Sunday, November 29, 2009

Don't Forget to Read the Newspaper

I know graduate students have busy lives balancing academic and personal responsibilities. However, all students should stay abreast of what's happening in the world. It is easy to live in a bubble in school. I have listed my favorite news websites at the local, national, and international level:

Local and University News

National News

International News

News Channels

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Berners-Lee and Web Science

The inventor of the Internet, Tim Berners-Lee, wants to create a wiki consortium of universities that offer "Web Science" courses. I checked the wiki, but U-M is not mentioned anywhere on the list. The School of Information offers mutiple courses in the history of computers and information and communication technologies (ICTs).

The group, Web Science Trust, has set up a Wiki where universities offering Web-science programs can list their offerings and links to their course syllabi.

Why set up a separate Web-science program when other fields already cover the topic? "Most computers science isn't about the Web, and most information science isn't about the Web," said James Hendler, a computer-science professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute who is a leader of the new effort. He named climate science as another new research area that has emerged in recent years by pulling people from different disciplines into the focused study of one area

I can't forget to say this: have a great Thanksgiving weekend!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Video: What Is Social Work?

I have been receiving multiple queries about what is social work. I found this Youtube video which was created for a social welfare course at Boston University. I think they described the broad field of social work superbly. The video also has the "We Are the World" background music theme.

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) also has an outreach website to educate and recruit students into the profession. It lists 50 biographies of social workers who are making a difference in a variety of backgrounds (clinican, therapist, consultant, executive director, professor, administrator, etc.).

Social workers engage in multiple roles:

  • Advocate
  • Educator
  • Broker
  • Activist
  • Negotiator
  • Group facilitator
  • Counselor
  • Researcher
  • Enabler
  • Initiator
  • Empowerer
  • Mediator

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

NASW Launches New Social Work Policy Initiative

I can't believe I missed this important news last month. The National Association of Social Workers filled a major void in policy and research by launching the new Social Work Policy Initiative. The center will focus on these issues:
The institute will look at current issues such as health care reform, health care disparities and the relevance of the global economy to the social work profession, as well as issues relating to evidence-informed practices. It will also generate ideas or issues that come through the NASW Foundation.

The institute will examine issues that relate to the work of social workers, including how to serve people who have multiple or complex needs, as well as how change takes place in public agencies and other structures through which health and human services are delivered.

Additionally, the institute will determine how research findings get into policy, and will work to better position and strengthen the profession.

The institute will help create Web resources that will address frequently asked questions, such as social work effectiveness.

Joan Levy Zlotnik will lead the new Social Work Policy Institute.

As a macro practice MSW student, this is a major breakthrough. Social workers with strong interests in social policy and evidence-based practice research now have a supportive and vocal presence within the NASW Foundation. The social work field has realized that it must become more proactive to improve its image and gain legitimacy.

You can find more information about the comparative effectiveness research symposium here.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Netflix-style Libraries?

I found this article through an email listserv. A Californian public library is adopting a Netflix-style library circulation system. Patrons can rent out books and audiovisual items without late fees. I think it's really cool. It's another effective way to get people into the library and utilize all the diverse programs and services it offers. The library can also make some money on the side using e-commerce methods. Cultural institutions are using creative ways to survive these tough economic times.
A Bay Area library is about to test a Netflix-ikle model in which library users can borrow three items at a Hayward Public Library for $2.99 a month, five items for $4.99 a month, or up to ten for $8.99 month, with no late fees. (There’s no free shipping, however. Some libraries in New Jersey offer delivery by mail but still charge late fees.)

Sean Reinhart, acting director of the Hayward Public Library, CA, says the “Fines-Free” Library Loan Program, the first of its kind, aims to lure back library users who find their accounts blocked—20% of total users—and give up on the library.

Friday, November 6, 2009

InsideHigherEd: Bookless Libraries?

InsideHigherEd has an article about the fate of libraries in the 21st century at the 2009 EDUCAUSE conference. Will physical libraries still have a place in our society? Will all of our collections and acquisitions become digitized on the web?
What started as a debate over whether brick-and-mortar libraries would survive much further into the 21st century turned into an existential discussion on the definition of libraries, as a gathering of technologists here at the 2009 Educause Conference pondered the evolution of one of higher education’s oldest institutions.

“Let’s face it: the library, as a place, is dead,” said Suzanne E. Thorin, dean of libraries at Syracuse University. “Kaput. Finito. And we need to move on to a new concept of what the academic library is.”

Do patrons still need access to the physical materials and objects?

U-M #1 in Social Media and Internet Traffic

This is great news. This further proves that U-M is becoming a national and global institution in the eyes of the media.
U-M has topped Harvard and all other U.S. universities for the amount of public interest measured by media coverage, Internet traffic and social media mentions, according to an independent national analysis released today.
For more on Global Language Monitor and the study, go to

Michigan (previously ranked fourth) was followed by MIT, Harvard (previously No. 1), Columbia University, the University of Chicago, the University of California-Berkley, the University of Wisconsin, Stanford University, the University of North Carolina and Cornell University.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

State of Michigan Economy Still Struggling

The State of Michigan government finally passed its budget, which continues a decline in appropriations funding to its four-year public institutions. This has major implications for public universities, such as hiring fewer tenure-track faculty and eliminating entire departments. The state economy is not in good shape,
From the Chronicle of Higher Education:

Michigan State University has proposed a series of program cuts to cope with declining state support, according to reports in the Lansing State Journal and The State News. The proposed cuts include closing at least nine departments and more than a dozen degree programs, among them the classics, veterinary technology, retailing, and American studies.

The state's 2009-10 budget, signed on Friday, provides no money for the merit-based Michigan Promise Scholarship but retains $31.7-million in need-based grants for students at private colleges, the Detroit Free Press reported. The budget also spares Michigan State's agricultural extension services.

Although U-M is still operating strong, this is a major warning for the three-campus system. It can learn what not to do from MSU.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

U.S. News: Thinking about Graduate School?

It's that time of year again. Application deadlines are approaching soon. If you feel lost or uncertain about your next step after college, here are a few tips below.

U.S. News has a great article about the top 10 steps to consider when thinking about graduate school. This list is great for undergraduate students, college graduates, and graduate students applying to doctoral programs. Although this advice is more geared towards competitive programs (particularly at the doctoral level), I think it's essential for students interested in social work and library and information studies.

For more information about each step, read the article.

1. Don't fixate too early.

2. Get the tools.

3. Don't overload with one professor.

4. Take the professional-level courses in the department.

5. Try before you buy.

6. Get at least 600s on your GREs.

7. Get three bang-up letters of recommendation.

8. Give a great sample.

9. Write a killer personal statement.

10. Don't romanticize grad school.