online course materials

Related to a past post in which I mentioned Erik Wright’s podcasts of his lectures is this story in which an MIT physics professor, Walter Lewin, has become an online star because of his lectures. I found myself watching them and loving them. I also discovered that MIT puts a lot of course materials online. This, I think, is a wonderful idea. A way to make education more widely available. But I was sad to see that there was no sociology! We need to get with the times.

starting off

I’ve been preoccupied with work and haven’t had a blogging groove this week, but The Colonel’s last post about students giving gifts has led to a thread about students bringing smorgasbordly food-spreads to their thesis and dissertation defenses. If Scatterplot contributes to reducing this practice, I would feel like this blog had made a worthy contribution to academickind. (Bringing cookies is fine but not obliged; donuts instead of cookies, even better.)

But: regarding thesis or dissertation defenses, what about the practice Continue reading “starting off”

’tis the season

You don’t have to be an economic sociologist to understand that as a professor, it is not straight forward to get gifts from students. It’s that time of the year (or maybe one of those times in addition to the end of the academic year) when gifts might appear. What to do? I haven’t developed a formal policy about this, but maybe I should.

My preference is for students not to give me gifts. And if it were to come up, I would say no ahead of time. But it doesn’t usually come up (people don’t usually say: “I’ll be stopping by to give you a gift.”) and it’s awkward and rude to reject something when someone’s already giving it to you. So what to do? Continue reading “’tis the season”

without reservation

How to support students from disadvantaged backgrounds is something about which I think (and worry and strategize) a great deal.  I’m happy that this has emerged as a topic on this site and look forward to learning from your experiences and suggestions.

In the meanwhile, here’s something incredibly easy that we can all do:

Continue reading “without reservation”


I’ve been working with an undergraduate, a senior.  She is African American, from a poor family.  None of her elders went to college, although a few cousins are doing it.  She graduated at the top of her class in an inner-city high school, where she says she never had to do any work to make As.  Her writing is markedly deficient compared to the predominantly-affluent predominantly-privileged students here, and she struggles academically.  Continue reading “disadvantage”