CLIR Report on NITLE

Logo designed by Khaled Al-Saai

I finally read through this report on NITLE (the National Institute for Technology and Liberal Education), and I must say I agree with most of it’s findings.  It is a thorough survey of what was accomplished and what is needed. Thanks are due to Jason Brodeur, Morgan Daniels, Annie Johnson, Natsuko Nicholls, Sarah Pickle, and Elizabeth A. WaraksaI, as well as all who participated in the surveys they conducted, for this job well done.

I was very proud of my involvement in NITLE, which started our as a visionary organization, assisting member institutions to be forward looking and to think big about what they could accomplish. I was Program Director of NITLE’s Al-Musharaka Initiative, which is mentioned early in the report. I am immensely proud of my involvement with that project. Our focus really was on building community, facilitating collaboration, and fostering intellectual exchange, not just across institutions, but also across sectors within the academic community.  Much of what has been published about the initiative focusing on the Arab Culture and Civilization Online Resource (the ACC site), one of our first projects, but it was really the collaborative projects that were the most interesting and produced the most exciting results.  Continue reading

SAR Academic Freedom Media Review: 26 February – 4 March 2011

The Scholars at Risk media review seeks to raise awareness about academic freedom issues in the news. Subscription information and archived media reviews are available here. The views and opinions expressed in these articles are not necessarily those of Scholars at Risk.

Censorship or a Mirage?
Steve Kolowich, Inside Higher Ed, 3/4

The man from Kyrgyzstan
Corydon Ireland, Harvard Gazette, 3/3

‘Suspect’ Offa letter threatens sector’s freedom
Rebecca Attwood, Times Higher Education, 3/3

Academic Freedom and the Corporate University
Bill Gleason, The Chronicle of Higher Education, 3/3

Continue reading

Budget Cuts and the National Community

Discover history at our National Parks

When I was growing up we traveled often as a family for vacations and weekends. We had a camper and took it to all kinds of interesting places, frequently our nation’s national parks and historic monuments. I remember fascinated by the history I learned visiting the birthplace of George Washington, the Yorktown Battlefield and National Cemetery, the battlefields of Gettysburg, the birthplace of Booker T. Washington, the Capitol Building, the Lincoln Memorial and so many others. Frequent visits to the Cape Hatteras National Seashore and the Blue Ridge Parkway or the Smoky Mountains awakened my fascination with the natural wonders of the world, and the visitor centers, trails or markers were as good as any classroom. I was an inquisitive boy, so I took home the free brochures maps and field guides from these places to study more, and begged my parents, more often than not successfully, to buy me the books in the gift shops that I could read at home.

I learned a lot about our nation’s history and the natural world this way, it seems like as much as I did in school. I don’t remember being taught about Booker T. Washington before college. That’s not to say I wasn’t, but I don’t remember it like I do the visit to his birthplace. We must have learned about Thomas Jefferson, but I don’t remember that, either and my virtual obsession with him sprang out of a family visit to Monticello. While visiting the Smoky Mountains I was first exposed the the tragedy of the Native Americans and the horrors of incidents like the Trail of Tears. Most of these parks had not entry fee, paid for entirely with tax dollars. That meant that we could and would, explore something on on a whim. If it was a rainy day and we had planned to do something outside, we could tour a historic mansion, instead. In addition to the National Parks and Historic Places, there was a whole other network of state parks and sites operated by non-profits that were also free.

More recently an increasing percentage of these sites have imposed an entry fee. People want low taxes, budgets are small, and government at all levels from local to national is practicing austerity. Fee for service became a model for a lot of what government does in the 1980s, and it has been that way since. It makes sense on a certain level. Why should those of who never have any intention of visiting one of these sites pay for their upkeep and for providing services there? In fact, these properties are part of our national heritage. We, as a people, have decided that these places are an important part of our history and they need to be preserved. They are monuments that need to be visible to our fellow citizens and the world to remind us of our common heritage and who we are as a people. The White House has offered to cut $105 million from the budget of the National Park Service, and the Republican’s want more.

Continue reading

Academic Freedom Media Review-November 13-19, 2010

photo: Chris Hildreth

Compiled by Scholars at Risk

The Scholars at Risk media review seeks to raise awareness about academic freedom issues in the news. Subscription information and archived media reviews are available here. The views and opinions expressed in these articles are not necessarily those of Scholars at Risk.

Second Azerbaijani ‘Donkey Blogger’ Freed
Claire Bigg, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 11/19

Azerbaijani Activist Detained On Georgian Border
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 11/19

Nobel Winner’s Absence May Delay Awarding of Prize
Andrew Jacobs and Alan Cowell, The New York Times, 11/18

Law students march to support UP professors
ABS-CBN News, 11/18

SINGAPORE: Yale partnership to go ahead, NUS says
Stanislaus Jude Chan, University World News, 11/18

Law clinics that go beyond theory face attacks
Sarah Cunnane, Times Higher Education, 11/18

Continue reading

Academic Freedom Media Review, October 23-29, 2010

The Scholars at Risk media review seeks to raise awareness about academic freedom issues in the news. Subscription information and archived media reviews are available here. The views and opinions expressed in these articles are not necessarily those of Scholars at Risk.

Warning on Bologna
Hannah Fearn, Inside Higher Ed, 10/29

Iranian Scholar Accused of Acting against National Security
Network for Education and Academic Rights (NEAR), 10/28

Students say: new report recommending specialised universities would spell disaster for accessible education and academic choice
CNW, 10/27

Scholars at Risk calls for letters on behalf of Svyatoslav Bobyshev and Yevgeny Afanasyev, Russian scholars held in pretrial detention since March
Scholars at Risk, 10/26

Continue reading

Higher Education, Technology, and the Job Market in Morocco… and the USA

King Fahd School of Translation

I was in Morocco last week for two events relating to the the role of the university in preparing graduating students for the evolving job market in this country. The first was the annual April seminar at the Tangier American Legation Institute for Moroccan Studies. This year it focused on higher education and the job market and delved into some important issues. I found developments at Abdelmalek Essadi University particularly exciting because I have something of a relationship with that institution. I taught at the King Fahd School of Translation for 2 1/2 years which is a branch of the university, and because a close friends used to teach there.

The universities in Morocco have much more autonomy than they did when I was there, and it appears that the Abdelmalek Essadi, which has campuses in both Tetouan and Tangier, is one of the institutions that has taken greatest advantages of this.  It’s outgoing President, Mohammed Bennounna, has done much to transform the institution into one that is responsive to the rapidly changing economic and social realities of contemporary Morocco.  Representatives of the private sector at the seminar seemed quite impressed with what has been done, so it seems that the reform is, in fact, movement in the right direction.

Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane

Continue reading

Higher Education, Collaboration, and Education for the 21st Century


In a few days I am off to Morocco for a seminar at TALIM on higher education and employment in Morocco. But the job market in the United States is also very challenging of college graduates right now, and American educators may well be asking themselves if higher education in this country is adequately preparing students to enter the work force of the global era.

We still function in terms of national economies, but those economies are increasingly connected so that a crisis in one affects many others.  We also live in a world in which graduating students in America compete for employment, directly or indirectly, with their peers in Mexico, Morocco, India and Taiwan. And the whole lot of them are also competing with graduating students in Pakistan, Costa Rica, Tunisia, Israel and Poland. Continue reading

NITLE Programs This Week and Next



This is the NITLE Professional Development News that went out today. It focuses on my programs for the coming two weeks. They are going to be be keeping me busy. But they are interesting programs, so they should be fun.

Dear Colleagues,
As campuses continue to respond to the challenges of globalization as well as on-going economic restraints, I wanted to take a moment to call your attention to three upcoming NITLE programs relevant to both situations.

Using media elements with an international perspective to introduce complex issues such as research ethics can offer a new dimension to the lab-based science class, stimulating and enriching discussion. Faculty members in the natural and social sciences who want to integrate an international perspective into lab-based curricula in this way are encouraged to sign up for “Science and International Perspectives.” Continue reading

NITLE’s New Online Presence

Revised NITLE Site

Revised NITLE Site

Some of you may have already noticed, but NITLE’s web site has gotten a face lift or, more accurately, a radical redesign of the sort that would be worthy of an episode if anyone were ever to launch and “Extreme Web Makeover” series. I couldn’t be more pleased and I’m very grateful to the task force that coordinated this project for the new public face they have given us.

This is my personal blog and I don’t often use it to talk so much about work, but I can’t help myself, so let me point out just three things that, for me, are highlights of the new main site and its complementary presences.

I should point out that while we were asked for our opinions of the site at various points in it preparation, I was not part of the task force. So I am approaching the site as a user or visitor like you, not as a guide involved in its design who can tell you why things were set up the way they were. I am also expressing my opinions, which may not necessarily be representative of NITLE policy.

We might as well start at the main page. There is a lot of information presented on this page, and yet it is done clearly and in a manner that is easy to navigate and that quickly takes on into sought after information without multiple stops en route. If you are interested in something on the front page and you click on a link, more often than not you end up directly on a page containing the information you need, even if that click takes you out of the NITLE site.

That, in fact, is the other thing I like more about the front page. It sends a clear message from the start that NITLE is an organization that works in partnership with our participating colleges so the page itself presents a dialogue.

I also like that it brings together, right up front, all that is going on with NITLE. We’ve got some cool projects in the queue for the NITLE labs and we’ve got some good programming coming up, too. In the Daily NITLE Column you will find items from NITLE’s new blogs.

Liberal Education Today has been re-focused and revamped to become Liberal Education Tomorrow, fitting for a blog covering emerging technologies. Perspectives is geared toward the technology leadership at a liberal arts college. Techne, the one which I will be contributing to most regularly, is about integrating technology for teaching and learning at liberal arts colleges.

There are other things I like as well, but I said I would mention only a few. There are bugs and glitches, too. I’ve already pointed out two that are being corrected. But this is the world of information technology and everything is always a work in progress. That’s why things move forward at the pace they do. And that’s why we need you comments.

We’d all like to know what you think of these sites, so visit them and post your comments or contact our staff.

Morocco to fund overhaul of universities / Conference for Arab youth and media takes place in Tunis

This is good news.

The Moroccan government will provide universities with resources to boost reforms under a far-reaching 2009-20012 education emergency plan.

The government and universities signed 17 agreements to promote higher education at a ceremony on Tuesday (October 6th) presided over by King Mohammed VI. With nearly 12.6 billion dirhams earmarked for the improvements, the plan will enlarge and improve infrastructure, revamp facilities and instruction, increase universities’ intake capacity and promote scientific research.

But the investment is much needed.

The backdrop for the recent agreements is a 2007 World Bank report on education in the Arab world that sharply criticised Morocco for failing to implement widespread reforms. The report cited a lack of systematic evaluation of students, an alarming rise in dropout rates, the small budgets allocated to schools, and the inability of educational institutions to prepare students for the workforce. Following these findings, King Mohammed VI urged the government to create the emergency education plan.

You can read the full story “Morocco to fund overhaul of universities” on, but I taught for six years in the Moroccan university system, and Moroccan university students deserve a system of education that is worthy of their academic talents and skills. 

Another article by Mona Yahia also, on, discusses a recent meeting of Arab youth throughout the region.

Young people from all over the Maghreb and the wider Arab world met in Tunis on Monday (October 5th) for a three-day seminar on moulding the media to match the aspirations of Arab youth.

Delegates from Tunisia, Algeria, Libya, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Qatar, Egypt, Yemen, Palestine and Sudan drafted a number of recommendations at the event, which took place under the auspices of the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Physical Education in collaboration with the Arab League.

“The topics discussed were important and motivated us to exchange expertise with participants from various countries, and discuss with them means of developing youth-oriented information in the Arab world, especially with the appearance of other media that can threaten youth,” said Karima Weslati, a member of the Tunisian media, who took part in the event.

The full story is availabe at”Arab youth call for media that reflect their interests” on