What We Are Reading Today: The New Global Universities
Updated 09 December 2023
Author: Bryan Penprase and Noah Pickus
Higher education is perpetually in crisis, buffeted by increasing costs and a perceived lack of return on investment, campus culture that is criticized for stifling debate on controversial topics, and a growing sense that the liberal arts are outmoded and irrelevant.
Some observers even put higher education on the brink of death.
“The New Global Universities” offers a counterargument, telling the story of educational leaders who have chosen not to give up on higher education but to reimagine it. The book chronicles the development and launch of eight innovative colleges and universities in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and North America, describing the combination of intellectual courage, entrepreneurial audacity, and adaptive leadership needed to invent educational institutions today.
The authors, both academic leaders who have been involved in launching ventures similar to the ones described, offer a unique inside perspective on these efforts.
Today the term fengshui, which literally means “wind and water,” is recognized around the world. Yet few know exactly what it means, let alone its fascinating history.
In “Laws of the Land,” Tristan Brown tells the story of the important roles — especially legal ones — played by fengshui in Chinese society during China’s last imperial dynasty, the Manchu Qing (1644–1912).
Employing archives from Mainland China and Taiwan that have only recently become available, this is the first book to document fengshui’s invocations in Chinese law during the Qing dynasty.
Facing a growing population, dwindling natural resources, and an overburdened rural government, judicial administrators across China grappled with disputes and petitions about fengshui in their efforts to sustain forestry, farming, mining, and city planning.
“Laws of the Land” offers a radically new interpretation of these legal arrangements:
New book tackles climate change for children launched in English and Arabic
Updated 08 December 2023
RIYADH: How do young people feel about climate change? That question is being posed through a new children's picture book, published to coincide with the launch of the climate change conference COP28 in Dubai.
The book, which is available in both English and Arabic, is called "Earth Champs," and it contains 44 diverse artworks made by youngsters aged 5-17 from around the globe.
“We wanted to convey a message about an important cause, like climate change, through art. We wanted to see how children view climate change and we were surprised with the results," Lateefa Alnuaimi, the Emirati founder of LFE Art Culture, the institution that supported the book’s creation, told Arab News. "They know what it’s about, but they don’t how to express it, so we gave them a paper and a pen, and of course, they drew. Each young person expressed what's inside of them."
To gather the work for the book, Alnuaimi put out an open call to international schools in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. She received nearly 1,500 entries. The selected pieces range from sculpture to photography and drawing. They depict animals and plants, as well as environments that are in danger. There are elements of both hope and concern.
“What shocked me was their way of thinking and how talented they are with the way they handle a paintbrush or a camera," Alnuaimi said. "They were professional, which indicates how educated they are."
Alnuaimi also mentioned that today's generation of children are more aware of the urgency of climate change.
“It was important to show people that children care about climate change. They’re not a silent voice — they 'spoke' about it through art,” she said.
Thirty copies of the book have already been privately gifted to UAE ministers and sheikhs. After COP28 ends on Dec. 12, Alnuaimi hopes to make "Earth Champs" available to purchase online and in shops. “It’s a book from the UAE to the world,” she said.
She also offered advice about how adults and educational institutions can encourage children in the region to look after the environment:
"It's important to host workshops on climate change, educate students to properly use electricity, and partake in campaigns of cleaning the ocean and the desert," she said.
China has conventionally been considered a land empire whose lack of maritime and colonial reach contributed to its economic decline after the mid-18th century.
“Distant Shores” challenges this view, showing that the economic expansion of southeastern Chinese rivaled the colonial ambitions of Europeans overseas.
In a story that dawns with the Industrial Revolution and culminates in the Great Depression, Melissa Macauley explains how sojourners from an ungovernable corner of China emerged among the commercial masters of the South China Sea. She focuses on Chaozhou, a region in the great maritime province of Guangdong, whose people shared a repertoire of ritual, cultural, and economic practices.
“Distant Shores” reveals how the transoceanic migration of Chaozhouese laborers and merchants across a far-flung maritime world linked the Chinese homeland to an ever-expanding frontier of settlement and economic extraction.
We know that animals cross miles of water, land, and sky with pinpoint precision on a daily basis. But it is only in recent years that scientists have learned how these astounding feats of navigation are actually accomplished. With colorful and thorough detail, “Nature’s Compass” explores the remarkable methods by which animals find their way both near home and around the globe. The Goulds discuss how animals navigate, without instruments and training, at a level far beyond human talents.