How Schools Boost Student Performance through Architectural Design

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The shift from concrete and brick to wood and glass, from overhead lights to natural lighting, from carpeted floors to hardwood, and from enclosed, square rooms to open spaces with curves isn’t just a matter of aesthetics. It’s about creating a better educational environment.

via Getting Smart.

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Distressed Cities Conference

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Virginia Tech’s School of Public and International Affairs has initiated a conference and research series promoting interdisciplinary discussion in order to overcome the disciplinary limitations in understanding social phenomena and in suggesting solutions to problems. The first conference took place this April and focused on distressed cities.

Our approach is twofold: First we aim for a progressive interdisciplinary exchange during the conferences. Second, we generate a research network between SPIA faculty and students and external scholars and artists, with the goal of producing edited volumes from the research that sparks off at our conferences.

Source: Distressed Cities.

Smart Cities Conferences

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With two days of jam-packed content, SMART CITIES 2011 will discuss the most pressing issues currently facing our cities – improving public safety, easing congestion, maximising energy efficiency and reducing environmental impact.

Bringing together city officials, utilities, transport operators, developers, investors, contractors and solution providers, SMART CITIES 2011 will show you how to utilise cutting-edge technologies, integrated urban planning approaches and sustainable methodologies to transform urban spaces into better places to live.

Anyone attending?

Next American City Vanguard Conference

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Are you a grassroots activist making a difference in your city? Are you a community leader, providing a voice for your neighbors? Are you heading an organization geared toward making change? We want to meet you! Next American City is announcing its first annual conference geared toward bringing together the next generation of urban leaders. From May 20-21, 2009, Next American City will be inviting 30 inspiring individuals from across the country to discuss our role in shaping the future of cities.

More details on Next American City Vanguard Conference. You need to fill out a form to be selected for participation. Be there or be elsewhere.

Offering Financial Incentives to Faculty for Teaching Better

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My university, Texas A&M has floated an interesting (and controversial) proposal for bettering teaching standards – by offering a $10,000 bonus to faculty receiving favorable student evaluations. As expected, there is much consternation and the reality on the ground is that only 300 of more than 2,000 faculty members have opted in the ‘program’.

Matthew Yglesias
while understanding that this might not be the best way to better teaching standards, agrees that “financial payoff to effective instruction might be reasonable” but we need to measure that “effective instruction” in a better manner. Measurement issues in a clearly qualitative environment (quality of teaching) is always going to be an issue that no bonus however high is going to solve. The first question ought to be how much really do you enjoy and want to teach as opposed to doing research. Those who love teaching will always do a good job; $10,000 incentive or not.