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The Sociology of Student Affairs: Higher Ed’s Equality-Driven Staff Cadre

This article*, which relay’s some socioeconomic characteristics of student affairs staff, partially explains why some in that staff circle *may* swing more to the left of faculty and administrators. The piece contains some notes to keep in mind when one is tempted to find fault with some of the excesses of student affairs offices. Read more…


Ideas and Things

This promotional piece, by Ray Haberski, discusses a book to which I contributed an essay.

Sage House News: The Cornell University Press Blog

Can we be forgiven for feeling overwhelmed by American culture and politics? Daily we read or more like hear about political polarization, deep ideological divides, a politicized Supreme Court, protests over race and history. Of course, there are histories and context to each issue and conflict, but sometimes what we need is something more fundamental. Behind all these things are ideas.

Intellectual historians have attracted larger and larger audiences that are hungry for explanations about the origins, contexts, and consequences of ideas that seem more powerful than ever. How do we understand a society riddled by profound contradictions—a society that transitioned, most recently, from Barack Obama to Donald Trump?

Ideas matter. A lot. Most people recognize as much. Intellectual history—the study of ideas in the past—thus has a lot to offer people. With my colleague Andrew Hartman, we have co-edited a collection conceived with this basic fact in mind.


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Student Evaluations

An old graduate school friend from Loyola, Abe Schwab–currently an associate professor of philosophy and medical ethicist at IPFW–wrote an interesting reflection on “the ethics of student evaluations and program accreditations.”

I surprised at how much the complaints of his students mirrored those I’ve heard from my past students (prior to the fall of 2018)—even though Schwab’s students are in philosophy rather than history. Here are the passages that resonated: Read more…

It Happens

The essence and mystery of freedom, in Christian theological terms:

“For it happens that God does not give some the assistance by which they may avoid sin, which assistance were He to give, they would not sin. But He does all this according to the order of His wisdom and justice, since He Himself is Wisdom and Justice.” – Thomas Aquinas, *Summa Theologica*, II-I, Question 79, Article 1 (Respondeo)

…it happens…

Is there a more fraught condition, or moment, in that short phrase? It happens–to you, because of you, around you, for you, in spite of you. Things happen, because God, in a mystery, does not at this time choose to give you the assistance you need. Shit happens. Read more…

Consumerism and the Commodification of Student Advising

I really admire David M. Perry’s work, but something feels off, to me, about this Chronicle reflection on student advising and customer service. Bear with me as I work out why it left me feeling uncomfortable. Read more…

Thoughts on Deneen’s Anti-Liberalism: Or, Against a Confederacy of Abbot-led Cooperatives

I’m no fan of extreme individualism, but the way to constraining it is not through Patrick Deneen’s revisionist history of “liberalism” and a tyranny of the parochial. I was struck by this passage from Hugo Drochon’s reflection on Deneen’s new book (Why Liberalism Failed):

Rising inequality, the degradation of the environment, decreasing living standards, increasing loneliness, the destructive polarisation of our political world – Deneen blames liberalism for all the ills currently afflicting society. Surprisingly, he does not attribute these ills to the failures of liberalism, but to its success.

Like many conservatives, Deneen sees liberalism not simply as a theory about how to conduct politics, but as an all-encompassing ideology, like fascism and communism, that extends to philosophy, society and the economy. And it is an ideology that has won – which is why, on Deneen’s view, everything that is wrong with the world can be blamed on it. If liberalism is the cause of all our troubles, then the answer, according to Deneen, is to get rid of it altogether.

Conservative Catholics, it seems, always want to chuck the baby (i.e. freedom) with the bathwater (i.e. liberalism). Why? Read more…

My Review of Dorothy Day’s Loaves and Fishes

Day-Loaves-and-Fishes[Note: Also posted in Goodreads. – TL]

This is a wonderful recounting—touching and moving—from Dorothy Day about her years with the Catholic Worker Movement. Of course she founded that movement with Peter Maurin. This book consists of her memories, reflections, and wisdom gained from Catholic Worker activities.

Part I covers the beginnings, with Maurin, as well as the paper, the houses of hospitality, the farms, and activities on behalf of pacifism. Part II address the larger themes of poverty and precarity—and how Day, Maurin, and Catholic Worker staff and associates handle those themes. Part III consists of Day’s memories and intimate portraits of various associates: Maurin (in depth), Ammon Hennacy, priests and members of the hierarchy who have lent their support, and various writers and helpers of the Catholic Worker paper. In the last section, Part IV, Day reflects on various homes and farms owned and run by the Catholic Worker staff. The last chapter of that section contains Day’s integration of Catholic thought and sacred scripture as related to the movement. But she is unsparing of herself and the contradictions—practical, theoretical, and theological—that have arisen over time. Read more…