Saturday, January 4, 2014

NEIU's president against the boycott

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TO: University Community

FROM: Sharon Hahs, President

DATE: January 3, 2014

RE: Opposition to Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions

Northeastern Illinois University upholds the principle and practice of academic freedom, and, therefore, opposes boycotts of academic institutions or scholars in any region of the world. We strongly endorse the Association of American Universities’ (AAU) statement opposing a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. The AAU statement, issued on December 20, 2013, and signed by the organization’s executive committee, says that:

“Any such boycott of academic institutions directly violates academic freedom, which is a fundamental principle of AAU universities and of American higher education in general. Academic freedom is the freedom of university faculty responsibly to produce and disseminate knowledge through research, teaching, and service, without undue constraint. It is a principle that should not be abridged by political considerations. American colleges and universities, as well as like institutions elsewhere, must stand as the first line of defense against attacks on academic freedom.”

We join higher education institutions nationally in support of this statement.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

An academic scandal headed for Chicago

Academicians from all over the world will gather in Chicago for the 129th annual convention of the 30,000-member Modern Language Association. The MLA, according to its website, provides opportunities for teachers of English and foreign languages "to share their scholarly findings and teaching experiences with colleagues and to discuss trends in the academy."

The four-day convention, starting Jan. 9, features exhibitions, opportunities for job interviews — and 810 sessions, all but one of which will address topics connected to the study of language and literature. The one exception is entitled "Academic Boycotts: A Conversation about Israel and Palestine." "This roundtable," the MLA website explains, "addresses the political movement Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israel, seen by its defenders as a viable means to end the Palestinian occupation."

That the only political session at the MLA targets Israel must appear strange to the unbiased observer. Anyone familiar with the Middle East will wonder what is meant by ending "the Palestinian occupation." Does it refer to Israel's presence on the West Bank? Israel took control of that area in 1967 in the course of defending itself against an invasion from the army of Jordan, the country which then ruled the West Bank territory. For decades Israel has pursued a series of negotiations with the Palestinian Authority — just as it did, successfully, with Egypt and Jordan — in hopes of reaching a peace deal to end any Israeli presence on the West Bank. The latest phase of those Israeli-Palestinian talks, under U.S. sponsorship, is ongoing even as the MLA prepares to gather in Chicago.

Or, perhaps, by "occupation" the conveners of this MLA session mean the very existence of Israel itself, which, according to some diehard opponents of the Jewish state has no international legitimacy, even though the United Nations mandated Israel's creation and admitted Israel to U.N. membership. If that's the case, this roundtable of academics is simply seeking to dismantle a U.N. member state.
One would think that an organization dedicated to languages and literature would value Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, where academic freedom is alive and well, a free press flourishes, and there is no discrimination based on race, religion, sex or sexual preference. If the MLA wants to pronounce on international politics, why are there no sessions on countering repressive regimes such as those in Syria, Iran, Zimbabwe or North Korea, where people, for example, suffer imprisonment or worse for expressing politically incorrect ideas or adhering to the wrong faith?

Even worse, this MLA boycott "conversation" doesn't even pretend to examine both sides of the question. All of the announced speakers are on record favoring an Israeli boycott. In fact, presiding officer Samer M. Ali informed The Chronicle of Higher Education that Israel's guilt is not open to doubt but rather, "(t)he question that panelists will be debating is not whether Israel is violating the rights of Palestinians, but what to do about it."

This academic scandal headed for Chicago will not be an isolated incident, but simply the latest phase in an effort by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel to get American scholarly bodies' help in delegitimizing the Jewish state. The Association for Asian Studies, the American Studies Association and the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association — all relatively small —have endorsed academic boycotts of Israel, and the "conversation" at the MLA convention is designed as the opening wedge to pry an endorsement from a larger and mainstream body.

What happened to the concept that academic organizations were designed to facilitate communication between both educators within a single country and educators in different countries, rather than to build walls between groups of educators in pursuit of one or more perceived political goals?

Thankfully, the boycott movement is opposed by all the responsible voices in the academy who have spoken. The American Association of Universities and the American Association of University Professors, as well as numerous individual scholars, have condemned it as a violation of academic freedom. Most of our prestigious local academic institutions, the University of Chicago, Northwestern University and the University of Illinois at Chicago, have voiced their rejection of these academic boycotts. But the battle is far from over.
An alert to fair-minded scholars in every academic field: Don't let your profession become a haven for Israel-bashers.

Amy Stoken is director of the Chicago Regional Office of the American Jewish Committee. Jack S. Levin is a past president of AJC Chicago and a part-time lecturer at the University of Chicago and Harvard University law schools.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Senator Mikulski's response about NSF funding

Dear Dr. Adler:
Thank you for contacting me to express your opposition to the Coburn amendment (S. Amdt. 65) to the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2013 (Public Law 113-6)).  It's good to hear from you. 
I share your concerns about the proposed elimination of funding for the National Science Foundation's (NSF) political science program.  As the Chairwoman of the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Senate Appropriations Subcommittee, I have long supported the funding of scientific research that advances our understanding of political science, including political systems around the world.  NSF is one of the major sources of funding for all fields of basic science research. NSF fosters growth, innovation, and knowledge across this country and I am committed to robust funding for all of the agency's scientific initiatives. 
Originally, Senator Coburn's amendment would have eliminated funding for the NSF political science program.  An agreement between the Senator from Oklahoma and myself modified his amendment to allow for the continuation of political science research projects when the Director of NSF certifies that they promote the economic or national security interests of the United States.  Furthermore, this provision will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. 
Many of our nation's leading thinkers, including the late Nobel Prize winning political scientist Elinor Ostrom, rely heavily on NSF grants to conduct research essential to the breakthroughs that enrich so many lives.  Knowing of your views on this issue will be helpful to me as the Senate continues to work on this issue. 
Again, thanks for writing.  Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of any assistance to you in the future.  

Barbara A. Mikulski
United States Senator

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Predatory journals

This is a great example of the kinds of predatory journals that everyone was speaking about yesterday.  This message below came in my Spam folder today.

Call for Papers
American International Journal of Contemporary Research
ISSN 2162-139X (Print), ISSN 2162-142X (Online)
American International Journal of Contemporary Research (AIJCR) is an open access, peer-reviewed and refereed multidisciplinary journal published by Centre for Promoting Ideas (CPI), USA. The main objective of AIJCR is to provide an intellectual platform for the research community. AIJCR aims to promote contemporary research in business, humanities, social science, science and technology and become the leading journal in the world.
The journal publishes research papers in three broad specific fields as follows:
Business and Economics
Management, marketing, finance, economics, banking, accounting, human resources management, international business, hotel and tourism, entrepreneurship development, business ethics, development studies and so on.
Humanities and Social science
Anthropology, communication studies, corporate governance, criminology, cross-cultural studies, demography, education, ethics, geography, history, industrial relations, information science, international relations, law, linguistics, library science, media studies, methodology, philosophy, political science, population Studies, psychology, public administration, sociology, social welfare, linguistics, literature, paralegal, performing arts (music, theatre & dance), religious studies, visual arts, women studies.
Science and Technology
Astronomy and astrophysics, Chemistry, Earth and atmospheric sciences, Physics, Biology in general, Agriculture, Biophysics and biochemistry, Botany, Environmental Science, Forestry, Genetics, Horticulture, Husbandry, Neuroscience, Zoology, Computer science, Engineering, Robotics and Automation, Materials science, Mathematics, Mechanics, Statistics, Health Care & Public Health, Nutrition and Food Science, Pharmaceutical Sciences, and so on.
The journal is published both in print and online versions.
AIJCR publishes original papers, review papers, conceptual framework, analytical and simulation models, case studies, empirical research, technical notes, and book reviews.
AIJCR is indexed with and included in Cabell’s, EBSCO, Ulrich’s , IndexCopernicus International, and Gale. Moreover the journal is under the indexing process with ISI, ERIC, ProQuest, Scopus, DOAJ and Econlit.
AIJCR is inviting papers for Vol. 3 No. 3 which is scheduled to be published on May 31, 2013.
 Send your manuscript to the editor at, or
For more information, visit the official website of the journal 
With thanks,
Dr. Andrew Lessard
The Chief Editor, American International Journal of Contemporary Research

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Does the Internet make citizens love democracy?

Catie Bailard, of George Washington University, has been blogging at The Monkey Cage on the extent to which Internet access changes citizens' awareness of political events and their willingness to engage in voting and other political activities. You can follow the above link for information about her experiments and her findings.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Monday, April 11, 2011

The flip side

As a corrective, this article in Newsweek is useful, reminding us that not all technological advancements are good for the world. Like anything, the Internet and social networking can be used for good or evil.