Tuesday, October 21, 2008

How to Brand a School

Jessic R. Feldman and Robert Shilling, eds., What Should I read Next? 70 University of Virginia Professors Recommend Readings in History, Politics, Literature, Match, Science, Technology, the Arts, and More (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2008) is a commendable project suggesting how to reach the public. Each faculty member tackles an interesting area (examples -- media and politics or how computing changes thinking), writes several pages of introduction to the topic, and annotates five significant or compelling books for reading into the topic. Any school, including any professional school could do the same; all that is required is for faculty to work together, to read, and to be willing to exert a little effort. We could transform this blog into such a public device, except that it seems to be dying -- there are just about three, maybe four on a good day, of us contributing to it.


Anonymous said...

Does this indicate people do not read anymore or just don't make the effort in their busy lives? It's striking in some ways having just returned last week from a faculty committee interview and the very first question I was asked by the most senior faculty member was just that "What was the last book you have read?" hmmm wonder what that says.

Richard J. Cox said...

I hope it means they are not making the effort to report on their reading. If faculty are not reading, what is it that they are brining into the classroom?

Anonymous said...

It can also mean they do not read anything or have anything interesting to say about what they read, when they read.
Not only question what are they bringing to a classroom, but what are they bringing to a department, a school, a university, and the larger intellectual community?

Getting back to my recent faculty committee interview example, this was the question posed first by a senior faculty member in the dept. for 45 years. (insights?)
While 20 others sat with carefully structured interview questions, the most senior faculty asked the most direct and simplest question. "What was the last book you have read?"

Personally, I thought this statement represented a.) that canned spam/standardized interview questions can say very little about someone b.) by asking a more basic question, it can provide insights on a more personal level about getting to know one's habits, interests and natural curiosity, and areas for unrehearsed responses. i.e. ability to think on one's feet.

For those familiar with the books publisher and campus, UVA was founded by Thomas Jefferson's (and nearby home Monticello), who's famous quote was "I cannot live without books" He also viewed the university not as a "house" but as an intellectual "village". If you have visited the campus and Monticello, Jefferson's many eclectic interests and a vibrant intellectual life is reflected in everything on campus (architecture, buildings, gardens etc), his writings, and at his home/estate in Charlottesville VA. What inspires people? silence?

Anonymous said...

here is a link to UVA Academical Village


"For Thomas Jefferson, learning was an integral part of life. The "academical village" is based on the assumption that the life of the mind is a pursuit for all participants in the University, that learning is a lifelong and shared process, and that interaction between scholars and students enlivens the pursuit of knowledge."

So there is a strong tradition at UVA.