JHU Press Blog

Teaching Topology: A Preview of Shaun Ault's "Understanding Topology"

by eea | Wednesday, January 10, 2018 - 12:00 PM

As an educator and research mathematician, I feel that my primary job is to share my knowledge and expertise, to shed light on difficult concepts, and to encourage students to continue discovering beyond what’s presented in the classroom. When I began work on the textbook, Understanding Topology: A Practical Introduction , it was with these aims in mind. Above all, I wanted this textbook to sample a wide range of topics that fall under the broad category of topology while remaining rigorous enough for students to understand how mathematicians to do real mathematics. I wanted students to encounter new and wonderfully strange topological spaces and have the tools in hand to analyze them. Furthermore, I wanted students to see how this very abstract field of mathematics could be useful to other areas of math and science.

Understanding Topology began life as stack of messy lecture notes that I had prepared for an undergraduate course in Topology at Valdosta State University. The lectures were based on material cobbled together from a variety of sources, including The Knot Book by Colin Adams, Beginning Topology by Sue Goodman, A Combinatorial Introduction to Topology by Michael Henle, The...Read More

Finishing the Blog Turned Book with Carolyn Thomas

by eea | Wednesday, December 27, 2017 - 12:03 PM

A Woman's Guide to Living with Heart Disease : my Blog-turned-Book!

By Carolyn Thomas

With a splendid sigh of relief, I hit the ‘submit’ button and sent off the completed draft manuscript of A Woman’s Guide to Living with Heart Diseas e”, the book I’d been writing for most of 2016. I sat back and waited for a response from JHUP.

And waited. And waited.

My anticipation ended within a week via return email from then JHUP Executive Editor Jackie Wehmueller. She loved it! Even the introductory preface I’d written was described as “a masterpiece”.

The next step: the entire 10-chapter draft manuscript needed to be evaluated by JHUP internal reviewers. Since a heart attack had forced my retirement after almost four decades working in public relations, I wasn’t used to writing for anybody else but my Heart Sisters blog readers. But now I not only sent the finished product to Jackie, but the manuscript would need one more lengthy go-round from a JHUP cardiologist, the Editorial Advisory Committee, and finally the Faculty Board....Read More

Curiosity is Key: How to Inspire Kids to Engage in Their Education with Kevin Bell

by eea | Thursday, December 21, 2017 - 12:00 PM

“My students aren’t engaging with my materials because, well that’s what they do, or don’t do. What’s the golden (tech) bullet to engage my students? Artificial Intelligence?, The Internet of Things?, Blockchain?, Next Generation LMS-s?, Virtual Reality?, Augmented Reality?” – (head explodes)…

All of the above are viable technologies worthy of our attention and exploration. One or more of them may even radically affect higher education. It’s also certain that one or more of them will take a humbled seat on the bench alongside Second Life, QR codes and MySpace; the hope of relaunch as a cool retro / Old School tool their only solace.

Effective technology, digital content or new means of tech facilitated interactivity can accentuate good teaching and a good student experience. The key word in that sentence though; definitely “ accentuate .” In 25 years in higher ed, while I have never seen poor teaching made good by virtue of a flicked switch, I have seen many lame implementations that started with the phrase, “just show me which button to press.” A frighteningly frequent conversation twixt bored instructor and stressed (and also a bit bored) Instructional Designer.

So here you go: a cool,...Read More

Challenging His Teacher’s Racism: Was Huck William James?

by eea | Sunday, December 17, 2017 - 12:00 PM

In his youth, William James tried on a range of career possibilities. In the 1860s, his attention was focused on a career in science. He had spent his childhood in a host of schools on both sides of the North Atlantic guided by his father, Henry James, Senior, who promoted experiential learning and familiarity with natural facts for his five children. The elder James had high hopes for a “scientific career for Willy,” his oldest son. Like his father, Willy James had an appetite for the natural facts of scientific investigation and a reflective temperament. Henry James noticed the growing authority of science in this era, and hoped that his eldest son would train in science to give more respectability to his own idealistic belief that all the natural facts of our empirical world are mere shadows pointing to higher spiritual truths, which he hoped would help shed society of selfishness.

This was the picture of science William James brought to his first scientific training as a chemistry student starting in September of 1861 at the Lawrence Scientific School at Harvard University. His chemistry teacher, Charles Eliot would become the university’s president eight years later. As president, he...Read More

"The Past is Never Dead. It's Not Even Past" - A Discussion of the Difference Between Historical Fact and History with Joseph Stoltz III

by eea | Friday, December 15, 2017 - 12:00 PM

The current statuary controversy across the United States highlights that many Americans do not appreciate the difference between historical facts and history. Historical facts are discrete definable pieces of evidence. History is the contextual narrative of the past that puts those facts into context. I wrote A Bloodless Victory to examine this phenomenon. On 8 January1815, an American army under the command of Andrew Jackson repulsed a British force of several thousand men after roughly thirty minutes of intense fighting. Those are the facts. However, just a brief examination of the 50 th , 100 th , and 150 th anniversaries of the battle shows the diversity and contradictory nature of the predominate historical narratives publicized at each anniversary.

The 50 th anniversary of the battle occurred in 1865 as Union troops besieged Petersburg, Virginia and began their invasion of South Carolina; closing the noose on the Confederate States of America. In New Orleans, Union troops paraded past a statue of Andrew Jackson in celebration of their liberation of that city a few years before in 1862. They saw their efforts as the living embodiment of Jackson’s decree: “Our federal union. It must be preserved!”...Read More

Education in the Digital Age: A Look at the Progression of Technology in Education with Norm Friesen

by eea | Wednesday, December 13, 2017 - 12:00 PM

I went to school at the dawn of the microcomputer. These were expensive, immobile boxes that only responded to coded commands. Today I hold a smartphone in my hand that is over 10,000 times more powerful and infinitely more flexible. This incredible technological revolution, however, is all but invisible when I now go back to schools as a Prof. in Educational Technology. Yes: There are teachers using interactive whiteboards, and students sneaking peeks at their phones or using a tablet. But I still see teachers covering material via lectures and students using textbooks—just as they do in my own university. I can’t help but ask: “Why has education changed so little when media and technology have changed so much?”

I wasn’t satisfied by the standard explanations: That we’re at the cusp of an educational revolution (we always are) or that educators are “laggards” (they work very hard). Instead, I looked at how questions of change and stability are understood by people without a stake in the game, who focus more on a well-documented past than on an uncertain future. I looked to historians, and in their accounts I found incredible stories about teaching and textbooks stretching back centuries that...Read More

Enrollment Realities Illustrate the Need for Relevant Research on Small Privates with John M. Braxton

by eea | Monday, December 11, 2017 - 2:44 PM

A title of a June 29, 2017 article in Business Insider declares “College Enrollment has plummeted, and private universities are scrambling.” This article points to activities at Ohio Wesleyan University such as creating majors in high-demand fields, increased student recruitment activities abroad and in the United States, and the addition of two sports and marching band as responses to declines in student enrollments. Jon Marcus, the author of this article states “All of these changes are a response to a crisis few outside higher education even know exists: a sharp decline in the number of customers bound for small private, nonprofit colleges (p.2).”

The enrollment pressures facing private colleges and universities create a great deal of uncertainty within this important sector of U.S. higher education. Uncertainty demands that scholarship guide the actions of leaders of independent colleges. Consequently, an urgent need for collaboration between scholars of higher education and practitioners in private colleges and universities springs forth. How are independent colleges adapting to these uncertainties and what additional research would help them not only survive, but also thrive? The Challenges of Independent Colleges: Moving Research into Practice edited by Christopher C. Morphew and I...Read More

The Dynamics of Imperialism and Foreign Relations: A Study of Persia's involvement in Foreign Wars with John Hyland

by eea | Friday, December 8, 2017 - 12:00 PM

The Satrap and I: Writing Persian Interventions

My fascination with Achaemenid Persia’s interventions in Greek conflicts began in a college seminar on the crisis of the Greek city state, when I first read Book VIII of Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War . To my surprise, the character who intrigued me most was not a Greek but a Persian, the satrap Tissaphernes, who offered aid to Sparta’s fleet against Athens in 412-411 BCE but failed to deliver on his promises. While admitting lack of certainty on his motives, Thucydides guesses that Tissaphernes feared the winner of the Greek struggle would threaten the Persians; therefore, the historian alleges, he crafted a secret policy to sabotage his allies, balancing Sparta and Athens against one another and prolonging their destructive stalemate. Tissaphernes’ apparent employment of defensive Realpolitik seized my attention – I wrote a twenty-page paper but couldn’t stop thinking about the topic, and returned to it at greater length in my senior honors thesis. I found that numerous studies presented Tissaphernes as either a brilliant diplomat or cunning villain, but failed to place him in an adequate Persian imperial context; this forced me to begin grappling with...Read More

Writing through Heart Disease with Carolyn Thomas

by eea | Wednesday, December 6, 2017 - 12:00 PM

A Woman's Guide to Living with Heart Disease : my blog-turned-book!

By Carolyn Thomas

Part Two: Writing the Blog-Turned-Book

After two copies of my book contract were duly signed and returned to JHUP, I bought myself a new laptop to replace my ancient MacBook Pro in anticipation of starting this important project. I’d loved that old computer dearly despite its one perverse flaw: the “o” no longer worked on the keyboard. You would not believe how many words contain the letter “o”.

I knew that I’d need a visual outline of my 10-chapter draft Table of Contents to easily refer to for the year ahead. A big foam core poster fit the bill, propped up on my dining room table, covered with Post-its destined to be endlessly rearranged. It made for a unique decor accent.

Like many of my blog articles, each chapter of this book on living with heart disease was to start with a theme introduced by a brief personal narrative of my own heart attack experience. Each narrative was to be followed by a broader discussion of closely related themes,...Read More

A Night at the Museum Show

by bjs | Wednesday, December 6, 2017 - 9:00 AM

Earlier this year, Theatre Journal released a special issue on " Theatre and the Museum/Cultures of Display, " sparked by journal co-editor Jennifer Parker-Starbuck's personal fascination with the history of collection and display.

"This special issue, then, was initially sparked by a cross-section of my interests; indeed, my essay about taxidermy and performance (generously referenced here in Joshua Williams’s essay ) began when I became fixated on an exhibit of taxidermied dog heads circling around the head of a wolf in the Horniman Museum in South East London," she writes in her introduction to the issue.

Parker-Starbuck joined us in a Q&A to talk about the resulting five essays and how the topic makes a natural connection to the theatre performance.

How fun was it to work on an issue that developed from the intersection of your personal interests?

This Special Issue came about because not only was I brought up going to museums (from my mother’s love of art, to living outside of Washington, D.C. when I was young, where the free entry Smithsonian Museums provided hours of amusement) but also because my own research on...Read More