingers instead of paintbrushes and a touch screen instead of paper, users can move and manipulate over 125 color plates in 60 interactive studies. Concepts like color relativity and vibrating boundaries come to life. . . . This new and different iteration of [Albers’s] theories adds dimension and interactivity for the digital age, sparking just the kind of discoveries that fueled his life’s work.”—

Art Museum Day 2013!

May 13 Yale ARTbooksBecause we are firm believers that every day is art museum day, we are particularly excited that tomorrow, Saturday, May 18 is Art Museum Day.  Tomorrow, approximately 180 art institutions nationwide will offer gratis entry or reduced admission rates, discounts on memberships, and other special programming, events, and deals.  This is the fourth annual Art Museum Day, thanks to the Association of Art Museum Directors.  (For our more distant blog readers, tomorrow is also International Museum Day.)  As Christine Anagnos, Executive Director of the Association of Art Museum Directors, blogged on the Huffington Post last year, it will be “a day dedicated to showing the importance of art museums in society.”

A full list of participating institutions and what they’re offering tomorrow can be viewed here.

If you can make it to the Yale University Art Gallery or Yale Center for British Art tomorrow, we’ll see you there!

Mutiny and Its Bounty

Patrick MurphyThe Ides of March commemorates one of history’s most famous mutinies: the murder of Julius Caesar at the Roman Senate in 44 B.C. Turning against established leadership is thoroughly covered in Mutiny and Its Bounty: Leadership Lessons from the Age of Discovery, in which authors Patrick J. Murphy and Ray W. Coye explore how great seafaring captains like Columbus and Magellan not only quelled mutinies but also built upon such incidents to strengthen their enterprises, suggesting that today’s organizational leaders have much to learn about leadership and tactics from these earlier masters. We spoke with Murphy about some of the key players and ideas highlighted in their new book to better understand how organizations are less violent than the shipboard rebellions of Columbus’s day, but the challenges leaders face are very much the same.

Yale University Press:  Your book can be useful for leaders and entrepreneurs hoping to avoid a mutiny, but is it also a useful handbook for mutineers?

Patrick J. Murphy:  Yes, the book delineates some useful tenets. Seafarers in the Age of Discovery were extremely clever about mutiny and leadership in uncertain circumstances. They exemplified what makes today’s best entrepreneurs successful. Mutinies both then and today entail early‑stage secrecy and bottom‑up strategic actions that threaten established elements in the environment. Entrepreneurs shake up markets, whereas mutineers shake up organizations.

Mutiny and Its Bounty: Leadership Lessons from the Age of Discovery
Which of the seafarers among those you studied faced the most intense mutiny?

PJM:  Magellan, because of the steps he took to quell it. He actually faced three mutinies during his most famous enterprise. The second one was rather grisly. Our primary sources contain explicit details, which we retained to tell a richer story and reflect history as clearly as possible.

What are some warning signs of mutiny that a leader should look out for?

PJM:  A gap emerges between leaders and members. It happens without being intended. Eventually, a spokesperson emerges. His or her power and voice derive from the expression of members’ shared values. A leader who does not share those values unintentionally does things to which coordinated mutinous action can be a natural response. Mutiny is rarely undertaken for its own sake or for destructive purposes. Yet Age of Discovery mutinies could be violent. Today’s mutinies are gentler but still intense. The underlying mechanism is identical.

Patrick J. Murphy is associate professor of management, DePaul University. He is chair of the Management History Division in the Academy of Management. He lives in Chicago, IL. Ray W. Coye is associate professor emeritus of management, DePaul University. He lives in Ferndale, WA. The authors each have maritime service backgrounds and seafaring experience.

Mark Chancey on Biblical Curricula in Texas Schools

The Texas Freedom Network, a watchdog group that monitors religious freedom and public education, commissioned Mark Chancey, an associate professor of religious studies at Southern Methodist University, to produce a report on the implementation of a 2007 that required school districts to incorporate the study of the Bible’s influence on history and literature into their curriculum. Although the law did not mandate a specific course on the Bible, 57 school districts and 3 charter schools chose to comply with the law by providing Bible courses rather than by incorporating an examination of the literary and historical significance into exiting and literature and history courses.  The law provided guidelines aimed to improve the quality of the Bible courses after a 2006 Freedom Network documented academic and constitutional problems with the 25 Bible courses taught at that time. Although many of these original courses are no longer offered, the new report found that, with few exceptions, these new courses also lack academic rigor and promote a promote a distinct bias that favors conservative Protestant Christianity.

The report attributes the deficiencies to the failure of the state legislature to enforce the guidelines. The State Board of Education disregarded the legislature’s mandate to development content-specific curriculum. The broad outlines adopted by the State Board of Education provide little guidance for what should be taught or how it should be taught. Teachers with no professional training in teaching Bible must therefore rely on what they have learned in popular culture and from their own religious background to develop a curriculum.

These teachers often come from conservative Protestant Christian backgrounds. In fact, some school districts have not assigned the courses to teachers; rather, they recruited ministers to teach courses. The sectarian bias is reflected in the material chosen.  Many schools taught the material provided by the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools, which Chancey describes as replete with “shoddy research, factual errors and plagiarism” is designed to encourage students to adopt a conservative Protestant beliefs.  The sectarian bias of the materials is reinforced by the choice of conservative Protestant translation of the Bible, which translation choice is driven less by concern for historical accuracy and more of a concern to conform scripture to a particular theology.

In addition to a promoting conservative Protestant Christianity, the materials promote a negative and historically inaccurate view of Judaism, pseudoscience, and the myth that the United States was founded as a Christian nation. Although no material the report found that no material was explicitly anti-Semitic, it depicted Jews in the Bible as parochial and self-righteous,  advocated a super-cessionism—the belief that god replaces  Jews with Christians as His chosen people—and regards the Hebrew Scripture as little more than a collection of prophecies for the coming of Jesus Christ.

The material presents the Bible as having legitimate scientific authority. Evolution is denigrated as a mere theory and alternative creationist theories as suggested as legitimate alternative material. The report describes one chart used by Amarillo ISD entitled “Racial origins Traced from Noah,” which identifies the origin of the human races with the three sons of Noah. This theory, which identifies the progenitor of the “African race” as Ham, Noah’s stupid and disgraced son, was used to justify slavery.  A slideshow used by Ector Count IDS, entitled “Moses and the Red Sea Crossing: Truth or Fiction” includes the claim: “Sad to say mainstream anti-God media do not portray these true facts in the light of faith. But prefer to sceptically [sic] doubt such archaeological proofs of the veracity & historicity of the Biblical account, one of the most accurate history books in the world.”

The material also describes the Founding Fathers as conservative Protestants who sought to establish a Christian nation. Belton ISD, for example, passes out to its student a pamphlet titled “One Nation Under God” that begins “The United States was founded on the principles of liberty in the Holy Bible and the reverence of the Founding Fathers” and later follows with, “Would you like to place your trust in Jesus Christ and receive Him as your Savior from Sin?’” Authentic quotes from the Founding Fathers are divested of context, distorting their original meaning and set alongside fake quotations. The effect of this teaching, Chancey laments, is particularly pernicious because, aside from it historical inaccuracy, “figure[s] prominently in attempts by some to guarantee a privileged position in the public square for their own religious beliefs above those of others.”

Chancey concludes that the majority of the courses violates the constitution and fall far short of accepted academic standards. The courses do not encourage students to engage critically with the Bible and the literature it influenced. Instead, they exhort students to adopt a conservative Protestant beliefs on the basis of wildly inaccurate, disingenuous, and biased material.

The report can be accessed here. Mark Alexander to Constantine: Archaeology of the Land of the Bible, Volume IIIChancey is associate professor of religious studies at SMU who, aside from pursuing an interest in American civil liberties and public education, is also a New Testament scholar. He recently co-authored with Eric M. Meyers Alexander to Constantine: Archaeology of the Land of the Bible, a book length-study of archaeology in Palestine from the fourth century B.C.E. to the fourth century C.E., published by Yale University Press.

A Conversation with William Bynum on A Little History of Science

As ambitious as the project of charting the history of science over the past few centuries sounds, William Bynum takes on the task readily in his latest book, A Little History of Science, fashioned after E.H. Gombrich‘s bestselling Little History of the World.  He brings readers, both young and old, on a journey through astronomy and the invention of the telescope; the movements of the earth; the development of the periodic table; the structure of atoms and the discovery of DNA—to name just a few of the major scientific developments in history. In a recent interview, Bynum told us how his grandchildren motivated him to write the book and shared with us his personal take on the most important moments in the history of science.

Yale University Press: Why did you write this book?

William Bynum: I was charmed by Gombrich‘s  A Little History of the World and thought I would like to do something like it for my grandchildren Alex and Peter. I used to teach the history of science and thought what a wonderful story it could make, to start at the beginning with the stargazers in Babylon and come up to the computer age of today. People from time immemorial, in all cultures, have thought about such things as why the sun rises and sets, how a hen’s egg develops into a new chick, and why we fall ill and might be made well.

: What are the great turning points—for you—in the history of science?

WB: The invention of the telescope and the microscope, which allowed people to do science on things that you couldn’t even see with your naked eye.

Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection, which changed the way we see the living world and offered us the chance to delve into the secrets of life. Einstein’s theories of relativity, which opened up the universe to new interpretations.

The coming of the modern computer, which enabled scientists to tackle questions in fields as diverse as the human genome and climate change that would have been impossible a couple of generations ago.

: What are the major themes of your book?

WB: My book has only one theme: science as a human endeavor to understand the world. The history of science is a journey through time, illuminated on the way by great thinkers, adept experimenters, and people of enlarged curiosity. Understanding that journey tells us something about who we are as human beings.

William Bynum
is Professor Emeritus of History of Medicine at University College London. He has written and edited numerous publications, including the recent title, Great Discoveries in Medicine. He currently resides in Suffolk, UK. A Little History of Science is available now from Yale University Press, and for a limited time, you can purchase the eBook edition of A Little History of the World from participating retailers for a discounted price of $7.99.

Designing Scientific Visuals 101: When to Use Color

Why aren’t more people outside the scientific community engaged with the developments of science and engineering? Perhaps, as Felice Frankel suggests, it has something to do with the way scientists communicate their ideas. Frankel, along with co-author Angela DePace, recently wrote Visual Strategies: A Practical Guide to Graphics for Scientists and Engineers as an answer to this challenge: how can scientists and engineers, including those without any design training, effectively create compelling visuals to convey their ideas? Why do some graphics work while others obscure important information?

Whether the visuals are meant for scientific journals, grant proposals, conference posters or presentations, they all share the common goal of transmitting information clearly and efficiently. In this recent MIT news video, Frankel gives us an in-depth look at a specific example, a colored representation of a quantum corral, and then shows us the ‘before’ and ‘after’ of their suggested changes to the visual. By taking away color from the image, Frankel and DePace direct the viewer’s attention to the most important information being conveyed.

Open Yale Courses Fall 2012 Book Sampler

Download the Open Yale Courses Fall 2012 Book Sampler

This fall we’ve expanded the Open Yale Courses Series to include three new publications: Introduction to the Bible by Christine Hayes, The Moral Foundations of Politics, by Ian Shapiro, and Political Philosophy, by Steven B. Smith. We invite you to take a sneak peek into each of the works in a special Open Yale Courses online sampler. The entire introduction and first chapter of each book is now available free of charge for readers to get a taste of the rich content and the accessible presentation of the material by leading scholars.

Based on the success of the University’s Open Yale Courses program, the book series provides an affordable print alternative for bookworms who wish to experience the classroom by turning the pages. The Open Yale Courses initiative began in 2007 as a series of video and audio podcasts of celebrated undergraduate courses as a way for students and life-long learners to obtain universal access to the exceptional teaching and educational enrichment provided by Yale University.

Christine Hayes’s Introduction to the Bible examines the 24 books of the Hebrew Bible, or the Christian Old Testament. More than the foundation of the Judeo-Christian tradition, this religious text serves as a compendium of human experiences as narrated by a diverse set of writers over the span of many centuries in ancient Israel. Hayes’s book introduces reader to the many voices of the Hebrew Bible and presents the work in the context of the historical and cultural setting in the ancient Near East. A leading authority in the Classical Judaic Studies, Hayes has also been recognized in academia as the recipient of the Sidonie Miskimin Clauss Prize for Teaching Excellence in the Humanities.

Ian Shapiro is a Sterling Professor of Political Science at Yale whose book is based on the highly popular eponymous course. The book explores questions about political legitimacy that thinkers have tried to answer for centuries: Who should govern? To what extent should they be obeyed? Drawing on the arguments presented by Enlightenment to contemporary thinkers, The Moral Foundation of Politics presents a variety of perspectives on political theory, providing readers with an informed critical eye to evaluate the successes and limitations of governmental institutions past and present.

Award-winning author Steven B. Smith poses the even broader questions not only about political rule but also civic obedience, rights, and liberties in Political Philosophy. From Plato and Aristotle to Rousseau and Tocqueville, Smith provides a lively introduction to the foundational ideas that strive to tackle fundamental issues that every society has confronted up until the present day.

As of this fall, the Open Yale Courses Series will comprise six books that stretch across a variety of academic disciplines, including philosophy, religion, literature, and political science. Previously published in Spring 2012 are Theory of Literatureby Paul H. Fry, Deathby Shelly Kagan, and New Testament History and Literatureby Dale B. Martin. All titles are also available as eBooks.