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

Here’s a guest column I wrote for our university newspaper about a troubling trend we are seeing on campus recently: graduates leaving their own commencement ceremony before it’s over. I’d love to hear from others about what they think and whether this is happening on other campuses too… Next week four thousand ISU students wearing […]

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

[stag_dropcap font_size=”100px” style=”squared”]T[/stag_dropcap]hose 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 […]

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

  Awhile back I was listening to the Ted Radio Hour.  The guest was a 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 him to tell them the secret to […]

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 […]

Racial Bias and Police Shootings: “The Mind of the Village”

Here is an episode from The Hidden Brain, of one of my favorite radio programs that uses social science and storytelling to explain the hidden patterns behind our behavior and beliefs (it’s also a podcast). In this segment the host explores the role unconscious racial bias might play in recent police shootings of unarmed black […]

“Hooking Up” on College Campuses

Here’s an alarming look at the “romantic” norms of contemporary college life.  Lisa Wade, sociologist at Occidental College, has done extensive research into the unspoken but powerful rules that govern the culture of casual sex on college campuses.  She is the guest on this episode of the “Hidden Brain” podcast.

Paying the Price: How the High Cost of College Impacts Students and Families

Here’s an episode from the “No Jargon” podcast that discusses the difficulty many students are having paying for their college education and how this impacts them and their families.  It also grapples with the prospects of realizing the American Dream when the surest path to upward mobility is prohibitively expensive. The guest on this episode […]

Why Do Men Catcall?

Here is a link to an episode of “This American Life” I heard recently that explores the phenomenon of guys catcalling women.  If you’ve ever wondered why some dudes whistle, shout at or even grab women they don’t know, give it a listen.  It’s both fascinating and a little disturbing especially in the context of […]

America’s Never-Ending War on Drugs

One of the most valuable sources of news and analysis I’ve found in recent years is a program called “On The Media”.  It’s a weekly show produced by WNYC, a public radio station in New York.  The show offers insightful analysis of current events and critically examines how the  media covers them.  I learn something […]