Website Wednesday: The Atlantic

Website Wednesday is a (mostly) weekly feature in which we highlight one (or a couple) of sites from the Billions floating around the Intertoobz that just might help you with your Herculean task of educating inquiring minds. Any and all suggestions for future editions are welcome.

The Atlantic has been killing it for a few years now, especially on topics related to race, class, and sex/gender, but the pace of excellent readings has picked up decidedly in the last six months or so.

Let’s start with their star. If you’re not on the Te-Nehisi Coates train yet, you should be. Coates’ book Between the World and Me came out last spring and if nothing else introduced a new generation of readers and activists to the work of one of America’s great writers–James Baldwin–through his adoption of of Baldwin’s essay trope. In the book, In his book Coates, like Baldwin, writes a letter to a member of the next generation about what it means to be a young black man in America. The book has provoked a ton of commentary–a review by Michelle Alexander, another by Tressie MC (who also published a really interesting description of her reading process–which I wish I’d read when I was an undergrad or grad student) and ALSO publishes provocative sociological/media commentary like this in The Atlantic), not to mention David Brooks and elsewhere.

But that’s not all he’s done. He also published an EPIC consideration of and argument for Reparations and, more recently, a discussion of “The Black Family in the Age of Incarceration.”

And, as suggested above, it’s not just a one man show. Want to know more about the Black Lives Matter movement? They’ve got you. Want to know more about what some politicians are doing to try to stem the disproportionate violence faced by young black men? They’ve got you.

Maybe you need a break from reading about race? Or you’re interested in intersectionality and want to read and learn more about Gender, or Class (especially as it affects adjuncts–as here in “The Cost of an Adjunct” or here in “There Is No Excuse for How Universities Treat Their Adjuncts.” 

Or maybe you’re interested in seeing what else they’ve written about teaching and learning and colleges–maybe you’re interested in trigger warnings and the recent, splashy argument titled, “The Coddling of the American Mind,” or the bad science of Alcoholics Anonymous, or the cognitive benefits of doodling, or a technological solution, called Project Euler, to learning anything, as told through the author’s efforts to learn coding, or a consideration of the state of stand-up comedy (and, by extension, free speech) on college campuses, or municipal disaster preparedness (and the lack of it), or immigration/political arguments, or privacy and corporate data collection, or David Hume and Allison Gopnik’s mid-life crisis (such a great writer–you should read her stuff and you don’t have to know a thing about Hume to enjoy it).

Check out what they’re doing over there. It’ll make you smarter and give you at least one thing that you can post as a Blackboard link for your students. Promise.

For example, I’ve posted this one for my philosophy students…

Think, Know, Prove: More Stats, More Questions

Think, Know, Prove is an occasional Friday feature, where a topic with both mystery and importance is posted for community discussion. The title is a shortened version of the Investigative Mantra: What do we think, what do we know, what can we prove? and everything from wild speculation to resource referencing fact is welcome here.

Yes, yes, I know I promised a look at the college by college numbers last week, and I meant it. But in the interim, I was contacted by somebody with a request to include the system-wide completion numbers from 2015 as soon as possible, numbers I didn’t have, but which the person provided for me (with assurances of their accuracy and the suggestion that they could be confirmed through Open Book). If you watched Chancellor Hyman’s speech to the Civic Club of Chicago, you saw a preview of these, but not the breakout by degrees (a breakout, which our Chancellor told us is just a tangle of “alphabet soup,” a rather flippant dismissal of one of our concerns, especially since it comes  RIGHT AFTER her telling the story about how her own AGS degree turned out not to have prepared her well for transfer! Amazing, again!! But I digress).

Suffice it to say that the numbers were interesting enough that I decided to delay my college-by-college account of changes in degree granting for a week (or two–I have a couple posts on “Merit Pay” that I’ve wanted to do for awhile now) to give another look at the system-wide completion numbers with our most recent year included. Here they are (click on the chart to make it bigger):

Degrees--System (2015)The numbers are astonishing. AA degrees increased almost 40% last year alone, while AS degrees more than doubled! AGS degrees are still much larger than they used to be, but down 17.4% from last year. So what happened? Something must be working…I don’t see how it could be the Pathways since they’re minimally rolled out at this point. Can’t be “Campus Solutions” Course Planner, since that just rolled out last spring. So…what the hell? I know I’m supposed to just clap and say, “Good job, everybody!” but it seems rather strange, doesn’t it? I mean, it feels kind of “Enron-y” doesn’t it? What am I missing?

I would be curious to see how many of these graduations were of students who were enrolled in 2014-2015 (and how many were students whose completion was a function of having completion credits reverse transferred from the school they transferred to. I wish I could take a survey of the recipients and find out how many were surprised to find out that they’d earned a CCC degree. Maybe none. Maybe lots?

And, per Anthony’s point (in the comments on my last week’s post) the increase probably has something to do with the huge enrollment spike we had during and over the couple years following the Great Recession of 2008. I also wonder how many of these students benefited from the relaxation of the home campus requirement to just 15 hours (when was that changed, 2014? I’m too lazy to look). But even with all of that, 575 AS degrees? I didn’t see that coming. It’ll be interesting to see what the school to school breakout is on those.

Anyway, there it is–a surprising set of numbers. What do you think? What do you know? What can you prove?

The Chancellor’s Address (Yesterday) to the City Club of Chicago

In which, the Mayor reminds everyone of what a terrible job we were doing educating a student he met in 2011 (based on pretty much nothing other than his own sense of things and our graduation rate) before announcing the new Start Scholarship partnerships with 4-year schools and offering an easy, but fallacious, equivocation between improved completion rates and “improved educational quality,” before introducing the Chancellor who announces our “preliminary” (but impressive) numbers for 2015, explains the strategies of reinvention, and engages with various criticisms of Reinvention and ‘Consolidation’ using textbook examples of various fallacies including:

~”Straw Person” (26:00–has anyone made the claim that “students don’t travel out of their neighborhoods to attend one of the City Colleges”? I don’t think that’s the point that’s been made in various critiques of consolidation. That’s obviously false. The question/doubt is about whether Child Development students will travel to Truman, which is a very different question);

~”False Dichotomy” (at one point the Chancellor says that to help students out of poverty, we must choose to provide “quality over proximity” as if the two were suddenly mutually exclusive? Can’t we provide both? If not, somebody should tell Starbucks that their business model is deeply flawed);

~and more (How many can you find?) before building to a final argument that  manages to take credit for student success on account of changes and supports that have resulted from Reinvention while deriding critics for their calls for various forms of student support. Because students need to learn the lessons of tough love. They have to want it, be hungry and make it work. So, people who provide things for students that they need are “innovative” while people who criticize those plans or ask for other kinds of supports are excuse-makers. I should try this with my classes. “I have provided you with everything you need. If you say you need more than or other than what I have provided you, I will know you are a whining excuse maker. Toughen up! It’s true that I have provided you with no textbook, but I needed no textbook and so it can be done. Make it work.”

Amazing.

My favorite quote? Speaking of Mayor Emanuel, the Chancellor says, “Neither of us have time for complicated deliberations when decisive action is required.” (13:55). That made me laugh out loud. In truth, this Chancellor and her Reinvention have accomplished many good things; our Student Services were a MESS for years after decades of neglect and administrative impairment, and they are much improved (or at least much expanded and much more attended to). They have some significant evidence of achievement, it’s true. It is, perhaps, too much to ask that a little intellectual honesty be invited along for the ride down victory lane. Anyway, you should watch this:

Website Wednesday: Models and Data

Website Wednesday is a (mostly) weekly feature in which we highlight one (or a couple) of sites from the Billions floating around the Intertoobz that just might help you with your Herculean task of educating inquiring minds. Any and all suggestions for future editions are welcome.

Here in week 7 of our semester, I’m a little less far behind than usual for some reason, but a little further behind than I was last week owing to a cold and so I didn’t have enough time to put up the post I’d planned (maybe next week!). Instead, in keeping with Kamran’s theme, I offer you three gifts:

~a truly great (and short) read called, “The Deception that Lurks in Our Data-Driven World,” that includes stories about bathroom scales, the German “Normalbaum” disaster that ensued from human efforts to make an unruly ecosystem easier to quantify and an overabundance of faith in their understanding of they system they were quantifying, and the sentence “Raw data is an oxymoron;”

~an even shorter, quicker read on one example of what happens when a model (even a good one) is mistaken for reality; and

~this fun, heretical presentation on “Big Data” (you can skim through the slides and summarizing text by clicking HERE if you don’t have time for the video):

Enjoy!

And when you’re done, go read Kamran’s piece…

Think, Know, Prove: Statistics I Want to Be Proud Of

Think, Know, Prove is an occasional Friday feature, where a topic with both mystery and importance is posted for community discussion. The title is a shortened version of the Investigative Mantra: What do we think, what do we know, what can we prove? and everything from wild speculation to resource referencing fact is welcome here.

So a while back, over a holiday break, I put together some numbers to try to put the lie to some suspicions that I held about Reinvention and the growth in degrees. I put it all together and then put it all up in one post and, frankly, think that it was so many numbers and so many charts that only a handful of people actually read through any of it (thanks for being one, Jen Asimow, and John Hader, and Mike Davis!).

When I did it, I found that my guess about the types of degrees that were driving the increase was a little bit right and a little bit wrong. I had guessed that the number of Associates in Arts (A.A.) and Associates in Science (A.S.) degrees might have gone up slightly, but that the vast majority would be the result of increases in Associates in General Studies (A.G.S. degrees). What’s the difference? Well, if you know, you can skip down. But if you don’t, there’s a big difference. A.A., and A.S. degrees are our traditional transfer degrees. Students completing those degrees will have completed the “General Education Core Curriculum,” including English 101, 102, Speech, 3 Humanities, 3 Social Sciences, a Math, and Two Sciences (one with a lab). It’s true that the world of Higher Ed has changed a lot in recent years so that not all of those courses are requirements of Bachelors degrees at all (even most) schools these days, but it also remains true that students who complete those classes, especially those who were underserved or mis-served by their high schools benefit from the learning. Meanwhile, A.G.S. degrees are different in that they require a few less hours (60 instead of 62), but also in that they have much less in the way of requirements. Students only have to take English 101 (not 102 or speech), students have to take one humanities, not three, one science instead of two (and no lab is required), etc. In my early years at HWC, students were always steered toward the A.A or A.S., rather than toward the A.G.S. degree. It was a degree for low ambitions or low achievers, generally. There were, of course, exceptions, but typically students who got that degree were done with their schooling.

When I looked at the degree numbers, though, I was surprised at (and happy to find) the size of the increases in our A.A. and A.S. numbers, but they were there–significant and real. Unfortunately, I also found a rapid and troubling increase in the number of A.G.S. degrees granted, and I worried that we were passing students through a set of classes and handing them a degree that said they were ready to transfer when the degree itself did little (or not enough) to actually prepare students for the reality of their upper level classes. I worried that our students would be hurt by their lack of preparation due to the reduced rigors of the degree requirements (compared to the A.A./A.S.) and that our school reputation would be hurt by having a large pool of under-educated graduates walking around with degrees from Harold Washington, hurting our mission and all of our students who walked out with a “real” General Education degree. At the time I didn’t even know about the fact that students receiving a degree from us could no longer use financial aid with us, meaning that a student who receives an A.G.S. degree and then upon transferring finds out they need English 102 or a Fine Arts class or whatever is then paying out-of-pocket for everything they take with us because they have graduated. But now I do, and so I also worry about the students who have to pay a lot of money with us or a WHOLE lot of money at their transfer institution for a class that they could have taken with us on financial aid if they’d been put on a different degree track.

Today, it’s a few years later, and I find myself seeing the increase in degree numbers being touted in the first or second paragraph of nearly every article about the city colleges and in every response to faculty. Most often, it seems, they are invoked as justification for whatever plans are being made, and I get that. It’s a powerful hammer. Their aim, at least one of them, was to increase the number of completions, and they’ve done that (and significantly). Furthermore, I’ve been reluctant to put it under the microscope because I do not want to even appear (much less actually be) in the position of denigrating the achievements of our students, many of whom are proud of their degrees and accomplishments, no matter what sort, and rightly so. But those worries still nag. I brought it up in August in an email exchange with someone who told me later that he thought it was a kind of “red herring,” and that the A.G.S. degree is actually a good option for a lot of students who were having to take classes they didn’t need and suffering credit loss upon transfer. Also, it was suggested that the increase in A.G.S. degrees was in part due to students being defaulted into A.G.S. programs a few years back, and that it had since changed so that students were now defaulted into A.A. programs. It was even suggested that many of the students receiving A.G.S. degrees had actually completed the G.E.C.C. package of classes. What percentage? The person didn’t know, but promised to get back with that data point. (Ahem.)

Anyway, what do those numbers look like now? Well, I’m not going to make the same mistake of pushing everything at you all at once. Oh, no. Working like Plato, I’m going to let you see the big picture first and then take you through the individual cases one by one. So, here is the data for the district. What do you think? What do you know? What can you prove?

District Degree Data (Through 2014)

Three for Thursday

Here are three options for you to check out to see what’s going on in a discipline other than your own:

~Declining Student Resilience: An article from Psychology Today about the massive spike in recent years of student needs for psych services. I have MANY criticisms of our district office, but I cannot deny that they did a really great thing in establishing Wellness Centers across the colleges and putting Michael Russell in charge of all of them. I have not seen as much of the kinds of things discussed in this article as they report–perhaps our students are more resilient than the typical, traditional student?

~The Hit Charade: From The Atlantic, an eye–opening article for anyone interested in Pop Culture (or with kids who listen to a lot of Top-40) about how a handful of unknowns who are the architects of the ear candy that dominates the pop radio airwaves. Also has some interesting stuff about re-use, artistry, and the music market.

~What Does the Giraffe Say: Speaking of music hits from Scandinavians, it turns out that giraffes DO have something to say, though not quite as catchy as “Jacha, chacha, chacha, chow!”

Reminder: Vote for FC4 Reps

Voting is happening right now in your department office for the two candidates running to represent Harold Washington College at Faculty Council of the City Colleges of Chicago (i.e., FC4).

Just in case you read this but not emails, here are the bios of the candidates, as presented in the HWFC email you received from HWFC President Jess Bader:

Hello Faculty,

We are excited to present the two candidates who have been nominated for the district level Faculty Council (FC4). Check out their bios, and be sure to vote next week. The polls will be open from Monday through Friday September 28th – October 2nd.

 

Phillip Vargas

My name is Phillip Vargas, and I am an Assistant Professor and Co-Chair of the Department of Physical Sciences. I teach both general education courses and program level physics courses. I have been teaching at HWC since Fall 2010, and believe I have worked on many projects that have positively contributed to the college. What I have enjoyed most in working on these projects has been meeting and collaborating with other dedicated faculty members. After serving as a substitute FC4 representative for the last few months I believe my voice on FC4 can help to improve the dialogue between the colleges and with district office. If elected, I would be honored to represent HWC in this capacity.

 

Jennifer Meresman

I’ve always been passionate about public education and feel very lucky to be a full-time faculty member at the Harold Washington. I first formally studied public education as an American institution when I wrote my undergrad thesis on public schools as a site for teaching civic engagement in order to strengthen democracy. This theoretical study led me to want hands-on experience teaching in a public school, so I then taught special education middle school math in Oakland, CA for three years. Although I immediately found that I loved working with students, I realized a middle school was not the right place for me, so I got a Master’s degree with the explicit goal of teaching at the community college level. After completing a Master’s in Humanities at the University of Chicago, I got a full-time position in the English Department at Harold Washington in 2006.

In 2011 I joined Reinvention, and I focused my time there on the redesign of the tenure process. I was passionate about this project because I see tenure as both an incredible opportunity and responsibility that both enables and obligates faculty to participate in shared governance, directing the course of public education. Through the two-year redesign, I got an opportunity to work with both administrators and faculty across the seven colleges, and became committed to strengthening relationships between all of these parties, ensuring that we are working together towards a shared mission.

Website Wednesday: TurnItIn

Website Wednesday is a (mostly) weekly feature in which we highlight one (or a couple) of sites from the Billions floating around the Intertoobz that just might help you with your Herculean task of educating inquiring minds. Any and all suggestions for future editions are welcome.

For years now, I’ve treated plagiarism as a learning opportunity for students. Given how differently students are taught (especially taking into consideration national and international variation in terms, definitions, and valuations) and how varied the levels of enforcement may have been in their educational past, I provide students with a definition in my syllabus and an explanation of the consequences (students found to have plagiarized may dispute the claim and choose to have their paper/appeal reviewed by the college disciplinary committee OR receive a Zero on the assignment, watch a Web tutorial about plagiarism (it’s the one you’ll find in the list of links), and complete an assignment that demonstrates their new, thorough knowledge of the most common varieties of plagiarism prior to submitting their next assignment. A second instance, then, results in an F for the course and referral to the disciplinary committee.

For years I relied on my own sense of students writing–honed through in-class exercises and multiple papers–to find violators, and I still rely primarily on that. Over those years I scrupulously avoided using plagiarism detection software on account of various objections I had to the way it worked–specifically I did not like that students papers would become part of the database and, so, contribute to the profits of the company without compensation to the students (not to mention the possibility of false positives on account of self-plagiarism). Similar objections to mine are discussed here. After years of experimenting (and failing to find) a way to speed up and improve the feedback I got my students on their writing, without sacrificing detail, Jen Asimow finally talked me into giving TurnItIn a try, persuading me that it is easy to provide common comments, as well as paper specific ones, offers a great option for voice recorded feedback, has an opt-out option that allows for keeping the students’ papers out of the company database, and otherwise convincing me that it is a pretty swell tool, and my experiences since have confirmed all that she said and more.

It remains true that some plagiarism slips through, but I don’t care because I don’t really use it for that. I almost never look at the originality reports unless I have suspicions. I’m using it for the feedback capabilities, and I like it pretty good.

Still, plagiarism is their bread-and-butter and this fall I found that they had put out some pretty good stuff on feedback and plagiarism. For example, there is this infographic (and white paper) about student and faculty perceptions related to effective feedback was interesting, and I put this online quiz about plagiarism in the folder full of “Writing Tips” that I post under “Course Resources” in Blackboard for all of my classes. I didn’t tell them that I got two wrong, though.

Anyway, if you’re interested in making more use of TurnItIn, you can (and should) check out their instructor training videos, sorted by topic.

Website Wednesday: The Digital Quad

Website Wednesday is a (mostly) weekly feature in which we highlight one (or a couple) of sites from the Billions floating around the Intertoobz that just might help you with your Herculean task of educating inquiring minds. Any and all suggestions for future editions are welcome.

Wright College President, David Potash, was less enthusiastic about the New York Times Education articles than I was, apparently. How do I know this? Because I check out his blog every couple of weeks to see what he’s been reading (and writing) about. In fact, you have two options! There’s The Digital Quad for his reviews and thoughts about Higher Ed and then hynagogicfun for everything else,

You’ll mostly find book reviews, though he sprinkles in the occasional essay (such as this recent one on transcripts). They are well written and thoughtful engagements with the books and brief enough to read pretty quickly. They are also consistently and deliberately structured and unfailingly fair in their presentation of the books, regardless of the quality of his views of them.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve thought about using one or another of his essays more than once as models for student writing about the books we’re reading and examples of the “They Say, I Say” approach, exemplifying how to say something about a book, present a summary of it, and then elaborate on the original thesis.

I am grateful that he’s willing to read a lot of stuff that I have no interest in reading or have interest in but not the time. It’s also interesting to see what he has to say about books I’ve read and admired (such as Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow and Edward Tufte’s The Visual Display of Information). I don’t always agree with his assessments, as I didn’t with respect to How College Works, but even in those cases, I appreciate the value of reading another view and being forced to rethink my own. The posts tend to follow the rhythms of the semester, you can expect a flurry (ok, that might be overstating it, but whatever) of new posts as semesters begin and end, with a post or two sprinkled in the middle. More in the summer and over breaks than during the semester when the responsibilities of the college press a bit harder, but it’s clear that whether reviewing or not, the reading is a constant

If I were forced to provide a criticism, either by a structural commitment or a forceful interlocutor, it would be that it’s impossible, ti seems, to post any comments on his site. I tried to once, but after writing it up and then signing in and then rewriting it and then hitting various buttons, I was faced with a prompt that rejected my attempt.

So, don’t try to talk back–these communication channels only run one way. But, all things considered, I guess that’s appropriate, in a way, too. Anyway, check them out, particularly The Digital Quad. It’s worth your time.

College Night at The Goodman: Disgraced

Sam the Intern writes with the following information:Disgrace Flier

My name is Sam S., the marketing intern at the Goodman Theatre. With our season starting up, the Goodman would like to invite you to attend our upcoming College Night for our show Disgraced on Tuesday September 29th starting at 6PM. Join us for pizza, a discussion with actor Behzad Dabu, and a performance of this straight from Broadway play all for $10!

Click here for a PDF version of the flier if you’d like to hang one in your class or office.

Otherwise, help spread the word!

 

Website Wednesday: New York Times Magazine Education Issue

Website Wednesday is a (mostly) weekly feature in which we highlight one (or a couple) of sites from the Billions floating around the Intertoobz that just might help you with your Herculean task of educating inquiring minds. Any and all suggestions for future editions are welcome.

So, this is less of a specific site recommendation and more of a reading highlight package from last week’s New York Times Magazine, a.k.a., the Education Issue, which was chock full of interesting stuff for reading and thinking about and forwarding to people who talk about higher education but only from the narrow perspective of their own experience, or by parroting “conventional wisdom,” or in blissful unawareness of their own ignorance (or some combination thereof). Anyway, lots of interesting stuff to poke through and ponder and argue about with other people, including:

~What is the Point of College? (by a philosopher I like a lot, Kwame Anthony Appiah)

~Are Lectures Unfair?

~New Data Gives Clearer Picture of Student Debt

~Teaching Working Students

~Is College Really Tuition Too High?

~Teaching Martin Luther King Jr. in the Age of Freddie Gray

~What the Privileged Poor Can Teach Us

Plus there’s this book review–a cautionary tale about how NOT to go about educational reform…”There is another way to approach reform, a way that includes collaboration with the teachers, instead of bullying them or insulting them. A way that involves the community rather than imposing top-down decisions. ”

Sound familiar? Happy reading!

Amuse Bouche

Amuse-bouche is a regular feature designed to add a little amusement to your day and celebrate the arrival of the (early) weekend. Suggestions welcome!

From McSweeney’s comes Lisa Nikolidakis to the rescue, just in time for tomorrow’s Humanities Department meeting. Wish I’d had one for DWFDW back on August 10th.

Faculty Meeting Bingo

Also on McSweeney’s is this bit of awesomeness–a Socratic Dialogue featuring Socrates and Taylor Swift.

Non-Random Readings: Calculating the Value of College

From this week’s New Yorker and just in time for the September board meeting comes a timely review of the arguments made on behalf of (and against) various theories of the value of a college degree, which in one writer’s estimation lead to a conclusion similar to the one we’ve been trying to make in various ways since 2010:

Perhaps the strongest argument for caring about higher education is that it can increase social mobility, regardless of whether the human-capital theory or the signalling theory is correct. A recent study by researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco showed that children who are born into households in the poorest fifth of the income distribution are six times as likely to reach the top fifth if they graduate from college. Providing access to college for more kids from deprived backgrounds helps nurture talents that might otherwise go to waste, and it’s the right thing to do. (Of course, if college attendance were practically universal, having a degree would send a weaker signal to employers.) But increasing the number of graduates seems unlikely to reverse the over-all decline of high-paying jobs, and it won’t resolve the income-inequality problem, either. As the economist Lawrence Summers and two colleagues showed in a recent simulation, even if we magically summoned up college degrees for a tenth of all the working-age American men who don’t have them—by historical standards, a big boost in college-graduation rates—we’d scarcely change the existing concentration of income at the very top of the earnings distribution, where C.E.O.s and hedge-fund managers live.

Being more realistic about the role that college degrees play would help families and politicians make better choices. It could also help us appreciate the actual merits of a traditional broad-based education, often called a liberal-arts education, rather than trying to reduce everything to an economic cost-benefit analysis. “To be clear, the idea is not that there will be a big financial payoff to a liberal arts degree,” Cappelli writes. “It is that there is no guarantee of a payoff from very practical, work-based degrees either, yet that is all those degrees promise. For liberal arts, the claim is different and seems more accurate, that it will enrich your life and provide lessons that extend beyond any individual job. There are centuries of experience providing support for that notion.” 

Read the rest to see how he got there…

Website Wednesday: New Rambler

Website Wednesday is a (mostly) weekly feature in which we highlight one (or a couple) of sites from the Billions floating around the Intertoobz that just might help you with your Herculean task of educating inquiring minds. Any and all suggestions for future editions are welcome.

 

The New Rambler is my favorite kind of book review site–the kind where I leave feeling smarter. It’s funded by the University of Chicago law school, but it publishes book reviews on more than legal issues. Their own samuel_johnsondescription of it is as follows: “The New Rambler publishes reviews of books about ideas, including literary fiction. It takes its name from Samuel Johnson’s periodical, The Rambler.” (Yes, that’s a picture of Samuel Johnson there, reading away.)

The reviews cover books on Social Science, International Relations, Business, Political Science, Public Law, Legal Theory, Law and Politics, History, Religion, Literature, Philosophy, Psychology, the Arts and Humanities, and Science, as well as Middle East Studies, Gender and Sexuality, Film and Media Studies, Journalism, and more, all easily searchable by category.

Best is the fact that the reviews are so well written, that by the end of them, I feel like I have read the book (and almost certainly know more about the subject than I would have if I had ONLY read the book). Scroll through the reviews on the first page and see if there’s something that grabs your interest. I bet there will be…