Professor Bromley!

OK, not exactly the newest news item…  I’m doing some long overdue posting.

Tricia (Martin) Bromley landed a job at the University of Utah in the Political Science Department.  Congrats Tricia!

I visited once and really liked it there — the Rocky Mountains are a stone’s throw away.  More on Utah hires in a future posting…

Tricia continues to crank out terrific papers, including this paper with John and Chiqui on student-centeredness in the curriculum, which is forthcoming in Social Forces (congrats on that, too!):

Bromley et al_Stud Cent_Social Forces_FINAL110411

The paper takes on a big and really important issue:  the dramatic shift toward student centrism in education.  Schooling used to put authoritative knowledge at front-and-center… Shakespeare and Plato are important, students are not.  In contrast, modern pedagogy places the empowered student at the center of things.  Instead of learning Shakespeare, they should write their own poetry.  This is reflected very clearly in textbooks…

The paper does two great things:  First, it brings some really amazing cross-national data to bear on the issue.  The Stanford group has assembled a truly remarkable dataset on textbooks from around the world.  Not only does this allow systematic statistical analysis of the issue, but  the examples (scanned images) really drive the points home.

Second, the paper (along with others coming out of the project) shows how the curriculum  is a powerful site for exploring the culture of modernity — in this case, the nature of “individualism.”  There is less work on the foundational culture of modernity than one might expect.  You’d think that sociologists of culture would be all over this stuff, but there sometimes seems to be a tendency to shy away from the foundational aspects of modern culture (there are notable exceptions, for instance Zelizer’s “Pricing the Priceless Child”).  Anyhow, the article offers fresh insights into the culture of individualism — and the role of the curriculum in institutionalizing that culture.

Good luck getting settled in the new job!

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