Announcing: Ordinary University


Tod Kelly

Tod is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. He is also serves as Executive Producer and host of both the 7 Deadly Sins Show at Portland's historic Mission Theatre and 7DS: Pants On Fire! at the White Eagle Hotel & Saloon. He is  a regular inactive for Marie Claire International and the Daily Beast, and is currently writing a book on the sudden rise of exorcisms in the United States. Follow him on Twitter.

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53 Responses

  1. Avatar NewDealer says:

    Do you want anything on theatre?

    I am officially qualified to teach at the university level.Report

  2. Is this a symposium or a periodic feature, like the fiction feature (which, I’m sad to say, I haven’t been reading much of).Report

    • Pierre,

      As I broached the idea to Tod, not a symposium. I have an actual syllabus, which will post tomorrow. But of course anyone else can offer a guest post on the topic being taught–all that takes is, I believe, Tod’s approval. E.g., if someone thinks I miss something important on the presidency (and I can’t cover everything), or has a post-length disagreement/alternative explanation, “guest lectures” would presumably be a legitimate guest post to offer.Report

  3. Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

    If anyone would like me to cover any science/engineering/software topics in greater detail, please let me know. While I know the detailed subject matter can be dry, I do seem to have a talent for making it less so (at least, that is why my managers keep telling me when they ask me to take over training new employees).Report

  4. Avatar Will Truman says:

    What is our football team’s mascot? What conference are we angling for? The WAC probably would have taken us, but I’m not so sure anymore…

    Anyway, I like the idea. I won’t be able to participate as much as I would like, but I hope it really works out.Report

  5. Avatar Jaybird says:

    I’ve got three or four poems that I’d love to explore. I don’t know that I can do it on a professional level, but I’ve got the passionate amateur thing down.Report

  6. Avatar Shazbot3 says:

    Could I teach robot sexuality?Report

  7. Avatar Rod says:

    I’ve been mulling over a guest post for some time now on global warming / climate change. A sort of primer on the subject particularly for the less science-minded that cuts through the political bs.

    But maybe that’s too political anyway despite my intentions?Report

    • Avatar Patrick in reply to Rod says:

      The topic has political implications, but the laying out of the spectrum of literature doesn’t.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Rod says:

      Something about the science would be both fascinating and worthwhile, even more so because the subject has been so politicized.Report

    • Avatar Rod in reply to Rod says:

      So how would this work? Would a course consist of a series of posts like James K.’s series on trade, for example?Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Rod says:

        Mine will be a series of 10-11 posts covering different aspects of the presidency, but all geared toward one general question about the institution.

        But that’s just me. OU’s an amorphous thing right now, and will become whatever contributors come up with that meets the approval of Chancellor Kelly. I doubt anyone should feel compelled to follow my (really old-fashioned, stick-in-the-mud) model. (E.g., I think it would be cool if someone did video lectures along the lines of what Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok are doing at Marginal Revolution University. And for the record, I thought of OU a couple months before I stumbled across MRU; great minds think alike, I guess (*grin*).)Report

      • Avatar Rod in reply to Rod says:

        Ok… Well, I’ve never taught a course, obviously, but I’ve taken my share of them. I was originally going to draft a post that outlined the foundational science behind the whole AGW/GCC thing. My motivation is that I find that most people, regardless of which side the debate they’re on, tend to hold their positions for not the best of reasons. You may recall Murali’s post on that meta subject a few months ago.

        I think my approach would be to explain the subject in such a way that my wife, a Mensa level intellect but unschooled in STEMy stuff, not unlike someone like our Newdealer, could get a decent grasp on the subject.

        The legitimate political debate is about the societal response.Report

      • Avatar Rod in reply to Rod says:

        And I meant to add, I’m currently lacking the means (a laptop) to do this, but if I use part of my tax refund for that maybe by that time I’ll have some idea of how to go about it from your example.Report

    • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Rod says:

      Interestingly I was considering a post on the problem of inflammed rhetoric with a focus on environmentalism/climate change.Report

    • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Rod says:

      If you need any help with regard to systems modeling, let me know


      • Avatar Rod in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        That would indeed be helpful. I’m pretty strong on the foundational physics and, to a lesser degree, chemistry and biology. But the modeling is where I start to take it on faith that they’re doing it close to right.

        In fact, I’d be grateful and happy to make the whole thing a collaborative effort. If for no other reason than to have a decent reviewer keep me from embarrassing myself.Report

  8. Avatar Patrick says:

    I took a graduate level course in Policy Analysis that I think the general commentariat might enjoy, but Nob/James are the actual political scientists, I just dabble.

    A crisis management course might be interesting. Hm. Hmmmmm.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Patrick says:


      Maybe you, Nob and I collaborate on that at some point?

      And a crisis management course would be great. I pitched a crisis management minor to my administration last year, and they seemed interested (which only means they were interested last year; we’ll see). However it’s not an area I personally know well, and I’d love to learn more.Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to James Hanley says:

        Sure, for the collaboration. We used the Weimer book in my course, I liked it quite a bit but it’s slanted towards the, “Okay, you’ve decided to do an intervention” standpoint, and it basically doesn’t cover normative principles, just political economics, really. What’s your introductory text for that course?

        As far as the crisis management goes, I can take four angles: crisis response organizations, organizations in crisis, management of crisis, or the psychology of crisis. They all tie in together, of course, it’s more a question of what you’d want the emphasis to be.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

        I don’t get to teach it anymore, since I made enviro politics a regular course, but I used Birkland, which is short, intelligent, and readable (a good combo for an undergrad class). It’s a process oriented book, but I’m a process oriented guy.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to James Hanley says:

        @james-hanley @patrick

        Either of you done the CERT course?Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to James Hanley says:

        I have, yes. Pasadena’s emergency preparedness is bad, but Altadena’s is really good; they have a very active CERT group with Hammies through the LA County Sheriff’s office (Pasadena more or less relies on LAFD’s CERT courses, which are taught downtown, but Altadena doesn’t have a police force and the sheriffs are right there, which helps).

        If you’ve taken adult/child CPR with the Red Cross, the first aid part is pretty rudimentary. The triage training is really good, though. The fire suppression is fun, of course, and the USR training part was good for getting untrained and non-security-aware avergage Joes and Janes to think about how to clear a building without getting themselves into trouble.

        I’m going to try and convince my employer to spring for the EMT I course at PCC for me.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to James Hanley says:

        The whole CERT program is pretty active up here in the Puget Sound (what with Earthquakes, volcanoes, floods, and the occasional nasty wind storm). I did it a few years back & try to stay pretty active with it (been hard since my son was born, just not enough time…). We also have a very strong workplace disaster response culture, with companies getting volunteers to keep supplies stocked & arrange regular training for employees.

        It really is good for getting people to just think & prepare themselves for the short term emergencies, and to get trained in the basics.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

        I’ve done first aid/cpr, but not an actual CERT course. I think I’d enjoy it, though, so maybe I’ll look around for one. My county and town are, overall, really unprepared for dealing with emergencies. I had a student who did an internship with the relevant office here in town, and her reports were disheartening (although not surprising, given how little history of crisis we have and how cash strapped we are right now).Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to James Hanley says:


        Check with your local Fire Department, they should know who offers the course, if they don’t.Report

  9. Avatar Chris says:

    Umm… when do I get my syllabus?Report