This week's Nation intern roundup takes on a range of myths and moral tales. What's wrong with MOOCs and VAWA, and can they be saved from the systems that implement them? What does Nicholas Kristof (and many a self-identified feminist) get wrong about sex workers? How cold is Canada?
Alleen Brown focuses on education.
“'Bill of Rights' Seeks to Protect Students' Interests as Online Learning Rapidly Expands,” by Steve Kolowich. The Chronicle of Higher Education, January 23, 2013.
As the roster of colleges offering credit for MOOCs, or massive open online courses, grows, twelve educators drafted a framework meant to protect the interests of students taking digital classes. The document says students deserve privacy and access to education materials, as well as to financial information about the companies providing instruction. The involvement of Sebastian Thrun, founder of the MOOC Udacity, calls into question whether the "bill" will do a better job of protecting students or protecting the public image of providers like Udacity.
James Cersonky focuses on labor and education.
“Aid Groups Fight Anti-Prostitution ‘Oath’ on Free Speech Grounds,” by Michelle Chen. In These Times, January 18, 2013.
The US government apparently doesn't think sex workers, a legally and socially vulnerable class in the Global North and South alike, deserve HIV/AIDS relief. Michelle Chen breaks down the facts and future of PERFAR, the treatment and prevention program that coerces foreign aid groups from helping—even communicating with—sex workers.
Catherine Defontaine focuses on war and security, African and French politics, peacekeeping and the link between conflicts and natural resources.
“Strategy over Security,” by Tarak Barkawi. Al Jazeera, January 23, 2013.
What is “security”? What does it mean? According to Tarak Barkawi, “security” often means protection and safety, the reassurance of the known. However, “security” can also be a powerful and yet pernicious idea. In the name of security we undermine our political values. We launch a war with the hope that we might end all wars. Just look at Mali. Is the French decision to intervene in Mali really securing Europe from terrorist strongholds in the Sahel? Or on the contrary has the French government unleashed an endless cycle of violence, thus leading to more “insecurity”? We should think critically and politically about the use of force. Security cannot be achieved with drone strikes or military interventions. As the author of this article argues, “what values do we want to serve with our use of force? What kind of future do we want to make with our wars?”