Please find below Skip Rankin's November 2013 report on the Class of 1972 Teaching Initiatives.

Teaching Initiative Report  - 2013

I am pleased to report on the teaching initiatives by members of the Princeton University faculty that have been supported by the Class of 1972 Endowment Fund for Initiatives in Undergraduate Education. To date, our class has supported the following teaching initiatives:

  1. A course entitled Conservation and Biodiversity, Science and Policy for an Endangered Planet, taught by Andy Dobson of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, together with the Woodrow Wilson School;
  2. A British history lecture course (as reorganized), taught by Professor Frank Trentmann of the Department of History;
  3. A Vertebrate Biology course offered by the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology;
  4. A freshman seminar entitled "Sound, Image, Movement, Meaning: Collaborations in Multimedia" offered by the Department of Music;
  5. A course on "World Literature" offered by the Department of Comparative Literature as a "gateway" course to the Department and to the study of literature generally;
  6. A course offered by the School of Engineering and Applied Science to demonstrate the fundamental connections among Engineering, Math, and Physics;
  7. A course offered by the Department of East Asian Studies to convey to Princeton Undergraduates an appreciation for the study of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean civilizations;
  8. A course offered by the Center for African American Studies, entitled "The Civil Rights Movement in the United States";
  9. A freshman Seminar entitled "Transformations of an Empire: Power, Religion, and the Arts of Medieval Rome;
  10. A course offered by the School of Engineering, Department of Electrical Engineering entitled: Networks: Friends, Money, and Bytes. This is an inter-disciplinary and foundational course and is the pioneer course offered by Princeton online, under arrangements with Coursera; and
  11. A course taught by David Spergal '83, Charles Young Professor of Astronomy and Chair, Department of Astrophysical Sciences, in the fall of 2013 and entitled "Imagining Other Earths". This course, based on a freshman seminar, is being offered as a Coursera course, and will introduce students to a range of key concepts in Astronomy, Physics, Chemistry, and Evolutionary Biology.





President Bob Wright's Class Letter on the Teaching Initative--January, 2013

Dear Classmates:

I am pleased to have a reason to contact you with my first e-blast sooner than anticipated! Skip Rankin emailed me yesterday afternoon with news that the course our Class of 1972 Teaching Initiative is supporting this year has been selected to be one of the "pilot" courses for coursera, the new online teaching initiative that is being embraced by Princeton (as well as by Stanford, Penn, the University of Michigan, and other schools). The course, "Networks, Friends, Money and Bytes", is being conducted by Professor Mung Chiang. It started online just yesterday.

The course is free to all; to access it, go to its website, www.network20q.com. You will see that our Class has been given prominent recognition for its support. From there, click the link to go to the YouTube version of the course. Look for "Q0, Part A", which should be at the bottom of the series of videos. That is the introduction, and you will learn what the course is about and how it works by watching this 8-minute piece. You can "subscribe" to the program; as of my first visit (yesterday afternoon), the first video had been viewed 1,340 times and the course had 1,007 subscribers. Once again our Class is out in front leading the charge. For the first time since we have been supporting courses, we all now have the opportunity to partake of one.

Professor Chiang is very pleased with and appreciative of the support that our Class has given to his course. I hope you enjoy the course if you decide to take it. But in any event, you can be proud of the fact that it is due to you that we (alone among classes) have an endowed teaching initiative fund that enables us to support new education initiatives at Princeton such as this one. "Networks, Friends, Money and Bytes" is the tenth course our Teaching Initiative has supported. For more information about the status of the initiative and the first nine courses we have supported, go here. Tiger Cheers,

Bob Wright '72


From: Doug Harrison [mailto:haphar@gmail.com]
Sent: Friday, December 21, 2012 9:03 PM
To: Wright, Robert
Subject: Re: Class Teaching Initiative News

Bob,

I just finished the last lecture of Networks, Friends, Money, and Bytes. The course was great, beyond any realistic expectation. I now know more than my son about all his geeky stuff. The course is very demanding, particularly if you do all the homework and take the tests (which I didn't). As an engineering manager for 26 years, I decided, relatively early on, to limit my participation to understanding the KeyCepts in every lecture. Many people, including both of my children, should take this course to understand all the concepts that are now driving their lives. Professor Chang was wonderful. I feel guilty that I didn't take advantage of all the resources he offered with the course, such as grading of homework, office time and tests. Being retired, I didn't have time with all my pressing engagements. I promise that I will follow up and complete all the homework as time permits.

I don't know if you or Skip thought of sponsoring this course, but it was fabulous. Thank you very much. Many of the lectures reached back into my past life and reminded me of important ideas that contributed to my career. The first lecture showed me how old concepts like linear optimization make new things (cell phones) work and affect our lives - That technology was the basis for my first job with Getty Oil in 1972 - My last job (when I retired) was Automation and Optimization Manager for ExxonMobil in 2008 (all those molecules in the gasoline commercials) . Later lectures on influence and tipping (on Facebook) use the same math as Chem Engineering Kinetics, the basis for ExxonMobil compositional modelling (those molecules again). The lecture on download pricing was the modern version of microeconomics that I took in grad school in the 70's. Professor Chang even carried the optimization concepts forward to tax policies today. He doesn't tell you the answer. You'll have to calculate it yourself.

I hope you get the idea that this course was great for old people like me. It connected what we already know to what's going on today. The underlying concepts for the modern world become clear as you move through the lectures.

I'm sure the doctors, bankers and lawyers in our class will realize the same enjoyment I did if they have the time to participate.

Thanks again. Please share my thoughts with the class when appropriate.

Doug Harrison


Memorandum from Skip Rankin to Bill deGolian--November 12, 2011

Re: Class of 1972 Teaching Initiatives

I am pleased to report on the teaching initiatives by members of the Princeton University faculty that have been supported by the Class of 1972 Endowment Fund for Initiatives in Undergraduate Education. To date, our class has supported the following teaching initiatives:

  1. a course entitled Conservation and Biodiversity, Science and Policy for an Endangered Planet, taught by Andy Dobson of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, together with The Woodrow Wilson School;
  2. a British history lecture course (as reorganized), taught by Professor Frank Trentmann of the Department of History;
  3. a vertebrate biology course offered by the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology;
  4. a freshman seminar entitled "Sound, Image, Movement, Meaning: Collaborations in Multimedia” offered by the Department of Music;
  5. a course on "World Literature” offered by the Department of Comparative Literature as a "gateway” course to the Department and to the study of literature generally.
  6. a course offered by the School of Engineering and Applied Science to demonstrate the fundamental connections among engineering, math and physics;
  7. a course offered by the Department of East Asian Studies to convey to Princeton undergraduates an appreciation for the study of Chinese, Japanese and Korean civilizations;
  8. a course offered by the Center for African American Studies, entitled "The Civil Rights Movement in the United States”; and
  9. a freshman seminar entitled "Transformations of an Empire: Power, Religion, and the Arts of Medieval Rome.


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