Mason Author Series: Bryan Caplan

Join us for our last Mason Author Series event of the spring semester on Thursday, May 3, at 3 p.m. in the Fenwick Main Reading Room. Our featured faculty author is Bryan Caplan, who will be discussing his recent book, The Case Against Education.

In this explosive book, Bryan Caplan argues that the primary function of education is not to enhance students’ skill but to certify their intelligence, work ethic, and conformity—in other words, to signal the qualities of a good employee. Learn why students hunt for easy As and casually forget most of what they learn after the final exam, why decades of growing access to education have not resulted in better jobs for the average worker but instead in runaway credential inflation, how employers reward workers for costly schooling they rarely if ever use, and why cutting education spending is the best remedy.

Caplan draws on the latest social science to show how the labor market values grades over knowledge, and why the more education your rivals have, the more you need to impress employers. He explains why graduation is our society’s top conformity signal, and why even the most useless degrees can certify employability. He advocates two major policy responses. The first is educational austerity. Government needs to sharply cut education funding to curb this wasteful rat race. The second is more vocational education, because practical skills are more socially valuable than teaching students how to outshine their peers.

Books will be available for purchase at the event, and refreshments will be provided.

About the Author: Bryan Caplan is professor of economics at George Mason University and a blogger at EconLog. He is the author of Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids: Why Being a Great Parent Is Less Work and More Fun than You Think and The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies (Princeton).

About the Mason Author Series: The University Libraries’ Mason Author Series features Mason faculty and alumni authors throughout the year, and is generously sponsored by the University Bookstore. For more information about the Mason Author Series, please contact John Warren, Head, Mason Publishing, jwarre13@gmu.edu.

Mason Author Series: Lincoln Mullen

Join us on Thursday, March 1, from 3 to 4:30 p.m. in the Fenwick Main Reading Room, for our next Mason Author Series event with Dr. Lincoln Mullen, Assistant Professor, History and Art History.

While the United States has a long history of religious pluralism, Americans have often believed their faith determines their eternal destiny. The result is that Americans switch religions more often than any other nation. The Chance of Salvation traces the history of the distinctively American idea that religion is a matter of individual choice.

Lincoln Mullen shows how Americans’ willingness to change faiths has created a shared assumption that religious identity is a decision. As Americans confronted a growing array of religious options in the 19th century, pressures to convert altered the basis of American religion. Evangelical Protestants, Cherokees, enslaved and freed African Americans, Mormons, American Jews, and Catholics each experienced their own patterns of conversion.

Books will be available for purchase at the event, and refreshments will be provided.

About the Author: Lincoln A. Mullen is Assistant Professor in the Department of History and Art History at George Mason University. Mullen is a historian of American religion and also teaches digital history, U.S. history, and the history of Christianity.

About the Mason Author Series: The University Libraries’ Mason Author Series features Mason faculty and alumni authors throughout the year, and is generously sponsored by the University Bookstore. For more information about the Mason Author Series, please contact John Warren, Head, Mason Publishing, jwarre13@gmu.edu, or Jessica Clark, Development & Communications Officer, jclarkw@gmu.edu.

Mason Author Series: Teachers as Allies

UPDATE 1/25/2018: THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELLED.

Join us on Thursday, February 1, from 3 to 4:30pm in the Fenwick Main Reading Room, for our next Mason Author Series event. Drs. Shelley Wong and Elaisa Sánchez Gosnell will discuss their contributions to Teachers as Allies: Transformative Practices for Teaching DREAMers and Undocumented Students. Books will be available for purchase, and refreshments will be provided.

From Teachers College Press: Learn how to engage and advocate for undocumented children and youth with this new resource written by and for teachers. Teachers as Allies provides educators with the information and tools they need to involve immigrant students and their American-born siblings and peers in inclusive and transformative classroom experiences. The authors show how immigration policies, ICE enforcement, and societal attitudes affect undocumented students and how teachers and school leaders can recognize these influences on the students’ day-to-day lives and learning. Offering teaching strategies that address the needs of DREAMers and undocumented youth as they move through their K–12 and college education, this timely book offers a broad range of curriculum connections and resources.

About Shelley Wong: Dr. Shelley Wong is an Associate Professor at George Mason University in Multicultural/ESL/Bilingual Education. She began her teaching career in teaching English at a girls middle school in Hong Kong where she went as a Chinese American to study Cantonese and learn about her cultural roots over thirty years ago. Before coming to George Mason, Shelley was an assistant professor at the University of Maryland, College Park and an associate professor in the Foreign/Second Language Education with a Specialization in Language, Literacy and Culture at the Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. She received her BA in Sociology at the University of California at Santa Cruz (U.C.S.C.), her California teaching credentials, TESL certificate and MA in Teaching English as a Second Language from UCLA, and her Ed.D. in Applied Linguistics from Columbia Teachers College.

About Elaisa Sánchez Gosnell: Dr. Elaisa Gosnell is a retired educator in the field of bilingual/multicultural education focusing on young children whose home language is not English in ECE and ECSE settings. She has provided staff development and training for educators working with culturally, linguistically, and ability-diverse young children and their families at the local, state, and national levels. She taught at George Mason University and in public schools in the Washington, DC metro area.

About the Mason Author Series: The University Libraries’ Mason Author Series features Mason faculty and alumni authors throughout the year, and is generously sponsored by the University Bookstore. For more information about the Mason Author Series, please contact John Warren, Head, Mason Publishing, jwarre13@gmu.edu, or Jessica Clark, Development & Communications Officer, jclarkw@gmu.edu.

Mason Author Titles

We are highlighting some recent publications by Mason authors, representing various academic disciplines and viewpoints. All are available for checkout from the Libraries! Remember, you can find more faculty and alumni publications and profiles over at the Mason Spirit. You can find more titles in the Libraries’ collection by checking out our Faculty Author Collection at bit.ly/masonauthors.


The Chance of Salvation: A History of Conversion in America
Lincoln A. Mullen, Assistant Professor, History and Art History

The Chance of Salvation (Harvard University Press, August 2017) offers a history of conversions in the United States which shows how religious identity came to be a matter of choice. By uncovering the way religious identity is structured as obligatory decision, this book explores why Americans change religions and why the U.S. is both highly religious in terms of religious affiliation and very secular in the sense that no religion is an unquestioned default.


Trump Effect 
Karina V. Korostelina, Professor, School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution

In Trump Effect (Routledge, October 2016), Korostelina explains how the support for Trump among the American general public is based on three pillars: 1) Trump champions a specific conception of American national identity that empowers his supporters, 2) Trump’s leadership has been crafted from his ability to recognize where and with whom he can get the most return on his investment, and 3) Trump challenges the existing political balance of power within the United States and globally.


Governing Under Stress: The Implementation of Obama’s Economic Stimulus Program
Timothy J. Conlan, Priscilla M. Regan, and Paul L. Posner, Schar School of Policy and Government

Governing Under Stress (Georgetown University Press, January 2017) presents perspectives on the implementation and performance of President Obama’s economic stimulus program, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). It explores the management of ARRA within all levels of government as well as its portrayals in the media and public perception. Contributors draw upon more than 200 interviews and nationwide field research to present insights into the challenges facing public policy and management.


Resolving Structural Conflicts: How Violent Systems Can Be Transformed
Richard E. Rubenstein, University Professor, School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution

Resolving Structural Conflicts (Routledge, January 2017) analyzes how certain social systems generate violent conflict and discusses how such systems can be transformed to create the conditions for positive peace. The book addresses a key issue in the field of conflict studies: what to do about violent conflicts that are not the results of misunderstanding, prejudice, or malice, but the products of a social system that generates violent conflict as part of its normal operations.


The Complacent Class: The Self-Defeating Quest for the American Dream
Tyler Cowen, BS Economics ’83, Holbert L. Harris Chair of Economics; Distinguished Senior Fellow, F.A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics; and General Director, Mercatus Center

In The Complacent Class (St. Martin’s Press, February 2017), Cowen examines the trend of Americans away from the traditionally mobile, risk-accepting, and adaptable tendencies that defined them for much of recent history, and toward stagnation and comfort. He argues that this development has the potential to make future changes more disruptive.