Faith in a Seed

by Jim Groom

Though I do not believe that a plant will spring up where no seed has
been, I have great faith in a seed. Convince me that you have a seed
there, and I am prepared to expect wonders. —Henry David Thoreau

Well, let’s begin. The Commons knows no vacation, and the activity over the last two weeks during the dog days of Summer is a testament to that fact. There’s a lot going on in the world right now, none of which is lost on the Commons. The pending ratification of the new contract (something faculty, Higher Education Officers (HEOs), and adjuncts have been without for 6 years now) is highlighting the gross inequalities when it comes to adjunct salaries. Old reliable Tony Picciano, discussing the recent Chronicle article on the matter, notes in his post on the article:

It has been American higher education’s dilemma that adjunct and contingent faculty have been paid so poorly.  As the article suggests, the CUNY offer does little to alleviate the problem.

Yet, as Andrea Ades Vásquez notes in her recent post on why she is voting yes for the contract and what it means for HEOs:

We certainly did not get all that we wanted or deserve. However, we achieved raises at the level of other city employees and made other significant advances. And along the way, we built tremendous union power.

I’m not sure I want to even write this, but it looks like there is already talk of actually having a school year! The Student Services blog for new students has posted about the upcoming orientation scheduled for August 23rd, 2016. I’m so old I did my new student orientation at the Grace Building! It looked something like this…

While on the topic of Grad Center events, the Ph.D. program in Comparative Literature has published their CFP for their annual conference to be held November 10th and 11th, 2016 at the Grad Center. The topic of this year’s conference is “I <3 Pop,” and their pull quote from Susan Sontag is a keeper:

If I had to choose between the Doors and Dostoyevsky, then—of course—I’d choose Dostoyevsky. But do I have to choose?

Shawn Smith-Cruz’s post on #blacklivesmatter and the power of the primary source. She unearth’s the very first issue of the Black Panther’s Black Community News Service (BCNS) newspaper

…which highlights the fatal shooting of a 22 year old black man, Denzil Dowell, who was unarmed, yet received “six bullet holes and shot gun blasts” according to the BCNS. The article highlights, “‘I believe the police murdered my son” says the mother of Denzil Dowell.’

#BlackLivesMatter and the Power of the Primary

And Ruth Robson believes sex-segregated bathrooms in schools will soon make their way to US Supreme Court.


And as plagiarism has taken center stage before Michelle Obama stole it back last night, Don Sutherland shares how he reduces plagiarism in his undergraduate Strategic Management course.


And David Shapiro revisits the Panama Papers in the form of a rubric assessment for his accounting students.

Panama Papers – Revisited

And if you are looking for more teaching and learning resources, the Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy is a regular wellspring of goodness. In particular, Jill Cirasella’s recent review of Paul Martin Eve’s Open Access and the Humanities: Contexts, Controversies and the Future (2014) is a good place to start.

It should be reassuring to know that the development crew behind the Commons is still working hard for you, and last week they dropped the latest version, 1.9.21. Follow the link to see if they are allowing GIFs in comments yet!

Commons 1.9.21

While I covered a bit above, the expansive nature of the Commons means there’s a lot more I missed. If you’re out there, reading this, and know of a good post/blog/story on or related to the Commons that I missed, use the comments below to share the love and let me know. If you are afraid of the maddening crowd, drop me a line at which will help me cast a wider net for highlighting the work happening around the Commons.

Finally, I invite all criticisms, recommendations, and general aspersions for how I might make this round-up more useful. This kind of blogging is new to me, and following in the imposing footeprints of Brian Foote I am going to need all the advice and support you can muster.