Some thoughts from a community college dean on graduate training. Recommends some changes to how we do it, and that we ought to do less of it. Focuses more on graduate training in the humanities, but the piece applies equally well in the sciences, including ecology.
The Liber Ero postdoctoral fellowship program is a new, privately endowed program supporting postdocs doing applied conservation research. The competition is open to people of all nationalities, but you have to be based in Canada and jointly sponsored by an academic and a conservation practitioner. The Liber Ero program is modeled on the Smith Fellows program in the US. It’s an attractive award, 2 years at a salary of $55,000/year, plus $15,000/year for travel and research. Application deadline is March 31. I’m not an especially applied guy and I admit I don’t have many contacts in Canadian government or conservation organizations. But if you’re interested in this and have in mind some project that you think might be up my alley (say, because it gets at interesting fundamental questions in population/community ecology as well as having applied relevance), by all means drop me a line.
The New York Times comes out against MOOCs–and indeed against all online-only college courses, except for highly-motivated students who are well-prepared for college-level work. A reality check for the Clay Shirkys of the world, and it highlights the limits of arguments for MOOCs based on their low cost. If you drop out of a course (any course), you’ve basically gotten nothing from it, no matter how little you paid. Even a really low-cost course will have a terrible cost-benefit ratio for the students if they fail to complete it. (HT Economist’s View)
Can you trust Jared Diamond? Jared Diamond is one of the great “big picture” scientists of our time. But at what point does a broad-brush big picture become too broad-brush? At what point does “zooming out” so that you can “see the forest for the trees” turn into mistaking other sorts of landscapes for forests? Related old posts here, here, and here. (HT Economist’s View)
Links Having Nothing To Do With Ecology, That Only I Care About: The New York Times says that “Hastings-on-Hudson is a village, in a Wittgensteinian sort of way.” A better example of “language on holiday” could hardly be asked for–what could it possibly mean? Crooked Timber has the answer, with the funniest Wittgenstein-based Top 10 list you are ever likely to read. 😉
The Scholarly Kitchen argues that peer review serves several functions besides just validating the technical correctness of papers, and that validating technical correctness may well be the function that peer review is least able to fulfill.