Why Teach History?

"Why study history?" is the more usual question, and the collection of answers to that is extensive enough. But while it makes sense to think that the reasons for studying history and the reasons for teaching it are congruent from a certain point of view, I very much doubt that the reason I feel a … Continue reading Why Teach History?

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Branding Is Not An Academic Priority

Again: university branding is not an academic priority. And to the extent that the improvement or broadcasting of a university's reputation is pursued as a matter of promoting a brand rather than reflecting or substantive academic achievements, university reputation -- including institutional rankings -- is not an academic priority either. This is not to say universities have no need … Continue reading Branding Is Not An Academic Priority

New publication: Alchemical transmutation and economic value in the seventeenth century

Self-promotion alert! (But if I don't tell you, who will?) I'm happy to say that a piece I wrote on two seventeenth-century scientific projectors, Gabriel Plattes (c.1600-44) and William Petty (1623-87), has at long last come out as a chapter in the large volume shown at left. My contribution looks at how Plattes and Petty … Continue reading New publication: Alchemical transmutation and economic value in the seventeenth century

Truth, Freedom, and Productivity: When PR usurps scholarship

No one wants ill-advised assessment regimes imported into higher education. No one wants to see a single-minded, narrow emphasis on quantifying value. No one desires deeply flawed metrics being used to compare institutions and individuals. Nevertheless...[1] Quoting the above out of context is a little unfair -- the authors are talking about the need for … Continue reading Truth, Freedom, and Productivity: When PR usurps scholarship