Higher Ed

This week in higher ed: Feb. 20, 2013

University News Editor
Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Disagreements prompt professor’s departure from MOOC

A professor from the University of California at Irvine left the massive open online course he was teaching after four weeks, but the class is continuing without him, the Chronicle of Higher Education reported Monday.

The reasons that Richard McKenzie, a professor at the university’s business school, left “Microeconomics for Managers,” which he was teaching on the online class platform Coursera, remain unclear, the Chronicle reported. But according to the article he appears to have disagreed with supervisors at UC Irvine about the course’s instruction.

In McKenzie’s absence, course managers will continue to lead the economics class, McKenzie announced in a message to students, the Chronicle reported.

Of the 37,000 students around the world who originally registered for the course, under 2 percent had “been actively engaged,” McKenzie wrote on the course website, the Chronicle reported.

The Chronicle indicated that some students had been dissatisfied with what they saw as McKenzie’s overly heavy assigned workload, and that McKenzie was intimately involved in responding to student feedback.

The news arrived on the heels of another controversy for Coursera earlier this month, when a Georgia Institute of Technology course folded after a series of technical and organizational issues.

Brown will offer classes on Coursera beginning this summer.

Berkeley student comes out as undocumented

A student at the University of California at Berkeley made headlines this week when he went public with an admission that he is an undocumented immigrant, the Daily Californian reported Monday.

Terrence Park, a UC Berkeley senior and president of the UC Berkeley Mathematics Undergraduate Students Association, came to the United States with his family from South Korea when he was 11, the Daily Californian reported. His story was told in a video compiled by the immigration advocacy group The Dream is Now. It was intended to provide support for the federal Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, which if passed would provide a path to citizenship for high school graduates in college or the military who came to the U.S. before age 16 and have lived here for at least five continuous years, the Daily Californian reported.

The 2011 passage of the DREAMAct in California allowed Park to transfer from community college to UC Berkeley, the Daily Californian reported, but the absence of a parallel federal bill means Park is ineligible for federal financial aid and will have to delay his graduate studies at Yale, where he has been accepted.

“I think it’s the right thing to do,” Park told the Daily Californian, “and I felt a little guilty about hiding my status for so long. Now that I came out, I feel that I’m doing something right.”

His work has received some support from UC Berkeley leaders: Chancellor Robert Birgeneau called Park “courageous” in the Daily Californian article.

New Harvard admin position emphasizes sustainable investment

Harvard created a new senior leadership position last week specifically focused on guiding the university’s endowment toward sustainable causes, the Crimson reported Friday.

The new vice president of sustainable investing position was created by the Harvard Management Company. The vice president will act as a liaison to the university’s environmental, social and other investment offices.

The move came after responsible investing had surfaced as a major campus issue in recent months. Undergraduate students passed a November referendum advocating for divestment from top fossil fuel companies by a nearly 3-1 margin. In December, administrators announced the creation of a social choice fund to advocate investing in socially proactive companies. Last week, 93 percent of Harvard Kennedy School students voted in favor of seeding the fund with endowment money, the Crimson reported.

Though Brown’s social choice fund predates that of Harvard by several years, it has received only one donation.

A job application for the position went up online last week, the Crimson reported.

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