College Majors and National Values

By Kyra-lin Hom

When I was in undergrad, we film school students used to play 'guess the major' when killing time in our film school lobby. We'd lounge under the monitors displaying recent student projects sans volume and point out the loud and manic production majors, the quirky, quieter screenwriters, the good-natured, techno-nerd recording arts majors – so on and so forth. These general distinctions are hardly unusual. For example, here at the University of Chicago, there is a 'friendly' rivalry between the law and business school students comprised of mutual mocking. Even the professors get involved.

It's well accepted college lore than certain programs attract certain types of people. But a recent article published by Government Executive online went a step further. It compiled five separate surveys, conducted over seven decades, looking for a correlation between general aptitude test scores and college major. In other words, is your college major an indicator of your intelligence? The results gleaned over 70 years were remarkably consistent.

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Virtual Reality at the EMP

By Kyra-lin Hom

The first most of us ever heard of virtual reality (VR) was Star Trek's 'holodeck' technology. The holodeck was a seemingly magic room where any reality could come to life via a fully immersive, all-five-senses-stimulating simulation. Somehow, Star Trek officers could relax in the 1700's, train against alien warriors, and skydive from 20th century airplanes with only the assistance of light-based holograms. In Star Trek: Voyager (a staple of my childhood), holograms could even gain their own autonomy, which raised some truly interesting questions about personhood.

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OP-ED - Teaching Through Historical Fiction


By Kyra-lin Hom

Historical dramas have always captured our imaginations. Like fantasy and science fiction, stories from our past transport us to another time and (often) place. When done well they are immersive, engaging and educational. Some of my favorite books in elementary school were from the Dear America series, historical fiction novels written like diaries.

Using the embellished narrative as a vehicle for sharing history is no new thing. Homer's Iliad and Rustichello da Pisa's The Travels of Marco Polo are a couple of famous examples that have themselves made it into the history books (there's a little meta for you). The truth of these manuscripts in particular was even taken for granted for many, many years before being brought into question. Their accuracy is now the topic of heated scholarly debate.

Following this tradition, many grade school teachers and even some college professors have brought historical fiction into the classroom. Beyond piquing curiosity and bringing to life nuanced details textbooks skip or drone over, historical fiction encourages students to interact with the material.

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