Two quick links from yesterday’s Inside Higher Ed that a browser crash kept me from posting yesterday:
1) A story on a professor at Idaho who asks students to sign a waiver acknowledging that they may be offended by some of the material in his film studies class. There’s a bit of discussion of whether this is a good idea or not, but the main effect on my end is to make me grateful that I’m not a humanities professor.
From talking to colleagues on the other side of campus, there’s a whole bunch of stuff that they have to put up with that we don’t in the sciences. It’s rare to find a literature or politics class that doesn’t challenge at least some of the beliefs held by students, and some of them react very badly. Some of the things they report reading on course comment sheets are really pretty scary.
I’m extremely happy that this isn’t an issue in physics. I mean, I suppose it’s possible that some student is offended by, say, the Special Theory of Relativity, but really, I don’t feel obliged to care. That’s how the world works, and there’s no escaping it.
2) The other notable article is a piece by Eszter Hargittai, also of Crooked Timber, on how to write inquiring email to academics in a way that improves your chance of getting a response. Lots of people have linked this, most of them sadly noting that the people most in need of this advice won’t actually read it. I agree with that assessment, but the advice is too good not to pass on.