2 big mistakes when filling out your NCAA bracket

Post by Kate N.

There’s nothing like March Madness. All of a sudden, teams I never followed all season play a huge role in my life. I hoop and holler for a winning score so my bracket can finally win in the office pool. But, alas, that’s not how it turns out.

I’ve been filling out brackets since my sophomore year in high school and always end up in the bottom 3 of the collective pool. Every year I stare morosely at my pitiful bracket and think of the couple hundred dollars I could have earned.

With the Sweet 16, Elite 8, and Final Four right around the corner I figured it was time I get some more expert advice. I asked Kevin Rader, instructor of the summer course Introduction to Quantitative Methods, where I’ve made mistakes in the past with my bracket, and how I can use math to help better my chances. (more…)

March 8, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , , . Hot topic, In the news. Leave a comment.

It’s the end of the world as we know it

Post by Kate N.

Movies have been made and books have been written about the apocalypse, and the subject has become even more intriguing as the date of the supposed end of the world, December 21, 2012, approaches.

With this in mind, the course Apocalypse Now: How the Worlds Ends (or Doesn’t) in World Religions is bringing Dr. Anthony Aveni to speak on the topic March 8 (open to the public). An expert in the astronomical history of the Aztec and Maya Indians of ancient Mexico, Aveni will lecture about the many theories swirling around the “upcoming” doomsday.

David Carrasco, the professor of the course, shares details about the upcoming talk and what the audience can expect from this award-winning guest lecturer. (more…)

March 6, 2012. Tags: , , , , , . Faculty, Hot topic. Leave a comment.

Taking a leap into Leap Day lore

by Liz M.

Did you know that there used to be two days in February designated for romance?

Postcard featuring women in Leap Year 1908 eagerly await their chance to propose.

Maidens eagerly await their chance to propose on Leap Day

That’s right, according to an old Irish legend, every four years on Leap Day, February 29, women were allowed to propose to men (imagine!). That means if you’re single, put a ring on it, ladies. And according to the legend, if any lad turned down his lass, he was obligated to buy her 12 pairs of gloves—a pair for every month to hide the embarrassment of not having an engagement ring.

Thankfully, gender roles have somewhat evolved since then, but it certainly got us thinking about all of the unusual quirks and lore surrounding Leap Day, including its history, why we need it, and how a proposed new calendar would keep every day the same each year.  (more…)

February 29, 2012. Tags: , , . Holiday, Hot topic, In the news. 1 comment.

American presidents share these key leadership qualities

Q&A with instructor John Paul Rollert

John Paul Rollert on presidential leadership qualities

John Paul Rollert

For President’s Day in an election year, we at the Spark blog thought it apropos to consider which leadership qualities are key to being president. We reached out to John Paul Rollert, a Harvard Extension School instructor and a doctoral student at the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago.

Rollert, who teaches Principles and Lessons on Leadership, says that the key to presidential leadership is the ability to define the problems that need to be addressed.


February 20, 2012. Tags: , , . Faculty, Hot topic, In the news. 1 comment.

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