Monday, 17 December 2018

article: "Law Schools are Bad for Democracy"

There is a lengthy article in the Chronicle of Higher Education Review today authored by Samuel Moyn, a professor at Yale Law School, with the title Law Schools are Bad for Democracy: They whitewash the grubby scramble for power.
The author spells out a number of shortcomings of what law schools do; he says "Law school allows for doing well. But does it allow for doing good?"
He then suggests that there are "two especially imperative fixes" that can help law schools change for the better:
The first involves how law schools prove to their newest entrants that the institutions really are the pluralistic spaces they nervously claim to be, rather than factories for mass conversion of pliant subjects into large-firm lawyers.... And for the sake of our national life, law schools must take up the duty of inculcating in their students and in the public a critical attitude toward the operations of "the rule of law" in general — including a critical attitude toward the routine exaltation of the judiciary...What is lacking in public discussions about law school is attention to what it means for legal elites to serve the democratic conversation about how the people rules itself. Rather than burnishing the credentials of law and its royal judicial stewards, we should insist on the centrality of the people in a democratic legal order."

Friday, 14 December 2018

University of California takes on Elsevier journal subscription fees

Both the Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Education have stories about how the University of California system is trying to leverage its massive amount of research output - almost 10% of the research output of the United States - to negotiate fees with academic publishing giant Elsevier. The UC system's five year subscription contract with Elsevier ends on December 31. In a letter to faculty, "campus officials asked faculty members to consider declining to review articles for Elsevier journals until negotiations 'are clearly moving in a productive direction.' The letter also asked professors to consider publishing research elsewhere, including in prestigious open-access journals. The California system wants to fundamentally alter how it pays for journal content from publishers like Elsevier and to accelerate open-access publishing in the process.

Data visualization: world population

The Pudding is a blog that uses visual essays to explain ideas debated in culture. A recent post is titled "Population Mountains" and looks at the population of the world in a 3D format so that big cities look like tall mountains. It's a very interesting perspective. As the author says, it can be "eye-opening to see how the world’s population is so unevenly distributed... What stands out is each city’s form, a unique mountain that might be like the steep peaks of lower Manhattan or the sprawling hills of suburban Atlanta. When I first saw a city in 3D, I had a feel for its population size that I had never experienced before."

hat tip: Pat Roncevich