Why Vote in Mid-Term Elections?

  Here is a “sneak peek” episode from my soon-to-be launched “After Class Podcast“.   This episode is on a timely topic given it’s election day.  So give it a listen, leave some feedback, then go vote! If you are undecided about who to vote for, check out the platform based voters guide I posted here […]

Voting Guide: A Platform-Based Approach

In our political system, deciding who you should vote for is pretty simple: 1) read the Platform for both major political parties, 2) consider whose priorities and policies you agree with most, and 3) vote for the candidates from that party. But few voters ever read the platforms. Instead they base their decisions on the […]

Sociologically Relevant Segments this week from NPR

Here are four segments this week from National Public Radio that struck me as particularly relevant to some of the topics we are discussing in my courses. Why More Men Don’t Get Into The Field Of Nursing Story illustrating the power of gender roles and gender as a social institution. New Book Looks At Why […]

Video Playlist: Ideology and Political Beliefs

Here are some videos I’ve compiled on the topic of political beliefs and ideology in the United States. Given our politically divided times, this seemed like a relevant theme to explore. The goal of the playlist is to give some historical context, highlight key philosophical and moral differences, and show how liberalism and conservatism relate […]

Please Remain Seated

Next week four thousand ISU students wearing long gowns and funny hats will walk across a stage and receive an empty red diploma cover in a ritual marking the end of a successful college career.  The mood at the various commencement ceremonies on campus is festive.  At the one I participate in each year as […]

Inequality and Unions

Ever wonder why income inequality in the U.S. is so extreme? Here is one big reason why: This graphic compares the portion of income received by the richest 10% and the portion of the workforce who are union members. Note that those at the top earners take a larger share of the nation’s income when […]

Renewing Democracy in Trumpland

Less than an hour before it began, I posted a last-minute announcement on Facebook to alert my local friends about a rally to support immigrant rights and religious freedom in opposition to Donald Trump’s recent orders.  No big deal, right? Well, maybe it was a big deal after all, here’s why: My Facebook announcement about […]

When the Rich Get a Hair Cut

Those of us in the bottom 90 percent rarely get to see, much less interact with, the 3 million members of the top 1 percent. This explains why it may be difficult for us to wrap our heads around what life is like for them, and how dramatically their everyday lives differ from our own. What […]

Remembering the Losses of 9/11

Today marks the 14th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 when 2,977  Americans lost their lives.  As we pause to remember the tragic events of that day, and the senseless loss of life associated  with it, now may be a good time to reflect on some of the losses suffered since then […]

Drinking the Kool-Aid

On a recent trip to the grocery store my daughter spotted a colorful Kool-Aid display, strategically placed at the eye level of a five-year old.  I generally resist her demands to buy  everything she sees at the store but the product placement professionals are much better at this game than I am. In any case, […]

The Secret to Happiness…and Good Grades

  A while back I was listening to the Ted Radio Hour.  The guest was Harvard psychologist, Dan Gilbert, an expert on happiness.  He wrote a widely-read book, Stumbling On Happiness, and was describing a common experience he has after people find out about his research: they want to know the secret to happiness.  Listen […]

What is the Purpose of a College Education?

Here is a statement lifted from the Harvard University website which beautifully captures the larger goal of a college education — and not just for those lucky enough to go to Harvard. It has since been removed from the site but it remains a forceful and articulate defense of the liberal arts and a vision […]

Labor Dazed

On Labor Day I took my daughter to the parade.  It’s an event full of meaning but for her it was mainly about the candy. She was not disappointed.  In a scene resembling feeding time at the barnyard candy was thrown like chicken feed from passing floats.  Children scurried, pecked at the ground, pushed and […]

This is How Power Works: A Primer and Illustration

To my students who are inspiring me, Summarizing power in 1000 words is nearly impossible; to apply this analysis in the same 1000 words is a fantasy. But, my students are engaged in social change and don’t have time for long-winded academic treatments; they need understanding that will be helpful to them right now.   Thus, […]

The half-million dollar question

Here is a link to a guest column I wrote for our campus newspaper.  It deals with, among other things, the way that powerful actors are able to insulate themselves from accountability.  In this case the Illinois State University Board of Trustees paid a half-million dollars to its 18th president following his resignation after only […]

Let Them Eat Peppers!

I recently had a chance to visit an old friend who moved to Scotland several years ago.  He and his wife now have two beautiful children and, as happens in life after kids, our visits now entail more parenting activities than the pub-related kind. One day we went to pick up their seven year old […]

Ten Things You Should Know About College

I’m currently writing a book that examines the disconnect between popular beliefs about what a four-year college education is all about and what it actually means.  My goal is to help close this “college knowledge gap” so that students can get the most from their education.

Guns Save Lives

I live in a part of the country where it’s common to see billboards and bumper stickers proclaiming that: “Guns Save Lives!”.  Recently, as I pulled into my local gun club where I practice before every season, it was emblazoned on the back bumpers of nearly half the vehicles in the lot. I’ve long been […]

How “Setting Bail” Undermines the U.S. Justice System

Check out this segment of a TED Radio Hour episode documenting how profoundly unjust the system of setting bail is. A great example of an “inconvenient fact” that our criminal justice system is fundamentally unfair – particularly when it comes to how it deals with people charged with a crime but who cannot post bail. […]

Illinois Congressional District Map

Here is a map of the 18 Congressional Districts in Illinois. The map is interactive so you can zoom in to find which district you live in. Bloomington/Normal is divided right in half by the 13th and 18th Districts but all of the ISU campus is located in the 18th Congressional District, currently represented by […]

Illinois House of Representatives – District Map

Here is the district map for the state House of Representatives in place since 2012. There are 118 Illinois House Districts in all. On the eve of the 2018 General election, 67 of these seats were held by Democrats and 51 held by Republicans. Most of the Town of Normal and all of Illinois State […]