In “Brand U.,” Stephen Budiansky complains that it’s impossible to satirize colleges’ “craven commercialism” wrapped in “academic blather.” Satire can’t keep ahead of reality.
My final straw came when a friend at Case Western Reserve University (now referred to as Case, after their consultant concluded that all great universities have single-word names) sent me a packet of information on the university’s new showcase undergraduate seminar program. Called SAGES (this supposedly stands for Seminar Approach to General Education and Scholarship), the program offers as an essential component of its core intellectual experience an upscale cafe that serves Peet’s Coffee and is “staffed by baristas whose expertise in preparing espresso is matched only by their authoritative knowledge of all things SAGES.”
The quality of chai latte is not compromised, but academic quality is.
If students fidget, talk or walk out of class, the guide advises seminar leaders not to “manage” such behaviors, but to explore their underlying causes. Instructors must remember that to such characteristically American cultural beliefs as the importance of morality, rationality and personal responsibility, there are equally valid alternatives that must be respected.
. . . And finally, if students do not contribute to discussions at all, seminar leaders should “make space for silence.”
By the cinammon, nutmeg, chocolate, sugar and Splenda, I guess.