With two days left in the Obama administration, the federal agency charged with protecting human beings in research on Wednesdayissuedan overhaul of rules that had been caught up in more than five years of acrimonious debate.
The rule changes,which will begin to take effect next year regardless of the change in presidents, will generally allow for a single review of human protections in studies that occur at multiple universities, and will allow broader exemptions from such reviews for researchers whose study interactions are limited to interviews.
My grandfather was born in 1909. Too young for the First World War and too old for the Second, he served in the U.S. Navy between the two. He finished eighth grade before leaving to work, returning to school — through correspondence courses — only in the 1950s. I remember him, though, as an old man prone to quoting Scripture and Shakespeare and singing lines of Handel’s Messiah (interspersed with saltier fare). His brushes with institutional education notwithstanding, he always struck me as self-taught in a way that is now difficult to fathom.
What I remember about him best are his things: his trumpet, with a mute that fascinated me; his tools, including, exotically, a glass cutter and some beekeeping gear; the decorations of his and my grandmother’s small-town New England house — an old wooden relief of an eagle, a framed map of Connecticut. When he died, I inherited — or chose to take — two of these things. One was a worn-looking hammer I still use. The other was a small, lined, leatherette notebook, the first page of which bears the penciled heading, "Thought for the day."
Right under that line is the first and last entry in the notebook: "Nothing so far."
Although a law that places new requirements on foreign nonprofits operating in China was scheduled to go into effect January 1, foreign NGOs in the country remain unclear about the details of the rules and their impact on their ability to continue their work in the new year, theNew York Timesreports.
Passedby China's national legislature last April, the law states that foreign NGOs must not endanger China's national security and ethnic unity. To that end, foreign nonprofits such as foundations, charities, and most business associations must register with the police, be sponsored by state agencies and organizations, and submit regular reports on their activities. Many aspects of the law remain opaque, however, and some organizations fear their work will be curtailed or even banned. Calls to a hotline recently set up by the Ministry of Public Security to answer questions about the law have gone unanswered.
The "big ideas that matter" for 2017 include the need for clearer boundaries between philanthropic and political activities and a larger role for civil society in shaping digital systems and technologies, leading philanthropy scholar Lucy Bernholz argues inPhilanthropy and the Social Economy: Blueprint 2017 (40 pages, PDF).
Published byGrantCraft, a service ofFoundation Center, the eighth edition of Bernholz's annual forecast highlights two trends that civil society will need to address in the new year — the blurring of boundaries between politics and philanthropy, as the civil-society norms of privacy and anonymity are used to hide political activity; and the threat to free expression and association posed by the commercial ownership and government surveillance of the digital infrastructure on which civil society heavily depends.
Patrick J. Curran struggles with the problem when studying alcoholism in families. Quynh C. Nguyen sees it when analyzing housing-voucher programs. And the Nobel laureate Harold E. Varmus encounters it while developing genomic databases for cancer patients. Their trouble isn’t with sharing their data — all three professors are eager participants in the open-data revolution. Instead, the problem is confidently sharing and interpreting data — huge amounts of it — with relevance and accuracy.
The Chronicle of Higher Education Fernanda Zamudio-Suaréz
December 16, 2016
Since Donald J. Trump was elected president, Yascha Mounk, a lecturer in political theory at Harvard University, has fielded calls from reporters, government officials, and think tanks. Some callers are interested in the factors that fueled Mr. Trump’s victory, but most have a more existential concern: Is liberal democracy under threat?
The Chronicle of Higher Education Kathryn Masterson
December 11, 2016
Before You Approach a Foundation Do your homework.Research foundations. Read their guidelines, and stay current, as they change over time, with new board members or shifts in mission. The guidelines will often detail what the foundation does and does not support. The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, for example, will not invite a college to apply for a grant if that college’s president has been in office less than a year. Focus one person on foundations.If you can, structure your development office so that one person concentrates on this work. That person can keep up on guidelines, look for opportunities to meet foundation officers, and lead the stewardship of grants. Nancy J. Cable, who worked in senior administration posts at several colleges and is now president of the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, says, "It’s worth paying staff to do that. It increases your chances of getting grant funding."