For many academics, inquiry and integrity go hand in hand. This is why universities maintain institutional review boards to oversee research and protect the rights of study subjects. Many disciplines also have professional organizations that provide policies, codes of conduct, and ethical guidelines to shape field-specific boundaries for appropriate exploration. When the rules mandated by these institutions combine, many scholars have a very explicit set of directives that they must follow in order to complete their investigations, but those directives provide protection for all those involved—investigator, institution, and research subject alike. While it initially might seem counterintuitive, these regulations actually facilitate academic freedom—faculty members may pursue whatever line of inquiry they so desire as long as their research methodology abides by the moral code prescribed by their university and their discipline. Continue reading
Students, faculty, and staff at many college and university campuses all across the United States are going to have to engage in a thoughtful and prolonged conversation about race, equality, and social justice when school resumes this fall. The most recent spate of violence directed at black Americans, strongly exemplified by the horrific mass shooting in Charleston, SC, has sparked a renewed discussion of America’s complex and fraught history as well as an examination of the ways in which that past is affecting current racial dynamics in this country. Continue reading
College athletics have come under intense scrutiny in recent years due to sexual assault scandals, accusations of cheating, debates about whether or not the athletes should be paid, and more. These contentious issues receive just as much attention, whether it be from the average fan or the media, as the sports do themselves. For the athletes playing these sports, being affected in some way by these debates and problems has become the norm, a price to be paid for competing at the college level. That price is about to made far more complicated by the introduction of electronic attendance monitoring, an advancement that could bring about major change in college sports, higher education in general, and the public perception of how colleges and universities educate young people. Continue reading
Guest Post: Should Some Animals Have Some Rights Under the Law?: Using the 8 Key Questions to Decide
This guest post was written by Dr. Jennifer Byrne, associate professor at James Madison University.
The issue of granting animals rights under the law has been particularly salient world-wide in the past few years. For example, Spain has granted personhood rights to apes, meaning that they cannot be used in entertainment or confined to captivity beyond those that already have homes in zoos. India has granted similar personhood rights to dolphins. Now, the United States is in the spotlight of this debate. Steven Wise, scholar of animal rights at Harvard Law School, contends that some animals, especially primates, meet the criteria for legal personhood. Continue reading
Death is always a difficult subject to adequately address in writing. There are countless ways to think about it—as just another step in the journey of life, as an opportunity to reflect, as a chance to celebrate the life of a loved one. What makes this difficult is there no way to fully address death and its repercussions on those left behind without leaving something out. Grief is constantly evolving, ever shifting; an individual’s experience with loss is always changing, and everyone goes through it in radically different ways. If you amplify that at an institutional level, adequate engagement could very well be impossible.
The James Madison University community has been undergoing a bereavement process of its own in the past month, struggling to find that adequate level of engagement. Continue reading