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School of Humanities and Social Sciences News

Keyword: liberal arts

What is critical thinking?  Rob Jenkins offers a wonderful breakdown of this overused and under analyzed concept in a recent column for Chronicle Vitae.  It is not, Jenkins notes, simply a term that sounds good but means nothing.  What is it then?  Take a close critical look at Jenkins' piece to find out!

James M. Lang discusses the importance of "smartness" in a recent article for the Chronicle of Higher EducationBuilding on Alexander W. Astin's 2016 book Are you Smart Enough? How Colleges’ Obsession With Smartness Shortchanges Students, Lang considers why colleges and universities focus on the achievements of the incoming class over those of the graduating class.  Such a focus, he suggests, is akin to hospitals measuring success by the health of a patient when he/she enters the hospital instead of the health of the patient as she/he leaves. Moreover, attention to traditional measures of smartness for incoming students (grades, SAT scores, etc.) often works directly against initiatives to diversify the student body.  If higher education's mission is to improve the lives and prospects of our students, perhaps we should focus less on their smartness at the point of admission and more on how we can help them get to someplace great by the time they leave.

Never underestimate the power of a good story.  Stories have ways of sticking with us and can sometimes be more effective than reams of facts and data in getting a point across.  What is the story we tell about humanities and social sciences?  Why does the work we do matter?  In Inside Higher Ed, Michael Stoner reminds us that storytelling is our disciplinary gift and we should use it to tell the world why our work is important.

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