Dedman College students and professors offer tips on how to pursue two degrees at once and still have a life

SMU Meadows School of the Arts

Thinking of Double-Majoring?
How to pursue two degrees at once and still have a life
Originally Published: February 12, 2015

Whether to position themselves better for choice careers or to blend multiple interests, increasing numbers of SMU students are double-majoring. Their combinations of degrees are as varied as the students themselves: dance and economics; film and accounting; journalism and human rights; and more.

Thanks to recent changes to SMU’s University Curriculum (“UC”) – core courses that all SMU undergraduates must complete – certain courses can now count toward more than one degree’s requirements, making the path to double degrees wider.

But though the path is wider, it isn’t necessarily easier. To help students figure out how to double-major and still have a life, ten current double-major students from Meadows School of the Arts give their top five tips on getting ready, keeping it together and managing the delicate balance between studies, sleep and social life. READ MORE

Kathleen Wellman, History, Texas State Board of Education allows conservatives to decide content in textbooks

The Atlantic

Originally posted: Nov. 25, 2014

Last Tuesday, the Texas State Board of Education held a public hearing to choose which new social studies textbooks will be recommend to school districts in the state. The board was expected to vote to approve the majority of proposed textbooks and smooth the way for what should have been a final procedural vote on Friday. Instead, complaints by right-wing groups torpedoed the adoption process. The board didn’t approve a single textbook and left the door open to 11th-hour political meddling.

Because the 15-member board voted not to adopt any books, publishers were forced to ignore historical fact and make last minute changes to their books to cater to the conservative activists. When the board voted on Friday, many board members (and the public) couldn’t respond to the final changes made to the textbooks they were approving. They hadn’t even seen them—changes that totaled hundreds of pages.

The problems with this textbook adoption process began in 2010, when the education board passed new history standards that require students to “identify the individuals whose principles of laws and government institutions informed the American founding documents, including those of Moses,” and establish how “biblical law” was a major influence on America’s founding.

“Sometimes it boggles my mind the kind of power we have.”
Other standards also placed states’ rights and sectionalism ahead of slavery as a cause of the Civil War; claimed that Joseph McCarthy’s blacklists of Americans were justified because communists had infiltrated the government during the Cold War; and in a section on the influence of art, music, and literature on American society, hip hop was removed for being culturally irrelevant and replaced instead with country music. (An aside: Despite disliking hip hop, Board Member Pat Hardy argued that it should be included because, “These people (hip hop artists) are multi-millionaires … There are not enough black people to buy that. There are white people buying this.”)

Even the conservative Fordham Institute called Texas’ standards “a politicized distortion of history.” Distortion or not, textbook publishers must abide by these standards if they want to secure board approval. For example, McGraw-Hill’s U.S. Government textbook says Moses and the Covenant “contributed to our Constitutional structure.”

Beyond crediting Moses with inspiring the American Constitution, some books mislead students about the scientific consensus on climate change, while others undermine the separation of church and state. Pearson’s American Government textbook originally contained two racist cartoons about affirmative action, including a picture of two aliens (ostensibly from outer space) and the caption, “Relax, we’ll be fine—they’ve got affirmative action.” The Texas Freedom Network, a watchdog organization, hired scholars who catalogued all the problems with the different books.

Political meddling by the Board of Education doesn’t just affect Texas. Because Texas buys nearly 50 million textbooks each year, it has a huge impact on the textbook market at large. School districts all around the country, including some in Louisiana, buy books that were written to meet Texas’ standards, flaws included. Former board Chairman Don McLeroy, who was instrumental in passing many of these standards, once said, “Sometimes it boggles my mind the kind of power we have.” McLeroy hadn’t seen the current textbooks, but after reading an article in Politico about their references to the “Christian heritage,” he said he was “thrilled” because that was the goal of his standards.

This entire process is about politics, not history.
In September, the Board held its first meeting to allow the public to comment on the content of the proposed textbooks. (I’ve testified at multiple hearings in opposition to these textbooks on behalf of Americans United for Separation of Church and State’s Houston Chapter.) Public criticism of the books mounted, including from more than 100,000 people who signed petitions calling for climate science denial to be removed from the textbooks. Southern Methodist University history professor Kathleen Wellman testified that these books would cause students to believe “that Moses was the first American.” READ MORE

Neil Foley, History, changing face of America

KERA, Think

Originally aired: Nov. 3, 2014

By 2050, nearly a third of all U.S. residents will be Latino. This hour, we’ll talk about how this growing segment of the population is affecting everything from politics to cultural identity with Neil Foley, the Robert H. and Nancy Dedman Chair in History at SMU. His new book is Mexicans in the Making of America. Listen Here

Joshua Rovner: Nevermind ISIS and Putin — Asia matters more to U.S. strategy

Dallas Morning News

Originally posted: Nov. 4, 2014

The grisly war with the Islamic State and the crisis with Russia continue to dominate the news — and capture the attention of U.S. leaders. Despite all this turmoil, the long-term focus of American foreign policy will not be on the Middle East or Europe. Instead, Washington will be drawn irresistibly to Asia.

No other region is as important for America’s long-term economic well-being. The U.S. trades twice as much with Asia as with Europe, and it is the largest market for U.S. exports outside of North America. Growing Asian economies demand an increasing share of the world’s energy resources, and China is also close to becoming the world’s biggest oil importer.

The military landscape also is changing. For a long time, the regional balance was clear: China was the dominant land power while the United States ruled the waves. As long as neither side could seriously challenge the other, there was little chance of a major regional war. READ MORE

Jeffrey Engel, History, different views on fall of Berlin Wall

LA Times

U.S., Russia, Europe, China have different views on Berlin Wall’s fall

November 1, 2014, 7:00 a.m.

The Berlin Wall continues to haunt the world. Only shards remain of the concrete and barbed wire that once divided a city and split a continent. Few can be found in Berlin itself. Sections adorn a men’s room in Las Vegas, a pedestrian mall in South Africa and the dining room at Microsoft. Bits can even be found on EBay (buyer beware).

But the wall’s legacy, not its collectibility, is the problem. The world cannot agree on precisely why it fell, and more broadly why European communism collapsed and the Cold War ended. Four contradictory explanations dominate, from the most powerful corners of the Earth: the United States, Russia, Europe and China. This is no mere academic debate. How political elites understand the past directly affects their strategies for the future, and conflicting readings of a shared pivot point offer a recipe for ongoing international instability. READ MORE

William Steding, senior fellow at the Center for Presidential History, featured in D Magazine

D Magazine, November 2014

How Technology Is Helping Investors
New tools are helping to put their money where their mouse is.

There was a time when William Steding was like many investors, his eyes glued to CNBC as he made day trades facilitated by newly developed software. Over the last decade, though, Steding gradually came to realize that financial planning and wealth management firms were becoming much more sophisticated technologically, and he had an epiphany.

“Clients like me said, ‘I don’t want to do it anymore. You guys handle it,’ ” says Steding, a former broadcasting mogul who’s now a senior fellow at the Center for Presidential History at SMU. Thanks to online planning and performance-reporting tools offered through firms such as Dallas-based True North Advisors, he doesn’t have to spend so much time tuned to CNBC. “I don’t have to worry about watching the market,” Steding says. “And I really only talk with True North about my stuff quarterly, or every five or six months. It gives me peace of mind, more than anything else.” READ MORE

Social Studies Revised

THINK, KERA. Originally posted: October 6, 2014

Texas is considering new social studies textbooks for public school students for the first time since 2002. This hour, we’ll talk about questions that have arisen about how they teach culture and religion with a pair of SMU professors who testified about the books before the State Board of Education – Kathleen Wellman of the history department and David Brockman, who teaches religious studies. LISTEN

Associate Professor of History & Director of the Center for Presidential History on Secret Service Changes

(CNN) — Some people are wondering about the capability of the Secret Service after it was revealed that Omar Gonzalez, the fence jumper who breached White House security two weeks ago, made it much farther into the house than previously reported, running through the first floor before he was apprehended outside the Green Room.

The details of Gonzalez’s intrusion, coupled with a new report on Tuesday that an armed security contractor was allowed to get into an elevator with the President on a recent trip to the Centers for Disease Control, plus a report that it took the Secret Service four days to learn that seven bullets had hit the White House’s residence area in 2011 and a string of other blunders in recent years (such as a couple crashing a state dinner and a prostitution scandal in Colombia), have put the Secret Service under a harsh light.
The problems plaguing the Secret Service go beyond PR embarrassments, and changes seem inevitable. But despite the cries of reform, significant alterations to the way the agency functions will be difficult and ultimately may not even be known to the public.

A change at the top

Secret Service Director Julia Pierson’s future is uncertain. On Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said President Obama has confidence in Pierson, whom he appointed in 2013. But the fervor surrounding this incident doesn’t bode well for Pierson, the agency’s first female director.

“When you lie, and when you obfuscate and when you cover up, especially in the 21st century, that’s an offense you can’t walk back from,” said Jeffrey Engel, director of the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University and a Secret Service expert. “That’s really the kiss of death for any leader.” READ MORE

Dedman College experts address controversial content proposed for Texas’ new public school textbooks

DALLAS (SMU) — SMU Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences faculty members Ron Wetherington, Kathleen Wellman, David Brockman and Edward Countryman are speaking out about what they see as “flawed” and “distorted” textbooks being considered for Texas classrooms.

Wetherington, Wellman and Brockman addressed the State Board of Education (SBOE) at a daylong hearing in Austin on Sept. 16. Earlier that week Brockman and Countryman participated in a press conference, releasing research findings that have garnered national attention. READ MORE