The Second Law of Thermodynamics states simply that systems have a universal tendency to gravitate towards disorder

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Final Exam Format

You have to answer question #5. Questions 1-4... pick two of them. Drop the other two. Please email them to me by next week. Best of luck. Email me if you have any questions.

Essay Question #5

What grade do you deserve? Honest, open, self-assessment of your work to-date. I'd like to direct some of you to the syllabus regarding attendance:

Students are expected to attend all classes as scheduled. Four or more absences will lower your grade by one letter. Additionally, students are expected to complete all class activities and be prepared to discuss the assigned readings.

And yes.... I know whether or not you showed up for class.

Defend yourself. Make a case for why you deserve the grade you deserve. Use the syllabus as a baseline for your grades and extrapolate accordingly... I am willing to be persuaded.

Essay Question #4

Ok, you’ve read a couple of articles in favor and against the growing inequality in America. So the questions I propose to you:

Does the growing inequality of the rich and poor make the world a worst place—or is everyone (at least indirectly) benefiting from the growth and greed. Should we be concerned with this? And if so, what would you propose that we do—and what might be some of the unintended consequences of your decision either in favor of action or inaction.

To help you with this question, several youtube clips for and against. The first two are focusing on the disappearance of the middle class from Paul Krugman and Elizabeth Warren—two heavyweights in their respective fields. The Warren talk is about an hour but it’s more than worth it for those who are dedicated and/or have no life.

The second two clips counter the above talks to some extent and are much shorter. The first is from Milton Friedman—one of the most influential economists of the past 100 years and from Michael Novak another distinguished scholar. Enjoy and good luck.

Paul Krugman on the middle Class

Elizabeth Warren, Chairman of the Congressional Oversight Panel: U. of CA, Berkeley talk on the coming collapse of the Middle Class

Milton Friedman on Greed

Michael Novak defending the Rich/Poor Gap

Essay Question #3

Watch Clay Shirky’s TED Talk on Institutions V. Collaboration:

This video touches on a lot of the themes we talked about in class. Open source, power laws, social capital and collaboration…. So the questions are this:

Question: According to Shirky why will institutions cease to exist—or at least lose emphsis? As part of the internet generation—how different are you from your parents and what will the future look like? Explain Shirky’s thesis to me. And then tell me what you think about it. Is it plausible and if so, is this scary and why?

And for those bolder students of knowledge interested in how the future may look like--check out his more recent talk: .

Essay Question #2

The Great Reset:

What is Richard Florida’s thesis? Is it plausible? What could prevent Richard’s theory from happening according to our lectures (why wouldn’t we have high speed rails to connect cities into megacities/regions?) Explain.

And one more from Richard Florida: – not part of your question… but it talks about why it matters where you live? Or… why should you have paid attention to this class this past semester and how it impacts your future happiness. Enjoy.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Essay Question #1

Essay Question #1

A.) Recently, Mayor Slay of St. Louis publicly stated that he would be pushing for more charter schools within the city. Is this a viable alternative to traditional public education or something that undermines it? Explain your answer and the rationale behind it.

B.) The trend at the state level appears to be towards limited union power. At the moment there is a strong push for merit-based pay as an alternative in retaining and attracting talented educators. This may come at the cost of teacher union’s collective bargaining power and even over the discontinuation of “tenure” (as well as other possible unintended consequences). Examine both sides of this argument, with a particular emphasis on the possible externalities (both positive and negative) as well as practical implementation issues of this policy. Also address consequences of non-action or alternative approaches (more money is not a suitable answer by itself)

The following links may be helpful as they contain radio discussions on the topic and can be streamed online (for you audio learners).

April 13, 2011

A conversation about ongoing efforts to change the way teachers are evaluated.

March 09, 2011

A discussion with Teach for America founder Wendy Kopp about the twenty year history of the organization and her new book detailing her thoughts on closing the achievement gap in education.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


The China Hub credits stirring debate.

A study finished last week by the Regional Chamber and Growth Association predicts that if all the tax credits were used, they would generate 27.6 million square feet of cargo, factory and warehouse space. The companies that fill that space would probably employ about 6,600 people, and the spinoff effects could generate an additional 7,200 jobs.

Would undoubtedly have huge short and long term impacts on the St. Louis region. Good summary of the debate and a look at the possible new global face of St. Louis.