A hundred plus years ago, when most Americans did not finish their elemntary school education, much less go on to high school, philanthropists like Andrew Carnegie liked to build public libraries because they were the university of the poor man. Today when the overwhelming percentage of Americans graduate high school, however marginal the actual competence of the grads might be and a significant plurality have at least some college, platforms like Yale Open courses and Stanford iTunes let anyone with an internet connection access the best education available on mainstream subjects on their own time, their own pace and for free.
I think this is a great advance in education and a bold move by Yale University to offer access to anyone with the inclination to take the time to learn.
As Adam says:
It will focus on reviews of books, film, and discussions about the art--and--science of reading.
And from abu mugqawama contributor, Londonstani comes a concise history of Darfur and the conflict that has engulfed the region. The first of three parts begins below.
Darfur is one of the most covered and least understood conflicts in the world. It has become a politically correct cause, where all reasonable people are expected to equate the Sudanese government with Hitler and the Nazis without question. But such moral sweeps prevent a closer examination of the Sudanese government's motives and methods. From the outset, the Sudanese government's aim was to pacify Darfur's rebels. Their approach led to the humanitarian disaster and political powder keg we see today.
Understanding the Darfur conflict, where it might head and ultimately, how to stop it, rests on understanding its history.
When the war started, life in Darfur was pretty much as it has probably been for thousands of years. Isolated villages of straw huts dotted the landscape, there was no electricity or sanitation and journeys were measured by how much distance a donkey could cover in a day. Darfur used to be run by a loose central authority that, in the Islamic tradition, called itself a Sultanate. It's main job was to mediate conflict - which usually involved watering and grazing rights. The Sultanate was abolished in 1917, when Darfur became the last part of Sudan to fall to British control.
Finally I want to introduce another new blog that I recently was invited to be a contributor.
Understanding Each Other, Diversity and Dissent founded and hosted by pavocavalry. The blog offers a chance for people to exchange ideas and come together to meet the goals set out in the blogs mission statement. Pavocavalry brings the prospective of someone with vast experience in the affairs of South Central Asia and brings a cornucopia of history and commentary to his blog.
This forum is devoted to increasing understanding and reducing the Clash of Civilisations. We intend to share perspectives aimed at decipher the present global geopolitical situation. The goal of this forum is decentralisation and encouragement of expression of all viewpoints in order to foster tolerance.
Everything that anyone has to say is valuable and can act as a catalyst to constructive and meaningful discussion, so please do not hesitate to express yourself or to comment on anything. Nothing is off limits.
I hope everyone enjoys reading the above links as much as I have. They each have something to offer to educate, inform and inspire.