Are Colleges Worth the Price of Admission?

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | July 13, 2010 10:21 am

photo_6185_portrait_largeThe talented professors/writers Claudia Dreifus and Andrew Hacker have a new book coming out in August called Higher Education? How Colleges Are Wasting Our Money and Failing Our Kids—and What We Can Do About It. It’s a topic CM and I frequently explore here so I’m very much looking forward to this one. Yesterday’s Chronicle of Higher Eduction included an interesting article adapted from their book entitled, Are Colleges Worth the Price of Admission? Good question.

Hacker and Dreifus begin:

Tuition charges at both public and private colleges have more than doubled—in real dollars—compared with a generation ago.

For most Americans, educating their offspring will be the largest financial outlay, after their home mortgage, they’ll ever make. And if parents can’t or won’t pay, young people often find themselves burdened with staggering loans. Graduating with six figures’ worth of debt is becoming increasingly common.

So are colleges giving good value for those investments? What are families buying? What are individuals—and our society as a whole—gaining from higher education?

So after years of interviews with policymakers, students, and university leaders… Their conclusion?

Colleges are taking on too many roles and doing none of them well. They are staffed by casts of thousands and dedicated to everything from esoteric research to vocational training—and have lost track of their basic mission to challenge the minds of young people. Higher education has become a colossus—a $420-billion industry—immune from scrutiny and in need of reform.

416Hp8sdM-L._SL500_AA300_They go on to lay out several recommendations toward elevating the state of our nation’s institutions such as calling for a better standard of teaching, improving conditions for adjunct faculty, and focusing on non-vocational majors. Hacker and Dreifus also suggest that university presidents accept lower salaries and explain why postgraduate training should not divert faculties from students.  Excellent advice and more ideas are included as well.

One area that I do not wholly agree is their suggestion to replace tenure with multi-year contracts for faculty. While I understand the rationale, I can’t see this working very well because:

  • It takes many years to build up a research program, so without tenure, greater numbers of projects would likely be abandoned after substantial monetary and time investments have been made.
  • Nontenured faculty will not likely feel comfortable enough to speak out against poor decisions made by their university administration without job security.
  • Why accept lower pay and longer hours than peers working outside of academia without the chance of achieving career stability down the line? (Consider: Losing a university faculty position often requires uprooting one’s family to relocate wherever another becomes available).

Without tenure, I expect that the brightest early career scientists would move toward industry. Then again, maybe that’s not a bad shift. What do readers think?

Regardless, Higher Education? is sure to be a thought-provoking read!

Comments (27)

  1. It does sound worth reading. Does it split the difference between super-expensive private colleges and (relatively) affordable public universities?

  2. Sorbit

    The whole point of tenure is to provide academicians with a platform where they don’t fear losing their jobs for voicing unpopular opinions. Thus I agree with you that tenure should not be replaced with multi-year contracts. It is hard-won, and it should be valued.

  3. Hitch

    My academic experience doesn’t really match what is described here. Very little of what is going on is vocational. And there is plenty of stimulation of minds going on, but I think it’s a mistake to lump all of higher education into one blob. There are vocational institutions and there are places like where nobel price winners will teach you. One cannot treat all of them in one brush, because the whole spectrum indeed serves different needs.

    On tenure, it is critical for free discourse. That’s the only reason why it should exist and it’s the only reason why it should be protected. The ability to speak harsh truths that powerful people may dislike. The moment tenure is gone, critical inquiry will nose-dive.

    The US still has a lead in higher education ahead of the rest of the world, but there certainly are ways to undermine that. Removing tenure, sending the best minds into industry, etc are really good ways to do that. The place where reform needs to happen badly is pre-college and here perhaps education should be worth more of our money, not less.

  4. Anon.

    More tripe from the Chronicle of Higher Education. The suggestion about tenure is outrageous. If there weren’t tenure, there would never have been Jews in the Academy. The point about tenure making long projects possible is spot on. A good scholar has research that can take a lifetime. Moreover the craft of teaching takes a lifetime to master. Moving from college to college, even at 5 year intervals, destroys the continuity of a department for students and the college alike. Here again we see the suggestion to ape the business world with talk of “accountability,” together with the question “what’s it worth.” If college is too expensive, the question falls to our culture and government at large, which ought to think twice about what a good college education can offer.

  5. The place I’m going to start teaching at in a couple of months (Quest University) doesn’t have tenure, only multi-year contracts, and I’m just as happy with that. I’ve been down the pre-tenure route once, and it scarred me horribly.

    Tenure is great for people who’ve got it. It’s a nightmare for people who don’t. Another well-known science blogger said that he/she didn’t know anybody who went through the tenure process without having it f**k them up. Tenure creates amazing, painful stress on the pre-tenure people. What’s more, it hampers the academic freedom of the junior faculty. This isn’t such a big deal in the sciences (although it’s not irrelevant), but often in the humanities junior faculty have to be very careful what they say because of one or another influential old curmudgeon in their department who will have the ability to torpedo their tenure case. (I do know of one example in the sciences where this happened, but I don’t want to name names.)

    Academics hold on to tenure because it’s one of the few real perques they’ve got, and it’s a doozy for those who’ve got it, or those who are hoping to get it. But we really do need to step back and evaluate whether tenure is really doing what it’s supposed to be doing without too many costful side effects. And we should ask if there are other ways to maintain academic freedom without tenure as it is implemented now.

    My rant on tenure aside, I do agree with what some other commenters are saying. Anything that smacks of “running a college like a business” should be met with extreme skepticism. Partly because the goals are so different, partly because businesses are far more dysfunctional that most of us want to admit, and partly because businesses have become so short-term– optimizing quarterly profits with little or no consideration for the long-term. Academic work is often very much about the long term– be it developing a research project, or helping to teach students how to think and work creatively in a world that is always changing.

  6. Cathy

    I know someone with a six figure student loan. She went to a private university for two years, because her public university of choice rejected her for vet school for three years in a row. After two years at the private school, she realized what a terrible education she was getting there, and reapplied for the public university’s vet school, where she was finally accepted. The $200,000 for two years of tuition from that private school will haunt her for the rest of her life. If the quality of education she had received there had been top notch, she might have stayed for all four years. It was not, however, worth the price, and her degree from that school would not have been worth the paper it was printed on.

    My total student loan outlay for four years of college at a public university was $30,000. This was with minimal assistance from my parents, and working 30 hours a week. I’ve since paid off $13,000 of it, but I’m presently unemployed so the other $17,000 is on unemployment deferment for now.

    My concern these days is with the idea that anyone who wants to go to *any* college should have the opportunity. It’s this attitude that encourages mediocre students to take on mountains of debt for brand name degrees. Instead, anyone who *earns* the opportunity to go to college should be encouraged to take advantage of it, in the form of more grants and scholarships to academically gifted but financially challenged students, and less student loans. The valedictorian at my high school qualified for a $60,000/year scholarship to Harvard. Her family was from a military background; neither of her parents had gone to college. She was also a minority. The tuition there alone was more than her family’s entire household income! But she pushed herself hard, and Harvard was willing to foot the bill for a student who had already proved she could rise above the odds.

    The GA version of the Hope scholarship provides tuition, fees, and a book stipend to any student at a public university in the state who is a resident of the state and who maintains a B average or higher. This has allowed economically disadvantaged students to attend local state colleges for next to nothing. The financial outlay is barely more than it was for high school, provided they still live at home with their parents. (The hard part, of course, is keeping up the GPA.) It’s funded almost entirely by the state lottery, which has unfortunately earned it the “poor tax” nickname. Even so, it has allowed an entire generation of students in GA the chance to attend college. Sure it, may not be the glamor of the big Research I institutions or the Ivy League. But you can’t beat the price tag.

  7. I don’t have a problem with tenure, I have a problem with the process. (And I disagree that professors work harder and/or longer than those in industry.)

    I also have a serious problem with the fact that people who are masters of their field are teaching. Subject competence does not equal teaching ability. It comes down to whether or not you want students learning versus sitting around dumb-founded.

    On top of all that, college is vastly overpriced. Sure some universities boast much better value than others, but they are all more costly than they’re worth.

  8. Steve H

    I’ve never quite understood why it is that professors should have some sort impenetrable armor around them that allows for their freedom to mouth off while tacitly acknowledging that without the protection of tenure, everyone else in the academic community (and business, gov’t, etc) lacks any substantial protections from retribution for the same action.

  9. David

    You really cannot lump all schools together for this type of discussion. They are all over the map. You really can’t compare big name research institutions, private liberal arts colleges, Ivy League schools, and state schools large and small using the same criteria. It’s not about the quality of education. What you are paying for is quality of reputation. You can educate yourself for free at the library.

    In education, you generally get what you pay for. You just might not have payed for the right product. It is like comparing a Yugo and a Rolls Royce. Yeah, they are both cars. Do you get what you pay for? Depends on the criteria you judge them by. Are they the same product? Nope. If the public sees their reputation as valid. So be it.

  10. WB

    To play devil’s advocate on the tenure issue: what about the professors that receive tenure after five years and then spend the next 20 just coasting on by with few (if any) publications, who waste away funding and sit out the mentoring of graduate and undergraduate students while still maintaining their full salary and job security? There needs to be some mechanism to deal with those taking advantage of the system. I’ve seen valuable equipment covered in dust become obsolete in darkened labs while profs “take a few years” to regroup after getting tenure. I know it’s the rare few that take this path, but there still needs to be some accountability in the process.

  11. I’m not sure what it is about those environments that require a “you can’t fire me” shield for someone to be able to speak honestly, but whatever it is: it should be fixed! I only ever worked in the private sector, with no guarantees beyond qualifying for severance if I got let go, and I felt perfectly capable of speaking my mind. Sounds like some schools need an overhaul!

  12. ponderingfool

    WB wrote: There needs to be some mechanism to deal with those taking advantage of the system. I’ve seen valuable equipment covered in dust become obsolete in darkened labs while profs “take a few years” to regroup after getting tenure. I know it’s the rare few that take this path, but there still needs to be some accountability in the process.
    **********************
    Well a university that cares usually takes away lab space, administrative support, gives the person annoying service jobs for the department and university, has the equipment bought using start-up funds be shared with other groups, discourages grad and undergraduates from working in the lab, doesn’t promote the associate to full professor and doesn’t give the person any raises. And that doesn’t even to begin what you can do. It is a question whether the university wants to put that sort of effort in. As you say it is rare. Without tenure as Sheril mentions, faculty salaries/benefits need to rise drastically. Tenure has value.

    Sheril wrote:
    Without tenure, I expect that the brightest early career scientists would move toward industry. Then again, maybe that’s not a bad shift. What do readers think?
    ****************************************************
    This can come across that the bright early career scientists are choosing academia now and not industry. Plenty of bright early career scientists go into industry now. Plenty also go into policy, science writing, editing, as well as consulting.

  13. Bethany

    I don’t believe that the university can be blamed for all the problems. Most of what I have encountered as a university teacher is that students are unmotivated and want a good grade for very little work. Students are paying thousands of dollars in tuition and waste their money by not applying themselves to their coursework, thus failing many classes. MANY PEOPLE SHOULD NOT GO TO COLLEGE. If a student isn’t going to apply themselves to their coursework, why go into debt and have nothing to show for it? Many are not ready for the intense study environment and are poorly prepared from their high school. I think it would be interesting to study the transition between high school and college and find some stats on those that do or don’t succeed in college.

  14. GM

    13. Bethany Says:
    July 13th, 2010 at 7:49 pm
    I don’t believe that the university can be blamed for all the problems. Most of what I have encountered as a university teacher is that students are unmotivated and want a good grade for very little work. Students are paying thousands of dollars in tuition and waste their money by not applying themselves to their coursework, thus failing many classes. MANY PEOPLE SHOULD NOT GO TO COLLEGE. If a student isn’t going to apply themselves to their coursework, why go into debt and have nothing to show for it? Many are not ready for the intense study environment and are poorly prepared from their high school. I think it would be interesting to study the transition between high school and college and find some stats on those that do or don’t succeed in college.

    Universities are not to blame indeed, it is the general societal expectations and attitudes towards what the purpose of educations really is and what “return of investment” one can hope for. I am repeating myself here, but this has to be driven home – what is happening is the following:

    1. People go to school so that they can go to college.
    2. Then they go to college so that they can:
    a) get a job
    b) go to med/law/business/grad school
    3. If they choose b), they go there so that they can land an even higher paying job.

    As you notice in no point in this process do people study for the sake of education and intellectual development, it is really all about the societal status that education is expected to provide.

    From which everything else rotten about the system follows:

    1. The major part of a person’s education happens on his own. There is only so much time in class, and a lot of deeper concepts can’t really be taught in class anyway, they require some contemplation and pondering over outside of class. The function of classes is really to stimulate students minds to explore the subjects on their own. If there is no motivation to study other than material returns, then very little of this is going to happen

    2. When there is no motivation to study, even what is being actually taught in class will be quickly forgotten. We argue back and forth here over whether more education is the solution to the problem of scientific literacy, but before we indulge in that we should actually ask the question why is it that even the little that is taught in school, which if mastered would go a long way towards improving the situation, is rarely learned.

    3. If the majority of people are looking for education as an investment into the future, in a free market-based society there will be supply to meet the demand. This is the reason why the most popular majors are the vocational ones, it is the reason why universities actively advertise themselves using the career of prospects of those graduating from them, it is the reason why the whole elaborate system of student crediting is in place.

    4. It is also the reason why on all levels of the system, from elementary school to graduate programs there is so little control over what the outcome of education is. One can quite easily enforce learning by administering centralized exams that actually test what has been learned, especially in this day and age with all the possibilities that computers offer for real-time interactive testing that in the same time eliminates the human factor and minimizes opportunities for cheating. And whoever has learned what’s needed, passes, whoever hasn’t, doesn’t. Again, this would go a long way towards eliminating the problems of scientific illiteracy, creationism, etc. But no, the business has to keep going so we will continue passing people who should not pass.

    All of this has the tragic consequence that a huge mass of people is out there with credentials, sometimes from very prestigious institution, who are simply semi-literate, and that, as ironic as it is, universities have become a stronghold of anti-intellectualism…

  15. May be worth noting that the 2nd richest guy in America, Bill Gates, is a college drop-out (and Steve Jobs, as well)! Seriously, if you’re a 16-yr-old with a true knack for certain areas of high tech or other specialties, college is probably a waste of time (at least academically). (further, the future will no doubt bring on more online college opportunities without the need to ever attend a brick-and-mortar campus.)

  16. Guy

    There are a lot of people who have smart kids, but they simply could not afford to send them all to college at the current tuition rates. Unless they can get a scholarship, they have to rely on student loans which has become a profit-driven industry; with high rates of return with little or no risk. More needs to be done to reduce tuition costs and increase scholarship funding.

    They also need to do something about the private higher education industry that has ballooned recently. They have low graduation rates, poor performance and questionable credibility. Many students end up with a huge student loan debt and nothing to show for it.

    See the PBS Documentary College, Inc.
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/collegeinc/

  17. David

    GM:

    I used to believe the same as you about just failing the students in elementary or middle school. I have come to see it differently. Not passing the kids that refuse to learn is not fair.

    It is not fair to the other kids. What happens is you get a whole herd of overage thugs that have a little kingdom to bully and abuse. If they don’t care enough to learn the first time sitting through a grade, they are not going to suddenly be “inspired” to do well the second or third time around. Teachers can’t be everywhere at once to keep them in check. There are no real consequences for misbehaving. They don’t want to be there. The most severe consequence is to send them home where they would rather be anyway. As long as they are legally required to be there and you can’t segregate them from the students that are willing to learn, move them on.

  18. GM

    David @ 17:

    What is better – having a large underclass of officially illiterate people (which will be only temporary as the basic human instinct of status seeking will eventually force people to educate themselves) or having an even larger number of illiterate people with degrees and working as politicians, administrators, doctors, teachers, managers, etc… ?

  19. The “dead wood” problem is the most intuitively obvious problem with tenure — many of us can easily see the attraction of slacking off and coasting buy once you have a guaranteed job. And it’s real; anybody who’s spent a reasonable amount of time around academia can think of examples pretty quickly. But, it’s also only realistically a 10% effect, not nearly the problem that it’s often portrayed as. They’re out there, but they’re rare; more common are the professors who keep working and keep doing good stuff, and continue to do research as “professor emeritus” after they’ve retired and stop teaching. I can think of more examples of the latter than I can of the former.

    The real problem with tenure is what the process does to the junior folks.

  20. As someone who was once on the tenure track, I always viewed tenure as an economic arrangement as much as an intellectual one: you bust your tail at very low wages for a very long period of time, at which point, you get job security. I agree with WB, in that there need to be career paths that pay more early on, so that tenure isn’t a needed economic reward.

  21. David

    GM:

    Try teaching in the public schools for a while and see if your opinions will change. The teachers are stuck with two major problems. There are a class of students that are unable to learn at the same pace as the others. We enacted laws to mainstream them in the regular classroom where they are not able to get the extra attention that they need to succeed. Then we have another group that are unwilling to do anything, and are required by law to be there. While the teachers are dealing with these two problem areas, they are not able to give the rest of the students (the majority) the education that they deserve.

    Personally, I am all for dumping the unwilling out on their ear. If they “re prioritize” their life and decide to give it another attempt at a later date, I welcome them with open arms. Unfortunately, the law says we cannot do that.

    At the college level, we are also faced with the problem that the let in people that frankly should not be there. They are marginally willing and just attend because someone told them they had to. They don’t have the maturity to self motivate to a level that will allow them to succeed in college. These are a complete drain on the system and are wasting everybody’s time including their own.

    The solution? I have no idea. Instead of having a semi-illiterate group labeled as educated, we will have a semi-illiterate group labeled as uneducated. The only thing that will change is the label. What would propose to do to change the basic motivation problem? Remember, we can’t even say anything harsh that will bruise their delicate self image and they have to feel good about themselves even if they don’t have any thing to be proud of.

  22. GM

    1. David Says:
    July 14th, 2010 at 12:10 pm
    GM:
    Personally, I am all for dumping the unwilling out on their ear. If they “re prioritize” their life and decide to give it another attempt at a later date, I welcome them with open arms. Unfortunately, the law says we cannot do that.

    1. If the law says that we can not do that, then the law needs to be changed. Laws aren’t immutable things etched in stone forever, if they don’t work, they need to be changed. How may amendments are there to the constitution?

    2. I don’t even think the law says that you can’t dump students who are not willing to learn/are not capable of learning. I haven’t heard of the F grade being abolished, it still exists, it’s just not being used

    At the college level, we are also faced with the problem that the let in people that frankly should not be there. They are marginally willing and just attend because someone told them they had to. They don’t have the maturity to self motivate to a level that will allow them to succeed in college. These are a complete drain on the system and are wasting everybody’s time including their own.

    Again, use the F grade and you will go a long way towards solving the problem

    The solution? I have no idea. Instead of having a semi-illiterate group labeled as educated, we will have a semi-illiterate group labeled as uneducated. The only thing that will change is the label. What would propose to do to change the basic motivation problem? Remember, we can’t even say anything harsh that will bruise their delicate self image and they have to feel good about themselves even if they don’t have any thing to be proud of.

    Not really. If you combine strict educational standards with serious consequences in terms of social status for those who do not pass (which is already more or less the case, it is just that it isn’t as firmly ingrained in people’s thinking as it should be), then the incentive to pass will appear. I realize that I am advocating against my own ideal of “Knowledge is valuable on its own” to an extent, but in practice, it can be a good mechanism to set the change in motion

  23. David

    GM:

    No, we have these people like “Shecky Riemann” @ 15 that love to point out Bill Gates or someone like some romantic Horatio Algers story because that one person succeeded without getting a proper education and glossing over the thousands and thousands of failures that dropped out when he did too. Hmm, I guess all of them didn’t get rich. I wonder why. They look at the one super athlete that made the big league as the goal we should strive for and ignore the fact that they are in the 0.00001% of the populations. Almost the entire population that aspires to it will fail.

    Its like the logic of the lottery. They think that they will just be able to coast along and do nothing and things will magically turn out well. They are entitled to it. Just getting up and sitting in a class is a guarantee of success regardless of being mentally engaged or educated.

  24. ThomasL

    Actually GM,

    I had two students in the 5th grade class I was student teaching in that we were not allowed to give any “F’s” to (I get seriously chewed out for trying it once). They had “issues”, so had been put into a special education status – which simply meant we were not allowed to fail them. Literally not allowed to give them any failing grade (even when they failed to turn anything in or write down an answer on their tests…).

    So yes, there really is an actual law in primary education that says you are often not permitted to grade things with an “F”, no matter how well earned it was. Universities have managed to avoid following the laws that have wrapped up primary schools in these areas (special education and accommodation), but I wouldn’t be surprised if the attorneys aren’t already looking at it…

    As I said in another post, the system is beyond messed up with incentives being warped and rules so perverse they actually make no sense at all (like pass on an obviously incompetent student – and then hold the teacher responsible for those in their class who can’t do grade level work… I mean, if they couldn’t do 4th grade work and were passed on to 5th anyway, why would any sane person think they are going to now do 5th grade work just because they are placed there?).

  25. GM

    Well, yes, the system is broken, that’s clear. The question is are we going to do anything about it or we are simply going to sit around talking about how it is so broken that nothing can be done to fix it so there is no point trying…

  26. ThomasL

    GM,

    I wish I could be more optimistic, but after spending time there I’m actually amazed it works at all at this point. The courts have gotten very wrapped up in primary education (one might be shocked at the percentage of students with IEP’s in most grade school classrooms these days). The courts aren’t interested in advancing the best and brightest (a whole different and very long discussion) with the result being that we are using the classrooms to instill a sense of equality along the lines of sameness rather than the traditional thoughts of an opportunity available (what, back in the day, we referred to as positive and negative freedom in relation to Socialist countries and Capitalist countries) – it’s much easier to hold over achievers back then to ramp up underachievers nonexistent abilities….

    Until we return education back to the educators and allow schools to suspendexpelfail (and hold back) those who are incapable of performing or refuse to do the required work it really is unfixable. The contradictions contained in the thinking on education are telling – “inclusion” and “mainstreaming” are wonderful for all the students as both the normal and troubled learners gain from working in a mixed environment. Well, “all” apparently except for the AP students, who need to get removed and dealt with separately so they aren’t intellectually held back (I guess they don’t benefit as much from “inclusion” and such as they do working in a group that has a similar level of abilities). Figure out that line of thinking (keeping in mind they are both actively preached together). One must at some point ask, which students are paying in this sketchy process?

    Sorry, wish I had some ideas to help improve things there. After spending a couple years learning about it and working in it I left with the distinct impression it is far, far to screwed to fix.

  27. GM

    ThomasL @ 26,

    I am not at all optimistic, I am very well aware of what should be done and what can be realistically expected to be “politically possible”. Suffice to say that the two in general go in opposite directions.

    But this does not mean that one should not say what should be done (in vain hope that someone will listed), and that’s what I can do.

    Other than that I think we agree on pretty much everything here

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About Sheril Kirshenbaum

Sheril Kirshenbaum is a research scientist with the Webber Energy Group at the University of Texas at Austin's Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy where she works on projects to enhance public understanding of energy issues as they relate to food, oceans, and culture. She is involved in conservation initiatives across levels of government, working to improve communication between scientists, policymakers, and the public. Sheril is the author of The Science of Kissing, which explores one of humanity's fondest pastimes. She also co-authored Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future with Chris Mooney, chosen by Library Journal as one of the Best Sci-Tech Books of 2009 and named by President Obama's science advisor John Holdren as his top recommended read. Sheril contributes to popular publications including Newsweek, The Washington Post, Discover Magazine, and The Nation, frequently covering topics that bridge science and society from climate change to genetically modified foods. Her writing is featured in the anthology The Best American Science Writing 2010. In 2006 Sheril served as a legislative Knauss science fellow on Capitol Hill with Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) where she was involved in energy, climate, and ocean policy. She also has experience working on pop radio and her work has been published in Science, Fisheries Bulletin, Oecologia, and Issues in Science and Technology. In 2007, she helped to found Science Debate; an initiative encouraging candidates to debate science research and innovation issues on the campaign trail. Previously, Sheril was a research associate at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment and has served as a Fellow with the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History and as a Howard Hughes Research Fellow. She has contributed reports to The Nature Conservancy and provided assistance on international protected area projects. Sheril serves as a science advisor to NPR's Science Friday and its nonprofit partner, Science Friday Initiative. She also serves on the program committee for the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). She speaks regularly around the country to audiences at universities, federal agencies, and museums and has been a guest on such programs as The Today Show and The Daily Rundown on MSNBC. Sheril is a graduate of Tufts University and holds two masters of science degrees in marine biology and marine policy from the University of Maine. She co-hosts The Intersection on Discover blogs with Chris Mooney and has contributed to DeSmogBlog, Talking Science, Wired Science and Seed. She was born in Suffern, New York and is also a musician. Sheril lives in Austin, Texas with her husband David Lowry. Interested in booking Sheril Kirshenbaum to speak at your next event? Contact Hachette Speakers Bureau 866.376.6591 info@hachettespeakersbureau.com For more information, visit her website or email Sheril at srkirshenbaum@yahoo.com.

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