Society
Education
well-being-cover                                                                       Well-Being: Individual, Community and Social Perspectives. Edited by John Haworth (Research Fellow, Research Institute for Health and Social Change Manchester Metropolitan U) and Graham Hart (Director, Center for Sexual Health & HIV Research, Royal Free & U College Medical School, London). NY & UK: Palgrave Macmillan, Jan 2012, 296 pages, $32pb. Addresses well-being from individual, community, and social perspectives in an integrated manner and complements the harm-based focus of much social scientific research into health. Chapters by a wide range of academics present a new dynamic view of well-being for the 21C and focus on positive psychology and the development of well-being; health, well-being and social capital; a life course approach to well-being; politics and well-being; whether well-being is local or global; interdependence of personal and communal well-being; societal inequality, health and well-being. (SOCIETY * HEALTH * HAPPINESS/WELL-BEING * WELL-BEING PERSPECTIVES)
Uneducated Guesses: Using Evidence to Uncover Misguided Education Policies.  Howard Wainer (research scientist, National Board of Medical Examiners; Adjunct Prof of Statistics, Wharton School, U of Pennsylvania).  Princeton NJ: Princeton U Press, Sept 2011, 200p, $24.95.  Uses statistical evidence to show why some of the most widely held beliefs in education today – and the policies that resulted – are wrong.  For instance, the push to substitute achievement tests with aptitude tests makes no sense; and colleges that make the SAT optional for applicants end up with underperforming students and inflated national rankings.  Challenges the thinking behind the rise of advanced placement courses in high schools and demonstrates why assessing teachers based on how well their students perform on tests – a central pillar of the recent education reforms – is misguided.  Exposes today’s educational policies to the light of empirical evidence, and offers solutions for fairer and more viable future policies.  (EDUCATION * EDUCATION POLICIES QUESTIONED)
Reading the Qur’an: The Contemporary Relevance of the Sacred Text of Islam.  Ziauddin Sardar (Visiting Prof, City U, London).  NY: Oxford UP, Sept 2011, 424p, $29.95pb.  For far too many Muslims, the Qur’an has become a stick used for ensuring conformity and suppressing dissenting views, a justification for misogyny, a validation for hating others, an obsession with dress and ritual, and rules for running modern states.  Sardar, a cultural critic and scholar of Islam (who also serves as editor of Futures: The Journal of Policy, Planning, and Futures Studies), calls for a more open, less doctrinaire approach to reading the Qur’an – a dynamic text that each generation should encounter anew.  Religious life is not about standing still, but always striving to make our life, our society, the entire world around us a better place for everyone.  The Qur’an is examined for what it says about current issues such as power and politics, rights of women, sex, homosexuality, the veil, freedom of expression, and evolution.  (ISLAM AND THE QUR’AN RECONSIDERED * QUR’AN AND ISLAM  RECONSIDERED * RELIGION)
Dignity: The Essential Role It Plays in Resolving Conflict in Our Lives and Relationships.  Donna Hicks (Associate, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard U).  Foreword by Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.  New Haven, CT: Yale U Press, Sept 2011, 240p, $27.50.  The desire for dignity is universal and powerful; it motivates interactions in families, communities, the business world, and relationships at all levels.  When dignity is violated, the response is likely to involve aggression, violence, and vengeance.  Offers a new set of strategies for becoming aware of dignity’s vital role in our lives and learning to put dignity into practice in everyday life.  Topics include the elements of dignity, dignity violations, responses to violations, restoring relationships, dignity and leadership and so forth.  “By choosing dignity as a way of life, we open the way to greater peace within ourselves and to a safer and more humane world for all.”   (METHODS * DIGNITY * SECURITY AND DIGNITY)
Macroeconomics Beyond the NAIRU.  Servaas Storm and C.W.M. Naastepad (both Senior Lecturers in Economics, Delft U of Technology).  Cambridge MA Harvard U Press, Jan 2012, 290p, $49.95 (also as e-book).  Economists and the governments they advise have based their macroeconomic policies on the idea of a “natural rate of unemployment.” Government policy that pushes the rate below this point--about 6%--supposedly triggers an accelerated rate of inflation that is hard to reverse.  Argues that this concept is flawed: a stable non-accelerating inflation rate of unemployment (NAIRU), independent of macroeconomic policy, does not exist.  Consequently, government decisions based on the NAIRU not only are misguided but have huge and avoidable social costs, namely, high unemployment and sustained inequality.  NAIRU’s neglect of labor’s impact on technological change and productivity eclipses the many positive contributions that labor and its regulation make to economic performance.   When these positive effects are taken into account, a more humane policy becomes feasible—one that would enhance productivity and progress. (UNEMPLOYMENT: “NATURAL RATE” QUESTIONED* ECONOMICS AND NAIRU)
ethics-in-the-light-of-childhood
Ethics in Light of Childhood.  John Wall (Assoc Prof of Religion and Childhood Studies, Rutgers U).  Washington: Georgetown U Press, Aug 2010, 216p, $34.95pb.  Childhood faces humanity with its own deepest and most perplexing questions.  Reimagines ethical thought and practice in light of the experiences of the third of humanity who are children. Much like humanism, feminism, womanism, and environmentalism, a new “childism” is required that transforms moral thinking, relations, and societies in fundamental ways. Explores childhood's varied impacts on ethical thinking throughout history, advances the emerging interdisciplinary field of childhood studies, and reexamines basic assumptions in contemporary moral theory and practice.
(CHILDREN AND ETHICS * ETHCS AND CHILDREN * “CHILDISM)
a-convergence-of-civilizations
A Convergence of Civilizations: The Transformation of Muslim Societies Around the World.  Youssef Courbageand Emmanuel Todd (both French National Institute for Demographic Studies).  NY: Columbia U Press, April 2011, 160p, $35 (also e-book).  We are told that Western/Christian and Muslim/Arab civilizations are on the verge of destroying each other, but measured analysis shows a rapprochement between the two civilizations.  Muslims are a diverse group that proves the immutability and individuality of Islam.  Looks at Muslim groups across the world to underscore “the massive secularization movement spreading throughout Arab and Muslim populations.”  Similar to the history of Christianity, the Muslim world is now entering into a global modernity.
(WORLD FUTURES * SECULAR MUSLIM WORLD)
the-politics-of-imagining-asia
The Politics of Imagining Asia.  Wang Hui (Prof of Literature and History, Tsinghua U, Beijing).  Edited by Theodore Huters (Prof Emeritus of Chinese, UCLA).  Cambridge: Harvard U Press, March 2011, 358p, $35 (also as e-book).  Hui explores an alternative modernity that does not rely on imported conceptions of Chinese history and its legacy, and argues that models based on Western notions of empire and nation-state fail to account for the richness and diversity of pre-modern Chinese historical practice.  Nation-state logic does not explain the Chinese language standardization or “The Tibetan Question”.  Dismissing European-born standards to assess modern China’s evolution, Hui seeks to identify new models in complex multifaceted arrangements that defined his country and much of Asia for centuries.
(REGIONS/NATIONS * ASIA: RETHINKING MODERNITY * CHINA)
The-Lab
The Lab: Creativity and Culture.  David Edwards (founding director, Le Laboratoire, Paris and Idea Translation Lab, Harvard U; www.davidideas.com).  Cambridge MA: Harvard U Press, Oct 2010/224p/$22.95.  Describes an emerging cultural phenomenon in the US and Europe where artists and scientists collaborate to produce intriguing cultural content and surprising innovations. Advocates the “artscience lab” (a new kind of educational art lab based on a contemporary science lab model) as a new innovation model.
(SCIENCE/TECHNOLOGY * INNOVATION * “ARTSCIENCE LAB”)
The-Same-Thing
The Same Thing Over and Over: How School Reformers Get Stuck in Yesterday’s Ideas.  Frederick M. Hess (director of Education Policy Initiatives, American Enterprise Institute; editor, Education Next).  Cambridge MA: Harvard U Press, Nov 2010/282p/$27.95.  Whatever they think of school vouchers or charter schools, teacher merit pay or bilingual education, most education reformers take for granted the 19th century heritage: a one teacher-one classroom model, the professional full-time teacher, students grouped in age-defined groups, the nine months calendar, and top-down local district control.  Uniformity gets in the way of quality, and  reformers should create a higher variety of schools to meet the needs of a vastly more complex and demanding society.
(EDUCATION * SCHOOL REFORM)
complexity
Complexity: A Guided TourMelanie Mitchell (Prof of Computer Sci, Portland State U and External Prof, Santa Fe Institute). NY: Oxford UP, March 2009/416p/$29.95. An overview of the ideas underlying complex systems science, current leading-edge research, the relationship between complexity and evolution, and prospects for the field’s contribution to solving some of the most important scientific questions of our time.                                       (METHODS)
the-end-of-money
The End of Money and the Future of CivilizationThomas H. Greco Jr. White River Junction VT: Chelsea Green, April 2009/269p/$19.95pb. On the next stage of monetary evolution that can liberate us from centralized money power, with design proposals for exchange-system architectures for local, regional, national, and global financial systems.                                                      (ECONOMY * MONEY)
the-making-of-americans
The Making of Americans: Democracy and Our SchoolsE. D. Hirsch, Jr (University Prof of Education and Humanities, U of Virginia). Yale U Press, Sept 2009/272p/$25. Author of Cultural Literacy and The Knowledge Deficit argues that our schools continue to disappoint us because educational theorists, especially in the early grades, have for the past 60 years rejected academic content in favor of “child-centered” theories at odds with how children really learn. The result is failing schools and widening inequality, as only children from content-rich and usually better-off homes can benefit from the schools educational methods. Proposes a nation-wide, specific, grade-by-grade content-based curriculum to give all children an equal opportunity.                          (EDUCATION * SCHOOL CURRICULUM)
red-families-good
Red Families v. Blue Families: Legal Polarization and the Creation of CultureNaomi Cahn (Prof of Law, GWU) and June Carbone (Chair of Law, UM-Kansas City). NY: Oxford UP, Jan 2010/288p/$29.95. The Blue Family Paradigm emphasizes women’s workplace participation, egalitarian gender roles, and delay of family formation, while the Red Family Paradigm rejects these new family norms; yet, the areas of the US most committed to traditional “Red” values have the highest divorce and teen pregnancy rates, fueling greater calls for traditional values.                                                                        (SOCIETY)
to-change-the-world-good
To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity TodayJames Davison Hunter(Distinguished Prof of Religion and Culture, U of Virginia).  NY: Oxford U Press, April 2010/384p/$27.95.  The call to make the world a better place is inherent in Christian belief and practice, but why have efforts so often failed or gone tragically awry? Appraises the most popular models of world-changing among Christians today, showing the ways they are inherently flawed and incapable of generating intended change.  All too often these political theologies of both Christian Right and Left worsen the very problems they seek to solve. A different paradigm of Christian engagement with the world is needed: the practice of faithful presence for both individuals and institutions.
(CHRISTIAN WORLD-CHANGING QUESTIONED)
Transforming-Teacher-Education
Transforming Teacher Education: What Went Wrong with Teacher Training, and How We Can Fix It. Edited byValerie Hill-Jackson and Chance W. Lewis (both Assoc Profs of Eduction, Texas A&M). Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing, April 2010, 288p, $27.50pb. The expert advice dispensed by schools of education is not connected to any theory of learning or to any reality of life in school classrooms. The best hope for more effective teachers is to base the budgets of teacher prep programs on the number of graduates serving in challenging schools and their effectiveness with students; salaries of hiring officials should be based on how well they identify and retain quality teachers.
(EDUCATION * TEACHER TRAINING QUESTIONED)
The-Future-of-Education
The Future of Education: Reimagining Our Schools from the Ground UpKieran Egan (Vancouver; Prof of Education, Simon Fraser U). New Haven, CT: Yale U Press, Feb 2010, 208p, $20pb (also eBook; hc Feb 2008 ). The goals of education—whether academic, social, and developmental growth—are flawed and incompatible. Proposes a process of Imaginative Education that would dramatically change teaching and curriculum.              (EDUCATION * SCHOOL REFORM)

 

argaiv1921

badstudentsnotbadschools1
Bad Students, Not Bad Schools.  Robert Weissberg (Prof Emeritus of Pol Sci, U of Illinois-Urbana).  Piscataway, NJ: Transaction Publishers, April 2010, 370p, $39.95.  An unpopular stance that attributes poor academic achievement to the demographic mix of students.  Schools are wrongly blamed for the woeful state of US education.  Rather, poor performance is due to poor English skills, mediocre intellectual ability, and retention of bad students in school that impede learning of others.  Most of America’s educational woes would vanish if indifferent, troublesome students were permitted to leave when they had absorbed as much as they could learn.   Education would benefit from rewarding the smartest students, not spending fortunes in a futile quest to uplift the bottom.               (EDUCATION REFORM)
Homeroom-Security
Homeroom Security: School Discipline in An Age of Fear.  Aaron Kupchik (Assoc Prof of Sociology and Criminal Justice, U of Delaware).  NY: New York U Press, Aug 2010, 288p, $35.  School crime and violence have been decreasing nationally for the past two decades.  Yet, current school discipline policies at many high schools —police officers, armed security guards, surveillance cameras, metal detectors, zero-tolerance policies, random searches for drugs, mandatory suspensions and expulsions—are common, based on the assumption that they keep children safe.  But they focus on enforcing rules instead of addressing student problems; they are often unhelpful, and can hurt students and make schools more violent places.  Students who are most at risk of school problems and dropping out are the ones most affected by these counterproductive policies.  Offers strategies to make schools and students safe.
(SCHOOL SECURITY POLICIES * EDUCATION AND DISCIPLINE)
DIYU
DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education.  Anya Kamenetz (writer, Fast Company 
magazine; www.anyakamenetz.blogspot.com).  White River Junction VT: Chelsea Green, April 2010/208p/$14.95pb (e-book available).  Makes the case against college, and for education.  In the US the price of college tuition has increased more than any other major good or service for the last 20 years.  Almost half of college students don’t graduate; those who do have unprecedented levels of student loan debt, which constitutes a credit bubble similar to the mortgage crisis. The current system particularly fails first-generation and low-income college students, and students of color. The university needs to reform: the future lies in personal learning networks and paths, learning that blends experiential and digital approaches, and free and open-source educational models.                 (HIGHER EDUCATION: REFORM)
Learning-In-Depth
Learning in Depth: A Simple Innovation That Can Transform Schooling.  Kieran Egan (Simon Fraser U).  Chicago IL: U of Chicago Press, Nov 2010/224p/$25.  The author of The Future of Education: Reimagining Our Schools from the Ground Up (Yale UP, 2008) and The Educated Mind (U of Chicago, 1997) maintains that real education consists of both general knowledge and detailed understanding. According to his proposed plan to incorporate deep knowledge into basic education, students follow the usual curriculum, but in addition they study in depth one topic (apples, birds, sacred buildings, mollusks etc). Thus, they expand understanding of their topic, build portfolios of knowledge, and appreciate expertise.   A number of schools have already found Egan’s plan is simple to implement, but radical in its effects.                (EDUCATION * DEEP KNOWLEDGE * LEARNING IN DEPTH)
futureofart1
The Future of Art in a Postdigital Age: From Hellenistic to Hebraic Consciousness (Second Edition).  Mel Alexenberg (head, School of the Arts, Emuna College, Jerusalem).  Intellect Books (dist by U of Chicago Press), Sep 2010/304p/$60.  Announces a paradigm shift: Western civilization’s transition from embracing its Hellenistic to focusing on its Hebraic roots. The confluence between art and the Jewish structure of consciousness enhances the potential of art. Postdigital art features creative encounters among, art, science, technology, and human consciousness. (SOCIETY * ART: PARADIGM SHIFT * POSTDIGITAL ART)
slowtravelandtoursim1
Slow Travel and Tourism.  Janet Dickinson and Les Lumsdon.  London & Sterling VA: Earthscan(dist by Stylus), July 2010/266p/$150.  Advocates slow travel – holiday travel where air and car transport is rejected in favor of more environmentally benign forms of overland transport. Examines trends in tourism transport, recent climate change debates, low-carbon trouism, the potential for new consumption patterns, and current business models that facilitate hyper-mobility.   (SLOW TRAVEL * SUSTAINABLE TOURISM * TOURISM AND SLOW TRAVEL)

 

Power-and-Love
Power and Love: A Theory and Practice of Social Change.  Adam Kahane (Reos Partners).  San Francisco CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Jan 2010, 192p, $16.95pb (also in PDF e-book for #11.87).  The groups that manage to solve complex collective problems have the ability to balance power (the pursuit of certain purposes) with love (individuals’ drive to unite with others). Drawing on firsthand experiences working with executives, politicians, military, trade unionists, and many others to address diverse and complex challenges (economic development, food security, healthcare, climate change), Kahane shows how some groups succeed while others fail in reaching sustainable, systemic solutions.
(SOCIAL CHANGE * METHODS)
 
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