As the start of the fall semester inches closer, we?ve invited a handful of our contributors to reflect on what they?ve read over the summer. We asked: What are the best books and essays on religion, secularism, and public life that you?ve come across this summer? What are you most looking forward to reading in the near future?
This page was updated to include a contribution from Pamela Klassen?ed.
Below are their responses.
There have been several recent reports of the closure of Rice University Press (here, here and here). RUP made a splash when it was resurrected as an ?all-digital? print-on-demand, open access university press, the first of its kind and for many in the ailing university and scholarly publishing world, a beacon, or at least a canary in what is turning out to be a very large, very dark coal mine.
So if it?s closing down, it must have failed, right? There must be no money in digital publishing of scholarly works, right? This must be proof that the only way to make money is with strong intellectual property rights held by massive conglomerates, right? Wrong Wrong Wrong. RUP?s closing is a crystal clear case of something entirely different: bad university administration. The decision, despite the claims in the various articles, had absolutely nothing to do with the viability of the ideas, or the expertise of the staff, or the realities of the marketplace. Instead, it had everything to do with short-sighted, self-important, autocratic management of a university by administrators whose interests are hard to identify though clearly at odds with any possible goal of producing high quality scholarship. (And don?t get me started about the other recent decision to sell the student-run 50K watt radio station, KTRU, one of the best in the country. Sign the petition)
We pay some degree of special attention to the doings of the University of California system because it is so huge when it comes to US NIH-funded biomedical research. Policies that exist at the UC campuses affect a large percentage of our target audience and for that matter, many of our colleagues and friends. There is also an assumption on my part that the very size of the UC means that it has an influential effect on policies across the US and maybe even worldwide. The UAW recently announced that they had reached an agreement with the University of California system (provost confirmation) and about ~6,500 postdoctoral researchers/fellows represented by the UAW.
Susquehanna U. Press is placed “on hiatus.” Move follows decisions at Rice, Scranton and SMU. more
A couple weeks ago, I posted about a new scientific paper looking at how an increased understanding of psychedelic drugs may lead to new anti-depressants. Over at Science Blogs, neuroscientist Moheb Costandi responds in a fascinating essay on “The Secret History of Psychedelic Psychiatry.” From the article: