Posts Tagged ‘Harvard’

Trump Administration to Rescind Obama-Era Guidelines on Race in College Admissions

July 3, 2018

Documents sought to help colleges consider race to promote diversity

The Trump administration is planning to rescind Tuesday a set of Obama-era policy documents that encourage the use of race in college admissions to promote diverse educational settings. Pictured here is Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass.
The Trump administration is planning to rescind Tuesday a set of Obama-era policy documents that encourage the use of race in college admissions to promote diverse educational settings. Pictured here is Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. PHOTO: ELISE AMENDOLA/ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON—The Trump administration is planning to rescind Tuesday a set of Obama-era policy documents that encourage the use of race in college admissions to promote diverse educational settings, according to two people familiar with the plans.

The move comes as the Justice Department is investigating whether Harvard University is illegally discriminating against Asian-American students by holding them to a higher standard in its admissions process. The administration revived the probe last year after Obama civil rights officials dismissed a similar complaint.

The documents, issued jointly by the Obama Justice and Education departments, laid out legal recommendations for schools looking to use race as an admissions factor to boost diversity at their schools.

Trump administration officials plan to argue that the documents, published in 2011 and 2016, go beyond Supreme Court precedent on the issue and mislead schools to believe that legal forms of affirmative action are simpler to achieve than what the law allows.

Anurima Bargava, who headed civil rights enforcement in schools under Mr. Obama’s Justice Department, disagreed with that assessment, saying the documents simply offered guidelines to schools and colleges looking to continue using affirmative action legally. She said the current administration’s action signals that it doesn’t favor racial diversity.

“The law on this hasn’t changed, and the Supreme Court has twice ruled reaffirming the importance of diversity,” she said. “This is a purely political attack that benefits nobody.”

Administration officials didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

The move comes as a lawsuit is unfolding in federal court against Harvard, in which the Justice Department has previously filed a so-called statement of interest.

The suit, filed in 2014 by a group called Students for Fair Admissions, alleges Harvard intentionally discriminates against Asian-Americans by limiting the number of Asian students who are admitted. It is expected to go to trial in October.

The action to rescind the documents is likely to escalate a long-running national debate over the role of race in college admissions, an issue the U.S. Supreme Court has revisited on several occasions since the 1970s.

In 2016, the high court reaffirmed the practice in a 4-3 decision, but in his opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy left the door open to future legal challenges by saying universities must continue to review their affirmative-action policies to assess their positive and negative effects.

Mr. Kennedy has since announced his retirement, and advocates on both sides say his successor, to be nominated soon by President Donald Trump, may take a different view on the practice as the Harvard case wends its way through the courts.

Harvard has previously said its admissions process is consistent with the legal precedents set over the past 40 years by the Supreme Court, which have allowed universities to consider race as a factor in admissions to obtain the benefits of a diverse student body.

In court filings published last month as part of its continuing litigation, the university revealed that Asian-American applicants on average had higher academic marks and received higher scores from alumni interviews than other racial groups. But on a “personal” score that admissions officers used to gauge applicants’ character, Asian students scored the lowest.

Write to Michelle Hackman at Michelle.Hackman@wsj.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-administration-to-rescind-obama-era-guidelines-on-race-in-college-admissions-1530619273

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Alan Dershowitz: Debating the anti-Semitic BDS ‘movement’ with Cornel West

January 1, 2018
I recently debated Professor Cornel West of Harvard about the boycott movement against Israel. The topic was resolved: “The boycott, divestiture and sanctions movement will help bring about the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”West argued that Israel was a “colonialist-settler” state and that apartheid in the West Bank was “worse” than it was in white-ruled South Africa and should be subject to the same kind of economic and cultural isolation that helped bring about the fall of that regime.

I replied that the Jews who emigrated to Israel — a land in which Jews have lived continuously for thousands of years — were escaping from the countries that persecuted them, not acting as colonial settlers for those countries. Indeed, Israel fought against British colonial rule. Zionism was the national liberation movement of the Jewish people, not a colonial enterprise. Nor is Israel in any way like South Africa, where a minority of whites ruled over a majority of Blacks, who were denied the most fundamental human rights. In Israel, Arabs, Druze, and Christians have equal rights and serve in high positions in government, business, the arts, and academia. Jews were a majority in Israel, both when the U.S. divided mandatory Palestine (Eretz Yisrael) into “two states for two people,” and at present, although the Arab population has increased considerably since 1948. Even the situation on the West Bank — where Palestinians have the right to vote for their leaders and criticize Israel, and where in cities such as Ramallah there is no Israeli military or police presence — the situation is no way comparable to apartheid South Africa.

West then argued that BDS was a non-violent movement that was the best way to protest Israel’s “occupation” and settlement policies.

I responded that BDS is not a “movement” — a movement requires universality, like the feminist, gay rights, and civil rights movements. BDS is an anti-Semitic tactic directed only against the Jewish citizens and supporters of Israel. The boycott against Israel and its Jewish supporters (to many Palestinians, all of Israel is one big “settlement;” just look at any map of Palestine) began before any “occupation” or “settlements” and picked up steam just as Israel offered to end the “occupation” and settlements as part of a two-state solution that the Palestinians rejected. BDS is not a protest against Israel’s policies. It is a protest against Israel’s very existence.

West argued that BDS would help the Palestinians. I argued that it has hurt them by causing unemployment among Palestinian workers in companies such as SodaStream, which was pressured to move out of the West Bank, where it paid high wages to Palestinian men and women who worked side by side with Israeli men and women. I explained that the leadership of the Palestinian Authority is opposed to broad boycotts of Israeli products, artists, and academics.

West argued that BDS would encourage Israel to make peace with the Palestinians. I replied that Israel would never be blackmailed into compromising its security, and that the Palestinians are disincentivized into making compromises by the fantasy that they will get a state through economic and cultural extortion. The Palestinians will get a state only by sitting down and negotiating directly with Israel. I told my mother’s favorite joke about Sam, an Orthodox Jew, who prayed every day to win the N.Y. Lottery before he turned 80. On his 80th birthday, he complains to God that he hasn’t won. God replies, “Sam, help me out a little — buy a ticket.” I argued that the Palestinians expect to “win” a state without “buying a ticket” — sitting down to negotiate a compromise solution.

The debate in its entirety, which was conducted in front of an audience of business people in Dallas as part of the “Old Parkland Debate Series,” continued with broad arguments about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the refugee situation, the peace process, terrorism, and other familiar issues. It can be seen in full on C-SPAN. I think it is worth watching.

The audience voted twice, once before the debate and once after. The final tally was 129 opposed to BDS and 16 in favor. The vote before the debate was 93 opposed and 14 in favor. I swayed 36 votes. West swayed 2. The anti-BDS position won overwhelmingly, not because I am a better debater than West — he is quite articulate and everyone watching the C-SPAN can judge for themselves who is the better debater — but because the facts, the morality, and the practicalities are against BDS.

The important point is never to give up on making the case against unjust tactics being employed against Israel. In some forums — at the United Nations, at numerous American university campuses, in some parts of Western Europe — it is an uphill battle. But it is a battle that can be won among open-minded people of all backgrounds. BDS lost in Dallas. BDS lost in a debate between me and an articulate human rights activist at the Oxford Union. BDS is losing in legislative chambers. And if the case is effectively and honestly presented, it will lose in the court of public opinion.

Alan Dershowitz (@AlanDersh) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner’s Beltway Confidential blog. He is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Emeritus, at Harvard Law School and author of “Trumped up! How Criminalizing Politics is Dangerous to Democracy.” This article was originally published by the Gatestone Institute.

If you would like to write an op-ed for the Washington Examiner, please read ourguidelines on submissions here.

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Free speech in the digital age: Prager University sues YouTube in free-speech case

October 24, 2017

Conservative nonprofit says site is restricting its content and infringing First Amendment rights

Prager University argues in its lawsuit that Google’s YouTube should be treated as a public forum.
Prager University argues in its lawsuit that Google’s YouTube should be treated as a public forum. PHOTO: MICHAEL SHORT/BLOOMBERG NEWS

LOS ANGELES—Prager University, a nonprofit that produces short, educational videos from conservative perspectives, is suing YouTube and its parent company, Google, claiming the tech giant is illegally censoring some of its content as part of a wider effort to silence conservative voices.

A lawsuit filed Monday evening in federal court in San Francisco says YouTube’s more than 30 million visitors a day make the site so elemental to free speech in the digital age that it should be treated as a public forum. The suit argues the site must use the “laws governing free speech,” not its own discretion, to make decisions about what to censor.

The nonprofit, known as PragerU, alleges that by limiting access to some of its videos without clear criteria YouTube is infringing on PragerU’s First Amendment rights.

YouTube said it didn’t have immediate comment because it hadn’t yet reviewed the suit. The site is owned by Google, part of Alphabet Inc. GOOGL -1.94%

The suit heightens a debate over tech companies’ increasing influence on public opinion and how they should police content on their sites. With the internet enabling the spread of misinformation, hate speech and foreign propaganda—especially around the 2016 U.S. election—politicians, academics and the media are increasing scrutiny on the role a handful of tech giants play in modern society.

Since last year, more than three dozen PragerU videos—on subjects including the Korean War and Israel and Palestine—have been restricted by YouTube. As a result, those who use YouTube in “restricted mode,” including students at some universities and children whose parents have put parental control filters in place, are prevented from seeing the videos; all potential ad revenue from the videos is also cut off.

YouTube hasn’t pulled the videos from the default version of its website or mobile app, which are how the vast majority of users access videos.

YouTube has long championed itself as an open platform for ideas and is more often criticized for its reluctance or delay in removing objectionable content. “We believe everyone should have a voice,” YouTube said in a blog post in March. “Since our founding, free expression has been one of our core values.”

PragerU’s suit fits into more recent criticism from YouTube-video creators of the site’s push to remove ads from certain videos—prompted by a backlash from advertisers.

“There’s a difference between the free expression that lives on YouTube and the content that brands have told us they want to advertise against,” YouTube said in the March post.

PragerU was founded by conservative radio host Dennis Prager in 2011.

In email exchanges with PragerU, which were reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, YouTube declined to offer specific explanations about why most of the videos were restricted, saying that they “aren’t appropriate for younger audiences.”

In those emails, a YouTube representative told PragerU officials that some of the videos that were censored were reviewed “manually” by humans, not solely by an automated system.

One of the videos that was initially restricted by YouTube featured Kimberley Strassel, a Wall Street Journal columnist who writes for the Journal’s opinion pages. The restriction of the video was later lifted.

The lawsuit lists videos on similar subjects by other content creators—including Al Jazeera and The Daily Show—which weren’t restricted, and argues that PragerU was targeted solely for its conservative views.

“Google/YouTube uses their restricted mode filtering not to protect younger or sensitive viewers from ‘inappropriate’ video content, but as a political gag mechanism to silence PragerU,” the complaint says.

The suit escalates a battle between YouTube and content creators over how much control the tech giant should exercise over what is posted on the site.

YouTube faced a firestorm earlier this year when news reports revealed the site was running ads on extremist and racist videos, causing a series of big brands to pull spending from the site.

The backlash prompted YouTube to better police content on its sites, pull more ads from “hateful, offensive and derogatory” videos and give advertisers more control over where their ads appear. Those changes include technology to automatically screen videos as well as more human reviewers to pull ads from objectionable videos.

Some advertisers still remained off the site even months after the changes.

As a result, many of YouTube’s most popular video creators have complained of a drop in their ad revenues.

There are also signs that YouTube is trying to move away from the fringe content that attracts many of its viewers—but also creates headaches with advertisers. After searches on YouTube about the mass shooting this month in Las Vegas surfaced videos peddling conspiracy theories, the site said it was tweaking its search algorithm to promote more authoritative news sources.

The lawsuit alleges that the criteria YouTube uses to restrict videos is so broad that it effectively allows the company unfettered discretion, with no objective standard at all.

In addition, the suit says that the standards the company does use are being applied unfairly to PragerU.

Pete Wilson, a former governor of California who is representing PragerU in the suit, said the restrictions on the nonprofit’s videos were part of a wider effort to limit conservative speech.

“Just as on many college campuses, there has been a refusal to allow conservatives to speak,” Mr. Wilson said. He added of YouTube, “They have incredible reach, and that really sets them apart from almost any other entity.”

Write to Ian Lovett at Ian.Lovett@wsj.com and Jack Nicas at jack.nicas@wsj.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/prageru-sues-youtube-in-free-speech-case-1508811856

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Image result for hands tied by computer cord, photos

Google/YouTube vs. Conservative Speech 

By Dennis Prager

Will Google and YouTube do to the Internet what the Left has done to our universities?

Last week, the Wall Street Journal wrote the following editorial about YouTube restricting access to 16 videos — down from 21 — created and posted online by my non-profit educational organization, Prager University: “YouTube thinks Dennis Prager’s videos may be dangerous.”

Tech giants like Google and Facebook always deny that their platforms favor some viewpoints over others, but then they don’t do much to avoid looking censorious. . . .  Dennis Prager’s “PragerU” puts out free short videos on subjects “important to understanding American values” — ranging from the high cost of higher education to the motivations of Islamic State. The channel has more than 130 million views. . . . As you might guess, the mini-seminars do not include violence or sexual content.

But more than 15 videos are “restricted” on YouTube. . . . This means the clips don’t show up for those who have turned on filtering — say, a parent shielding their children from explicit videos. A YouTube spokesperson told us that the setting is optional and “based on algorithms that look at a number of factors, including community flagging on videos.” . . .  PragerU started a petition calling for YouTube to remove the restriction, and more than 66,000 people have signed.

“YouTube is free to set its own standards,” the editorial concluded, “but the company is undercutting its claim to be a platform for ‘free expression.’” It is a good sign that Google/YouTube’s censorship of respectful, utterly non-violent and non-sexual videos made it to the Wall Street Journal editorial page. It is very bad sign that it had to.

And it is a very bad sign that it made the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, but not the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, or any other mainstream newspaper that still purports to support the classic liberal value of free speech.

To understand what Google/YouTube has done, it is necessary to briefly describe what it has restricted access to. Every week, PragerU (the generally used name for Prager University) posts at least one five-minute video presentation online.

These presentations are on just about every subject and are given by important thinkers — some very well-known, some not. The list includes dozens of professors at, among other universities, MIT, Notre Dame, Princeton, Dayton, Boston College, Stanford, UCLA, Harvard, and West Point; a black member of the South African Parliament; comedians Adam Carolla and Yakov Smirnoff; two former prime ministers (Spain and Denmark); three Pulitzer Prize winners (George Will, Bret Stephens, and Judith Miller); Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs; Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Arthur Brooks, Jonah Goldberg, Alan Dershowitz, Nicholas Eberstadt, Larry Elder, Steve Forbes, Walter Williams, Christina Hoff Sommers, George Gilder, Victor Davis Hanson; Bjørn Lomborg, Heather Mac Donald, Eric Metaxas, Amity Shlaes, and the commander of British troops in Afghanistan, among many others. I also present some videos.

Any responsible person, left or right, would have to acknowledge that this is a profoundly respectable, non-bomb-throwing list of presenters — hardly conducive to censorship.

What videos did YouTube place restrictions on?

On Race (2): “Are the Police Racist?” “Don’t Judge Blacks Differently”

On Islam (6): “What ISIS Wants” “Why Don’t Feminists Fight for Muslim Women?” “Islamic Terror: What Muslim Americans Can Do” “Pakistan: Can Sharia and Freedom Coexist?” “Radical Islam: The Most Dangerous Ideology” “Why Do People Become Islamic Extremists?”

On abortion (2 — the only two offered): “Who’s More Pro-Choice: Europe or America?” “The Most Important Question about Abortion”

On Israel (2): “Israel: The World’s Most Moral Army” “Israel’s Legal Founding” (Alan Dershowitz’s video was reinstated after much publicity) On America (3): “Why Did America Fight the Korean War?” “Did Bush Lie about Iraq?” “What is the University Diversity Scam?”

On politics (1): “Who NOT to Vote For”

On men and women (1): “He Wants You” (a video I present about men and women) Obviously, then, the explanation is not algorithms’​ that catch violence and sex. Think of these topics and consider the list of presenters. Do you see any violent or sexual content? Do you see anything you wouldn’t want your minor child to view?

The only possible “yes” might be to the video titled “He Wants You.” Though void of any explicit content, it deals with the subject of men looking at other women yet still most wanting their own wives. It has almost 4 million views and has helped a lot of couples. Obviously, then, the explanation is not algorithms that catch violence and sex.

Rather, Google/YouTube doesn’t want effective (each video has at least 1 million views) conservative videos. Does that mean that it has left-wing censors looking for every widely viewed conservative video? They don’t have to. Left-wing viewers simply “flag” our and others’ videos as inappropriate, and YouTube does the rest. I have never devoted a column to PragerU. I have done so here because if YouTube gets away with censoring as big a website as PragerU — after a major editorial in the Wall Street Journal and coverage in the New York Post, Boston Globe, Fortune, National Review, and many other places, and a petition signed by over 70,000 people (the petition is at prageru.com) — what will happen to other conservative institutions?

For the probable answer, see your local university.

The question, then, is this: Will Google and YouTube do to the Internet what the Left has done to the university?

— Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His latest book, The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code, was published by Regnery. He is the founder of Prager University and may be contacted at dennisprager.com. © 2016 Creators.com Editor’s Note: This article has been emended since its original publication.

Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/441400/google-youtubes-prageru-censorship-prager-universitys-conservative-videos-censored

Chinese university to open in Oxford despite ideological crackdown at home

April 6, 2017

Chinese university to open Oxford campus in manor house

Foxcombe Hall, a 19th century manor near Oxford, cost Peking University nearly £9million

Peking University, perhaps China’s most famous modern seat of learning, has bought a stately home near Oxford to open as a business school next summer.

The move comes as the ruling Communist party seeks to both boost the international profile of Chinese universities and enforce tighter ideological control to ensure they remain party “strongholds”.

Peking University HSBC Business School, based in the city of Shenzhen near Hong Kong, paid the Open University £8.8 million to buy Foxcombe Hall at Boars Hill, about four miles southwest of Oxford.

Competing against three other bidders, including an Oxford University college, Peking offered “a very tempting price” that left the seller “little room to say no,” despite Chinese universities having no track record in overseas acquisitions, the business school’s…

Read the rest:

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/chinese-university-to-open-oxford-campus-in-manor-house-tw00sv67d

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By  in Beijing
The Guardian

One of China’s top universities is preparing to open a campus at the heart of British academic life, just months after President Xi Jinping called for Chinese universities to be transformed into strongholds of Communist party rule.

Peking University, an elite Beijing institution where Mao Zedong once worked as a librarian, will open a branch of its HSBC Business School in Oxford early next year, the respected financial magazine Caixin reported on Thursday.

The school is setting up camp in Foxcombe Hall which it recently purchased for a reported £8.8m. The 19th century manor was home to the eighth earl of Berkeley.

Peking University said courses at its Oxford campus, which is not connected to the University of Oxford, would focus on “professional knowledge of China’s economy, financial market and corporate management”.

Wen Hai, its dean, said Peking University had beaten off competition from three rivals, including an unnamed Oxford college, by offering a “very tempting price” that left the sellers “little room to say ‘no’’”.

Speaking to Caixin, Wen said the university had been able to do so thanks to its close ties to China’s Communist party. Those connections allowed it to “to expedite the transfer of money transfer needed for the acquisition” despite tight capital controls imposed by Beijing in an attempt to stop firms and citizens shifting large sums of money overseas.

Last summer’s vote to leave the EU, which has seen the pound plummet against the Chinese yuan, will also have helped the buyers.

Peking University will open a campus at Foxcombe Hall, a 19th century manor that was home to the eighth earl of Berkeley.
Peking University will open a campus at Foxcombe Hall, a 19th century manor that was home to the eighth earl of Berkeley. Photograph: peking university hsbc business school​

Caixin said the university’s decision to expand into the “city of dreaming spires” came as Beijing pondered ambitious plans to boost the global standing of China’s top universities. Peking University, currently ranked the world’s 29th best university, had been handed billions of yuan by the government to “improve its research facilities and recruit teaching staff from top universities abroad to boost its international profile”, it said.

Prestigious British schools have set their sights on mainland China over the last 15 years with public schools including Harrow, Dulwich College and Wellington all opening spin-offs. British universities have also made moves into the mainland, where it is now possible to study at campuses operated by the University of Nottingham and the University of Liverpool. Last month the University of Leicester said it would open a campus in the north-eastern province of Liaoning.

Peking University described its Oxford campus, designed for students from both Europe and China, as “a bold step” and “an important milestone for the development of China’s higher education, given its inferior position globally over the past century”.

“It is our hope that the new initiative in Oxford will further strengthen the school’s international reputation as well as its teaching and research capabilities,” Lin Jianhua, its president, said in a statement.

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Peking University to open a campus at in Foxcombe Hall. Photograph: peking university hsbc business school​

The acquisition comes a few months after President Xi, whom liberal scholars accuse of presiding over a severe clampdown on freedom of expression, declared Chinese universities should be party “strongholds”.

Echoing a 1932 speech by Joseph Stalin, Xi called teachers “engineers of the human soul” whose “sacred mission” was to help students “improve in ideological quality [and] political awareness”.

Mainland China now has two universities in the world’s top 40, according to the Times Higher Education rankings. Even so, senior Communist party leaders have looked abroad to educate their offspring.

Xi Jinping’s daughter, Xi Mingze, studied at Harvard while Bo Guagua, the son of jailed party chief Bo Xilai, studied PPE at Balliol in Oxford where he built a reputation as an inveterate party animal.

Read the rest:

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/apr/06/chinese-university-to-open-in-oxford-despite-ideological-crackdown-at-home

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Related:

 (Anyone who criticizes the Chinese government on WeChat is likely to be given special attention)

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CHILDREN’S BOOKS AND CHINA’S CRACKDOWN ON WESTERN IDEOLOGY

By

Earlier this month, my nine-year-old son came home from his bilingual school in Shanghai having vandalized his Mandarin textbook. Under the title of a lesson called “The Bountiful Xisha Islands,” he had scribbled, in pencil, “不好,” or “not good.” The Xisha, or “Western Sands,” are islands in the South China Sea that are known in English as the Paracels. The textbook described the islands, which are located in waters between China and Vietnam, as “cute,” with multicolored coral and plentiful turtles that could be hunted for their valuable shells. The lesson, however, neglected to mention that ownership of the Paracels, like that of many islands in the South China Sea, is in dispute. In 1974, China seized complete control of the Paracel island chain from an overextended South Vietnam. Since then, the Chinese have managed to effectively take control of other shoals and maritime features that are claimed by other countries, like the Philippines. In the past couple of years, Chinese dredgers have transformed contested rocks and reefs into military bases, complete with structures that can house surface-to-air-missile batteries. China’s ambitions in the South China Sea do not revolve around turtles.

As the child of two American journalists living in China, my son has developed a certain kind of awareness. He knows that his parents assume their phones are tapped. At least once, when we were living in Beijing, he was interrogated in Mandarin by a state-security agent, who wanted to know where his mother was. (To my son’s credit, he obfuscated.) Last year, I spent months reporting a storyon the South China Sea—travelling to Philippine-controlled islets in the Spratly Islands, another disputed cluster—so he understands something of the territorial disagreements in question. Perhaps because he is more slender than his brother, he also sympathizes with the little guy. China’s increasingly muscular claim to nearly all of the South China Sea, which conflicts with maritime boundaries drawn by Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Brunei, offends his sense of fair play.

Every country’s textbooks reflect national myths while omitting disagreeable truths. But as China’s leader, Xi Jinping, has intensified a crackdown on dissent that human-rights groups describe as the most punitive in decades, these lessons are likely to become even more ideological. In a December speech, Xi vowed to turn schools into “strongholds of Party leadership,” which defend “the correct political direction.” China’s economy is slowing. Without the buoyant growth rates that burnished the Chinese Communist Party’s legitimacy for a quarter century, Xi seems to hope that flag-waving will unify the populace around its rulers. (In a country governed by a sole party for nearly seven decades, to love China is, in the government’s eyes, to love the Chinese Communist Party.) A similar tactic was used in the days after Army tanks crushed the Tiananmen democracy movement, in 1989. Worried about the ruling party’s image, China’s Education Ministry redoubled efforts in the early nineteen-nineties to infuse textbooks with a kind of defensive nationalism. Only the Chinese Communist Party, textbooks taught, had the fortitude to end a hundred and fifty years of humiliation by foreign invaders.

These days, the message in school remains the same, even if the world in which China exists has changed. In 1989, China was largely closed, an impoverished nation of bicycles and socialist collectives. Today, more than three hundred thousand Chinese students have flocked to U.S. schools, most paying their own way. (Xi’s own daughter studied at Harvard.) At least a hundred and thirty million Chinese tourists ventured beyond mainland China last year. Such cultural cross-pollination made it all the more dissonant when, in December, China’s Education Minister, Chen Baosheng, warned that “schools are the main targets for infiltration by hostile forces.” A year earlier, his predecessor had ordered Chinese universities to “never let textbooks promoting Western values appear in our classes.”

The ideological crusade heightened last week, when Chinese publishers told reporters, including one from Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post, that they were being forced to slash the number of foreign children’s picture books in their catalogues. Taobao, China’s largest online commerce site, went further, announcing in a statement that, as of March 10th, it was halting resales of all books published overseas. If these latest restrictions are enforced, “Charlotte’s Web” and “Guess How Much I Love You,” two top-selling foreign children’s titles, could become samizdat reading in China.

Barely Half of 30-Year-Olds Earn More Than Their Parents — The American Dream Is Fading

December 9, 2016

As wages stagnate in the middle class, it becomes hard to reverse this trend

 “Many think of the American Dream as ‘earning’ more than their parents, not getting more transfers from the government than their parents.”
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A study released Thursday reported that barely half of American 30-year-olds—51%— earned more than their parents did. That’s an enormous decline from the 1970s, when 92% of American 30-year-olds earned more than their parents.
A study released Thursday reported that barely half of American 30-year-olds—51%— earned more than their parents did. That’s an enormous decline from the 1970s, when 92% of American 30-year-olds earned more than their parents. PHOTO: H. RICK
BAMMAN/ASSOCIATED PRESS
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Updated Dec. 8, 2016 4:43 p.m. ET

Barely half of 30-year-olds earn more than their parents did at a similar age, a research team found, an enormous decline from the early 1970s when the incomes of nearly all offspring outpaced their parents. Even rapid economic growth won’t do much to reverse the trend.

Economists and sociologists from Stanford, Harvard and the University of California set out to measure the strength of what they define as the American Dream, and found the dream was fading. They identified the income of 30-year-olds starting in 1970, using tax and census data, and compared it with the earnings of their parents when they were about the same age.

In 1970, 92% of American 30-year-olds earned more than their parents did at a similar age, they found. In 2014, that number fell to 51%.

“My parents thought that one thing about America is that their kids could do better than they were able to do,” said Raj Chetty, a prominent Stanford University economist who emigrated from India at age 9 and is part of the research team. “That was important in my parents’ decision to come here.”

Although there are many definitions of the American Dream—the freedom to speak your mind, for instance, or the ability to rise from poverty to wealth—the economists chose a measure that they said was possible to define precisely.

The percentage of young adults earning more than their parents dropped precipitously from 1970 to about 1992, to 58%, found Mr. Chetty, Maximilian Hell and David Grusky of Stanford University, Nathaniel Hendren and Robert Manduca of Harvard University, and Jimmy Narang of the University of California at Berkeley.

The percentage steadied for around a decade and plunged again starting in 2002, according to the economists.

The paper doesn’t provide specific reasons for the declining fortunes of younger Americans, but it generally blames the slowdown in economic growth and, especially, the widening income gap between the wealthy and the rest of society.

“Wages have stagnated in the middle class,” said Mr. Chetty in an interview. “When you’re in that situation, it becomes very hard for children to do better than their parents.”

Mr. Chetty, 37, has explored poverty and income mobility in a series of papers that have gained widespread attention across the political spectrum. His research finds that upward mobility depends heavily on government policies, a position common among Democrats, as well as on neighborhood churches and two-parent families, as Republicans often argue.

In his current work, he and his co-authors found that the declining ability of children to outearn their parents is greatest in the Midwest, an industrial region that has been battered by greater import competition, especially from Japan and China, and by technological changes. When looking only at males nationally, the decline is even starker. As of 2014, only 41% of 30-year-old men earned more than their fathers at a similar age.

Reversing the trend will be very difficult, the economists found. If income distribution remains as tilted toward the wealthy as it is now, they calculate, it would take sustained growth of more than 6% a year, adjusted for inflation, to return to an era where nearly all children outearned their parents. Since World War II, the U.S. hasn’t experienced anything near that level of growth for a lengthy period of time.

Even growing at 3.8% annually—about what Donald Trump pledges to produce as president—would only increase the percentage of children able to outearn their parents to 62% from 51%. Many economists are skeptical that the U.S. can grow anywhere near that level and is more likely to grow at around 2% a year.

Wages have stagnated in the middle class. When you’re in that situation, it becomes very hard for children to do better than their parents.

—Raj Chetty of Stanford, part of the research team

Mr. Chetty and Mr. Hendren urged the U.S. to take greater measures to reduce income inequality and make sure more of the benefits of economic growth go to the middle class and the poor. Such measures can include increasing payments to the working poor under the earned-income tax credit, improving education, starting with elementary schools, and helping poor families move to higher-mobility areas.

“You need to improve the education and the environmental opportunities for kids while they are growing up,” said Mr. Hendren.

Revamping the tax code so that it taxes the wealthy far more heavily and gives bigger breaks to those in the middle class and below could also work, said Mr. Chetty, but he doesn’t advocate that strategy.

“It’s actually not clear to me that a more progressive tax code is necessarily the solution,” Mr. Chetty said.

“Many think of the American Dream as ‘earning’ more than their parents, not getting more transfers from the government than their parents.”

Write to Bob Davis at bob.davis@wsj.com

http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-american-dream-is-fading-and-may-be-very-hard-to-revive-1481218911

In a World Consumed By Terror Killings, Christians Are Called to Be Steadfast In Their Beliefs — There Is The Sanctity of God in Every Human Being and “Your life does not belong to you.”

August 22, 2016

Bishop Robert Barron
September 16, 2015

Viktor M. Vasnetsov (1848–1926), “God of Hosts”

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It was revealed this week that, for the first time in its history, Harvard University, which had been founded for religious purposes and named for a minister of the Gospel, has admitted a freshman class in which atheists and agnostics outnumber professed Christians and Jews. Also this week, the House and the Senate of California passed a provision that allows for physician assisted suicide in the Golden State. As I write these words, the governor of California is deliberating whether to sign the bill into law. Though it might seem strange to suggest as much, I believe that the make-up of the Harvard freshman class and the passing of the suicide law are really related.
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I suppose we shouldn’t be too surprised that non-believers have come to outnumber believers among the rising cohort of the American aristocracy. For the whole of their lives, these young people have been immersed in the corrosive acids of relativism, scientism, and materialism. Though they have benefitted from every advantage that money can afford, they have been largely denied what the human heart most longs for: contact with the transcendent, with the good, true, and beautiful in their properly unconditioned form. But as Paul Tillich, echoing the Hebrew prophets, reminded us, we are built for worship, and therefore in the absence of God, we will make some other value our ultimate concern. Wealth, power, pleasure, and honor have all played the role of false gods over the course of the human drama, but today especially, freedom itself has emerged as the ultimate good, as the object of worship. And what this looks like on the ground is that our lives come to belong utterly to us, that we become great projects of self-creation and self-determination.
 .
As the Bible tells it, the human project went off the rails precisely at the moment when Adam arrogated to himself the prerogative of determining the meaning of his life, when he, in the agelessly beautiful poetry of the book of Genesis, ate of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. Read the chapters that immediately follow the account of the Fall, and you will discover the consequences of this deified freedom: jealousy, hatred, fratricide, imperialism, and the war of all against all. The rest of the Biblical narrative can be interpreted as God’s attempt to convince human beings that their lives, in point of fact, do not belong to them. He did this precisely by choosing a people whom he would form after his own mind and heart, teaching them how to think, how to behave, and above all, how to worship. This holy people Israel – a word that means, marvelously, “the one who wrestles with God” – would then, by the splendor of their way of life, attract the rest of the world. On the Christian reading, this project reached its climax in the person of Jesus Christ, a first-century Israelite from the town of Nazareth, who was also the Incarnation of the living God. The coming-together of divinity and humanity, the meeting of infinite and finite freedom, Jesus embodies what God intended for us from the beginning.
 .
And this is precisely why Paul, one of Jesus’ first missionaries, announced him as Kyrios (Lord) to all the nations, and why he characterized himself as doulos Christou Iesou (a slave of Christ Jesus). Paul exulted in the fact that his life did not belong to him, but rather to Christ. In his letter to the Ephesians, he wrote, “there is a power already at work in you that can do infinitely more than you can ask or imagine.” He was referencing the Holy Spirit, which orders our freedom and which opens up possibilities utterly beyond our capacities. To follow the promptings of this Spirit is, for Paul and for all the Biblical authors, the source of life, joy, and true creativity.
 .
All of which brings me back to Harvard and legalized suicide. The denial of God – or the blithe bracketing of the question of God – is not a harmless parlor game. Rather, it carries with it the gravest implications. If there is no God, then our lives do indeed belong to us, and we can do with them what we want. If there is no God, our lives have no ultimate meaning or transcendent purpose, and they become simply artifacts of our own designing. Accordingly, when they become too painful or too shallow or just too boring, we ought to have the prerogative to end them. We can argue the legalities and even the morality of assisted suicide until the cows come home, but the real issue that has to be engaged is that of God’s existence.
 .
The incoming freshman class at Harvard is a disturbing omen indeed, for the more our society drifts into atheism, the more human life is under threat. The less we are willing even to wrestle with God, the more de-humanized we become.
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Related:
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 (Those words, spoken to an advocate of sex, drugs and rock and roll, changed everything)
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Image may contain: 1 person

Catholic Church Teaching on Human Life and Suicide:

http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s2c2a5.htm

 (AGED 19)

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Worrying claim: Professor Patrick Pullicino said doctors had turned the use of a controversial ¿death pathway¿ into the equivalent of euthanasia of the elderly

Worrying claim in Britain: Professor Patrick Pullicino said doctors had turned the use of a controversial ‘death pathway’ into the equivalent of euthanasia of the elderly

 

Image may contain: text

“The Catholic Guide to Depression,” by Aaron Kheriaty, MD and Fr. John Cihak, STD.

No automatic alt text available.

  1. We Pray and Meditate
  2. We study (spiritual works, like the scripture)
  3. We pour ourselves out in loving service to others
  4. We evangelize. A Christians talks about his faith — he is not ashamed. A person in AA or another 12 Step recovery program, does 12 Step work.

Many people have said to us that the four signs of a “dynamic Catholic” are also the characteristics of many Christians of all denominations and people in recovery programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous.

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China’s elite question capitalist values yet send their children to study at Western universities

May 9, 2016

The nation has its own tertiary institutions – some of them renowned – so why do top leaders prefer Harvard or Oxford for their offspring?

By Alex Lo
South China Morning Post
Tuesday, May 10, 2016

 

I am often mystified by the nation’s top leaders’ propensity to question Western and/or capitalist values while sending their children or grandchildren to study in Britain and America’s most prestigious – and expensive – universities.

President Xi Jinping (習近平) recently reminded teachers at the Communist Party’s elite training institutes – whose job it is to train the next generation of communist officials – not to spread “Western capitalist values” or bad-mouth state policies. This followed pledges by mainland education authorities to redouble efforts to limit the use of foreign textbooks in universities to stem the infiltration of “Western values”.

Early this year, at a gathering of university heads, including those of Peking and Tsinghua universities, Education Minister Yuan Guiren (袁貴仁) urged the schools to exert tighter control over the use of imported textbooks “that spread Western values”.

If they are so worried about the influence of foreign textbooks, why do officials from Xi downwards keep sending their offspring to top Western universities? To be fair, many parents in China dream of sending their children to study in the US. There are now 300,000 mainland students in America, up from 50,000 in 2000. It’s the single largest foreign ethnic group on American campuses. But unlike most other mainlanders, the red princelings usually end up not at state universities or colleges but the most elite institutions like Harvard and MIT.

Xi’s own daughter, Xi Mingze, went to Harvard, which also schooled the grandchildren of Zhao Ziyang (趙紫陽) and Jiang Zemin (江澤民). Bo Guagua, son of the disgraced Bo Xilai (薄熙來), studied at Harvard, Oxford and Harrow.

Jasmine Li went to Stanford University. Her grandfather is Jia Qinglin (賈慶林), who was a member of the Politburo Standing Committee between 2002 and 2012. Wen Ruchun (溫如春), the only daughter of former premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶), also went to Harvard. The list goes on and on.

I can think of no greater way of contaminating your children with “Western influence” than schooling them at Harvard or Cambridge for four years. I wouldn’t think twice, though, of sending my children to Peking or Tsinghua universities.

Malia Obama is going to Harvard. You don’t see her father, the US president, sending her to a Chinese university. Tsinghua is currently ranked 25th and Peking 41st in QS World University Rankings.

My humble plea to our nation’s leaders: take more pride in your own universities. And promote them by gracing them with the studious presence of your children.

http://www.scmp.com/comment/insight-opinion/article/1942978/chinas-elite-question-capitalist-values-yet-send-their

Your Life Does Not Belong To You by Bishop Robert Barron

September 15, 2015

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It was revealed this week that, for the first time in its history, Harvard University, which had been founded for religious purposes and named for a minister of the Gospel, has admitted a freshman class in which atheists and agnostics outnumber professed Christians and Jews. Also this week, the House and the Senate of California passed a provision that allows for physician assisted suicide in the Golden State. As I write these words, the governor of California is deliberating whether to sign the bill into law. Though it might seem strange to suggest as much, I believe that the make-up of the Harvard freshman class and the passing of the suicide law are very really related.

I suppose we shouldn’t be too surprised that non-believers have come to outnumber believers among the rising cohort of the American aristocracy. For the whole of their lives, these young people have been immersed in the corrosive acids of relativism, scientism, and materialism. Though they have benefitted from every advantage that money can afford, they have been largely denied what the human heart most longs for: contact with the transcendent, with the good, true, and beautiful in their properly unconditioned form. But as Paul Tillich, echoing the Hebrew prophets, reminded us, we are built for worship, and therefore in the absence of God, we will make some other value our ultimate concern. Wealth, power, pleasure, and honor have all played the role of false gods over the course of the human drama, but today especially, freedom itself has emerged as the ultimate good, as the object of worship. And what this looks like on the ground is that our lives come to belong utterly to us, that we become great projects of self-creation and self-determination.

As the Bible tells it, the human project went off the rails precisely at the moment when Adam arrogated to himself the prerogative of determining the meaning of his life, when he, in the agelessly beautiful poetry of the book of Genesis, ate of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. Read the chapters that immediately follow the account of the Fall, and you will discover the consequences of this deified freedom: jealousy, hatred, fratricide, imperialism, and the war of all against all. The rest of the Biblical narrative can be interpreted as God’s attempt to convince human beings that their lives, in point of fact, do not belong to them. He did this precisely by choosing a people whom he would form after his own mind and heart, teaching them how to think, how to behave, and above all, how to worship. This holy people Israel—a word that means, marvelously, “the one who wrestles with God”—would then, by the splendor of their way of life, attract the rest of the world. On the Christian reading, this project reached its climax in the person of Jesus Christ, a first-century Israelite from the town of Nazareth, who was also the Incarnation of the living God. The coming-together of divinity and humanity, the meeting of infinite and finite freedom, Jesus embodies what God intended for us from the beginning.

And this is precisely why Paul, one of Jesus’ first missionaries, announced him as Kyrios (Lord) to all the nations, and why he characterized himself as doulos Christou Iesou (a slave of Christ Jesus). Paul exulted in the fact that his life did not belong to him, but rather to Christ. In his letter to the Ephesians, he wrote, “there is a power already at work in you that can do infinitely more than you can ask or imagine.” He was referencing the Holy Spirit, which orders our freedom and which opens up possibilities utterly beyond our capacities. To follow the promptings of this Spirit is, for Paul and for all the Biblical authors, the source of life, joy, and true creativity.

All of which brings me back to Harvard and legalized suicide. The denial of God—or the blithe bracketing of the question of God—is not a harmless parlor game. Rather, it carries with it the gravest implications. If there is no God, then our lives do indeed belong to us, and we can do with them what we want. If there is no God, our lives have no ultimate meaning or transcendent purpose, and they become simply artifacts of our own designing. Accordingly, when they become too painful or too shallow or just too boring, we ought to have the prerogative to end them. We can argue the legalities and even the morality of assisted suicide until the cows come home, but the real issue that has to be engaged is that of God’s existence.

The incoming freshman class at Harvard is a disturbing omen indeed, for the more our society drifts into atheism, the more human life is under threat. The less we are willing even to wrestle with God, the more de-humanized we become.

http://www.wordonfire.org/resources/article/your-life-does-not-belong-to-you/4924/

Related:

Catholic Church Teaching on Human Life and Suicide:

http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s2c2a5.htm

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Worrying claim: Professor Patrick Pullicino said doctors had turned the use of a controversial ¿death pathway¿ into the equivalent of euthanasia of the elderly

Worrying claim in Britain: Professor Patrick Pullicino said doctors had turned the use of a controversial ‘death pathway’ into the equivalent of euthanasia of the elderly

Related Part I:

Catholic Church Teaching on Human Life and Suicide:

http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s2c2a5.htm

“The Catholic Guide to Depression,” by Aaron Kheriaty, MD and Fr. John Cihak, STD.

Many people have said to us that the four signs of a “dynamic Catholic” are also the characteristics of many Christians of all denominations and people in recovery programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous.

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Saudi Arabia may go broke before the US oil industry buckles

August 6, 2015

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Opec: It is too late for OPEC to stop the shale revolution. The cartel faces the prospect of surging US output whenever oil prices rise

King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud launching five projects within the Third Saudi expansion for the Grand Mosque in Makkah, July 12, 2015

King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud  Photo: AFP/Getty

The vital role of academic freedom in creating a world-class university

July 5, 2015

William Tierney and Gerard Postiglione say if scholars and scientists are not free to pursue the truth, it can have a devastating effect

By William Tierney and Gerard Postiglione

The international race to have a “world-class university” in Hong Kong has been in full swing for more than a decade. Whether you use the QS ranking, Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s Academic Ranking of World Universities, or the UK’s Times Higher Education World University Rankings, the vast majority of the top 100 are in the US and Europe, with the former having the lion’s share of the top 25. Not surprisingly, other countries are trying to ape what they think of as the “American model”.

Many observers think fiscal and organisational structures enable universities to be world class. Some of the best universities – Harvard, Stanford, the University of Southern California – are private and do not rely on government largesse. Even so-called state universities in the US get little funding from government any more. The implication for other countries is that their universities should be more entrepreneurial. Universities in many countries have begun to sing the praises of entrepreneurialism as never before.

Others look at private philanthropy in endowing positions for academic staff and erecting buildings on America’s campuses. Of consequence, many aspiring universities have begun to create or expand their development offices. The University of Hong Kong’s medical school accepted its renaming as the Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine. Many libraries at China’s universities are named after Run Run Shaw.

Central governments also have a role. Federal spending on the research infrastructure of America’s best universities contributes to their excellence. The result is that other governments, including Saudi Arabia and China, now invest heavily in building facilities and providing the funds to hire academic staff so that some of their universities might be considered world class in research.

US universities are not consistently atop the world rankings because of their funding streams or organisational models, but rather their ability to drive excellence in teaching and research. The role of academic freedom cannot be underestimated, as it allows professors to speak their minds, search for truth and not worry that they will face sanctions in their work. Eliminate that and US universities drop in the world rankings.

Before the end of the 19th century, Harvard University’s Charles Eliot counselled John D. Rockefeller that 200 years and US$50 million (about US1.4 billion in today’s money) would be required to create a world-class institution. After the turn of the century, and with Rockefeller’s US$50 million-plus, the University of Chicago needed only 20 years to attain top standing. At the same time, however, the idea of academic freedom became enshrined as the raison d’être of academic life in the US, and protected by a system of academic tenure. Shared governance came about to ensure that academic freedom remained a core value of the university. By 1960, virtually every university in America offered tenure, shared governance and a commitment to academic freedom as its core value.

Recently, the state legislature of Wisconsin voted to eliminate tenure and reduce shared governance at the University of Wisconsin – ranked 29th in the world in the Times’ rankings. At an emergency meeting of its university senate, hundreds of academic staff in attendance signed a statement that protects academic freedom. Meanwhile, other universities that espouse a commitment to shared governance, tenure and academic freedom are perched to poach Wisconsin’s faculty.

Wisconsin is not an isolated example. A new special report on the Index on Censorship offe. Academics in Turkey are forbidden to write this sort of article. In Ireland and Britain, the rise of corporate research threatens the objectivity of a scholar’s work. China has taken issue with Western values in college textbooks. At the University of Illinois in the US, a job offer to a scholar was rescinded based on tweets he had sent about the situation in the Middle East.

Challenges to Hong Kong’s universities are becoming more complex in an increasingly divided society. Never before has Hong Kong’s leading university been so hog-tied. The hold-up in appointing a vice-president leaves the senior management team and the university at a serious disadvantage. The outlook for future council business will be of increasing interest with a probable new chair appointee who recently berated the university’s academics and, as education minister, proposed merging two University Grants Committee institutions prior to the row over alleged government interference in academic freedom.

Some believe there are valid arguments to restrict academic freedom. However, if the goal is to create a world-class university, then there is no better way to compromise the integrity of the institution than to create an atmosphere that promotes self-censorship. Just as Lehman Brothers placed its principles at risk, resulting in a freefall that presaged a global economic meltdown, a leading university can bring down a system of higher education if it compromises core academic values for economic or political gain. A change of atmosphere carries potential risks for a university that has consistently been in the world’s top 50. Considered an oak of academic freedom in Asia, HKU’s situation will have implications beyond the Pokfulam Road campus.

A 2001 World Bank report noted that Hong Kong University of Science and Technology’s rocket rise to world-class standing after it opened in 1991 could not have occurred without providing academic freedom to attract and retain top scientists. Academic freedom is a necessary condition for excellence but it requires a sustained commitment by all those who share in the governance of university. The unfettered search for truth by scholars and scientists is essential for excellence in the world’s top 25 universities.

William G. Tierney is university professor and director of the Pullias Centre for Higher Education at the University of Southern California. He is a visiting research professor at The University of Hong Kong. Gerard A. Postiglione is associate dean in the Faculty of Education at HKU